One of my Stories by ust13620

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									Disclaimer: Dragonball Z does not belong to me, but to Akira Toriyama. I did not write this story for profit, and henceforth shall never earn a
single dollar from this. . .it‟s a rather horrid story. ^_~




                                                      Opposites Attract
                                                                 By Hella



                                          ***********************************************

Bulma sat in her lab, working on a new circuitry pattern to strengthen the gravity room. It was
12:56am and she was tired. She wiped the sweat off her brow and sighed.

That Vegeta, he's never happy with anything I do! First he insults my cooking, then tells me I did a
terrible job fixing the gravity room! I would like to see him reconfigure this circuit board! Let him see
how EASY it is!

Silently she fumed at his arrogant attitude. It was past time someone taught him a lesson... She gave
up on the circuit board and got out of her chair, rubbing her lower back gingerly. She had been sitting
down for six hours straight. Stepping out of the lab, she crossed the CC yard to head for the house.
Her parents had gone away for a three week vacation to god-knows-where, and she had the place to
herself.

Almost to herself...

There was a certain Saiyan prince somewhere around the place, and if the remains of his latest
plundering of the kitchen were any indication, he had been working hard. Bulma scanned the mess
and felt her temper rise.

"Dammit Vegeta, couldn't you clean up the mess when your done?" she muttered. There was no way
she was going to clean up the crumbs and dirty dishes at this time of night. She stumbled up the
stairs to her room, thinking of nothing more than having a good ten hours sleep. She wasn't used to
having such late nights.

It was pitch black in the hall, and she felt around blindly for the light-switch but couldn't find it. She
gave up and using the wall as a guide, felt her way down to the end of the hallway. She paused
briefly at the door to the room Vegeta used, wondering if he was in there or the gravity room. She
shrugged to herself and continued on, wondering why she gave a damn anyway. All he ever did was
eat, train and to a lesser extent, sleep. Oh, and of course insult her. She reached her room and
flicked on the light, cursing when it blew.

"Oh, crap! This is something out of a horror movie! Who is going to jump out and murder me now?"
She whispered sarcastically. Shutting the door behind her, she stripped out of her jeans and T-shirt
and jumped under the covers of her bed.

Pulling the covers over her head, she was almost asleep when she remembered she had forgotten to
lock the lab door behind her. With a groan she debated leaving it until morning, but quickly discarded
that and got out of bed. Since no one was around, Bulma simply shoved her arms into her robe and
swiftly tied it about her waist before running down the hall, hoping she wasn't about to trip and fall to
her death. She reached the stairs and bolted down them, thinking that the quicker she got it done, the
quicker she could go to sleep.

She reached the lab, and snagged the key to the door and locked it. With a sigh, she pocketed the
key and headed back to the house, but stopped when she heard a noise.
"Wh...who's there?" She asked fearfully. She turned towards the noise, and listened hard. It was a
humming noise. She silently ran to around the other side of the lab, the wet grass sticking to her feet
as she ran. She reached the other side and looked around.

The lights were on in the gravity room, and the humming she could hear was coming from the motor.
Vegeta was obviously still training.

Does he ever stop? She walked over to it and peeked inside. He was nowhere to be seen.

"That jerk! Wasting our battery power while he isn't even there to use it!" She pulled off the control
panel and punched in the disable code. With a whining hum, the GR powered down and went dark.
As she turned away, she heard a loud crash from inside it, followed by loud cursing.

"What the...Vegeta?" She opened the door and looked around inside. She turned the lights on again.
Vegeta lay on the floor of the gravity room, just picking himself up and swearing. She noticed he was
wearing nothing but his boxers, and his muscles were gleaming with sweat from his exertions. She
looked away and berated herself silently for noticing.

"Vegeta? Where the hell were you? I didn't see you anywhere so I turned the power off." She backed
away slowly, aware that he was extremely pissed off. He looked up and glared.

"Your blasted machine screwed up again and went into minus gravity! If you had exerted a little
energy and looked up, you would have seen me ground into the roof, where I have been for the past
hour!" he snarled as he got up. Bulma forgot all about being afraid of him as she heard what he said.

"Minus gravity? So...it was pulling you up, instead of pushing you down? Now that's new," she said,
pulling the folds of her dressing gown tighter together.

"New? Is that all you can say? Fix it. Now," he commanded. She crossed her arms and shook her
head angrily.

"Hell no! Do you know what time it is? I have been up for 18 hours! There is no way I am fixing that
thing tonight. Go get some sleep or something."

"Don't tell me what to do, woman! I am the prince of th—"

"...the Saiyans and you're gonna kill me and you only keep me around coz I fix the machine, though I
don't do it well, yada yada yada, I've heard it all before," she said irritably. His face darkened and he
advanced on her.

"You would do well to learn some respect," he hissed as he moved forward. She scowled and walked
out the door.

"Respect! For you? I don't think so! You are nothing but an obsessive, murderous pain in the ass who
eats all my food and leave the mess for me to clean up!! What do I look like, a servant? Well you can
go and take a hike, prince. I couldn't respect you if my life depended on it!"

She stalked out into the yard, and made her way to the house but was stopped in her tracks when
she realized that Vegeta hadn't slapped her down with a cutting remark. She slowly turned around
and looked back at the GR.

He was still standing by the door, but he was... Powering up!

Bulma froze, and bit back a scream. Was he going to kill her? But he can't! Her mind was screaming.
He needed her to fix the gravity machine! Bulma silently started praying as Vegeta started to glow an
impossibly bright blue. She swallowed back her fear and marched forward back over to him.

"Oh, no you don't, mister! If you kill me, who the hell is going to fix the GR? You sure as hell can't,
and dad is away!"
He smirked as he read the underlying fear in her words. She started shaking slightly. Then just as
suddenly as he had raised it, he let his power level drop to its normal state.

"Don't flatter yourself woman. I wouldn't waste my energy on and insignificant being such as yourself.
That was just a reminder to you that if you think you cannot respect me, you will fear me instead!"

With that he blasted off into the sky, leaving Bulma to stare at his energy trail as he sped away into
the night sky.

What was that all about? Usually he doesn't get so pissed if I insult him... Good riddance to him then!
Jerk.

She went back inside and locked the door behind her, and ran back upstairs to crawl back into bed.
She was almost instantly asleep.

During the night, she was plagued by dreams, nightmares of the androids and the destruction of the
world. She saw her friends dying around her, blood pouring out of their prone bodies. She saw herself
and Gohan barely escaping from the destruction, with nothing left but their lives. She could hear cries
of agony rising up all around her, but there was nothing she could do to stop it. A shadow appeared in
front of her, a figure. Without thinking she knew it was one of the androids. It threw a Ki blast straight
at her, and there was nothing she could do to stop it...nothing but scream and pray for the end to be
painless...

With a terrified shriek, she bolted upright in her bed, breathing hard. She sat trembling, as a loud
crash sounded from her balcony and her French doors burst open. A figure strode in, pulsing with
blue energy.

Vegeta.

"What? Is there danger?" He barked. She shrank back and tried to get a hold of herself as he moved
forward.

"N...no. Im sorry, it was just a...a dream."

"A dream? You weakling human! Dreams can't hurt you!" He powered down and she lost sight of him
in her room. She brushed her aqua hair out of her eyes and peered in the darkness for his figure.

"Hey, where are you? Vegeta? Hey, i...i just wanted to say something before you go."

She heard a movement to her left and saw him open her door, preparing to leave. He was still in his
boxers, and she realized that she had locked him out when she had returned back inside. He must
have been out in the gravity room again, she thought. He turned back to her and stared hard at her.

"Well? What is it?" He snapped.

She fought down her irritation and answered. "Im sorry if I offended you before. I'll try to fix the GR in
the morning." She had no idea why she was apologizing to him, but some instinct told her that
something wasn't quite right with him. She had no idea what it could be, he was still acting the same
as he always did. She decided to put it down to women's intuition.

Vegeta froze for a moment, and Bulma hid a grin at the surprise in his eyes. This was probably the
first time she had ever said sorry to him for anything.

With a curt nod, he strode out the door and shut it behind him. Feeling somehow happier, she lay
back down in the bed, forgetting that her balcony doors were still open. She drifted back off to sleep,
and this time there were no dreams.

Vegeta marched to the room he used, feeling oddly disconcerted by what had just happened. What in
the world would make her apologize to him? It was justified, he supposed, no one should talk to a
prince like that. Perhaps it was her way of protecting her life from him. That thought increased the
frown of his face. He hadn't meant to give her that big of a scare. She hadn't really shown it though,
but he could smell it on her, the fear she had of him at that moment. It tightened his stomach painfully
to think of that. With a violent growl, he pushed the thoughts aside. He was tired and these thoughts
were proof of that. There was no way he would worry about this sort of nonsense if he was thinking
clearly.

But his thoughts strayed again to how he had reacted when he heard her scream. Almost involuntarily
he had powered up, and headed to the noise. That was disconcerting. He put that down to his
edginess at not having had a good spar in a while. He ran an agitated hand through his hair and
threw himself down on his bed, his muscles protesting at the harsh treatment. He had been in an
almost permanent state of dull pain since he had started training in the GR, and it hadn't lessened
one bit with the working he had been giving them all day. With the knowledge that he was nearing his
goal as a Super-Saiyan, he fell into an almost unconscious sleep.

Bulma awoke the next morning to her bedroom door bursting open and slamming against the wall.
Her eyes flew open and she blearily focussed on a small figure with black hair.

"Mmph. Get lost."

"Bulma briefs, you get up this instant! Do you have any idea what time it is? Its nearly eleven
O'clock!" A female voice cried shrilly. The figure then proceeded to rip the covers off her and neatly
fold them at the end of the bed.

"Chi-chi, is that you? Oh, man, I totally forgot about you coming over today. What's up?" Bulma pulled
her self into an upright position, noticing that she was only in her underwear as her friend threw her
her robe. Chi-chi tossed her an exasperated look and began her tirade.

"I'll tell you what‟s up! Gohan and Goku are off training with that green guy and left me with nothing to
do but to sit around the house all day and clean their dirty laundry and cook their food, which for the
last few weeks, has been nothing but fish, and Goku ate a chicken bone when he was practically
inhaling his dinner and nearly choked to death which would have been just great, because he was
supposed to go and get his license to drive, but he failed that, so here I am, having to walk all the way
over here to meet my best friend, who totally forgot that I was coming! That's what‟s UP, missy!" Chi-
chi finished with an angry glare and a red face.

Bulma winced at the volume in her friend's voice and tried to get her to calm down.

"Whoa, Chi-chi, sounds like you have had it rough these last few days. Sorry I didn't wake up earlier,
but I was up till late fixing the circuits on a new prototype for an upgrade for the GR. Here, I‟ll get up
and well go sit by the pool, ok? Then you can tell me everything."

"All right. But let me cook breakfast first, ok? I didn't get to eat with two Saiyans at the table who
hadn't eaten in a day. I'll tell you, I‟ll take piccolo's eating habits over those two any day. All he did
was drink water and real small bits of fish. Must be a Namek thing."

"Yeah, Dende told Krillin that they only drink water. How boring is that?"

"Who's Dende?"

"I'll tell you later."

With that, Bulma got dressed into some blue jeans and a black tank top, and followed chi-chi
downstairs. She had the feeling that something was up, but she couldn't figure it out. When she hit
the bottom step and saw the kitchen, she knew what it was. Vegeta hadn't scared her out of bed that
morning, demanding that she make breakfast, nor had he pestered her to fix the gravity room. She
noticed that the kitchen was still in the same condition as it had been last night, but she didn't look a
gift Saiyan in the mouth.
"Now what brought that on?" She murmured softly. This wasn't like him at all. He wasn't in the gravity
room, she couldn't hear the usual vibrating hum it made.

"Hey, did you see Vegeta as you came here? Was he in the yard at all?" She asked Chi-chi as she
sat down at the breakfast table. Chi-chi's eyes flashed and she paused in her egg-frying.

"No, I most certainly did not! And I hope I never do! That beast tried to kill my husband and baby
Gohan! He should be beaten for what he did, and—"

"Ok, Chi-chi, I get the picture," she said hastily, tossing her hair over her shoulder. Chi-chi gave her a
look and continued cooking. Bulma was a little worried. Where was he then? She knew he was a pain
and impossible to deal with, but she couldn't help but worry if he had gotten himself squished into bits
in the GR or something. She jumped to her feet and bolted outside.

"Hey where..."

"Hold on Cheech, I‟m just checking the GR." With that, she pelted over to her invention and looked
inside, this time checking the roof as well. There was nothing. Somewhat relieved, she spun around
to walk back to the house, when she smacked into something warm and hard.

"Watch it, human," Vegeta snarled. Bulma jumped about a foot and gave him a good glare.

"You watch it! Do you enjoy scaring the hell out of me or something?" She stopped when he gave her
a smirk, and she realized that he probably did.

"Where have you been all morning? Usually you scare the crap out of me then instead of leaving it
until now," she asked, still slightly flustered.

Vegeta crossed his arms and regarded her haughtily.

"Not that it is any of your business, but I went and paid Kakarott and his brat a visit."

"By visit, I‟m guessing you went and beat the hell out of them?" She asked dryly. He simply smirked
in that irritating way of his. She studied him for a second. He had dressed in his battle armor, and she
could see rips and cracks in it where he had been training with Goku. Blood was trickling out of a
particularly big tear at his side. She reached out without thinking and touched the wound, assessing
the damage. Vegeta flinched and stepped back with a growl.

"Keep your hands to yourself, weakling!"

"Uh, sorry. Did that hurt? Do you need a Senzu for it?"

"Of course it didn't hurt! And NO, I do not need one of those stupid beans!" With that, he brushed past
her roughly and stepped into the gravity room, turning it back on. Bulma fumed at his callous attitude.

Damn him, why do I bother? Why did she bother? She had no idea. She shouldn't care, or go around
touching him. She already had a boyfriend, though he wasn't very attentive at the moment, canceling
all their dates and telling her he had to 'train'. Sometimes she wondered what his idea of training was,
and whether it contained a bed and another girl. She pushed that aside, telling herself that he would
never treat her like that, never lead her on.

Sometimes she wondered if she was leading herself on...

"Bulma! Breakfast is ready! GET IN HERE!"

"Coming!" Her stomach growled quietly, and she wondered if Vegeta had eaten. Knowing Chi-chi,
she had cooked enough for an army anyway, and she could tell he hadn't eaten. He was too pissy to
have had a good meal.

She blew her bangs out of her eyes and knocked on the door.
"Hey, Vegeta! Are you hungry? Chi-chi made breakfast, if you want any." She waited a moment, and
there was a muffled grunt coming from inside. She punched in the disable code again, and listened.
No crash this time, just a light thump. She grinned as he opened the door. He shot her a withering
glare.

"I still haven't fixed it yet."

"Obviously!"

"So are you hungry?"

"Stupid question."

"Come on then," she sighed and walked away, with Vegeta following. She hoped Chi-chi wouldn't
mind.

She did mind, but never said a word as the prince filled a plate and stepped outside. Bulma watched
him go and steeled herself for the lecture.

"Bulma, I have no idea how you can put up with him! You know what he has done to everyone, how
can you trust him?"

Bulma choked on the bacon she was eating. "Trust him? Hell no! I just know he won't kill me because
I fix the GR when it gets broken! That's the only thing that stops him from taking me out with one hit!"

"Less than that, woman...," a voice floated in from outside. She scowled and gave a 'see?' look to
Chi-chi. The woman nodded understandingly. They finished in silence, and when they had both finally
put the kitchen to rights, they stepped outside to bask in the sun.

They talked for a few hours, sitting in the lounge chairs by the pool. They caught up on everything,
from Bulma retelling what happened on Namek, to having a bitch about Krillin's ditzy ex, Marron.
They both agreed that they were not middle-aged. Vegeta had flown off to spar with Goku again,
barking over his shoulder that dinner had better be ready and the GR fixed when he got back, before
taking off before she could cuss him out. Other than that, they both had a peaceful day that they both
needed. At around five O'clock, Chi-chi decided to leave, and Bulma gave her a lift home to save her
tired legs. With a promise to visit soon, Bulma drove home.

She stepped out of the car, encapsulating it and going to find her tools to fix the GR. After assessing
the situation, she concluded that a few wires had been soldered wrongly, and corrected it. She would
have to wait for Vegeta to get home before she could know if she fixed it correctly. There was no way
she was going to go in and find out if it was up to scratch.

She was just about finished when she felt a presence behind her. She spun around, spanner in hand
and ready to bash whoever was there.

"Hi Bulma!" Goku greeted. She deflated.

"Is everyone trying to kill me? This is the third time someone has snuck up on me!" She yelled. Goku
put his hands up to ward her off.

"Hey, sorry!" He said sheepishly. She grinned weakly. She could never stay pissed at him for long.
He was like a brother to her.

"It's ok. Have you and Vegeta finished sparring?"

"Yeah. He's built up some new attack, too. Blew my socks off."

"Goku, you don't wear socks."

"You know what I mean. He is pretty set on surpassing my power, that‟s for sure."
"Yeah. So what did you want? You better not want me to build you a gravity room, coz I have enough
trouble with this one."

Goku grinned and shook his head. "Nah, I was just wondering if you had any Senzu beans around
here. Korin is fresh out and I though you might have some left over."

Bulma sighed and nodded. "Yeah, I think I have a few. Vegeta hates taking them. I think he thinks it
makes him seem weak or something. He is such a jerk sometimes. All the trouble I go to for him,
fixing the GR, making food, building sparring droids for him, and I don't even get a thank-you for my
efforts!"

Goku laughed and shook his head. "Wow Bulma, you sound almost...married."

She nearly beaned him with the spanner. "Married? To him!?! I don't think so! I wouldn't touch him
with a ten-foot pole unless I had to!"

Goku gave her an odd look. "Aw, come on, he isn't that bad. I bet you two have a lot in common if you
just thought about it. He is better than some guys out there," he said, before slapping his hand over
his mouth. Bulma nearly blew a gasket.

"ARE YOU TRYING TO SET ME UP WITH HIM?" She advanced on Goku with the spanner and a
dangerous gleam in her eyes. Goku just put his hand behind his head in his usual style, and grinned.

"Uh...i gotta go. Forget about the beans, i'll just rest up for a bit. Bye!" He disappeared before Bulma
could do any damage. She dropped the tool and raged for a bit. What was he thinking? She already
had a boyfriend! Maybe he got hit in the head when he was sparring or something. She caught
herself thinking about what he said. Her and Vegeta? It was insane. Wasn't it? She had to admit, he
was extremely sexy, with the compact muscles and dangerous smirk...and the intense stare of his
and that wild black hair...

"Shit, Bulma, what are you thinking?" She murmured. "You're going insane, girl. Time to take a
break."

She walked inside her house and flopped down on the couch. So, Goku thinks Vegeta and I would
make a good couple, does he? Why would he ever want to torture me by setting up with that jerk?
Does he hate me that much? But now that he had said it, she couldn't stop thinking about him. He
had burst into her room last night, ready to do battle with whatever had 'attacked' her. Did that mean
he gave a damn if she lived or died?

Nah.

He was probably just worried that if she was murdered, he would actually have to cook for himself or
something. Bulma giggled at the thought of him in the kitchen. He could barely use the toaster. Hence
the mess last night. She realized that it was time she got some dinner ready, and rose to her feet.
Heading for the kitchen, she decided she would just order pizza rather than cook. But how many
should she order? Saiyans ate way more than regular people, so she guessed about six should do it.
She could always order more. She dialed up the number of the pizza place and ordered, then headed
upstairs to take a shower.

As she washed her hair, she became a little worried about Vegeta. He had been gone for ages, and it
was past the usual time for him to be bellowing about not having any food. She stopped suddenly as
she realized what she was doing. Why do I care all of a sudden? Twice today I have freaked out
thinking he was in some type of danger, when any other day I wouldn't give a damn. What is wrong
with me? She realized that even though Vegeta was a rude and cocky pain, she liked him. Well, was
grateful for his presence anyway. Usually when her parents went away, she locked herself in the lab
to do work until they came back. She had some latent fear of being by herself in the compound, and
since Vegeta had been staying, she felt safer than she had in a while.

"WOMAN!!"
Bulma jumped and almost fell over in the shower at the sound of Vegeta's yelling. She turned off the
shower and stepped out, putting a towel around herself and opening the door to the bathroom.

"WHAT?" She yelled back. He pounded up the stairs and headed for the bathroom, but froze when he
saw her. His eyes widened as he saw her clad in nothing but a towel, water droplets clinging to her
skin like diamonds. She looked down at herself and pulled the towel tighter around her. Vegeta
seemed disconcerted for a moment, but quickly found his train of thought.

"Shouldn't you be making dinner?" He asked gruffly. She frowned and shook her head.

"Nope, I ordered in. Just give it about half an hour and it'll be here. If you'll excuse me, I‟m half naked
here."

With that, she shut the door, wondering about the look on his face when he had seen her. She pulled
on her flannel pyjamas and blow-dried her hair, deciding to ring Yamcha later to remind herself that
she was happy with him, and didn't find herself attracted to that...hunk. YAH! She thought. What's
this? I‟m attracted to Vegeta? No. No way, no way at all. I refuse to think of him like that. She slapped
the thoughts away, and stepped out of the humid bathroom. She walked headed down the hall to the
stairs, passing Vegeta's room as she did. She absently glanced in, and stopped. Her jaw dropped in
shock.

He was standing in there, butt-naked.

His back was to her, so he didn't know she was there...yet. She kept on walking, the image of his
muscular back, his sexy ass and all round droolsome body forever etched into her mind. She was still
dazed with shock as she made it downstairs, awaiting the pizza guy to arrive. Bulma couldn't help but
be a little ruffled by what she had seen, it wasn't every day she got a look at such a perfect body. She
knew he would kick her ass if he found out what she had seen, so she made the swift decision to take
the knowledge to the grave. She couldn't help grinning a little though. Perhaps she should do
something about this feeling she was getting...

********************

She sat at the counter, after pouring herself a drink of water and waiting for the pizza to arrive. Every
time she shut her eyes, his body flitted through her head.

Stop it, Bulma. He is a killer! And he hates you! Remember what he said, he would kill you if he knew
how to fix the GR himself!

Those thoughts sobered her a little.

"How could you be thinking this, Bulma?" she whispered.

"Talking to yourself, woman?" A mocking voice asked. She jumped and turned around with her heart
in her throat.

"V..vegeta! You scared me."

"No great accomplishment. You humans are so easy to scare," he sneered. Bulma scowled at him,
but he just smirked and sat down on the sofa. He was wearing his ordinary clothes now, a black shirt
and tight jeans. She couldn't help but stare a little. His body was so much better than Yamcha's...

"Woman! When do we eat? I'm hungry!"

Shame about the personality though.

"Oh shut up, would you?! It's coming!" She yelled. He gave her a dangerous glare. She snorted,
unimpressed. He turned back away from her with a sneer. Bulma was a little let down. This type of
remark usually resulted in a full-scale argument, and she hadn't had one in a while. But he wasn't
taking the bait.
"Jeez, what is with you lately? Run out of steam since you realized Goku will always be stronger than
you or something, hmm?" She almost slapped her hand over her mouth at her words. That was an
invitation for a Bulma-bashing. Vegeta leapt to his feet and grabbed her shoulders, almost shaking
her as he yelled into her face.

"You have no idea what you are talking about! That idiot Kakkarot will never be stronger than the
prince of the Saiyans!"

Bulma winced under the pressure of his hands, but felt her own temper respond to his words. He had
an ego that just wouldn't quit!

"Oh, yeah? Well, news flash, Vegeta! He already is! And he always will be! No one has been able to
beat him, and you never will! If you would look past your damn ego for a damn second, you'd see
that!" She yelled back with equal force. Vegeta's face twisted with fury for a second, and Bulma
feared he might actually hurt her in his anger. She knew she had gone too far with her words, but it
was past time people stopped walking around on eggshells whenever he was concerned.

"Go for it, Vegeta. Beat the crap out of me. It'll just prove to me that you are the selfish monster
everyone says you are. Go on, kill a woman. I'm sure you have before!" She was shaking, and knew
he could feel that, but she said it anyway. What she wasn't prepared for was the faint tremor that went
through Vegeta's own body at her words. His eyes grew cold as she watched him, and he slowly let
go of her to turn away, presenting her with his back.

Bulma winced as she rotated her shoulders slightly, but quickly ignored the slight pain when she
realized that Vegeta had actually backed down from the challenge she had offered. She was willing to
lay a bet that he had never done that before. She felt a little sorry she had said that to him, but it was
undoubtedly true anyway. He had destroyed planets along with Frieza for years. But why should her
simple remark make him back down like that? Was it possible that...that he regretted what he had
done? Bulma couldn't really believe it, but he was standing in front of her, trying to control his reaction
to her careless statement. It made her soften slightly towards him, and for the second time today, she
felt she had to apologize.

"Vegeta... Uh, I didn't mean—"

His shoulders stiffened and he spun on her instantly, grabbing her throat harshly and almost lifting her
from the ground with his grip. He let out a guttural growl and tightened his hand around her throat,
silently showing her that he really could be a monster when he wished. She struggled wildly, but he
was so much stronger than her, she knew she didn't have a chance. There was nothing to do but
brace herself and pray for the end to be painless...

Deja vu hit Bulma like a sledgehammer, and she remembered her dream from the night before. But
this wasn't an Android; it was Vegeta. Vegeta who had burst into her room ready to fight whatever
had made her frightened in the night, who had in a rare moment of kindness let her rest and gather
her strength instead of get up and do his bidding. Who had a heart, even if he never showed it...

With a trembling arm, she reached up and touched his face, which was a mask of anger.

"Vegeta..." She gasped out. His eyes, which had been clouded with blind fury, cleared suddenly and
he found himself holding Bulma by the throat, with a grip so tight she was on the verge of collapse.
His hands loosened of their own accord, and she slumped to the ground in a heap. She immediately
broke into a fit of coughing, rubbing her throat and gasping for air. Vegeta was frozen, unable to
believe what he had almost done. Had he been about to kill her? Truly? He had been angry, but he
had never meant to hurt her. Never that. She was the only human on this planet with the guts to stand
up to him, the only one who had cared enough to provide him with shelter. She even gone to such
lengths as to give him a gravity room to train in, and this was how he repaid her? He couldn't believe
his actions.
Bulma looked up at him through hazy eyes, wondering at the flicker of emotions passing over his face
in rapid succession of the other. He was looking down at her, and even she could read the shock
standing out so boldly on his usually stoic face. She knew he hadn't really meant to hurt her so badly.
She held a trembling hand out to him, silently asking for help. He blinked and looked at her hand,
then back at her.

"I almost killed you." He stated hoarsely. She nodded, and kept her hand out to him. He swore under
his breath and leaned down, ignoring the hand she presented and lifting her into his arms. Bulma
suddenly found herself encased in warm steel as he carried her swiftly over to the couch and setting
her down on it. He let go and studied her for a second, then vanished down the hall. She sat there,
trying to swallow and get her aching throat back into working order. She had no idea what had just
happened there, but it had given her a new impression of Vegeta, that was for sure. Though he had
grabbed her like that, it seemed he had almost been trying to prove something to himself rather than
hurt her. Perhaps trying to prove that he was just as cold-hearted as he was when he first came to
find the Dragon balls? She didn't know. But she found herself wanting to help him find an answer to
whatever was eating at him. He just wasn't himself lately. Bulma heard a noise behind her and shifted
slightly to see behind her.

Vegeta stood there with a glass of water in one hand and a Senzu bean in the other. Her eyes
widened slightly and she took both from him. She took the water first to ease her throat, but choked
slightly at the pain it still caused. Vegeta's hand shot out to steady her as she drank the water and
then ate the bean. She felt nothing for a moment, just the pain in her throat, and then suddenly she
felt a sparkling wave overcome her whole body, instantly filling her with energy and healing her throat.
She lightly rubbed at her throat, but it was back to normal. She turned to Vegeta and gave him a
brilliant smile.

"Thanks. I never knew those beans worked so well!" He simply stood there, his face back to its usual
implacable expression. She supposed that he wasn't used to saving a person instead of killing them.
He gave her his intense stare, and she found herself standing up and moving towards him.

"Vegeta, I'm sorry for what I said. I have no idea what you did before you came here. It wasn't my
place to pass judgement."

"You were right. I have killed many innocents in my time," he said unrepentantly. She looked at him
sharply.

"Then why didn't you kill me?" She asked softly. If she hadn't been studying him so closely, she would
have missed the almost imperceptible twitch on his face at her words. He answered in the same
careless voice.

"Don't get any ideas. I still need you to fix that pile of junk you call a gravity room whenever it breaks."
He smirked and an indignant flush rose to her cheeks. How dare he call the GR a pile of junk! That
thing was her pride and joy!

"Well, if it's such a pile of junk, next time I won't fix it! Seeing as its so below your royal standards, you
should go and stay with Goku! You'll get a good workout there, and heaven knows Chi-chi can cook
better than I can!" She yelled in his face. He just laughed in that arrogant way of his that made her
want to strangle him.

"That is true, you couldn't cook to save your life. But I am useful here," he said in a sly voice. She
spluttered and started laughing.

"Useful? You? I don't think so! Maybe if I needed someone to strip my kitchen of all its food and order
me around! What in the world would you be good for, other than beating up my friends?"

He smirked and his eyes glinted wickedly. "You seem to get a thrill out of seeing me disrobe, more
than you do that weakling mate of yours!"
Bulma made a strangled sound and felt a wave of fire inflame her face. How had he known she was
there? She wrung her hands together and tried to think of a suitable excuse.

"Ha! I was just walking down the hall! You're the moron who gets undressed with the door wide open
for the whole world to see! And how did you know I was there anyway?" She yelled. He laughed with
cunning glee.

"Everyone has a Ki level you know. Even you, though it is laughably small. You forget that I can
sense them. I also sensed it rise as you walked past my chamber. Did you like what you saw?" He
smirked at her. She was cornered.

"That was shock that made it rise! Quit trying to expand your ego! I am more than happy with
Yamcha, for your information!" She backed away from him as she said that. She couldn't seem to
think clearly when she got that close to him. He just shook his head at her and smirked some more.
He saw right through her.

"Quit smirking at me! Do you do anything else?!" She asked irritably, trying to stop her cheeks from
spontaneously combusting. He raised one eyebrow sexily and stepped forward.

"Well I—" he was interrupted by the doorbell ringing. Bulma felt a curious mixture of relief and
disappointment that she thought she should ignore as she headed for the door. She grabbed her
money on the way. She wondered what he had been about to say before the door rang. She
answered the door and paid the pizza boy, taking the boxes from him though she staggered a little
under the weight. She kicked the door shut with her foot and walked back to the kitchen. She set
them down on the countertop as Vegeta grabbed the top three boxes and headed for the sofa. He
promptly sat down and turned on the TV.

"Hey! That's my seat your in, buddy!" She said in annoyance. He looked over at her and hmphed.

"Are you going to fight me for it?"

Mumbling a few detrimental phrases his way, she grabbed one of the pizza boxes and sat down on
the opposite end of the sofa. They ate in silence for a while, with nothing but the sound of the TV
breaking up the scene. This was one of the few times Vegeta ever stopped bothering her, when he
was stuffing his face. Though she had to admit, he did have the manners of royalty, for he never
dropped a crumb, even at the speed he consumed it. Bulma had always blamed Goku's bad manners
on his heritage, but now she knew it was just the way he was.

"Quit looking at me."

"Ack! I'm not. Get over yourself. Impossible as you might think it is, you aren't that good looking." A
lie, she knew. But she had to take him down a peg or two.

"Neither are you," came the reply. She frowned mightily at him, but her mouth was too full at that
moment to answer. The night progressed in a similar fashion, trading insults on the commercial
breaks and eating until they couldn't hold any more. Bulma had all but forgotten the previous incident
with Vegeta, and found herself actually enjoying his company, to a certain degree.

"Hey," she prompted him during an ad, "why aren't you training in the GR anyway? I fixed it, you
know."

He snorted and finished his bite. "I know that, woman. I plan on finishing my food before going back
to it, if you must know." He let the matter drop. She shrugged and resumed watching the T.V.

Whatever. She began to drift off to sleep as the movie finished, and didn't bother getting up. The
couch was too comfortable and she had forgotten to turn on her electric blanket anyway. Her eyes
closed and she settled into a deep slumber, soothed to sleep by the glow of the television.
Sometime during the night she awoke to find herself wrapped in warm arms as she was carried
upstairs. She mumbled incoherently and involuntarily snuggled closer to the warmth that was offered.

"Quit that." A harsh voice reprimanded. She opened one eye a crack and realized where she was. In
Vegeta's arms. With a squeak her eyes opened wide.

"What are you doing? Put me down!" She squealed. He ignored her and headed to her room. What
was he doing? She wondered to herself in panic. Just what was he trying to pull?

"You were talking in your sleep loud enough to drown out the T.V. It was either smother you or bring
you upstairs. You may thank me later."

"Thank you? What? I don't talk in my sleep!" She said in confusion. He looked down at her and she
could just make out that arrogant half smirk he was so fond of.

"Oh, really? Then I suppose it was just my imagination when I thought you said 'yes, Yamcha, I'll
marry you!' Eh?"

She blushed and ducked her head. He reached her room and tossed her onto the bed
unceremoniously. She righted herself in time to see her door close with a click, the light retreating
from the room.

"Goodnight to you too!" She yelled at the door. With a muttered curse, she crawled under the covers
and tried to go to sleep. But it wouldn't come. Damn Vegeta, why did he have to be such a jerk? She
thought. But her thoughts were all bluster. She knew there had to be another side to Vegeta, one that
she had gotten only glimpses of tonight. She thought about it. He had burst into her room when she
had had a nightmare, then he had let her sleep in, he had 'apologized' for choking her by giving her a
Senzu and water, then he had carried her upstairs instead of letting her stay on the couch all night,
which would have ended up very uncomfortable. Though he had explained his actions to her, saying
she was talking in her sleep, he would usually just throw a pillow at her head and tell her to shut up.
Did all this mean that he was beginning to like her a little?

Maybe. She didn't want to think about it any longer. She had an early start tomorrow. With a sigh, she
rolled over and forced herself to go to sleep.

Vegeta stared at the television blindly. Why had he bothered to carry her upstairs? She had been
making a lot of noise, talking and such, but he could have just woken her up instead. But he hadn't.
He was beginning to think the feel of her in his arms would be branded on his memory forever. He
didn't like where this was going, not one bit. He was starting to care for this woman, and that could
get him killed. Emotion full stop could get him killed. He thought back to that evening when he had
almost killed her without thinking, and a spark of pain flared up inside him. She had called him a
monster, and for some reason that had actually done some damage to him. He didn't think her
opinion would matter that much. He did know, deep inside, that he would never be in the same caliber
as Kakkarot, power-wise, anyway, but he wasn't going to stop until he was at least equal to his power,
if not greater. That low-class dunce wouldn't be at the top for much longer. He sighed, something that
he rarely did. These thoughts were getting him nowhere. He had to stop softening toward the woman,
or she would have him apologizing to Kakkarot for almost killing him if he wasn't careful. That thought
brought a certain amount of amusement to the prince.

He strode outside to train until sunrise. That never failed to clear his head, or at least bruise it a little.

******************************************************************************



Bulma awoke the next morning to a horrendous crash from outside. She bolted up out of bed and ran
to her French doors, pulling them open and racing out onto the balcony. She knew what she would
see even before she got there.
The GR lay in ruins, completely leveled into a pile of twisted metal and rubble. She couldn't spot
Vegeta anywhere.

"Oh, crap, Vegeta! Hang on!" She ran downstairs, still wearing her clothes from last night. She
unbolted and pulled open the front door, almost ripping it from its hinges. Please Kami, let him be all
right, let him be OK, I don't care if he insults me, just as long as he is alive to do it... Her thoughts
progressed like that as she neared the GR. Fear had her in its icy grip as she began pulling away
sheets of metal, searching for a sign of life. Oh, why hadn't she done a better job fixing it? Now
Vegeta might be dead, and it will be all her fault...

An olive-skinned hand shot out of the rubble, and Vegeta slowly, agonizingly pulled himself from the
pile. Bulma gave a cry of joy and ran over to him, helping him up. He weakly slapped her hand away,
stumbling slightly.

"Leave me alone, woman. You aren't needed," he coughed. She ignored him and placed his arm
around her shoulders, holding his hand tightly so he couldn't pull away.

"Dammit Vegeta, you overdid it, didn't you? You almost killed yourself this time!" She helped him over
to the grass, where he promptly collapsed. He continued to slap her away as she searched for
injuries.

"I said, leave me alone! It would take more than a pathetic blast like that to kill the prince of the
Saiyans!" he rasped as she studied him with concern. He was bleeding all over, his chest a mass of
scrapes and welts. She had no doubt that there were broken bones under all that muscle. He hadn't
been wearing his battle armor either, which would have lessened the impact slightly. She brushed her
hair out of her eyes and felt for the breaks in his ribs.

"It probably would, but you have been working yourself to death lately! It wore you down too much.
Dammit, why did I fix the machine, this would have never happened," she murmured painfully. Her
eyes filled with tears that she couldn't blink away in time to stop cascading down her cheeks. Vegeta
gave her an intense stare, and his hand rose up slightly as if to touch her.

Bulma met his gaze, and her heart leapt to double speed. His hand rose higher and paused as if
unsure.

"Woman, you..." Something was about to happen...

His hand fell limp, and with a drawn out breath, Vegeta lost consciousness. Bulma panicked for a
moment, but felt his heart beat beneath her fingers, and found it to be slow and strong. He would be
all right. If she could only get him to the med bay. She wiped off her cheeks and looked around for
help. It was Saturday, so there were no employees around, and he was too heavy to carry herself
without injuring him further. She was stuck with a dilemma. Then she came up with an idea. Vegeta
wouldn't like it, but there was no need for him to ever know. She ran back inside and dialed Chi-chi's
number. Please pick up, please...

"Hello," a quiet voice greeted.

"Gohan! Hey, it's Bulma, is Goku around?" She asked rapidly.

"Yeah, he's outside. You wanna talk to him?"

"Gohan, I need you to run out there and get him to teleport over here right now! I need help."

There was a shifting noise from the other end of the line, and she could hear murmuring.

"He'll be over right—"

"Hey Bulma, what's up?" Goku asked from right beside her. She jumped and spun around. She said a
quick thanks to Gohan and hung up.
"Its Vegeta! The GR exploded and I need you to get him inside to the med bay right now! He's really
hurt." Goku's expression sobered immediately and they both went outside.

"Wow, Vegeta really did a number on it, huh?" He said as he saw the wreck. Bulma gave him a sharp
glance.

"Who cares?! It's Vegeta I'm worried about right now. Pick him up and take him inside, but be careful
of his injuries! I don't want him to puncture a lung with those broken ribs," she said uneasily. Goku
gave her another of those odd glances and picked up the unconscious prince. She led the way to a
bed set up in what looked like another lab.

"Put him here," she pointed to the bed. Goku carefully set down the unconscious prince, who hadn't
moved a muscle during the whole thing. Bulma immediately started cleansing the wounds on his
chest. Goku stepped back and watched her work for a moment, before putting a hand on her
shoulder.

"Hey, are you OK now? Do you need any more help?" He asked kindly. She shook her head and
sighed.

"No, that was all I needed. Thanks Goku, you're a lifesaver. Just don't tell anyone about this, OK?
Vegeta would pitch a fit."

"No problem. I'll leave you to your work." With that, he disappeared, two fingers held to his forehead.

Bulma smiled faintly and turned back to her examination of the arrogant prince. She washed away the
blood on his chest, and got a better look at the wounds. She carefully bandaged them as firmly as
she could, binding what felt like about four broken ribs. She tried to do it as quickly as possible, not
lingering on any part of his body. Feeling her way down his chest, she reached his hips and stopped.
With a slight tremble, she felt the bones blindly, not daring to undress him. She couldn't feel any
breaks anyway, and for that she was grateful. She made her way down both of his legs, again finding
nothing but a few scrapes that wouldn't need stitching. With a sigh of relief, she went in search of the
Senzu beans that she kept in the drawer.

When she opened it, there was nothing there but an empty bag and some dust. With a confused
scowl, she rummaged around for them. Nothing. It then hit her that Vegeta had given her the last one
the night before, after strangling her. That worried her. What if his injuries worsened? She had fair
medical training, but she wasn't a surgeon. And she wasn't game enough to take him to the hospital,
knowing they would take blood tests. She could imagine the look on the doctors face when he
realized that Vegeta's blood matched no known blood type on earth.

She sat down beside the bed, slumping on the floor to lean on the wall. What a way to wake up of a
morning. She didn't have anything to do now, Vegeta wouldn't be up to eating until he woke up. If he
woke up. Bulma pushed that thought away as soon as it surfaced. Vegeta would wake up. He had to.
She'd never forgive herself if he didn't. How could she have screwed up the GR so bad? It was
completely demolished now, so there was no way to see what had gone wrong. Vegeta would no
doubt demand she make another one, but there was no way she was doing that until her dad got
back. She needed his approval for the materials that had to be shipped in from overseas. She looked
up at Vegeta, studying his still features. He was still frowning slightly, no doubt from the pain of his
injuries. She raised a hand and stroked his cheek lightly, wishing with all her might that he get better.
He mumbled incoherently, and his face tilted slightly toward her hand. She shifted so that she was
kneeling beside the bed, and she moved her hand away from under his face carefully. He didn't
move. She reached out tentatively again, this time stroking the black hair that was his trademark. The
frown smoothed out a little, so Bulma kept up the stroking. His eyelids fluttered slightly, startling her.
She quickly stopped and retrieved her hand. His throat bobbed as he swallowed, and his eyes
opened a crack. She hopped up to bend over him.

"Vegeta? Can you hear me? Do you know what day it is?" She asked anxiously. His eyes opened
wider, and he tried to speak, but just a croak emerged. She grabbed a glass from the counter and
filled it with water from the faucet. She brought it over to him and tried to lift him slightly, just enough
to drain it. He drank deeply from the glass, and when he was finished and she set down the cup, he
seemed more alert.

"Do you remember what happened?"

He nodded slightly, too exhausted to speak. Strange how he kept his princely dignity even when so
seriously injured. She took a shuddering breath, more upset than he was at his injuries.

"You passed out, so I brought you in here to check your injuries out. You have four or five broken ribs,
a cracked collarbone, and a lot of flesh wounds. And I think you have managed to strain just about
every muscle you have." He shifted a little, but stopped as pain overcame him. She went to help, but
a glare from him stopped her in her tracks.

"I...don't want...your help," he grated. She stiffened slightly and frowned.

"Well, I'm giving it to you anyway, so it's no use arguing. Did I use the last Senzu bean or what? I
couldn't find them."

He nodded and gave her a shadow of his usual smirk. She figured he wanted to sleep or something
when he closed his eyes, so she straightened and started to walk out the door, when his hand
reached out and grabbed hers. She turned around.

"Vegeta?"

He looked at her hard, as if searching for something only he could see. The smirk disappeared as he
studied her. Then he started to speak.

"I...used too much energy...GR couldn't handle the blast...it was...my doing," he gasped out. Her eyes
widened at his words. Surprise was evident on her face as she took in his meaning. Was that what he
had been trying to say before? That it wasn't her fault for not fixing the GR properly? It didn't seem
likely, but it was the only explanation.

"It doesn't matter," she assured him. "I was planning on creating another one anyway, one stronger
than the original. But I was putting it off. I suppose I should thank you, you're giving me a reason to
get started."

He smirked again, and she could almost see his old self returning.

"I'll let you get some rest. I doubt even Goku could take a hit like that and not be a little knocked
around." She tucked her hair behind her ear and beat a hasty retreat. She shut the door quietly, and
headed outside to program the servant-bots to clear the GR ruins away. Then she headed upstairs to
have a shower. She was covered with blood and grime from her exertions in the last hour.

When she got out, she dressed in a fresh pair of jeans and a tank top, and reached the foot of the
stairs just in time for the phone to ring.

She snagged it and sat down at the kitchen table.

"Hello?"

"Hey babe! What'cha been doing?" A male voice asked.

"Yamcha! Hi!" She greeted in surprise. She had almost forgotten about him with all the happenings
lately.

"Hey, I was taking a break from training tonight and was wondering if you wanted to go clubbing
tonight!"
She deflated. There was no way she could go and leave Vegeta by himself with his injuries. Plus, the
last time she had gone out with Yamcha to a nightclub, he had spent half the night chatting to the bar
girl.

"Sorry Yamcha, I can't tonight. The GR blew up and I have to set up plans to rebuild it. Plus, Vegeta
is here and—"

There was a growl on the other end of the line. "I knew it! You and Vegeta huh? I should've figured he
would try to make moves on you!" He said angrily. Bulma gasped in outrage at his assumptions.

"What? You're crazy! Vegeta took a hell of a pounding today from training, that's all! I just don't want
to come back and find him dead, OK? Shit, Yamcha, you're the only one who cheats in this
relationship! I on the other hand have morals about this sort of thing!" Without waiting for a response,
she slammed down the phone, then took it off the hook. Now she knew why she had doubts as to
where their relationship was going. He was a cheater, but a possessive one. The two didn't usually
mix, but Yamcha somehow managed to incorporate those two qualities into his entire makeup. It
irritated her to no end. How could he think she would cheat on him? Although, lately her thoughts had
been occupied by someone other than him...

But nothing would come of it. Not ever. Vegeta was unbelievably sexy, and she found herself
warming to him, but he was the opposite of everything she had ever wanted in a guy. He was loud,
cocky, rude, provoking to the point of insanity. She had to stop this. But she was worried about him
regardless, and she didn't want him to worsen his injuries any further. Knowing him, the second she
turned her back he would be off trying to train again. Reminding herself of his bad points, she walked
to the med bay to check on him, just in case.

She opened the door a crack, and peered into the dim room. He was out like a light. Bulma smiled to
herself as she opened the door a little wider and stepped in. She grabbed a spare blanket from the
cupboard and spread it over him, tucking it around him slightly to ward off the slight chill of the room.
He looked almost vulnerable in his sleep, the frown almost completely smoothed out to the point that
he appeared vaguely peaceful. She watched him for a few minutes, one half of her berating herself
for staring like this, the other half unable to pull away. With a sigh, she blinked a few times and
backed out of the room to set up the blueprints for the new GR.

Almost four hours later, she had just about finished the plans when she heard shuffling noises coming
from down the hall. She had set up her work at the dining room table so she would be alerted in case
Vegeta woke up, and she praised herself for her foresight. She jumped up and walked into the hall
where the cocky prince was trying to stay upright without passing out again.

"Vegeta! What are you doing out of bed? You're still injured, you hothead!" she chided. He swung his
gaze to her and glared.

"Don't tell me what to do woman! I'm perfectly all right, and I don't need your opinion on how well I
am!"

She crossed her arms and smirked. "Ha! You can barely stand up, idiot! And that's not an opinion,
that's an observation!" It briefly dawned on her that she was acting just like Vegeta, so she uncrossed
her arms but kept the smirk. He was panting lightly, his muscles glistening with a thin sheen of sweat
from simply getting up and walking a few meters. She lost the smirk also and started toward him
worriedly when she saw that his pupils were about twice their normal size.

"Vegeta, come on. There is no GR to train in anymore, and your just doing more damage to yourself!"

He glared some more as she put her hand on his arm and started to guide him back to the med lab,
but to her supreme surprise, he didn't say anything. That worried her the most. She placed her arm
around his waist as he lost his balance a little, and bore some of his weight as they walked back to
the med bay. He kept up the glare though, and for some reason Bulma was glad for that. It kept her
grip on sanity tight enough so that she didn't focus on the fact that she was close enough to Vegeta to
kiss him. She helped him back to the bad and he laid back on it slowly, conscious of his broken ribs.

"Are you hungry or anything?"

"Not if you're cooking," he said wickedly. She scowled, but was a little relieved that he was still the
same old Vegeta, no matter how beat up he was.

"No, i'm not cooking. There is some leftover pizza that I smuggled away from you last night. I'll just
heat it up." He grunted, and she guessed that that meant okay. She stepped out of the room and
prepared the leftovers. She knew Saiyans ate like there was no tomorrow, but she supposed with
Vegeta beat up like that he would eat less than usual. Ten pieces had better do it. Grabbing a tray
from the cupboard, she put the pizza on it and walked back into the med bay. He watched her come
in, following her every move with piercing dark eyes that held untold secrets. She set it down on the
bedside table with a pitcher of water she filled from the water purifier.

"You OK with that? Or do you need anything else?" She asked. Eek! She thought. I sound just like a
good little servant. He simply grunted again. She shrugged and stepped out of the room, closing the
door behind her. What's with the grunting? That's like caveman attitude or something.

Bulma continued work until late into the night, and she had heard no sound from the medical bay at
all. She figured he was asleep so she didn't bother to investigate it. At around one o'clock, there was
a knock at the front door. She jumped at the sudden noise.

"Now who the hell could that be?" She grumbled. "It's too early for mom and dad to be back yet." She
walked to the door and opened it a crack. "Who is it?"

"Your boyfriend, who else?" A laughing voice said. She rolled her eyes and sighed inwardly. She
opened the door and let him in.

"Hey Yamcha."

"Hey yourself. What was with you earlier?" He asked as he walked into the foyer. She bristled
immediately.

"What was with me?! What was with you is more to the point! I can't believe you would think that
about me! It's absurd," she yelled at him. What a nerve! He grinned sheepishly and put his palms out.

"Yeah, I kinda realized that when you hung up. Sorry if I offended you or anything."

She snorted and raked her hair back from her face. "Offended me? That's an understatement. What
do you want, Yamcha? It's really late."

He fidgeted a little and ducked his head. "I uh, we need to talk. About us." He shot a look at her
through his eyelashes. She felt her insides turn to ice at his words. Here it comes, she thought. The
breakup. She was strangely distant about it, though she hadn't really seen it coming. Perhaps it was
time she moved on from him anyway.

"Yeah, I figured it was time. Things haven't been the same for a while, don't you agree?" She said,
resigned. He looked up sharply, and surprise melted away to reveal relief at her words.

"Yeah, yeah, they haven't. It's just that I don't really think we are as compatible as a couple as we are
as friends. I mean, I don't regret us, but i...i think..." He stopped short and trailed off.

"But you think it's time we broke up?" she provided. He darted her another of those looks and edged
away a little uneasily.

"...yeah."

"Okay."
"Huh?!?" He said in shock. His jaw sagged a little as he stared at her. She understood his reaction.
The other times that they had broken up, she had been throwing pottery and yelling like a banshee.
This was a complete turnaround in his eyes.

She smiled. "I said, okay. But this time, I think it's permanent. We really are better off as friends."

He let out a gigantic sigh. "Wow, you're taking this really well. Are you sure you and Vegeta aren't—"
he stopped as she clamped a hand over his mouth.

"Shh! He's in the next room. And if you say that again, I won't take it so well, got it?" She hissed
menacingly. He nodded and looked a little worried. She removed her hand.

"Good."

Yamcha scratched at his jaw and regarded her closely. "Well, why are you taking this so calmly?"

Bulma shrugged and sat down at the kitchen table. "I don't know. I suppose I always knew this was
inevitable. I think I'm kinda relieved." She fiddled with a pencil she had been using earlier. "I knew you
were cheating on me, and I guess after a while, I just got tired of it always happening and me always
getting mad. You won't change. Don't deny it, you know it's true. I'm not mad though, so stop backing
away like that!" She snapped. He stopped. There was a slightly guilty look in his eyes.

"I'm sorry about that. I just can't help it sometimes, you know?"

I know, she thought. Her attention wandered to how Vegeta was doing. He had been in there for
hours and there hadn't been a sound. What if he tried to get up and knocked himself unconscious? Or
if he slipped into a coma with all that head trauma from the explosion? Or if he—

"Give me a second, Yamcha, I'm going to just check on Vegeta. Don't look at me like that either,
bonehead."

She walked down the short hall and knocked lightly on the door. She waited for a response. No
answer, she though. She opened the door. Her eyes took a little while to adjust to the lack of light, but
when they did, she was shocked beyond belief. He wasn't dead, he wasn't unconscious and he sure
as hell wasn't there.

He was gone.

******************************************************************************

"Vegeta?" Bulma called futilely, knowing he wasn't there. The window was open and the curtains
were billowing in the slight breeze, telling her that was how he had left. She walked over to it and
closed the screen numbly, wondering where the hell he had gone. Looking over to the bed she saw
his bandages in a heap on the sheets.

"Yamcha! Come here!" She yelled in the direction of the hall. There was a long pause, and her ex
edged his way into the room uneasily. To Bulma's absent amusement, he straightened up as soon as
he saw Vegeta wasn't there. She showed him the bandages.

"Look at this! That jerk took off out the window! He's way too injured to be flying around the place like
some sort of loony! What the hell is he thinking? Oh crap, what am I going to do with him?" She
raged.

Yamcha studied her. "What did you want me for? Something to yell at?"

She quieted and pushed her aqua hair back over her shoulder. "Oh, uh, see if you can sense his
power signature around here, would you? I want to find that monkey and tell him just what I think of
him." If she were honest, she would just say that she was worried. But there was no way she could let
Yamcha know that. He'd tease her till she was ninety for ever saying that.
Yamcha tilted his head slightly and his look changed to one of mild concentration. Bulma waited for a
few moments, as he scanned the area. He relaxed after a while, and straightened.

"Nothing. But Goku must be getting some action or something, cuz his power is way up there!"

"Ew! Yamcha, I didn't need to know that!" Bulma said wrinkling her nose. He laughed. She spun
around and walked back out the door into the hall, heading for the kitchen. Where could he be? Did
he find a spare Senzu or something that I didn't know about? I hope he is ok. Those thoughts tailed
Bulma as she reached the kitchen, nagging at her and spinning her into a sense that something was
deeply wrong. Without knowing why, she headed for the front door and opened it, stepping into the
yard with Yamcha following closely behind.

"You're really worried, aren't you Bulma?" He commented. She didn't bother to answer him, knowing
that anything she said would just give away how scared she was getting. Suddenly Yamcha spun his
head around and looked back toward the house.

"Hey, Bulma, I think I felt something on the other side of the house. But it's way too low to be Veg—"

She was already gone.

"...eta. Ok then," he said with a sigh. He slowly followed, praying it wasn't the evil prince.

Bulma sprinted around the other side of the house, to where the window of the med bay was. She
immediately spotted a collapsed figure just below it, and her heart sped up. Vegeta was laying there,
completely...dead.

Or he looked it. She ran up to him, noticing the pasty pallor of his skin and the purple bruises
darkening his skin to an unnatural hue.

"Vegeta! Can you hear me? Wake up!" She bellowed in his ear. She knew how sensitive Saiyan
hearing was. Nothing. She grabbed his shoulders and spread him out on the ground, out of the
hunched position he was in. This was bad. No breathing coming from him at all, and only the faintest
pulse could be felt in his corded neck.

"Vegeta? Dammit, wake up! Yamcha! Come quickly!" She screamed, close to tears. She tried to think
of her CPR training, pinching his nose shut and tilting the prince's head back slightly. She began
breathing into his mouth at regular intervals, scared out of her mind. Yamcha came around the side of
the house to find that scene.

"What the hell?! Bulma, what's going on?" He yelled, a flash of unreasonable jealousy flaring up in
him. He didn't care that Vegeta was dying one little bit. He just wanted to get her away from him.

She didn't even acknowledge his presence, just kept breathing into Vegeta's mouth, crying all the
while. Oh Kami, it's not supposed to go down like this! The wounds weren't that bad, what's wrong
with him?! Her thoughts were screaming at her, tearing at her. She desperately wanted him to live,
and she didn't even know why. She was losing hope. Keeping up the artificial breathing for seven
minutes, there was still no response. She checked his pulse. Gone. Nothing, not even the faintest
sign of hope. Tears streaked down her cheeks as she run out of ideas, her usually quick brain
useless, right then when it counted most. Five compresses on his chest, one more breath, and she
looked up at Yamcha with a plea in her sapphire eyes.

He looked at Bulma then, seeing the terror in her eyes at the prospect of Vegeta dying, and knew that
if he didn't help then, she would never forgive him. He was deathly afraid of the Saiyan, but right then,
he knew what he had to do.

His face hardened. "Bulma, get back. Now." She shook her head wildly at him, so he grabbed her
roughly by the arm and jerked her away from the prince. She landed with a thud behind him. He
powered up, a white aura crackling around him. She let out a whimper of fear as he did so, unsure of
the expression on his face. What was he doing?
Yamcha powered up a small amount of Ki into one palm, focussing his energy into the smallest
possible blast. He spread out his palm facing towards Vegeta, and he let fly the beam to hit him
square in the chest. Bulma sobbed as Vegeta's body arched up from the ground unnaturally,
contorting as Yamcha kept up the energy. She couldn't watch. She couldn't see Vegeta there, dead,
fried by her ex boyfriend's own blast. Why was he doing this? Because he hated Vegeta so much?
She couldn't do a thing to stop him, he was too strong for that. All she could do was watch. Not even
that. She buried her head in her arms, curled into a ball on the frosty grass. What she wouldn't give to
see him wake up... What she wouldn't do to hear him yell at her for acting so weak... She had just
started to get to know him, just started to see what his depths truly were. Now she would never know
if she could ever get behind those icy walls of his...

A choking gasp sounded in front of her, and Bulma looked up with a jerk. Yamcha powered down and
knelt beside Vegeta. Scrambling to her feet, she shoved him out of the way to get a look. He was
alive! With a sob of pure relief, she collapsed beside him. He was shuddering and dragging deep
lungfuls of air into his broken body, his eyes wide with the shock of being brought back from the brink
of death.

"Oh, my god, you're alive..." She whispered. She lifted his head and cushioned it with her lap, easing
his struggle to resume breathing. Yamcha righted himself and gave her a long look.

"No need to thank me," he said quietly. She looked up from the shaking prince and an expression of
comprehension dawned in her eyes. "Did you..."

"Yeah. I figured a shock to his heart would get it going again. Took a little longer than I had expected
though." They both looked back down at Vegeta. He was still gasping, but it had receded enough that
he was panting. His muscular chest was heaving, and she noticed for the first time that it was freezing
outside. There was a burn hole in the front of his black shirt, Yamcha's work. His eyes were closed.
He was close to unconscious, and he didn't seem to know what had happened or where he was. She
thought it would be for the best for now, just until Yamcha cleared off and she could tell him herself.
Vegeta wouldn't like knowing that he was indebted to the desert bandit. She wiped her eyes and took
a fortifying breath.

"Thank you Yamcha. I know you didn't have to help him, but you did anyway."

Yamcha chuckled. "I didn't have to? That's a laugh. If I hadn't, judging from the look on your face
back then, you would have disemboweled me. You seem to really like him."

She sniffled. "Yeah. I have a sneaking suspicion he isn't as bad as he says he is, and I think he could
use a friend while he's here." She stroked back his thick hair absently, unaware of Yamcha's half-
hearted glare.

"A friend? Or, you know, a friend," he asked skeptically. She shot him a nasty look. He took a quick
step back and grinned. "Joking, joking."

"Help me get him inside. It's damn cold out here."

"Right." Together they both hauled him inside and into the med bay, where Bulma ran more checks
on him and covered him with three thick blankets to help ward off any chance of a cold. He was
breathing normally again, and his heart rate was steady. Seeing as they had bound up his ribs again,
and the x-rays were clear, Bulma felt safe that he wouldn't die during the night. Though she still
couldn't figure out what had happened to almost kill him in the first place. Maybe Vegeta would know
when he woke up. She checked her watch after they had finished with the injured Saiyan.

"Holy shit, it's a quarter to three! No wonder I'm wrecked." Almost as if on que, she let out a huge
yawn. She rubbed at her watery eyes. Yamcha grinned tiredly and nodded. "Yeah, I know how ya
feel. I think I'll be on my way home now, if you have everything under control."
   She nodded and saw him off at the front door, before closing it with a click and leaning on the other
   side. She could barely keep her eyes open she was so exhausted. She had to start giving up these
   late nights or she'd get bags under her eyes. Thinking of something suddenly, she walked back to the
   med bay, rummaging through the cupboards until she found what she wanted. Morphine. Vegeta
   would thank her for this, or, at least on the inside. Bulma grinned to herself as she filled up a sterilized
   needle with the correct dosage. This should keep him under for a few hours, she thought as she filled
   the needle to the brim.

   Not quite able to bring herself to leave yet, she sat on the foot of the bed, leaning on the wall for
   support. In the dim light she studied the figure under the covers. All she could see of him was the
   silhouette of his wild flame of hair and part of his regal profile. He's definitely a prince, she thought to
   herself. You just can't fake that kind of arrogant haughtiness. Leaning her head back on the wall, she
   sighed. Things had definitely gotten more interesting since he had been around, she thought
   reflectively. Too bad these past few days have taken ten years off my life.

   There was a faint groan coming from the figure at the other end of the bed. Bulma jumped up and
   stood at his side, but he hadn't moved. Dreaming, she thought. She put a cool hand to his forehead,
   finding it at normal temperature. She gently tucked the covers around him as she had done earlier
   and straightened. How did one take care of an injured Saiyan anyway? What did they use when they
   couldn't get blood transfusions? Her thoughts strayed back to something Goku had said after he
   came back from Yardratt. How when he was on Namek he was shoved into a... What was it called? A
   regeneration tank? Yeah, that was it. And he had gotten better, straight back to full health. The idea
   appealed to her immediately. Her tiredness left her as she began formulating plans in her head to
   create this healing tank. She rushed out of the room and headed for her lab. If this would do any
   good, she had to try.

   Twenty hours later:

"YES! FINISHED! FINALLY!" She yelled. She leapt out of her chair and danced around her lab with a few
employees. She had called up a few of her trusted workers and had set up the plans to make the re-gen tank,
telling them it was going down as overtime work. She had a group of lab experts, and they had worked non stop
for nearly a whole day and night. It was done. She'd had to get Goku to explain it to her, but that hadn't been
too hard. It was a white pod, roughly the size of the spaceship Vegeta had come to earth in the first place,
except a different shape. There was an oval shaped blue glass window in the door, and inside was a small
bench and a oxygen mask hanging from the roof. The idea was to flood the tank with synthetic Saiyan DNA,
which was used to configure to a Saiyans own body and heal them completely of any wound. She had added
the bonus of it being able to heal humans too.

   She calmed herself down and grinned to her workers. "Great job guys, this'll go down great with my
   dad. There may even be a promotion in it for a few of you. That's it though, you can all go home.
   Thanks for your help!" They nodded politely at her and filed out, going back to their respective homes.
   She was on a total high. Sometimes she even surprised herself with the extent of her genius.

   "Hee, hee! Now, to wait until Vegeta wakes up." She had been keeping him doped up ever since her
   and Yamcha dragged him in. She had hooked him up to a drip so he wouldn't starve while he was out
   of it. She stumbled over to the door of the lab, pulled it open and stepped outside. It was dark out,
   about 11pm. She walked into the house, running on caffeine alone. She silently thanked the guy who
   invented that wonderful stimulant. Or whatever. She walked into the med bay to check on Vegeta.
   Please, this time be in there, she thought to herself. She hesitantly pushed the door open.

   "Do you mind?!" Vegeta growled, pulling on a shirt. She jumped. He was out of bed and wide awake.

   "Hey! What are you doing up? And coherent?" She asked in surprise. He weaved a little on his feet,
   but steadied himself.

   "It would take more than your human poisons to keep me down. I know you have been drugging me
   somehow," he responded gruffly. He then proceeded to pass out.
"Vegeta!" She cried. He caught himself before he hit the ground though, and, using sheer
determination, fought the drugs she had him pumped with. He forced himself up and glared at her.

"Don't you ever try to do that again, do you understand, human? Never. I am a Saiyan, I can handle
pain!"

"Oh sure. I should've expected this!" She yelled. "No 'thanks for helping to save my worthless life,
Bulma', or 'where have you been for the last day and a half, Bulma, I bet it wasn't making me a stupid
regeneration tank to help heal my stupid body!!" His eyes widened quite a bit, but he kept up the
glare.

"I didn't ask you to do it! I didn't ask for anyone's help!"

"But we're giving it to you anyway, and the least you could do is be grateful! You're not on Planet
Vegeta anymore, and we aren't your servants! Dammit, we are helping cuz we want to, not because
we have to!" She yelled at him, all but worn out from her work for the past two days. She was at the
end of her proverbial rope. He made a guttural sound in his throat and looked away. She abruptly slid
down the door frame to sit on the floor. It was suddenly hard to stay on her feet. Vegeta swung his
head and studied her hunched over figure. Extreme fatigue was plain on her face.

"What is your problem, woman? Get up off the floor," he snapped. She didn't move.

"The tank is in my lab. It's set up, all you have to do is get in. It'll automatically start once you put on
the mask," she said in a dead voice. She stayed on the floor for a few moments longer, before getting
up and starting up the stairs to her room. She didn't care if Vegeta made it there or not. Let the
ungrateful jerk make his own way to the lab, she had done enough already.

That was her last thought before she blacked out.

Vegeta heard the thump and limped out to see what it was. Seeing Bulma on the ground in a heap,
he was seized with some unidentifiable feeling that almost choked him. He stumbled up to her
painfully, and painstakingly bent down to see what was wrong. Rolling her so that she was on her
back, he drank in what he saw. She was pale, thought that did nothing to deduct from her beauty. He
doubted anything could. Her teal hair was spread across her shoulders, spilling over her face in
irregular skeins. He tried to ignore the softness of her skin as he checked her pulse, and finding it
strong, chalked her faint up to pure exhaustion. He felt a certain amount of guilt about that, knowing
that she had been up for hours and hours trying to find a way to fix his battered body. What he
couldn't understand was why she would want to help him. It was only a few years ago that he had
been about to blow this sorry excuse of a planet away, and her included. Humans were strange, that
was all he could say.

This woman was one of the strangest. And yet, he found himself admiring her. This would not do. He
brushed her hair off her face and stroked her cheek lightly, unable to pull away from her. He could
remember little about last night, only trying to escape the odd feelings that had descended upon him
from being helped by this woman, and flying out the window. He remembered nothing after that. He
had no recollection of how he got the burn mark on his chest, or how he made it back inside. The
woman must have somehow done it. Vegeta studied her for a moment longer, and reached down to
pick her up off the floor. It hurt like blazes, but he couldn't just leave her there on the cold ground. It
was a small way to pay back his debt towards her, and Vegeta always paid back his debts. Though
he rarely took help to be indebted to someone anyway.

Shifting her awkwardly in his arms, he made his long journey up the stairs to her room. He was weak,
and had the sneaking suspicion that his ribs weren't aligned anymore, but what he lost in strength he
always made up for in determination. Panting slightly, he lay her on her bed and covered her over.
After a last look at her he closed the door and made his way down to the lab. He just hoped that thing
would work better than the GR did, because he didn't think he could take another explosion in his
current condition. Just because he didn't admit weakness to anyone didn't mean he didn't admit it to
himself. He knew his own limits. Lately though, he had been wondering just what it would take to
reach the Super-Saiyan level, and just how far he had to push himself to reach it. Kakkarot kept trying
to tell him that it wasn't about how far you could push your body, but how far you could push your
mind. That it had to be attained by needing the power, not just wanting it. Vegeta thought that
perhaps that theory did have a little merit. But then again, Kakkarot was an idiot and wouldn't be able
to find his way out of a wet paper bag if he tried. So he stuck with his own method.

Finding the lab, he opened the door and staggered in, searching in the dark for the re-gen tank. He
found it backed against the far wall, and his eyes widened in shock. It looked almost identical to the
ones on Freeza's main ship! How could she have created it to be exactly the same? A faint smirk
curled his lips. While she could be annoying as hell, and she couldn't cook anything even remotely
edible, he had to admire her intelligence when it came to machines. Opening the hatch to the tank, he
limped inside and closed it behind himself. Sitting down on the low bench with a faint wince of pain,
he settled the mask over his face. He heard the faint click and whirring noise as the machine rumbled
to life, and began filling with the thick liquid that would give him back his strength. His last thought
before succumbing to unconsciousness was a disturbing one; the knowledge that she had selflessly
put his health above her own actually warmed him a little. Perhaps there was hope for him yet.

******************************************************************************

Bulma awoke feeling like her head was clogged with cotton wool. She dragged herself out of bed and
checked the time.

6:00am.

"Oh man, I need sleep," she moaned pathetically. Seven hours sleep wasn't enough. Blearily
stumbling out of her room, she made her way downstairs to make herself breakfast. Grumbling under
her breath about how tired she was didn't seem to help her situation much, but she did it anyway. She
stopped suddenly as she realized there was a gap in her memory she couldn't recall. Last night... She
had been so tired, how had she gotten to bed? She remembered getting angry at Vegeta and walking
away, leaving him, but nothing after that. What had happened?

She shook her head tiredly. She had probably just staggered up to bed. She wondered if Vegeta had
made it to the re-gen tank all right. Her eyes darkened angrily at his ungrateful actions the night
before. Why should she care anyway? The fool could rot for all she should give a damn. Should. That
was the operative word. She gave a damn no matter what, and she didn't even know why. Stupid
traitorous feelings, Bulma scolded. She always was a glutton for punishment, but this was going
overboard. Vegeta was the worst possible choice to develop feelings for. It was like having a crush on
the devil.

Crush? Bulma skidded to a halt. It couldn't be a crush. That was so juvenile. It was deeper than that.

What? She thought furiously. All this sleep deprivation was making her nuts. She ran down the stairs
and into the kitchen. There was nothing like battling tiredness with caffeine. She made herself a
strong black coffee and sat down on the couch to read the newspaper, not even caring that it was two
days old. She hadn't read it. After taking a few sips, she placed the mug down and sighed. This
wasn't going to work, she thought. Bulma got up and walked to the sliding door that led outside...to
her lab.

"This is the last time I'm going to check on that loser..." She muttered to no one in particular as she
crossed the yard to the lab. They had it outside so that any dangerous experiments carried out would
have no effect on the house. It was her own personal lab, and it wasn't used for company work unless
the employees had her say so. Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes she opened the door to the lab and
peered inside.

The tank was activated, and she could see the dim blue glow it gave off as it did its job. So he was in
there, she thought in relief. He made it in. She stepped closer and checked the timer on it. Another
few hours to go, so he should be out by nine at the most. Dragging her mid length aqua hair out of
her eyes, she squinted to have a look inside the tank. He was sitting there, unconscious of course, his
flame of hair weaving slightly as the liquid around him churned gently. She could make out that he
was wearing nothing but the black jeans he had been wearing when he disappeared, and an
unbuttoned shirt. She could see his muscled chest and abs gleaming blue in the odd light. Wow, he
might be evil and a total ass at times, he had the best body she had ever seen. She had always
detested the big bulgy muscles some other guys had, and mostly went for the sleek, compact look
that hinted at danger, rather than ego. Not that Vegeta didn't exude both of those things in excess. He
was the king of egotistical behavior, and she always detested those kinds of show pony
performances. Didn't she? Yamcha had always irritated her with his constant preening and flexing,
but Vegeta didn't need to do those things to look like he was arrogant. Bulma just guessed it was part
and parcel of the whole prince gig. She admired his perfect physique for a moment longer, drinking in
all she could with her eyes. She wouldn't get another chance like this to have a major perve.

Reluctantly, she tore her eyes away, knowing that he would be hungry when he awoke, and she
wasn't up to arguing with the clod just yet. She would get his damn breakfast, then program the
combat-droids to set themselves up in the yard, and crawl back into bed for another, oh lets
say...three years.

She had finished making breakfast, her own specialty, a ham and mushroom omelette with cheese
(at least she thought it was her specialty, because it was the one thing Vegeta ate without
complaining.) and had finished her own portion of the omelette when she heard a high pitched beep
from outside. The drying phase was finished. He was healed. Bulma checked her watch. It was
8:45am.

"Huh. He's early. I would have thought the tank was more accurate than that," she frowned. She
shrugged and began washing up her dish. If her guess was correct, Vegeta would be in there soon,
demanding food. 5...4...3...2...

She heard heavy footsteps approaching, and steeled herself.

"Woman, get me some food," the gruff voice ordered. The sliding door opened, and Vegeta stepped
into her line of vision, with his permanent scowl in place. His bruises were gone, she could see, and
he looked much better than before. She mentally congratulated herself on her wonderful invention.
His scowl lessened for a moment, and for a split second, something like gratitude flashed in the
ebony depths of his eyes. It was either that, or hunger for food. Bulma liked to dream. She had no
idea how she would react if he ever thanked her for something, she was way too accustomed to his
surly looks and imperious demands to even imagine it. Yeah, and I think hell would freeze over if he
ever did, she thought.

She snapped herself out of her thoughts and flashed him a dirty look. "What do you think is in front of
you?" She asked, pushing a heaped plate on the counter his way. He scowl deepened, and he took a
step forward. The scowl faded into a smirk as he realized she'd left herself wide open for insult. She
realized it at the same time he did, and braced herself for his comment on her 'food'.

"It looks like something the old man's cat vomited up, but I think it is food. Though I doubt it will taste
like it," he grumbled, and snagged a fork from the drawer and sat at the table. Bulma snorted and
continued washing up her plates. As far as insults went, that was pretty tame by Vegeta's standards.
He must be in a good mood or something. She giggled at the thought. The idea was inconceivable.

His head jerked up from his food. "What are you laughing at?" He growled. She shook her head
dismissively.

"Nothing. Did the re-gen tank work all right?" She asked, changing the topic. He grunted in a way that
Bulma had long ago interpreted as 'yes'. He finished his breakfast and sat down the fork. She looked
up as he didn't move. He looked over at her, and stood up fluidly to walk to the other side of the
countertop, opposite her. His eyes glittered angrily.

"All right, my turn for questions. How did I get that mark on my chest, and how was I brought inside
from outside the window?" He growled. She cringed inwardly at his tone. He knew what was up.
She took a deep breath and raised her blue eyes to meet his night-colored ones. "Yamcha made the
mark, and he brought you inside." She tore her eyes away and continued scrubbing viciously at the
frying pan she held in her hands. Vegeta let out an animalistic growl and slammed his fist on to the
counter.

"What?!? Why? What the hell happened?! Answer me!" He yelled. He paused, composing himself,
and when he continued it was in a tone that gave Bulma the shivers. "I want the whole story woman,
or I'll enjoy ripping it out of that pathetic weakling one organ at a time. Now, What. Happened." The
quiet, deadly menace in his voice frightened her in a way nothing should, but Bulma summoned up
her courage and glared at him.

"Don't even think about intimidating me, or Yamcha, for that matter. The burn mark was—"

"From a Ki blast!" He viciously cut in. "Trust a cowardly human to attack when their opponent is
unconscious!" His fists clenched tightly, his knuckles turning white with the strain. But he made no
move to strike her, and Bulma's fear slowly drained away to be replaced by anger.

"Don't you interrupt me, dammit! Blasting you was the only way to start your heart again! You were
dead for about five minutes before we brought you back!" She yelled in his face. Vegeta's eyes flew
wide and flashed with burning disbelief. He shook his head at her disbelievingly.

"No. I refuse to believe that—"

"Oh, you would!" She spat venomously. "Anything to protect your damn pride! Well, accept it, Vegeta.
Yamcha saved your life! Even thought he didn't have to, even though he dislikes you as much as you
hate him, he saved your life. That is showing you the true measure of a 'cowardly' human's honor,
isn't it?" She spun away from him angrily, scrubbing harder than ever at the frying pan. She refused to
look at him. This time, all she wanted was for him to drop off the face of the earth, no matter how
good his body was. The personality that came with it was just too much to bear with. Damn him,
damn him, damn him! She just wanted to scratch his eyes out, or strangle him until he turned blue.
She shuddered at the image her mind evoked, for it was the same one she had seen when she had
found him dying.

The thought brought back memories of that night she had found him outside, still as...as a corpse.
She had been so afraid he would die. So afraid. It just showed how starved for company she was,
how utterly pathetic she was...

She eyes started stinging suddenly, her vision blurring she that all she saw was vague shapes. She
had to get out of there before Vegeta saw her cry. She darted a glance over to where he had been a
second ago, and froze.

Blinking slightly, she cleared her eyes enough to see. He was still there, all right, standing just as he
had been moments ago with his fists resting on the countertop, back ramrod straight, but his face had
changed. Where there had been feral anger, there was...fear? He stared at his clenched fists hard,
almost accusingly, but the emotion was flickering wildly in his eyes like a flame. He no longer seemed
aware of her presence. Bulma took this chance to wipe her eyes and dry her hands. She skirted
around the counter cautiously, and stopped beside him.

"Vegeta?" She asked hesitantly. He never looked up. What was he thinking? He no longer seemed
angry, not really. She tentatively put a hand out to touch one of his clenched fists, lightly resting her
palm on his hand. He still didn't move. She was getting worried. What had she said? Was he so
worried to be in a human's debt that he feared it? Was that it? She tightened her hand over his, and
put her other hand on his shoulder. He flinched silently and blinked, coming out of his strange stupor
slightly. Encouraged, she tried again.

"Vegeta, what did I say? What's wrong with you?" She asked softly. She didn't expect an answer, but
to her surprise, she got one.
"I...was dead. You brought me back. That is a debt I can never repay," he said hollowly. She sighed.
She had been right.

"Look, no one cares about debts. I certainly don't, and Yamcha is too afraid of you to bring anything
up ever again. Forget it, we have," she said carefully. His scowl deepened, and he flicked his gaze to
her slightly, to the hand on his shoulder. She didn't let go, though.

"Idiot. You don't understand. I should have expected you wouldn't, you are...pure," he spat the word
like it left a bad taste in his mouth. She gaped at him in open mouthed surprise.

"I'm...pure?! Did I screw up the re-gen tank to mess with your brain pattern? I have been called many
things by you, but never...pure," she uttered the word like it was foreign. Bulma blinked as he spun
towards her, shrugging off her hand.

"You really don't know what I'm talking about. Do you know what happens to all the murderers and
monsters like me when they die? Do you think they just hang out with all the pure souls in the next
dimension? I think not. I died on Namek, and the things I saw I never want to see again. I thought I
knew every way to inflict pain on another, but that place showed me things not even Frieza could
have known." His voice reverberated with barely repressed horror. Bulma felt pity and sorrow
overwhelm her. He had done terrible things, but never had she thought he would go to hell or
wherever for the things he had done. She never really thought about it.

He continued raggedly. "Of anything in the universe, I never wanted to die. I was... It disturbed me. I
knew what would happen when I did, I had been killing innocents all my life. There would be no peace
for me after I died. Why do you think I wanted to wish for immortality on Namek? Ruling the universe
for eternity was what I wanted, but to be protected from the afterlife was what I needed. I know I am
evil... and I accept it, but the things I saw..." A dead look haunted his face, empty of the haughty
arrogance he could even carry in his sleep. He lowered his head and let out a shuddering sigh.
Bulma's eyes filled again, but this time it was for Vegeta that she wept, not because of him. She
wiped her face and swallowed unsteadily. Vegeta wasn't looking at her, at anything. He had zoned
out again.

She couldn't handle it. He wasn't evil, she knew that for sure. He was arrogant and proud, irritatingly
determined and stubborn, completely single-minded. But evil... No. He showed mercy, he helped
Gohan, Krillin and even Goku on Namek, saving their lives in backhanded ways and using excuses to
hide even his own confusion as to why he had done it. He had been molded by Frieza to be the
perfect assassin, cold, hard and merciless, but his real personality shined through at sporadic
moments. He had helped her, at times also. She had never known that Vegeta could have such an
inherent fear of death, she didn't think it was even possible for him to fear anything. But she was
seeing it, right now, he was in front of her, jaw clenched and eyes glinting as he repressed the
memories of his trip to the other side. Goku had died, but he had been pure of heart so he wasn't
exposed to the torture Vegeta had been. She didn't think it was fair that what had been Frieza's
making had been Vegeta's blame. If there was some way to go back and fix things... But there wasn't.

"Vegeta... I'm sorry, i... Didn't know. But, y—you can change all that, you don't have to go there
again," she whispered hoarsely. "You can change it. You don't have to kill people anymore, you could
help them. You're the second strongest guy in the universe, instead of destroying it, help protect it."
She crossed her arms to stop herself from reaching out to him, holding him. He would never accept
her comfort. He looked up at her slowly, his face hardening, hiding the turmoil he was truly feeling.

"That will never happen. I am what I am, nothing can change that. Frieza made me what I am, I might
as well enjoy it."

"You're crazy." She said flatly. He looked at her sharply. "Yeah, you heard me, you're crazy. You
have the chance to make amends for what you have done, but you refuse the opportunity. I always
knew you had determination, truckloads of it, but your giving up on the one thing that could save your
soul? Insanity."
"I have no soul," he said fiercely. She narrowed her eyes and gripped his forearms tightly, though he
would barely feel it.

"Bullshit." She said bluntly. "There is good in you somewhere, I know it. Hell, even Goku knew it when
you were trying to kill him! Why do you think the spirit bomb didn't kill you? It was strong enough, and
it was drawn to negative energy, so a being with no soul wouldn't have stood a chance. But you
survived. Don't you wonder why?"

He was thawing slightly; his defenses were lowering as he mulled it over. She saw a flicker of hope in
his eyes, nothing but a spark of light in an agony of darkness. It was swamped by ice as soon as she
noticed it. Then it was all masked as he became aware of what he was doing.

"This is foolishness."

"Yeah, it is," she agreed. She realized she was crying again, silent tears streaking trails down her
pale cheeks. He seemed to come to life again, straightening his shoulders and taking in his
surroundings. He looked down at her. A glimmer of something like amusement touched his face as he
studied her, his gaze on her feeling like a wave of heat crashing over her. She met his eyes with a
question in her own.

"You look terrible," he said roughly. He detached his arm from her hand and wiped away the evidence
of her tears, rubbing his thumb and forefinger together, testing the liquid of her sorrow. She sniffed
lightly and nodded shakily. He let out a rumbling mutter, something unidentifiable between a curse or
a growl.

"Why are you crying? It's useless. It serves no purpose." He let his hand drop back to his side. Bulma
swallowed and shook her head. He seemed to be back to his old self, but something big had
changed, she could feel it. He wasn't back to normal, why would he be standing here, speaking to her
like this?

"It helps sometimes. It makes me feel better to not keep things bottled up."

"So instead, you do this? Cry?"

"Yeah." She blinked tiredly. All this emotional turmoil, combined with her lack of sleep, were having a
bad effect on her. It was a wonder she was even standing. She hoped she didn't black out like
before... A thought struck her.

"Vegeta?"

"Hm?"

"How did I get to bed last night?" She asked simply. He tensed a little, but answered her all the same.

"I dragged you up. You really are heavier than you look." A ghost of a smirk touched his lips. She
glowered at him, but somewhere inside she was dancing with joy. Evil my ass, she thought gleefully.

"With those injuries? You're lucky you didn't pass out. Why, with me being so heavy and all, it's a
wonder you didn't. You being so weak and everything," she grinned. He made a choking noise of
disbelief and glared down at her.

"Weak? I'll show you weak." With one arm, he grabbed her around the waist and hauled her into his
arms. Lightning-fast, he flicked open the sliding door and leapt into the air, ignoring Bulma's yelp of
alarm. He rose up above the compound, high into the clouds. She latched herself onto him tightly,
scared witless. Yamcha had never taken her flying, unless they really had to go somewhere out-of-
the-way. This was different. She buried her head in Vegeta's neck, afraid to look in case she got
dizzy.
"I was right, you are crazy! Let me down!" she yelled. He just laughed mockingly and flew higher,
making her gasp and grip him harder.

"Oh dear, this weakness seems to be getting the better of me. I don't think I can hold on much
longer!" He said wickedly. He loosened his grip slightly, and dropped a few feet in the air. Bulma
shrieked at the top of her lungs, making Vegeta wince slightly. She pressed herself tightly to his
muscled chest, vowing she wasn't going to loosen up until they hit the ground.

"Do you apologize for your insult?" He said tauntingly, leaving her dangling slightly in the air. She
shook her head wildly, laughing at his annoyed growl. She wasn't going to give in. Her fear of being
up so high receded suddenly, and she realized she felt strangely safe with Vegeta, though she was
hanging on to him about to fall to her doom. She knew he wouldn't let her fall. Or would he? Was she
just kidding herself about him? The thought sobered her enough to doubt herself a little. She decided
to find out. She had learned a long time ago to trust her instincts, and this was one time to put them to
the ultimate test.

She looked up at Vegeta, her hands wrapped about his neck, the only thing keeping her up in the air.
He had totally let go now. His eyes were sparking with devilish mirth, his smirk more pronounced than
ever. He had never looked sexier to her. She grinned shamelessly up at him—

—and let go.

With a feeling of elation, she watched Vegeta's eyes grow impossibly wide as she plummeted down
through the air towards the ground. She felt strangely free as she did it, knowing she was safe, for not
more than two seconds had passed before he caught her, pulling her body against his tightly. She
laughed at his shocked expression and wrapped her arms around him, hanging on securely. His
shock immediately receded back into his usual stoic look, but anger still escaped.

"You idiot! You would have been killed if I hadn't caught you, do you realize that?" He roared at her,
pulling her up to look him in the eye. She smiled widely at the tone in his voice, making his eyes
narrow in suspicion. She shook her head and laughed softly.

"I knew you wouldn't let me fall," she murmured. He simply smirked and shook his head. He opened
his mouth to speak, but she covered it with her hand, speaking before he could.

"I know, don't get any ideas, you need me to remake the GR. But that doesn't change anything. I trust
you with my life. You're not as bad as you'd have the others believe, you know that?"
"Hmph. You don't know what you are talking about," he replied, but his voice lacked its usual
harshness. He slowly floated back to earth, setting Bulma down outside the door they had leapt out
of. She let go slowly and stepped away from him as he dropped his own arms from her. She looked at
him thoughtfully as he finally got around to buttoning up his shirt. She was sorry he remembered. She
was totally delighted he had this new side to him that she had just seen. This was the first time she
had ever seen him almost...playful. And he had been concerned about her safety when she let go of
him, and he had saved her life. It was almost too much.

"Do you think you could ever take me flying again? That was the most fun I have had in ages," she
told him with a smile. He frowned heavily.

"What do I look like, a chauffeur? Get that weakling mate of yours to take you." He strode back inside.
Bulma scowled and shook her head as she followed him back inside.

"You mean Yamcha? He would never take me flying, and besides we're over now, so I doubt he will
be coming over anymore," she said, knowing Vegeta would be pleased he didn't have to see Yamcha
at CC anymore. The two could barely tolerate the others presence. The only reason Vegeta hadn't
killed him yet was because Bulma had threatened to blow up the GR herself and cook for a month.
Vegeta looked up in surprise and smirked.
"Good riddance. I was getting ready to kill him anyway." He stalked up the stairs. Bulma fumed
silently and followed him up, heading to her room. He might have another side to him, but this one
was a lot more frequent.

"It's not like he'll never come around though. But you're probably right, I'll ask him to take me flying
sometime. He can probably go higher than you anyway," she said mischievously. He made that weird
choking noise again and growled. He spun around to face her, and this time he was the one fuming.

"Don't bet on it, woman. He would probably get altitude sickness at three thousand feet. Then who
will catch you when you fall?" With that parting shot, he retreated into his room and shut the door with
a click. Bulma grinned widely and danced the rest of the way to her room. Nothing like using a guys
ego against him to get what you want, she thought happily. She'd go flying with him again, she was
sure of it. She reached her own room and was heading for the bed when Vegeta burst back out of his
room and stomped into hers.

She jumped in surprise. "Shit, you scared me! What is it?"

His eyes narrowed at her dangerously and Bulma's heart speeded up. He had that scary-maniac-killer
look on. She repeated her question, a little louder this time. He answered in a controlled voice.

"When the GR exploded, how did I get inside from the side lawn?" He gave her an evil look that said
she had better not lie to him.

"Well, uh," she stuttered, "it wasn't Yamcha that brought you in, so you don't have to worry about
that." Please, go away, she thought. Kami help me, he is going to be pissed when I tell him. His eyes
narrowed into slits of pure menace. She could almost see the little cogs turning in his head.

"The grounds were empty. There were no employees, and you are undoubtedly too weak to do it. It
wasn't that weakling either. So who had the ability to get there in the space of a second and was
strong enough to—" he stopped. He had figured it out. Fury leapt to life in his eyes as she nodded
miserably, anticipating his response. Vegeta clenched his fists and gritted his teeth in an attempt to
keep his rage under control. It didn't work.

"Of all the people to choose, it had to be that soft-headed, pitiful excuse of a Saiyan?!? Are you trying
to kill any sense of pride I may have? Flaunting my weakness to the one person that is my greatest
enemy?!? Have you lost your mind?" He bellowed at her. She flinched at the volume of it and tried to
explain.

"I didn't have any Senzu's, a-and there was no one there to help... He was the only one who could..."
She whispered fearfully. She had never seen Vegeta quite this angry before. She didn't know what he
would do. Vegeta raked a hand through his hair and flashed her a mutinous look that made her
wince.

"Of all the people..." He muttered to himself. She had no idea what he was thinking. She supposed he
had every right to be mad, but it was either that or let him die, and that was the one thing he didn't
want. She had done the next worse thing though, using Goku to help. All she could do was try to
reassure him, somehow. She didn't want to make him mad enough to do any damage.

"What do you mean, weakness?! All Goku saw was that you had trained hard enough to blow up my
strongest invention! I don't call that weakness. I'm surprised you even used that word to refer to
yourself!" His head jerked up to stare hard at her, as if trying to decide if she was telling the truth or
not. Or whether to kill her or not, she amended silently. She crossed her arms and waited for him to
respond. Tiredness was dragging at her again, like lead weights. She wanted nothing more than to
crawl into bed and snooze. Sleeping has really been the focal point of my life lately, she thought
wryly. Some life. She studied his expression, noting that a good deal of the venom had seeped out.
He cursed under his breath and looked back at her.

"You lie to me, woman, and I'll kill you. Make no mistake."
"I-im not lying. All he did was take you inside. Then he left. That's all," she revealed quietly. She
started to say something else, but it was swamped by an enormous yawn. She rubbed at her eyes
slowly, wishing her parents would get back so that she wouldn't have to do any more work for a while.
Vegeta studied her yawn, and the circles under her eyes.

"Hmph. Weakling woman. You've used up what little energy you have."

"Hey, shut up. It was either that or wait on you for the next few weeks until you got better. I like the re-
gen tank option better." She pulled off her shoes and crawled into bed. She no longer cared that she
was still wearing clothes, and she wasn't going to strip in front of Vegeta. Though it was an interesting
thought. She whipped the covers over her and peeked out at Vegeta.

"If you don't mind, I'm going to sleep now. Combat-droids are on the side lawn, where the GR used to
be. Use them till dad gets back."

"And just how long will that be?" He growled in his gruff voice.

"Umm, 'bout two days. Not very long. There are leftovers in the fridge, wake me at dinnertime and I'll
order in again, OK?" She mumbled sleepily. She was already drifting off to sleep. Vegeta eyes her
prone form for a moment, before striding out the door, shutting it with a soft click. Bulma sighed
gratefully as she sank into a deep slumber, suspecting that Vegeta was becoming a little warmer to
her since the GR incident. Or at least letting it show more often. Either way, she was certain things
were looking up. Maybe, just maybe she could break through that hard layer of ice he used to shield
his emotions enough to truly understand him. She huddled deeper into the quilt and fell into a deep
sleep with that mission in mind.

******************************************************************************

It was two days after Bulma had gone flying with Vegeta, and she was back in her lab after a much
needed rest. She hadn't seen Vegeta in a while, things had reverted back to normal. Well, almost.
Now he was in a foul mood because she hadn't rebuilt the GR, and had taken off, destination
unknown. Bulma wasn't sorry to see him go for a while, lately every time she had been near him she
had lost all train of thought. That was dangerous when working with machinery. Her parents were due
back any time now.

With a sigh, she continued working on her battered combat-droids, the work of Vegeta and his
incessant training. They were reduced to mangled heaps of metal now, rendered almost completely
useless. She was creating more.

"Bulma!! We're home!! Where are you, honey?" A high voice called. Mom! Bulma shot out of her chair
and ran outside to greet her parents who were walking toward the house, a handful of capsules in
each hand. Waving, she smiled happily.

"Hey! What took you two so long! I was getting lonely!" Hugs were exchanged, and they shuffled
inside as Bulma went ahead to put the kettle on. It was great to have them back after three weeks,
and she was sure they had lots of news.

"Phew, its good to be home," Dr. Briefs said as he collapsed into a chair. "Australia really was
spectacular, though. Especially that huge rock in the middle of it. Strange sight." Bulma looked up
interestedly. So that was where they had went. It had been an anniversary gift to her mother, and it
was a surprise so not even Bulma had been told. She had a bad habit of letting things slip out at
inopportune times, and didn't want to spoil the surprise. She brewed coffee as she listened to their
recollection of their holiday, knowing they would need it after such a long flight. Her mother prattled
on as she poured for each of them. Enough work was done for today, since her dad was back, she
didn't need to fix the combat-droids.
"...GR is missing too, where is it?" Her father was asking her. Bulma looked up and frowned. "Vegeta
blew it up by accident. We need to order materials to build a new one, sorry about that." Her father's
eyebrows went up in surprise, but he didn't say anything. Her mother's face took on a worried look.

"Oh my, was Vegeta hurt? That sounds like it would have been a bad explosion, and he is such a
nice young man. Is he OK, Bulma?" Her mother asked in her dizzy concerned way. Bulma nodded
silently as she swallowed a mouthful of scalding coffee. She didn't really want to think about Vegeta,
or more importantly, worry about him. Her mom relaxed and started collecting her capsules and
taking them up to her room to unpack. Her father put down his cup on the table and gave her a look.

"Was everything all right while we were gone? Vegeta wasn't too much of a problem, was he?" He
asked with a pointed glance in her direction. Bulma flushed slightly. Her father knew her mother had
been trying to set them since he moved in. She gave a low chuckle and nodded.

"Everything was fine, dad. He wasn't too bad. Although he had a few scratches from the GR accident
that made him a bit mad," she said lightly. Scratches my ass, she thought wryly. More like gouges.
And breaks. And burns.

***

Around evening, after her parents had settled in, Bulma sat on her balcony in her blue silky pyjamas
and watched the sky change colours like she always did when she wanted to relax. The merging of
pink, orange and blue fading into deep navy-black, studded with diamond pinpoints of light never
failed to stun her with its eternal beauty, its simplistic fusion of colours calming her and inspiring her
with awe at the same time.

As evening bled into night, she stayed there, deep in thought. Thinking about her life, and how
everything had changed. How she had changed. Life had taken on new meaning since she had seen
the death of her friends all those years ago. Goku, when his evil brother Raditz fought him and
Piccolo. When Vegeta had come to earth with Nappa and killed the only guy she had ever thought
she loved, along with Tien and Chaou-tzu. Namek, the death of Krillin, the demise she had only heard
about, not seen. Though she hadn't been too deeply affected knowing that they could be wished back
with the Dragonballs, seeing just how truly fragile life was made her want to seize the moment and do
something she never had the guts to do before, something that, if she didn't do, she knew she would
regret for the rest of her life. However long that may be, with the threat of the Androids always
looming on the horizon, she thought sadly. Since that boy from the future had told them of the
situation in his reality and had warned them of the death of everyone except her and Gohan, she was
seized with the fear that despite his best efforts, history would repeat itself and everyone would be
snatched from her again, and this time they wouldn't come back.

"What happened to me? Why did I survive out of everyone, when they are worth so much more than
me. None of them deserved to die so brutally, the way that that boy described. And why did Gohan
live? Will he still survive?" She asked the glittering sky. Of course, she received no answer. "Why
can't things just be simple, why does evil and destruction have to continually plague this place? What
did we do to deserve it?" She asked forlornly. She hung her head and closed her eyes, leaning
against the cool metal of the balcony railing.

"Do you want me to answer that?" A rough voice asked from above and behind her. She gasped.
Bulma stiffened and turned around, raising her eyes to meet a dark fathomless gaze. Vegeta was
sitting on the roof above her, still as a figure carved from stone. She hadn't even noticed him there.

"H-how long have you been up there?" She asked shakily. She wasn't even aware that he had come
back. He looked the same as always, though dressed in his battle armor, white and gold armor over
blue spandex. He gave her a penetrating glance as he noticed her inspection.

"Long enough," he said briefly. She didn't know what to make of that, so she didn't answer. She
moved closer to the roof, craning her neck to look up at him. He was just sitting, one leg bent with his
arm resting on it, the other leg stretched out in front of him. She decided to join him on the roof, not
really knowing why. Ever the dominant predator, he eyed her darkly as she jumped up, grabbed the
ledge of the roof and levered herself up to look at him. She grinned sheepishly as soon as she
realized she didn't have the strength to pull herself up all the way.

"Little help?" She murmured hopefully. He raised an eyebrow and rolled his eyes as she shook with
the strain of holding herself in a suspended chin-up.

"Help yourself, woman." But he continued to watch her closely as she struggled. She panted slightly,
frowning at him all the while, as she swung her leg up and latched it onto the gutter, not noticing her
pyjama top riding up to show her hips and midriff, and used her leg to slowly roll her body up over the
lip of the roof. She collapsed there and lay on her back, grinning up at Vegeta, who merely smirked.
Her muscles hurt a little from the stretching, but she was glad she had shown him she didn't need
help all the time.

"Hmph. Impressive," he responded dryly. Bulma stuck her tongue out cheekily, then sat up and
scooted backward to sit beside him. He stiffened slightly as she settled herself, but he didn't make
any comment. She sat there for a while in silence, looking back out at the sky. It was a better view up
here, she thought. I'll have to come up here more often. Sitting Indian-style, she straightened her pj's
absently, pulling the top back down where it belonged. It was chilly now, and getting colder, but she
still enjoyed the moment.

"What were you doing up here?" She asked after a small eternity. She couldn't stand the silence, it
was thick with an unidentifiable tension she wasn't sure she liked. She could smell Vegeta's scent in
the air, some combination of night air and perspiration, and it was driving her nuts. She wanted to
move closer to him, to share his warmth, but he would never allow that. Would he? Perhaps this was
one way to fulfil her self-made vow to do something daring. She decided to wait and see what kind of
mood he was in. He didn't answer her question, simply stared out into the sky. She wondered what he
was looking at that he found so fascinating. Possibly he was just thinking, as she had been doing
before he startled her.

He swung his head around and looked at her, giving her that deep gaze that was like physical contact
in its intensity. His upswept hair blew in the cold breeze, as did her own unbound locks. She shivered
before she could stop herself, drawing her knees up to her chest tightly. He studied her for a moment
longer, taking in her pinched cheeks and goose bumps, before turning back to the view.

"Go inside." He didn't look at her. She swung her head and gaped at him.

"Huh? No!" She said in irritation. "Why should I? I own this house, I have a right to sit wherever I
want! You can't-"

"Shut up, woman. It's too cold for a human up here," he cut her off bluntly. She blinked in confusion
for a moment before his words sank in. She bit her lip as she shook her head sharply.

"I'm not cold. Humans aren't that fragile, you know."

"You are," he snorted. "You could barely pull yourself up onto the roof, you're so weak. I could have
decimated the whole house in the time it took you to do that." Her eyes darkened a little and she
pulled her legs up tighter. He was acting like a jerk again.

"So what? Strength isn't everything, you know," she snapped at him, tucking a strand of hair behind
her ear. Vegeta looked at her like she was crazy.

"Of course it is. What else is there? How else can you protect yourself and stay alive if you aren't
strong?" His surprise was genuine. She shrugged and rested her chin on her knees, mulling the
question over in her head.

"You tell me. According to that purple haired kid, you and the others were all killed when the Androids
came. I don't have any strength, and yet I survived. What does that tell you?"
His eyes widened. She had a good point. He didn't know how to answer her. The future that that kid
had come from wasn't a good one, he had died, yet she had lived.

Bulma shivered again, not feeling any victory from having shut him up. She would be more than
happy if at least someone had survived. In the future, all she had was Gohan. And then he too had
died. She was all alone there, with no one. What had happened to her parents? And Chi-chi? Had
she been killed too? The thought was a bad one. All of it was bad.

"Vegeta, do you ever get lonely?" She asked suddenly. "I mean, if you were in my place in the future
that boy described, would you care that there was no one there for you?" He scowled at her fiercely,
but not before she saw a flicker of emotion enter his eyes and disappear.

"There has never been anyone there for me. I don't need anyone either. I like it that way."

"You do?" She asked uncertainly. How could anyone live like that? She knew she would die if there
was no one to care about her, nothing but loneliness and pain. He narrowed his eyes and shot her a
look out of the corner of his eye.

"Yes. Stop asking stupid questions, woman, and go inside. Your presence annoys me."

Bulma blinked at him, stung. She had only wanted to know. Her shoulders slumped. He was not the
person to talk about these things with. He wouldn't understand what it was like to be faced with the
possibility that everyone you loved could be slaughtered in a few years. Wait, that wasn't right...

"Do you miss your old planet? The one Frieza destroyed?" She asked quietly. He stiffened and gave
her a ferocious glare, fire igniting in his eyes. Anger twisted his mouth into a vicious line. Bulma
shrank back slightly, wondering what she had said. Was he going to hurt her? As quickly as it had
come, the look vanished, leaving a desolate void in its wake. He seemed to calm down, but the
tension didn't leave his body.

"No." He was lying. She could tell.

"It's OK to, you know."

"I know nothing of the sort. You are talking nonsense." His chiseled body seemed to turn to ice before
her very eyes, retreating under a thick shell of protection. She was reminded of her thoughts a few
nights ago, that this protective shell of his wasn't a good thing, keeping him distant from everything in
the universe, good and bad. All the emotions he felt were trapped under it, unable to get out. She
didn't want to let that happen. Without thinking it though, she uncurled from her balled-up position and
moved up to his side, putting her arms around his waist and hugging him tight. He let out a sharp
gasp of shock and turned to stone in her arms.

"W-woman, what are...you doing?"

"Giving you a hug," she responded in a muffled voice, her face pressed into his shoulder. She could
feel each and every muscle her skin touched, the warmth of his skin that seared her with its heat. She
heard the violent drumming of his heart, faster than it usually went. Was that her doing?

"Why?" He asked, not moving an inch, not daring to.

"You look like you need it. Haven't you ever hugged anyone before?"

"Saiyans don't...hug." He sounded uncertain. She tightened her arms around him, pressing her
shivering body closer to his. Vegeta's heat was making the rest of the world seem like it was wrought
of ice. He tensed even more, if it was possible. His jaw was clenched tight, and he wasn't looking at
her, or anything really. His eyes were looking a little glazed to Bulma. She supposed if this were new
to her, she would be acting weird too, so she didn't get offended.

"Well, you're going to be the first. Put your arm around me. It's freezing."
He looked at her wordlessly, again taking in her uncomfortable appearance. He slowly moved one
arm out of the ring she had made around him, and gently placed it about her shivering body. She
smiled and lay her cheek against his collarbone, never feeling as safe and secure as she did just
then. His chin rested lightly on the top of her head, his breath ruffling her already wind-blown hair.
They sat like that for a while, with Bulma's shivers easing slowly as his heat seeped into her, like
some sort of drug, making her feel light headed. She had no idea what Vegeta was thinking at that
moment.

"This isn't so bad, is it?" She murmured softly. She felt his head turn to look down at her for a long
moment, but she was used to the close scrutiny by now. Vegeta did it often, like he was confused by
her or something, or like she was a puzzle he was trying to figure out. She didn't mind the thought,
she like the idea of being a mystery to him.

He shifted slightly and seemed to thaw a little more. "I still don't see the point in this..." He muttered.
She bit her lip on a smile. He didn't sound very angry, so maybe he was enjoying this as much as she
was.

"But it isn't a bad thing, right? Because I'll stop if you want." She didn't want to, but she did want to
know what he wanted to do. He pondered that for a brief second, and for a moment she thought he
was going to let go, but then he moved and his arms tightened a little more around her. He didn't
answer. He didn't need to. Bulma was in heaven. He eyelids drooped, but she wasn't tired before; it
was his heat that was making her drowsy. She snuggled as close as she could, closing her eyes and
burying her head in his shoulder. She could feel the tenseness leaking out of his body, little by little.
Bulma let out a quiet yawn and tried to imprint the moment on her memory forever. She wanted to
remember this night until her dying day.

"You're a natural..." She sighed contentedly. "We should do this more often."

"Hmph. It's only natural for a Saiyan to be good at anything they put their minds to," he said
arrogantly. She snorted, then said something she was sure would irk him.

"You're right. Goku hugs much better."

"Kakkarot has...hugged you?!" He growled. His arms tightened around her possessively, almost
crushing her against him. Bingo, she thought with an inner laugh.

"Oh... Yeah. Heaps of times." She was lying, but Vegeta didn't know that. She was enjoying this
almost jealous reaction he had about her embracing Goku. But of course it was just him mad that that
was another deed added to the list of things Goku did better than him.

"Doesn't he have a mate?" Vegeta asked tightly. Bulma nodded without looking up. She couldn't trust
herself not to laugh if she did. Her shoulders started to jiggle with suppressed laughter anyway, no
matter what she tried. Vegeta noticed what was up.

"Are you still cold, woman?! Quit that shivering. Now," he barked. She controlled the urge to giggle
and her movement stopped after a while also. He relaxed again, all the while never having let go of
her. He must like this, she thought with a rush of warmth. She tried to pull away, just to test it. He
immediately let go and moved back from her, but he had the strangest look on his face. She was
immediately cold again, and felt oddly bereft that he had let go so quickly. But she didn't go back to
his arms. She was probably pushing it as it was.

"I- I was just kidding before. I have hardly ever hugged Goku," she blurted out. He scowled and
crossed his arms, and stared hard into her face. Something akin to hurt flashed in his eyes.

"I thought I told you to never lie to me, woman."

"Well, I wasn't really lying, I just exaggerated how much I have hugged him!" She said in alarm. He
blew out a breath that turned to fog as he released it. He gave her a look that said quite plainly 'I don't
care' and stared back out into the night. She knew he was pissed off, but what could she do about it?
Nothing.

It had gotten late, It was about ten thirty now. Everything was shrouded in darkness, with the cities
lights illuminating everything in the distance. There were a few lights on at the front gates of the
compound, but other than that CC was dark. The sky looked like it was blanketed in stars now,
constellations making themselves easily visible in the crystal sky. Bulma wondered briefly where
Namek used to be before it was blown up by Frieza. How many empty spots in the sky were caused
by that tyrant? She wondered angrily. If she had been strong enough to do it, she would have killed
Frieza herself. He had been the one to make Vegeta the way he was now, so closed off and alone. It
was one of the worst things you could do to a person, stripping them of any emotion but anger and
hate. He was feeling anger right now, she thought as she darted a look at him. But he would get over
it. As soon as he realized she had said that just to get held tighter by him, closer. If he ever realized
that.

With a sigh, she stood up, grimacing at the sound of her bones cracking and popping as she got up.
Sitting on the roof when it was this cold, no wonder she felt like her bones were getting rusty. She
walked to the edge of the roof, looking for a way to get down onto her balcony again. Vegeta's eyes
followed her as she did it, she could feel their heat upon her. She tried her best to ignore it and
concentrate on getting down. There would be no talking to Vegeta until he was out of his bad mood.

There was no real way to get down, so she decided she was just going to have to jump down. She
wasn't going to ask for Vegeta's help though, he would just turn her down again. Besides, she told
herself confidently, I can get down without anyone's help. Kneeling slightly, she judged the distance
and found it to be about six feet, and was satisfied that it wasn't very far. She blew out a deep breath,
stilled herself, and jumped.

Too far.

She leapt out further than she had anticipated, heading for over balcony railing rather than the
balcony itself. She felt panic overcome her in a split second, and she thought she heard a guttural
roar from behind her, as she plunged the wrong way. This time, she didn't feel safe or secure as she
fell the three stories to the ground. But the result was the same. Arms like flesh covered steel
wrapped around her, pulling her to a complete stop, in total safety. Vegeta gripped her like she was
going to be ripped away from him in the next second, as she gasped and shook in his arms. Her eyes
filled as the enormity of the would-be situation hit her She had almost died. And Vegeta had saved
her. He really had caught her when she fell. She gripped him just as tightly as he was doing to her,
trying to get a grip on her control.

"You idiot. Why didn't you just ask me?" He asked roughly, his voice slightly hoarse. He gripped her
even tighter and flew toward her balcony, landing on it with her still in his arms. He didn't let go as he
might have, but instead held her, knowing that she needed this. He wasn't quite steady himself. He
had almost lost her.

Bulma stilled after a while, her fear becoming dormant once more. She was all right, she was safe,
she was...in Vegeta's arms again? She looked up at him unsteadily, gulping down her tears. She was
not going to cry, nothing had happened. She didn't want to go into shock or anything. Vegeta looked
like he was about to go into shock. His pupils were dilated to maximum size, and he looked
somewhat pale. He had been worried... That was an understatement. Unable to stop herself, Bulma
extricated her arms from around his chest and placed them on either side of his face, making him
look at her.

"Thank you," she said, with more sincerity and intensity than anything she had ever said in her life.
Vegeta nodded mutely, the arrogant look wiped clear of his face. He had looked something akin to
this when he was talking about dying on Namek, she realized. Did that mean she meant more to him
that he was letting on? She stroked her fingers lightly over his face, causing him to shudder slightly at
her touch. Bulma was amazed that he would react to her like this, the day before he would have
shoved her away with some insult about her stupidity or weakness. But not now. Bulma felt her eyes
fill again as she looked at him, and her lips trembled. Vegeta's eyes darted down to them, as if
entranced by their movement. Fire ignited in his eyes again, but this time it wasn't from anger, but
rather something much different...

******************************************************************************

But like everything else that had shown in his eyes, it was swamped by his inner defense mechanism.
He blinked and looked away, though not before Bulma noticed the slight reaction he made. She
wasn't quite steady on her feet, so she didn't let go of him, instead, pressing tighter. He just felt so
damn good in her arms, his strength and solidity encompassing her completely. But he didn't seem so
steady just then, and Bulma couldn't be sure, but she could feel a trembling, and she wasn't sure if it
was hers. She stroked her fingers over his cheeks again, and lay her head against his chest. At her
actions, he seemed to gain a measure of control and stepped back, letting go of her enough to put a
few feet of distance between them. His eyes were veiled again, shuttered. Bulma took this as a
signal, blinked back her tears and let go of him, albeit reluctantly. She had the impossible feeling she
would fall again if she let go. She brushed her hair back self-consciously as he studied her yet again
with that deep gaze.

She took a deep breath. "Thank you, Vegeta," she said again, looking him square in the eye. "You
saved my life, and I'll never forget that." She started to shake again, so she pinned her arms to her
sides to stifle it. His eyebrows arched slightly at her words, but to her surprise he made no belittling
comment. He was simply standing with his arms by his sides, different from his usual stance, yet still
carrying the same impact. He made no move or response after a few more minutes of standing there,
and she had no alternative but to guess what he was thinking. She didn't bother to try. He was as
much a mystery to her as she thought she was to him.

Finally she got sick of the silence. "Are you going to say anything? Or are you going to stand there for
another couple of hours?" She said pertly. He straightened up and eyed her shaking body, her
disheveled hair and wild eyes with brooding quietness.

"What would you have me say? It was your own stupid fault you almost killed yourself. You should be
thanking me. I didn't have to catch you," he said baldly.

What was this? "Then why did you? Huh? Why?" She yelled, moving from shaking, near-wreck to
vicious harpy in 1.5 seconds. Vegeta had that effect on her. He stepped back and crossed his arms.

"So I could rub it in your weakling face, why else?" He said with a sneer, firing her up even more.

"Ooh! Why do I bother to even talk to you?! Why would I think that you would just do it out of the
goodness of your nonexistent heart! You're just a total jerk!" She raged, stomping away from him and
into her room. Or she tried to. He caught her arm and spun her around, so swiftly she bumped into his
chest. He grabbed hold of her hand and pressed it to his chest, where even through the armor
covering his torso, she could feel the steady thumping of his heart. His eyes narrowed and his mouth
formed a smirk as he watched her.

"Not so nonexistent is it, woman?" He breathed. She scowled and tried to pull her hand away. She
was too close to him, and she was too mad to enjoy it. She was pissed off.

"I was being metaphorical. Let me go, dammit!" He wouldn't. She gave up almost immediately,
knowing that she would get away only when he decided to let her go, and not before. It was futile.
She stood there and fumed for a while, trying to think of a way to make him let go. Why was he still
here anyway? He should have blasted off to train somewhere already, rather than stand here with her
and argue at eleven o'clock at night. She thought back to a few moments ago as she stood there,
glaring at the floor and trying to ignore the thumping of his heart under her palm. He had darted a
glance at her then, just after she had thanked him the first time. He had the oddest look on his face
then, and something had glittered in his eyes that she had seen vaguely in Yamcha's a few times,
though never with that much intensity. Everything Vegeta did was intense, whether it was eating
training or arguing. It made her wonder how he would be in bed...
Bulma's head jerked up at the thought, and a rush of heat inflamed her from head to toe. After that
came a wave of triumph. She knew how she would make him let go.

She gave an inner grin of pure mischief and stepped closer to Vegeta, pressing her chest against his.
The hand that was pinning her own to his chest was suddenly trapped against her breasts and his
torso. She locked eyes with him as he jerked in surprise, stifling a gasp. He jumped back like she had
burnt him, letting go of her hand.

"Watch it, woman," he growled, though his eyes were glittering oddly again. She smirked back at him
and rubbed her hand absently, noting the slight ache in it from Vegeta's tight grip. His eyes flickered
to rest upon her hand, and he frowned. She wondered why. Bulma yawned hugely, the nights hectic
events crashing upon her all of a sudden. She looked longingly toward her bed and raised her
eyebrows at Vegeta, wondering yet again why he was still here.

"Shouldn't you be training or something?"

He shrugged negligently and tossed her a smirk, having recovered from the event a second ago. He
took her not-so-subtle hint and walked out onto the balcony, with her following close behind to shut
the doors. Before she shut them though, he turned around. There seemed to be a flicker of ownership
chasing itself over his face as he perused her body.

"The fact of whether you truly lied to me or not remains to be seen. That's why I didn't let you fall,
woman. Although touching that brain-dead idiot would be enough to make anyone jump off a roof, so
I don't blame you for trying," he said wickedly. Bulma let out a short burst of laughter before she could
smother it. His dislike of Goku was quite visible. So was his odd jealous-like behavior at the mention
of him. Vegeta's smirk morphed into what could almost pass for an evil grin, something he did rarely.
She hadn't seen that look of wicked humor since Namek, when he had tried to pry the dragon ball
from her and Krillin. She shook her head and rolled her eyes.

"Ha, sure. I don't think you would kill me. No way. In fact, I'm willing to bet that if I jumped off the
balcony right now, you would save me. In a snap," she boasted.

His eyes darkened. "What makes you think you're so special that I would save you?"

She shrugged, though a little stung. "You tell me. I call it women's intuition."

He blew out a breath, then sneered. "Then jump off the balcony right now, and we'll put that theory to
the test, hmm?" He was thought he was calling her bluff. Too bad for him, it wasn't a bluff. Without a
second thought she went to race past him to the railing, but his arm caught her instantly. She grinned
at him and wrapped her arms around him tightly, laughing. He had a look of reluctant shock on his
face at her innate trust of him.

"All right, woman. I...believe you. But I also think you are crazy." She buried her head in his shoulder
again. He didn't stiffen this time, she figured he was used to it somewhat. But he did tense a little. His
arm was around her back, his hand gripping her hip, the other arm was by his side. She looked up at
him and stared intently into his ebony eyes and unyielding face, and on impulse, kissed his cheek. It
was smooth and warm beneath her lips, for the briefest moment that she felt it. He flinched and
stared down at her sharply. She stared back guilelessly.

"Why...did you do that?" He asked uncertainly.

"I felt like it, why else?"

"And you always do what you feel like?"

No, or I would've jumped your bones by now. She violently slapped that thought down.

"Within reason, yeah."
He mused for a moment. Then that wicked look took position in his eyes again. His head lowered so
his mouth was brushing her ear. "What else do you feel like doing?" he breathed. A challenge. She
knew it was. She gulped and looked into fathomless black eyes. Was this what she thought it was?
Should I call his bluff? Is it a bluff? What should I do? Should I say something? Bulma was getting in
too deep, and it was time to retreat. She gulped again and leaned away from him, her cheeks flushing
a little.

"I think we should go to bed." Oh, crap! That definitely came out wrong. Vegeta's brows lifted in
surprise, and his smirk became more pronounced. Bulma was deep red by then.

"I... I meant go- uh... go to sleep. Uh, Goodnight, Vegeta." She tried to pull away, to regroup. She
couldn't believe she had said that! He didn't let go, rather bent his lips to her ear again, his warm
breath raising goose bumps on her skin.

"Are you sure that's what you meant?" He growled mockingly. Her stomach tightened at his words.

"Yes!" She fairly yelled. She pulled back violently. He let go with a rumbling chuckle, and flew a few
feet into the air.

"Be careful what you wish for, woman, it might come true." With those parting words, he flew off into
the night. Bulma was tempted to throw her balcony chair at him, but violently refrained. His ego was
too much!! The nerve of him. Bulma wasn't sure who she was madder at, him or herself. How could I
have let that slip? And why didn't Vegeta tear me into strips for messing that up? Bulma had no
answers. She simply backed into her room and shut the doors, closing out the chill air. In the
darkness she crawled into her bed and pulled the twisted covers over her, wishing she had made her
bed that morning. She stared at the ceiling for about half an hour, running the nights events over in
her head. This would certainly be one to remember.

***

Vegeta flew past the town and into the badlands where he and Kakkarot had first fought, his mind
whirring. He knew some strange happenings had occurred beforehand, his weakness was letting the
woman get under his skin. That was bad. He had been sitting on her roof, trying to pick out the
planets he had purged when part of Frieza's army, when she had stepped out onto her balcony,
simply standing there, watching the sky. He was tempted to leave, but something stopped him,
holding him immobile as she stared into the sunset. It was like he was waiting for something. Then
she started mumbling to herself. He didn't have to strain to hear, he had excellent ears, but what he
had heard had finally given him some insight as to what had been gnawing at her those past couple
of days. She had been worried about her...friends.

And the future the boy had described. He had thought about it some too, but not on such a level as
she. He simply shrugged it off, knowing that he could change things now that he knew what was
coming in the next few years. But she had worried about her friends, wondering at the unfairness of
them dying and she living. Didn't she realize she was worth more than all of them put together?
Vegeta's eyes widened at that unbidden thought. But he admitted, it had merit. Kakkarot was an
excellent fighter, true, but the others were good for nothing other than getting themselves killed and
not much else. They had paltry strength, yet they were too stupid to realize it.

The woman, on the other hand, turned her mind to something she was good at, and had excelled.
When he had first seen them on Namek, he had been amazed at her intelligence and almost
immediate knowledge of a craft obviously not used in many years. Without her getting that bald
shortass and the half-breed to Namek, Frieza would have made himself immortal and the universe
would have been enslaved by now. Because of her, it wasn't. If he thought about it like that, it actually
made some semblance of sense. But still, she had worried about the others. She had asked him why
she had survived, out of all the people around her who were so much stronger, and he hadn't been
able to answer. But now, he realized that from what he had heard, she helped her friends all the time
with her genius, so he figured she would have had some sort of plan on how to escape those tin
cans.
And then she had asked him if he was lonely. That had shocked him, the simple fact that she would
want to know. He had never really thought about it, he acknowledged the fact that he had a one-track
mind. Mostly it was focussed on beating the living hell out of his tail-less enemy, but he allowed
himself rare moments of reflection to sort out his priorities. She had caught him off guard on one of
those occasions, with that question. When he thought about it, he realized that that might have
contributed to this empty feeling that had been plaguing him lately. When Nappa and Raditz were
alive, they respected and feared him. They hadn't been close companions, far from it, but their
company had been welcome enough.

He remembered Bulma's words a few days ago when the GR had broken and they had had an
argument for the hundredth time. She had said she would never respect him, no matter what. That
thought had enraged him. He was a prince, and there was some loudmouthed human woman
screaming at him. It gave him some perspective on just how weak he was getting. He had powered
up, ready to beat the hell out of her, when he had glimpsed the fear in her eyes. Self loathing had
swamped him then, and he realized what he had been about to do.

It all added to his hatred of Frieza, who had made him what he was. And that added to his rage at the
universe, and that kid who would rob him of his vengeance. And rob him easily, at that. Frieza never
stood a chance. To that day, he still wondered who he was, to have so much power. He had definite
potential to be greater though, Vegeta had seen that straight off. But he hadn't mentioned a thing, not
wanting to give a possible enemy a chance to surpass him further.

Vegeta dropped that train of thought for the moment, he knew that it would just make him mad.
Having one's shortcomings so blatantly rubbed in one's face tended to do that. Instead his thought
focussed back on the one thing that fascinated him the most lately. Her. He still couldn't believe that
he had embraced her. It was easy enough to accept that she had hugged him, humans were crazy
like that, but that he had returned the gesture unnerved him. He already knew he was fast becoming
attracted to her, but he always thought he had a tight grip on his control. But he hadn't been able to
help himself. He had even gone so far as to curse the armor he was wearing that was hampering the
contact of her pressed against him. Though he didn't know why, he had been strangely comforted by
the act. He wasn't aware that he even needed comforting. When she had taunted him by saying
Kakkarot had embraced her, he had been seized by an irrational jealousy that threatened to
overwhelm him.

He had come to think of her as his, only his. For once the mention of 'Goku' hadn't made him think of
how much stronger the dolt was, rather how he had touched Bulma as intimately as he had done
seconds ago. She had allowed Kakkarot to touch her... The thought made him ill. Though he was
aware that their relationship was nothing more than a sibling connection, and Kakkarot already had a
mate, he didn't like it. He knew he would rather eat the woman's cooking than ever see that appalling
display. He had learned to accept these strange emotions that coursed through him when he though
about her, but it didn't mean he liked them. Just when he had thought he had himself under control,
she had to go and try to jump off the balcony for the second time. He still couldn't believe she would
have that much trust in him. What had he done to invoke that feeling in her? Nothing, that's what.
Maybe she had hit her head earlier or something. It would explain her behavior.

And then she had gone and kissed him. True, it had been on the cheek, but for someone who was as
starved for non-violent physical contact as he, it had meant more than she would ever realize. He had
barely been able to restrain himself from grabbing her and testing just how deep her affection of him
was. But he would never do that. At least, not unless she wanted him to...

But she didn't. She had said so. She had meant it, hadn't she? With a scowl, he dropped those
thoughts also. If she wanted him, she would have to come to him. Not the other way around. He didn't
want to lose what little pride he had left by misconstruing the situation any further. Shaking his head,
he decided to leave the whole thing where it was. He had more important things to worry about. Like
how to achieve the title of Super-Saiyan.

******************************************************************************
Bulma put the final touches on the new-and-improved GR, and stepped back to admire her work. It
had taken her a little over a week since her dad received the materials to get it done, and it had been
worth the wait. The new one was incredible! It had air conditioning, an almost completely
impenetrable metal alloy outer shell, and could go up to 800 times normal gravity. Bulma couldn't help
but be pleased with her work.

Vegeta will totally die when he sees this! She thought happily. He had been in a total bad mood again
lately, avoiding her like the plague and muttering about how he wasn't getting any training done
because she was 'too slow and dimwitted to get the job done fast enough'. Bulma had naturally taken
issue with him about his insult, and she hadn't seen him since. That had been five days ago. She still
had no idea where he went when he took off, he didn't seem to go uncared for though, he always
came back looking fine. Oh well. It's not like he'd tell her if she asked anyway, so she didn't dwell on
it. She couldn't help but worry a little, she didn't want him to get hurt or anything while he was gone.
And she knew he couldn't cook any better than she, so it gnawed at her a little.

She had been thinking more and more about him in the last few days, more than she could ever
remember thinking about Yamcha. But then, Yamcha was never as big of a mystery to her as Vegeta
was. She thought back to that night on the roof, and what had happened after. She knew she was
getting through to him little by little, for Kami's sake, he had let her hug him! That definitely meant
something. That fact that he had even hugged her back made her head grow light with pleasure. She
was sure she was the only person he would ever let do that, or do that to, for that matter. But still, she
wanted to get closer to him. Every little bit of information she gleaned from him about his past, or his
thoughts, left her hungry for more.

But she couldn't appease that hunger with him gone. She'd just have to wait until he deemed her
worthy enough to grace her with his royal-pain-in-the-butt presence. Then . . . Then she didn't know.
She wiped her sweaty brow, grimacing over the dirty appearance of her clothing. Deciding on a
shower, she took off her tool belt and headed for her house.

"Hey, Bulma!" Her father called from the house. She started to jog and searched out her father, who
was standing by the side door.

"What is it, Dad?" She called.

"Phone call! I think it's Chi-chi!" He yelled back. Even from there Bulma could hear the shrill yelling
from the phone her father held in his hand. She grinned. Oh yeah, it was Chi-chi all right. She
reached her dad and took the phone he held out. She covered the mouth piece with her hand and
gave him a kiss on the cheek.

"Way to piss her off for me, pops. You knew it was her," she chided. He chuckled lightly. "Just
keeping you on your toes. I‟m going to repair the combat-droids, all right?" She nodded and put the
phone to her ear. Her father walked out the door, whistling to himself.

"Cheech? That you?" She asked.

"Gohan!!" Her friend yelled. "Get back to your homework this instant!! No, you're not sparring until you
have finished it, so no buts!" A pause. "Sorry, Bulma. Hi, how are you?" Chi-chi asked, sounding
flustered. Bulma pushed her straggling hair back and smiled to herself.

"I'm great, Chi-chi. What's up? Anything wrong?"

"No, not really, just trying to keep Goku, Gohan and—Piccolo out of my kitchen." Bulma could hear
muffled laughter coming from the other end in the background, then the distinct sound of metal hitting
flesh. Then there was silence.

"Chi-chi? You there? What's going on?"

"Oh, nothing, nothing. Just Goku being himself. I thought you said you were going to visit soon? Its
been almost a fortnight. Keeping busy, huh?" She asked, changing the subject. Bulma got suspicious.
"...something like that. Hey I know, I've finished my work early, why don't I come over? I think Mom
wanted me to grab a few of your recipes as well. Is that OK?"

"Sure, Bulma!! That would be great!" The voice on the other end said a little too eagerly. Bulma
agreed to be right over as soon as she had had a shower, and hung up. Something was definitely
going on over there, and she was going to find out what. She had a quick shower and got changed
into a light blue tank top and jean shorts, tying her hair into a quick upsweep to get it out of the way.
On her way out, she left a note to her parents in case they checked up on her. With that done, she
popped her car capsule and threw it onto the driveway, waiting until the smoke cleared before getting
in. She sped away in the metallic blue convertible, burning a layer of rubber off the tyres as she left.

The ride took about fifteen minutes instead of the usual twenty-five, indicating her eagerness to see
what was going on. Since when did Piccolo eat like a pig? If she was correct, Namek's ate very little.
Dende sure hadn't while they were in the capsule house in Namek, not that she could blame him for
using that as an excuse for getting out of eating her food. She would have to take up a cooking
course or something in her spare time, before she finally killed someone from cooking her demonic
food. Pulled into the driveway and jerked to a stop, brushing her hair out of her eyes, where wisps
had escaped from her clip. She stepped out of the car and head for the small house. Hearing grunting
and cursing coming from above her, she looked up to the sky, where she could make out blurred
shapes crashing into each other and rebounding. Must be sparring... Who is up there? She thought.
She couldn't count them though, they moved too quickly. With a shrug, she walked up to the front
door. Chi-chi yanked the door open before she could knock, and jerked her inside. Bulma spun
around and looked at Chi-chi in surprise, as the younger woman peered out the door into the sky.
Then she shut and bolted the door and faced Bulma with a relieved look on her face.

"Oh, thank Kami you're here! You have to get him back to CC!" Chi-chi begged. Bulma's eyes
widened and she took a step back, worried about the look in her friend's eyes.

"Who? Goku? What are you talking about? Are you two fighting or someth—"

"No no no, it's Vegeta! He is beating my Goku and Gohan to a bloody pulp! Take him home!" The
dark-haired woman cried.

Bulma was staggered. She blinked a few times, and replayed the words in her head to make sure she
heard right. "Vegeta has been staying here? Since when?" Why hadn't anyone told her? More
importantly, why did she feel so hurt? Chi-chi shook her head woefully.

"Since about five days ago. He stayed here before that too, about a week ago. He is nothing but
trouble, that man. I want him gone. Bulma, can't you talk to him? Get him to leave?" She asked
hopefully, her eyes shining. Bulma put one hand to her face and sighed. This answered her
questions. No matter how much Chi-chi hated the prince, she would feed him and shelter him
anyway. She was strange like that. She had even taken in Piccolo for a while, and Bulma didn't even
want to imagine what had gone on during that time. Piccolo had managed to kill Goku, after all, and
had stolen Gohan to train him for about nine months. She wondered what went on inside Chi-chi's
head sometimes. She snapped back to the problem at hand.

"Yeah, I think I can get him to come back. All this time, the GR has been either out-of-order or
completely smashed up, by his own handy work, I might add. I finished building it this morning, so he
should come back to use it."

"So why did he leave in the first place? To train with my two?"

Bulma shrugged. "That must be it. But the last time I saw him I really tore a strip out of him, so I think
he was pissed at me as well. Can you believe he had the audacity to call me dimwitted? Of all the
vicious insults, he had to pick that one. I'm anything but dimwitted, and if he thinks he can just order
me around again like he used to, he has another thing coming!" She raged. "Screw around with my
emotions, why don't you? Arrogant bastard! He probably acted like he did on the roof just so he could
have even more of a hold over me than he already does! Like I owe him something for saving my life!
I don't owe him a thing, if anything he owes me! I saved his life, even though he choked me unto
death—" she broke off, breathing hard. She had totally gotten lost in her own thoughts, and had been
talking out loud to top it off! Chi-chi was watching her with wide eyes.

"What? Bulma, what is going on with you two? What on earth are you babbling about?" She asked
with typical Chi-chi-like worry. She thought Bulma was going nuts. Maybe I am, the woman thought
tiredly for the millionth time.

"Oh, Chi-chi, I don't know. Lately things have been so weird. Vegeta has been acting so strangely,
but not in a bad way. But— I'm confused," she said helplessly. Though her friend didn't have the
faintest idea what had happened, her women's intuition told her Bulma had issues with the Saiyan
beast. Serious issues. In fact, Chi-chi hadn't seen Bulma acting this oddly since her and Yamcha
first—

"Bulma," Chi-chi gasped. "Have you and Vegeta..." She couldn't continue. Bulma looked at her
uncomprehendingly for a moment, then her words sank in. Her eyes widened and she shook her
head wildly.

"Oh Chi-chi! No, of course not!" Why do I sound so shocked? I have been wanting to for ages, she
told herself. Chi-chi looked substantially relieved. They walked toward the living room and sat on the
couch. Bulma was tempted to go outside and see Vegeta, and tell him to come back, but knowing him
they would just end up arguing about nothing, like always. Honestly, she didn't know why she was so
hurt. They guy lived to train, and she had nothing that was up to his ever reaching standards at her
house. The combat-droids were too weak. But now that the GR was rebuilt, she could tell him to
come back. He would, she hoped, but not for any other reason than to train. It would never be for any
other reason.

With a sigh, she sat with Chi-chi and drank tea, as they conversed about anything that came to mind.
Both were thinking about other things though, and when they eventually drifted into silence, neither
minded. Bulma was occupied thinking about what an ass Vegeta was being, with his taking off and
not telling her where he was going. What if he'd been hurt? That was a stupid thought, he was one of
the strongest guys in the universe. Bulma couldn't place why she was so pissed. Perhaps it would
come to her later. She hoped it would be soon. She glanced out the window to the sky above. She
spotted four figures, one golden in color. Goku. There was a green flash, one that she assumed to be
Piccolo, and a smaller blur attacking it. Gohan. That meant that the one attacking Goku was Vegeta.
She squinted at it, but couldn't make out any detail. They were moving too fast, and were too far
away. She wished she could fly. She turned back and snapped Chi-chi out of her own reverie.

"Chi-chi, if you put aside the fact that Vegeta tried to kill Goku and Gohan, and blow up the world,
what do you think of him as a person?" She needed an outside opinion. Chi-chi looked up in surprise,
and seemed about to yell at her for asking her such a thing, but then she closed her mouth and
thought about it. Her friend's eyes darted to the window and she frowned thoughtfully. "Kami, Bulma.
Why are you asking me? I suppose if I look past all the murderous power and kill looks he is directing
at my husband right now, I see him as a bit of a loner, whether it is intentional or not. He looks to be
hiding emotion under a really thick shell. So I have no idea what to think of him. Why?"

"That's exactly what I keep seeing! I don't think he is really all that bad, down there somewhere. Chi-
chi, I think I'm falling for him," she admitted, darting a look at the woman from under her lashes. Her
friend's mouth dropped open in shock, but she admirably restrained herself from yelling at Bulma.

For about three seconds.

"HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND?!?!" She shrieked at the top of her lungs. Bulma winced at the
volume.

"Yes! I mean, no! I don't know, Chi-chi! I don't know why I'm like this! What's wrong with me? I know
who he is, but I don't care! Dammit, what am I going to do?!" To her dismay, she felt her eyes fill up
and her vision blur. Tears she wouldn't shed burned her cerulean eyes. Chi-chi clucked
sympathetically and gave Bulma a one armed hug, setting down her tea with the other hand. Bulma
blinked to clear her eyes. Now they weren't sad, simply empty and desolate.

"I know it would probably never work, him and me. But, he has so many other sides to him, I'm sure
of it! I'm not going to give up until I've seen all of them, even if nothing will ever come of us. He feels
nothing for me anyway. I'm not even sure what I feel for him, so its probably good that I don't delve
into that just yet," she said in a hollow voice. Chi-chi didn't know what to say, so she just gave her
long-time friend another hug. She might not approve of what Bulma was feeling, but she wasn't going
to question it if it was just going to cause her more pain. Bulma sat for a while, thinking. She couldn't
keep this up. Better if she just left Vegeta to do as he wished, and not talk to him anymore unless she
had to. Maybe this feeling would just go away if she ignored it for long enough. She stood up slowly,
and blew her wispy bangs out of her eyes. She couldn't do that if she was going to stay here, with him
just outside.

"Chi-chi, I think I'll go. I don't think I could possible talk Vegeta into going to CC the way I am now. I'm
sorry." Chi-chi's eyes grew large with worry, but she never said a word. Bulma felt guilty about not
doing anything, but she didn't own the stubborn Saiyan, he had a mind of his own. Let Goku handle
him. She walked out the front door towards her car, with Chi-chi following closely behind. Bulma
looked up to the sky again, and upon seeing nothing more than vague flashes of Ki, she sighed and
got into her car. Chi-chi leaned on the door to the car and peered at her closely.

"Are you sure you can drive? Don't start crying on the road, you'll kill yourself."

"I'll be fine. But thanks for worrying," she said with a shaky smile. Blasting noises sounded overhead,
But Bulma didn't look up. They were just sparring, no big deal. She reached to clip her seat belt when
Chi-chi gasped sharply. A rising yell could be heard from above them, and they both looked up then.
They had lost a lot of altitude and had become clearly visible, and Goku and Vegeta were testing the
strength of each others Ki blast against each other. Vegeta's beam was glowing blue, with Goku's
flashing gold. They seemed to be even when Piccolo leapt up to the left of Goku and shot his Special
Beam Cannon right at the SSJ. Gohan sent a Kamehameha flying toward Vegeta at blinding speed.
With deft ease, Vegeta dispatched the demi-saiyan with a backward kick to the ribs, dissolving the
Kamehameha. Goku did the same to Piccolo's attack, only, something went wrong. Instead of it
dissolving as it should have, it was simply deflected towards the ground. Right where Bulma and Chi-
chi were. The raven-haired woman leapt backwards with a shriek, and Bulma followed, though she
barely had enough time to escape her car before it exploded, spraying broken glass and sharp metal
everywhere. The sound was horrendous, and the heat at her back made her clench her teeth in pain.
Rolling end over end in the grass, the two women eventually halted and lay there, stunned.

"Chichi!"

"Mom!"

"Woman!"

"Shit."

The four warriors landed beside the two and immediately began checking them over for wounds.
Vegeta, restraining himself in front of the others, simply gave Bulma a once over inspection with his
eyes, and folded his arms. Bulma rubbed the back of her head gingerly and slapped away Goku's
hand as he offered to help her up, anger clearly etched onto her face. He backed off and went back to
checking out Chi-chi, who had fainted in shock. She stood up, ignoring the feeling of burning pain in
her shoulder blade, and faced the guilty warrior.

"Goku! How could you be so damned careless?! We could've been killed you dimwit, and as it is Chi-
chi is out of it! What the hell were you think..." She trailed off as she realized what had happened. Her
car! It was totally leveled, pieces everywhere, some still on fire as they lay in the oil that had spilled.
She could see what used to be her driver's seat, charred and smoking. That was almost her.
"My CAR! My beautiful car! What have you done? I'll kill you for this Goku!!" With that she leapt for
him, hands outstretched and ready to strangle the ignorant Saiyan. Goku yelled and sidestepped as
Bulma flew at him, her eyes burning with fury. Gohan watched in interest at the scene, while Piccolo
merely shook his head and flew away. Vegeta watched with searing eyes. Bulma wanted to do
severe damage to Goku in payment for the wreckage done to her car, but something was wrong with
her back. She stopped and looked over her shoulder. Her anger faded.

"Oh, eww..." There was a five-inch long gash in her shoulder blade, leading down towards her spine.
Blood oozed out of the ragged cut, making her feel dizzy with the sudden pain. Goku watched from a
six foot distance, wincing as he saw what had made her stop chasing him.

"Kakkarot, you idiot!" Vegeta snarled as he saw her back. It was lightly burned all over, with nicks and
cuts blemishing her up and down the normally creamy expanse of skin. Her tank top was torn at the
back and hung freely, almost ripped to the hem. His eyes darkened. Bulma swore under her breath
and tried to pick off the bits of glass, but she couldn't reach. She gave Goku a good glare, but saw the
guilty look on his face and the hang of his head, and relented a little.

"Come on, bring Chi-chi inside. I need to borrow some clothes," she ordered.

"I'm awake... What happened?" The woman murmured hazily.

Goku nodded and brightened as his wife in question stirred and opened her eyes. He filled her in on
the events on the last two minutes. Lug head, Bulma thought, rolling her eyes. Wincing and not daring
to look at Vegeta, she limped toward the house, leaving the others to help Chi-chi up. Her back
pained her something fierce, but she wasn't going to scream about it until she was out of hearing
range of her friends and one certain prince. She could feel the blood soaking the waist of her shorts
as it trickled down her back in a sticky warm flow. Oh, Kami this hurts like hell! My skin! Bulma
screamed in her head. Walking to the front door, she pushed the door open, suppressing a wince as
her back shifted as her shoulder moved. She wondered how badly it was burned. It sure felt like
second degree burns to her. Chi-chi, having gotten up, raced over to Bulma, unhurt as she was
further away from the car when it exploded.

"Bulma, let me help you. How bad is it?" Chi-chi asked worriedly.

Bulma turned to her stiffly and grimaced. "It's stinging like crazy!" She hissed so the others couldn't
hear. "Do I even have skin left?"

"Of course you do. I'll get the burn cream, and find you some new clothes to wear. Kami, Bulma I'm
so sorry about your car," she said apologetically. "And I know you really like that one too. Don't worry
though, you can buy a new one, you know you have the money."

"Don't worry about that cream, Chi-chi, I have something for it at home, and I don't want it to interfere
with its own healing process. Thanks anyway though. But I do think I'll need some new clothes."

The woman looked surprised, but nodded anyway. They walked inside, Chi-chi giving the men all a
good glare, telling them that there would be no more sparring near her house anymore, unless they
wanted to feed themselves for the next week.

They all nodded their acquiesce, save Vegeta, who scowled and looked past her to eye Bulma darkly.
She looked back, her stomach fluttering as she met his eyes. Not wanting to let him see how he was
affecting her, she tore her eyes away and stepped into the house, not caring that she was baring her
bloodied back to him. Inside the main bedroom Chi-chi gave Bulma some clothes to change into, and
cleaned her back for her to rid it of glass. Refraining from yelling, she suffered through the cleansing
and donned a light, airy cotton shirt and a pair of jeans that rode low on her hips, below the burns and
cuts.

"There, that should be all right until you get home," Chi-chi said, adjusting the top so that it didn't lay
tight against her back. The cut was no longer bleeding, and Bulma prayed it would stay that way until
she got home, not wanting to ruin the shirt. Then it struck her. She had no way of getting home, her
car was totalled, and Chi-chi had no license, nor did Goku. There was no way I'm going to stay here
in agony, I'll walk if I have to. It'll only take... A day. Her shoulders slumped at the prospect, knowing
that she was going to have to stay there with a stir-crazy woman and her way-too-strong husband
and child. Not too mention a grumbling Namek and a haughty prince who was to sexy for his own...

An idea struck her. With a triumphant grin at Chi-chi, she limped out of the room and out the front
door. She knew just how she could get home, get her 'house mate' back, and get what she wanted...

******************************************************************************

She stepped out the door to see Vegeta and Gohan sparring, much to her surprise. That was a little
out of the ordinary. Goku was sitting under a tree, looking up in worry.

"Keep it away from the house! Gohan, watch it!" He yelled, as the two fought in a flurry of kicks and
punches. Bulma stiffly strode over to him, stopping to tower over him as he sat in the shade. He
looked away from the fighting and tilted his head in a questioning manner. She noticed that the
fighting stopped as she came out, and stifled the urge to look up at Vegeta.

"Goku, can you teleport me home? My back is going to hurt like hell if I have to rest it against
anything," she said carefully. Goku broke into a grin.

"Hey, sure! I'm real sorry about your back, I hope it doesn't scar or anything. Do you want to leave
now?"

Bulma gave a faint smile and shook her head. She looked over her shoulder, right at Vegeta, who
was standing a ways back behind her. Upon seeing his dark glare, she rolled her eyes and turned
fully to look at him.

"Are you still pissed that I won our last argument, or are you always this sulky lately?" She asked
teasingly. He stiffened and gave her a death glare.

"You did not win that so-called argument, I merely grew tired of your incessant ranting! And I am a
prince! I do not...sulk," he spat. Her eyes narrowed. Walking closer to him, she leaned forward so her
mouth was near his ear.

"Just like you don't hug?"

Jaw clenched tightly against any words he might say with Goku present, he stepped back and
sneered.

"A small lapse in sanity, I assure you. That will not happen again." He folded his arms. Why is he
being such an asshole? She asked herself. Was it because Goku was there, or does he hate me
now? She squashed her thoughts and smoothed her facial expressions to appear unaffected.

"Does that mean that you are going to stay here?" She said steadily. Not blinking, not moving. He
eyed her for a moment and shrugged. "Possibly. There is nothing for me at that other place, save a
scorch mark on the ground where my GR used to be. At least here I can spar, even if it is against a
dunce like Kakkarot and his son." He stared up at the sky and scowled.

"Well, seeing as you have your sparring partners, you won't be needing my new GR, then, will you?"
She asked slyly. His eyes widened slightly in interest. He looked back at her suspiciously as she
continued. "Maybe I can get Yamcha to make use of it, he could even move in at CC, to save time
traveling, of course. He hates the stuffiness though, so that new air conditioning should come in
handy. Do you think he would like it?" She asked innocently. Vegeta looked fit to explode.

"That insolent weakling will not go anywhere near my gravity room! The fool would flatten himself at
three times gravity, let alone the three-hundred maximum!" He snarled in her face. She smiled widely
at the look on his face. There was nothing like using a guy's territorial instinct against him. Or pride.
Or hunger. He really had more weak spots than he cared to admit, she could see. Time to move in for
the kill.

"Oh, didn't I mention? It goes up to eight-hundred times earth's gravity now. He'll make good use of it,
or even Goku might want to have a try, since he has already used one just like it—"

"Never! There is no way that third-class brain-dead is using it! Damn you woman, why didn't you tell
me that you had another GR built, I have missed out on enough training as it is!" He shouted. Goku
took a step in their direction as Vegeta raised his fists angrily, but the angered prince noticed and
shot him a disgusted look.

"Come now Kakkarot, I would not stoop so low," he spat, glowering at the pure-hearted Saiyan.
Bulma understood his irritation. She also shot Goku a look, but hers was filled with laughter and glee.
She knew that this plan of hers would work. Goku winked at her knowingly and reached out his hand
to her.

"Ready to go home? I could go see Korin and try to rustle up a Senzu if you want it," he offered with a
shrug. She shook her head almost violently. Those poison balls tasted like hell in bean-form. At least
the one she had after she was choked did.

She looked at Vegeta questioningly. "Are you going to come too? Or are you going to spar some
more? I need to know so I can tell mom to put on extra for dinner."

"I'll fly there later," he said shortly. She sighed. "Whatever." Bulma grabbed Goku's hand as he put
the other one to his forehead, and they disappeared from Vegeta's view. Bulma saw a flash of white
light and then she was standing on the grass in her backyard, right near the new GR.

"Thanks Goku. Tell Chi-chi I'm sorry I didn't say goodbye," she apologized, blinking. Her friend
nodded and with a wave, flashed out of sight again. Bulma brushed her hair out of her eyes, wincing
as she remembered her shoulder. Her back still stung badly, and she knew had to go jump into the
Regeneration tank in her lab before it started bleeding again. Deep in thought, she started walking.
Hopefully it would work as well on me as it did on Vegeta. If I scar, I'm going to find Goku and rip him
a new ass. I swear it, she thought as she painfully made her way to the lab. Opening the door, she
peeked her head in and saw her father bent over her computer, typing away furiously.

"Hey, dad," she said tiredly. He jumped slightly, breaking his concentration.

"Oh, you're back! I didn't hear you pull up. How's things with Goku?" He asked cheerfully as he turned
to look at her. His smile faded as he saw the look of discomfort on her face.

"What happened to you? Those clothes aren't yours, are they?"

"No dad. I found where Vegeta has been hiding out for the last week, he was sparring with Goku. I
happened to get in the way of a badly deflected blast, Goku's fault by the way, and it blew up my car."

"Oh, dear. Were you hurt?"

"Only a little. I'm just going to hop into the Regeneration tank I built for Vegeta, okay? That way I
won't scar."

His eyes widened as he got out of his chair, looking her over worriedly. "Scar?" He repeated slowly.
She shook her head and shooed him out the door. "I'll be fine. You go on and use the other lab while
I'm in here," she bade him. He complied reluctantly, still trying to look her over for injuries. She shut
the door and locked it, and with a hiss of pain, she undressed down to her underwear and headed for
the tank. There was no need to get Chi-chi's clothes stained with healing fluid, she thought as she
shivered. Setting the controls for two hours, she stepped inside and closed the door with a click. The
inside smelled faintly like chlorine, and it was strangely like being shut off from the outside world. She
couldn't hear a thing. The little blue window offered little view of outside, all she saw was her
worktable in the corner. She reached up and pulled the mask off the hook in the roof, and settled it
over her face a little apprehensively. A rumbling whir started up, and Bulma was suddenly immersed
in a thick blue liquid that was almost warm in temperature. She sat on the low bench and closed her
eyes as the pulsing of the liquid around her lulled her into a deep sleep.

Two hours later, she opened her eyes feeling fresh and energetic as the odd blue fluid was sucked
back into the tanks behind the front pod. The air dryers turned on automatically, and hot air blew
around her body, drying her in a matter of minutes, leaving her with the strange impression of being
inside a clothes dryer. She pushed the open button next to the door and climbed out, shivering at the
difference in air temperature. She twisted slightly to look at her back. The flesh was smooth and
unmarked, not even a hint of redness where the gash used to be. She felt great.

"Wow girl, you sure know how to build a healing tank," she murmured to herself. It wasn't even sore,
like she had thought it might be. No wonder Vegeta had bounded out of there looking like a million
dollars. But then, Vegeta always looked great no matter how bashed up he was. Shaking her head
slightly, Bulma reached for the clothes she had left laying on the back of her chair, and slipped them
on. She unlocked the door to her lab and was about to open it, when it was suddenly slammed open,
sending her into the wall and hitting her head solidly against it. She gasped with shock and tried to
steady herself.

Vegeta stumbled into the lab, cursing Goku for all he was worth. He was bleeding from his side, and
from where she was standing his arm looked dislocated at the elbow. He turned slightly and saw her
against the wall, and his eyes widened. She simply stood there leaning on the wall, blinking at him
dazedly. She couldn't really think of anything to say. Vegeta could.

"What the hell are you staring at?" He asked in a rumbling voice laced with pain. It snapped her out of
her mild trance enough to come up with a suitable answer.

"About four of you, that's what! Do you have to be so damn careless? You could have fractured my
skull of something!!" She yelled as she rubbed her head. It wasn't that bad really, but she knew she
would have a headache later. Vegeta snorted and immediately started cursing again, grabbing his
ribs with his one working arm. She took a step towards him, now that she could see he was simply in
too much pain to argue. She sighed.

"Come on, I'll set up the tank for you. You look like you need it," she said as she took a closer peek at
his wounds. The one on his side was just below the ribs and looked deep enough to be nasty if it got
infected. Vegeta raised his head and glared at her. She ignored it and moved on to his elbow, but she
didn't touch it. She knew how to relocate this, but would he let her? Maybe.

"The re-gen tank can't fix this, Vegeta, it can't move bones back into position. I'm going to have to do
this for you," she said firmly. She reached out to grasp his arm, just above the elbow, but he jerked
back with a growl.

"Leave me be."

She sighed in irritation. "No, not with that elbow looking the way it does. For Kami's sake, it's turned
sideways! It'll only take a second if you let me." Her voice was completely unbending. She was not
going to let him get into the tank without her relocating his elbow. He knew it too, but he had different
ideas. Taking his hand off of his broken ribs, he grasped the forearm of his useless arm. Before she
could stop him, he pulled it out and twisted, and with sickening pop it jerked back into place. Vegeta
was white with pain by then, letting out a rasping cry as he flexed his arm. Bulma was horrified, and
more than a little queasy from what she had just seen. How had he done that and withstood the pain?
She reached forward as he started to collapse, so he fell against her heavily instead. Her arms
wrapped around his trim waist as she steadied him, and he didn't resist at all.

"Come on, you crazy Saiyan," she said softly, all but dragging him to the tank. She thought he was
out of it, so she was surprised when he let out a soft snort at her words. He straightened up and
pushed her away slowly, turning to lean on the workbench for support while she set the tank up.
"Four hours?"

"I don't care. Just get that tank ready," he growled. Boy, did he try to piss her off, or did it just come
naturally to him? Bulma had no idea. She set the tank to high power, and timed it for two hours
instead. He would come out of it just the same, since the power was on high. The door popped open
as she pressed the buttons on the control panel, and when she turned around Vegeta was already
settling himself painfully into place. From what she had heard, Saiyan's grew stronger every time they
had the crap kicked out of them, so he was eager to come out of this more powerful, she supposed.
She shut the door to the tank, but not before saying something.

"Sweet dreams."

He rolled his eyes as she peered at him from the window. That made her smile. She walked out of the
lab into the warm sunlight, feeling much happier about her place in life. She went inside to see what
her mom was cooking for lunch, a little surprised at her sudden appetite. The tank might have fixed
her body, but it had left her with wicked hunger pains. She wondered if Vegeta would come out of it
this hungry. He can get his own food when he gets out, she thought silently. She was not going to
wait on him now that he was back no matter how glad she was. It just wasn't her style.

She ate the lunch her mother had cooked for her, then proceeded go for a swim in the backyard pool.
She knew that this was a side effect of the re-gen tank, all this excess energy, but she was still
surprised that she had done twenty laps without stopping. She could usually only do five. After a while
she had worn herself down to her average energy level, and climbed out of the pool to dry off on the
reclining pool-side chairs. She had donned her favourite swimsuit, a blue two piece halter neck set. It
set off her teal hair nicely. With the sun pouring down on her, she began to doze on the deck chair,
until a high pitched beep sounded in the distance. The tank had finished. Rolling onto her side she
saw Vegeta stride out of the lab, back to his usual self. He went straight for the kitchen without a
backward glance. She grinned to herself and settled herself back against the chair and closed her
eyes again. Twenty minutes later she was jolted out of her half-sleep by a shadow blocking her light.
She opened her eyes to see a black silhouette with wild hair.

"What is it, Vegeta?" She asked on a yawn. She sat up and twisted the remaining water out of her
damp hair, not bothering to meet his eyes. He didn't answer for a moment, making her look up in
curiosity. He was now in his training gear, which consisted of black shorts and a white tank top, arms
folded, legs braced apart slightly. But he had a look of burning intensity in his eyes that confounded
Bulma. Then she realized he was staring at what she was wearing with that odd look still on his face.
Something sparked inside Bulma, making her feel as if there wasn't enough air in her lungs. She let
go of her hair and swung her legs over the edge of the chair and stood up.

"Vegeta?" She said, combing her hair back with her fingers. He blinked and frowned suddenly.

"How do I get into the new GR? The door is locked by some sort of code," he rushed out, looking
behind her, not at her. She stared at him a moment, then she remembered what the hell he was
talking about.

"Oh right! I installed a security system on it so that no unsuspecting person could wander in and get
squashed. Just punch in your name and press enter, all right?" She said rapidly, arching her neck
trying to get him to meet her eyes. He wouldn't look at her, and his jaw was clenched. He looked
angry, but she knew better. He was trying not to stare at her body, and was barely refraining, much to
her delight.

"Fine." He turned to stalk away, no doubt. Bulma giggled quietly at his uncomfortable stance, and
bombed back into the pool. She needed to cool off. The splash was enormous and soaked everything
within two meters of the pool, including Vegeta. He jumped and spun around in surprise and anger.

"What the hell?!" He exclaimed, examining himself. His hair was spiked in wet points, and water was
trickling down his shirt, outlining his muscles and running down his legs. She had really gotten him
good. Bursting into laughter, she swam backwards away from the disgruntled Saiyan and splashed
him from a distance.

"You just made your first mistake woman! Never wet a Saiyan and expect to get away with it!" He
warned. She just shrugged and splashed him again.

"You talk big. Let's see what you got, tough guy," she laughed. A feral smile graced his features as he
dived into the pool, surfacing no more than a meter away from her, making her squeal in fright. She
recovered quickly and flicked water at him again, grinning when he spluttered and shook his head like
a wet dog. Got him! She thought gleefully. Bulma dived under the water, hoping to get away, but he
got hold of her foot and yanked. She was pulled screaming above the surface by her foot with her
head just grazing it, and she looked up to see Vegeta floating above the water, grinning sadistically at
her. He dunked her quickly, making her thrash around, but there was no escape.

"Do you apologize, woman?" He asked her mockingly, and when all she did was curse and scream,
he dunked her again. And again. Each time for no more than a second, but she couldn't get away.
After the tenth dip, she waved her hands at him in surrender. With an arrogant laugh he let her foot
go and she crashed into the water again. He is so dead, she thought as she began to swim to air.
Then an idea made itself known in her head. Instead of swimming to the surface and getting air, she
went limp, letting herself float to the surface face-down. Motionless. She felt a foot poke her once
lightly between the shoulder blades, then a bit harder when she didn't move. Bulma was low on
oxygen, but kept her position. Her lungs were burning. Kami, if this had been real I would be dead by
now! What's keeping him? She heard a chuckle from above her.

"Do you really think I'm that stupid? How insulting."

Damn.

She rolled over, taking great gulps of air. "What gave me away?" She panted, dragging her hair out of
her eyes. He floated down into the water beside her and gave her a condescending look.

"Do you remember how I once told you that everyone has a Ki signature? Well, while it may have
looked like you were dying, it stayed the same. So I knew you were feigning it." He cupped his hands
and let the water trickle through them. Then almost negligently he said, "not that I would have saved
you anyway."

She scowled ferociously at him. "And why not?" She demanded.

"You've built the new GR. I have no more use for you with this new one being so much better than
that old piece of junk," he told her carelessly. He was baiting her, she knew. It worked. With no
warning at all, she leapt for him. He must have thought she posed no threat, because he never saw
her coming. With a growl she latched onto his shoulders and pushed him under the surface of the
water with all the strength she possessed in her petite body. Bubbles erupted from under the water as
she booted him in the stomach with her foot, winding him. She decided that this was as far as she
would take it, so she backed off and headed for the steps. She had gotten him with his guard down,
and she was sure he was mad. Just before she grabbed the railing, an arm looped around her waist
and pulled her backwards. She shrieked and tried to get away, but Vegeta held fast.

"Vegeta! What do you think you are doing?!" She was pressed up against his chest with her arms
pinned by her sides, her breathing a little constricted. He didn't look angry though, just coldly amused.

"How did you manage to do that? I think that actually tickled!" He laughed. Her eyes narrowed
dangerously and she tried to knee him, but he was ready for that. The blow caught his thigh instead.
She then let loose a stream of curses that would have made Frieza blush. Vegeta looked mildly
shocked but didn't let her go, he was too smart for that. Bulma quickly ran out of steam, knowing that
throwing a tantrum was no way to get out of a situation like this. She took a deep breath and tried to
think of an escape, or a way to get him to let go of her. Her ribs ached. She simply floated there
silently, glaring at him as he held her in place. He seemed to realize she had given up, and loosened
his hold on her a little.

"Given up?"

"No, I'm just...considering my next move," she ground out.

"You could just ask me to let go, you know."

"Would you?"

"Yes."

"Then do it."

"You haven't asked yet."

Bulma ground her teeth. "Would you please let me go?" She managed.

He let go of her arms, giving her the freedom she had asked for. Her anger gone, she gazed at him
steadily.

"You're a really crazy person, you know that?" She told him as he rose out of the pool.

"It's not the first time I have been called that," he said shortly. To her surprise, he leaned down and
reached his hand out for her to take. Bulma reached up without any hesitation and let him pull her out
of the water and onto solid ground where she grabbed her towel and draped it around her. She had
forgotten she had brought it with her to the poolside. Vegeta powered up slightly, using the power he
generated to dry himself off completely. Shivering slightly, Bulma looked on in awe.

"Wow, I wish I could do that. Wait a minute, if you can do that, why are you always using our towels
after you shower?" She asked suspiciously. He shrugged.

"Saves energy."

"Oh yeah, like you're so lazy," she pointed out.

Vegeta huffed and looked her over. She was shivering more violently now.

"You'll get ill if you stay out here. Go inside."

Back to that again? "What are you Vegeta, my mom? Like you give a damn if I catch a cold, you have
your new GR now and it isn't going to break for at least another few months," she said bitterly. She
had him there. Why should he care? There was no way he would ever say he was worried, or that he
cared, so she figured that it was just his way of peacefully ending the conversation. Which was
strange in itself. Vegeta loved arguments. He simply hiked an eyebrow at her and walked away,
looking a little confused.

Well that clears that up, he doesn't give a damn.

But Bulma knew that that wasn't true, she just wasn't thinking clearly. Of course he gave a damn,
somewhere deep in his so-called black heart. He just had more mood swings than a woman with
PMS so she could never be sure of his motives when he was around her. She didn't really mind that,
it would be boring to know him inside out. Yamcha had been so very predictable, maybe that had
been the reason that they hadn't really worked out in the end. There was no chance of that happening
with Vegeta, the day he became predictable was the day Kami granted her psychic powers. Until then
she was stuck in the dark. Still shivering, she walked inside, leaving sodden footprints leading up to
her room.
That evening, at around 5:30pm, her mother and father announced that they were going out for
dinner, leaving her to fend for herself for the night, and Vegeta as well. She bid farewell to her folks,
noting the dark clouds looming on the horizon. A storm was coming. Bulma quivered inwardly, she
hated storms like nothing else. Feared them, rather. She had never told anyone about it since she
was a child, and her parents had thought she had long grown out of it. They never thought it was
strange when she retreated to her room when a storm came, they just put it down to tiredness.

Maybe it won't be so bad, she thought as she waved goodbye to the retreating capsule car. Wishful
thinking on her part, but it would keep her sane until the storm actually hit. She busied herself with
cleaning the house until 6:30, when she decided she had better get some food going or risk Vegeta's
wrath. Not willing to chance her own health by cooking, she ordered pizza like she had done the last
time her parents had gone away.

The sky was pitch black by then, and flashes of lightning could be seen in the distance with
occasional low rumbles of thunder splitting the silence. She was getting edgy. Bulma made the call on
her cell phone just in case lightning hit. Now I only have half an hour to kill before the food arrives, but
what should I do to distract myself, she thought.

"I know, I'll grab a book to read. Let's see what mom's got..."

She got to page three before she threw the book over her shoulder. How could her mother read this
unrealistic garbage? With a frustrated sigh, she flopped down onto the sofa and curled up, right in
Vegeta's usual spot. For some reason it gave her a small measure of comfort, a feeling of security
that warded off her fear of the impending storm a little. Her thoughts drifted over to the prince, and
she wondered if he was afraid of storms.

Nah.

He was probably still in the new GR, training until he dropped. She was glad she had rust-proofed the
metal outer shell on the GR, it would need it with the storm coming. Wait a minute,
storm...lightning...metal...

"Oh SHIT!!" She shrieked, leaping out of the chair at top speed. That thing will short circuit and then
fry Vegeta if the power wasn't turned off straight away! She raced outside, ignoring the cold droplets
of rain that fell on her as she ran. The aerial on top of the GR would act as a lightning rod, she was
certain. The lights were on inside the circular pod, and she could hear grunting and cursing coming
from inside it. She paid no heed. Bulma reached the control panel and punched in the code, then shut
down the main power generator and additional power sources, including the lights. With a sob of relief
she leaned against the side of the GR just as Vegeta came storming out of the GR demanding to
know just what the hell her problem was.

"Storm... Lightning could have hit the GR and blown its main circuits if it struck the aerial. The power
had to be turned off," she panted.

"Now? The storm isn't going to hit for another half an hour at the least. Turn it back on," he ordered.
He was sweaty and disheveled from his training, with that imperious frown that made her want to grab
him and kiss it away. But that thought was overrun quickly by anger.

"No way! I'm not taking that chance with the GR, let alone you! If that thing gets fried in the storm
there is no way I'm building another one!" She shouted. Now he looked surprised for some reason,
she couldn't think why. His expression seemed to warm a little.

"Then I'll take a break until the storm is over. I hope you have food in the house."

"I'm ordering in again. It beats cooking."

"It beats your cooking, that's for sure," he told her as he followed her back into the house. The rain
was coming down heavier now, and they were both getting soaked. Bulma narrowed her eyes but
said nothing more. The storm was getting closer, and all she wanted was to go curl up somewhere
and hide. Little did she know that this night wasn't going to go so smoothly...

******************************************************************************

Bulma sat on the sofa while she waited for the food to arrive, suffering in silence as the storm crept
closer. Vegeta had gone up to take a shower, and knowing him he wouldn't be down until the hot
water ran out. The selfish brute. Lucky for her she had already had her shower. But even as she
cursed him for his thoughtlessness, she was grateful for his presence. He would probably keep her
angry enough not to notice the storm. She flicked on the T.V and surfed the channels, looking for
something decent to watch. Of course, with her luck, there was nothing on. Fifty channels and there
was nothing but animal documentaries, football, and news. She flicked it off with a sigh and tiptoed
upstairs to change her clothes. They were still a little damp from the rain.

Throwing on a pair of red satin pyjamas, her second favourite, she ran a brush through her hair and
studied her face in the mirror. Her skin was soft and smooth, but there was a slightly drawn look to
her face that indicated she was uneasy. She ignored that. Checking her eyes closely, they were as
clear and sparkling as ever. Her lips were full and her body was in great shape. Hopefully I'll stay
looking this good for at least another ten years, she thought. Turning away from her mirror, she
peered out her balcony doors to the sky beyond. It was 6:55. Vegeta had said it would be at least a
half hour until the storm broke over her house, so she had little over five minutes of peace.
Wonderful. I'm not going to show Vegeta I'm afraid of one measly storm, I'll hide it even if it kills me!

With that thought in mind she stepped out of her room and marched down the hall and down the
steps to the living room. Vegeta was sprawled on the couch, having finished his shower while she
was in her room. He looked asleep.

Not wanting to wake him, she lightened her step and padded to the kitchen to pour herself a juice
which she drank on the spot. She sat the glass in the sink with an accidental thump and looked guiltily
at the sofa. No movement. Poor guy, he must have really knocked himself out with the training this
time, she thought sympathetically. I wonder if he is hurt again? Probably not, just really tired. He didn't
look too bad when he walked into the house with me. She walked back over into the living room to sit
down. But Vegeta had stretched out on the sofa, leaving no room for her at all. Grumbling that this is
the last time she would be nice to him, she sat on the thick carpet and leaned against the armrest of
the sofa, her head only inches away from his. Checking the channels again, she finally settled on the
weather channel.

"...and the storm is going to hit the hardest right about here, in the middle of the city. My guess is that
the worst will consist of hail, heavy rain and local lightning. Watch out if you are in the vicinity of
Capsule Corporation, because if it's going to hit hardest anywhere, it'll be there. Now on the world
map, we have..." Bulma shut off the T.V with a low moan. Why hadn't she soundproofed the house?
Why did the storm have to hit tonight? Someone up there was out to get her, she was sure of it.

Vegeta stirred at her cry and opened his eyes. She jumped at the noise and turned to meet his dark
gaze, still a little groggy from sleep. He sat up smoothly and rolled his neck around on his shoulders,
making it crack. Then he proceeded to lay back down. Bulma stood up and gave him a good glare.

"Would you mind not hogging the whole sofa? I really don't like having to sit on the floor like some
kind of animal," she said peevishly. He smirked and gave her a mocking look.

"I think there is some room near my feet," he said with false graciousness. Bulma clenched her fists
angrily.

"If you're going to sleep, go to your room! Arrogant jerk, have you ever considered anyone besides
yourself?!"

Vegeta narrowed his eyes. "When would I have ever needed to? Besides, I am a prince!"
"Ha! You haven't been a prince since your home planet was vaporized! I doubt Frieza treated you
with courtesy!" She yelled angrily. He was too much!

Vegeta grew deathly quiet all of a sudden, and a cold fury seemed to ignite in his eyes.

"Do not speak of such things to me, woman. You couldn't possibly know what you are talking about,"
he said coldly. She had gone too far again, but this time she didn't stop.

"Yeah? Well it doesn't take a genius like me to figure out that the guy who killed you and blew up your
planet didn't exactly hold you in high regard!!" You're getting in too deep, girl. Back off, a voice told
her. Probably the voice of reason. Vegeta seemed to digest her words though, not making any
response. The anger abruptly faded from his eyes. He looked straight at her.

"This bothers you?" He asked quietly. Bulma was thrown. Huh?

"Well, sure," she said in confusion. "Frieza was a bastard. I can't imagine how you could have put up
with it for so long." What was his deal? Shouldn't he be making death threats by now? Vegeta studied
her expression for a long minute, silently drawing his own conclusions. He smirked after a while.

"It would take more than that white lizard to crush my spirit," he said haughtily. Bulma breathed a sigh
of relief. He wasn't going to choke her again.

"Don't you mean ego?" She laughed. He threw a pillow at her. The doorbell rang just then, and Bulma
ran upstairs to get her money while Vegeta resettled himself on the sofa. Opening the front door to
pay the deliverer, she was confronted by a sheet of almost solid rain. The wind howled and whistled
eerily, and lightning lit up the sky every few minutes. She was terrified. Grabbing the pizza she
shoved a few hundred dollars into the boy's hand and slammed the door shut, breathing hard.

"Breathe, Bulma, that's right, you don't have to be freaked out by a storm." She repeated that under
her breath a few times as she carried the boxes to the kitchen bench. Setting the steaming boxes
down, she rubbed her lightly burned arms.

"You could have helped, you know. Those things are heavy. And hot."

"It's not like you asked me. I do not volunteer help."

"You wouldn't have done it if I asked, you would have just told me that you were the prince of the
Saiyans and that type of work was below you, or something like that," she grumbled.

"Now you're getting it."

"Ass."

"Wench."

"Wench?" She repeated. "That's a new one. Been saving it for a special occasion or something?"

"No, but you have been upgraded."

"Why?"

Vegeta mumbled something under his breath that Bulma couldn't quite catch. Thunder rumbled
suddenly, making her forget about anything she might have heard him say. By then she was
concentrating on not screaming. She gritted her teeth.

"Hurry up, wench. I haven't eaten since I got out of the tank."

"Don't call me wench, you...you idiot!" she managed. Her hands were shaking. She heard a laugh
from the living room.
"Pathetic. Running low on insults today?" He laughed mockingly. The shaking stopped, and Bulma
found herself wanting a pointy object to kill Vegeta with. She closed her eyes and let out a deep
breath. She opened her eyes.

"Well, come and get the food, I'm not your servant!" She opened the boxes and checked over the
contents, which were as she had ordered, thank god. She didn't want to have to deal with Vegeta if
he found a piece of pineapple on his pizza. He had a thing against mixing fruit and tomato paste. The
thunderclaps were getting louder, occasionally shaking the house a little. Most of the noise was
blocked by the house's design, and the insulation, but she doubted anything could silence this storm.
Vegeta stomped into the kitchen with his eternal frown, and grabbed the top three boxes, like he
usually did. But before he could head back for the sofa, Bulma snagged the fourth box of pizza and
bolted for her position on the sofa and leapt into it. Vegeta growled something under his breath about
insolent wenches and took the opposite side of the couch, sitting down with a thump.

They ate in silence, but it wasn't an uncomfortable one. Bulma's only problem was concealing her
unease over the storm from Vegeta. One particularly bright fork of lightning caused her to start, nearly
choking on a mouthful of pizza. Vegeta simply gave her a look and continued eating, much to her
relief. They finished quickly and soon they were just sitting on the couch watching T.V. Bulma was
getting a sense of deja vu from all of this, but she let it pass. She curled up against the armrest,
burying her head in her arms as lightning flashed, illuminating the whole room. Vegeta smirked at the
bright forks of light, almost like he saw a challenge.

Don't think about it Bulma, she told herself, repeating it like a mantra. Ignore the lightning, as long as
you can't see it, it isn't really there. It's not there...

BOOM!! BOOMBOOMBOOM!!

Bulma shrieked and leapt about a foot into the air, terror shining brightly in her eyes. Without even a
glance at Vegeta, she jumped over the back of the sofa and tore up the stairs to her room. She heard
a startled exclamation from the living room, but she paid no mind to it as she shoved her door open
and dove for the covers on her bed. Screw hiding it from Vegeta, all she wanted to do was escape the
storm. Heaving the covers over her head, she could no longer see the bright flashes, but she could
still hear the thunder. So she lay there, curled into a little ball under a mound of blankets, shivering
like a frightened animal and whimpering pathetically every time a loud boom shook the house. Kami,
Bulma, what happened to your courage? It's just a storm... But the thoughts that pelted through her
head did little to ease her. With a broken sob, she burrowed further under the blankets.

A footstep sounded near her doorway.

"Woman?" Vegeta sounded totally perplexed. Oh great, now he's going to just rub it in, torment me
with this every day. He'll get a good laugh out of this...

"Go away, Vegeta," she whimpered. "Just leave me alone."

Silence.

A long minute passed. He was gone. Bulma heaved a sigh, not sure if it was regret or relief. She
really needed someone right now. But Vegeta would probably never be capable of offering comfort to
her, of that she was almost certain. Just then, her bed sank down on one side, just near her hip. A
hand rested on her shoulder through the blanket. She stiffened in fright for a minute, before she
recognized the awkward form of comfort. She peeked her head out of the covers after a few
moments, and looked clearly at the man sitting on her bed. He looked troubled. She gulped back her
tears and pushed her hair out of her eyes, wiping them as she did so. He watched her do this, and
spoke after a moment.

"It's just a storm, you know. I don't understand this reaction you are having to it. Are all humans
supposed to act like this?" He looked completely confused now, his brow furrowed as he looked at
her shaking body. She shook her head.
"N-no... Its just me. They scare me," she whispered. Thunder rumbled again, and with a flash, all the
lights in the house were out. The power was gone. A blackout. Bulma keened low in her throat, an
eerie noise that made the hairs on Vegeta's arms stand up. Somehow balling herself up tighter, she
buried her head in her knees, which were up near her chest. She started shivering more violently, her
composure completely gone by then. How much longer was this storm going to last? Vegeta sat by
her for a moment, not sure of what to say. But he was pretty sure of what he could do. Gathering her
to him, blankets and all, he held her tightly as she quaked. She was like a frightened child in her fear,
it encompassed her whole thought until it was all she think, breathe, feel. He had only ever
experienced one thing like it, that was when he had died and gone to...that place.

Bulma burrowed against him, hiding her face in his chest and absorbing his warmth into her. Was this
really him? She thought. Or was it some sort of dream? If it was...she didn't want to wake up. Pulling
her arms out of the blankets, she tentatively snaked them around his waist, pulling him even closer to
her. His arms tightened around her in response, his chin resting on top of her head in a gesture of
protection and comfort. And he would protect her, she knew. From anything. He had seen her at her
lowest time, and he didn't care, or look down on her for her weakness. Maybe it was because she had
done the same to him, she didn't know. All she knew right then was that she wasn't so afraid of the
storm outside with Vegeta holding her against him, soothing her.

After a while he spoke.

"You know, fears must be conquered."

What?

"What?" She asked in a muffled voice. He repeated what he had said.

"And how am I supposed t-to do that?" He didn't answer. She thought about it. "I'm not going out
there," she said in her most resolute voice. He shrugged in the darkness. Thunder rumbled distantly.

"Would you rather spend the rest of your life hiding from every little thunderclap? I thought you had
more fortitude than that, woman," he said, lightly mocking her. She shook her head wildly. He was
right, but the thought of going out there made her toes curl. She tried to think of an excuse.

"Well, i... I'll get wet. And sick." She huddled closer against him, giving him the frightened lamb
routine. Her fear was receding, enough for her to think clearly and in this case, find a weak spot in
Vegeta. He had said on at least two occasions that he didn't want her to get sick. He thought it over,
eventually giving a resigned chuckle that ruffled her hair. She grinned in victory.

"Well then, I'll just have to go with you." Her smile faded. He was really serious about this. She was
afraid, but she thought it over anyway. He would keep her safe from the storm, and maybe it would
help her get over being afraid of them. Should she give it a try? Did she have the guts to do it? She
let go of Vegeta and wiggled her way out of his arms, then out of the blankets. She stepped down
onto the floor and crossed her arms, beginning to pace. Vegeta simply watched her wear a hole in the
carpet, saying nothing. He seemed to know what was going through her head. She could go out
there, sure. What was the worst that could happen? Electrocution? She saw lightning flash through
the window, and squeezed her eyes shut, pacing faster. Vegeta would be there, it's not like storms
are that life threatening. Just scary. You could do it... Thunder shook the house soon after, making
her squeal. Her spirits fell. She couldn't do it. No way. Some things just couldn't be conquered by
determination alone.

"No. I'm not doing it. I can't." Her voice sounded ashamed. Hell, she was ashamed. She was a
gutless excuse for a human being. Vegeta stood up and walked to her, standing in front of her. He
gave her a long look that gave nothing away. She hung her head, hugging herself as another rumble
sounded in the clouds. How she wished she could just curl up and die... Vegeta probably thought she
was nuts. As she let out a low sound, he straightened up suddenly, his eyes flashing. Before she
could move or say anything, he grabbed her and lifted her into his arms, kicking the balcony doors
open.
He wouldn't...

She tried to get away, fighting viciously, even biting him once on the shoulder. Nothing worked, he
had her held tight. He stepped out into the howling wind and powered up. Lightning lit up the sky
suddenly, matching the crackling energy that pulsed around the two, heating the air and warding off
the rain and hail that shot down from the heavens like bullets. Her terror increased tenfold,
immobilising her completely. Vegeta looked down at her and shook his head.

"Don't you trust me?" He asked, sounding completely serious. Bulma slowly turned her head up to
look at him. For a long moment they just stared at each other, and for once Bulma could actually see
his emotions standing out clearly in his eyes. Her fear slid away. Still staring deeply into his eyes, she
lifted one hand and stroked his cheek lightly, watching his serious look turn into an expression of what
was almost warmth. She smiled and nodded her head, answering his question. He blinked and
smirked then, taking off into the sky like a comet of blue light. They sped straight up into the clouds, to
her immediate shock.

"Are you crazy?! We'll be electrocuted!" She shouted above the wind. He simply went faster, making
her bury her head in his shoulder to stop the wind making her eyes water so badly. Her arms were
around him in a death grip, and the lightning and thunder that was right around her weren't helping to
ease her fear one bit. Was he trying to help her conquer her fear or get them both killed? It raged
around them, and though she was dry and warm from the energy Vegeta had raised, the blinding light
and deafening noise were scaring her witless.

But it wasn't the same fear she had felt minutes ago, that bone-deep wrenching fear, no, it was more
like the fear you get just before a roller coaster ride starts. The kind of fear you get when you know
you're safe but the adrenaline pumping through your veins is telling you otherwise, filling you with a
dizzying kind of exhilaration. That was how she felt just then. They broke through the clouds, coming
out above the storm and the rain. The clouds looked like fluffy black cotton balls, flashing blue from
the inside when lightning lit up the sky. The wind was still strong, but she didn't feel it through the Ki
shield. Other than the occasional rumble of thunder, it was almost silent.

"Oh my god... It's incredible," she exclaimed in a muted voice. The world below her was so beautiful,
how could she have been afraid of it? Being this high above everything, it didn't seem so scary and
deadly to her anymore, just awe-inspiring. She lifted her head and looked above her, seeing the sky
cluttered with a million stars that shone like diamonds. Constellations winked at her, Orion, Taurus,
Scorpio, and so many others that she couldn't name. The sky was blue-black satin fading into a
lighter bluish purple near the horizon. It was riveting. Eventually though, she tore her eyes from the
view to look at Vegeta. How could she ever thank him for freeing her of so many years of this
unreasonable fear?

He was looking down at her smugly, knowing that this reaction, her happiness, was his doing. After
all, he had told her so. There was nothing worse than fear. Not even pain. She had known that
emotion for too long, and over something as trivial as a thunderstorm. She smiled brilliantly at him,
and as she shifted in his arms, she hugged him tightly. His dark eyes widened, but he didn't resist. He
couldn't hug her back, of course, that would mean letting go of her, so he simply waited until she let
go of him before moving. He waited a long time. Finally though, she pulled back from him and let go.
He shifted his grip on her so that she was more secure in his arms, and gave her an arrogant look.
Before he could speak though, she lifted her head suddenly and pressed her lips to his.

The kiss was unexpected to both of them, but held more than just simple gratitude. His lips were
smooth and warm against hers, evoking a variety of sensations that traveled throughout her whole
body. Vegeta stiffened in shock, eyes wide. Did she realize what she was doing? She pressed harder
against him. He quickly recovered though, moving his mouth over hers in a hot rush that left her dizzy
with discovery. His arms tightened, his fingers tenderly stroking her ribs and stomach as he explored
her mouth with his tongue. She was soft and willing against him, lightly rubbing her tongue against his
lower lip, before moving further to taste him thoroughly, battling with him. Vegeta felt himself harden,
her sweet torment was more than he could take flying in the air. They broke apart, both panting for
breath.

Bulma's sky blue eyes were wide and sparkling with passion, her lips swollen from his ministrations.
She looked a little bewildered. Oh my gosh... Wow. Did I just do that? Did he just do that? She met
his eyes, searching for an answer. He looking much the same as she did, only perhaps more
arrogant. But not by much.

"Are you sure you know what you're getting into?" He asked hoarsely. His eyes were hot as he looked
at her, his eyes searing. She smirked.

"No. But I don't care," she whispered in his ear. She then proceeded to kiss a trail down his neck,
then back up, biting his earlobe gently and tugging on it. He stopped breathing for a moment before
burying a hand in her hair and angling her mouth to meet his once more. They stayed up there for
what seemed to be an endless amount of time, seeking in each other what they thought was
impossible to find. The storm blew itself out below them, moving on and dissipating into the air. Bulma
looked into Vegeta's eyes and smiled. How could she have lived without this in her life? Without him
in her life? She wasn't going to let him get away from her, that was for sure. Vegeta stared back at
her. His dark eyes held a question in them as he looked at her. She nodded.

"Your room or mine?" He whispered roughly as he nuzzled her neck with his mouth. Bulma shivered
in pleasure. It was becoming hard to think.

"Wherever... Just don't stop—" her words were cut off by his mouth. He lost altitude suddenly,
plummeting through the air. But Bulma wasn't afraid, she was lost in the sensation his mouth on hers
sent streaking from her head to her toes. Vegeta slowed as they reached Capsule Corporation, and,
upon opening his eyes enough to land safely, stopped in shock. Bulma noticed the change in him and
pulled away, looking down also. She gasped.

Something was very wrong...

*****************************************************************************

"Oh, no!" Bulma cried in dismay. The large tree that grew beside her house had fallen, knocking a
hole in the side of the dome-shaped mansion, taking out some of the foundation as well. It had totally
crumbled, and to top it off, the lightning that had struck the tree had made it catch fire. Small flames
were licking their way up the trunk, heading towards the house. She stared in horror. Her room had
been demolished totally, where only half an hour before she had been in there. She let out a sob.
What were her parents going to say? So much of their belongings... Gone.

Vegeta flew down and landed in the yard, setting her down lightly as he took a look around. They had
seemingly forgotten the incident only a second before. The GR, surprisingly, had survived all of this,
gleaming in the night almost innocently. For that she was grateful, at least. She wouldn't have to build
another one. They took in the ruin silently, Bulma close to freaking out while Vegeta simply looked
thoughtful.

"What a mess... What am I going to do?"

Vegeta didn't answer. He leaped into the air and shot toward the tree that had crushed part of the
house. Reaching down, he grabbed the trunk and lifted it off the house, debris falling from its limbs as
he held it high. Bulma watched in mute awe. He pulled his shoulder back and threw the tree high into
the air, almost out of sight from the ground. He shot a Ki blast at it, a bright blue one that streaked
into the sky like a shooting star. As she looked up, there was a bright flash as it connected and
vaporized the unfortunate tree. Nothing was left but small sparks that were extinguished before they
hit the ground.
"Well, that gets that out of the way," Vegeta said, looking grimly satisfied. Bulma just nodded, still
staring at the sky. He walked back over to her and put his hands on her shoulders, turning her to look
at him.

"Get a hold of yourself woman. You'll have it rebuilt. It is just a house, there was no one inside it when
it happened. Be grateful."

Though it might have been the nicest thing he‟d ever said to her, the reassurance was lost on her.
She snapped her eyes up to glare at him, seeming to come to life again. "Grateful? My house is gone!
Just because I happen to be rich doesn't mean that I can replace everything that's been lost! What
about the things that had sentimental value?"

Vegeta gave her a hard look. "Well, I really wouldn't know about anything like that, would I? I haven't
had a home since I was ten."

She jerked away from his hands, her irrational anger soaring. "Oh, stop throwing that in my face!
You'd think that you actually had a heart the way you keep bringing that up like it actually
inconvenienced you! Kami! Am I supposed to feel guilty for having my home destroyed?"

Vegeta clenched his jaw so hard, she thought he might break a tooth. His eyes grew cold, and just
then it seemed like a great chasm had opened between them, separating two halves of something
that had yet to connect.

"Why not? I did." He turned and strode away, toward the untouched GR. Bulma stared helplessly,
realizing the enormity of what he had said. That was how he felt? Guilty over his home planet?

"Wh-where are you going? Vegeta!" She called. He didn't answer her.

"Damn it, answer me!" She started walking towards him, but he turned around and the look in his
eyes made her stop dead.

"Remember this; nothing is tying me to this planet except for my vow to defeat Kakkarot and kill these
androids. Nothing. I'll continue my training elsewhere." He spun around and stepped into the GR
without another word. Bulma stared at him, pain etched all over her features as she realized what he
was about to do. She couldn't stop him. With a rumbling whirr, the GR started up, but this time it did
much more than simply enhance the gravity. Its thrusters opened, the flaps slowly opening to reveal
the inner mechanics. She had almost forgotten that the GR was a spacecraft as well. It had just never
been used as one before. With nothing more than a high-pitched whine and a flare of heat, the GR
and Vegeta left planet earth.

Bulma watched it go, tears streaming down her cheeks as her eyes became too full to contain them.
He must hate her for saying what she did. She certainly did. Whatever feelings he may have had for
her were surely dead now, squashed by his anger. How could he have taken what she said so
deeply? She had just had her home flattened by a tree, in a storm that had terrified her, right before
she had kissed him. No wonder she was an emotional wreck. He had even tried to help her feel better
about it, telling her that it really could have been worse. She knew now that he was right, but at that
moment she had been to distraught to take his meaning into consideration. Again, he had saved her.
Flying her up into the storm had actually saved her, if he hadn't, she would have been crushed to
death under that wreckage. He had finally opened up to her, and then in no uncertain terms, she had
made sure he would never speak to her again.

"Oh, Kami, what have I done?"

* * * Weeks passed drearily for Bulma, her life nothing but a never ending series of projects that kept
her from thinking about Vegeta. Her house had been rebuilt, or, rather, unencapsulated. Luckily, her
father had kept a spare house in his safety deposit box at the bank, and all they had to do was clear
away the wreckage of the old one. The sentimental belongings, the few they really had, were simply
unearthed from the wreckage. Sometimes she wondered if her dad had a backup plan for everything.
So there she was, back in her lab, developing a child proof capsule that had to go on the market in a
few months. Apparently, a toddler had opened a capsule inside his house, and unfortunately it had
contained a car. No one was hurt, but the living room now had a new adjoining door to the bathroom.

She couldn't concentrate, so she reclined back in her chair, stretching her cramped muscles. It had
been three months since Vegeta had left, and she missed him like nothing else. If only I could
apologize! She thought. How could I get into contact with him? Then it hit her. The videophone! She
slapped herself on the forehead, berating herself for her stupidity. How had she forgotten? Her dad
had used one to check up on Goku in space, so why couldn't she use it to do the same? Now, to set
up the controls...

She turned on the power to the image screen, but only one way. She didn't want him to see her just
yet. He would probably sever the connection if he saw her anyway. The screen hummed blank for a
while, then slowly, an image started to form on the monitor. She could see the inside of the gravity
room, looking more trashed than she had ever seen it, but where was Vegeta? She could see no sign
of him. She swiveled the camera to the left, her heart racing. Then, with a jolt, she saw him. He
looked exhausted. He was standing by the pod's circular window, looking out into the blackness.
Bulma's heart twisted at the sight of him like that, he just looked so tired and forlorn. Had she caused
that look? She knew it was probably presumptuous of her, but Vegeta so rarely showed emotion she
couldn't help but wonder if their last words to each other had affected him as deeply as they had her.
Tears trickled down her face steadily as she watched him, and she let out a choked sob before she
could control it. To her shock and horror, his head jerked toward the camera, surprise replacing the
tiredness on his face. He turned around and headed toward it.

Bulma stood frozen in panic. He had heard her from the microphone attached to the controls. Damn,
why hadn't she turned it off?! She was in for it now, he would accuse her of spying on him and that
would just make him more mad. He was looking up at the camera mounted on the wall, uncertain.
She held her breath.

"Woman?" He didn't sound as angry as she had thought. Should she answer him? He couldn't see
her, she could just turn off the power and walk away. He'd never know.

"I know you're there. What do you think you're doing?"

Crap! Busted.

"Just... Making sure the GR was working well. I have to go now. Try not to blow it up," she said
hastily. She went to turn off the power, when his image changed. His shoulders slumped slightly, just
a minuscule change in posture, but it stopped her dead in her tracks. She took a breath and spoke
again, knowing she would regret it.

"Are...you okay too?"

No, she thought. You're not okay, are you Vegeta? I hope I didn't cause this. He just looks like...he
doesn't give a damn, like he had given up on something.

"I'm fine."

"Vegeta. . .you don't look fine."

Anger suddenly flared in his eyes, and she recoiled from the screen as if he had hit her. The desolate
look didn't leave, it simply became more pronounced, accentuated by his fury. He balled up his fist.

"I can fix that, woman!" He swung at the camera. There was a flash, and then the screen went snowy.
He had crushed the camera, rendering it useless. She sat frozen for a moment, caught between pain
and loss. She should've expected that reaction, but when it came to Vegeta she was never fully sure
of what to expect. Numbly she stood up and walked out of the lab, never hearing the cry that sounded
very much like a sob come from the speakers.
******************************************************************************

She walked into the house, Vegeta's image running through her head over and over. She doubted it
would ever leave her thoughts. He was...different now. Maybe he was losing hope of becoming a
Super-Saiyan. Bulma found that hard to believe, going SS was Vegeta's goal in life. What would
possibly swerve him from that? Nothing. Not even his hatred of her could affect that. And she was
sure it was hatred now, or at least forced indifference. But maybe she was just reading into things too
much, his stance was probably just from exhaustion. She knew how much he trained when there was
no one around to order him about. Not that he ever bent to her will, he just did things as they suited
him. She had to resort to blackmail. She used to resort to blackmail.

Now he could do whatever he wanted, she had no hold over him at all. He had decided she was too
undesirable to even be on the same planet as, it had to have been that. After all their arguments, he
had never taken off in the GR like that. So it had to have been their kiss. But... Why would he have
been so willing only to then draw away? Was he afraid to care even a little about someone?

"Kami, why did he leave? It hurts..." She whispered. Will he come back before the androids arrived?
Or would he just fight them, kill Goku and blow up the planet? Her included? No doubt. He'd probably
relish blowing this foolish, loudmouthed woman into the next dimension. The way she felt at the
moment, it would probably feel a whole lot better to be hurled into the afterlife. At least then she could
forget...

She walked up into her room blindly, noting the chill from having the balcony doors open, yet not
caring in the least. She fell across her bed and simply lay there, replaying what he had said to her
that night after the storm. He blamed himself for the destruction of his planet? Did he think that he
should have been able to stop it, or avenge it? Yes, she supposed that made sense. Vegeta had so
much pride, it would probably do a lot of damage to be so completely beaten by Frieza like he had. In
that moment, she understood his dislike of Goku. Well, that was a rather weak word for it, it was
something close to hatred of what he was. Vegeta felt that Goku was something of an upstart,
robbing him of his vengeance and his destiny in one fell swoop. Well, almost. Goku didn't really kill
Frieza, just chopped him up. But the result was the same. He had beaten him and achieved SS, as
Vegeta should have. Instead he had been killed and brought back by the dragon balls, something
which had never been planned to happen. She understood why he was so obsessed with beating
Goku, his honor would allow nothing less.

"And I just had to go and rub it in, didn't I?" She told herself softly. A tear ran down her cheek, but she
ignored it. She just seemed so... Empty. Like something had been shut off inside her, separating her
from her emotions. Even her pain seemed so distant just then, which was something of a relief.
Hollow...that was the word. How could he affect her this much? She never had to rely on a man this
much before, she had always been so independent. What could cause this sudden feeling of
deadness inside of her? It wasn't like she was in love with him or anything...

Bulma sat bolt upright on her bed, her heart pounding. No... No, don't even think that. You can't. For
Kami's sake, he hates you! Squash it! She screamed the thoughts inside her head, for fear that it was
actually true. It would be a road straight to heartbreak if she even considered being in love with
Vegeta, let alone fully acknowledged it. She had to get rid of it before that happened. But it was too
late now, the thought had planted itself inside her head. Could it be true? She thought hopelessly.
She had no idea. All she knew was that without him there, she couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, couldn't
breathe. All she ever thought about was him since he left that night. Her mind was crowded of images
of him from the times she had spent with him, all buzzing through her head at once like a swarm of
bees. Her heart started thumping. It might mean it, but how would she know? She had never truly
been in love with anyone, Yamcha had been her boyfriend, but what she had felt for him somehow
fell short of her feelings for Vegeta. Whatever they were.

***

Meanwhile, on a desolate moon deep in space...
Vegeta fought hard, trying to fend off the meteors that were going to cost him his ticket back to Earth.
Again and again, he pounded at them, managing to deflect them away from the ship each time, but
depleting his energy each time he did. He was in no condition to do this, his earlier training had all but
exhausted him, and he was running out of ideas.

"Damn it, this isn't going to happen! Not to me!" He raged as another volley of flaming meteors shot
toward him, trying to isolate him on this lonely rock. Throwing blast after blast, he shattered the
meteors into shards of rock that rained down on him, slicing his skin. He was near collapse, but he
surged on. He had to protect the ship. Not even Bulma's GR could withstand being smashed under
tons of rock, no matter how skilled she was in creating and modifying it. His mouth tightened at the
thought of her. Just an hour ago he had spoken to her, driving her away for good. He had a multitude
of voices telling him what to think, turmoil rioting throughout his whole being just from thinking about
what had happened. Something was telling him to have hope, but he ignored it, Just as he ignored
everything that might actually be good for him. Even Bulma. Her words had cut him to the bone, but
he would never have let her know that. Instead he had retreated behind his usual mask of coldness,
one that had seemed so alien to him suddenly. He had reacted instinctively, looking for a weakness
to attack as if she had been an enemy, not a tender human woman he had grown to care about more
than he would ever admit to her. He had seen the pain in her eyes the moment he told her
backhandedly that she meant nothing to him, and it would echo inside him until his dying day, he was
sure. Which wouldn't be too far away if he didn't fight those damn meteorites off.

He couldn't hold out much longer. Thrown into a crater, he just pushed himself harder, clawing his
way out and doggedly shooting gradually weakening blasts towards the shower of debris and rock
that had pummeled him into the ground. But what was the point? Really. Kakkarot had already done
what he had based his whole life on, being the Saiyan to grind Frieza beneath his heel, and achieve
the transformation to Super-Saiyan. The third-class fool had stolen his revenge and his birthright. He
should have been the Super-Saiyan. But no. What was he to do now? Even the thought of beating
the androids held little appeal to him, not if he couldn't do it as a Super-Saiyan. Kakkarot would
handle it, the idiot managed to always scrape through somehow. He wasn't needed. Or wanted. An
odd pang made itself known at that, one he hadn't felt before. The thought that Bulma hated him for
what he had done was...unbearable, but he had no-one to blame but himself for what had happened
in the backyard that night. Not even the woman herself. The one thing good in his life, he had
successfully managed to shove away permanently. He had nothing to live for now, and even his fear
of what lay beyond his demise frightened him as it had. He couldn't feel anything at all. When he had
nothing to live for, to care about, what use was living? He couldn't think of a simple reason. What use
was putting off the inevitable if even if he did survive, he had to continue this lonely farce of a life
without... Her.

He stood. Fighting the impulse to simply fall into the void, he mustered his strength and shot his last
spurt of energy at the last rock to head his way, though he knew it would do much good. It was vast,
almost a small moon in its size itself. It would be the last thing he saw, and for the first time in his life,
he accepted the one thing he knew he couldn't change.

"I don't care!! Damn it, do you hear me? Kakkarot, Frieza, Father...I don't care!" he roared to the cold
bleak void of space. He let it go. All the rage, pain and shame he had ever felt in his miserable life, he
let it go. All he had ever believed in, he stripped it away like a binding that had suffocated him for too
long. He would not exist like this! The emptiness was being filled inside of him, by some unidentifiable
surge of light. Bulma's face filled his vision, and he knew it would haunt him even in the next life. He
would savour it, the only shard of sunlight to ever pierce through his icy shield. Something burst
inside of him at that moment, and the unidentifiable power became something more than he could
handle, more than he could control, more than he could contain. He wouldn't see her again...

No!

Power flashed through his being, roared up and down his body until he was fit to explode with it. And
he did. With a howl of pure unadulterated rage, a force like only one other in the universe made itself
known. The power disintegrated the meteor on impact, golden tendrils of destructive power flaring
into a blinding starburst of power that wrapped Vegeta from head to toe, his hair glowing like
burnished gold, his murder filled eyes flashing teal. The Super-Saiyan had awakened.

***

Bulma let out a scream as a flash of heat and blinding gold shot through her like a silent explosion.
She sat straight up in bed, her heart pounding with fear and shock. What had that been? The intensity
of it had been incredible. She put a shaking hand to her mouth, looking down at herself as if she
expected to see a Ki aura around her. That was what it had felt like, when she stood too close to one
of her friends when they powered up. She shoved the covers off of her as she began to feel
suffocated, and ran to her balcony doors, pushing them open and running out into the night air. She
sagged against the railing, breathing hard. Something was really wrong, she never felt Ki levels. Was
that even what it had been?

"Kami," she whispered. She wished Vegeta were there, he would know what it was. Something
shifted inside of her, sliding into place. Vegeta was in space somewhere... But power like that could
travel so far... The others had felt Frieza when he had been on his way... Could it be?

"Did he do it? Is he a Super-saiyan now?" She asked herself wonderingly. Before she could think
about it any more, something appeared in her front lawn, out of thin air. She let out a yelp when it
jumped up onto her balcony.

"Goku!" She screeched. "What the hell are you doing here? Its three in the morning!"

He looked grave. Without answering her question, he simply said, "Vegeta isn't here, is he?"

Bulma shook her head, her thoughts full of confusion. What was going on? She started to get worried.
But her Saiyan friend relaxed at her silent answer, letting out a sigh of relief. His eyes livened and
glowed with sudden beatitude. He gave a huge grin.

"Whoa, he did it! Ha, I knew it," he exclaimed.

Bulma's eyes widened. "What are you talking about, Goku? Do you think Vegeta managed to . . . are
you wearing pyjamas?" she asked, totally out of context. He blinked.

"Well, yeah. I woke up when I felt this enormous power level. I thought it was another Frieza, only it
was much stronger. Turns out that Vegeta achieved Super-saiyan!"

Bulma stared. She had felt Vegeta turn SS from Earth, when he was off in space? How could anyone
be that strong?

"Goku, who else would be able to feel his power from where he is?" She asked carefully. His grin
faded a bit as he thought about it.

"Well, I guess the others would have, Piccolo, Tien, Krillin, all of them. Gohan did too. Why?"

"I...i think I felt it too," she blurted out before she could ponder it. Goku didn't look surprised,
something was glimmering behind his dark eyes. Like he knew something she didn't.

"I don't know about that, Bulma. You were probably just dreaming it. Normal humans can't feel power
levels unless they have a substantial one themselves, and the power to develop the ability to sense
them. Unless..." He trailed off into thought. Bulma nearly choked him.

"Unless what?" She asked quietly, holding back the urge to shake it from him. He shrugged.

"Well, telepathy can sometimes to it, I remember talking to king Kai on Namek, and he could sense
my power when I was talking. Was that what happened?" He asked slowly. Bulma shook her head.

"No..." She said sadly. "That's impossible. I think Vegeta would like to kill me right now, not converse
with me." She bowed her head and looked down at the ground below the balcony. Goku went silent
for a while, unable to think of a way to deal with this change in her demeanor. He knew that Vegeta
and Bulma would end up conceiving Trunks no matter what happened, but he didn't like leaving her
looking so miserable. Unless it had already happened, and that's what had Vegeta hiding out in
space. He couldn't offer any real words of comfort, without endangering Trunks. He decided to play
dumb, something he was very good at.

"Oh, yeah, well. Vegeta is kinda hard to deal with. I better get back before Chi-chi has a heart attack.
Seeya!" He disappeared. Bulma slumped forward a little more, her heart heavy. She hadn't expected
Goku to understand, he had no idea what had come to pass in the last few weeks before Vegeta left.
Even she was a little confused. She looked up into the night sky, noting the star's positions and the
phase of the moon. Who had wished that back, anyway? Still, it was incredibly beautiful to look at,
she only wished that she could share it with someone who mattered. Vegeta had mattered, a lot. Still
did. She couldn't deny that simple truth, it would spare her a lot of confusion if she just accepted it,
though it would increase her heartache if she kept thinking about him like this. Kami, she missed him.
With a choking sob, Bulma gave into tears.

They poured down her face in rivulets, dripping off her chin and falling through the air like rain. She
kept picturing him, his face, that irritatingly sexy smirk, his dark intense gaze. She wished with all her
heart that she could apologize, or do something that would bring him back to earth. Anything at all, as
long as she no longer had this knot of pain inside of her, and this emptiness. She stayed like that for
the longest time, more miserable than she had ever been in her entire life over anyone's departure.
But she couldn't just sit there and mope, she knew. As much as it hurt her to think it, Vegeta would
never come back to her. There was nothing to do but move on and try to forget.

But she knew she could never forget him.

***

"Oh, great. Mom! Why did I let you drag me into doing this? I'm all dirty!" She yelled across the yard
two days later as she kneeled in the garden, pulling weeds. Her mother just giggled and waved, as
she herself yanked the nagging plants out of the ground. Desperate to get her mind of Vegeta, she
had resorted to the unthinkable; gardening. So there she was, digging around in the mud and bugs,
clearing her mothers flower beds. She didn't really mind it all that much, but the dirt that was
accumulating under her fingernails was starting to drive her insane. And I'm not even getting paid for
this, she thought as she wiped her sweaty forehead. Time for a break. Falling back onto the grass,
she lay on her back and absorbed the sunlight. It was mid afternoon, and was getting uncomfortably
hot to Bulma. She was wearing cutoff jeans and an old T-shirt, torn and faded. Her old clothes were
comfortable favourites of hers, things only worn when there was no one about to bug her about how
she looked. She was barefoot too, and dirt streaked. Looking down at herself, she sighed and
chuckled ruefully. What a mess. Even her face had a streak of dirt across it, slanting over her
cheekbone. She didn't care enough to wipe it off, she knew another one would replace it as soon as
she went back to work. She looked up at the sky, squinting as the sun peered at her from behind a
cloud like a blinding eye. She really needed a drink. Stretching her aching muscles she got up,
rubbing her sore back a little gingerly. It was a good hurt though, she hadn't been doing much lately
that required physical effort. This was what she needed. Her mom had called it 'natural therapy',
instinctively knowing that something was up with her and wanting to help. It actually did help a little,
she was down to thinking about Vegeta only fifty times a day. Maybe tomorrow would be even less.
She started walking towards the table set up near the shade, with a pitcher of ice water sitting on it.
Just what she needed.

"Mom! I'm getting a drink, you want?"

"Oh, sure, honey!" She called back.

Pouring enough for the two of them, she sat in the chair and took a sip. Her eyes wandered over to
the place where the GR used to be, but she tore them away just as quickly and focussed on the trees
lining the fence. Her mother walked up to her and sat on the opposite chair, giving her a quick
observation before taking a long drink.
"So, have you heard anything from Chi-chi lately?"

"No mom, not since I was there a few months ago. I really should get in touch again. But sometimes
she just kinda stresses me out. All that yelling and worrying..." She trailed off and took another sip.
Mrs Briefs nodded in understanding.

"That's true, but I don't blame her for it, her husband and son are in for a very big fight, from what you
told me. Why, when you were off traipsing around the place all those years back, I was worried sick.
So was your father."

Bulma almost choked on her water. "You were? But you and dad never said anything, I thought that
you didn't really care where I was," she admitted a little sadly. Her mother gave her a good frown.

"Shame on you, Bulma! Of course we worried! We knew you were mature for your age and could
handle a lot, but that didn't stop us for worrying if you were all right! How could you think that?" She
admonished. Bulma shrugged lightly.

"Oh, I don't know, I suppose it was all the freedom you let me have. Anyway, enough about that.
Where's dad?"

Her mother let out a light laugh. "Oh, tinkering with some new project, I'm sure. You should know that.
I think this time it is a new way to use this minus-gravity to enhance rocket launching. Or something
like that," she laughed again. Bulma nodded, not really listening. She remembered the night she had
discovered the GR had messed up and went into M-G, and had scrunched Vegeta into the roof of the
pod. He had been so mad about that, she remembered with a sad smile. She hoped the ship didn't do
that at 800 times gravity while he was in space. But she knew it wouldn't, doing an extra good job on
the GR had ensured that nothing would go wrong. Well, she was pretty sure nothing would happen.
She tuned back in as her mother started saying something.

"...your father says that the Capsule 4, the one Vegeta took this time, has been showing up on radar
in the lab. Seems he is nearby in the solar system and is coming back. And here I was thinking he
was gone for good. I might have to go shopping for groceries then, you coming, Bulma? Honey?"

Bulma was floored, not knowing whether to cry or scream for joy. He was coming back? For real?
Why? The androids weren't due for at least another year and a half. Was he low on fuel? Must be.
She didn't want to hope. She stammered a reply.

"Uh, no, thanks. I‟m...going to stay here and weed."

Her mother left with a wave, which Bulma woodenly returned. Mechanically, she got up and headed
back into the yard, where she had been a few minutes ago.

******************************************************************************

Was this real? Or was it just some dream she was having about Vegeta returning? Bulma honestly
had no idea which it was. Damn it, don't think about him, Bulma! He left you here, and he doesn't care
about you! He never did, and he never will! Save yourself the anguish and just forget. His return
should mean nothing to you now. He's probably just going to refuel and he'll leave again. She let out
a small sigh and pulled out some more weeds, making a small pile beside her. He doesn't care about
you. He had been telling the truth all along, he only kept you around because you fixed the GR. Now
that you finally did a really good job, he up and stole it from you, leaving you here like an unwanted
pet. You sure have great taste in guys, girl.

"Damn him, I should be over this by now! I never did anything that was so bad he should act as
though I actually wounded him! Did I?" She asked herself. "I said he...never had a heart, and implied
that he didn't care that his planet was blown apart. Oh, Kami. I deserved to be treated like this, I
deserved it all," she whispered. Vegeta had every right to treat her like dirt. She knew he had a heart,
a very active one. He had opened up to her so much before he left, and she, in a fit of anger had
pushed him away cruelly like some common piece of trash. No wonder he had up and left. Bulma
came out of her thoughts just as a loud rumbling noise caught her attention. It was coming from the
lab. She jumped to her feet and ran towards it, wondering what all the noise was. Dad never tested
his projects unless she was present.

"Dad? What's going on?" She shouted over the noise as she opened the door. He turned around and
faced her, then shut off the machine in front of him.

"Oh, Bulma. I was just testing this prototype engine thruster before I set it into its casing. What's up?"
He asked as he wiped his brow. Kitty sat on his shoulder, examining the compact machine. Bulma
gave him a slight glare.

"Dad, you never test them without me here! Jeez," she exclaimed, a little hurt. Her father gave her a
warning look.

"Don't give me that tone, Bulma. For the past two months you have done nothing but slink around the
house, never taking much interest in anything in the lab. I'm sorry if you feel left out, but I couldn't put
things on hold until you suddenly felt like working again," he chastised with a frown. Bulma felt her
face flush a little red at his words. It was true, she hadn't been working all that much lately, thanks to
him. Her father hadn't bothered her about it, but he hadn't postponed any business, either. She felt a
little foolish.

"You're right, daddy, sorry. I'll try harder to get back on track, it's just that lately... Oh, nothing," she
muttered. She turned to go.

"Wait a minute, Bulma. Tell me what's wrong with you. Is it Yamcha? You mother told me that you
two had broken up for good this time. Is that what's wrong?"

Oh, yeah right.

"No dad. Yamcha is history now. We're still friends though, so that's all fine. Don't worry about me."
She started to close the door.

"Vegeta, then," Dr Briefs asked, with a little concern. Bulma froze. He sighed.

"Oh, dear."

You can say that again, Dad, she thought in misery. And again and again and again. Bulma gave him
an apologetic look. She didn't want to make him worry about any of her personal problems, it wasn't
his job to work them out for her. He scratched his moustache thoughtfully and walked over to the
console attached to his computer. He made some surprised sounds and gave her a long look.

"Well, I don't know what has been going on with you two, and I'm not sure if I approve of it, but it
seems something has captured his interest, because he'll be landing here tomorrow morning. Radar
shows the capsule right here," he said pointing to a little blip on the screen, "and by my calculations
that's when he'll get here. Unless he uses the thrusters, which I don't think he will."

Bulma smiled falsely, nodding. "Oh, OK dad. I'll keep that in mind. I have to go and take a shower
now, so I'll see you at dinner." Oh, Kami, I have to get out of here! She turned to go.

"Well, actually..." He started. She turned back in curiosity. "I must attend a business conference
tonight over in Nepal, and your mother has decided to join me. I'm leaving you in charge."

Oh how wonderful. Now I get to suffer in solitary confinement.

"Oh, all right dad. I'll look after the place while you're gone. When do you and mom get back?"

He checked his schedule on the computer, and flicked an apologetic glance her way.

"Oh, actually not until next week. I was meaning to tell you, but I never got around to it. I hope you
don't mind?"
"No, no. It is...it's fine."

"Well, then, I'd better get back to work. Oh, and remind you mother about the trip, all right? I think she
may have forgot about it."

"I think she did," Bulma answered slowly, "she went to get groceries for dinner. You'd better tell her
when she gets back."

Her father winced and nodded. With a long sigh, he turned back to his work. Bulma stepped out of the
lab, shutting the door softly behind her. Tomorrow morning? He'd be back...

Again, Bulma didn't know whether to cry, be angry or leap for joy. It just wasn't sinking in. She
wandered upstairs to have a shower. She had dirt in more places than she cared to admit.

***

She spent the rest of the day examining, cleaning, and painting her nails. Digging around like some
foraging animal had totally wrecked her manicured look, leaving her to salvage chipped, and slightly
broken nails with nothing more than a nail file and a pot of clear varnish. It took her many hours to get
them back to their original condition, albeit they were a little shorter than they were to begin with. At
least the mud had softened her skin somewhat. Maybe she would go roll in it or something if she ever
wanted a cheap beauty routine. The thought made her laugh, a balm on her strained nerves. She
needed something to take her mind off of Vegeta's predicted return. That something was Yamcha.

She gave him a ring just after her parents had left for Nepal, having to catch the earlier flight so that
they would have time to see the sights. He picked up on the third ring.

"Hello?" He sounded tired.

"Yamcha?" She asked. He sounded so strange. Usually he was full of energy. It was only six o'clock
in the evening.

"Bulma! Hey, how have you been, babe?" He said, suddenly full of energy. She grinned into the
phone.

"I've been all right, what's wrong with you? I didn't wake you up or anything, did I?"

"No! No... Well, yeah. I've been training lately, and I sorta crashed out. Haven't been sleeping well."

"Sounds tough. We have a regeneration tank here if you want to use it, you won't be so tired if you
give it a go. It worked on me."

"What were you doing in there? Are you OK?" He sounded so worried. "Did you hurt yourself making
one of your crazy inventions?"

"My inventions aren't crazy, you jerk! No, Goku kinda deflected a beam the wrong way and it blew up
my car. He kinda burnt me a little."

"Oh, man. You're all right though, aren't you?"

"Of course! I created one mean re-gen tank. Not a mark on me," she said, twirling the phone cord
around her finger. She could almost see him mulling it over in his head.

"That good, huh? Yeah, I'd like to check that out. Do you think I could use it tonight?"

Bulma sagged against the wall in relief. She wouldn't have to deal with Vegeta in the morning by
herself, not if she could convince Yamcha to stay the night. She just hoped he wouldn't read into it or
anything.
"Yeah, sure. Come over whenever you want to. But...eat before, all right? I'm trying my hand at
cooking, but I'm not sure how it will turn out."

"I'll call the fire brigade in advance," he joked. "I'll be right over."

"See you then," she said, and hung up. That fixed that problem. She headed for the kitchen to grab
the pasta and sauce. Cooking wasn't all that hard, really, she thought as she stirred the sauce. She
just had to keep an eye on it and use her instincts to tell when it was ready or still needed more time.
She had just served up the pasta when Yamcha walked in the door, looking pretty beat up. Bulma
winced when she saw him, motioning for him to come into the kitchen.

"Wow. What happened? Who were you sparring with?"

He grinned wearily, rubbing at the black eye he sported. He was wearing jeans and a loose fitting T-
shirt that barely hid the bandage outline around his ribs. She took a closer look, worry creasing her
features.

"Yeah... I flew up to the mountains to see Tien and Chaou-tzu, too bad for me they had gotten
stronger than I had thought."

"Ouch. Come on, I'll show you the tank." She all but dragged him out the door, getting him into the lab
in record time. He took a look at it and whistled. "Looks good. Great job."

"Thanks," she flashed him a smile and fiddled with the controls, changing the settings to human
instead of Saiyan. "Step in, but watch your head. How long do you want to be in there for? I can give
you a quick restoration on high power, but it's only for wounds, not all round body aches and
tiredness. Or I can give you a slow restoration on high, and you'll come out of it feeling like someone
hooked you up to a caffeine drip, you'll be that full of energy."

He ran his hand down the side of the tank as he thought about it. He turned to her, and flashed her a
grin. "I opt for the latter. I like the sound of that whole energy gig."

Her fingers flashed over the controls, setting it for ten hours. He'd be out by early morning.
Wordlessly, he pulled his shirt off and stepped into the tank, sitting down on the low bench. She shut
the door and blew him a fake kiss as she turned it on. Shaking his head, laughing, he held the mask
in his hands and at her instruction, he placed it over his face. She waved goodbye as the tank filled
up with fluid and sent Yamcha to sleep.

Well, at least he'll be around for moral support when Vegeta gets back, I'll have a reason to keep
myself together. Vegeta will probably no doubt just demand food and head to Goku's to spar anyway,
so its not like I have to spend the day with the dolt. Yamcha's just my insurance.

She crossed the yard, walking over the dew-wet grass that glistened under the stars, glittering. She
paused to look up at the sky once, noting one particularly bright star that glowed orange like the sun,
only much further away. Or was it. She froze and peered at the dot. It was getting closer, bigger by
the second. No... But dad said he wouldn't be back until tomorrow...

Her father was wrong. He must have discovered the turbo thrusters, she realized with dismay. Damn
him! The capsule entered the earth's atmosphere, but slowed only when it was one hundred feet from
the ground. Bulma jumped backwards in expectation of the crash. But there was none. Silently, the
capsule landed with a flare of heat. It looked pretty knocked around, even though the alloy was
supposed to be indestructible. There were what looked like rock dents in it. Bulma held her breath as
the door opened with a hiss.

At first all she could see was his outline. It looked... Strange somehow. Stooped over. Was he hurt?
Bulma had to stop herself from running up to him and checking him for wounds in panic. Then his
entire body came into view. Bulma was only ten feet away from the craft, staring almost helplessly.
What would a Super-Saiyan Vegeta look like? Of course, he wasn't in SS mode when he stepped, or
rather, shuffled from the ship. He never looked around, never looked at her as he took his first step
onto earth in three months.

His hair waved gently in the slight breeze as he stood there, proud and noble as...well, royalty. His
dark eyes were snapping, but there was that indescribable desolation imbedded in every inch of his
body. He was dressed in his battle armor, one of the many suits she had developed from his original
outfit, but it was torn and broken, bloodied in some places too. She couldn't handle it any longer. She
stepped forward.

"You're back," she stated, and to her amazement, her voice was fairly steady. "What do you want?"
His gaze didn't move from whatever it was he was staring at on the horizon, but she could see
something twist in his face. She realized how cold she had sounded to him. There is no help for that
now, Bulma. Deal. Slowly his gaze slid to her, and he drank in her appearance from head to toe. She
wasn't wearing anything special, but Vegeta's eyes on her made her feel like she was cloaked in a
gown of liquid fire. She suddenly wished she were wearing something other than her pyjama bottoms
and a tight tank top. She had planned on an early night, but Kami had other ideas. His gaze flickered
all over her, but never looked into her eyes.

"I ran out of fuel. What do you think happened," he said, his odd, flat monotone voice sending shivers
up and down her spine. But, strangely, her old temper resurfaced, seeming so alien to her. She
realized she hadn't felt like this since her arguments with Vegeta before he left.

"Oh, well that's OK then. For a second there I thought something might have been tying you here,
and we wouldn't want that," she sneered. Vegeta stiffened, and as he looked at her she saw pain
flicker across his features, the same pain that had plagued her at night ever since he had left, the
same pain that made her eyes well up at the mere mention of his name for one month straight. Pain
that he was feeling inside. Her anger dropped abruptly, and she took a step back away from him and
everything he represented. She would only hurt herself more if she continued seeing things that
weren't really there in his face. She was just being whimsical.

"You know where the fuel is," she said in a dead voice. "I'm going inside." She spun around and
walked away.

"Wait."

Bulma froze at the tone he used. It wasn't that he was angry, no, or arrogant. Because nothing even
remotely like those emotions were threaded into his voice. It was the desperation that made her
pause. She turned around.

He hadn't moved, but his eyes were intense with an emotion fighting to be free. His hands were fisted
at his sides, his back straight as he stood tall and cold. But something in his face was begging her to
come closer. She just stood there, uncertain of what he wanted of her. Mixed signals were not usually
something she had to deal with. So she let her heart decide. She took a hesitant step forward, just a
small one. But it was enough to get her going. Another step towards him, and then another, but his
words were running through her head, words from that night.

"...Nothing is tying me to this planet except my vow to defeat Kakkarot and kill these androids.
Nothing." He had sounded so sure then. What if he still meant it? She stopped. She looked into his
eyes again, but they were no longer directed to her, but at the ground some metres away. They stood
like that in silence for a few minutes, neither of them able to move. Finally she broke the silence in a
husky whisper.

"So you became a Super-Saiyan. Everyone felt it, you know. Did you came back to kill Goku now?"
She asked softly. His eyes blazed for a second, and he answered in a voice she hadn't heard since
that night on the roof.

"Presently. I will kill the androids first. Having achieved the SS level will grant me that," he said
quietly. He didn't say it as though he cared very much, she thought slowly. Was he truly a Super-
Saiyan then? She would have though he would be itching to murder Goku. She stepped forward once
more.

"Could you... Show me? What you look like as a Super-Saiyan." Would he? It was up to him. His
head jerked up and he gave her a look of almost wonder at her question. Then he just stared at her
with that implacable gaze, seeming to return to his old self a little more. Something faintly resembling
a smirk curved his lips as she moistened her lips nervously even as he studied her. His eyes sparked
with power after a small eternity, and with a guttural roar that echoed through the night, he powered
up past anything she had ever seen. Goku and that weird guy hadn't made going SS look so...good.
His muscled bulged slightly, and in a blinding rush of light, he achieved ascension to the next level.
She couldn't see him for a moment, all she could see was a bunch of black dots floating in front of her
eyes. But given time they cleared, and Bulma instinctively turned to the source of light that stood
before her.

She gasped, her hand covering her mouth in shock. The Vegeta that stood in front of her now
was...someone else. He stood proudly, his hair, those once ebony strands of night gleaming gold, a
wild flame. His once intense dark eyes had changed also, now a teal that rivaled the brilliance of any
gemstone she had ever seen. He was bigger, too, power radiating from him in waves even she could
almost sense with her mind. In her awe and wonder, she stepped closer to him, walking around him
in a circle as she branded his new transformation onto her memory, taking in every little detail. He
watched her watching him, but he made no movements at all. She stopped in front of him finally, her
deep blue eyes reading his own as though searching for answers. She blinked hard against that
familiar stinging feeling behind her eyes, warning her of dangerously raw emotions.

"Have you seen enough?" He asked roughly. She gulped and nodded slowly, not moving from him an
inch. With a hissing breath, he released his power and returned to normal. His hair darkened to its
natural raven's wing black, and his eyes flashed once and went back to the endless depths she loved
so much. Yes... She could admit it now, seeing him like this after so long. She loved him. For all the
good it would do her, she loved him with all her heart and soul. She sniffed and gave him a shaky
smile.

"You change better than Goku does." She turned once more to go inside, but rather than a word this
time, she was stopped by a touch. His gloved hand settled on her shoulder lightly, holding her
immobile as easily as any harder grip might have. A feeling of warmth soaked her insides like sweet
sunlight. She turned back and looked at him, her vulnerability leaving her wide open for any attack he
might make. What she wasn't prepared for was the mirror image of her feelings reflected in his own
eyes. Blinking away an eyeful of salty tears, she stepped forward into his arms, not even caring if he
didn't return her embrace. She just wanted to feel him against her. His heart was beating hard against
her ear, pumping life and warmth throughout his body and into her own. She absorbed his warmth
into her as much as she could, burying her face in his armor-clad chest.

After a moment of hesitation, Vegeta let out a pent-up breath and folded his arms around her,
crushing her to him as though she would be torn away in the next instant. This was what he had been
needing since he set foot off the planet. Her. She was his shelter from loneliness, from the harsher
aspects of life that had been the things he had grown up with. She was his salvation. And he would
never let her go.

Bulma looked up into his face after a small while, and gazed warmly into his fathomless eyes. He
stared back with as much intensity as she had ever seen, and other things she had never dreamed
she could associate with the Saiyan prince. Her prince. She stroked his face lightly, knowing without
words that she was forgiven for her earlier mistakes, her foolish words. She ran her fingers lightly
over the smooth planes of his face, feeling his warm skin glide under her shaking hands. A small tear
streaked down her cheek before she could stop it. She moved to wiped it away, but Vegeta beat her
to it. Gently he wiped the little drop from her face, and rubbed his fingers together, just as he had
done the time she had cried over him telling her about his journey into the afterlife. His eyes
questioned her.
"I... I guess I missed you," she admitted softly. He let out a rumbling sound of warmth and gathered
her to him once again, lowering his head and kissing her almost desperately. She clung to him as
tightly as she could, eliminating all space from between them. She responded with equal fervor,
opening her mouth in welcome as his tongue swept inside to stroke and explore. His smooth lips
pressed against hers, slanting over her mouth again and again, setting them both on fire. Her hand
swept up into his hair, the other rubbing his neck gently as she tried to pour all her feeling and love for
him into his cold, lonely soul. She would never let him feel alone again as long as she lived and
breathed. Vegeta let out a groan as her tongue battled his, letting her win just so he could enjoy her
silky presence that ignited his soul. They stayed like that until they were panting for breath, and as
they broke apart, Bulma uttered three words that would change his life irrevocably and eternally.

"Let's go upstairs," she whispered against his mouth. His eyes flared with heat and passion, as he
picked her up into his arms and carried her into the house. The trip to his room was lost in a blaze of
heat, Vegeta's mouth on hers did that to her. He laid her out on the bed gently, covering her with the
warmth and strength that was so undeniably his. He stared deeply into the cerulean depths of her
eyes.

"Are you sure you want this? Just say the word and I'll stop," he vowed, nipping at her jaw gently.

She stared up into his fevered dark eyes, and saw the tenderness there that she sought so
desperately. She knew they both wanted this. Leaning up, she kissed him again and again, running
her hands over his body, imprinting his shape, molding it. He sucked in a breath when she reached
his manhood, and he stifled a groan of pure pleasure as she brushed him over and over. Capturing
her hands in one of his, he tore the armor off his body, the spandex soon following in tattered shreds.
He lowered himself back onto her, releasing her hands. He kissed a trail down her jawline and over
her neck, nipping at the delicate skin there, making her cry out softly. She shifted restlessly under
him, needing to feel his naked flesh on hers, his living warmth.

Vegeta let out a husky laugh and helped her, in the same fashion he had removed his own clothing.
Bulma didn't mind one bit. He pulled off his gloves in a blur, eager to feel her firm, soft flesh in his
hands. She dragged her nails lightly down his back, eliciting a purr of delight from him, before her
hands cupped his firm smooth buttocks, stroking them. He was now aroused to an almost fevered
pitch, and all from her simply touching him. He slid down in the bed, his lips blazing a trail down her
body, over her full ripe breasts, down her flat stomach and the curve of her hips, to the moist entrance
that tempted him no end. Bulma arched up in shock at the first touch of his tongue, pleasure sending
waves of heat throughout her body. He stabbed his tongue deep, separating her and drawing forth a
cry of ecstasy from her that echoed in the dim room. He repeated it again and again, slowly building
speed, until she was gasping for release from her pleasurable prison.

"Vegeta, please..." She panted.

He pulled back. Ignoring her whimper of protest, he slid up her body, this time giving attention to her
breasts, kissing and nibbling at them, sucking until she thrashed with pleasure. Just as he had
wanted her to. But he got as good as he gave. With a soft moan, Bulma wrapped her legs around
him, pressing him to her, but not enough to grant him entrance. She kissed every inch of his upper
body, his face, his mouth, neck, shoulders, chest, paying special attention to his flat nipples, which
she quickly realized were nearly as sensitive as her own. He was gasping above her before she was
done, but he was helpless against her sweet torture. Rubbing her legs up and down the back of him
as she learned his body, he quickly reached his peak. With a growl, he captured her mouth under his
own, and drove into her hard. She let out a long moan of pleasure, instinctively squeezing him inside
of her until he groaned with the force of it. They moved together, hips rolling and bucking, as he thrust
into her warmth harder and faster until neither could stand it. Vegeta reached between their glistening
bodies and found her core, and stroked it hard and fast, sending her flying over the edge of oblivion.
He soon followed her, roaring out his release to the heavens as she screamed out his name.

They recovered slowly, their hearts pounding in unison as they lay on the twisted bed sheets, their
entwined bodies gleaming with sweat from their exertions. Bulma tried to catch her breath, still
trembling from the aftershocks of her release. She wrapped her arms around Vegeta, who had caught
his breath faster than she had, but whose heart was still pounding like a drum. Rolling over, she
snuggled into his embrace. Had that really just happened? Truly? She felt happiness swell inside of
her as Vegeta pulled her tightly to him, burying his face in her neck as they both drifted into the warm
embrace of sleep.

******************************************************************************

Bulma opened her eyes to a faint, high-pitched beep sounding from outside. She was completely
disconcerted. Where am I? She couldn't see. She could feel something heavy laying draped over her
stomach lazily. Memory was restored as she looked over and saw Vegeta. Her heart leapt into her
throat as she watched him. Whoa... That was no dream. His arm was wrapped securely around her
waist, trapping her. Not that she minded. She broke into a smile as she looked at him, so still and. .
.calm in his sleep. Shifting slightly, she grinned as he mumbled something in his sleep and pulled her
closer. She snuggled down into his arms and prepared to go to sleep, when the beep sounded again.

Yamcha! That's what the beep meant. The re-gen tank was finished. She had totally forgotten about
him. She leaned over and looked at the time and groaned. 4:30am. He wouldn't know how to get out
of there, would he? She wondered. She would have to get up and open it. Otherwise the poor guy
would probably be stuck there until he threw a Vegeta and blew it up. That would go down well, she
was sure. With an inward sigh of regret, she extricated herself from Vegeta's solid grasp and pushed
the covers off of herself. Just as she was about to stand up, an arm looped around her waist and
yanked her backward into a warm muscled embrace. She squealed in surprise and hit the mattress
with a thump.

"Going somewhere?" He purred in her ear. Bulma wiggled desperately, but he had her in an
inescapable arm lock. She twisted until she was facing him, looking up into ebony eyes filled with
heat, his ever-present smirk firmly in place, though it seemed softer than usual. She gave up quickly
when he began to kiss a hot trail up her shoulder towards her mouth, sending tingles up and down
her body in an electric wave. She returned his kiss passionately, sliding her arms around his
shoulders, her chest brushing against him as she tried to get even closer. A husky laugh vibrated in
his throat as she gave herself up to him, forgetting about anything else she had been thinking. He
stroked up and down her back lightly, drawing forth a low moan from her and the knowledge that she
wanted last night just as much as he. A relieving notion. There was another, longer beep from
outside, one that brought Bulma out of her fog of desire. Damn Yamcha.

"Wait, I can't," she whispered, tearing her lips from his. "It's Yamcha." His expression grew watchful,
and just a little shuttered. He loosened his hold on her as she pulled back from him. Bulma absorbed
his look of bitter understanding and winced.

"No, it's not what you're thinking! Kami. He came over to use the re-gen tank. I totally forgot about him
and...when...well, yeah," she stammered with a slight blush. Vegeta eyed her for a second before the
look receded. It was replaced with a smirk of arrogance. She grinned and shook her head. Trust him
to take it like a compliment. Not that she minded all that much. He certainly looked a lot more
peaceful that she had ever seen him. Well, maybe peaceful wasn't the right word. More like sated.

"I have to go and get him out of the tank so he can go home." She slid away from him and looked
around for her clothes. After some rummaging, she found them, torn from last night. She turned bright
scarlet as she remembered. Vegeta let out a low chuckle of pure evil. Oh Kami, I have to get away
from him before I jump back into bed again. That guy has no idea how sexy he is...no, wait, he
probably did. Focus, Bulma, and go get some clothes! He sat up and stretched like some predatory
animal, watching her all the while as he got up. She flicked a glance his way and walked to the
doorway, debating what to do. Damn him for ripping her clothes, now she had to streak up the
hallway. Not that it mattered, there was no one home. Still, it felt like some sort of taboo, running
around the house in the buff. Vegeta had pulled on one of his many battle suits, and was adjusting his
boot when she looked back at him. For a second she was startled that he had dressed so fast, but
she remembered that he was a Saiyan. They did everything fast. Well, she conceded with a rush of
heat, almost everything. She had no inhibitions about being naked in front of him now, she realized
with a start. How strange. The first time she had been with Yamcha she had been completely
embarrassed when she woke up the next morning. It was odd that this felt so right. Or maybe it wasn't
odd so much as it was exciting.

"Well? Are you just going to leave the fool there? Or do I have to go and let him out?" He asked with
a dangerous grin. He would like nothing better than a good fight with Yamcha. Especially if he wanted
to lay any claim to Bulma now that she was his. She poked out her tongue and darted down the hall,
to her own room. She peered around in the darkness for some clothes, finally coming up with a pair of
sweat pants and one of her numerous tank tops. She had a multitude of them. Throwing one on, she
stumbled around in the dark for a bit before she headed down stairs to free Yamcha.

Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she walked over the damp grass to her outdoor lab, testing her sore
muscles as she went. She had really tired herself out last night with Vegeta. A soreness she could get
used to, if he wanted to repeat what had happened. She knew for a fact that she did. But would he
still be so closed off? Would he treat her worse than usual now? Did he think she was 'easy' now, or
that she had been bad at it? No, no that wasn't possible, she assured herself. No way. Maybe he
wanted someone with more endurance than she. Nah, he had looked pretty exhausted last night, she
reminded herself. A feeling of self pride assailed her insides. She had tired out a Super-Saiyan! A
wide smile shaped her full lips as she digested that thought. It had been true, he had been pretty
normal looking last night before they made love. Was that what she could think of it as? All other
words seemed almost crude to her, but making love... it seemed a little too intimate to her. Vegeta
didn't love her, of that she was almost certain. But he did care for her at least a little, somewhere
down in his heart. It was enough for her, to him it must be so strange, caring for someone. He hadn't
really been exposed to any softer emotions in his life that she had ever heard of. The closest thing
would had to have been mercy, on Goku's part when they had defeated him and Krillin had been
about to stab him through the heart. She wondered if it had been the first time someone had ever
done that for him, shown mercy. Most likely it had.

What would Yamcha think of it? He really didn't like Vegeta, but he restrained it when Vegeta was
around, lest he get his ass handed to him on a plate by the moody prince. Her thoughts were that
whatever Yamcha thought, he would keep it to himself just like always. Especially now that Vegeta
was a Super-Saiyan. She opened the door to the lab and stepped inside, locating the tank and noting
the worried face peering out of the little blue window. It swiftly turned into relief when he spotted her
walk into the room.

"Well, at least he's patient," she muttered to herself as she pulled the door to the tank open. Yamcha
stepped out, looking a little sheepish as he stretched his muscles. His stomach growled loudly,
making her laugh.

"Did you forget about me?" He asked accusingly, rubbing his protesting midsection absently. She
shook her head and grinned.

"Only a little. You woke me up, and I was having such a nice sleep," she said with a secret smile. He
shrugged. "Hey, you set the time, not me. You got any food around? I'm dying here."

"Yeah, I think there is some pasta left over. I'll heat it up," she said on a yawn. Her eyes prickled.
Yamcha gave her a strange look.

"What?" She asked worriedly. Did she have something on her face? Yamcha shook his head and put
his shirt back on, which had been hanging over her lab chair. A somber look settled on his face, and
something like fear glowed in his eyes, though it never really showed on his face. He adjusted his
shirt and looked at her steadily.

"Vegeta's back. And you're happy?" He said slowly, not really a question so much as it was a theory
he was testing out. Bulma debated what to do. Would he freak out if she told him why she was so
happy? He was her ex, after all. He might just go into a jealous rage and try to take Vegeta on in a
fight. Ha!! Not in a million years. He'd just huff and puff for a while, then accept the inevitable. She
hoped.

"Uh, about that," she started, "you see, Vegeta and I . . . We're kinda . . ." Oh jeez. How do I put it?
But she didn't have to say anymore. Yamcha's face told her that he understood completely. She could
tell from the way his mouth was open wide enough for her to fit her fist in there, and the shock
glittering plainly in his eyes. Well, at least he wasn't mad, she thought helplessly. It took him a minute
to get his bearings, but when he did, it was with a vengeance.

"I KNEW IT! YOU'RE CRAZY!" He yelled. "ABSOLUTELY FREAKING NUTS!"

"Shhhhut up!" She hissed. His voice was loud enough to be heard from outside. For, like, a ten mile
radius. He was breathing hard, anger flushing his face red. But he wouldn't be stopped, he just toned
it down a little.

"You and him...have you completely lost all reason? Jeez... I was just making a joke when I
suggested it, but you had to go and take it to that level, didn't you?! Man, I knew it from that night
outside in the yard! I should never have saved his murderous ass, I should've let the bastard rot in
hell..." He seethed. Bulma stared at him, wide eyed and speechless. Why was he so furious about it?
He was never truly committed to their relationship anyway, so why should it bother him that she had
found someone else after their break-up? Granted, he had the right to be a little miffed that she had
slept with the guy that was responsible for a few of their friends' deaths a few years ago, but he was
really taking it over the edge. Was it post-break-up jealousy setting in? What right could he claim to
her after they were done with? And how dare he wish death on the man she loved. Her heart started
pounding a heavy beat, waves of hot anger rushing up her body. Bulma's blue eyes narrowed
dangerously, and slitted into sapphire slivers of fury. Without any warning, she pulled back her hand
as far as she could, and slapped his face with all her strength.

His head snapped to the side slightly, and a dull red hand print showed up on his left cheekbone.
Shock flared in his eyes, extinguishing the anger that had been there and making him blink rapidly.
She doubted she had hurt him, but her meaning had been clear. She was mad. Taking short breaths,
she reined in the urge to boot him in the family jewels. Barely.

"Dammit, Yamcha, you listen to me, and listen good," she began, her eyes shining with malice, her
stance rigid. "Don't you even dare to think that you can judge me for what I do, you lost the right to
that when we broke up. I didn't want us to become enemies, even after we went our separate ways,
but if you even entertain the thought of insulting Vegeta or criticising me, I'll make sure that the only
thing you can get a lay out of will be the animals. Got it?" Her tone left no room for argument. He
nodded numbly, rubbing his cheek.

"All right, Bulma. I won't say another word about it," he muttered. Not exactly an apology, she
decided, but it would do for the moment. He continued staring at her for a moment longer, as if
realizing that she had meant every word she had said. He let out a long breath, raking back his hair
with one hand and rotating his head on his shoulders.

"Sorry. I guess I was just caught off guard. You and Vegeta though...it kinda boggles the mind. Man,
is he as protective of you as you are of him? Do you think you're doing the right thing? I'm not
criticizing," he added hastily, "I just don't want you to go and do something stupid. Though, you seem
to be the only one he listens to. Remember when he came back from outer space just before Frieza
and Kold landed? I was totally sure he was going to blast you one. But you totally had him
bamboozled. I don't think anyone had ever treated him like that," Yamcha recalled with an expression
of awe. Bulma grinned at the memory. She remembered his reaction to the pink shirt also. Extremely
memorable. She didn't really know what had possessed her to give him those clothes to wear, she
was just out for a little revenge for terrorizing her on Namek. Well, she could've been totally unkind
and not given him anything, she defended herself. And it wasn't that she had done it unprovoked. She
relaxed a little, giving Yamcha a silent signal that she wasn't going to bean him with a hammer. He
gave a lopsided grin and took a step toward her, one hand outstretched.
"So, we're still friends? I'm not totally sure about your guy judgement, but I won't say anything," he
promised. She smiled softly. He really was a good friend to her.

"All right. I'm not too sure about my 'guy judgement' either, considering I dated you for a while, but--"
Yamcha made a fist of his outstretched hand, and socked her lightly in the arm. She grinned playfully.

"But you don't think you'll regret this," he finished slowly. She nodded. He sighed. "Okay. But if things
go sour, I'll say I told you so, but I'll still be here for you," he said firmly. "In a friendly way, that is.
Nothing else."

"Well, duh," she said, rolling her eyes. He gave her a mock scowl, but jerked her quickly into his arms
and gave her a short hug. She grinned and returned it, amazed that she no longer had any interest in
him 'like that' anymore. Vegeta had really been the cure for it, and she wasn't a bit sorry. They let go
and stepped back from each other, and just in that instant they felt a little like they really were
separate people now, no longer having an influence on the others' life. They were suddenly going in
different directions. And they both knew it. Yamcha smiled sadly and gave her a small nod, before
turning away from her and stepping out into the slowly lightening dawn. He rose up into the air
silently, and disappeared from her vision.

With a small sigh and a smile, she turned around and smacked solidly into Vegeta. She gasped in
surprise. How long had he been there? He looked angry, but it was tempered by some odd
expression she couldn't decipher. His hands rested on her shoulders to steady her, but he was
holding her away from him slightly. Her stomach clenched at the distance he was putting between
them. Great, Bulma thought. He regrets it and wants to tell me he's leaving again? Her heart beat
painfully in her chest at the thought. It was only a thought, but it quickly took root in her mind and
stayed there. She looked away from his face in case he read the fear in her eyes.

Vegeta said nothing as she looked away, but she could feel his gaze burning a hole in her head like
some angry laser. What had happened to her courage? Shouldn't she take this with a little dignity?
She forced her gaze back to his with the intent of showing him that she didn't care one way or the
other what he did, but it dissolved when she saw what was really harbored in his gaze.

Jealousy? What was that doing there? Bulma bit back a relieved sigh. He must have seen her and
Yamcha hug. Was that why he looked so mad? She hadn't said or done anything else to anger him.
She shrugged his arms off her shoulders and crossed her arms defiantly.

"What is it?" She asked, knowing full well what was bugging him. His expression became closed off
and harsh, but it was burying something else. Wow, this guy had a lot of layers. She itched to step
into his arms and bury herself against his muscled chest, but not until she convinced him to trust her
a little. He cursed under his breath in that alien language and gave her a penetrating glance. His jaw
was tight.

"Well?" She asked. "What's the matter? And where were you just then, you jumped out of nowhere.
You weren't spying or anything, were you?" She asked suspiciously. He snorted rudely.

"I heard yelling. As I walk up I see you and that sad excuse for a warrior pressed against each other. I
had no need to spy, you seemed a little occupied when I approached," he said snidely. She winced at
the blatant jealousy in his voice. He acts like Yamcha touched his property. He doesn't own me, even
though I can admit to myself that I would do anything for him. I can't let this go. I'm a person, not an
object.

"Yes," she admitted carelessly. "I was a little too wrapped up to notice you there. Yamcha has a way
of getting my entire attention when he's nearby." Ouch. That even hurt to say. Not to mention that that
was probably the biggest lie she'd ever uttered. But it worked. Vegeta stiffened sharply and clenched
his teeth, the muscle in his jaw flexing as his face hardened into a cold mask. The cold mask, the one
he wore to hide any emotion he might be feeling. But then a flash of pain shot through his eyes,
telling her she'd struck a little too deeply than she had intended. Take it back, Bulma, for Kami's sake,
take it back.
"It's a good thing you trust me, or I'd almost be persuaded to think you believed that rubbish," she
said sarcastically. Her mouth was flattened into a line of disappointment. How could he possibly think
that she would want to be with Yamcha when she had Vegeta? If she didn't have his trust, what did
she have? She certainly trusted him, with anything. But if he didn't feel the same...

His brows drew together tightly in confusion. She had been baiting him? Why hadn't he seen that?
And why did he feel so strangely relieved about it? He had heard Yamcha yelling from inside the
house, and after a small inner debate had gone to see if Bulma was all right in Yamcha's presence.
He didn't think the human man would cause her any harm, but he didn't like the idea of leaving her
down there with him by herself when she was now his. And she was his, if not in the official sense of
the word, just as much as he was hers. He could admit that, if only to himself. But to go down to the
lab and see them embracing so intimately, it had hit him like a punch in the stomach, only one that
couldn't be prepared for. All reason had shot out the window, but some inner voice told him not to kill
Yamcha. Bulma would hate him for it if he had. And that he couldn't bear.

"You know what I said would happen if you lied to me, woman," he growled. "I do not like being
deceived."

Her eyes narrowed and she took another step back from him.

"And I do not like having my fidelity questioned. Do you honestly think that I would take Yamcha when
I could have you?" She blurted out. His eyes widened. She slapped her hand over her mouth in
mortification. How could she have said that? It was true, she conceded, but that didn't stop the furious
blush that inflamed her cheeks from giving away her embarrassment. She hid her face in her hands.
Yamcha would be so shamed if he had heard that. Vegeta let out a laugh of pure wickedness,
something she hadn't heard in a long while but couldn't enjoy because it was directed at her. She
didn't see when he stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her because of her hands, but she
felt it. His hard, warm arms enfolded her tightly, drawing a gasp of pleasure from her. She didn't think
she would ever get sick of an unprovoked display of affection from Vegeta, never. But a hug wasn't all
she wanted, and she knew it wasn't all he wanted from her, either. She lifted her head and looked
deeply into his fathomless eyes, and smiled widely. He looked as arrogant as she had ever seen him,
and she realized she had must have given his ego a real boost. She didn't mind.

"You know, fidelity is something reserved for those who actually mean something to each other," he
whispered in her ear. She stiffened. Kami, no. Her fears came back full force, and her heart prepared
to shatter itself into thousands of irreparable pieces. But he wasn't finished. "Are you trying to tell me
something?"

"I- I don't..." She stammered. Would he throw it back in her face and mock her for her stupidity?
Would he simply shrug it off? Why was he asking her? She blinked a few times to clear her head and
wrapped her arms around his neck, and looked once again into his eyes. They were clearly asking
her, no shadows hiding secret thoughts that she could only guess at. He wanted to know. And she
wanted to tell him. For some reason she wanted to get it off her chest, at least a little. She had a
sneaking suspicion that he needed to know. Truly, needed. How could she resist that? But she
couldn't come out and say it, not without some sign that he wouldn't reject her.

"Jealousy is also reserved for those who mean something to each other. Are you trying to tell me
something?" She retorted softly. He frowned at the reference to his reaction earlier.

"I am not jealous. Such an emotion is unworthy of me," he said stiffly. Bulma studied his face quietly,
and moved back from him, only to find that he wasn't letting her go. Hmmm. His dark eyes bored
holes in a tree a few yards away, as he seemed to think hard. She had little doubt that he had been
jealous, though she should have realized that he would never admit it to her. His eyes slid back to her
and stayed there for a long moment, silently interrogating her.

"What?" She asked uneasily. It felt like her mind was being pried open, with his stare upon her like
that. His jaw was clenched, but still, he didn't say anything that would give away what he was
thinking. Bulma let out a short sigh, and lay her head against his chest lightly, stifling a yawn. It was
way, way too early for her to be up, and she just wasn't alert enough to deal with Vegeta's
moodiness. She wasn't even up to an argument with him. Closing her eyes tiredly, she slid her arms
around him and inhaled his unique scent, giving up on the whole matter for the moment. She felt him
look down at her for a small eternity, before he wrapped her tighter in his arms, one hand sweeping
up into her hair and cradling the back of her head as she stood there in a state of sleepy bliss. How
he had changed since she first met him, she thought. Such a wonderful gift she had been given, the
gift of being able to see the real Vegeta, the one who trusted her with the knowledge that he had a
very active heart and felt things just like everyone else. She was eternally awed that he had given his
trust to her like that.

"You never answered my question," he said in a muted voice from above her. She heard the hum in
his chest as he spoke, like a vibrating purr. She smiled and turned her face into his chest slightly, and
then raised it to look him in the eyes.

"You already know that I care about you, Vegeta. Do you really need me to say it?" She asked slowly,
her cheeks tinging pink as she said it.

"No. I just want you to." His eyes seemed to glow for a moment, and his mouth curved into a small
smirk. Then he let out a breath, and something fell away in his eyes, opening up a window to inside
him that she had never seen there before. It was like seeing what he was feeling, and thinking at the
same time. Her scientific brain had no explanation for this, but she didn't waste time worrying about it
as flickers of his inner thoughts wrapped themselves around her, forcing themselves into her vision.
She could see his protectiveness of her, his aggravation at her sometimes stubborn ways, the
confusion he felt as she made him feel things he couldn't explain, the proud inner core of himself that
not even Frieza had been able to touch. So many other things seemed to flash through his eyes, but
she didn't have time to decipher them. It whirled around her like a swirling cyclone of emotion and
memory combined. It took her a while to realize that it was all happening inside her mind, all some
telepathy she never knew could exist. With a start, she opened her eyes and stared at Vegeta with
sapphire eyes filled with shock. He opened his eyes and deepened his smirk, though Bulma had the
feeling it was a little forced. He couldn't have been comfortable with letting her into his mind like that,
when he was so deeply private about most things. So why had he done it?

Simple. He wanted her to trust him enough with her emotions as he trusted her with his. Bulma was
shaken with the impact of that simple truth. Denying him her feelings would be like a slap in his face
after he had bared himself to her like that, and she knew he would hurt from that rejection, even if he
never showed it outwardly. He really wanted to know that badly? Then she would tell him, and damn
the consequences. Vegeta wouldn't let her into his mind if he was simply going to laugh in her face.

"All right, then. If you really want to know," she forced out shakily. "I-i care about you, Vegeta. More
than I ever thought I could care about a person. It nearly killed me when you left for all those months,
and I never really realized why until I thought you weren't coming back. It hurt me to think that you
hated me for what I said, and I never stopped hating myself for being so stupid that night. So... I don't
know what you expect of me, or what you want me to say to you, but I know that if you left me again...
Kami, don't leave me again," she begged hoarsely. Just the thought of it was enough to kill her.

She couldn't get any more out, even though she had, in essence, told him exactly what he had
wanted to know. That she loved him. He lost his smirk completely as he looked down at her. Bulma
became embarrassed at the scrutiny and looked away, but his hand came away from around her and
captured her chin, gently forcing her to look at him. She complied uneasily, to find Vegeta looking
tenderly down at her with such a wonderfully warm expression, her insides turned to jelly.

"Bulma..." He whispered. She tightened her hold on him and raised her head, as he lowered his and
captured her lips in a soft kiss.

Bulma felt an aching warmth assail her insides as she responded instantly to him, moving her mouth
over his almost hungrily, trying to feel more of him. The soft kiss slowly turned wild, as his tongue
slowly thrust inside her mouth to explore her, memorizing every silky curve of her mouth, stroking and
setting her on fire with every touch he gave. She felt all her reason slip away, as she concentrated on
the warmth of his lips on hers, his body pressed against her, his arms wrapped around her. It was
heaven. But after a while it came to an end, both of them breaking away reluctantly to breathe. Her
lips tingled as his gaze stroked over them before settling on her shining blue eyes. She blinked slowly
as Vegeta seemed to regain his own sense of thought and reason, and locked eyes with her in a
heated rush of feeling.

"Woman, you spoke as if you read my mind," he said softly. A hint of a smile, a real smile, curved up
the corners of his mouth. "And that is all the explanation you're going to get from me."

Her heart lifted and swelled at his words, and her wide eyes filled with tears that she couldn't imprison
within her lashes. He loved her. Truly. And he had felt as bad about their separation as she had. The
knowledge that he cared about her shook her to the core along with the force of the love that she felt
toward him. Her every wish had come true, and she wasn't about to let him go, come death,
destruction or anything else that may come their way along with the Androids. No, nothing would
make her let him go.

Ever.

"Come on woman, I'll be needing breakfast before I go train. Even if it is you making it," Vegeta
smirked, and prodded her lightly. She blinked and returned to reality, rising out of her thoughts like
coming up from under a mile of water. She wrinkled her nose delicately at him, and kissed his smirk
right off his face. When they broke free this time, they saw reflected in each others eyes something
they never thought to see, a love that was unmatched by any in the known universe. Something
Bulma had begun to think as myth. She knew better now.

"All right then," she agreed. "But I'm not making triple serves of omelettes this time. Any more
cholesterol and I'll give you a heart attack. And I want to keep you around." He let out a low chuckle
and swept her up into his arms as he headed for the house, each of them thinking at how their lives
had changed, and neither minded all that much. Bulma wondered what tomorrow would hold, and
how the others would react to what had startled even her. She was in love with the Saiyan Prince.

******************************************************************************

Things had seemed to be looking up for Bulma since the return of Vegeta and the realization that she
had more than lukewarm feelings for the stubborn Prince, and vice versa. Though the usual routine
didn't change all that much, the atmosphere was definitely a new one. Bulma's bed was no longer
empty of a night, for one thing. Three weeks had gone by since that night he had returned from
space, bringing with him all the power of a newly awakened Super-Saiyan. Three weeks since she
had last felt like her life was a lonely one. Little did she know was that Vegeta had often felt the same
way about his own. But for all the new emotions they experienced, life was still much the same.

Bulma sat precariously on top of the GR, armed with a welder and infinite determination. The top
panel had come loose from one of Vegeta's more powerful blasts, now a whole lot bigger now that he
was a Super-Saiyan. Though it wasn't dangerous to the design, it would slowly weaken the outer shell
if left alone. She didn't want that, and so she sat there in the heat, clad in protective clothing and a
welding helmet, sweating to death.

Damn, she thought, I'm going to pass out if I don't get this done soon! The temperature was close to
blistering. Plus, the metal alloy covering below her was reflecting all the light back in her face.
Grimacing a little, she got back to work. She had to get it done before Vegeta got back from Goku's
and wanted to use it. He hated waiting for her to finish fixing it. The rhythmic flashing-buzz of the
welder filled her senses as she immersed herself once more in her work, concentrating fully on the
task at hand. Just a few more inches to go and she'd be done...

"Woman!"

"Ahh!" Bulma yelped and nearly lost her balance. She righted herself after a second and looked over
her shoulder, her heart pounding. "God, Vegeta, you scared the hell out of me!" She said angrily, still
recovering from the shock. He was levitating just behind her, inspecting the work she had almost
completed. She pulled off the welding mask and wiped her forehead tiredly, secretly a little grateful for
the interruption. Vegeta gave her a wicked glance and nodded to the sheet of metal.

"It took you that long to do that small amount of work? What has been distracting you, woman?" He
said mockingly, just to aggravate her. To bad for him, it didn't work. Bulma was getting wiser to his
tricks, and realized that he mostly always said those things just for the sake of getting her mad. He
loved a good verbal spar. She grinned sadistically to herself and looked up at him.

"Oh, well, Yamcha visited and we were busy having sex while you were out. Happy?" She asked
mischievously, her eyes sparkling with mirth. Let him digest that. Vegeta's face was suddenly as dark
as a storm cloud, his eyes flashing dangerously. But then his mouth curved into a smirk and he shook
his head slowly at her.

"Very amusing. But that would be impossible."

Bulma cocked her head curiously at him. "Why? Because you trust me, god forbid?" He shook his
head again, his smirk deepening even more. Bulma was intrigued. Mad, but intrigued.

"Well, come on. Tell me why it's impossible!"

He shot her a wicked look. "Because you seem to have developed a sense of taste as of late. That is
why it is impossib-" he broke off as he dodged the welder she threw at him. He let out a short chuckle
at her indignation. "Calm down. It's nothing to be ashamed of-" he moved suddenly as this time she
threw her face-shield.

"Sense of taste, ha! More like I developed some type of mental condition," she huffed. He always
knew just how to bug her and pump himself up at the same time. She stood up on the roof of the GR
and dusted the metal filings off of her coverall. "I'm taking a break. You aren't even due back for
another half hour, so now you can wait."

Vegeta frowned, but grabbed her around the waist and lowered her to the ground anyway. She would
have turned to go inside, but he didn't let go. Instead, he pulled her to him tighter. Bulma grinned up
at him and slipped her hands around his waist, not caring about the heat that seconds before had
made her unbearably uncomfortable. She raised herself up on her tiptoes so that their heights were
equal, and searched his eyes.

"So...what are you doing back early? Was something distracting you from your work?" She raised one
eyebrow questioningly, and perhaps a little sexily. What was he doing back, anyway? He raised his
own eyebrows in response to her hint, but didn't rise to the bait.

"No."

Bulma deflated a little. "Then what?"

"I decided not to let Kakkarot know just how strong I am just yet. I won't be able to kill him if he knows
my maximum."

"But he knows you're a Super-Saiyan."

"That doesn't matter," he explained. "Just because we are both Super-Saiyans doesn't mean that we
are equal in power. The fool can stay in the dark. It would do him some good to be kept thinking for a
while," he muttered darkly. Another chance to insult Goku, she thought. Vegeta had some real issues
with his rival. He could use some counselling... Bulma bit back a smile and rested her head against
his chest, then suddenly snapped her head back as he stifled a pained flinch. She took a proper look
at him, uncertainty flickering in her eyes. He was dressed in his old Saiyan armor, but it had done little
good to ward off the blows he had sustained recently while training with Goku. Jagged cracked holes
showed torn flesh underneath, leaking blood. They were, though small, numerous. She let go of him
and stepped back, for fear of hurting him further.
"Vegeta you bonehead, why didn't you say something!" She cried. "This armor is totalled. How bad
does it hurt?" She asked worriedly, searching gently for more injuries. He pushed her hands away
and scowled.

"They're mere scratches. Leave me be. But I do need some new battle armor. Are you smart enough
to make more, woman?" He asked, or more correctly, challenged. She looked up and gave him a 'you
better be kidding' look.

"Of course I can. Just give me something to create a replica out of, and I'll give it a shot. But really
Vegeta, these need to be looked at," she stated, looking at his injuries. "I don't want them getting
infected. It'll be a fair trade, I'll make some new armor if you let me fix these up." He shook his head.

"Please?" She wheedled.

"No. I have to train," Vegeta replied brusquely. He crossed his arms over his chest and gave her that
look. Bulma was inclined to argue and if it came down to it, force him to go to the infirmary with her,
but she had work to do. Let him train with oozing cuts. Ugh.

"Fine, whatever," she said with a shrug. "Just don't expect to be getting into my bed tonight with open
wounds. I just washed the sheets." Vegeta's face darkened a little, but he smirked and returned her
shrug with one of his own. He remained silent.

Bulma sighed. "Whatever." Wiping the sweat off her face again and silently cursing the lava-ball in the
sky that was called the sun, she quickly kissed Vegeta once on the cheek just to confuse him. She
wasn't really mad, just worried he was in pain. He gave her a strange look, and then frowned
suddenly. She wiped off her face again and ignored the frown. He was always doing it, anyway.

She then turned around and picked up her welder and mask, which were laying at the base of the
GR. When she straightened and turned around, Vegeta was gone. Now where did he go? Bulma
wondered to herself as she scanned the area for him. Probably in the kitchen, she guessed. And she
had just filled the pantry too. Damn. She was a bit confused that he had backed off without some sort
of comeback. Probably just screwing with my mind, she thought as she inspected the welder for
damage. None, she noticed with satisfaction. Then she swallowed with difficulty as the heat seemed
to increase even more.

"Here," a gruff voice prompted. Bulma turned around in surprise to see Vegeta standing in front of her
with a glass of water, and a senzu bean in the other. Memories swamped her from months ago, the
night he had spun on her and almost choked the life from her. She'd never forget the look on his face
after he realized what he had almost done to her. It had been a small sign that he was more than just
a heartless bastard. But what did he want now? She looked from one hand to the other in confusion.

Vegeta rolled his eyes. "Take the water, woman." Frowning faintly she took it from his hand, and upon
feeling the coolness of it against her skin, she quickly drank it down in one long gulp. Bulma hadn't
realized just how much she needed it until Vegeta had given it to her. When she finished she peered
up at him with gratitude glimmering in her eyes.

"Thanks, Vegeta. I really needed that. But what's with the bean? And where did you even get it? I
didn't have any," she said curiously. He grinned wolfishly. "The bean is for me, woman. I would like to
get back to training, without you harping at me. And I want you to make my armor." With that, he
chewed the bean quickly and swallowed, smirking at her as the cuts she had 'harped' about closed up
and faded away. His smirk deepened even more as his strength returned fully, and Bulma shook her
head with a smile at his reaction.

"I thought you hated those beans."

He simply grunted and pulled his armor over his head, dropping it at her feet with a thump. She
admired his sweat-shiny muscles openly, but frowned at the rips and tears in the fabric he wore under
the armor. Vegeta noticed her inspection and raised an eyebrow.
"See anything you like?" He asked sardonically. Bulma flushed a light pink and gave him a wide
smile.

"All of it." Oh, great. Like he needed any more physical praise. Why don't I know when to shut up?

His eyes sparked with humor. "Well, that's all right then."

His smirk deepened as her color heightened. Even though her and Vegeta were a lot closer than
before, it was still sometimes strange talking openly. Vegeta didn't seem to mind sometimes, anything
she said that somehow complimented him was all right, if a little unsettling since she did it so seldom.
She feared that if she inflated his ego any more, he would explode like the old planet Namek. She
rubbed at her cheeks and wished she didn't blush so damn often, then shrugged and stepped closer
to him again. He put one hand on his hip studied her face with a slightly wicked grin. She gave him
the same amount of visual consideration, and let out a breath.

"I guess you want me to get started with the armor now. Unless the show was for my benefit," she
teased. She slipped her hands once more around his waist, this time able to actually feel him beneath
her fingers, instead of hard armor. He chuckled low in his throat and flicked a strand of hair out of her
eye, then simply let his finger trace her jawline gently, sending shivers up her spine. His lightest touch
could almost instantly drive her insane, but Bulma didn't mind one bit. She knew that on more than
one occasion hers had done the same. She gripped him tighter to her, pressing her body against his
more fully. His eyes burned into hers suddenly, his passion showing itself clearly. She smiled in
reaction as his hands returned her gesture, kneading her hips sensuously. A feeling of warmth started
to grow in her lower body.

"Well, Vegeta? Would you like me to start work on your armor now, or did you have...something
else...in mind to keep me busy with?" She asked with a smile in her voice. And on her face. Without
waiting for an answer, she tipped her face up and caught his lips with her own. Heat seared her
insides as it always did, leaving her lightheaded. He stiffened in surprise for a moment, still unused to
her displays of affection. But he recovered quickly, hauling her up against him and responding with
more than equal passion. He took over instantly, moving his mouth over her own with blatant
possession, making her dizzy with warmth and pleasure. His hands slid down from her waist and
stopped to squeeze her buttocks, eliciting a muffled squeal from her. She retaliated in kind, making
him growl, or was it a purr? She didn't know. They never broke the heated kiss the whole time. But
after a few moments they parted reluctantly, one smirking in satisfaction, the other grinning like a
loon.

"It's about time you two came up for air," a voice grumbled from behind them. Vegeta's head snapped
up in surprise, as Bulma froze. But then she recognized the voice. Her father. They let go of each
other and turned to face him.

She turned a light pink at having been caught in such an...abandoned manner, by her father. "Sorry
dad. Did you need something?" She asked sheepishly. Vegeta just frowned and eyed the older man,
and walked towards the GR. Bulma turned and watched him go with some surprise. But she
dismissed it as she listened to what her father was saying.

"...really, Bulma. Not in public. Anyway, Chi-chi is on the phone, where she has been waiting for the
past three minutes while you two finished up," he said with a wry chuckle at her dismayed expression.
"Why didn't you tell me?!" She cried. "You could have at least cleared your throat or something."

He shot her a level look. "And risk being burned to a crisp by Vegeta? I have a little more intelligence
than that, don't I?" Bulma's eyes narrowed slightly in response.

"He's not that bad, you know. Just...moody, sometimes." Why am I standing up for him? I know as
well as anyone that he can be the biggest pain in the ass. Hell, half the time it's me complaining about
how he acts.
Her father shrugged, not wanting to agitate his daughter too much. Ever since a few weeks ago when
he had found out that Bulma and Vegeta had developed something of a love-hate relationship, he
had been distant from his daughter, wanting to let them have their privacy. He wasn't too bothered by
the match, though he knew Vegeta was something of a loose-cannon when it came to wanting to kill
Goku, he had strong doubts as to whether he would harm Bulma. Apparently she thought the same
thing, if the loving glances she shot the Saiyan's way when she thought no one was looking were any
indication. Either way, it was none of his business. Bulma was a grown woman, and he wouldn't stand
in the way.

"Well, are you going to answer the phone?" He prompted her. She came to life once more, and ran
towards the house, leaving behind her work. Looking up at what she had been doing, he sighed and
headed for the ladder resting against the GR. He might as well finish it for her.

"Vegeta," he called in the direction of the GR's entrance, "don't use too much power for the moment,
all right? I'm just repairing the top panel." He started to climb the ladder, hoping that his arthritis
wasn't going to torment him later for doing this.

"...I'm not even training, you fool," the voice floated back from inside the GR. Dr. Briefs stopped and
turned back around. It wasn't the insult that stopped him, just the mention of Vegeta actually not
training when he wasn't eating, sleeping, or...with...his daughter was strange. He walked around to
the entrance and poked his head in, noticing the open door.

"Then what are you doing?" He asked cautiously.

"Nothing."

"I can see that." The older man watched Vegeta silently for a moment. He was simply standing at the
window of the pod, arms crossed and head high. He wasn't even looking at him. Bulma's father
wasn't sure of what to do. Something was strained here, but he didn't think he should interfere. He
gave a small shrug and backed away from the door, when Vegeta's voice made him spin back
around.

"I do not need your approval, you know. Not in this. Not in anything."

Dr. Briefs' head tilted back in comprehension. Ah. "No," he said carefully, "I imagine you don't. Bulma
can make her own choices."

"Yes," the Prince muttered, "though the question why she chose me continues to plague me."

The other man's curiosity grew. He let out a chuckle. "Strange choice of words for you to use. Plague.
Would you rather she left you alone?"

Vegeta's eyelids flinched slightly in reaction. He made no response for a long time. Finally he just
shook his head slightly, clearing whatever thoughts bothered him from his consciousness. "It's no
concern of yours, old man."

"Oh, but it is," he said, parental protectiveness kicking in. He knew that Vegeta could kill him in an
instant, but this had to be said. No matter how old Bulma was, she was still his daughter, and he
didn't want her getting hurt by this seemingly cold, unfeeling Saiyan. "If you don't care about my
Bulma the way she does you, I suggest you tell her before she gets the wrong idea. Now I know I
can't force you to do this, and Kami knows Bulma would kill me for interfering, but I just want you to
know that she has a lot of friends that care about her and won't stand to see her dragged through the
dirt like some common-"

"All right, old man, I get your point," Vegeta said irritably. "You can shut up now." But something like
understanding flashed through Vegeta's eyes for the briefest moment. The man relaxed a little,
ignoring the rude brush-off.
"Just so that you know where I'm coming from," he said heavily. "I'm her father, after all. Maybe you'll
know what that is like someday."

Vegeta laughed harshly. " I doubt that."

He pounced. "So you are planning on leaving her? Because I know for a fact that Bulma has based
most of her life on having a family someday."

The Prince froze, and his eyes flickered for a second. His mouth twisted. "Briefs, this is none of your
business." The other man opened his mouth to speak. Vegeta cut him off. "But, just so you stop
pestering me with this overprotective nonsense, I'll tell you now that I hadn't planned on leaving
Bulma. I had no intention of it as yet. As for the rest, I doubt the woman would want to spawn my
child." He let out a humorless laugh. "But then, I hadn't planned on being a father. Frankly, I'm
surprised I've lived this long. By all rights I should be dead," he stated with a indifferent shrug that
belied the unreasonable flash of pain in his eyes.

Dr. Briefs stared. This was indeed surprising. It was now a definite possibility that Bulma had the right
of it, there really was hidden depths to this bitter Saiyan. And not entirely unwanted ones either. He
suddenly seemed a whole lot more human, and even though he wasn't human, it was the only way
the older man could put it into words. And just what was this nonsense that Bulma wouldn't want to
bear Vegeta's child? Did that mean that Vegeta didn't think Bulma would stay with him on the long
term? Where on earth would he get that idea? Bulma was the most committed person he knew, when
something mattered to her enough. He knew Vegeta was top priority with her, and would most likely
remain so. It would seem that Vegeta was more vulnerable to Bulma than anything Goku could
possibly throw at him. This was food for thought.

"I think you'd be surprised," he said slowly, " about Bulma, I mean. But you'd have to ask her. I'm not
going to pry any more than it seems I already have." He let out a breath and studied this Saiyan who
could quite easily become his son-in-law if everything went smoothly. It was a strange thought. His
wife would be pleased, at least. He, on the other hand, was still to pass judgement. All of a sudden he
had a new opinion of the Prince, and it wasn't necessarily a bad one. "I'll let you get back to your
training, just as soon as I have fixed the roof of this contraption."

He once again turned to go, but Vegeta's last comment still reached his ears. "One thing, old man.
Tell anyone of what I have said here, and I'll rip out your tongue and-"

"All right, Vegeta, I get your point. You can shut up now," he said with a chuckle in his voice. He
heard a choked sound from behind him, of anger or grudging amusement, he wasn't sure. Dr. Briefs
stepped out into the heat towards the ladder, whistling through his teeth. No doubt Bulma would be
on the phone for another ten minutes at least. Enough time for him to finish her work. She could thank
him later.

******************************************************************************

"You're having a what?" Bulma repeated down the phone. "I thought I was the one to host all the
parties."

Chi-chi sounded amused. "Sorry to upstage you, but I just wanted to have a bit of a get together.
Goku suggested it, and actually I didn't think it would be so bad. You know, have us all meet and
catch up. Take a break."

Bulma thought about it. She would enjoy seeing them all, though Kami only knew how they would get
in touch with everyone. "You mean, everyone? Tien and Chaou-tzu included? How on earth are you
going to contact them?"

"Well, Goku can use his new technique to locate them. Instant-something-or-other, I think he said. So,
what do you think? Can you make it?" She asked her. It would be fun, and Bulma hadn't been out in a
while. What could it hurt?
"Yeah, sure Chi-chi! I can make it, just tell me when it is. Should I bring anything with me?" She
asked eagerly, suddenly excited about seeing them all again. Who knew if she would get to see them
after this fight against the androids? Suddenly a murmuring could be heard from the other end of the
phone, what sounded like Goku asking something.

"NO WAY!!" Chi-chi yelled shrilly, scaring the life out of Bulma. "NOT IN MY HOUSE AGAIN!! I have
had enough of that brute, Goku, and how can you ask that after before? YOU'RE NOT GOING TO
SPAR HERE AGAIN, NOT AFTER LAST TIME!!!"

Bulma held the phone away from her ear as her friend's voice reached a glass shattering pitch. What
on earth was she going on about? Brute? Did she mean Vegeta?

"Chi-chi? What are you yelling about? For goodness sake, tone it down a little. I like my eardrums
intact," she said, wincing a little. "Now what is all this?"

"...sorry, Bulma. Goku is asking me to invite Vegeta, Vegeta to this gathering. Can you believe it? As
if I don't have enough on my plate."

She narrowed her eyes at the phone a little. Chi-chi stressed out at the smallest things. Well, Vegeta
wasn't such a small problem, but still...

"So they want to spar?" Bulma repeated. Vegeta had decided against it, she thought. "Well, Vegeta
doesn't want to spar with Goku anymore. He'd prefer to stay away from him for the rest of the time left
before the androids come," she explained to her friend. "So you don't have a problem."

Silence.

Something akin to an explosion hit Bulma's ear in response. "SO HE DOESN'T WANT TO FIGHT
WITH MY GOKU, DOES HE??!?!?! WELL, YOU CAN JUST TELL THAT HIGH AND MIGHTY
MURDERER THAT HE IS COMING, AND HE'LL FIGHT WITH GOKU, AND HE'LL FREAKING WELL
ENJOY IT!!!!!"

Bulma gasped at the intensity in her voice. Goodness. Chi-chi was certainly a powder-keg, waiting to
explode. But Bulma didn't like the way Chi-chi talked about Vegeta, like he was some kind of dirt
under Goku's heel. Like simply because he had done some things in his life that were, well,
questionable, he was suddenly a lesser class to Goku. Ha. That was a little backwards. Vegeta, after
all, was the Prince. Bulma cut herself off from those thoughts. She was getting way to protective of
Vegeta, and every little insult directed his way. Let him fight his own battles, he'd be glad enough to.

"Right, Chi-chi," she said uncertainly. "I'll ask him. But I'm not promising anything. Just tell Goku that
I'll try."

"...all right," she sighed. "Sorry. I know you're not his keeper. Though Kami knows the animal needs
one."

Bulma gasped in shock and anger. "What? What did you just say?"

"I said the anima-"

"I heard you! Animal?!?" Her blue eyes flashed in fury. "Don't you dare, Chi-chi! Don't you dare say a
thing like that about Vegeta! Don't judge him by his deeds in the past, because it was Frieza that
made him what he is!! He was as much a victim as Krillin or Piccolo or any of the Nameks were of
that monster, and I won't let you sit there and badmouth him when you have no idea what he had
gone through, do you hear me? And let me remind you that your husband happens to be the same
species as this so called animal," she hissed into the phone, breathing hard. She couldn't believe Chi-
chi's words. Usually she wasn't so...vindictive, even if she was protective of her family. Bulma
wouldn't stand for it.
There was silence on the other end of the line for a long time. Bulma thought for a second that
perhaps Chi-chi had left the phone, but she could hear faint breathing coming from the woman that
assured her she was still there. As Bulma controlled herself a little more, she realized that Chi-chi had
no idea of what had transpired between her and Vegeta. She probably thought she had lost it, Bulma
thought with chagrin. Perhaps she had overreacted just a little. *Understatement*

She heard a sigh. "I'm...sorry, Bulma. You are right, I suppose. I shouldn't have said that. But what's
gotten into you? What has happened between you two since we last talked?" The dark-haired woman
asked curiously. Bulma had heard the honest apology in her voice, as well as the bewilderment. She
flushed slightly with guilt. "A lot, actually. I'll tell you about it when I see you."

"Are you trying to tell me-"

"Like I said, I'll tell you when I see you. When is this party, anyway?" Bulma cut her off, and changed
the subject. She knew for a fact that Chi-chi was already drawing her own conclusions.

"Tonight! Are you coming or not? Wait; scratch that, you have to come now. I want to know
everything," Chi-chi said eagerly.

Bulma thought about it. Should she tell Chi-chi? She was her closest girlfriend, and she had been
dying to tell someone about all the crazy emotions she'd been feeling when it came to Vegeta. What
could it hurt?

"Yeah, I'll be there at around six."

"Great! And make sure Vegeta comes OK? Or else I'll have Goku bouncing around my kitchen like a
demented grasshopper all night."

Bulma grinned. "Right. See you then."

"Bye." They hung up.

Well, this is going to be interesting, she thought after she replaced the phone on the wall. But how
was she supposed to get Vegeta to come along? Bribery? Food? Blackmail? Torture? No, erase
those, she'd just cook for a while if he refused. Badly. Wait, wasn't that blackmail?

*

Bulma had decided to wait a while before telling Vegeta about tonight, until after he'd had some food
and was in a more allowing mood. Not that that would be a whole lot more allowing, but it would help.
She checked her watch. It was 1:30pm. Lots of time. She called out to her mother down the hall.

"Yes, dear?" She answered cheerfully from the living room.

"Do you think you could get some lunch prepared for Vegeta? I have to make some plans. I'm going
to Chi-chi and Goku's tonight, OK?"

"Sure Bulma," her high voice floated back to her. "I'll get right on it."

Satisfied, she thanked her mother and ran upstairs to decide what she was going to wear. It was only
a casual gathering, but Bulma didn't want to go looking like a fashion disaster. She surveyed her
wardrobe, and after about twenty minutes, she had chosen what she would wear. Simple, but made
her look good at the same time. It was then that a faint buzzing noise drew her attention away from
her clothes, making her go to her balcony in curiosity. Stepping out, she saw her father just finishing
the work she had forgotten about. Oh, oops.

"Thank-you, dad!" She called. He looked up over at her and nodded slightly, before standing up and
walking over to the ladder to get down. Bulma leaned against the railing for a moment, enjoying the
faint breeze that had kicked up, letting it blow through her hair and cool her down a little. It had gotten
really hot lately, being early summer and all. Her thoughts strayed to tonight. Everyone would be
there, did that mean Yamcha too? Well, she told herself, of course he would be there. He's one of
Goku's oldest buds. She wondered what he would do if her and Vegeta ended up going there
together. Nothing, she hoped, especially after their last conversation. He seemed to have accepted it
then. Heck, he probably would be glad to be free to maneuver without her.

Her eyes dropped down to the GR as another sudden noise caught her attention. Her father was on
his way down the ladder, just at the second from the top rung. But as she saw, the ladder was moving
a little. She peered closer, her heart thudding a heavier beat. Shit, she thought suddenly, fear clawing
at her. The damn thing isn't stable. And her dad was fifteen feet off the ground! She gasped as panic
choked her when she realized what was about to happen. It all seemed to continue in slow motion
from there. She saw the base of the ladder slip away from the GR, making it tilt precariously. Dr.
Briefs jerked in surprise, as his balance was lost and the ladder tilted away from the GR, towards the
ground.

"Daddy!" She screamed helplessly. She was too far away, too high up to help. He let out a muffled
yell as all safeguard was lost, and he started to fall to the ground, twisting in the air. Bulma screamed
again, unable to do anything else.

Vegeta burst out of the GR like his ass was on fire, looking wildly for the danger. Seeing Dr. Briefs
falling towards the ground, he dove at light-speed, nothing but a blur to Bulma. He caught the older
man by the back of his lab coat one-handedly, twisting under him so that they were floating a metre or
so off the ground, with Vegeta grasping Bulma's father like some bird of prey. He yelled something to
the man he had in his clutches, shaking him slightly for emphasis. Dr. Briefs looked too dazed to
answer, and just hung there. Bulma went weak with relief, collapsing against the rail. Her heart was
pounding hard enough to shake her whole body. She watched as the Prince lowered her dad to the
ground, landing gracefully beside him. From where Bulma was, she couldn't hear what he said to her
father, but she watched in wonder as her dad let out a chuckle and walked unsteadily away.

"Dad....are you OK?" She called hoarsely. He looked up at her on the balcony and smiled faintly,
nodding.

"Fine Bulma, i'm...fine. But from now on I'm leaving it to you to fix the GR. While you're at it, do the
ladder as well," he replied jokingly, and ambled away, limping slightly. Bulma nodded numbly. Did
Vegeta just save my father from a really bad fall? Bulma wondered, her heart still thudding a painful
beat. Her throat was raw, and her eyes were blurry from tears that had sprung up too suddenly for her
to have realized. She swallowed and dragged a hand through heat-disheveled aqua hair, her gaze
locked on Vegeta. He simply stood there with his arms crossed in his usual haughty look, eyes
snapping. He was looking in the direction that her father had left, a scowl knitting his eyebrows
together. Slowly his gaze turned to her on the balcony, and their eyes locked. Searching his eyes,
she tried her best to send him a silent message of thanks. Never had she been so afraid for someone
else life, and Vegeta had effortlessly saved her father from a fall that could have easily killed him if
he'd landed wrong. What she couldn't really believe was that Vegeta had actually saved him. That
was what shocked her. Vegeta seemed to read this in her eyes and gave her a trademark smirk, his
eyes dancing as though he knew something she didn't. As if.

As she looked down at him, he beckoned to her slowly, crooking one finger at her. His smirk became
more pronounced. She blinked in surprise and tilted her head quizzically, before a small grin tugged
at her lips. So he wanted her to go down there, did he? Not that easy. She shook her head.

He nodded in response. Striding up to the balcony so that he was directly below her, he raised his
hands. She gasped. Why did he want her to jump down to him? What was he playing at?

"What's the matter woman? Afraid?" He mocked. Her eyes narrowed playfully. Oh, yeah. After she
had been flying into a storm with him she was afraid to jump off a measly balcony? She'd show him.
Hoisting herself up onto the railing, she swung her legs over and peered down at him.

"You swear you'll catch me?" She asked, not without a little worry in her voice. This wasn't something
she made a habit of doing, though it was beginning to seem that way. This would be the third time, or
the second? He frowned up at her faintly, seeming a bit offended at her anxiousness. "Woman, if I
wanted to kill you I would have done it a long time ago."

"Ha! You very nearly did, remember Namek? You shot all those blasts at Krillin and me. You could've
blown my head off. And that night I made you go ballistic and you choked me?" She frowned
thoughtfully, ignoring the black look he gave her. "But then again, you have saved my life a few times,
so I guess it cancels that out. And you just saved my dad. All right, but I don't know why you're
making me do this."

Without looking down at him again, she closed her eyes tightly and levered herself off the edge of the
railing and plunged through the air. Panic flashed through her for a second, making her whimper low
in her throat for a brief moment, but it vanished as Vegeta wrapped warm arms around her and
caught her in the cradle position. She gasped and opened her eyes, looking into darkly intense eyes.
He smirked in satisfaction for a moment as she put her arms around his neck, and leaned into him.

"Thank you, for saving my dad. That was...really scary for a moment. You're a regular hero," she said
as she nuzzled his neck. He frowned deeply, but it held a tinge of thoughtfulness in it. She brushed a
hand through his hair lightly, but he ignored it as he tried to think of a response. He replied in a rough
voice. "I'm no hero. The old fool fixes the GR, just as you do. He's still useful, to a certain extent." His
words were brusque, but Bulma could sense the uncertain warmth her words had invoked in him. She
sighed to herself. Vegeta could easily say these things, but she no longer believed him as she used
to. She had seen his softer side, and found it hard to see him as the cruel heartless bastard she had
thought him when he had first agreed to stay with them. Not that she really wanted to see him that
way.

She broke out of her thoughts as he shifted her in his arms, changing grip on her instead of putting
her down. He looked down at her for a moment, seeming to trace her features with his eyes. Bulma's
face colored slightly in response to his intent study, but she continued looking back at him, feasting
her eyes on his face. A rush of warmth filled her as she drank in his perfect physique, especially his
face, as it was all she could see being in his arms. His slightly darkened skin, tanned from some
planet's sun, seemed to emphasise his dark hair and eyes that she loved to look at so much. His
aristocratic nose, ever so slightly turned up at the end, was his greatest tool in making a person feel
unworthy. No one could look down it like he could. But he wasn't doing that now, he was simply
looking silently at her as she was him. Neither seemed to mind the silence that ebbed and flowed
between them, it wasn't an uncomfortable one. Blinking slowly Bulma laid her head against his chest,
finally just content to be near him.

It was then that she realized that they were floating just outside her balcony, on the other side of the
rail she had previously jumped over. Vegeta moved closer and deposited her on the other side,
waiting until she had her balance before kissing her hard on the lips and moving just out of reach.
Bulma blinked again, then frowned when she realized she couldn't get to him. He grinned wickedly,
but didn't move any closer.

"Hey! Vegeta, if I didn't know any better, I'd think you were being a tease," she complained, reaching
out in vain to grab hold of him. He smirked and shook his head. "If I come any closer woman, there is
a good chance neither of us will get any work done for the rest of the day. And I have to train."

"...it's a form of training, isn't it?"

He let out a short crack of laughter, the rare sound making Bulma grin in response. He put one hand
on his hip and regarded her with arrogant amusement. "It would seem I've taught you well, woman."

Her brow furrowed. "Not well enough, I think. Get over here." He snorted, but to her immediate
pleasure, he came just within fingertip reach of her. Her blue eyes sparkling with triumph, she
stretched out another few centimeters and grabbed hold of his arm, bringing him fully within arms
reach of her. She wrapped her arms around his trim waist, determined not to let him go. He made
some unidentifiable sound as her hands came into contact with his lower spine, and he stiffened. She
grinned, knowing that she had brushed the spot where he used to have a tail. She had found it on
one of their nightly 'explorations' of each other, the second night to be exact, and she had been
delighted with how it had nearly drove him over the edge when she came across it. She loved the
power it gave her over him, and the fact that she could bring him such pleasure by simply touching
him there. Most nights she wasn't the only one to lose herself in their lovemaking. She could call it
that now.

Playfully, she brushed her fingers over the little furry spot through his training outfit. He let out a stifled
growl and she felt his ab muscles tighten, along with everything else. His eyes ignited. She pulled him
closer, grinning when he swung his legs over the rail to land beside her.

"At this rate, I'll never get any training done," he growled as he brushed his mouth over her ear, his
warm breath ruffling her hair and making her sigh. "You had better make it worth my while, woman."

She turned her head and started trailing hot kisses up his neck, the corded muscles twitching under
her lips as she worked her way up to his jaw. He began backing her into her room slowly, his breath
coming harsher as her hands started to wander downward, stroking through the blue spandex-like
material as best she could. He moved his hands up and down her back, looking for a way to get her
out of her clothing. To his heated amusement and her annoyance, he found her trying to do the same
to him.

"Why couldn't you have just worn your shorts like always?" She muttered as she tried to peel his
clothing off without letting go of him.

"Why couldn't you have just worn nothing? It would make things easier," he growled back teasingly.
She snorted and gave him a look, then hastily worked the buttons undone on her coverall as Vegeta
simply tore his ragged training outfit off before her. After what seemed an small eternity to both of
them, they stood naked before each other, eager to touch. Vegeta was the first to move, running his
hands up and down her body in encompassing sweeps. His calloused palms lightly abraded her skin,
the delicious sensation making her grab him and practically attack him in her haste. She pressed
herself against him shamelessly, feeling his heat and hardness against her, and reveling in it.
Vegeta's hands moved to her full breasts as she covered him in a blanket of hot kisses, which
became more intense as he stroked and teased her. She could taste his skin, salty with exertion on
her tongue, with a hint of something that was unidentifiably him. Her tongue darted out to circle his
flat nipples, making him jerk in surprise. His hands tightened on her breasts, making her gasp with
pleasure while at the same time driving her to taste more of him.

"Vegeta..." She whispered. She slid her palms down his sides as he had done to her, but she didn't
just stop there, instead bringing her hands around and lightly dragging her nails up his inner thighs,
stopping to cup him in her hands. She looking up at him she gauged his reaction as she wrapped her
fingers around him, measuring and stroking at the same time. His jaw clenched to stifle any sound,
but his eyes betrayed him. They practically radiated the pleasure he was experiencing, and
something else was glimmering there that had nothing to do with passion, something she couldn't
decipher. His breath tore in his throat as she increased her speed, and he couldn't control himself any
longer. Grabbing her hands, he picked her up and spread her out on the bed, before covering her like
a living blanket.

She arched up against him in a feline movement when he took her nipple in his mouth, searing her
with electric pleasure as his other hand explored down over her flat stomach, past her hips, before
delving expertly into her wet heat, finding the spot he knew would send her spinning, and stroking it
rhythmically. She gasped mindlessly, as his hand worked its magic. The feeling was incredible, and
she could feel her climax approaching. But she vowed she wasn't going to be the only one. Reaching
down, still straining against Vegeta, she found his tail-spot and started rubbing, causing him to moan
hoarsely, teeth still clenched. His hand worked faster, but she wanted something else now. She slid
lower beneath him, until they were face to face. Both were breathless from the intensity of the
moment, but it didn't stop Bulma from placing a hot kiss against his mouth, and feeling her excitement
and urgency returned by him in full force.
His tongue darted between her parted lips, as she arched against him and battled her way into his
mouth, moaning against him when his fingers slid into her, pumping rhythmically in time to his
thrusting tongue. She slid her other hand from out of his hair and down between their bodies, taking
him in her free hand, feeling his heat once again and stroked him until she wrung a hard-won groan
out of him. He broke the kiss breathing heavily against her lips, his eyes blazing.

"Woman...Bulma..." He gasped, saying her name once more before taking her hand away and
thrusting into her slick heat, making her cry out brokenly, unable to form any words. They moved
together, sweat pouring off their straining bodies. He moved at a searing pace, but Bulma kept up
with everything she had. His urgency increased as she applied her hand to his tail-spot again, this
time rubbing it in a feverish rhythm that increased the pace further, Vegeta almost unable to stay in
control. Bulma didn't think she could handle much more, or she'd explode into a thousand pieces. Her
whole body felt like a live wire touched to water, and the air was fairly vibrating with the power.

Opening her eyes, she hazily realized that it was. Vegeta was glowing a faint blue, sweat streaming
from him in rivulets. It intensified, almost blinding her with its light. The pace was getting faster, and
they could both feel their release coming, and were eager to find it. Moving blindly, mindlessly, the
pressure they had created in each other shattered into a blinding rush of heat and pleasure so great,
Bulma nearly passed out. She thought she might have screamed if she'd had the air. It went on and
on, hitting them both with the force of a tidal wave that just wouldn't stop. It shook both of them to the
core. Eventually it simply faded away, leaving wonder and a vague feeling of shock from the two
people collapsed on the bed, shaking and shuddering against the other.

Bulma couldn't string together a full sentence in her mind, let alone actually talk out loud. All she
could think was unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. Vegeta had given out on top of her, but she
didn't mind in the slightest. His face was pressed into her hair, and she could feel his heart thundering
against hers as he dragged in deep breaths, trying to recover like she was. It took them both a few
minutes before they could even move properly. Bulma raised a trembling hand and brushed it through
Vegeta's thick mane, as he raised himself up on one elbow and looked into her eyes.

"Did...i make it worth...your while?" She panted lightly, sliding her hand down the corded column of
his neck. He gave her a tired smirk. "You were passable," he answered, kissing her forearm as she
traced his muscles. She was too tired to even think up a smartass response, so she simply mirrored
his smirk, and slowly closed her eyes. Her heart had returned to its usual pattern now, and she felt
extremely sensitive all over. Even shifting her legs slightly caused flashes of heat to jolt through her,
and made Vegeta suck in a breath. Slowly he rolled off of her, sliding slowly out of her with a low hiss.
Bulma gritted her teeth against another moan. He then moved to lay right beside her on his back,
looking at the ceiling. Bulma sighed in contentment and curled into his chest slightly, not even caring
about the heat. That same gentle breeze blew in from the balcony and brushed over their sweat-
covered bodies, cooling them instantly. She lay like that for a little while before looking up at Vegeta,
thinking that he had gone to sleep because he was so quiet. He hadn't.

"What?" He asked softly. "Back for seconds?" Bulma rolled her eyes.

"Do I look part Saiyan to you? I'm only human. You nearly broke me in half just then," she teased,
settling her head more comfortably against him. He let out a snort. "You did your fair share of teasing,
woman, I had to retaliate. It was a matter of principal." She looked up into his smirking face and rolled
her eyes tolerantly. "Always a matter of pride, principal or duty. I'll keep that in mind for the next time I
want you in my bed."

He simply smirked again, and wrapped an arm around her. She snuggled into him, feeling insanely
happy and tired. They lay like that until sleep was dragging at both of them like heavy warm hands.
Then Bulma remembered the dinner that night at Chi-chi's, and her eyes snapped back open before
they could fully close. She glanced at Vegeta's near-sleeping face.

"Vegeta. Psst, are you asleep?"
"Yes, woman. Or course it is entirely possible that I'm answering you in my sleep." His eyes opened
and he gave her a sardonic glance. "What?"

Bulma ignored his wry response and touched his chest, stroking it persuasively. "There's a gathering
tonight at Chi-chi's and she wants everyone to go. So that we are all together before the battle with
the androids. I already told her I was going, but Goku wanted you to go so that you can spar some."

Vegeta shot her a glance. "No. I'm not going to spar with Kakarot, I'll settle with the GR. I already told
you-"

"I know," she cut off, "but Chi-chi really wants everyone there, and that includes you too. Well, Goku
wants you there. You're the only one equal in power to him, you know." Would flattery work?

"Flattery won't work, woman."

Damn it.

"Come on Vegeta, don't make me show up there alone," she pleaded. "There'll be stacks of food too,
real food cooked by Chi-chi, not my stuff. Even better than my mother's."

He paused for a second, thinking it over. She pushed her point a little more. "You don't even have to
go Super-Saiyan when you spar, and no one even knows you are one yet except for Goku. You could
tell him to keep it to himself. Chi-chi doesn't want any full-on sparring near the house after last time,
so your problem is fixed." She moved her hand up to his jaw, brushing her fingers along it and
stroking his cheek. He blinked a few times and scowled at her.

"All right, woman. I'll go. But there is no way I'm going to converse with those weak fools. I'll just beat
the living daylights out of Kakarot instead." A feral smile graced his features. She sighed in relief and
smiled.

"Fine. Just don't get too beat up, all right? I hate seeing you all bleeding like that," she said worriedly.
He smirked again. "Make me some better armor, and that won't happen as much."

"I'll get right on it," she said dryly. "But it won't be ready by tonight, that's for sure. Oh, that reminds
me, you left your armor plate outside near the GR."

He shrugged as best he could laying down. "Little matter. It was ruined anyway." Nodding faintly, she
draped her arm over him again and shut her eyes. Vegeta let out a silent yawn. "Might as well get
some sleep before we go. I doesn't look like I'll be training," he growled darkly. She smiled sleepily.

"Would you have preferred to?" She murmured softly, kissing his neck. He let out a breath and
brushed his lips against her temple. "This has certain benefits that I like. But all this talking makes me
want to change my mind," he said gruffly. She smiled.

"Very subtle." She gave a jaw cracking yawn and nestled into his shoulder peacefully, happy to
simply sleep away a few hours in Vegeta's arms. She could definitely get used to life like this.

Hell, who was she kidding? She loved it. And him.

******************************************************************************

Bulma awoke some hours later, to find out that it was a quarter to five, giving her three quarters of an
hour to get ready for Chi-chi's party. Blinking the sleep out of her eyes, she broke into a grin as her
memory filled her in on why she was in bed so early. She turned her head and looked affectionately
at Vegeta, who had in his sleep rolled over, practically on top of her. His head was buried in the curve
of her shoulder, his breath fanning the hair at the nape of her neck. Grinning even more at his
position she watched him sleep for a few moments, before gently trying to wake him.

"...Vegeta. Wake up," she whispered in his ear, shaking his shoulder. He didn't move, or even grunt.
Bulma chewed her lip thoughtfully. He must have been really tired, she decided. Usually he wakes
before me, and in the rare case that he doesn't, he snaps awake as soon as I poke him. She
redoubled her efforts, talking a little louder and shoving his shoulder. Still no movement.

"Damn it, Vegeta, WAKE UP!!" She yelled, running out of options. He let out a growl and his eyes
shot open in irritation.

"What?!? Damn it woman, do you always have to be so loud?" He grumbled, stifling the urge to yawn
and blinking slowly at her. She frowned half-heartedly, he just looked too cute when he woke up to
get properly mad at.

"You were practically out to it. I had to do something, now get up. We don't have much time to get
ready. As it is, I think we're going to be late. It takes twenty minutes to get to Chi-chi and Goku's
house. That leaves us with less than half an hour! Come on!" She ordered, hauling herself out of his
arms and going through her closet for the clothing she had picked out earlier. He sat up in the bed
and watched her gather up her clothing. He let out a muttered curse and ran a hand through his hair.

"I'm using the shower first, you go find your clothes. Proper clothes, Vegeta, not your battle armor.
This isn't going to be a sparring session for the whole time," she advised, bundling up her clothing
and walking out into the hall towards the shower. She peered over her shoulder to see him regarding
her with something like irritation, mixed with amusement.

"Well? Go, go!" She threw over her shoulder, and walked out of the room.

"Woman."

"What?" She snapped.

"Should you be walking around naked?"

"Oh, shit," she swore, and backed up into the room with flushed cheeks. "I'm sure mom would
appreciate that. And what do you care anyway? You're always strutting around half dressed."

"That's because you appreciate that," he retorted with a smirk.

Bulma stuck out her tongue. "Right. You're just a closet show-pony, that's all, it has nothing to do with
me," she teased as she grabbed her robe off the ground and shrugged into it. Vegeta shook his head
and reached into her bottom drawer, where she had kept a spare pair of Vegeta's jeans for occasions
when they accidentally ripped their clothes. They were starting to happen too frequently. As he pulled
them on, Bulma dragged her eyes away with a grin, knowing that they'd never get ready if she kept
staring at him. With a light chuckle, she walked to the bathroom to prepare her shower.

***

She stood under the shower spray, rinsing the suds out of her hair languidly, thinking about how lucky
she was. She was an heiress to a mega-sucessful company, she was intelligent enough to see that it
would stay that way for at least another fifty years, she had a great family, friends that cared about
her, and her very own recently tamed Saiyan prince in her bed. She giggled quietly at the thought of
Vegeta ever being tamed. Like that could ever happen. Her thoughts strayed forward to the upcoming
party. She didn't know how the others would react to what she was going to tell them, about her and
Vegeta, but she couldn't just leave them in the dark. Then she abruptly changed her mind at the
thought of the uproar it might cause. Bulma wasn't going to just announce it to them all though, no,
just perhaps Chi-chi and Goku. The others would find out as time went on. They probably wouldn't
care all that much anyway, just be a little...surprised. She shook her head slightly, spraying droplets
of water. It wouldn't do to stand here thinking about what was going to happen. She'd see it herself
soon enough.

She stepped out of the shower and hurriedly dried herself, conscious of the lack of time. But it was
just as she was finished drying herself when the door opened, and Vegeta walked in.
She squealed. "Dammit, Vegeta!" She cried, "you nearly gave me a heart attack!" Her heart was
thudding at double-time. He simply casually walked in and shut the door behind him. "You take to
long in here, woman. I'm not that patient." His eyes dragged up her body for a moment, and then slid
dispassionately away. Bulma watched as he stripped off his pants and stepped into the shower
without another word. Huh? Usually just the sight of her with no clothes on would give him ideas.
What was he up to? Maybe he was just being sensible about the time for once. Bulma started to feel
a little snubbed. Well, she thought to herself, maybe its just as well. I'd hate to run any more late than
I already am. But something felt strange. Eyeing his vague outline from outside the misty shower, she
dried her hair and began to dress.

She missed the hook of her bra seven times before she decided to find out what the hell was with
Vegeta.

Dropping it with her other clothes, she boldly stepped into the shower, where Vegeta was waiting with
a smug grin. Upon seeing it, Bulma realized he had just been messing with her head. She punched
him in the stomach, making him grunt and then smirk. He yanked her into his arms, water cascading
down between their two bodies as she pressed herself against him. "Jerk," she muttered, running her
hand through his hair, which was not exactly defying gravity at that moment. The water had forced it
down to hang in spiked skeins down his back, and she realized that his hair wasn't exactly short. In
fact, flattened down like this, it was as long as hers. She grinned at that, making Vegeta frown and
pull her hand out of his hair. His own hands then slid down her back, coming to rest on her bare hips.
Bulma concealed a shiver, her and Vegeta had never exactly shared a shower before, and Bulma
wasn't exactly hating it just then.

"So what was with the test?" She asked to distract herself from his hands. His frown tilted up at one
corner. "Testing your control. I know my limits, I just wanted to know yours."

"My control? That didn't take control, I was just curious why you had totally brushed me off," she
frowned. "Besides, I have just as much control as you, probably more," she challenged.

His hands slid around to her stomach, and then delved lower, accepting her challenge. Bulma gulped.

"Really? Then I suppose this isn't affecting you in the least, is it?" He growled, searching for her heat.
She shook her head shakily and tried to look indifferent. She didn't think it worked. So she tried a
different tactic. She returned the favour. Vegeta sucked in a harsh breath as she wrapped her fingers
around his hard flesh, feeling his burning warmth in her hand. His eyes started to look a little glazed,
and the hand between her thighs shook a little. She smiled widely and began to stroke a little, feeling
just about every muscle in Vegeta's body tighten as she did. The steam from the shower swirled up
between them, making it a little hard to see his reaction any further. But she could feel it. Then she
had an idea. Taking away the hand of his that was pressed against her, she kneeled down in the
shower. Let him resist this...

*Ten minutes later*

The glass walls of the shower cracked, as Vegeta tried to control his climax. His blue aura flickered
out when he came down onto his knees opposite her, gasping hoarsely. Bulma grinned like a loon,
pleased that she could wring this kind of response from Vegeta. That'll teach him, she thought
gleefully. She could still taste him in her mouth.

"Woman...are you trying to kill me?" He said roughly, with a shadow of his usual smug self. He leaned
forward and kissed her hard on the mouth, his lips hot against hers. She smiled against him and
responded with equal enthusiasm, but pulled back short of starting the afternoons earlier exploits all
over again.

"We've got to get ready. God, we're running late!" She said, and was immediately pulled to her feet by
Vegeta. "Then hurry up," he advised. "I have to finish my shower, and I can't do that with you in here."
She grinned and stepped out to dry herself off again. She didn't think he minded all that much about
losing his control to her, it had it rewards.
***

She had just finished doing her hair when Vegeta walked into her room, fresh from the shower. Her
eyes widened in open appreciation. She had no idea Vegeta could look so good in jeans. He wore a
tight black pair that molded to his body like nothing else, a deep blue shirt open at the collar and flat
black boots. Damn, girl, you know how to chose good clothes, she thought, thinking back to all the
shopping she'd had to do blindly, because Vegeta had refused to come with her at the time. He
acknowledged her perusal of his body with one of his own, his eyes approving. She was dressed in a
long, simple-cut dress that fell to mid-calf, it accentuated her curves nicely without being wanton. The
deep green color heightened the attention to her hair as well, and it buttoned up from hem to
cleavage, straight down the middle. It was a pretty multi-occasion dress, one that could pull of a lot of
different looks.

She shook herself out of her close inspection of Vegeta's outfit, and grabbed his hand. "Come on,
we've gotta get going! I've got a capsule in my handbag with your training clothes in it, so you don't
have to mess those ones up later. Come on! We have five minutes to get there, and it takes twenty!!"

He quirked an eyebrow at her. "We could just fly."

She faltered and gave him a look. "You're offering?"

He rolled his eyes. "Yes, woman, if only to shut you up. I don't see why it should matter if we are a
few minutes late."

"It matters because I promised her we'd be there at six-thirty! But," she thought for a second, "if you're
going to fly us, I suppose we'll get there only a few minutes late," she winked at him. He straightened
up proudly and gave her a scowl.

"Woman, I'll have you there a few minutes early, and not all in one piece if you keep this up," he
warned. "You do not challenge the prince of the Saiyans and get away with it."

Bulma just grinned unabashedly and remembered a certain pool fight where she had challenged
Vegeta. She was about to agree, when she realized something.

"Uh, Vegeta...i'm wearing a skirt," she said helplessly. He shrugged and crossed his arms. "So? It's
long enough. Just don't thrash around." With that he walked up to her with one hand outstretched,
took hers and lifted her easily into her arms. He was right. The hand under her knees pinned the skirt
to her, saving her dignity. She was grateful, otherwise she'd be getting some wicked cross-ventilation.
She snatched her handbag off the dresser as he walked out onto the balcony, and rose up into the
air. They took off in a flare of blue light.

"Ahh! My hair!" She yelled as Vegeta sped up. "You'll ruin it!"

"Get over it, woman. You wanted to fly," he retorted, and went even faster. She tried to save her 'do',
but there was no use. With a sigh, she let the wind take it, and do what it wanted. It wanted to blow it
around everywhere, as it turned out. Vegeta sneezed as it tickled his nose, eliciting a laugh from
Bulma. That was the first time she had ever heard him do that.

"Come on, can't you go any faster?" She teased. Now that her hair was screwed up, she had no
reason to go slow, and she wanted to see just how fast he could go. She had never been that afraid
of heights, in fact they exhilarated her no end. Vegeta looked down at her, his eyes dark snapping.
"You want to go faster, do you? All right then," he agreed, grinning evilly. A flare of heat surrounded
her as Vegeta powered up more, and they surged forward like a blue comet. Fast. Bulma barely saw
the ground below her, it was nothing but a darkening flash of trees and sparkling lights as they ate
through the air, setting it on fire as they went.

"Oh, holy shit!" Bulma cried as a sonic boom filled her ears. Vegeta just smirked and gripped her
tighter, but it almost looked like his thoughts were elsewhere all of a sudden. But Bulma didn't dwell
on that for more than a second, she simply tightened her grip on Vegeta's neck and watched the stars
in the sky, for they were the only thing not flashing by them. Suddenly Vegeta slowed and lost
altitude, and as Bulma dizzily looked down, she saw Chi-chi's house glowing warmly below them.
There was already a car outside the house.

"I guess they're all inside," she remarked as they landed softly on the grass. Vegeta set her on her
feet and looked around. He frowned. "Baldy's here, along with the Namek."

Bulma sighed. "So I guess that translates to Krillin and Piccolo?" He gave her a curt nod. He looked a
little tense. Bulma just put it down to old animosity towards the others, and started running her fingers
through her hair, trying to tame it into a respectable look. She succeeded after much untangling, and
smoothed it into its usual sleek tresses. She turned around to see Vegeta looking at her strangely.

"What?" She asked warily.

"Nothing. Hurry up."

"Right, right," she muttered, and walked ahead of him to the welcoming light coming from the Son
house's windows. Whatever. As she got closer, she could hear noise coming from inside, and she
could distinguish Goku's hearty laughter above it for a moment. She grinned and shook her head. The
big goof. Suddenly eager to see them again, she quickened her pace. Let Vegeta speed up if he
wants, she thought. She doubted he would though. Reaching the front door, she rapped firmly on the
hard wood, wincing when she almost busted a knuckle.

"Should just get a doorbell," she muttered, rubbing her hand gingerly. There was a moments pause,
and then Chi-chi opened the door, and welcomed her with a smile.

"Bulma! You made it! Well, come on, come in! Did Vegeta with you, or couldn't you convince him?"
Chi-chi asked, peering into the growing darkness. Bulma bit back a grin.

"Uh, yeah, I...convinced...him. He's just taking his sweet time about getting over here." She looked
over her shoulder to see Vegeta glowering at her as he made it to the door. He said nothing.

"There'll be no sparring near the house, so if you want to fight, Goku says he know somewhere you
can do it safely. We don't want Bulma getting hurt again," she said sternly to Vegeta, even though it
hadn't been his fault in the least that she had gotten hurt last time. He deepened his dark look and
remained silent. Chi-chi took that for acquiescence and opened the door wider, and ushered them in.

"He's in a good mood today," Chi-chi whispered wryly to Bulma as they both walked in, Vegeta
bringing up the rear. She shrugged and shook her head softly. Whatever pole Vegeta had shoved up
his ass at the moment was his problem. Bulma knew she hadn't done anything to bug him, if
anything, he should be in a pretty good mood. But then whenever you presumed something about
Vegeta, he always strove to prove you wrong. They walked into the lounge room, to be greeted by a
grinning Goku.

"Hey Bulma, glad you made it!!" He said enthusiastically, and swept her into a tight bear hug, making
her wheeze. "Oops, sorry," he grinned as she tried to force air back into her lungs. He put her down
and turned to Vegeta, who looked like he'd rather be elsewhere. "Hi Vegeta! You up for some
sparring later? It'll be a challenge, I mean, now that you're a supe-" he broke off when Vegeta fixed
him with a solid stare, and suddenly something rippled in the air around the two. Goku frowned for a
moment, never breaking their stare-out, before nodding slowly. Bulma was struck with the notion that
they were using telepathy, and decided that Vegeta was shutting Goku up about him being a Super-
Saiyan. It seemed the only logical idea. Chi-chi looked lost, staring from one to the other worriedly.
Bulma grabbed her arm and pulled her into the kitchen, where they could talk with a little more
privacy.

"Bulma, what are they doing?" Chi-chi asked bewilderedly, straining to look back. "Is he doing
something to Goku?"
"No, no. I think they are having a chat, actually. You know, with telepathy," she explained, pushing
her hair over her shoulder. Before the other woman could answer, a bald head popped around the
corner of the kitchen followed by a tousled mop with spiky black hair.

"Hey!" They greeted in unison. Bulma broke into a wide smile. "Hey, yourself, Krillin. I see you're still
competing for shortest guy on earth." Krillin frowned for a second, before shrugging and giving a grin.
"Same old Bulma."

She grinned and turned her attention to Gohan. "Hey kid, whatcha been up to lately? Training for the
androids too?" She asked the pint-size Saiyan in front of her. He looked up and smiled, and
shrugged. "Mostly. I've been studying some too, you know, so I don't forget what I've learned after the
fight. But dad has been teaching me some of his techniques and stuff, so has Piccolo," he crowed,
apparently delighted with the idea. Bulma looked around them out the door.

"Where is Piccolo, anyway? I haven't seen him, but Vegeta said he was here," she wondered out
loud. Gohan pointed to a shadowy figure sitting near the window, where the tip of a white cape could
be seen from a shaft of light crossing over it. "He's just meditating at the moment. You gonna say hi?"

Bulma shook her head. "I don't want to disturb him. I'll wait until he's finished his meditation." Truth be
told, she still wasn't quite comfortable with the idea of him being one of the good guys yet. After all
that had happened, it was strange to think about. But she supposed that if Gohan and Goku trusted
him, so could she. When she thought about it, it was a little hypocritical of her to condemn Piccolo for
his past transgressions, yet she would sleep with Vegeta, and trust him with her life, when he still
hadn't made any sort of decision of whose side he was on in this upcoming fight. Though she had
sneaking ideas. But it wasn't like she was going to sleep with Piccolo to show him she trusted him.
Bulma blanched a little. Was that kind of thing even possible with a Namek? She let out a giggle at
the thought, making the others stare at her. Oops.

"Bulma, I need to have a talk with you, so you two go on and find something else to do," Chi-chi
ordered Krillin and Gohan. They nodded and walked out of the kitchen slowly, but not before Bulma
saw Krillin palming one of the rolls Chi-chi had just brought out of the oven. She swung her eyes the
other way with a hidden smile. Chi-chi turned to her from checking the food and looked at her
expectantly.

"Well?"

"Well what?" Bulma replied uncertainly. Chi-chi looked fit to burst a vein or something.

"You were going to tell me about you and...you know," she hinted, tilting her head in the direction of
the foyer that they couldn't see. Bulma clicked on. "Oh, shit, right," she said shaking her head. How
could she have forgotten about the conversation she had promised Chi-chi?

"Well, it's like this..." She gave Chi-chi the whole story, dropping the graphic details of some tidbits,
but told her everything that had happened in the last few months, and even the stuff that had
happened before the last time she had visited. She left out some other parts too, like when Vegeta
told her about his time in the next dimension after his death on Namek. She figured he wouldn't
appreciate her telling Chi-chi about that. She filled her in on the time on the roof, the pool, and the
storm that had almost scared her to death. She even dropped in his saving of her father today. Chi-
chi listened in awe as she was given firsthand information on a new side to the prince that she had
never seen. When Bulma was done, she eyed her friend with uncertain expectancy.

"My goodness, I had no idea," Chi-chi exclaimed. "In fact, I never even thought it was possible that he
could act like that."

"Yeah, that was my impression at first," Bulma said laughingly. "But you can't tell anyone about this,
all right? Vegeta would absolutely blow if he knew I was telling you any of this. In case you haven't
realized, he's a pretty private guy."
"You're not kidding. Don't worry, I won't tell a soul. Not even Goku. Kami knows he can't keep a
secret to save his life."

"Oh, he probably could, if he really had to, but you can't let him know anyway. It would be wrong."

"I understand. The words will never again pass my lips," she promised.

"Great. I mean, you don't want to get me killed, do you?"

Chi-chi started. "Would he ever do that?" She asked in horror.

She laughed. "Maybe not intentionally, but jeez. The guy could wear out anything on the planet with
two legs and breasts, and still have enough energy left over for a bout with Goku." There was silence
for a moment, and Chi-chi slowly turned red.

They both broke into laughter.

***

The night went by pretty quickly, it seemed to Bulma. Vegeta stayed extremely silent all night, staying
apart from the rest of the gang, and even Bulma. She just let it go, and left him to his brooding. Tien
and Chaou-tzu showed up along with Master Roshi, and Yamcha dropped in with his new girlfriend,
much to Bulma's amusement. He had kept darting uncertain glances at her all night, but had finally
relaxed when he realized that she wasn't mad in the least. At some point after dinner, he ventured
over to talk to her.

"Hey, what's been happening with you lately? Getting any action?" He joked.

Bulma excused herself from her conversation with Gohan, and turned to him with a faint smile. "Oh,
I've found things too occupy myself with, you'd be surprised at how many uses there are for a wrench
and a soldering iron," she said with a sly smile. Yamcha promptly choked on his drink when he saw
the direction she was looking in.

He recovered after a moment and regarded her with a queasy look. "Now there's a mental image I
could've done without," he said, shaking his head. Bulma burst into laughter, as Yamcha turned
scarlet.

"I was joking, you idiot! Like I'd tell you anything like that! But it serves you right for asking," she
chided, still giggling. He frowned faintly at her and tiled his head in the direction of the haughty prince,
who was at present looking down his nose somehow while looking up at Goku. Goku looked like he
was asking him something. "What's with you and him?"

Bulma blinked. "What?"

He shrugged. "You haven't talked all night. I just thought that maybe you two had problems or
something."

"Jump the gun, why don't you? Nothing is wrong. I just don't think that he is very comfortable with
whole group scene. Let alone being at Goku's for something other than fighting. Although they are
going to later," she informed.

Yamcha nodded and took a sip of his drink. "Right. Well, I hope you still know what you're getting into
with him, because I'd hate to have to pick up your pieces when he's done with you."

Bulma squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, and when they opened, they were flat and hard.
"Should anything like that happen, which I don't think it will, I would not need anyone to 'pick up my
pieces' as you so charmingly put it, because nothing could ever break me that bad. Not even him,"
she said firmly. "I may love the guy, but I'm not that dependent on anyone, nor will I ever be." She
believed those words to a certain degree. While Vegeta was pretty much her everything, the thought
of being dependent on him for her happiness disturbed her somehow. It just didn't sit well with her.
She hadn't been miserable before he had come to stay with her, had she?

Yamcha regarded her closely for a moment, weighing her words. "You...love him?" He choked out
finally. Bulma nodded slowly, realizing that Yamcha had probably thought that what she felt for
Vegeta was just a passing affection, something less than what she had felt for him when they were
dating. How more wrong could a guy be? But she didn't want to hurt him, he was still her friend, even
if they weren't together anymore.

Yamcha seemed to shrink away from her a little, and he glanced over his shoulder to where his
girlfriend of the moment, Cindy, was talking to Chi-chi. She was pretty, petite with short black hair and
blue eyes. She was darting worried glances around the room, seeming uncertain about the odd
company her new boyfriend was keeping. Her eyes rested on a green man, and widened. Yamcha
smiled faintly and turned back to Bulma, who was watching him with wide eyes.

"What is it? I'm sorry if you're upset abo-"

"No, no. I guess I'm just a little envious, is all."

Bulma screwed up her nose. "Sorry, but you can't have him," she teased. Yamcha made a strangled
sound and glared at her. She just grinned, unabashed. "That's not what I meant," he snapped, and
shrugged. "I mean that I just wish I could feel that way about someone. Even you and I never really
worked out that way, so I guess I'll just have to keep looking."

Bulma put her hand on his shoulder. "You'll find someone. What's wrong with her?" She asked,
looking over at where Cindy had been talking to Chi-chi. But she wasn't there. Frowning slightly, they
both looked around for her, curious. They both spotted her at the same time, she was standing next
to a cross-legged Namek, asking him something. A brief rumble was all they could hear of Piccolo's
answer, and to both Bulma's and Yamcha's surprise, Cindy broke into a wide smile. She then
proceeded to speak animatedly about something, making hand gestures and things. Bulma whistled.

"Looks like she got over her fear of Nameks. I wonder what they're talking about?"

Yamcha was glaring. "Beats me. I'm gonna go over there. I think Piccolo's moving in on my girl," he
spluttered. With those words, he strode across the room, leaving a snickering Bulma alone. There's
that jealousy again, she thought, and it's worse than before. Her gaze wandered over to Vegeta,
wondering what he was thinking about. She hadn't talked to him all night, something was telling her
not to go and talk to him, and she respected it for the moment. Vegeta wasn't one for pointless
conversation. But there was something unidentifiable...he was radiating 'go away' vibes. And the
strange thing was, it seemed to be only directed at her. What was wrong with him? She thought,
feeling a little hurt. She could just be reading into things, but she was rarely wrong when it came to
Vegeta's moods. She just didn't know why he was acting this way. He hadn't even looked at her all
night, to her knowledge.

It bothered her.

***

Vegeta leaned against the wall, contemplating his upcoming spar with Kakkarot. He didn't want to get
into anything strenuous, and certainly not go Super-Saiyan. It wasn't that he didn't want the
challenge, he just wasn't going to display his power to the fool. And luckily he hadn't already told the
other weakling idiots he was a Super-Saiyan, he'd much prefer to keep that quiet. No, if it wasn't for
the Androids' arrival, and the potential threat they presented, he would have destroyed his empty-
headed rival as soon as he had returned to earth. His eyes flicked over to Bulma for a second, and
flashed back almost immediately. Perhaps not as soon as he had come back, he thought,
remembering the night he had returned. He knew she cared about him, though Kami only knew why.
She was always so caring... His gut clenched suddenly, a bad wave of emotion hitting him. He
felt...bad...about what he might be forced to do later tonight, if things went the way he thought they
would. He hated himself for what he was going to do.

******************************************************************************

It was getting late now, yet Vegeta and Goku were getting ready for a late-night spar. Idiots, Bulma
thought, shaking her head. Who, other than two thick-headed Saiyan's, would want to fight in the
dark? Goku had been saying something about honing their skills, and fighting blind, but Bulma wasn't
all that interested. Let them fight if they want, she thought, but it'll serve them right if they smack into
each other in the dark and get a concussion. They were just getting ready to go. Yamcha, Cindy and
Piccolo were still there, but Chaou-tzu and Tien and Krillin had left already, along with Master Roshi,
who was rubbing a sore cheek after being turned down by Cindy. Yamcha had only gone so far as to
give the old man an evil glare as he left.

Things were winding down, not that it had been any wild night, but it had still been good to talk to
them all again. Gohan had gone to bed a while ago, but Bulma had the sneaking impression that he
wasn't sleeping, if the little spiky-haired shadow hiding by the hallway was any indication. Chi-chi and
Cindy were doing the dishes, chatting about new recipes or something. She pushed her teal hair over
on shoulder, settling herself more comfortably in her chair. She only wished she could feel a little
more comfortable about Vegeta. What was his problem? It was almost as if he had totally closed off
from her, and Bulma didn't like that one bit. But she wasn't going to go and grovel at his feet, asking
what she did wrong, no, he could stay that way for all the good it would do him.

Her eyes darted around, looking for him. He was standing by the door with Goku, after having
changed into his training gear. Goku was simply in his usual orange gi, hopping from one foot to the
other in anticipation of the upcoming fight. Vegeta was looking on in disdain, arms crossed as always.
Bulma eyed him for a moment, but he never even gave her a glance. Chi-chi called out from the
kitchen.

"You can go now, Goku. Just be home before sunrise. And try not to get blood all over your clothing
again, ALL RIGHT?!"

Goku shook out a yes, and then they were gone. Just like that. All Bulma saw was one flash of red,
one of blue, and they were gone into the night. She sighed and watched them leave, her eyes
troubled. Yamcha darted her a look, but never said a word. Sunrise, she thought, be back by sunrise.
I should stay the night, seeing as Vegeta was my ride here. I didn't even bring my capsules. She
knew instinctively that Chi-chi wouldn't mind, but she had to ask all the same. I'll wait until she's
finished in the kitchen. I should really give her some servant-bots or something for Christmas, it must
really suck having to look after two Saiyan's, and clean up after them. But then, if Chi-chi didn't do
that, what else would she do? Her family was her life. How she survived each time they went into a
battle, Bulma would never know. Not that she would ever try and stop Vegeta fighting like Chi-chi did
to Goku and Gohan. That would effectively ruin what they had, and Bulma didn't want to do that.
She'd rather die first.

Yamcha was giving Piccolo a funny look, but the Namek was oblivious, or so they both thought. He
was sitting by the window again, legs crossed and eyes closed. He seemed to be in a state of deep
meditation. Or asleep. Yamcha shook his head slowly, and flicked a glance at Cindy. Bulma grinned
and rolled her eyes. She couldn't believe Yamcha's unbelievable jealousy. As it had turned out, Cindy
was an artist, and had decided that Piccolo would be a great challenge to capture on canvas. Piccolo
had refused to let her. Yamcha had nearly blown a fuse when he found out. The guy was absolutely
crazy, Bulma thought. To think. . .Piccolo? She broke into a wide grin. Yamcha walked off into the
kitchen, a strange look on his face. That left just her, and a brooding Namek. She flicked another
glance at him, and started making a mental checklist of the things she had to do when she got home.
Vegeta was in dire need of some new armor, so that was on her list of priorities. If she could make it
stronger, there was less chance of him getting hurt. Then she had to give the re-gen tank a checkup,
just in case. The door was making a squeaky noise that Vegeta said set his teeth on edge every time
he got into it. Bulma had retorted that if he didn't get beat up so often, he wouldn't have to hear it all
the time. But despite it all, it did make an annoying sound, and she hated the thought of something
she had made being less than perfect. Also, Vegeta having a bitch about it 24/7 didn't exactly thrill
her. . .

"Could you tell me just what his problem is?" A gruff voice said from the darkness. Bulma started in
fright.

"What? Who?" She asked Piccolo. Then she got it. "Oh. Uh, he. . .he thinks you were cracking onto
Cindy," she giggled. She heard a choking sound, and then a snort of disbelief. Bulma laughed outright
at that. "He's a bit possessive."

"Hn," was all she got in response. She looked over into the shadows, where the light didn't quite
reach. All she saw was a big black lump, and what she thought might be his antennae sticking out to
one side.

"Hey, Piccolo?"

Silence. Then, "what."

She swallowed. "Umm, I uh. . .just wanted to tell you that I'm glad you're on our side now," she
rushed out. There. She'd said it. The huge Namek still kind of freaked her out, but she wasn't afraid of
him like she used to be. At least now that ridded her of a little guilt. She remembered what she had
said about him on Namek, when Gohan had brought him onto the ship after he had been shot almost
through the heart by Frieza. She still felt bad about it. There was a really long silence, and for a
moment Bulma had thought that he had gone into meditation again, so she shrugged and sat back.
Then she heard a quiet rumble.

". . . Right," came the reply. Bulma smiled. Was that a type of thanks? She nodded in his direction
and got up to see what was happening in the kitchen. Again, from the corner of her eye she saw a
little scampering figure heading in Piccolo's direction. Two guesses for who that was, she thought with
a smile. She decided not to tell Chi-chi, but to let the kid go. Sometimes she was a little too strict on
him, in her opinion.

"Hey, Bulma, you up for a nightcap?" Yamcha asked her as she walked into the room. Thinking about
it, she shook her head. She wasn't much of a drinker, and was cursed with the ability to wring a
hangover from only one and a half drinks. "No thanks. Hey, Chi-chi, is it all right if I stay here tonight?
I didn't bring my car, and Vegeta won't be in good condition when he comes back. Do you mind?"

Chi-chi gave her an angry glare. "Kami, Bulma, why are you even asking? You know you're always
welcome to stay here, for as long as you like!"

Bulma smiled. "Thanks. You're a great friend."

"Don't thank me, get over here and put away the dishes," she ordered, and handed Bulma a plate.
Laughing, she took the plate and began to pack them away.

When that was finished, she checked the time on the wall clock just inside the kitchen. 12:44am.
Wow, she thought, I've been here for ages. I wonder how much longer they are going to spar for.
Man, they spend too much time together. They might start going fruity or something. Kami, I can't let
that happen, Vegeta is mine! She suppressed a laugh and walked back into the lounge room, where
Yamcha and Cindy were grabbing their coats.

"You guys going?" She asked as they gathered their stuff. Yamcha nodded. "Yeah. I have an early
start tomorrow, and Cindy wants to get home. Was fun, Chi-chi, tell Goku I said bye, all right?" Chi-chi
nodded, and went to see them off. Bulma took a look around the room as they were leaving, but
Piccolo had already left. She gave an inner shrug.

"See you guys!!" She called out along with Chi-chi. When they had driven off, Chi-chi turned to Bulma
with a smile. "It was pretty good, wasn't it? I mean, we all had fun."
Yeah, except me. Damn you Vegeta. She forced a smile for her friend's sake. "It was great, Chi-chi.
Now lets put some tea on and relax some. You've been on your feet all night."

"Ah! You read my mind. I'll put it on," the dark haired woman said as they shut the front door. Bulma
barred her passage and frowned.

"I'll do it. You go rest."

"Glad to," was the reply. She went to sit down as Bulma made her way into the kitchen to look for the
tea and milk. As the kettle heated up, she stood thinking. For the life of her, she didn't know why
Vegeta had ignored her all night. She supposed it was her fault, since she had made no attempt to
talk to him, and he wasn't the most talkative guy, but how was she supposed to approach him when
he was pretty much trying to pretend she didn't exist? The thought made her angry. Just what was his
problem? I mean, it wasn't like I expected him to be in my pocket all night, but did he have to look like
I had tortured and whipped him into coming here? He didn't say one word to me the whole time, not
even an insult or an unfavourable comparison to mine and Chi-chi's cooking. I guess I can only ask
him when he gets back, and hope that he answers me. Kami, he'd better have good reason, or. . .

The shrill whistle of the kettle jolted her out of her thoughts, bringing her back to the present. She
poured for her and Chi-chi, then took both of the cups into the lounge room, and sat down with her.
She passed one over, and they both sank down and sipped the hot drink. After languorously reclining
and sighing in relief, Chi-chi eyes Bulma over the rim of her teacup.

"Something's bothering you." It wasn't a question. " What is it?" That was.

Bulma took another sip and shrugged helplessly. "I don't know. Vegeta, mostly. I can't understand
why he's acting so weird."

Chi-chi looked a little daunted. "Gosh, I have no idea how to help you out with that. You of all people
know him the best."

She sighed. If she was the only one that knew him best, then boy was she in trouble. "No, I don't
expect you to know the answer. It's just been bugging me is all. I'll ask him tomorrow, though he'll
probably just avoid it like he has done to me all night," she said, in the depths of self-pity. To her
surprise and chagrin, Chi-chi laughed.

"Bulma, look at yourself! Depressed because Vegeta hasn't been talking to you tonight!! I'll let you in
on a little secret; Saiyan's do little else but eat, sleep and fight. They don't talk much, and can
sometimes be as clueless about a woman's feelings as they are addicted to fighting. They'll never
change. In case you haven't noticed, Goku has spent half the night talking to his mismatched gang,
and the other half eating until he was about to burst, and then some. Now, I may not know Vegeta,
but I'll lay a bet that he doesn't talk to you much unless he wants something," she guessed, and
Bulma simply nodded slowly. Chi-chi sat back. "See? So stop worrying. After all, Saiyan or human,
men are men. It's all we can do to stay sane around them, and it's all they can do to understand us.
Let it go."

Bulma sat blinking at her friend. Was she right? Was she simply being a little oversensitive about the
whole thing? What Chi-chi had said certainly made sense, and it wasn't like Vegeta had gone out of
his way to stay away from her, he just hadn't gone out of his way to be near her. Something lifted
inside of Bulma at that realization, and she suddenly felt a lot happier about the whole situation. She
really had blown things out of proportion, and she was grateful to Chi-chi for making her see that. She
just supposed she was still a little insecure about him, knowing that he was pretty mercurial, and still,
her oldest friend's could-be murderer. She gave her friend a smile filled with gratitude.

"Thanks. I guess you're right, I can't go expecting things from him that I'd have to change him to get. I
don't want that."
"Great. I hate to see you in pain, Bulma, and I'm glad I could help," Chi-chi said warmly. They then
relaxed and sipped their tea some more, growing sleepy and more relaxed as time went on. It was
some later that Bulma checked the time again, and was surprised to find that it was 1:56am. Time
had really gone by while they were talking and thinking about things. The good thing about Chi-chi
was that you could enjoy a really long, thoughtful silence without having to fill the time with pointless
words. Bulma thought that that was because she spent so much of her time with two noisy Saiyans.
Bulma, on the other hand, simply created her own noise most of the time, and was happy just to shut
up every now and then.

"Hey Chi-chi," she prompted after a while, "how do you do it? I mean, how do you stay sane when
Goku is off fighting some new threat to the earth?"

The other woman sighed. "Oh, I don't know. I guess I just try to believe that he'll come back to me
safe and whole. I could never stop him from fighting, no matter how much I want him to stop and be a
regular husband. It just isn't in me to keep him from doing it. While he is fighting, all the while I'm
worrying, but I always know that if he didn't do this, it'd take away a part of him that I don't want to
change. So I just pray, and he has always come back to me. Well, almost always," she said bleakly,
thinking of the fight with Raditz.

Bulma was moved. All the while she had thought that Chi-chi was always striving to stop Goku from
fighting. When really she always let him go on, even though she wanted nothing more than for him to
stay with her. She feared just like Bulma, that if she tried to stop a Saiyan fighting, then she would
lose a part of him that made him him. The yelling and disagreement was just Chi-chi's way of showing
how much she cared for her husband and son.

"Oh, Chi-chi, I know how you feel. But hey, I'm sure Goku will be fine with the androids. I mean, when
has he ever failed to save us? Plus hey, he's got Vegeta too look after him," she said jokingly. Chi-chi
let out a soft snort, which turned into quiet laughter. Bulma soon joined in. Vegeta save Goku from an
android? The idea was laughable, for sure.

"What are you laughing at?" A tired voice said from the hallway. They both turned to see Gohan
peering out at them, with tousled hair and sleep-clouded eyes. Chichi immediately snapped back into
her 'mother' gear. "Gohan! What are you doing out of bed? You need your sleep. How will you be
able to study tomorrow if you can't concentrate?" She scolded gently. He shrugged and stepped
forward into the room.

"Sorry, but with dad and Vegeta sparring, I can't get to sleep. I keep feeling their power levels rising
and falling. Can I stay up until you go to bed?" He asked hopefully. Chi-chi looked about to refuse,
when Bulma gave her a look. She closed her mouth and let out a long breath through her nose. "All
right, Gohan. But just this once."

"Cool!" The little boy yelled, and jumped into the seat just next to Bulma, who grinned and tousled his
hair. He flashed her a toothy grin in return and pulled his legs up under his chin.

"Do you think dad..." he broke off. Chi-chi and Bulma looked at him in confusion for a second, as a
look of concentration passed over his face. Then it turned into a huge grin. "They're back! Daddy's
back!" Bulma blinked, before it hit her. Right. He could sense Ki. Well duh, Bulma, he just mentioned
it a second ago, she thought with an inner smack in the forehead. Chi-chi and Bulma exchanged a
smile before standing up to walk outside to see their Saiyans. They stepped out into the darkness,
seeing two glowing figures touch down by a tree a small distance away. They seemed to be moving
slowly.

"Is Goku all right?" Chi-chi whispered to Bulma. She shrugged, her gaze still pinned on Vegeta's form.
He looked a bit beaten up, from the shape of his moving silhouette. The two women waited until they
got closer before letting out gasps of sympathy and worry. Goku was bleeding from a gash in his
cheek, another in his leg, and was favoring his left side as he slowly walked up to meet his family.
Vegeta looked much worse. Blood was pouring from his arm in a steady stream, and one of his
blackened eyes flashed murder in Goku's direction. His limped slightly, and his good arm was
wrapped tightly around his ribs, which were no doubt cracked or bruised. Bulma watched in distress
as he got closer, and she could see the pain he had hidden under his cold expression. He would be
thanking her for the re-gen tank tomorrow, she thought. Unable to handle it, she ran up to Vegeta,
anxious to care for his wounds and see just how badly he was hurt.

"Kami, look at you!" She said as she headed his way. Vegeta drew himself up, and his eyes flashed
coldly. She ignored it, and pressed her hands lightly against his chest, seeking wounds. "I told you not
to get yourself beat up-"

"Take your filthy hands off me, woman. You do not touch the Prince of the Saiyans," he rasped, his
eyes flat and cold. His lip curled up in disdain as he stepped away from her shock-frozen hands.

Bulma went white. "W-what?" She whispered, her eyes filling with confusion and dismay. "What did
you just say?"

Vegeta made no movement. "You heard me. Go bother someone else with your foolish blathering
and leave me be. Stupid woman."

Her heart broke.

Time seemed to freeze for a moment, and everything flashed gray for a second, and then settled
back into place. "Vegeta. . ." she said raggedly. But she couldn't get any more out, and suddenly it
seemed hard to think. Had he just said-

His eyes were so cold and full of uncaring ice. His contempt rained down on her.

She couldn't breathe. With a low moan, she swung around, blocking out Goku's amused-but-puzzled
look, Gohan's curiosity, and worst of all, Chi-chi's pain-filled pity. She had to escape. Vegeta had
said-

Kami! Why? Her anguished thoughts kept asking her. Whywhywhywhywhywhywhy!?!?

"Sorry...Chi-chi, I've j-just got to-" she couldn't say anything else. With a smothered cry, she ran from
the scene, heading for the black forest around them that offered a haven from the pain, shame and
confusion that was suddenly whirling around her.

"Bulm-" Goku started.

"Let her go, Goku," Chi-chi advised quietly. He stepped back, watching his friend flee into the
shadows sadly. Why had Vegeta done that to her? Goku desperately wanted to say something, but
he couldn't. Not without endangering Trunks. Damn it. Damn Vegeta.

The prince's hard eyes watched her go silently, the cold mask never more impenetrable.

****

She ran as far as she could without stopping, blind from the tears that fell unheeded down her
cheeks. Blind from the hurt. Never had Bulma felt so completely full of anguished, harrowing pain.
Vegeta had spoken to her like she was some low-bred servant, some piece of trash he could order at
will, and Bulma didn't know why. What had she done to deserve that?

WHAT.

The trees and foliage whipped past her, nothing but a scratching, stabbing memory. She was past
feeling physical pain, all the agony in the world was raging inside her, choking her. Finally she came
to a stop, completely lost and exhausted from her exertions. Breathing harshly, she collapsed against
a tree and slid down it, suddenly numb. If only she could feel numb inside. Her thoughts were erratic
and confused. Vegeta had never looked at her like that before. So plainly cold and uncaring of her
hurt. Well, maybe he had, but never when she had been so open to his attack. Why didn't he want her
touching him? Was she that repulsive to him suddenly? Her thoughts flew, but she couldn't think of
anything that she had done to incur his wrath like that. Perhaps he had simply gotten tired of her. Had
she just been kidding herself about him? He had gotten sick of her, his passing affection ran out, like
nothing more than a pet he had grown tired of.

Kami, it hurt her. He hurt her. So badly she felt that death would be a relief if she was blessed with
that outlet. Her shoulders shook with repressed sobs, she tried desperately to control them, but she
had no control. Vegeta had stripped her of that. How could he break her this badly? Her conversation
with Yamcha flitted back to her, yet it did nothing to console her. She had no idea of how bad this
would feel back then. Her sobbing worked its way free of her throat, and like flood gates that had
been yanked open, Bulma let it go.

Her heart stripped bare, she cried with all the tortured sorrow of the damned.

******************************************************************************

It took her a long time to gain the tiniest measure of control over herself, but it was so hard, and all
she wanted to do was stay in the shadowed forest and hide from everything. Her blue eyes were
clouded with tears and dark with pain, and her cheeks were wet from what seemed an eternity of
crying. But of course it slowed, and soon after began to cease. She began to think clearly, and take a
good look around her. She was cold. Wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, she unsteadily
reached up against the tree for support. Leaning back against the rough bark-covered trunk, she put
one hand to her forehead and let out a long, shuddering breath.

Things had been going so well. . . What did I say or do to Vegeta to make him act like this towards
me? Or what changed in him to make him hate me suddenly? It was all she could really think about.
Her thoughts skipped back to Chi-chi, and she shook her head sadly. The younger woman had been
wrong. Vegeta had been giving her the cold shoulder all night for a very real reason, whatever it might
be. A vision of Chi-chi's face, etched with pity, floated through her head. She shuddered inwardly,
how she hated to be pitied by anyone! Chi-chi had had the right idea of Vegeta in the beginning,
Bulma had just been too blinded by her misguided feelings. She had been so sure, that Vegeta cared
about her, hell, he'd even said so. Unless he had been lying to her the whole time. But something still
rebelled inside of Bulma at that, it just didn't mesh right. Even though everything was pointing in that
direction.

"Oh, Kami. . ." She whispered. Her head hurt. She always got a headache after crying, and this time it
was worse than usual. Big surprise there. She didn't want to think about it, how this night that had
supposed to be fun and relaxing, had in the space of a split-second thrown her into such utter
confusion and hurt. Wrapping her arms around her middle tightly, she leaned forward and rested her
chin on her hunched up knees, staring blindly into the darkness. She honestly didn't care where she
was. It just didn't matter. She was cold, her dress was no doubt ripped from her trek into the forests,
and she was tired. But she couldn't care less. Her eyes started to drift shut of their own accord, and
she started to relax against the tree and slip into sleep. . .

"You'd better not be thinking of sleeping here," a rough voice said darkly from the surrounding
shadows. Bulma gasped and jumped in fright, for a moment thinking it was Vegeta. But no. The
shadow that loomed just in front of her was too tall.

"Who. . . Piccolo," she affirmed disinterestedly. Her eyes closed. "Leave me alone. Sleep is just about
my only solace right now. Might as well be here," she said hollowly.

"Not in this forest. I heard you from three miles away, and I haven't sparred all day to be kept up at
night by your strange noises," he said gruffly.

She sniffed and swallowed with difficulty. "Sorry," she said dully. She heard a shifting noise, and the
giant Namek stepped into the faint moonlight. "Do you know how to get back?" He said, sounding like
he really didn't want to help. That drew a faint smile from her, though it threatened to turn upside
down. She shook her head.
"No. But I'm not going back until I'm sure Vegeta has left," she said softly, her throat closing up again
at the mention of him. Piccolo was silent for a few long moments, not that Bulma expected him to be
bombarding her with questions. He seemed to be mulling her words over.

"Yeah, Piccolo," she said in an emotionless voice. "Vegeta and I had something going. . .or we did.
But like you could give a damn anyway, right?"

"Right," he tossed back. She saw him cross his arms and look down at her. She tilted one corner of
her mouth up painfully.

"Thanks for the honesty."

"Hmph."

God, that's such a Vegeta-like non-answer, she thought, and closed her eyes. I've got to stop thinking
about him.

"I saw what happened," he said, surprising her. "I could feel unusual Ki readings from the house.
Going up and down oddly. I went to check it out."

"Ki readings?" She said slowly.

"Yeah. Vegeta. Strange thing, really, like he was agitated or something, and trying to hide it."

"Oh, yeah, agitated is right," she said bitterly. Damn right. The guy practically slapped me in the face
with his words. With a closed iron fist. How am I going to be able to face him back at home? Is he
even going to be at home? Maybe he left again. The twinge of pain she felt at that couldn't be
avoided, even though she tried. She didn't want to be so vulnerable to him, not when things were so. .
.screwed up. That was the only wording she could think of. Her brain was closing down again, leaving
her with only feeling. That she didn't want, because all she could feel was hurt. She looked up to see
Piccolo looking down at her with a dark frown.

"Are you still here?" She asked tiredly.

"Obviously."

"Why?"

"You're lost. Goku will murder me if you don't get outta here in one piece, and in case you didn't
notice, there are wild animals around here," he said ominously. At those last words, she looked
around a little fearfully, but saw nothing. She heard a few faint scratchings though, and that frightened
her just a little. The green man in front of her looked grimly amused when she gulped hard. She
frowned faintly in response, and got to her feet.

"Where is Vegeta? Because I'm not going to face him-"

"He's gone," Piccolo cut in. "I don't know where, but its not in the direction of Capsule Corporation."

Bulma swallowed again. Right. So he'd left. Even when he'd said he wouldn't. Sort of. A vague flash
of pain-tinged anger washed through her, but it ebbed in light of her fatigue. She just wasn't up to
anything aside from sleeping. She took a deep breath and looked around for the way she'd come
from, but couldn't see it. The Namek in front of her just snorted indelicately and strode ahead of her,
seeming displeased with his duty as guide. Following almost blindly, she could hardly keep her
footing, let alone keep up. But she somehow managed it, and after long minutes she broke out of the
forest, and into pale moonlight that illuminated the house a hundred yards away. Muttering a thanks
to Piccolo, she walked ahead toward it, dreading the questions and goddamn sympathy from the
inhabitants inside the house. At least Goku could get her home. She started walking a little faster.

"He's fighting it," a gruff voice said faintly from behind and above her. She stopped dead.
"What?" She whispered. She didn't turn around.

"I was the same once. When you've trained yourself to show no emotion, and finally achieve it, it's a
big deal. When you're forced to show it in front of others, its even harder. Vegeta puts up a good fight,
even if it isn't honest. Just remember that." She heard him fly away, with a whisper of his cape and a
flash of light.

Bulma swallowed and closed her eyes, letting one single tear escape from her eyelashes. What had
Piccolo meant? Vegeta had finally shown emotion, only to take it back because of the others? That
made no sense. And what was that about him putting up a dishonest fight? Damn enigmatical
Namek. Always have to be the cryptic and silent type. Can't just spit it out plain and simple, nooo, that
would be too easy. . .

She stopped her train of thought. There was no use getting mad at Piccolo, he had been trying to
help, for some strange reason. She would have to remember his words tomorrow and decipher them
when she was thinking more clearly. At the moment she hurt too much. Sighing, she made her way
once more to the Son house, this time with a little more steel in her step.

***

That hadn't been so bad, she thought as she unlocked and stepped into her house. Chi-chi had gone
to put Gohan to bed, leaving Goku standing at the door waiting for her return. He had seemed to
know what she had wanted ahead of time, and had his hand at the ready and a smile on his face that
didn't hide the worry in his eyes as she walked up to him. She never said a word to him, though just
the look on his face was enough to make her tear over again. That had been only a few moments
ago. Goku had simply left without a sound, but not before giving her a long look and a gentle hug. He
never said a word about Vegeta, and she didn't venture anything either.

He probably just knew I was upset, she thought as she trudged upstairs to her room. There was no
way he would know anything, I hadn't said a word and Chi-chi promised.

Kami, she felt weary.

After taking a long shower and changing into a nightgown, she reached her bedroom and stopped
dead. The covers were still rumpled from earlier that afternoon, and his scent still permeated the air.

She couldn't sleep there.

Whirling away from the room, she turned to find another bedroom to use, but again, she froze. Why
should she leave her bedroom? Vegeta wasn't going to be coming back to it. She wouldn't be chased
from what was hers because of him. Not even bothering to wonder where this new strength was
coming from, she turned around and stalked back into her room, and set herself to work.

The sheets were first. Ripping them off the mattress, she threw them into the laundry hamper, along
with the torn clothing of his that had been strewn on the floor. His pillowcase came next, as she
changed the bedclothes, eliminating him from the room. Tears ran down her face in a steady stream
all the while, but she was heedless of them as she worked. All she knew was that she had to get rid
of his presence as much as she could. Maybe she didn't know whether he was coming back, though
she doubted it, but what she did know was that she had to lessen the memories surrounding her if
she was going to get any semblance of sleep tonight. Wishful thinking. When she was done with the
bed, she shut her door and locked it tightly, not wanting to be disturbed by anyone tomorrow. She
unplugged her private line and turned off her alarm. Panting lightly, she surveyed her handiwork
through blurry eyes before clicking off the light. She blindly crawled into bed and hauled the freshly
changed sheets up against her skin. The cool, crisp sheets were comforting to her, because she
couldn't find a trace of her traitorous Saiyan prince on them. She had managed to distance herself
from it all somehow, and for the short term, it was a good idea.

But that didn't stop the tears.
They once again turned into soul-wracking sobs, her chest heaving as she wailed her pain into her
pillow, muffling her cries. His words. . . How could she hurt this much? Yamcha could never make her
like this, and she had known him for so much longer. She had thought she had loved him for that
time, but Vegeta had changed that.

For all the good that had done her.

Perhaps that was just another form of torture, making her love him, lulling her into a false sense of
security, then slamming a door in her face, and showing her just what lay under that cold wall of ice
she had thought she had broken through.

Take your filthy hands off me, woman. You do not touch the Prince of the Saiyans.

Go bother someone else.

Leave me be.

Stupid woman.

Yes, she thought as her sobbing exhausted her once more. Bulma, you are a stupid, stupid woman.
Don't ever try to touch him again. Don't talk to him. He doesn't want you. He never wanted you. Don't
want him back.

For Kami's sake, don't love him.

She fell asleep with that hopeless goal in mind.

***

The first thing she felt when she awoke during the night was a weight on the bed next to her, and a
gentle arm looping around her waist.

She froze.

Vegeta.

For a moment she simply lay there, too stunned to move. What was he doing here? Why was he. . .

"Woman, wake up. We need to talk."

Oh, Kami, was that an understatement. Was it possible he knew just how much of a cliché those
words were? Her thoughts were jumping. She needed to act before she snapped and started crying
again. She wrenched herself out of his arms abruptly, and hauled herself out of the bed to stand
before him. Her chest was heaving, her eyes were darting in the darkness searching for him. She
located him, now standing on the other side of the bed. Her heart thudded once, painfully.

"I think you said all you needed to. I. . .i get the message," she said softly. Her eyes started to feel
wet again, just when she didn't think she had any tears left. She couldn't see Vegeta's reaction to her
words, all she could see was his profile in the blackness. "But I figured you w-wouldn't be coming
back since you f-find me so repellent," she stumbled over the words a little, holding back her shaking.
She didn't understand why he was here. She heard him curse softly in the dark, and he started
towards her. Unconsciously, she backed away before his hands could come to rest on her shoulders.
He stopped, his hands dropping to his sides.

"Woman, listen to me. Tonight, that wasn't planned. But I had to make sure this wouldn't happen, and
that was. . .i had to do it," he said abruptly, his dark silhouette rigid. "I can show no weakness in front
of Kakarot."

"What are you talking about?" She said, almost a moan. "You had to make sure what wouldn't
happen? What weakness?"
"You!" He hissed. She flinched and swallowed hard. He realized how that sounded and tried again.
"You don't understand. I. . ."

"No," she stopped him. "I understand. I'm a weakness to you, is that it? So, what, you're getting rid of
me? Is that it?"

"No," he said fiercely. "Emotion is a weakness. Kakkarot wouldn't harm you to get at me, we both
know that. Don't be foolish. I'm saying that showing an enemy your weakness is like an invitation to
getting killed. They can be used and exploited to another advantage, and I won't let that happen. I've
come too far."

"So you're pushing me away," she said softly, her eyes closing and freeing her tears. She hastily
wiped them away before Vegeta saw. She didn't want to show him her pain, although he had seen it
not more than a few hours before when she had ran from him. The Prince in front of her let out a long
breath and took her by the shoulders, this time before she could back away again. She dropped her
head in the darkness, getting the feeling he could see her tears anyway.

"Woman, listen to me. No, listen. I'm not pushing you away. That was just for Kakkarot's benefit. I'm
not. . . I don't really feel that way about you," he said, though it sounded like it had cost him to say it.
That thought did nothing to take away her confusion. But it did make her think a little. She looked up
at him, and tried to ignore the warmth of his hands on her shoulders.

"Then. . . That was an act?" She said uncertainly.

"Yes."

Oh.

"You asshole!!" She yelled suddenly. Vegeta snapped back like she had punched him. "You let me be
humiliated like that?! You gave me no warning, you didn't even tell me you were going to do this!! Did
you just want to shame me in front of my friends? Kami help me if I had tried to kiss you or something
in front of them, you might have decked me or something, if your other response was anything to go
by!! Do you have any idea how badly that hurt me? You might as well have gutted me with a rusty
blade, it had the same effect! How could you do that to me, you thickheaded, insensitive barbarian!"
She yelled with her hands on her hips, her faced flushed with anger. Kami, how could he have done
that to her? Would it have been so hard to just talk to her before the event? No, because that would
have been the smart thing to do.

Vegeta looked somewhat taken aback, but underneath that he looked relieved. That didn't stop his
scowl though, or the words that came next.

"Woman, it wasn't like I deliberately set out to do this! I didn't even know I was going until you told me
this afternoon! How was I supposed to tell you? And when? While we were flying there, perhaps?!"

"Don't yell at me, mister. I am the one with the right to do that, not you! And some warning would
have been nice! Its bad enough that I find out that you're ashamed of us, but to find out like that-"

"I am not ashamed," he said thunderously. His grip on her tightened to just below the point of pain.
She winced anyway, and tried to break his grip, but gave up when he didn't let go of her willingly.

"Well, how else am I supposed to take it? I mean, you say that you don't want Goku to see any type
of softer emotion in you, but that might easily be a cover for you just wanting to get rid of me. Well,
you don't have to try very hard. I don't want to be hurt by you anymor-" her next words were cut off by
his mouth pressing against hers. He kissed her hard at first, still angry, but he softened as her tears
were pressed against his skin, and he felt how much pain he had caused her with his instinctively
defensive words. She tried to pull away, but he wouldn't let her. Her control dissolved in the instant
his lips gentled, and his arms wound around her lightly, caressing her back in silent apology. With a
tiny cry, she relented and kissed him back. Her arms reached around him in turn and pulled him
uncertainly to her, still unsure of his intentions and his feelings about her, but needing him too much.
They broke apart for air and Bulma stared dazedly into his eyes, or what she could see of them in the
shadows. His gaze held her fiercely, willing her to understand why he had felt he had to do that too
her. She swallowed and stared back at him silently, seeing all she needed to know in the midnight
depths. She still hurt from his words earlier, but at least now she knew it wasn't true. She wished with
all her heart that it wasn't true.

He wanted to hide their relationship from her friends, or Goku anyway. His pride would not allow
Goku to see his more caring side, even though it was something Bulma herself rarely saw all that
often. But unlike Goku, she knew it was there. It really wasn't shame for his weakness, because he
didn't see it really as weakness. Though that held a ring of untruth to it. Bulma knew that Vegeta saw
emotion as a shortcoming, and if he felt warm emotion for her, then she was a weakness to him in
turn. But he was willing to cast that aside in light of losing her. So why couldn't she cast aside the
simple slight deception in light of keeping him? It really wasn't the other's business who she was with
anyway.

She let out along sigh and yawned involuntarily. Vegeta slid a hand under her knees silently, and
lifted her into his arms. He strode to the bed and set her down on it, and gratefully she sank into the
soft comforter, wrapping herself in it. She looked up at him, intending to tell him that she would do as
he wished and keep it quiet if it meant so much to him, but he was pulling away from her, heading
towards the door.

"Vegeta," she whispered. "Where are you going?" He stopped near her bedroom door, and turned
back almost uncertainly.

"You don't want to lie to your friends. Then you won't have to, if I go." From the light in the hall she
could see something reflected in his eyes. Pain? Something akin to it, anyway. Bulma shook off the
thought. She knew what that felt like. He turned to go.

"Vegeta, come back here. I don't like the whole idea, but I'm not going to let you leave over it." Sitting
up in the bed, she held out a shaking hand to him, beckoning him back. Something loosened in his
face as he turned back to her, and shut the door and came back to her. He took her palm in his hand
and kissed it once, before pulling off his training clothes and getting into the bed beside her. Bulma
was almost too tired to keep her eyes open, but she fought the weariness and smiled as he wrapped
his arms around her, pulling her against his chest. She turned her head a little and looked up at him.

"You're a good actor then," she said softly. "I had no idea." His arms tightened minutely around her
for just a moment, before loosening as he gave a growling sigh.

"I had to be. Frieza's army taught me to show no emotion when the occasion called for it."

"You didn't fool Piccolo though. He saw right through you," she said in a mild voice. Vegeta stiffened
slightly. She continued. "I think it's because he used to be the same. Piccolo used to want to kill Goku
too, before Gohan changed him. Now he's just a grumbling good guy."

Vegeta made a thoughtful sound. "I didn't know. Even back when I first came to earth with Nappa, the
Namek was on your side. And before that again, when Raditz was fighting Kakarot, he was there."

Bulma made a mumbling sound and snuggled her head into his chest. "It was because of you and
Nappa coming to earth that Gohan and Piccolo went off to train together. So it's kinda your fault," she
said with a smile in her voice. Vegeta just 'hmphed' and made no response. She shut her eyes and
leaned her head on his chest, taking that as the end of the conversation. She was almost asleep
when Vegeta spoke again.

"Where did you go after I spoke to you tonight, woman?"

She opened one eye and bit her lip. "I went into the forest, behind the house. Almost got lost, too.
Piccolo found me and led me back."
Vegeta muttered something she couldn't quite hear. "It wasn't my intention to chase you off into the
woods."

"You were kinda harsh," she said dryly. "I guess I just freaked out and ran for it. I should have stayed
there and cussed you out until I was blue in the face," she said, her mood darkening a little.

"I was almost expecting it. But that was before I realized just how. . ." He trailed off. Bulma knew what
he had tried to say, and was a little more content. She closed her eyes again. So Vegeta wanted her
to keep their relationship a secret, did he? Well, she'd honor his wishes, for the time being. This
wouldn't go on for ever, it couldn't because sooner or later they'd let it slip. Hopefully by the time it
happened, Vegeta would be over this 'hide my weakness from everyone so I still look tough' thing. He
needed to realize that the gang didn't think like that, he was still tainted in his thoughts from Frieza.
The bastard. Thank Kami he was dead and out of Vegeta's life forever. She drifted off to sleep,
feeling a world better than she had earlier. But there was still a heaviness inside of her that she
couldn't unload. She tried to ignore it and faded into sleep, smiling once again as she felt Vegeta's
lips touch her temple. Maybe things would work out after all.

******************************************************************************

Bulma and Vegeta were pretty much the same as they had been before the party at Chi-chi‟s, at least
on the outside. Bulma still couldn‟t shake the feeling that something wasn‟t right with them, though
Vegeta never said anything to make her think that. Perhaps it was just women‟s intuition, or a sense
of impending doom. Either way, Bulma wasn‟t quite feeling right. The „keep everything secret‟ issue
was fine, no one had any idea, except for her parents, and they had promised to keep it quiet. Her
mother thought it was all quite romantic, much to Vegeta‟s disgust and Bulma‟s resigned amusement.
Maybe her worry was just that they would be sprung by Goku, and Vegeta would freak out and leave.
Yeah, that was probably it. Time progressed slowly, but Bulma didn‟t mind. Vegeta spent most of his
time training and to a lesser extent, eating, while Bulma tinkered away her days in the lab, upgrading
and inventing. They were grateful for routine, it settled things down into the usual pattern that they
were used to, making the party seem like a bad dream to Bulma. Chi-chi had tried to ring, and offer
some company for what she thought would be an inconsolable woman, but was shocked to find her
acting her normal self, albeit a little edgy about mentioning „that night‟. Chi-chi realized that they must
have smoothed over what had happened, and the younger woman promised once again that she
wouldn‟t say anything to Goku about it.

And so, life went on.

Her blissful existence was something she had learned to love, and it was a task she welcomed.
Vegeta was still his usual grumbling self, demanding and impatient, but on rare occasions that they
were alone, he could be gruffly tender, something she loved about him more than her next breath.
Still, the looming shadow of the secrecy weighed heavily on Bulma‟s heart, as she had always been
an up front and honest person, always telling people what she thought and what was happening. It
was a fault she had had since she was a kid, and she couldn‟t keep a secret to save her life. That
was why she was so worried about this.

She just hoped that she could keep this quiet until Vegeta got over it.

***

The GR wasn‟t as strong as he was. Toning it down a little, he tried to send blasts that wouldn‟t
damage the contraption, but simply found that it was a waste of time. He would not get stronger as a
Super-Saiyan if he controlled his power like that. This new form was all he would need to destroy the
Androids anyway, so why damage the machine any more than he needed? Bulma would just scream
at him anyway. Vegeta lowered the gravity to normal and collapsed to the floor, breathing hard. He
may not have damaged the GR with his training, but he was still used up for the moment. Time for a
break. He‟d have to eat soon also if that annoying sound was any indication.
The rare moment of rest allowed him some time to think about his situation, something he usually
saved for when he was injured from training and was confined to a bed. His life had somehow
become more bearable lately, these past few months had been somewhat. . .enjoyable. It was a
strange thought. He had decided that it was from achieving his goal of becoming a Super-Saiyan, and
it was still something he believed. His tension had eased up considerably now that he had reached it,
though his training hadn‟t. The strange thing was, he knew he owed it to someone else the fact that
he had done it. That someone was at that very moment probably working in her lab, smashing
something new to pieces so she could put it back together even better than before.

Strange. . .it was that very same thing that she had done to him. Pulled him to pieces, tearing at the
fabric of everything he had believed in before he had met her. That he was evil, that he was of no use
but as a mercenary that wiped out weaker races and molded their will to bend to Frieza. That he was
cold and uncaring and there was nothing without strength and pride. True, gaining strength was his
main reason to live, to gain more and more of it, but Bulma had shown him that it wasn‟t an insurance
of survival. That sometimes no matter how strong you are, there is always a weak point that can bring
you to your knees. He was pretty sure of what had killed him in the other future, the one thing that
seemed to be at the core of his being.

His pride.

He could see it now, himself thinking that he could take on anything out there and win, that nothing
could beat a Saiyan. He really should know better by now. Saiyan‟s weren‟t immortal, far from it, as
Frieza had taught him. Or rather, shown him. The remains of his father‟s royal pendant flashed past
his eyes, as seen after Frieza had told him that he would be the closest thing he would ever have for
a father now. His future self must have died wondering what the hell had gone wrong, just as he had
before at the hands of that white reptile on Namek.

But then, he hadn‟t been a Super-Saiyan, had he? Now he was. Nothing could hurt him now.

The thought was something he was convinced of. Those weakling lackeys of Kakarot‟s would see
that the fool wasn‟t the heavenly being they thought he was, not when he was laying broken at his
feet, beaten back into the class that he belonged in. A class below his own. Yes, they would see that
soon enough, unless someone let it slip and they found out beforehand. That wouldn‟t really matter
so much, it would just be more of a reason to train harder and make the sting that much more painful
to them. The thing that did matter was that Kakarot must not find out about his. . .about him and the
woman. For him to find out would undermine his position as his enemy, make him seem like more. .
.human. It was the only way he could put it into words. They were emotional creatures. He did not
want the fool to „go easy‟ on him (if he could) because he worried about what the woman might think,
nor did he want to look like anything but a ruthless murderer to his Saiyan rival. The idiot had an
annoying habit of showing mercy to those that had feigned repentance, or even those who had simply
been beaten but not killed by him. Vegeta himself had been on the receiving end of that foolish
naïveté, when he had stopped the bald shortass from running him through with that blade. It had
been most annoying not to be able to just die, and end the humiliation.

Perhaps if he had died, he would have had more respect for the earthlings. Krillin at least, had the
resolve to be able to know what was priority and what were just his emotions getting in the way. It
was an ability he possessed also. Nothing could ever stand between him and victory, or the promise
of a worthy fight.

But that didn‟t stop the picture of her from floating past his eyes, reminding him that he would not
have that fight he craved if things were brought into the open. His mind raced back to the night at
Kakarot‟s, after that rather boring sparring session. He hadn‟t gone SS, as he had decided
beforehand. Kakarot hadn‟t either, saying he didn‟t want to damage anything in the area. That had
irked him a little, but he let it slide. It was all rather tedious and repetitive for some reason, and it
wasn‟t until they had returned that things started to liven up. The woman had raced to him, worried
about him, as she always was. Vegeta had seen the situation for what it was, and did what he had to
do. He had immediately panicked and gone into survival mode, which left no room for emotional ties.
The result had been something he never wanted to inflict on her ever again. The look in her eyes had
almost been enough to do him in, though he had never given a sign of it when she was there. Thank
you Frieza, he thought with old hatred. He had learned that little trick when training with the bastard.
He had lived all of twenty years with that cold mask in place, living on guard, never relaxing. It hadn‟t
won him any points when Bulma had made that low whimper and ran, trying to hide the tears that
glittered wildly in her eyes.

He regretted his actions afterwards, but it had to be done. It was the last, and only, resort. He hadn‟t
planned it out, but it had been a huge success. Kakarot had no idea, and his shrill woman had stared
at him with fury and disgust in her eyes. Yes, it had been a success.

The only problem was that he had been certain he had chased the one good thing in his life away,
forever.

Too bad life hadn‟t counted on one thing; Vegeta never gave up on something he wanted. Never. He
left the area almost immediately after she had, not bothering to say anything. He simply turned
around, rose into the air and flew away into the night. It had taken him a long time before he felt her
Ki appear in the vicinity of CC, but he hadn‟t gone back right away. He knew she wouldn‟t be in a
mind to hear what he had to say. He could wait, for as long as it took. So instead he had opted to sit
in the hills on the outskirts of town, waiting. Chances were she hated him now, and though he didn‟t
want that, he couldn‟t apologize. Fighting came first for a Saiyan. It was ingrained into their very
makeup, the thing that made them Saiyan. Bulma would just have to understand that.

The thing that bothered him was, what would he do if she didn‟t? He remembered the uncertainty he
had felt when he asked himself that question that night. He didn‟t like it.

Vegeta wiped the sweat off his face and leaned back against the inside wall of the GR, giving up on
the matter for now. He didn‟t like self analysis, he never had. He didn‟t have to worry about what
would happen, Bulma had promised to keep everything secret. He hoped she would. Things had
mended since that night, he had been forgiven by her (as much as he thought he didn‟t need it, he
was still relieved) and everything had returned to the way it had been before. Things would stay that
way.

***

Bulma‟s work was interrupted by a light on her phone telling her that she had a call. Looking up she
brushed her hair out of her eyes and decided to take it in the house, opting to get a drink at the same
time, since it was on her private line and therefore either friends or family.

"Taking a break!" she called to her dad across the room, who nodded and waved her off. Stepping
out of the lab she crossed the yard to the kitchen, heading for the phone which was incidentally,
mounted on the wall next to the refrigerator. She really needed that drink. The days were getting
hotter, and it was only getting worse from there on in. Wondering who it was, she picked up the
receiver and pressed the little flashing button.

"Hello?"

"Hey Bulma!" Goku said cheerily. She flinched and forced a happy tone.

"H-hi, Goku! How have you been? Training coming along all right?" Please don‟t let me say anything,
please, please. Kami, help me not mention anything.

"Yeah, things are great here. Gohan is getting pretty strong, I actually think he will surpass me one
day. I sure hope so."

"You do?"
"Sure, why not? I mean, he is half human, I think it‟d be great." Bulma gave the phone a funny look as
she started to raid the refrigerator. Goku sometimes made no sense. Hell, sometimes? How about all
the time. She pulled out a diet coke and opened it, taking a long drink before speaking again.

"So what‟s up? If everything is going great, what are you ringing for? It‟s not like you to just make
random phone calls," she commented. It was true. It was rare that Goku called her. Did he suspect
anything?

"Well, I was just wondering how you were doing. You seemed kinda upset last time I saw you, and I
was just wondering if you were feeling better now," Goku said, sounding concerned whether he knew
it or not. Bulma bit her lip and started to respond, but jumped when she saw Vegeta leaning on the
wall behind her, watching. She froze and gave him a look, but he ignored it. His face was guarded.

"S-Sure, Goku. I‟m fine now, really! I was just having a bad day. Forget it."

"Are you sure? You sound kind of strange. Maybe I should come over and-"

"No!" She fairly yelled. "Really Goku, I have a lot of work to do," she evaded, shooting Vegeta another
look. He was openly listening to this one sided conversation. He still didn‟t move.

"Well, if you‟re sure…"

"I am. Bye, Goku, tell Chi-chi I said hello," she rushed.

"I will. Seeya. . ." He hung up. Bulma replaced the phone on the wall and rounded on Vegeta with a
glare.

"What?!" She said, wondering what the hell was wrong with him. He never acted like this.

"What did you say to him?" He said in a clipped voice. Bulma scowled in response, confused at his
attitude.

"You tell me, you were doing all the listening in. A little privacy wouldn‟t go astray, you know."

"What did you say that would warrant privacy? How much did you tell him?" he demanded. Bulma‟s
eyes widened as she understood, even though she didn‟t want to.

"You thought that I was. . . Vegeta, I didn‟t mention anything that might endanger your precious pride!
Kami, give me a little credit, would you? Or maybe trust, I don‟t care which," she said, disappointed in
him that he would think her that untrustworthy. Perhaps thing weren‟t going as smoothly as she had
thought.

Vegeta simply grunted and turned away, looking in the cupboard for food, no doubt. Bulma shut her
eyes briefly and shook her head. He wasn‟t going to apologize in the least. He probably didn‟t even
think he had done something wrong. She turned away silently to grab her coke from the bench, but
wrinkled her nose when she looked at it. She didn‟t really want it now. It was strange really, her
appetite had been doing odd things lately. As in it had almost disappeared when she looked at some
of her favorite foods, but then returned when she looked at, say. . .pickles. And of a morning she had
the strangest feeling of nausea. It was starting to worry her. Maybe she was coming down with
something. That couldn‟t be good, she had a lot of work to do, and she couldn't afford to be sick.

She thought about the symptoms again. It was almost as though she was pregnant. . .

But of course that was impossible. Bulma grinned to herself and looked down to her upper arm, to the
little scar that marked where her contraceptive implant was hidden. There was no chance of that
happening, none at all. . .

Vegeta didn‟t know, but he had never mentioned anything about children. Nor did she expect him to.
Right then she wasn‟t sure if he even wanted her, let alone kids. She wasn‟t about to trap him with
one either. Bulma didn‟t work like that. She had had the implant done a long time ago. They lasted
about three years, and hers was due to be replaced in three months. When she was with Yamcha,
she had it done on a spur of the moment, and though she hadn‟t regretted it, she sometimes
wondered if she should have consulted Yamcha first.

It had all stemmed from Goku, actually. That day just after the boy had left for the future, when just
before departing Goku had wished her to have a healthy baby. It had gotten her thinking. She didn‟t
want kids at this point in her life, though she still wanted them badly. To bring a child into the world
when things could possibly end in the next three years. . . It wouldn‟t be right. So she had ensured
that it wouldn‟t happen.

She looked at Vegeta for a moment, his back to her as she studied him. It was probably a good thing
that she had that implant done. Vegeta just wouldn‟t make a good father. It was fine for her, being
ignored and insulted, she still knew he cared. Hoped. But a child. . . just wouldn‟t understand. And
Vegeta would probably never clear the air, either. She couldn‟t let a thing like that happen to a child of
hers. Yes, it was for the best that she had gotten it done.

***       *    *       *       *      *

***

Bulma woke up the next morning as she had for the last three weeks, more than slightly nauseous
and wondering why the hell Vegeta kept hogging the blankets even when it was this hot. Yanking
them off her sleeping bedmate, who started mumbling something.

"Die. . .Kakarot. . ." he muttered, and flipped over onto his stomach. It was then that she noticed that
it more looked like he was strangling the blankets, which would actually make more sense. She
grinned a little at that but it soon faded as a wave of acute sickness crashed over her. Without
another thought, she bolted to the bathroom where she barely made it to the sink before she was
violently ill. Shuddering slightly with her heaving stomach, she turned on the tap and brushed her
teeth vigorously. That had been pretty bad. . .what the hell was wrong with her?

As much as she didn‟t really want to, it was time to see a doctor. This could be serious.

***

It was very, very serious. She sat in the doctors office, feeling something like anxiety, dread and fear
mixed up inside of her as she watched the doctor read her test results. Kami, what if I am really sick?
What could possibly be wrong with me?

The doctor turned to her with a bracing smile. Too many times this hadn‟t been what patients had
wanted to hear.

"Miss Briefs, I have some news for you. Your hunch was right the first time. You‟re pregnant."

Bulma sat frozen for almost a full minute, disbelieving. This wasn‟t possible, it just couldn’t be. How
could this have happened? A child. . . She didn‟t know if she was horrified or overjoyed. Truth be told,
she was numb. What was Vegeta going to say?

". . ."

"Miss Briefs? I understand this must be shock for you, with the implant and everything, to tell you the
truth I have no idea how it could have been faulty with such a high success rate in the past. . ." Her
GP seemed as baffled as she was. Blinking slightly, she stood up out of the chair she had been sitting
in, and turned to her doctor. The older woman looked back at her expectantly, and then continued.

"You realize that if this is an unwanted pregnancy, there is always the possibility of terminating the
fetus-"
"No. I‟m going to keep her…him…" she faltered slightly. Which would it be? Unconsciously her hand
went to her stomach and almost seemed to feel the little life growing beneath her fingertips. Kami,
she was going to be a mother. Her head snapped up.

"Get that implant out of me. I don‟t want it to harm my child in any way." Her voice was hard.

"Of course. . . But if it is defective, it won‟t effect the child," the doctor said patiently. "But come to the
table and I‟ll prep your arm, we‟ll get it out now." Bulma obeyed almost docilely, suddenly seeming
detached from the scene. She didn‟t even feel the sting as the needle penetrated her skin. How could
it have defected? Her thoughts whirled a little, and her mind grasped onto something. Saiyans weren‟t
human, did that mean that it was easier for them to get their women pregnant? Could it bypass a
hormonal alteration in her body somehow, and trigger her natural instincts? It didn‟t seem probable,
but this wasn‟t any normal person she was sleeping with. Damn you Vegeta, even your sperm had to
be strong. Why didn‟t I see this coming? She almost laughed aloud at the mental picture that her
mind conjured up, but it died in her throat when she realized that she was going to have to tell
Vegeta, whether he wanted to hear it or not.

She had no idea how he was going to react to this.

***

The drive home from the surgery was little more than a blur, and more than once she worried if she
was fit to drive. Was she in a form of shock? It wasn‟t out of the question. But she had no other
alternative but to go home. No other alternative but to tell Vegeta the truth when he began to wonder
why she had suddenly developed such a haunted look in her eyes. She wasn‟t sure how she felt
about Vegeta being the father of her child, but she knew that she would protect it, and love it, as
much as she could in whatever way he would not. She just didn‟t know what was going to happen.
Would he want this?

Her thoughts broke off, along with her breath when she drove through the gates of the compound,
and the lights of the GR came into view. In use, as usual. She swallowed hard, and one hand came
off the steering wheel to rest once again on her belly. She thought this might just develop into a nine-
month mannerism.

She parked her capsule car, stepped out and encapsulated it before drawing her shoulders back and
walking towards the house. She tried to make herself look inconspicuous whilst walking past the GR,
getting the paranoid feeling that Vegeta could just jump out at any time and start grilling her with
questions. Like that would ever happen, Bulma thought distantly. The only time he would ever be so
interested in what I was doing was if there was a chance she had given away „the secret‟. Too bad
she was only pregnant, she hadn‟t given anything away. . .

Oh, shit.

How was she supposed to explain that away? Just say, „oops, when did that happen‟ whenever
anyone asked? Hell no. Vegeta was going to rampage when he found out. There was no hope in the
world that he would ever accept the child now, not if it destroyed his pride in front of Goku. Which
inevitably it would, there was no way she could ever hide the fact that she had a little version of
herself and Vegeta living inside of her. Though Vegeta would never lay claim to it. She swallowed
hard and tried to squash the feeling of helpless self-pity that threatened to swamp her. Why did her
life always get screwed up like this, and only when it counted the most? She continued her walk
towards the house, and it was only after letting herself in and sitting down on the couch that she tried
to think clearly about her current situation. She came up with only one resolved thought on the
subject.

If Vegeta didn‟t want the child, she was going to have to make a life-altering decision. She had the
deadening feeling that she already knew what her choice would be.

***
It was a few hours later at the kitchen table, when she was wrapping up some finished plans for her
father that Vegeta made an appearance in the house, and her life fell apart. Bulma held her breath
and tried not to look at him as he rummaged through the kitchen, piling up food and demolishing it at
nearly the same speed. She feared that if she looked at him, he would be able to read her eyes and
see what she just wasn‟t ready to tell him yet.

"Woman, what the hell is your problem?" he asked, not even looking at her as he continued his
assault on the pantry. She flinched and tried to think of something to say. Something casual and
unthreatening.

"W-what do you mean?" it was easier to get a handle on the answer he was looking for, than take a
stab in the dark. Stabs in the dark usually ended up with a lot of metaphorical wounds, most of them
centered squarely on herself.

"You haven‟t started screaming at me for anything yet. That has to be one of the first signs of the
Apocalypse," he said dryly. She frowned.

"I‟m still angry at you for listening into my phone conversation, actually. I find the silent treatment to
work better than useless screaming. You actually enjoy arguing with me." Would he believe that? It
was pretty true anyway, about the phone call. He had no right being so. . . suspicious. Vegeta shot a
glance at her from over the top of the open refrigerator door.

"Hn. A true warrior is always cautious around a potential threat-"

"Oh, spare me the warrior philosophy. I was on the phone, for Kami‟s sake, and you‟d think you would
have a little more decency to just accept my word when I give it to you! I‟m not going to tell anyone!"
Ha, she thought angrily, I won‟t have to. They‟ll just see it and know. That huge bump where you
planted a child, and took off because you couldn‟t handle it. She was absolutely sure that was what
would happen. What else would he do? Kill her and rid himself off all evidence? Yeah, like that‟d
happen. He‟d be dead before my body hit the ground, Goku would make sure of that. Not that he‟d kill
me anyway. Vegeta straightened and shut the refrigerator door with his foot, both hands full of
leftover food from dinner last night. Setting it down on the countertop, he strode over to her and
crossed his arms. She tried to look aloof, not caring that he was looking at her so intensely. Did he
suspect something? Bulma pulled a strand of hair out of her eyes and gave him a curious look. Was
he going to just stare at her, or say something? Why wasn‟t he arguing? Vegeta‟s eyes flashed for a
second, and he uncrossed his arms.

"Whether you tell anyone or not is your choice. Just know that if you do-"

"Oh, my GOD. Are you threatening me with this? I can‟t believe you! You- you would have to be the
biggest ego-maniac on the face of this planet, you know that?" she exploded. "Dammit, I hate it that I
have to lie to people like this! Not just any people, my friends! Friends that I have known for a whole
lot longer than I have you. I mean, I‟m lying to them, so that I can be with you, but you don‟t even trust
me, and you spy on my conversations to make sure that I don‟t say anything! I wonder if it‟s even
worth it the hassle, you still treat me like dirt more often than not," she hissed angrily, not really
realizing what she had said until it was out. Had she really felt this way deep down? Kami, she was so
angry. . .

Vegeta‟s face set itself in cold lines, suddenly closed off and harsh. Damn his control. But what she
found was that he simply looked shocked under all of that protective indifference. Bulma found that
she was too angry and hurt to have any room for regret over her words. Shit, she believed them
anyway, and damn him for making her like this in the first place! He said nothing in his defense. Hell,
he didn‟t even insult her. She said nothing either, she just let her words seep into him. It was how she
felt after all. Vegeta was the only person she loved, but he just made things so hard, and now she
was carrying his baby and he didn‟t even know. He wouldn‟t want to know.

Vegeta‟s eyes flitted down to her upper arm, which was wrapped in a thin cotton bandage.
"What is that from?"

Bulma froze, and looked down at it guiltily. "I- I cut myself in the lab."

"You haven‟t been in there today. You were out," Vegeta said almost sharply. His eyes were
narrowing. Slowly, he reached out and grasped her arm, just under the dressing. She tried to pull
away.

"Leave it be. It‟s just a cut. Let me-"

"Quiet," he ordered. Something was growing in his eyes, something dark. How could he possibly
guess from that? He couldn‟t. So why was he acting so strange? Bulma tried to pull away again when
his hand started unwrapping the bandage, but to no avail. His grip held fast. Bulma just stalled. She
couldn‟t really think of anything to say as he got to the last coil of the material, and revealed the neat
little cut in her arm where her implant had been removed. His eyes narrowed into two little slivers of
dark malice when he saw it.

"You‟re lying to me," he seethed.

"What-"

"This is a surgical incision! Do you really think me so stupid that I can‟t tell an accidental wound from
an intentional one? Where did you go this morning, woman, and I want the truth. Or I‟ll force it out of
you." He tapped his temple threateningly. Bulma looked at him in mute shock. He would search her
thoughts to find out? God, who was this man in front of her? Something welled up inside of her, giving
her the insane feeling that she didn‟t know him anymore. She started to think frantically of an excuse,
but she came up with nothing that he could possibly believe. Her head lowered. She might as well tell
him. She was an idiot to think that she could pull one over on Vegeta. Kami help her when she told
him.

"I- I went to the doctor‟s. It‟s the incision from where my contraceptive implant was removed," she
whispered. She didn‟t look up for a long time, but when she did, she saw the look she knew would be
there. Vegeta had stiffened in shock, his dark eyes actually wide with it.

"You. . .had an implant in there?" he asked slowly, as if testing out a new theory. Bulma nodded
miserably. "To stop yourself from conceiving." That wasn‟t a question. But she nodded again anyway,
her head lowered again. She didn‟t want to see the look in his eyes. No doubt he wanted to know why
she hadn‟t kept it in there. Then what would she tell him?

Had Bulma looked up at that moment, perhaps things may have turned out better for them both. The
look on Vegeta‟s face in that second would not be seen by her though, and both of their lives were
about to take a bad turn. She heard him let out a snarl under his breath and her jerked her head up
with one finger under her chin.

"And so you would go behind my back, would you? Not tell me about this? Woman, if you wanted a
child, you could have at least asked!" He said furiously. Bulma blinked in surprise, and stepped away
from him. What- "But instead you would try to get yourself with child without my knowledge, hm? I
think your plan backfired woman, no one makes a fool out of me and gets away with it!"

Bulma forgot his earlier words as her temper soared. "Without your knowledge AND mine, Vegeta!
I‟m already pregnant!! And it‟s all your fault!!" she shrieked. Tears welled up in her eyes as confusion
filled his. He looked at a total loss for words, but Bulma preferred that to the fury that would come
next unless she could avoid it. She looked back at him wordlessly herself, as a flurry of emotions
fought the control he had them wrapped in in his eyes. Anger, confusion, lots of that, that proud
arrogance that would never allow him to bend. And something else. Almost like. . . wonder? But the
wasn‟t sure. It wasn‟t something she had ever seen on his face before, let alone glimpse it in his
eyes.

"I can‟t possibly-" he began, but Bulma cut him off before he could smash her heart to pieces.
"Shut up, Vegeta! I don‟t want to hear what I know your already going to say," she said brokenly. "I
already know. If you can‟t handle the others finding out about „us‟, I suggest you take the offer I‟m
now making and. . .and leave." Her throat convulsed with the effort not to release a sob. "I‟ll raise the
child myself, they need never know that I was ever anything more than a one night stand to you." Her
eyes filled up and overflowed again. They were finished, and she knew he would go. Leaving her.

Vegeta turned to stone before her, he was so still. his eyes were burning with a million questions and
emotions, but only one stood out clearly that was a shock to her.

Torment, indecision.

It staggered her, really. Vegeta hadn‟t already made a snap decision? Hadn‟t left without another
word? She was almost in awe of that, it wasn‟t what she had expected at all. If she pressed it, maybe,
just maybe he would stay with her. And her child. Their child.

His jaw was clenched, and for just a second, his eyes squeezed shut against something he didn‟t
want her to see. She just stared at him, her eyes streaming tears she couldn‟t control. They were so
far apart just then, separated by the huge chasm of his pride. Watching him struggle just then, with
some inner battle going on, she realized something that tore at her heart.

If she parted Vegeta from his pride, what would he be then? If by tying him to her, she had to strip
him of something that made him who he was, and she changed who he was? It would be no different
than if she had asked him to stop fighting. She would do something to him that couldn‟t be reversed.

Vegeta. . .she thought soulfully. I couldn‟t do that to you, no matter how much I want you to stay with
me. To have you look like something of a soft „family man‟ in your own eyes, would destroy you more
than anything the Z senshi could do to you. You‟ll get over me a lot quicker than you would that, no
matter how much it hurts me. I have to do this for your sake. Should you even care anyway, I‟ll love
you forever.

She wished she could tell him that, seeing as she never had before, and would never get the chance
to again.

She wiped her eyes furiously, and filled her eyes with a disgust and contempt that she felt would
break her apart. She curled her lips into a sneer.

"Well? Do I have to put it in any plainer terms? I want you gone. Out of my life. You don‟t want them
to find out, that‟s fine. As of now, there is nothing of us for them to find out about. You‟re free of me,
and I couldn‟t be gladder, really."

God, was this pain even natural? Vegeta opened his eyes and stared at her. For a moment she
caught sight of hurt, bad hurt. Grief, almost. Pain, certainly. It flashed by in a split second, and was
replaced by something that made her relieved and anguished at the same time.

Pride. And fury.

"So be it," he hissed. "To stay any longer would be even more degrading than it already has been.
Don‟t expect me to be back, woman. Ever."

"Fine. Now get out. Take the GR with you, I don‟t even want to look at it anymore. Take anything
that‟s yours," she said in a flat voice. He drew himself up and fixed her with a look of pure venom.

"Keep the pile of scrap metal, I won‟t need it."

"Then scrap metal it will become," she said matter-of-factly. Her face was set in harsh lines of
determination, the determination to see this out and not break down. He had to believe this. From the
looks of him, he already did. She‟d never seen him quite so angry. And hurt.
He strode out the front door, not even bothering to collect his clothing. She guessed he didn‟t want
anything else that she had paid for. She followed him to the door, about to close it on his proud form
for the last time, when he turned back to her.

His eyes bored into her. "Tell me why you‟re doing this," he asked hoarsely.

Bulma glared, but on the inside she was reeling. Oh Kami, don‟t ask me. I‟ll lose it, I know I will. Don‟t
try to read me. She crossed her arms and regarded him silently.

"Because you‟ll never be what I want you to be."

"And that is?" he asked roughly.

"A father."

He made no response. Just looked at her with that endless gaze that for a second, seemed strangely
sad. Then that little spark died out, and there was only cold resolve.

"Then I will be nothing to him instead. I won‟t be coming back." Bulma stared. Him? What- With those
parting words and one last look, he took to the air. She stared at his disappearing form until the small
dot in the sky that had been him disappeared. Taking her love with it. She didn‟t know how she was
going to survive now that he was gone, but she‟d hold it together for her child. And she had to realize
that he was gone. Leaving one bereft woman and a place inside her where a whole heart used to be.

Goodbye, Vegeta.

***

Bulma changed a lot after that day. Everyone around her noticed it, but had no idea what had gone
wrong. Her parents had approached her to talk about why Vegeta had left, and for what would be the
last time in a while, she broke down and told her parents that she was pregnant with Vegeta‟s child,
and she had told him to leave. She never said why. They had been shocked to say the least, but they
accepted what she had said and left her alone, though Dr. Briefs gave her a long calculating look that
she couldn‟t decipher before telling her that he would support her decision all the same. She was a
grown woman after all. After that, she was cold and aloof most of the time, hiding everything she felt
behind a solid wall of mental restraint. A neat little trick she had learned off the very man that had
caused her to act this way. She never let anyone near, and cut most all of her ties with her friends,
making excuses to get out of social gatherings and other things. She didn‟t know why she changed so
much like that, she knew it wasn‟t as though she would see Vegeta anywhere.

She hadn‟t seen him at all since he left. She had no idea where he had gone after flying away that
day.

For all she knew, he had left the planet again.

It still hurt like hell to think about him, no matter how hard she concealed it on the outside. But she
knew she had to do it, had to send him away. She wouldn‟t change him for her own ends. This was
for the best, she knew. And after three months of blindly walking around like a wooden puppet, she
realized that she had to get on with her life. She knew that she couldn‟t stay locked within herself
forever, so she did something to get her mind working again that she never thought she‟d be able to
do.

She learned to cook.

It took her while to work up the nerve to call Chi-chi, but once she had done it, she realized she was
glad for the company and the distraction, more than the other woman would realize. Chi-chi never
mentioned a word about Vegeta, intuitively realizing that she had missed something yet again. Bulma
never spoke of him. It was on the eighth week of her lessons that her friend asked her the question
that had been plaguing her for some time.
“Bulma, I‟m not trying to be a pain, or nosy, but. . .” she started, unsure of whether to continue. They
were in the kitchen as always, taking a small break from their work after three hours. Bulma turned
her head slightly toward Chi-chi and raised one eyebrow. “What?”

“What happened with you and Vegeta?” she blurted out, then braced herself for the inevitable yelling
that would come next, or the tears, she wasn‟t sure which. But Bulma did neither of these things. She
simply gave Chi-chi an empty look and shrugged.

“We„re over. He doesn‟t live here anymore.”

“Well, that is obvious,” the other woman said tartly. “Why did he leave? Oh no, don‟t tell me he left
you. . .” She trailed off, suddenly feeling very guilty about bringing it up. Bulma gave Chi-chi a faintly
amused look and shook her head.

“No. I told him to get out.” Still that dead voice. It was so familiar to Chi-chi now that she hardly
noticed it. But it didn‟t make it any less disturbing.

“Why? I thought you had forgiven him for the night of the party. Did something else happen?”

Bulma sighed and shut her eyes for a second, wishing Chi-chi would just shut up and leave her alone.
But that was out of the question, and she knew she could trust Goku‟s wife with the biggest secret
she would ever have to keep.

“I kicked him out because I‟m pregnant.”

“What?”

“I know he wouldn‟t be able to handle it, so I told him to leave. He did.”

“Oh, good Kami, you‟re kidding me,” Chi-chi gasped. “Oh, Bulma. You must be hurting so much, I
know how much you care for him.”

“Cared. That is over now. We’re over now.”

“But Bulma—”

“But nothing. He‟s gone now, and I really don‟t want to talk about him. Okay?” She asked, with almost
a pleading note in her voice. But Chi-chi didn‟t listen. She was a little pale from her friends‟
confession.

“But if you‟ve kicked Vegeta out, who is going to help raise your child? Good lord, you're carrying
Vegeta’s child. This is too much,” Chi-chi didn‟t seem to know what to say. But Bulma just steeled her
shoulders and shook her head.

“I— I don‟t need anyone to help me raise my child. No one at all. And even if Vegeta had stayed, and
I hadn‟t kicked him out, he still wouldn‟t have been the father to this child that I want him to be. It just
isn‟t in him.”

“Did he say that?” Chi-chi asked gently. Bulma shook her head, her blue hair shifting over her eyes.
She brushed it away. “I could tell. He didn‟t need to say a thing.”

“Am I missing something here? Was something else going on here that I don‟t know about? It doesn‟t
seem like you to just—”

“Chi-chi, there is so much I have to tell you,” she burst out. “Vegeta made me promise, but you have
kept everything secret so far. I- I don‟t have anyone else I can tell,” Bulma said sadly.

Chi-chi patted Bulma comfortingly on the back, ready to listen to whatever her friend had to tell her.
So without any preamble, she launched into the whole story, not sparing herself or what she had
decided was her „lovesick stupidity‟. She told her everything that happened after Bulma was openly
rejected by Vegeta at Chi-chi‟s party, and followed up to the point where she had told Vegeta that he
could leave, and be free of her for good. Bulma was blinking away tears by the end of her tale, as she
remembered all the pain she had felt, and still felt even then. Kami, when had her life suddenly taken
this sharp downhill turn? What had she done to deserve so much of this heartache? She had
absolutely no idea. And nothing could answer her question either. She just had to pull herself together
and trudge on in this farce of a life. She had to, for the sake of her baby. It was all she had as a
reminder of Vegeta now, and she would give it all the love she couldn‟t give to anything else. Vegeta
least of all.

Chi-chi was quite speechless by the end of it, and didn‟t know how to help Bulma. It seemed to her
that she had long ago decided what Vegeta never got the chance to; that he wouldn‟t make a good
father. But Bulma couldn‟t be swayed from that now, the other woman realized, that would only cause
her more turmoil. But what if this was worse in the long run? She had seen the look on Bulma‟s face
when she talked about Vegeta. And as much as she wanted to hide it, and kill it, she still felt love for
the royal Saiyan.

Chi-chi sighed. What a mess.

“Bulma, maybe you were a little hasty in turning Vegeta out of the house. Couldn‟t you have. . .” I
can‟t believe I‟m going to say this, “. . .given him a chance?”

“A chance to what? Ruin my child‟s life the way he‟s ruined mine?” Bulma choked out, turning away
from her friend. Chi-chi frowned.

“Just how on Earth has Vegeta ruined you life? I mean really. You didn‟t do anything that you didn‟t
want to do, and you can‟t go on playing the wounded party when he had no say in his leaving you.
You did that, not him. Deal with it,” Chi-chi finished in a hard voice. If there was one thing she couldn‟t
stand, it was self pity. And Bulma had no reason to blame Vegeta for her loneliness. She kicked him
out.

Chi-chi blinked twice. Why was she taking his side?

Bulma stiffened her shoulders and rounded on Chi-chi.

“What do you mean, „deal with it?‟ You think I wanted to kick him out? That I wanted to raise my child
on my own? Dammit, I never wanted that!” she shouted. “But how would things have turned out if I
had pleaded with him to stay? I know. He would have stayed, you know. If I had really pushed it
enough, he would‟ve stayed with me over looking like a big bad warrior to your husband. That was
what he was most insistent on. How the hell was I supposed to keep him here when I was crushing
the one thing that made him who he was? You bloody taught me that, Chi-chi, And don‟t you dare
start telling me that I wanted to live like this. Because I don‟t. But I have to, because it‟s the only thing
I can do. Because Vegeta wouldn‟t be there for my son like I want him to, and because—”

“Son?” Chi-chi gasped, disregarding the rest of her tirade. Bulma stopped midsentence and froze.
She sighed wearily.

“Vegeta seemed to think so. Don‟t ask me why.”

Chi-chi paused. “It could‟ve been a slip of the tongue, you know.”

“Yeah. I guess maybe he wanted a boy?” she said uncertainly. Chi-chi shrugged. “Probably someone
to mold in his own image or something. Goku went off his nut when he found out I had had a boy, he
was that happy.”

“But Vegeta isn‟t Goku.”

“Thank Kami,” Chi-chi said with a heartfelt sigh. She was surprised to hear Bulma give a small
chuckle before turning back to her. They exchanged looks of both apology, before giving each other a
hug.
“I didn‟t really mean to give you a hard time,” Chi-chi said, sniffing.

“That‟s okay, really. I shouldn‟t have gone off at you like that. You‟re not to blame,” Bulma answered,
blinking away a suspicious moisture.

“Don‟t worry about it.” They pulled back from each other and Chi-chi gave Bulma a long look. “You
know that you‟re always welcome at our house, to stay. If you ever get lonely, just come over. Hell,
come over even when you‟re not. I‟d be glad for the company.”

Bulma hesitated. “Has—”

“We haven‟t seen him. Not since that party.”

She let out a breath. “Then I‟ll come over sometime. I‟m only about two months along, so everything
is fine.”

Her friend‟s gaze dropped to her still-flat stomach and she grinned. “I still can‟t believe it. You‟re
actually pregnant! Can I knit you little booties and things?”

Bulma groaned. “Don‟t tell me you‟re going to go nuts like Mom did. I don‟t think I can handle two of
you.” Chi-chi looked up. “You‟ve told her?”

“Of course. And Dad too. They were. . .accepting, but dad gave me the weirdest look. He probably
thought I should‟ve known better than to get myself pregnant. I didn‟t bother to explain to him about
the implant.”

“Ah. That was probably why.”

“Yeah, but I don‟t know. It was strange,” she said thoughtfully. She shook it off and looked back at
Chi-chi, feeling a sudden rush of warmth for her friend. She had made her feel more human than she
had in a few long weeks. It was good to be back. Rubbing her hands lightly over her stomach, she
grinned. Even without Vegeta, who was now out of her life, she felt oddly excited. She was going to
be a mother! There was nothing in the world she would love more than this child, except Vegeta, who
she would probably love until the day she died. But that couldn‟t be helped, and she didn‟t want to
change that. She didn‟t mind loving Vegeta, even when she couldn‟t have him. she had done it to
herself, and it wasn‟t like he had found another woman.

She froze. Would he? What if by letting him go like she was doing some noble deed, she was just
letting him go and find some other woman? The thought brought a certain amount of pain that she
couldn‟t avoid. But she pushed it away and took a shaking breath. If that was what he wanted, fine.
He was no part of her life now and she couldn‟t keep him on a leash. She sighed sadly.

“You know Chi-chi, I wonder sometimes if loving him was worth the pain that came after.”

“Love is always worth it,” the younger woman said firmly. Bulma lifted her head and smiled softly.

“Yeah, it is.”

“Come on, lets keep going with this cooking. You‟re getting really good now, soon I won‟t have
anything left to teach you,” Chi-chi said with a grin. Bulma unconsciously preened under the praise,
making Chi-chi laugh, and they got back to work.

*                      *                       *

That evening long after Chi-chi had left, Bulma sat on her balcony and watched the sky, something
she hadn‟t done since. . . since that night she had crawled up onto the roof with Vegeta, and gotten
just that little step closer to falling for him. She sighed. It was an accepted fact now that everything
she thought of would remind her of something that they had done together, or that she had watched
him do while he didn‟t know she was there. She turned her head in the direction of his bedroom
window, and sighed. She hadn‟t gone in there once after he left, not even to straighten up. She had
just balked at it.

That made her shake her head. Why? She thought. It‟s not like he‟s dead or anything, and I shouldn‟t
have to avoid rooms in my own house simply because he had gone into them. Those days are over
now, and I should damn well accept that. With that thought to strengthen her resolve, she turned
away from the darkening sky and headed back into her room, and out into the hallway. She walked
down it slowly, until she got to his door. She stopped. He hadn‟t been in there in a long while, almost
a month now, she thought. And even before then he‟d only gone in there to change clothes and
sleep. It wasn‟t like this was his own private place. Damn, girl, stop thinking that you’re going to open
the door and see him in there! This wouldn‟t do at all. She put her hand on the doorknob and twisted,
pushing the door open.

It was as she had remembered it. Strangely neat, bare of anything that might make the room a little
more personal. Just a bed and a dresser to keep things on, completely unused. She turned towards
the closet and pulled it open slowly, feeling a little like she was trespassing. Everything still hung
where it had last. Nothing had been touched. Bulma released a shaky breath and ran her fingers
down one of his shirts.

“What am I going to do. . .”

Live. Move on.

I can’t.

You will.

*                      *                      *

And after a while, she began to. A long while, but at long last, Bulma moved on.

Vegeta was no longer a part of her life, and she started to finally accept that as the truth. Her tears
stopped of a night, marking the end of something of a six-month-long mourning period. She was
mourning the loss of perhaps her happiest time to date, but that didn‟t mean that she would never be
happy again. She knew that things could get better, and time really did heal wounds of the heart.

Her child grew within her, a gift she was still not quite sure she deserved. She had a lot of time on her
hands because of it, her father had banned her from any of the construction labs during the last
trimester of her pregnancy. She had argued fiercely, but as soon as he had pointed out that she could
endanger her child‟s life, she gave in. Nothing was worth the loss of her baby, not even her work,
which she loved.

She loved her child more.

Even though it hadn‟t been born yet, she loved her baby already. And in another month, she would
finally be able to see how this little version of herself and Vegeta would act, and what it would look
like. Who it would look like.

The thought that she might have a son, and that he would be the living image of Vegeta, disturbed
her.

What the hell would she do with that hair?

*                      *                      *

“Sometimes I swear you‟re trying to break out of there early, you kick that hard,” she grumbled to the
swell of her belly, which was protecting the child who was happily destroying her internal organs.
Trying to read was not going to work if this kept up. Bulma sat up on the couch, with a bit of difficulty
due to the huge bump that used to be a nice, flat, toned midriff. She sighed in remembrance for a
moment, before the need to pee over-ran anything else she might‟ve been thinking, and she made a
half amble, half dash for the toilet. Oh yes, there were downsides to pregnancy that she had
discovered, such as needing to pee every half hour, the constant dull back ache, and. . . oversized
breasts?

Hmmm. That one was a pain. Hardly anything fit anymore.

Upon exiting the bathroom and heading back down to the living room, Bulma was struck by the fact
that she had it pretty good for a single mother. Well, she wasn‟t a mother yet, but she was in a better
position than most other single parents out there. She could afford to give her child the best of
everything, and be damned if that wasn‟t the exact thing she was going to do.

At least now she could actually cook something edible for the kid. Still there was one thing she
couldn‟t give her kid. A father.

But Vegeta would probably turn her child into a fighter, which she didn‟t really mind all that much, the
kid would be half Saiyan after all, but he wouldn‟t be the proper father this child deserved if in public
he completely ignored his family. And not just ignored, but scorned! Better to just save confusion and
heartache and nip it in the bud. So that‟s what she had done. If not for her child than for herself. She
couldn‟t handle that kind of thing day in and day out, it‟d kill her first.

Too bad she realized Vegeta would care if she cut him off from her before there was anything she
could do to save their relationship. Perhaps that was the way things were meant to be.

Screw that, she thought. My life has taken a nice little ride down a shit-spiral and I did that to myself.
And even if I hate it like hell because I‟m the loneliest woman on the face of the earth, it was my
choice. It sure as hell wasn‟t Vegeta‟s, because I kicked him out of the house and my life before he
got any sort of idea what the hell I was up to. And at long last I'm getting on with my life, and Vegeta
has probably long since done the same. Wherever he is.

There it was again, she thought grimly. She didn‟t know where he was. Not that she should really be
trying to keep tabs on him, but she was worried. What if he went off and. . .

Hurt himself? Oh yeah, like that was going to happen. The guy was a Super-Saiyan, and nothing
short of an Android was going to kill him. Or maybe Goku, but that wasn‟t going to happen.

“Argh! I‟ve gotta stop thinking about this,” she exclaimed out loud. “God, when did I start to do all this
brooding? This is going to get me sent off to the nut house. Hell, I‟m talking to myself! There‟s my first
clue.” She raked a hand through her hair and eased herself back onto the couch, tired from such a
short trip. At least the baby had stopped kicking, but now she just felt more alone than ever.

Her parents had gone to yet another damn science seminar, this one combined with a trip to check
out the overseas factories that were having a little trouble with construction. And although Bulma
hadn‟t wanted to go, they still forbade her to go anyway. That had irked her. She had absolutely
nothing to do for two weeks. She couldn‟t even feed the cat, because Dad had taken her with him. He
was way too attached to it, she thought. A wave of acute boredom overcame her at that moment, as
she sat there thinking about how she felt like the only one in the world with absolutely nothing to do
except wait for the delivery of her baby. Then a light went off in her head.

Yamcha!

She hadn‟t talked to him in so damn long, and she had no reason to skulk around hiding from her
friends anymore. He was also kind of lazy, and wouldn‟t mind taking a break from his training. There
was a little over a year left anyway. She decided to give him a call, just for companies sake. She
didn‟t want to bother Chi-chi again, even though it had been a long time, she figured the younger
woman wanted to spend as much time with her husband while he wasn‟t training as she could. Now
all she had to do was get up and get to the phone. She sighed, and went about the long process of
getting up. There was something about this extra weight that totally messed with her center of gravity.
It was hard to keep her balance.

“Oh well, this won‟t be for much longer. God willing, anyway. Unless Saiyan children take longer to
develop or something,” she muttered to herself. She pushed straggling hair out of her eyes as she
walked over to the phone and dialed Yamcha‟s number. She hoped he was home.

As it turned out, luck wasn‟t on her side. It simply rung out. There was no one home. Her head
drooped forward, resting against the wall. Damn it. Now what was she supposed to do? There really
wasn‟t anyone she could ring, or wanted to, for that matter. And she didn‟t want to bother her parents,
they would probably think that she was having trouble with her pregnancy or some such crap. She
was feeling tired all of a sudden. May be it was for the best that no one was home. She could rest
without being disturbed, unlike when her folks were home, and it was all high-pitched singing and the
sound of metal being cut in half from the labs. Something she could do without when she was this far
along.

“I‟ll go upstairs. My bed is way more comfortable than the couch,” she muttered to herself as she
began to climb the stairs. It was the only thing to do when she was bored, and she couldn‟t even
check out the labs, thanks to her father. So sleep looked like the only alternative.

My life has really gone downhill in the fun area, she thought wryly.

She got to her room after what seemed like ages of step-climbing and crawled into her bed gratefully,
all but tired out. This kid had better come out strong, she thought, coz damned if it isn‟t taking all of
my strength to create it. Just like Vegeta‟s child to really wear a person out. Her sleepy gaze flicked
over to her phone, which was unplugged from the wall. Her brow furrowed for a moment, wondering
why she had ever unplugged it. Then she remembered. It was still unplugged from months ago,
before she even knew she was pregnant. That night where all of her misery had really started, after
Vegeta told her off in front of Chi-chi. She debated getting out of bed and re-connecting it, but
suddenly the distance from it to the bed seemed too far away.

Screw it, she thought. I‟ll do it later. She rolled over in the bed and tried to go to sleep.

“Oh my god!!” she gasped and nearly bolted upright, at the sudden ripping pain that attacked her
abdomen. It was shocking in its intensity, immobilizing. Stabbing pains flashed all through her
midsection, and she knew this was no normal contraction. But then, this wasn‟t a human pregnancy.

Her eyes filled with tears at the agony inside her body, and fear nearly choked her. She was all alone
in the house. . . What if she couldn‟t get to the phone? Then her fears doubled in size when a gush of
warm liquid erupted from inside her, and she let loose a strangled cry of pain.

Her water had broken.

“Oh, god no.”

*                       *                       *

Oh, god, she thought as she was rocked by the shocking pains again. This wasn‟t what she had
prepared herself for. This wasn‟t how it was supposed to be! Her face pinched and white, she tried to
think clearly as another wave of pain headed her way. She needed help, but she couldn‟t get it, not
immobilized and what felt like five minutes away from having her child! But her genius brain gave her
no ideas, the crisis at hand drawing it blank.

“Shit, shit shit!” she cried, her chant interrupted by a long cry that bordered on a scream as she was
gripped by another contraction. It wasn‟t meant to happen like this, was all she could think. She was
supposed to have people in the house, was supposed to be in the hospital. Dammit, the father of the
child clawing its way out of her womb was meant to be here for this!! But she was on her own for this
one, and she had to try and hold it together. Bulma didn‟t have any idea how long her labour was
going to last, but she knew that she had to do something to prepare herself for what was going to
happen.

It won‟t kill me, she thought between muffled shrieks of agony. Women have been doing this sort of
thing for hundreds of years. But Kami, did it have to be like this? Bulma knew she couldn‟t do this
positioned like she was, flat on her back and fully dressed. She painfully shoved her way up on the
bed, propping herself up with the pillows behind her. She knew she was running on determination
alone, but she was worried about how long it was going to last. Glad she was wearing one of her
flowing summer dresses, she shimmied out of her panties just in time for another contraction to hit
her full force.

She stiffened, rising off the bed reflexively and wheezing as her abdomen muscles tightened with the
contraction, her hips shifting position as she put all her effort into releasing this child from her body.

Sweat beaded on her forehead and dripped down her pain tightened face and into her eyes, making
them burn. She ignored it, concentrated on ignoring the pain. She had a job to do. And she‟d be
damned if she was going to spend the rest of the week lying there, writhing in pain. So she pushed,
not really knowing how, but figuring it could only help her do this. But for all her determination she had
never been more afraid in her life. Women had died in childbirth before, and there was no way in hell
she wanted to be added to that list. She knew that if anything like that happened, her child would die
with her, nobody finding them until her parents returned in two weeks. There was no way on god‟s
green freaking earth that she was going to die, this child needed her.

“Come on girl, you can do this!” she whispered to herself fiercely. With her face screwed up in a
mixture of agony and exertion, her cheeks red and teeth clenched, she bore down with all the
strength her small body possessed.

It wasn‟t enough.

“Oh, God help me!” she cried out at last, tears streaming from under tightly closed eyelids. Her
strength was draining fast, her contractions were coming closer together, and she feared she was
going to pass out if she didn‟t get this over with. The pain was simply phenomenal. She couldn‟t see
herself going through this a second time if her situation changed, and if she made it through the first.

Panting rapidly, she dragged sweaty bangs out of her eyes and bore down hard, using the oncoming
contraction as her driving force. Her heels dug into the mattress instinctively, preparing herself. She
didn‟t know if she could do this again. She pushed hard, going what felt like beyond the brink of her
normal strength. She had to do this, and she was going to make it. She wasn‟t weak; she was strong,
strong enough to make this happen. She sent a prayer up to Kami if he might be listening, and kept
struggling. Distantly she wished once more that Vegeta had been there for this, not for moral support,
no, but the man had an infuriating way of making her so crazy with anger that she forgot any pain she
might be feeling, physical or emotional. She could almost see him in her mind then, wearing that
knowing smirk and shaking his head in disapproval, as if he‟d known all along that she would fail at
this. That she wasn‟t strong enough. That she was weak. Pitiful.

The substitute was as good as the real thing, for it did the job well.

“Goddamnit!!” She screeched, her anger holding the pain at bay and giving just a small burst of
strength. She would do this. She‟d show everyone, she‟d show him. Summoning her last reserve of
force, she pushed, her hands clenching in the sheets surrounding her, forming white-knuckled fists.
She strained every muscle; burned up all her energy, put it all into doing this. With a face etched in
white pain and resolve, she let out a long wail that after what seemed like an eternity, mingled with
another voice, smaller than her own but just as desperate. Everything seemed to release inside her
for a second, followed by another pain, short but just as sharp as the last.

And at once the pain was all but gone.

She‟d done it. Exhausted beyond belief, she reared up and took a look at her child.
To be more precise, she thought as she studied the squirming body with tired eyes, her son. The
sonofabitch had been right. They had a son.

“Oh. . .” was all she could say as her eyes filled with tears. Her son. A small and wrinkly little red
body, that kicked his legs and squalled energetically, waving a small and furry brown tail. A
completely perfect version of herself and Vegeta, covered in amniotic fluid and other gack, connected
by his umbilical cord to. . . oh, ugh. Bulma realized then what that second sharp pain had been. The
placenta. But right then she couldn‟t do a thing about it. She hadn‟t the strength. She just reached
forward and picked up the small body, as yet unnamed and still connected to all its bits, and
unbuttoned the front of her dress. Holding the tiny body she gave him what he wanted and halted his
crying. It didn‟t halt hers. Sobbing and exhausted, she leaned back onto the bed, in amongst blood,
sweat and her own tears of frustration and later, joy. She was a mother. Sore, sweaty and utterly
used up, she held her son more securely to her and surrendered to the bliss sleep provided her with.

*                      *                       *

Vegeta flew along the mountains east to the city, deep in thought. It had been incredibly long since he
had even seen the city up close, after leaving it eight months ago. He hadn‟t wanted to go back if it
meant seeing what had been ripped away from him. Capsule Corporation stood out like a beacon
amongst the other low-rise buildings, and he didn‟t want to be tempted to go and see. . .her.

She had done it voluntarily, telling him to get out, that she was happy to see him go. He never went
where he wasn‟t wanted, and so he had left. To stay would have been a crushing blow to his pride.
Still. . . What comfort was his pride? He had thought it to be something he had to protect at all cost, to
tell him that he was still worthy of his title. To look like a formidable enemy to Kakkarot was all that he
had thought mattered. He never wanted to look weak to the fool by showing his emotions for the
woman. But ever since she had supposedly done him a favour and told him to leave, that hadn‟t been
much comfort to him at all. Now that Bulma had cast him out of her bed, her home and her life, he felt
himself missing something.

He had been living in the surrounding mountains since then. Kakkarot had tracked him down and
tried to ask what the matter was, but Vegeta had none of that. He kept a closed mouth and simply
said he no longer wished to complete his training with the use of the GR. Therefore he had no use
living at CC. He hadn‟t understood the dirty look he had been presented with, but passed it off as
unimportant. Kakkarot had offered to spar whenever it was suitable with Vegeta, and upon realizing
that he couldn‟t just abandon his training, he had agreed, on the condition that Kakkarot come to him,
and not tell the others he had gone SS. It had been settled, and since then, Vegeta had existed in
something close to complete solitude. Being a soldier in Frieza‟s army had taught him more about
survival than anything the fool could help him with. He hunted, sparred with his slow-witted adversary,
and meditated. He dwelled on nothing the woman had said, pushed it all from his mind as
inconsequential. It had to be, she had only been a woman.

A woman who carried his son. He knew it was going to be male, instinct providing him with that
special insight. The bare flicker of Ki coming from her womb had told him that. He had only noticed it
soon after she had screamed the words at him, and for a brief second, something snapped into place.
It had felt right. But straight after that feeling, she had told him that she wanted nothing to do with him,
and virtually told him that she had decided he wasn‟t worthy to be the father to their child. The thought
filled him with anger that couldn‟t be calmed. Who else was going to be a father to him? The picture
of a scarred human in his mind did little to calm his ire. He wouldn‟t even dream of it. If the fool even
attempted it, he would be dead before his carcass hit the ground soaked in his blood.

He questioned that feeling as he flew. He had said to her that he would be nothing to the boy, but. . .
he didn‟t truly want that. He wanted someone to carry on his blood, to know what it was to be Saiyan.
A true Saiyan, not some earth-raised fool or his half-breed son. No one could do that but him. But
now he was trapped by his own words. And his insufferable pride, which had started all of this. The
woman did have grounds for being pissed at him; he had done something that even he had
recognized as wrong. He couldn‟t truly fault her for wanting him gone, he was, and always had been a
bane on the universe. Just because he had allowed himself to feel for the woman didn‟t change the
fact that everywhere he went, misery had followed. He should have known that he wasn‟t destined to
have a proper life of any sort. Bloodshed was his birthright, and for a long time, he had accepted it.
For a small time he had doubted that, when the woman had giving him a reason to believe in
something else. But that was gone now.

He was, and always would be, alone. Empty, nothing but a killer that thrived on misery and brought it
with him like a plague. He accepted that, and lived for nothing but his next conquest. The Androids.

Vegeta brought his head up as he felt ki flickering in the CC compound. He thought about it for a
small second, wondering what it was. Bulma? He concentrated hard, trying to find out. But he
suddenly snapped himself out of it before he could get a lock on it. What was he doing? She was
nothing to him now. If she has a problem, he sure as hell wasn‟t going to fly to her rescue. If it was
her. He turned away from the city. He didn‟t know why he had chosen that day to venture as close as
he had, but it was pointless. The ki flickered again.

Dammit! He snarled silently. He tried to ignore it, his features settling into an expression of grim
resolve. His dark eyes hardened into black orbs. Merciless, even to his own emotion.

But his son. . . Could there be trouble?

Damn it, you weak fool. Stop this!

He let out a frustrated growl and sped away from the city. He didn‟t need this. And she didn‟t need
him.

*                      *                       *

It was almost dark when Bulma awakened, groggily wondering why she was all sticky and sore.
Memory instantly returned when she looked down to see a flat stomach and the gore surrounding her.
Not to mention a precious little baby asleep on her chest.

“Oh, my god. It really happened,” she said slowly. She sat up carefully, making sure she didn‟t disturb
him. She looked down at him lovingly, her eyes once more filling with tears. He had bits of Vegeta in
him, she could see that right away. The tip of his nose turned up ever so slightly at the end, and the
shape of his eyes was the same. She couldn‟t believe the tail though, that was just incredible. About
three inches long, brown and slicked down with all sorts of grossness. It was then that she realized
she had to get them both clean, in case of disease. And she had to sever the umbilical cord.

“Oh, boy,” she sighed, and got to work.

Slowly, painfully, she got up and shuffled out of the room, holding her baby close to her, keeping him
warm. She couldn‟t believe she was doing this. Weren‟t women supposed to be in bed for a few days
after giving birth? She hurt all over, she was groggy and having trouble walking. She was
bloodstained, soaked in god-knew-what, and she smelt like B.O.

She‟d never been happier in her entire life.

She made her way to the bathroom, and after a small time, she got there and headed for the twin
basins that she would use to bathe him in. She reached into the lower cupboard and pulled out three
soft towels one-handedly, holding the baby to her chest. She stopped and looked down at him slowly,
still asleep against her.

She had to name him. Why hadn‟t she done that to start with? Studying the little boy cradled against
her, still all connected, she tried to think of a name that would fit him. She thought about the names
she had come up with during her pregnancy, and tried them out in her head whilst looking down at
him. None really seemed to fit quite well, but after a while she came up with one that was brilliant. It
fitted him, kept with family tradition and sounded quite nice all round.
Trunks.

It was very unique, something she thought this child definitely was. The child of the Saiyan Prince and
The heiress to the Capsule empire. Yes, this kid was definitely something. She smiled softly at him for
a moment, then got herself back to work. Laying him down gently onto one of the towels, she
wrapped him securely in it, then rummaged in her drawers for what she was looking for. Scissors.
She came up with them eventually, a small pair that had been kept in the first aid kit for clipping
sutures off. She grabbed the antiseptic out too. She ran the scissors under the hot water, as hot as
she could get it, before dousing them with the antibacterial solution. Then she unwrapped Trunks and
bit her lip in concentration.

“Okay, I know how to do this, and I know it won‟t hurt him, I just have to do it quick. Ten centimetres
from the navel, tie it off,” she told herself. She did it all quickly, a little grossed out by the blood but
she knew it was nothing worse than what she‟d already seen. When she was all done with that, she
transferred Trunks to another towel and balled the other one up, setting it in the corner of the
bathroom. She felt a little light-headed and dizzy, but assured herself that once everything was done
she could rest for a while. She filled the basin up with warm water and gabbed a washcloth, then
looked at Trunks.

“Still sleeping? Great,” she told herself. She gently picked him up and lowered him into the water,
careful to make sure it wasn‟t too hot or cold. She washed him clean, noticing with a smile that his
hair was neither black nor teal, but rather lavender. Now how did that happen? She thought in
wonder. She wondered what Vegeta would say if he could see him now. She grinned.

“You‟re not the usual demi-Saiyan, are you?” she whispered to him. He made a small mewling noise,
almost in response, and opened his eyes a crack to peer into his mother‟s face as she held him in the
basin. His eyes were deep blue. She knew that would lighten as time went on, but she had the feeling
that they would stay blue, just like hers. There was no way they were going to darken to raven like his
father‟s. She sniffled and finished her work, and wrapped him in the last white towel, drying him off
thoroughly. He simply watched her solemnly as she worked, making no sounds whatsoever. She
wondered why he hadn‟t started wailing yet, he certainly had the combined lungs of her and Vegeta,
which would make for some loud yelling if he got upset.

When she was done, she sat him in the empty basin as he began to fall asleep again, still wrapped in
his towel. She took that chance to strip off and step into the shower, giving herself a thorough wash.
That five hour sleep had really done the trick, she thought. I‟m still tired and really sore, but I‟m on my
feet. She soaped herself up well, still thinking about what she had accomplished. She had actually
given birth to a baby boy, all by herself! With no one to witness it, or to help her out. . .

She wasn‟t exactly thrilled about it, but she couldn‟t help but be impressed with her feat. She was
strong! Bulma just wished someone could be here with her. Well, she thought, she did have someone
there with her. Her son had shared the whole ordeal.

She washed off thoroughly, shampooing her hair and making herself feel human again. When she
stepped out of the shower fifteen minutes later, she felt much better. Bulma dried herself off with
another towel and shrugged on her robe, which had been hanging on the back of the door. Then she
picked up her son gently and walked a little unsteadily downstairs, being extremely careful not to fall.

“If I take a spill down these steps, I‟m done for,” she said to her son as she shuffled down them. He
just turned his head against her chest, still sleeping. She wanted to sleep some more, but she had to
get her room clean first. When she reached the bottom of the stairs, she activated three servant-bots
and programmed them to clean up her room and the bathroom. When they had zoomed away, she
collapsed onto the sofa, noting that she had to lose a few pounds around the middle, remnants of her
peculiar cravings and strange appetite during her pregnancy. She held Trunks tightly too her. Kami,
she was a mother. A mother. It didn‟t sound real.

That made Vegeta a father. But she couldn‟t even contact him. He had flown away into the distance
and had no idea that she had just bore him a son. He was no longer the last of his line, but he hadn‟t
the faintest idea. Even though she knew that she had ended anything they might have had, she felt
he had a right to see his son. But he didn‟t. He had said that he wanted nothing to do with his child.

How can you reject your own flesh and blood?

She thought back to the last time she had seen him. Their argument. He had accused her of wanting
to become pregnant without his knowledge, which was crazy. But what he had said before that. . .

Woman, if you wanted a child, you could have at least asked!

Those words, the way he had said them. He had been angry that she had supposedly gone behind
his back, but he hadn‟t said anything about rejecting the possibility of a child. Why? She asked
herself. He hated deception, she knew that. Was that why he had been so angry? What had be been
about to say when she cut him off, telling him she already knew what he was going to say? Was it
possible she had been wrong?

Dammit, of course that was a possibility. The look in his eyes when she had told him to leave, to get
out of her life, haunted her. He had begun to care, though he had never said that he loved her. She
had never said it to him in plain terms, for fear of being rejected by him. Maybe he had felt a little the
same. The morning after they had first made love he had said her reflected her feelings, even opened
his mind to her to prove that. Since then her feelings had only intensified, and he had trusted her
enough to tell her of things he had told no other living soul.

Shit, what had she done?

Her throat closed up. No, she thought. Vegeta wanted to keep his pride, let him have it. It was the
only thing standing in their way. She didn‟t want to force him to stay with her, but if he wanted to
come back willingly after making his own decision, well, that was a different story. . .

But he wouldn‟t. Not until he had beaten Goku, if at all. She had taken the final step herself, by giving
him no other option. She would have to fix this herself if things were to be right ever again. But she
couldn‟t ask Vegeta for a thing. No.

But she could give him the chance to come back, should he ever want to. That was all she could do.

She looked down at Trunks and sighed. She hadn‟t made a mistake in doing this, but she had let
herself in for a lot of pain. Giving Vegeta the choice was the right thing to do. She wouldn‟t have been
able to live with herself if she had convinced him to stay. Bulma settled back into the sofa and lay her
head back. She didn‟t want to think anymore. She was tired, and thinking about Vegeta never did
calm her thoughts. Eight months ago she had told him to leave of her own accord.

And only of his own accord could he return.

*                      *                      *



“Two weeks old, and you‟ve already got a grip that can cut off my circulation. Thank you Vegeta,
you‟ve helped create the strongest baby alive,” she grumbled as she shifted Trunks to the other
breast. Dimly she reminded herself about what she had to ask Chi-chi. They needed to talk about all
of the little quirks Saiyan babies had, and what Bulma needed to watch out for.

For all she knew, when they were teething they might grow fangs.

She brushed her hair back behind her ears and looked out the window of the newly furnished nursery.
She had called her parents as soon as she had woken up the second time, and told them to get their
asses home. She still chuckled at the memory of her mother falling into a dead faint, and her father
almost swallowing his cigarette at the sight of her. Or rather, what she held in her arms. Once they
had recovered their wits though, Bulma had been shoved off to the doctors for an extremely thorough
check up, her and Trunks. Luckily her doctor was paid well enough that he barely even twitched at
the sight of Trunks‟ tail. Bulma didn‟t mind about the removal of her son‟s tail, she didn‟t like the idea
of having to shut her son away from moonlight once a month, any more than she liked the idea of
being squashed like a bug in her own house. Perhaps she could have let him keep it; Vegeta might
have been able to teach him to control it once he was of age.

Wishful thinking, yet again. Standing up, she checked the clock on the dresser and found it to be
early evening. Time to go get ready.

Chi-chi had invited her over to the Son house for dinner, with the half plea that she was all alone with
Goku and Gohan taking their more intense training further away, in case of danger. Apparently Chi-
chi needed some company while they were gone, but there was a sneaking suspicion that Trunks
was her ulterior motive. She hadn‟t yet seen him.

Giving the room a once-over, then made a mental note off the capsules she was taking with her,
making sure she had all she needed. She carefully laid her sleeping son in his cradle, before stepping
out of the room to get into reasonable clothes.

She dressed carefully, this being the first time in . . . well, a very long time that she had seen Chi-chi.
She was sorry that she had left it so long. It was a shame that she wouldn‟t see Goku or Gohan, but if
her plans worked out all right, she would see them the day the Androids emerged. She wasn‟t going
to miss out on seeing the bad guys this time, if she could help it.

She stepped into a light blue skirt, long enough to brush her ankles, but flowing nicely to show off the
outline of her legs. It was paired with a white, slightly low-cut, long sleeved top that clung softly to her
without looking indecent. She knew she was a mother now, but that didn‟t mean she had to dress like
an old lady or anything. She didn‟t know why she took so much trouble, she had known Chi-chi for a
long time now, but Bulma just put it down to finally getting out of the house and doing something other
than working in the lab and looking after Trunks.

I should get together with her one day and go out to a club or something, she thought, grinning as she
brushed her hair swiftly. She couldn‟t really see Chi-chi at a nightclub, she probably be asking the
bartender how he mixed his drinks, which would be as close as she would get to swapping recipes in
a place like that. Still, she missed male company. Her father certainly didn‟t count, and she hadn‟t
seen Yamcha in ages. Maybe she‟d give him a ring sometime and tell him the good news. If he would
see it as good news. Most likely he would be hurt that she hadn‟t even told him she was pregnant in
the first place, let alone had given birth two weeks ago.

It would be kinda warranted, she granted. But he would have been the first to know if he had only
been at home that day! She couldn‟t really be mad, that was just irrational. She smiled to herself in
the mirror, checking herself out again, and she frowned lightly at the slight, extra roundness her hips
had acquired. She hadn‟t really gotten all that much heavier, now that she looked at herself, her
shape had just changed a little from the birth. It wasn‟t that bad, she thought. Her stomach was still
flat and smooth, she hadn‟t seen any stretch marks yet, and Kami willing there wouldn‟t be any. Not
too many people could boast a figure this good after having a child.

She checked her watch and cursed. “Dammit, running late. That‟s what you get for checking yourself
out in the mirror, girl. Move it!” she grabbed her handbag from the dresser stand and threw her
capsules into it as she strode out into the hallway. She hung a left at the end and walked into the
nursery, and gently picked up Trunks.

“Come on big guy,” she whispered. “Road trip!” She smiled when he looked up at her with sleepy blue
eyes and gave her a toothless grin. Kissing his forehead lightly, she hurriedly walked downstairs and
stuck her head into the lounge room.

“Mom, dad, Trunks and I are going over to see Chi-chi, and I‟m not sure when we‟ll get back. Seeya!”
she spun on her heel and almost made it to the front door when her father called out.
“Are you sure you‟re up to it? I mean, it‟s only been two weeks, should you really be-“

“I‟m fine!” she called back. She rolled her eyes. After all this time, they pick now to start the parental
concern bit? When I‟m thirty one?

“Well . . . if you‟re sure,” he said uncertainly. She was out the door before he could say any more.
Kami, she thought as she un-encapsulated her air car, I still act as though they could stop me from
going. I‟m not a teenager anymore, and they didn‟t even care that much when I was a teen. But then,
we‟ve never been all that close, I guess I never realized it until much later in my life, after all the stuff
with Goku and Yamcha, and the search for the Dragon balls. I won‟t do that with my son, no way, she
thought fiercely as she settled him in the passenger seat, which housed a securely clipped in cradle.
He‟ll grow up with as much love as I can give him. Without smothering him, she added as an
afterthought.

Climbing into the driver‟s seat, they sped away into the night, leaving a spray of gravel from the
downdraft of air in their wake.

**             **

“Chi-chi? Hello, are you home?” she called, knocking on the door for the second time. She had to be
here, her brain told her. Where else could she be? She‟s expecting me. “Chi-ch-“

The door burst open.

“Sorry Bulma,” a flustered Chi-chi said. “I was just tidying up in Gohan‟s room when you arrived.” She
ushered Bulma in.

She grinned. “It‟s okay, Chi-chi. Hopefully I won‟t have to deal with that for a long time to come.” Her
friend‟s eyes dropped to the blanket-wrapped bundle Bulma held in her arms, and she gasped in
delight.

“So this is little Trunks,” she whispered, looking down at him. “He‟s so tiny and sweet! And goodness,
you can see the both of you in him. That‟s Vegeta‟s nose, for sure.” She raised her eyes back to
Bulma‟s with a question in them. Bulma smiled.

“Go ahead. Hold him.” She carefully passed Trunks to Chi-chi, smiling as Trunks yawned and wrung
a laugh out of Chi-chi. Her friend certainly harboured no ill feelings toward their child, even if there
was half of Vegeta in him. It was good to know.

“I‟m so glad for the company, Bulma,” Chi-chi said, looking down at Trunks, “I‟m not used to having
both Goku and Gohan gone lately. I suppose I should be used to it by now, but. . .” she trailed off,
looking a little sad. Bulma‟s mouth kicked up at one corner, and she put a hand on Chi-chi‟s shoulder.

“Hey, you know I‟ll always come around whenever you need me to.”

“I do.” Her friend sighed softly, then looked at her straight in the eye. “Have you needed me lately and
not said anything? It can‟t have been easy for you, in the hospital with no-one but the doctor to deliv-“

“Oh, well . . . you see,” Bulma cut in with a grimace at the memory, “I never actually made it to the
hospital when Trunks was delivered. He was born on my bed, actually.” She blinked as Chi-chi
suddenly seemed to lose some colour from her cheeks. The woman blinked and stared at her for a
full ten seconds.

“You . . . gave birth to a half Saiyan baby by yourself? Bu-Bulma, tell me there was someone there. .
.” Chi-chi almost begged her with her eyes. Bulma, feeling somewhat taken aback by her reaction,
slowly shook her head.

“No.” What was wrong with her?
Chi-chi gasped and threw her one free arm around Bulma, startling the hell out of her with that wild
hug. “Oh, Bulma! That‟s unbelievable! You must have been so afraid, I know I was terrified, and I was
drugged and Goku was there, and there was a doctor and I was in hospital and-“

“Chi-chi, calm down. I‟m still alive, but Trunks soon won‟t be if you keep squishing him between us
like this.” She grinned as Chi-chi pulled back to look into Trunks‟ indignant red face. She smiled back,
but when she looked at Bulma it threatened to wobble. Her eyes held a very real fear that she could
have died that day. Bulma took her by the arm and walked into the living room, thinking hard, perhaps
she had been a little flippant about the whole thing. Except, of course, while she was actually in the
middle of it.

“Well, I was afraid, I‟ll say that. And Kami, I never knew it could hurt so badly! For a moment there I
almost thought Trunks was going to come out with spikes or something. That‟s was it was almost
like.”

“You‟re telling me!” Chi-chi said as they sat down on a sofa, still cradling Trunks. “I thought I was
about to see Kami‟s face smiling at me, I was that far gone. I thought I was done for.”

Bulma laughed. “What got you through it then?”

“Well, I couldn‟t just die. I‟d forgotten to hang out the laundry.”

Bulma stared open-mouthed at Chi-chi for a long moment. Disbelieving. And her dark-haired friend
burst into peals of laughter.

“Goodness, Bulma, I‟m only joking! Do you honestly think that would keep me hanging on?”

Silence.

“Bulma!”

Bulma grinned and shook her head. “Sorry. For a moment that almost seemed plausible. You kinda
rule this household with an iron fist, and it‟s not like Goku would know to do housework.” Chi-chi
made a mock angry face at Bulma, but grinned herself at the thought of her husband and son trying
to survive there without her. It wasn‟t a pretty picture.

“So, what really got you through it?” Bulma asked after a small silence. She took Trunks back from
Chi-chi and adjusted his blanket while she waited for an answer. She looked at Chi-chi, who was
wearing a faraway look. “Chi-chi?”

She blinked and looked at her friend. “Well, to tell you the truth, it was Goku. My labour didn‟t exactly
go according to plan, as some don‟t. I had haemorrhaged during the labour, and had lost a lot of
blood. They weren‟t too sure I had the life in me to deliver my son, let alone the strength.” Bulma‟s
eyes widened in surprise. She had never heard how Gohan had been born. She had no idea that
anything like this had happened, for sure.

“I was close to passing out; I just didn‟t have enough in me to go on with it. And even through the
drugs they had me filled with, I could feel such pain. I could hear the doctors telling the nurse to
prepare for an emergency Caesarean, that I wasn‟t going to make it. I was so afraid. . . Then I saw
Goku.”

“. . . And?”

“I just looked at him. You know he‟s not the most grounded guy in the world, and sometimes he could
be completely ignorant of my feelings and condition, but in that second, when I looked at him standing
beside my hospital bed, I could see his love and concern for me, magnified by the tears in his eyes.”
Chi-chi‟s eyes looked a little misty to Bulma, but then she realized with a start that she was looking at
her friend through her own wet eyes. Chichi smiled in remembrance.
“That gave me the strength for one last push, enough to deliver Gohan by my own will. That I
survived the blood loss, not even I know how that happened. I guess it was just one of those fated
things. I‟ll never forget the look on Goku‟s face when Gohan cried out for the first time.”

 She sighed and looked at Bulma, and made a startled sound at the tears rolling down her teal-haired
friend‟s cheeks.

Bulma laughed through them. “I‟m all right, Chi. That was just the most beautiful story I‟ve heard in a
long time. I had no idea that you went through all that just giving birth to Gohan. And Goku . . . I think
it‟s so sweet.” She hastily brushed the tears from her eyes, looking down at Trunks, who had gone to
sleep yet again. To have borne a child from strength stirred by a loved one‟s tears. . . She hadn‟t had
the pleasure. But she didn‟t dwell on it. Whatever happened, happened. She smiled again when Chi-
chi sniffled and laughed.

“Thank you Bulma, you have managed to get me all choked up. I think I‟ll go see to dinner.” She
wiped her eyes on the corner of the apron tied around her waist, and walked into the kitchen.

“Need any help? At least this time I can do more than chop vegetables,” Bulma pointed out. Laughter
floated out from the kitchen.

“No, you just see to Trunks. I can handle this.”

All right then, Bulma thought as she walked into the spare room, and un-encapsulated Trunks‟ spare
cradle. No need for his diaper to be changed, she noted, and slowly lowered him to the nest of
blankets, making sure he wasn‟t too hot or cold. He would awaken in a few hours, wanting to be
changed and fed, no doubt. It didn‟t bother her. She placed a light kiss on the top of his head and
retreated from the room, leaving the door open halfway so she could hear him if he decided to cry
out. Then she went to help Chi-chi with dinner, whether she wanted her to or not.

**             **

The dinner went very nicely. They compared notes on their pregnancy, and found out that they had
strangely both had cravings for a lot of fruit during their second trimester. Funnily enough, bananas
weren‟t on that list. Chi-chi told Bulma that she might have to watch out for her son starting to chew
on the walls when he began teething. Bulma had choked on her iced water at that. She couldn‟t quite
picture Gohan eating the walls, but when Chi-chi showed her the faint tooth marks on the doorframe,
she started believing. She also showed Bulma the mangled teething ring that used to be Gohan‟s,
and suddenly Bulma realized that Trunks might very well grow some sort of fang as his first tooth. No
normal child could do that with blunt human teeth.

She laughed at the thought. Maybe she should stop breastfeeding early.

Twice she went in to check on Trunks, once he was still sleeping and the other she had to change
him, other than that, the night was spent with Chi-chi and their own memories. They shared things
about their men that they had told no other soul, things that Goku or Vegeta would have no doubt
been either angry or embarrassed at. Chi-chi told Bulma of her and Goku‟s first „date‟, a novel affair
that wasn‟t quite what Chi-chi had thought it would be. Then it was Bulma‟s turn.

“. . . you jumped off the roof?!?” Chi-chi gasped. “You‟re crazy!”

“No, no, I fell off,” Bulma laughed. “But you should have seen him! I still get the shivers when I think
about it.” She sighed in remembrance of Vegeta‟s arms securely around her, like warm steel covered
in smooth skin. Chi-chi smiled widely.

“How romantic,” she sighed. “It gives me whole new opinion of Vegeta. But I wouldn‟t trade my Goku
for another living soul in the universe.” They fell into silence for a moment, but then Chi-chi piped up
with a question.

“Bulma,” she snapped her friend back to attention, “doesn‟t it still hurt to think of him? Like that?”
“I don‟t think it‟ll ever really stop,” Bulma confided. “But I think I‟m all but truly over him, or at least I
accept that he‟s gone for good now. It‟s not like he left me for someone else, and I think in the end I
did the right thing, or at least the only thing I could do in good conscience. Besides, he left me a
parting gift.” She tilted her head in the direction of the room Trunks was sleeping in. Chi-chi nodded
and they shared a smile. A great gift indeed.

As they both reclined on the couch, lost in their own memories, a harsh voice cut the silence and
froze Bulma in her thoughts. Her heart stopped.

“Kakkarot!”

 Time froze for a single instant, and a waterfall of ice crashed through Bulma‟s veins. It couldn‟t be. I-
I dreamed that. But she looked at Chi-chi, and knew that it was all too true. Her shock was reflected in
the other woman‟s dark eyes.

Vegeta was there.

One loud pound on the door echoed oddly back to Bulma‟s ears. She watched Chi-chi get to her feet
fearfully, soundlessly asking Bulma what she should do. Get the door?

“Damn you Kakkarot, get out here and face me like a warrior,” he continued to rage from outside.
“Masking your Ki will not work against me, you and I are going to spar whether you want to or not!”

“He thinks Goku is still here!” Bulma hissed. “What‟s going on?”

Chi-chi looked grim, but there was an angry gleam in her eyes. “I think I just found out where Goku
has been sneaking off to when he isn‟t training Gohan all these months.”

Another pound on the door. Bulma distantly wondered why he hadn‟t yet busted the whole thing
down. She also got to her feet. “Are you going to go and tell him where Goku is?”

“I wish I knew, “Chi-chi said quietly, with a fearful glance at the front hallway. “All I can do is tell him
he‟s gone. Goodness Bulma, even after what you‟ve told me, that man scares me. Maybe you could-“

“Oh, no you don‟t, “Bulma said shaking her head. Now that the chance had presented itself, she
wasn‟t at all sure she wanted to see Vegeta. And certainly not when he was angry like this. “You tell
him.”

“You have until the count of three to get out here-“he growled. A faint light lit up the outline of curtains
from the front window. Vegeta could be powering up! Was he crazy? The two women looked at each
other, frozen.

“One!”

A small whimper came from Trunks‟ room. Oh, no, not now.

“Two!”

A hitched breath that bordered on a sob made its way to Bulma‟s ears from that room. Trunks. . . No.
Not now.

“Three!”

Trunks wailed, a long and piercing cry.

And everyone froze.

Vegeta hadn‟t yet entered the house, but Bulma saw his shadow outlined on the wall in the hallway.
He didn‟t say a word. Another distressed cry from the spare room.
“I‟ll go and see to Trunks,” Chi-chi said, looking at the shadow also. Bulma drew in a shaking breath
and nodded slightly. Chi-chi disappeared into the room, and Trunks stopped crying just after. She
might as well tell him Goku wasn‟t here. Trunks really knew how to break the ice. Vegeta knew she
was here now. Either that, or he wondered when Chi-chi had spawned her second child. She
composed herself as much as she could, wetting her lips nervously. Damn it, her hands were actually
shaking. She wasn‟t afraid of him. . .

“Woman, I thought you had more courage,” Vegeta said huskily from the doorway. He hadn‟t even
laid eyes on her and yet he knew she was there. Gods, his voice. . . She drew another shuddering
breath and walked to the front door.

“I do.” For the first time in eight months, she stood face to face with Vegeta.

He stood in partial shadow, half his face illuminated by the moon, and that half studied her with a
ferocity that made her gasp in reaction. His looked so coldly angry. She could see that he was
wearing the same clothes that he had left CC in all that time ago, but to her surprise, they were clean.
And he looked as healthy as she had ever seen him. It made no sense. She realized they were just
standing there staring at each other in silence. She didn‟t really care all that much. His eyes dropped
to her midsection, and she could see the question that was burning in his eyes. He raised his eyes to
hers slowly, and the icy look in them was the only thing she could see. For once she couldn‟t read
past it into anything else he might be feeling. Maybe that was what he was feeling. Maybe he hated
her now. It wasn‟t uncalled for, but it hurt to think of. She took a breath and steadied herself.

“Goku isn‟t here. H-He and Gohan have gone off training somewhere.” Damn, her voice had
trembled. Vegeta muttered a curse under his breath that went to the tune of, “Useless, cowardly
sonofabitch, running away from me-" he cut himself off and glared at her.

“Why didn‟t you tell me sooner?” he said harshly. Bulma relaxed a little. This was something familiar,
and gave her some of her guts back.

“You were busy shouting and scaring the hell out of me and Chi-chi,” she pointed out. “For all I know
if I had gone out there you would have just blasted me one.”

Vegeta jerked back at that last comment. He eyed her warily, but said nothing. This wasn‟t going too
well, Bulma thought tiredly. Like anything with her and Vegeta ever really did. They were back to
staring at each other again. Bulma tried looking anywhere but at his face, in case she did something
irrational like try to kiss him or something. Unbidden, all her memories of her time with him flew to the
forefront of her mind, but she pushed them back forcefully. In the back of her thoughts surprise
registered that she hadn‟t been reduced to a crying mess at the very sight on Vegeta. Maybe she
really had grown stronger emotionally. But not by much. Just looking at him made her want to just-

“Then I have no reason to be here at all,” he said stonily. She blinked. He turned away from her and
started walking from her, into the shadows of the forest. Bulma was seized by something almost like
panic as she watched him leave. She couldn‟t let it go like this.

“Trunks,” she whispered. He stopped dead. The prince turned around slowly, regarding her with an
intense stare and such a look of coldness, and almost stepped back.

“What did you say?” he asked in a growling whisper, a slash of moonlight showing his eyes in the
night. She swallowed around a lump in her throat.

“That‟s his name. Trunks. He looks kinda like you,” she said softly, and tucked a strand of teal hair
behind her ear nervously. She didn‟t really expect Vegeta to say anything, but she felt he had the
right to know his own son‟s name.

So she was absolutely stunned when he came striding back to her, and took her by the shoulders.
She could do nothing but look up at him in shock. A shock of rightness. She should never have let
this go. Let him go. But she couldn‟t have done anything else.
“Show him to me. Now,” he ordered, looking hard into her face. His hands tightened roughly on her
shoulders, and she wriggled uncomfortably, her blue eyes dark. “All right, Vegeta. You don‟t have to
hurt me. I‟ll get him.”

 His hands left her shoulders, almost pushing her away from him. She didn‟t look into his eyes as she
turned away afraid that her sudden pain might be showing on her face. He acted like she was nothing
to him. This was no mask of his, he really felt this way. He really saw her as something beneath him.
Swallowing a sob, she strode back into the house and into the room Trunks was in with Chi-chi.

Her friend looked at her in alarm. “Are you all-“

“I‟m fine, Chi-chi. Please, he wants to see Trunks. Give him to me,” she said quietly, her arms
outstretched. Chi-chi did as she asked silently, looking at her with wordless worry. She had some
idea of what this must be doing to her, but had no way of fixing it. Bulma walked back out of the room,
her sleeping son cradled safely in her arms. She held him to her, drawing comfort from the small
child, somehow he eased her pain a little. He was still awake, looking at her with midnight blue eyes,
the eyes all human babies shared when first born. His would not change much. Trunks mewled a
little, in the back of his throat, and moved slightly in his blanket confinement. One arms freed itself as
she walked, but she paid it no heed as she returned to Vegeta.

She stepped closer to him so that he could see their son clearly. The darkness hid almost all
expression on his face, all she could see of him was one dark eye and the bitter twist of his mouth.
He said nothing as she adjusted Trunks in her arms slightly, giving Vegeta a better view of him.

“He- he was born two weeks ago. To the day, actually,” she said quietly, if only to break this silence
that was so unnerving. Vegeta gave a start at that, his eyes snapping up to hers for an instant. His
eyes unfocused as he looked back at Trunks, he seemed to be lost in thought. Bulma sighed and bit
her lip as Vegeta stayed silent, betraying no expression on his face. Would he ever speak to her? Or
even properly look at her? She knew this was all her doing, but Vegeta never made things easy for
her. How could she speak to him when for all the world he looked like he wanted to have nothing to
do with her? It killed all of her courage, that look. But after what seemed an eternity of endless silence
and waiting, he looked at her and spoke.

“Who else knows about him?” he said coldly. Bulma‟s eyes widened, even as her spirits fell. Back to
this again. She should have seen it coming.

“That he‟s ours? Well, Chi-chi, mom and dad. That‟s all,” she said woodenly. He snorted.

“Who else, woman? Don‟t expect me to believe that you haven‟t told Kakkarot, or even that weakling
Yamcha.” Bulma‟s eyes narrowed in anger, but Trunks gurgled and wiggled around again, and they
both looked down at him. His eyes sparkled happily and his free hand fisted at Bulma. Vegeta‟s eyes
narrowed also. Then the baby closed his eyes and his arm went limp, as he slept again. Bulma
betrayed a small smile. That little fist; was it a premonition of his life to come? She looked back up at
Vegeta.

“I haven‟t told anyone else about him. Chi-chi hasn‟t told Goku, nor will she until I decide to. Yamcha
doesn‟t even know I was pregnant at all yet.” That actually wrought a grunt from him, and his eyes
glinted wickedly.

“So you actually kept your mouth shut,” he said with cold humour. She gasped and her shoulders
stiffened angrily.

“Yes, Vegeta I did,” she grated. “Though Kami only knows why I didn‟t tell anyone; Trunks was never
to be kept a secret. Only we were.” Jerk, she thought. Even after all this time, he‟s back to the same
old argument. She pulled Trunks tighter against her and brushed by Vegeta, stepping out into the
night that surrounded the house. Maybe the dark would lend her a little protection against that gaze of
his. Also, she didn‟t really want Chi-chi to hear what they were saying, even if she wouldn‟t
purposefully eavesdrop. Vegeta spun on his heel to face her.
“Did I ever say you had to?” he said roughly. “Foolish woman, you jumped to the wrong conclusion.
Typical of a human.”

What? She ignored that barb and frowned at him in the darkness, unsure. “You mean you wouldn‟t
have cared if I had told the world, or more specifically, Goku, that you had a son?”

“Not particularly. If Kakkarot made any comment, it would just be one more reason to beat the life out
of him after the Androids were done with,” he said, the smirk that she couldn‟t see evident in his
voice. Bulma blinked and tried to conceal her shock at that.

“Then why couldn‟t you ever be like that with me?” she blurted out before she could stop herself. She
winced at her own words, then pushed ruthlessly on when Vegeta froze and looked at her wordlessly.
“If you‟d look at Trunks‟ situation like that, was the reason you kept shoving me away around Goku
just a subtle way to get rid of me? Is that it?” She couldn‟t hide the hurt on her face, she just hoped
that the night would obscure that. Vegeta didn‟t move for a few moments, all she could see was his
silhouette, and the spiky mane of his hair. He took a step forward and stopped just in front of her. She
lowered her head in an effort to hide the trembling of her lips, which were all that showed of her pain.

He put a hand under her chin and forced her head up to look at him squarely, making her shiver at
the contact. She blinked back a warmth in her eyes that was clouding her vision and looked back at
him helplessly. He could always freeze her with just a touch.

“If I recall correctly, woman, I was the one „shoved away‟,” he said with a world of ice in those words.
Ice? She thought faintly. If he had wanted that, why would he sound so angry? She swallowed hard
and mustered an answer.

“But it was you who brought it on yourself. Could you have stood to be treated like trash in front of all
your friends, by the one person you lo-“ she cut herself off before she could finish the sentence, her
face draining of colour. There was no need to give him another weapon to use against her. But she
had the feeling he knew what she had meant to say anyway. His hand dropped from her chin slowly,
and the breeze that blew around them seemed to wash her with a mixture of relief and loss. She
looked away, shifting her weight to her other foot.

Vegeta stared at her. He could actually understand where she was coming from a little, not that he
would ever admit it. It seemed the workings of her mind weren‟t an absolute mystery to him after all.
She did it to protect herself from further pain. It‟s as much as he would have done, had their positions
been reversed. Damn it, he thought savagely. His own stupidity had gotten him where he was right
now, standing in front of the woman who, months ago had shared her bed with him, and now could
barely stifle a shudder at his lightest touch. He turned to go once again.

“Vegeta, wait,” she said raggedly. “I-. . . don‟t go.” Bulma surprised herself by putting her free hand
on his sleeve. He stopped dead, more to her shock, but he didn‟t turn around.

“What.” He said it with no tone at all. Nothing. Why couldn‟t she read him anymore? She ploughed on
despite the lack of encouragement.

“Trunks will need training when he‟s old enough. You. . .You‟re the best one to do it, if you want to,”
she offered softly. It was all she could ask of him. But he didn‟t respond for a long time, just stood
opposite her, fists clenched by his sides, head held high. She realized she was going to have to
better than that to get through to him. And if that meant making herself a target for his anger, so be it.

“Vegeta, I made a. . . a mistake. A big one.” Kami, is this me saying this, she thought. Please let him
believe me. “I should never have judged you like I did. Who am I to tell you what kind of father you
might be? I was wrong to do it.” She took a breath, and lowered her own pride enough to take back
her own words and try to make amends.

“But. . .I can‟t let you push him away like you did to me. My offer stands, though. You can come back
to train Trunks, if it suits you. Even live at Capsule Corporation again, if it makes things easier.” She
grit her teeth hard. She hated to do this, admit she was wrong, and expose herself the way she was
doing, but it was for Trunks. She‟d go through hell for her son. Right now, hell meant putting herself
before Vegeta with nothing to protect her from his scorn, ice and anger.

She looked him straight in the eye. His own eyes were wide, as much surprise as could be shown on
his face. And they burned intensely, like a black flame. She guessed that the surprise came from her
admission. Even her friends had commented on the equivalence of pride she and Vegeta had. But
she had the emotional need to do this, and Vegeta most likely did not. She just hoped with all of her
heart that he would not trample her for doing this. If he ever wanted a perfect time to break her, this
was it.

He unclenched his fists from his sides and let out an audible breath of air. His jaw relaxed from its
clenched position as he studied her face for signs of deceit. There were none. He raised a hand to
lightly brush back a strand of hair from her cheek. “And what about you?” he said hoarsely.

She knew what he was asking. Hiding the effort it took to do it, she pulled back from the gentle brush
of his hand on her face. “Vegeta, I couldn‟t handle it before, and that was before we had a son
together. I won‟t be cast aside again. We stay away from each other.”

The hand dropped back to his side abruptly, but that was all the response he gave. She continued to
look at him steadily, knowing that she had to do this, no matter how much she wanted him just then.
He had to know that her own pride couldn‟t take being dragged through the dirt like it had been. She
took another breath and smiled faintly.

“This isn‟t an ultimatum. Train Trunks whenever you want, I won‟t stop you. But me . . . just know that
I can‟t be with you while you still hurt me like this.” She dropped her eyes again. Kami, she thought, I
can‟t take much more of this. Everything inside of her rebelled at doing this, Vegeta would probably
just throw it all back in her face and stride away, not caring about either of them that he left. And she
would be left with nothing, and it would all be her own fault. . .

“I . . .” he started. Her head jerked back up. He looked like he was battling internally with something,
but she had no idea what. Since he had left he had become a veritable stranger to her, his control of
his emotions had strengthened, and she couldn‟t do a thing about that.

He blew out a breath and looked at her, holding his son in her arms. That small child that looked so
much like her, yet held the Saiyan blood within him as surely as he himself did. The child he never
thought he would have. A woman who looked at him with anguished love in her face, and an offer to
give him a second chance that he did not deserve. A family just within his grasp.

But he couldn‟t.

He straightened his shoulders and put his hands on hers, drawing her closer to him without actually
touching her or Trunks. She looked up at him with uncertain hope flaring in her eyes, something that
she tried to smother before he saw it. He smirked. She was much like him. Before she could stop him,
even if she wanted to, he lightly kissed her lips and drew back regretfully.

“I will train the boy, woman. But I won‟t come back. Not yet.”

Bulma felt burning tears fill her eyes, but she nodded anyway. He understood what she had been
trying to say, and that made it all right. He took one long look at them, seeming to place it in his
memories, before turning on his heel and flying off into the night.

She didn‟t know how long she stood there before Chi-chi came out to see what was wrong. Not yet . .
. that wasn‟t a never. Perhaps he just needed to sort some things out. Until then, she decided she
could wait. After all, it wasn‟t every day Vegeta took back an oath.

I won’t be back, woman.

Yet she knew he would return, and just then, she didn‟t feel pain at his departure. It wasn‟t forever.
**                     **                      **



Vegeta flew as hard as he could to get away from the scene he had left. The further he was from her,
the less chance there was that he would fold and go back to her. He knew he wouldn‟t though, that
just wasn‟t him. But it had felt. . . hard, to leave. Some part of him had wanted to stay, a very big part.
But not as he was now. He couldn‟t, he had told her, not yet.

So now he darted through the thermals, twisted hard to get above the clouds, or at least as far from
the ground so he could not see anything but the trees in the surrounding area. He needed to think.

I can‟t go back, he thought. I don‟t want a woman who thinks it degrading to be mine. And she is
mine, I should be able to treat her as I wish! But even as he thought that, everything in him rebelled at
the wayward thought. She treated him with all the respect one could show a person, with no thought
to herself or anything she had really wanted in return from him. True, she had often teased him and
even once or twice cut him down with her acid tongue, but no more than he had done to her. And he
had admired that in her, the ability she had to argue with him and win, even though a lesser woman
would be shaking in fear at the mere sight of him, knowing who and what he was. And even though
he had showed little affection towards her, on the rarest occasions ever opened up to her, she. .
.loved him. Him. How could he not show her the respect she deserved, after she had given him that
gift? And even more than that, given him a son. A strange looking child, true, her human blood had
made a mockery of the true Saiyan colouring. But his child nonetheless. He hadn‟t been quite able to
believe the way she had held the child, with such love and protectiveness that she couldn‟t quite hide.
Not that he wanted her to. That was his child that she had been smiling down at, her open love
shining in her sea-blue eyes.

He had often thought in time past that if ever she got pregnant with his heir, she would reject it. He
never really knew why he had thought that way, a small wriggling insecurity that had burrowed under
his shield and had never really left. After all, what use was an heir to the Saiyan empire, if there was
nothing to give the boy? His life was a wasted one, he would never inherit as he should. Which wasn‟t
in itself a terrible thought, Vegeta conceded. Saiyan custom in the palace demanded that the heir kill
the King to gain his throne. Nothing less than supreme strength was allowed to sit upon the throne,
and if the King was weaker than his son, his time was soon over. If he remembered back far enough,
that was why he had never risen to claim the title of King. He hadn‟t been the one to kill his father.
And now that Planet Vegeta was gone, perhaps it wasn‟t so terrible that his son wouldn‟t be the one
to kill him. If Vegeta had it as he wanted, „Trunks‟ would never know of the ritual.

He blinked and felt his lips curve at the thought of the boy‟s name. Who or what had possessed her to
call him that? It was such a human name he could almost be sick. Incredibly un-Saiyan-like. But there
was no help for it, he hadn‟t been nearby at the time of naming to contest the horrible forename.

Which bothered him a little. Something didn‟t feel quite about that, he was sure now that it had been
her Ki he had felt in the compound that day. Still, it felt as though something wasn‟t right, other than
the fact that he hadn‟t been there nearby at the time. Perhaps he‟d find out some other time, he knew
he wouldn‟t forget. His instincts were his most trusted inner voice, with him in battle and out. They
would not be wrong about this.

He flew on, deep into the mountains thickly shrouded in both night and trees. Deeper still, to the
darkest area that he could find this late in the night. Even his enhanced senses were not completely
able to see in the dark, thought they were by far better than a humans. Still, he wasn‟t a god. He
smirked to himself. Not yet, anyway. After he beat Kakkarot, there would be none stronger than he.
He would be the closest thing to a mortal deity. Yes, mortal. He did not want immortality any longer.
What use was it being forever young and powerful if there was no challenge waiting for him? He
could not think of anything worse than that in the realm of the living. And to die would be his
punishment for what he had done in his past. To break worlds was not a light crime, and lately he felt
himself almost wanting to be cleansed of that. He knew such a thing was impossible, and he often
pushed the thoughts away. As he touched down in the shadowed woods, he dimly wondered if all
these deep thoughts were Bulma‟s influence on him. Never before had he acted so introspective, and
he didn‟t exactly like it, either.

“Dammit, why am I plagued by this?” he muttered to himself. “Thoughts of things I cannot change;
things that won‟t let me be. I never had this problem before I-” he stopped his words. This had all
started when he met her, but his thoughts had turned toward himself when he left. And he didn‟t like
what his mind threw back at him. A selfish, uncaring soul burning brightly with the flame of pride. A
cold warrior who was a plague upon life, who had no care for anything or anyone. A man who despite
his best efforts to bury it under layers of determination to be the best, was forever alone. Because of
the one thing that he had been told to preserve at all costs. His Saiyan pride. How could he ease his
thoughts without letting that go? How could he keep his pride without doing to the woman what he
had already done once before? How could he go back to her. . . to his son. He knew she would
welcome him back into her home, for the sake of the boy only, if he could not get past his own inner
battle to acknowledge her. She hadn‟t tried blackmailing him with the kid, not that that could ever
have worked. Had she tried that he would have known then and there that she was not who he
thought she was, and would have left in that second, never looking back. She was smart enough to
see that, if the idea had ever crossed her mind. She knew him.

But if she knew him so well, why did she not see that he could never do what she asked? Unless she
saw something he did not. But he knew that was impossible. But the other thought rankled. He could
not do something? He could not? The Prince of Saiyans, pride of the Saiyans was unable to do this?
He laughed bitterly. The old title. He had been prophesised at birth to uphold the Saiyan pride. From
then that had been his title. Pride, damn it to hell! He was unable to return to her with pride intact, and
it was his pride that stung from being unable to do this. A paradox, for sure.

He shut his eyes briefly. His head was beginning to ache, and he knew that this problem would not be
solved then and there. Sitting at the base of a tree, he leaned back and watched the stars that filtered
between the branches of the trees quietly, cursing his miserable existence to the very depths of his
soul.

***

Bulma opened the door to her house with one hand, holding a sleeping baby in the other. She slipped
in silently, dropping her keys on the kitchen countertop and shifting Trunks‟ bag of stuff to a more
secure place on her shoulder. Her movements were all mechanical, she wasn‟t exactly concentrating
on the actions she was performing. Perhaps, she thought, she was in a dim state of shock from all
that had happened. After so long. . . Vegeta hadn‟t exactly been the warmest person towards her, but
then he never was. Still, it had been like an awakening, seeing him again. Memories lied, that was all
she could say. There was no remembrance that was even close to simulating what it was like actually
seeing him again. She flicked her teal hair over her shoulder and blinked in the semi-darkness. After
Vegeta had left, she had apologized profusely to Chi-chi, but had told her that she needed to go
home. Her friend had understood her reason and was more sympathetic than affronted by her hasty
exit.

Yawning loudly, she felt her way around the barely lit room and made her way up the stairs. Her
parents had gone to bed long ago, and she was loathe to wake them by turning on the lights. Rocking
Trunks against her, she walked into the nursery and lay him down in his cradle gently, careful not to
wake him. She hoped with all her might that he would sleep through the rest of the night. It was very
late, soon to be morning, but she didn‟t hold out much hope that he would sleep through. Saiyan or
not, there were some ways that this child could act just as a human baby would. Whispering a
goodnight to her sleeping child, she shut the door partly and walked to her own room, blinking
sleepily. She undressed quietly in the darkness and slid into her bed, where she lay for a long while,
staring at the ceiling. As tired as she felt just then though, she knew that sleep would be a long time
coming. Her thoughts were full of exactly one person. She didn‟t know if she was patient enough to
wait until he was ready to return to her, if he ever was. As mercurial as Vegeta could be, she couldn‟t
slap away the thought that he would grow sick of her and simply never come back. Though he had
looked almost upset earlier when she said they would be nothing to each other if he moved back to
train Trunks now. But that might be because she had been casting him out of her bed, not for any
deeper reason. . .

She slammed the door shut on those thoughts. Trust was what was called for if she was going to stay
sane, Vegeta would never be like that towards her. How could he? She was the only person he had
ever let near, and the only one he seemed to trust. If he could do it, so could she. The thought
stabilized her enough to calm her whirring thoughts a little. Vegeta had said he would come back. He
just hadn‟t been able to do it now. She could wait.

***

She was as good as her promise to herself; she waited. But she didn‟t sit idly, in fact she got on with
her life once more. Beginning to realize that acting like a loner was not becoming on her, she began
to act like her old self again. Still, she couldn‟t revert completely, she had a child to look after. But she
still grew more lively, testing her cooking skills out and experimenting with them, much to her
mother‟s delight. She picked up her love affair with shopping, and now Trunks‟ nursery looked like
something fit for a child prince. Exactly how she wanted it. Not happy with re-vamping her child‟s
room, she even went through a phase of interior decorating, using one of the twin adjoining rooms on
the other side of the house to work on, her mother taking the other. While her style had taken on
something of an „Arabian Nights‟ theme, her mother had more muted tastes. After the finished
product was done, they agreed they would leave the rooms as they were, but leave the ideas locked
away with the room. Still, Bulma looked at it every once in a while, wondering what type of person
would suit a room like that, much less want to stay in it. Only a very unique person would be fit for a
room like that.**

Other than that, she also got herself back into shape, taking up swimming in the family pool again.
Her memories surfaced when she looked at the pool for the first time in a long while, and she couldn‟t
help but giggle. It had been what seemed like forever since that day in the pool. Still, she treasured
the memory of getting the mighty prince involved in something of a water battle. She had lost, but
even so, she laughed at the recollection. And of course she took care of her son through it all, the
small boy bringing more light to her life than a hundred suns ever could. Over the course of almost
three months, she watched his expressions develop, watched his unsteady, jerky movements start
some semblance of a crawl before her own eyes. Only a semblance, he was yet half human. still,
she was almost certain that he had smirked at her once or twice, and if that wasn‟t Vegeta shining
through in him then she was crazy.

She was happier now than she could remember being in many months, and she felt more in control of
herself. It wasn‟t just Vegeta‟s promise of return either, she had finally woken up and started living
after her talk with Chi-chi. Her friend had helped her in more ways than she knew. But some things
hadn‟t yet been resolved, and in retrospect she guessed that was when Kami took the reins.

It was a quiet afternoon that she spent walking in the local park, holding Trunks in her arms as she
strolled down the green shrouded paths. Talking to him softly, as he cooed and pulled at her hair, she
told him about the types of plants that they walked past, wondering to herself if Trunks would have a
love for science himself when he grew up. Maybe from the way he was staring wide-eyed at the
plants and flowers around them, he would be a botanist. Maybe. . .

She was completely absorbed in what she was doing, and never saw the figure in her path until she
ploughed straight into it. Gasping, she nearly lost her balance and fell, Trunks clasped to her. The
person she had ran into grabbed her by the shoulders to steady her, and as soon as she had gotten
her senses back, she glared up at the person.

“Hey buster, why don‟t you watch. . .” she looked up at him and swallowed. “Hello Yamcha.”
Yamcha looked just as startled to see her. He was alone, and must have been travelling the paths
himself when he ran into her. But just then she thought the accident was the last thing on his mind.
His eyes were pinned to Trunks with an almost hypnotised sense of concentration. He blinked.

“Bulma, who‟s kid is that?” he asked mildly, and almost distantly. She winced and took a deep breath.

“Mine, Yamcha.”

**

Meditative calm wasn‟t even working. Nothing worked, damn it. Not even sleep offered him any
solace lately, the little he got was plagued by dreams now. Cursing, he stood up and punched the
tree he was leaning on as hard as he could. The unfortunate thing splintered into about three
thousand pieces of wood, its roots pulled up from the ground as it toppled over. Small motes of dirt
floated down from the air, making the sunlight hazy.

Vegeta looked at his hand irritably, before cursing again. For sparring purposes only, he wished
Kakkarot were nearby, but the mindless fool had taken off again with his son and the Namek. Damn
training in the ice, that was something he didn‟t exactly need. Not that he would have gone had it
been anywhere else anyway. No, he was there in solitude, not in any particular mood to do anything
but kill. There had to be some way to gain his peace, but he would be damned if he could find it.
Thoughts of the woman and his own pathetic place in the world had nearly driven him up the wall.
Almost three months of this torture had him close to breaking point, and he still wasn‟t any closer to
any type of answer than he had been almost three months ago. He forced his mind to clear a little,
and for experimental purposes only, triggered his ascent to Super-Saiyan. He felt the instantaneous
roar or the power filling him, saw the gold of his legacy encasing his form. Closing his eyes, he drank
in the sensation of having achieved his life‟s goal.

Why did it feel so empty?

It was what he wanted, but now that he had it, he felt himself lacking something. All his life he had
thought that if he could reach SS, everything would fall into place. Everything would be all right, and
he would no longer feel so empty and unworthy. He had risen to claim the title, but still, it didn‟t give
him any peace. Inner peace, anyway, he still craved a fight or the next challenge. Flickering
memories of Bulma filled his mind, and they remained. His son, with his odd coloured hair and eyes,
staring up at him with a clenched fist. Prophecy personified. He would teach that boy to fight no
matter what, but it was too early yet. At least another four years. Until then. . . what was he to do?
Reside in the mountains? Never. As low as he had stooped in these last few years, the Prince of
Saiyans would not live in the wilderness like a common animal. Despite himself, his mouth twisted
wryly. For someone who had eaten their defeated enemy when no other food was available, he was
mighty uppity. But then, he hadn‟t had anyone to „pull him into line‟ in a long time, in the woman‟s
words. He opened his eyes. Perhaps she would hold the answers to why he was so restless. There
was no need to speak to her, or even let her know he was there. Perhaps if her saw her, he would
find his answers. Maybe even make his decisions.

He took to the air in one swift movement, his mind locked onto a miniscule Ki that was so familiar to
him, blocking all others out. As he flew a small voice inside him asked if this was the only reason he
was going to her.

He flew on.

**

“Y-yours?” Yamcha choked. “Who is the father? Not. . .” he trailed of when he saw her look.
Trepidation was etched all across her face. His eyes widened.

“Vegeta? Holy shit. Holy shit!! You had his kid? That- that evil, murderous little runt-?“ he broke off
when Bulma slapped him across the face by reflex. Deja-vu hit them both, and Bulma just stared at
him angrily. Yamcha rubbed his cheek lightly, his eyes dark with anger and hurt. Bulma shifted
Trunks in her arms, and looked at him defiantly.

“I thought we went over this a long time ago. Obviously you still need to be taught a lesson,” she said
coldly, tossing her head. He hadn‟t changed a bit in that whole time since she‟d seen him. He just
looked at her silently for a long moment, and when he spoke, she realized her mistake.

“I don‟t know what is worse, the fact that you went and got pregnant with Vegeta‟s kid, or that you
never even thought I was important enough to tell. I thought we were friends, but I guess even that
was too much to hope for,” he said quietly, his eyes shadowed. She could tell easily that he was
wounded by the last. Her face softened.

“Yamcha, I‟m sorry. About the last part, anyway. You are right, I should have kept in touch and let you
know, because we are friends. And as to the other, I‟m not sorry that Vegeta is the father of Trunks,
and I‟m not sorry to have a son. I think you deserved that slap.” There was still a slight iciness in her
voice, but he seemed to understand. His eyes dropped.

“I‟m glad you still consider us friends, Bulma. I didn‟t mean to . . . freak out on you like that.” He
looked at her again with a ghost of a smile touching his lips. “Can you forgive me?”

Bulma smiled and nodded. “Of course, you dope. You‟ll always be my friend.” His face brightened into
his usual easy expression, which she was glad to see the return of. He seemed to want to hug her,
but Trunks was in between the both of them, hiding his head in Bulma‟s chest. He shrugged and
looked her over.

“You look well, I guess. How long has it been? A year now? More? I guess I could have kept in touch
too, so I guess I can‟t be too angry with you about that. How‟s. . . Vegeta doing?” he asked
uncertainly, and Bulma could see him making the effort to take back his earlier words, for her sake at
least. But that didn‟t make the question any easier to answer.

She shrugged. “As well as can be expected, I guess.” That could be taken many ways, and she
hoped he wouldn‟t pry further. After his earlier outburst, maybe he was just waiting for a chance to
jump down her throat and rub her face in the fact that Vegeta wasn‟t living anywhere near CC.

She wasn‟t exactly in luck. He eyed her doubtfully. “Why, did something happen to him?” he asked
slowly. She lowered her eyes from his and started becoming very interested in her surroundings.
Yamcha groaned.

“He left, didn‟t he? God, Bulma, how can you keep standing up for the guy if he does stuff like this?
Loyalty can only go so far, you know,” he said disgustedly. He seemed to accept her devotion to
Vegeta, but that didn‟t make him understand it one tiny bit. She swung her eyes to him and studied
his reaction, a frown marring her features.

“You never complained when I stuck by you, even when you did some things that other people found
to be. . .questionable. And in any case, Vegeta didn‟t leave, exactly. I told him to go,” she informed
him smoothly. Yamcha‟s jaw dropped practically to the ground.

“Why?!” he asked her in shock. “Are you crazy?” Bulma had to grin at his reaction.

“Wow, Yamcha, I didn‟t think you liked him that much,” she teased gently. He frowned at her.

“Come on, Bulma. Why would you tell him to leave? It‟s obvious that you love the guy. What the hell
happened?” he asked, sounding almost, almost pissed off at her. Bulma was surprised. Well, this was
a turnaround. Maybe in the year since she‟d seen him he had grown to be a little more intuitive, and a
little less close-minded. But only a little, if at all.

She sighed and studied him intently. He already knew about her and Vegeta, to a certain degree, but
her promise to Vegeta still stood. Yamcha was her oldest friend aside from Goku, but she didn‟t want
to make things worse by revealing more than she already had. It came with a surprise that she really
was loyal to Vegeta. Where had that come from? But she accepted it for what it was, and shook her
head at him.

“I‟m sorry Yamcha, but I‟d rather not go into that just now. Just trust me when I say that it was the
only thing I could have done.” It was a little cryptic, but she couldn‟t say anything else. Not without
breaking her word. The funny thing was, Yamcha seemed to understand what she was trying not to
say.

“There is only one thing that could possibly come between you and him, if he feels the same about
you. Pride,” he stated. Bulma‟s eyes widened. Maybe he really did have a clue. He smiled sadly at
her.

“Bulma, you know that I‟ll always be here for you, if you need me. I said it before, and I‟ll say it again.
And I mean it even more now,” he said, with a pointed glance at the child in her arms, “now that you
have him to take care of. Just tell me what I can do to help, and I will.”

Bulma looked at him uncertainly. What he was offering was sweet of him, more than she could ever
have expected of him. But. . .

“I‟m not trying to take his place,” he said hastily, and they both knew which „he‟ Yamcha was talking
about, “you know all I‟ll ever be to you now is a friend.”

Bulma grinned suddenly and rolled her eyes. “Well, damn. And here I was getting my hopes up.
Yamcha, thank you for the offer, it means more to me than I can ever tell you. If I ever need help for
anything, I‟ll be sure to call you first,” she told him sincerely. Yamcha looked embarrassed for a
second, as though he‟d said more than he‟d had meant to, but he nodded and smiled back at her.

She didn‟t know why Yamcha was such a good friend to her, but she was grateful for him more than
she could say. She didn‟t know what she would have done if he had simply turned his back on her
when he had realized whose child she held in her arms. In a way, he has just as close a friend as
Chi-chi was, only in a different way. Granted, she had been more than friends with Yamcha for a long
while, but neither of them looked at each other in that way anymore. They really were more
compatible as friends. Bulma suddenly blinked as warm tears blurred her vision slightly, surprising
her with their arrival. Yamcha looked upset when he saw her wipe them away half-heartedly.

“Oh, jeez, Bulma. Don‟t do that, okay?” he said uncomfortably. “I hate it when you start crying. I‟ll cut
the mushiness, just stop!”

She smiled and shook her head. “I‟m fine, Yamcha. Don‟t freak out on me now. I‟m just really glad to
have you around, that‟s all.” She pulled Trunks closer to her, who had fallen asleep with his head still
hidden against her. He eyed her for a second, chewing his lip.

“He really is a fool, you know,” he said gruffly. “If I had to choose between my pride or a loving family,
I know what I would pick.”

Bulma gasped. How did he see these things? He looked at her solemnly for a long second as her
look changed from surprise to sadness. She sighed.

“I made the decision, Yamcha. I don‟t expect you to understand, but I had to make him leave. He
might still return, once he figures out which he wants more,” she said softly. He suddenly looked
angry.

“Yeah, and how long are you willing to wait for him?” he asked her brutally. “How long is he going to
take? A month, a year? Five? Are you going to be his faithful servant, happy whenever he throws you
a scrap of hope? I thought you had more dignity than that.”

Bulma flinched under the truth of his words, but she could say nothing to defend herself. The sad
thing was, he understood her situation, even if he didn‟t know all the details. He saw what was
happening to her, and he wasn‟t as sympathetic as Chi-chi had been. What was worse still, she knew
what he was saying could very well happen. Vegeta might come back, but what was she to do until
then? How long was she willing to wait? Her eyes dropped to Trunks, and she couldn‟t help the
answer that filled her mind.

Forever.

Damn him, he had really done a number on her, hadn‟t he? She was ruined for life. She‟d never look
at another man except him like that again. Resigned amusement filled her. She only hoped she had
done the same thing to him.

“He doesn‟t deserve you,” he said quietly, reading the look in her eyes. “But who am I to judge? He‟ll
suit you better than I ever could, I only hope I find a woman as devoted to me as you are to him.
You‟re a lost cause, Bulma, so I‟m just going to give up on that.”

She tossed her hair over one shoulder, and shifted Trunks more comfortably in her arms. “I‟m not a
pushover, Yamcha. He doesn‟t command me, and he never will. I do this for myself. Even if I am a
lost cause,” she added almost as an afterthought.

He sighed heavily and looked about him. “I sure picked a hell of a day to take a walk in the park. If I‟d
known I was going to have a Deep and Meaningful with you, I would have stayed at home.” He
winced as Bulma punched him in the stomach. “Joking, Bulma. I‟m joking.”

“So I guess I wasn‟t the only one avoiding a meeting, was I?” She asked teasingly. He snorted.

“Hey, I‟m not the one who got pregnant. I just wanted a little peace. No offence, Bulma, but whenever
I run into you, you‟ve got bad news.”

“Trunks isn‟t bad news!” she said indignantly. “He‟s a beautiful miracle.”

Yamcha looked at the small baby she held, who suffered from a mixture of Bulma‟s eyes set in
Vegeta‟s face, and fuzzy purple hair. “. . .Yeah. Beautiful. Right.”

Bulma frowned, then looked at him appraisingly. “You wanna hold him?” she asked mischievously,
holding Trunks out to him. “He won‟t bite you.”

Yamcha looked sceptical. “He‟s Vegeta‟s kid, right? I‟m not so sure about that.” But he slowly
extended his arms out to grasp the boy awkwardly, darting uncertain looks at him like he was going to
power up at any second. Bulma grinned.

“Have you ever held a baby before? Here, do it like this,” she said, guiding his arms around and
under the small child, making sure he cradled his head and didn‟t squash him. Yamcha looked down
that the boy and gave a crooked smile.

“He‟s pretty ugly, you know. Have you thought about investing in a paper bag?” he asked with a laugh
at Bulma‟s outraged expression. Her scowl soon melted away to be replaced by a soft smile as she
stood just next to him, smiling down at Trunks. Yamcha liked Trunks, he just didn‟t want to admit it
because he was Vegeta‟s child. She could understand that.

Trunks opened dark blue eyes to look at the both of them, and let out a small gurgle. They both
smiled tenderly down at him, even though Yamcha was trying to look grumpy and failing.

And that was the scene Vegeta chanced upon.

***************************************************************



Bulma was smiling down at Trunks when she felt Yamcha stiffen up like someone had jammed a live
wire up his backside. With a startled jerk, she looked up at him, noticing that his face was ghost-white
and his hands were grasping Trunks too tightly for her liking.
“Yamcha, what is it?” she asked worriedly. “Are you feeling okay?” he didn‟t answer. Automatically
reaching to take her son from Yamcha‟s now none-too-steady hands, she saw a shadow over his
shoulder. Her hands froze in place as she caught a glance of a familiar flame-haired silhouette, and
she slowly turned around without taking Trunks from her ex-boyfriend. What- what was he doing
here? When her eyes fell upon Vegeta, she had to swallow a gasp and restrain herself from taking a
step back.

Kami, he had never, never looked so angry as he had in that moment. Not ever. His ebony eyes were
fiercely burning with a possessive rage that he had yet to conceal, they glowed like the black light of
death. His features were twisted into a rictus of absolute anger, and a half-frightened Bulma didn‟t
know what was wrong with him. Until she realized his eyes were pinned on Yamcha and the small
bundle he held in his arms, and not her at all.

Yamcha was still as stone, looking at Vegeta like he was staring into the face of what was about to kill
him. From the looks of Vegeta, she didn‟t blame Yamcha for his fear one little bit. What was Vegeta‟s
problem? He hadn‟t taken that much interest in Trunks that night, why was he here now, and looking
so furious just because Yamcha was holding him? Composure was called for here, and between
Yamcha‟s shaking and Vegeta‟s kill-looks, it was up to her to resolve whatever problem there was
here.

“Vegeta?” she said in only mild alarm, “what‟s the matter? What are you doing here?” That didn‟t
sound too bad, she thought to herself. No absolute shock seeping through at all. Good.

Vegeta flicked his eyes in her direction once, but the majority of his attention was focussed on
Yamcha. She glanced at her one-time lover and rolled her eyes. He looked ready to wet himself, if he
hadn‟t already. She nudged him with one elbow.

“Jeez, get a hold of yourself, Yamcha. It‟s Vegeta, not evil incarnate come to steal your soul,” she
said quietly, but the look he shot her seemed to say he thought they were one and the same. But it
seemed to do the trick, Bulma‟s words letting some of the tension seep out of him. His mind seemed
to shift into gear again, and he adjusted his grip on her son ever so slightly. His eyes flashed for just a
second, flickering to her in some message she wasn‟t sure she got. What was Yamcha up to?

“Hey, Vegeta, is there a problem or something?” he said amiably, if a little unsteadily. Vegeta‟s eyes
started to narrow dangerously. And when he spoke, Bulma‟s jaw threatened to hit the ground. Six
words that she never thought she would hear with such possessiveness.

“Get. Your. Hands. Off. My. Son.” He hissed it, biting each word off separately and almost spitting it in
Yamcha‟s direction. Bulma‟s throat was too crowded with words to get one out. What was he- This
was- Why-? She shook herself and blinked at Vegeta.

“What is wrong with you, Vegeta? He‟s only holding him-“ she started in confusion, but was cut off by
Yamcha.

“Here Bulma, take him. I don‟t want to get on Vegeta‟s bad side by touching his kid, now do I?” he
said easily. But that hidden glint was still in his eyes, that Bulma could only guess at. But it seemed
that Yamcha had his control back, so she took Trunks from him with a curious glance at Vegeta. He
was still glaring coldly at Yamcha. She stifled a gloomy sigh, if only he would care so much abou-

All her thoughts flew out the window as Yamcha placed an arm familiarly around her shoulders,
drawing her against his side lightly, gently.

“Do you wanna get outta here now?” He asked her, as though Vegeta was nowhere in the vicinity. “All
that walking must have made you tired. We could go back to my place, it‟s closer than CC.” Shock
blanked out all her thoughts. Yamcha was crazy!! Vegeta stiffened and stared at her with burning
eyes. What was Yamcha doing? Trying to get himself killed by encroaching on Vegeta‟s territory or
something?
Oh.

Silently she reeled. Was this way of trying to help her out? He could very well destroy everything in
one careless movement. She didn‟t think she could go along with it, no matter how good her acting
skills were.

Vegeta snarled as she blinked a few times and looked at him wordlessly. What must he be thinking?
Yamcha was setting him up here, but she didn‟t think he knew it. What would he do when he realized
this was just a big emotional trap set for him? And after what had happened last time. . . they had
been making progress, slowly, but still progress. What if this had screwed everything up?

Yamcha sneered at Vegeta. “What is your problem? I gave Trunks back to Bulma, no need to look
like you want to rip out my throat now. Because if it‟s Bulma you want now, you can forget about it. If
you‟re not man enough to keep her, what should it matter if I do? I mean, it is only the kid you‟re
worried about, isn‟t it?” he asked, a loaded question if ever there was one. Bulma felt faint.

The Saiyan Prince looked from her to Trunks to Yamcha, and his eyes flashed with flickers of
questions and emotions that she only got minute glimpses of in a split second. She could easily tell
that he felt cornered in the extreme. It warmed her heart to know that he didn‟t want to let her go. In
whatever way he wanted to keep her, at least he wanted her. She swallowed hard and stepped away
from Yamcha, needing to take action somehow. She looked at Vegeta steadily and shook her head.

“Calm down, Vegeta. Yamcha seems to have gotten his wires crossed somewhere.” Better to say that
for Yamcha‟s sake; she didn‟t want to get him beaten up for lying to Vegeta. “No one „keeps‟ me. I‟m
no animal. And you don‟t have to say anything, I know where I stand.” She smiled at him with sad
eyes and clasped Trunks to her.

But her words, meant to be reassuring, only seemed to heighten his agitation. His fists clenched
tightly by his sides, as he seemed to stare into her soul. She wasn‟t sure, but it was almost like he
had taken her words as an insult. But what had she said? Yamcha was giving her a sideways look
that said she was ruining everything, but she didn‟t care. She never had really liked deception, in any
form.

“Then what the hell is going on here?” Vegeta said harshly. “That fool, touching what‟s mine, playing
it off as his own?” She wasn‟t sure if he meant her or Trunks, and she wasn‟t sure he knew either.
The little charade was gone, Yamcha didn‟t seem to care all that much, but now that he‟d been
insulted, he was out for blood too. Bulma just hoped it wasn‟t in a literal sense.

“You‟re calling me a fool? Vegeta, as strong as you might be compared to me, you‟re dumber than
any human you‟ve ever insulted, ignoring her,” he said in a voice just as harsh. Bulma gaped. Where
had Yamcha pulled all this from? Why was he actually standing up to Vegeta? This wasn‟t like him at
all. Perhaps the year apart from him had changed more than just his perception of things; maybe he‟d
gone crazy. But he gave the prince a disgusted look, eyeing Vegeta‟s now glowing blue outline.
Bulma‟s eyes darted between the two men, not quite knowing what to do. Would they be offended if
she tried to stop the almost-inevitable fight that was going to happen? She didn‟t want to insult their
pride or whatever, but she didn‟t like acting the spectator in an argument that was about her, either.

Vegeta relaxed and smirked at Yamcha. “What should it matter how intelligent you think I am, idiot
weakling. I have something you never will,” he taunted, looking at Bulma holding Trunks. Yamcha
stiffened terribly, and his lip curled cruelly.

“Too bad you weren‟t man enough to do anything but give her the child and run,” he sneered.

Vegeta moved faster than Bulma believe possible, and the next thing she knew Yamcha was skidding
in the dirt, almost cart-wheeling from the force of the blow dealt him. But he was on his feet after a
few moments, glaring at Vegeta triumphantly as he wiped blood from the corner of his mouth.
“Did I hit a sore spot?” he said in a mock concerned voice. “Have I found something the mighty
Saiyan Prince is afraid of? His own feelings?”

Vegeta looked ready to go Super-Saiyan, he was that angry. He was still as stone though, indicating
that Yamcha had indeed hit him where it hurt. Bulma shook her teal hair over one shoulder and
glared at the two men. This had gone far enough.

“All right, you two. That‟s enough-“ she started, but was cut off.

“Stay out of this, woman,” Vegeta ordered quietly. She bristled immediately, her eyes darkening with
anger.

“I will not stay out of this! Both of you, shut the hell up and look at me! Do it!” She commanded when
they continued glaring at each other. But they obeyed reluctantly after a minute, and she eyed them
both coldly.

“I don‟t know where either of you got the misled impression that I am an object that you can beat each
other up over, but this has to stop. I‟ve had it up to here with this crap,” she said, cutting the air at
shoulder level with a swift hand. “Yamcha, you know very well that we‟re just friends, so stop trying to
pick a fight you know you‟ll lose. And I don‟t need you standing up for me either, so don‟t give me that
look, damn you.”

She turned to Vegeta, who had straightened out of a quickly adopted fighting stance and was eyeing
her speculatively. “And as for you, I am never going to let you do this over-protective crap with our
son, just because Yamcha held him. Or me either. I don‟t find it fair that I can‟t even touch another
guy simply because you laid your paws on me.” Yamcha snickered behind her, but she turned her
head and glared at him hard enough for him to swallow his laughter. Kami, she was pissed off. To
think she had to put up with this shit from two of the closest men in her life. Life was not fair, but she
supposed Kami couldn‟t exactly account for their skyrocketing testosterone levels just then. Their
pride was at stake, so why was she stoping a fight? Let them kill each other, she thought. She‟d had
enough of this.

Vegeta was almost staring at her, with only a hint of a glare in his expression. He looked surprised.
Bulma ignored it and let out an angry curse.

“Why don‟t you two just go kill each other and be done with it, while I go home. I couldn‟t care less
what you do.” She turned away from both of them, only to crash into Vegeta, who had blurred ahead
of her and was grasping her by the shoulders.

“Let go, Vegeta,” she said irritably, squirming in his grasp. “I mean it, go and have your stupid fight, I
don‟t care-“

“Would you shut up, woman? I‟m not going to fight the fool,” he said in something close to. . .
amusement? She stopped wriggling and looked up at him curiously. Vegeta was turning down a
fight? She shifted Trunks between them so he wasn‟t squashed and raised one eyebrow.

“And why not? What is with you, anyway? First you pull the jealous routine, then you attack Yamcha
over a few words, and now you‟re turning down a fight with him? What are you doing here, anyway?”

Vegeta was looking at her intently, as much as she was him, and they were both ignoring Yamcha, or
had forgotten he was there. “I came looking for you,” he said simply.

Her eyes widened. Did he mean. . .no, Bulma, don‟t go getting your hopes up. But then something hit
her. Vegeta was acting so possessive of her. . .right in front of Yamcha. Did he even realize that he
was doing the very thing he had been trying not to all this time?

“Well, you found me,” she said softly. “What did you want?” Unwillingly, her gaze dropped to his
mouth, before she flinched and dragged her eyes back up again. Stupid, don‟t do that! Vegeta‟s
mouth curled up at one corner, and she knew he‟d caught her anyway.
“Answers.” His grip shifted on her ever so slightly, so that it wasn‟t restraining her, but just touching
her shoulders. Bulma felt heat pooling inside of her, though she tried to ignore it. It had been too long
since Vegeta had held her this close, looked at her like he was just then. She tried to think. Answers?
What answers could she possibly have for him?

Her question must have shown in her eyes, because he tilted his head slightly and let out a breath.
“Never mind. I think I have found them anyway.”

Bulma didn‟t understand, but then she didn‟t think she really needed to. Vegeta had found his
answers, whatever they were. She shifted Trunks again and moved a little closer to Vegeta, unsure
but just wanting to be closer to him. “So what now?” she asked him quietly. “What now, now that
you‟ve found your answers? Are you going to leave now, like you did before? It‟s probably best, if
you‟re still going to-”

She was cut off by his mouth pressing against hers, hot and searing.

Shock seeped into every pore of her body, (what was he doing?) to be quickly washed away by her
own response to him. She held Trunks against her with one arm as she wrapped the other around his
strong neck, drawing him down to her more firmly. It had been so long. . . so long since she had been
able to do this. So long since he had been pressed against her, kissing her as fervently and with so
much locked away need. So long since she had felt his hunger for her.

She kissed him back with as much passion as he gave her, and her body was shaken by the
sensations that flowed from his body into hers. His mouth moved over hers hungrily, and they both
forgot where they were and what day it was, as they came together for the first time in over a year. A
full year of pain and anger, rejection and hurt, loneliness and sorrow. Bulma was shocked that a
simple kiss could do so much to her, and she couldn‟t help but wonder in her dazed state what would
happen when they got a little more intimate. Perhaps more than a little.

They broke away slowly, and Bulma was more than reluctant to let go of him, but air was needed.
She looked at him with disbelief, unable to accept what he had done, despite all the feeling he had
poured into the kiss. Was this really him? How could so much have changed in three months that he
would act this way? And- and in front of Yamcha?!

She whipped her head around to look at her friend in almost guilty shock. If Vegeta hadn‟t realized
what he was doing, Yamcha might very well screw everything up. But then, as insensitive as Vegeta
could be, and as prideful, he wasn‟t stupid. Far from it. So what had changed?

Yamcha was staring at the two of them in surprise, but not shock. She supposed with all that she had
told him, he had no reason to be. But his eyes were glued on Vegeta with a kind of angry
understanding. She knew he wasn‟t exactly jealous; he no longer felt that way about Bulma, but he
understood what Vegeta had said with that display. Bulma and Trunks were his. His alone, and no
one else‟s.

Bulma also understood what he was saying with his actions, and after the initial annoyance over his
assumption that she could be treated as a piece of his property, no matter how much he was hers in
return, came a feeling of joy mingled with confused shock. He was calling her his, to Yamcha? Of his
own free will? He was acting somewhat soft towards her, without caring that people could see him.

“Vegeta?” she said, catching his attention away from Yamcha. He looked down at her, one eyebrow
raised slightly. She let out a deep breath and blinked. “Why are you- I mean, is this some sort of
ownership thing with you? Are you just going to leave again like last time?”

He looked angry for a second. “You think me that low that I would use you for that purpose? Woman,
if I didn‟t want you I wouldn‟t keep you, not for any reason.”

“So you do want me?”

“Did I just say that?”
“Well, sort of. . . Vegeta, you talk in riddles sometimes, I can hardly see past what you‟re saying
anymore. But I won‟t ask for more than you can give. I can promise you that.”

“Then what did you truly want to ask me, woman? Spit it out,” he ordered her. Bulma shifted once
again and sighed.

“Have you. . . made a decision? Is that why you‟re here?”

Vegeta‟s eyes looked troubled for a moment, and if possible, they seemed to darken further. Bulma
tensed in expectation of his denial, of his exit once more. But he didn‟t leave. Bulma heard footsteps
retreating behind her, Yamcha seeing that it was time he made his own exit. She didn‟t turn around,
but kept her eyes pinned on Vegeta. She had an idea of how hard it had been for him to show his
affection in front of Yamcha, now he probably decided that she wasn‟t enough for him to display
more. But what about his son? Was he worth it? After a small eternity he spoke, not looking any more
peaceful for having been silent, thinking all that time.

“I‟ve realized recently that you have changed, due to what I‟ve done. You aren‟t the same as you
used to be. I. . . never meant to do that,” he said roughly. Bulma was startled. He sounded truly sorry.
How many time had Vegeta ever apologized to her? Never, that she could really remember. Not in so
many words. But why was he saying this? She hadn‟t really changed, not that she could see. She had
grown as a person; how could she not, now that she had a son? She couldn‟t afford to be as carefree
as she used to. Or as impulsive. But even as she thought that, pieces of her own consciousness
threw back thoughts and feelings of hers over the last year, and she knew then that he was partially
right, in a way. Her coldness hadn‟t been a product of her parenthood. Still. . .

“Vegeta,” she said with a small smile, “if I had to take on some less then desirable traits to show you
that you aren‟t the cold, proud bastard everyone else thinks you are, it was a sacrifice I‟d make a
million times over. Honestly, I‟m not that different.”

Vegeta eyed her carefully before letting out a quiet chuckle. “No, you seem you have reverted to your
old ways. I have never seen you intimidate the weakling before, it seems you have more strength
then I gave you credit for.”

Bulma snorted. “You never gave me credit, monkey-man. And I‟ve done more than intimidate
Yamcha before, I think I‟ve physically damaged him in the past.” She tried to think; she‟d slapped him
a few times, for sure, but even before, years ago, she had made him fear her. She grinned at the
memory as Vegeta studied her quietly.

“Woman. . .” he started, only to trail off as though he‟d forgotten what he was going to say. Bulma
raised questioning eyes to his as he let his hands drop from her shoulders.

“What is it?” She asked him quietly. She was close enough to him to touch him, but she didn‟t. He
had that disturbed look again. What was he trying to say? He cursed beneath his breath as his eyes
fell upon Trunks, who was sleeping deeply as ever. His eyes flickered up to hers again.

“Woman, I said once that emotion was a weakness. And you were in turn, a weakness, for making
me feel it. I think at one point I was ready to leave to go to my old ways, thinking I would be better like
that. You. . . you beat me to it, telling me to go.” His voice was hollow, dead with the remembrance of
that day. Bulma stared at him. He continued quietly. “You gave me the outlet I thought I had wanted,
giving me the freedom to act as I had. But . . . too late I learned that you had changed something
inside me, something that I had thought I could most definitely do without. For a while I hated how
you changed part of me.”

Bulma winced; she had never meant to do that!! Never! She had tried to stop that from happening. . .
not the other way around. Vegeta saw her stricken look and shrugged minutely.
“But seeing him,” Vegeta gestured at their son, “and witnessing you cow the fool with a few choice
words, not to mention remembering your strength in the face of something far greater than you, my
perception changed also. I did not hate that.”

“Vegeta. . . what are you trying to tell me?” she asked raggedly. He almost sounded like he was ready
to leave again, until that last part. She wasn‟t sure she understood. He gave her a skewed glance.

“You‟re perception seems to have decreased, woman,” he said dryly, but then his face sobered. “I‟m.
. . I see you now as something more than just a female, who bore my child and holds my greatest
weakness in her hands. You‟re not weak to me, you‟re stronger than I ever bothered to realize,” he
admitted, his gaze turned inward, as though he were almost thinking out loud instead of confessing
this to her. Bulma‟s heart lifted and sped up; was he saying what she thought he was? She couldn‟t
believe he was saying all of this to her, surely it was the longest conversation she had ever had with
him. But it was important. Maybe he realized it too. His eyes sharpened suddenly, as if realizing
where and who he was. His look was uncertain, much to her surprise. Did he think that it was too late
now?

She stroked the side of his face lightly, her eyes warm.

“If I asked, you would you stay? Now?” she asked him gently, as unsure as he looked. She could no
longer see him for what he was thinking, she was badly out of practise in that area. But it didn‟t
matter. His eyes sparked, a burning relief filling them, replacing the uncertainty. She couldn‟t believe
he was letting her see this much of him, but she didn‟t question it. Her heart was as full as her eyes
as she saw a ghost of a real smile pass across his hard face.

His head lifted a little as her hand dropped to rest against his chest. “Woman, if you asked, I would
return,” he said, his voice like rough velvet.

Her eyes overflowed, silvery trails streaking down her cheeks. “That‟s good,” she whispered.
“Because I‟m asking you now.”

They stared at each other for a long moment, just revelling in the feeling of being with each other
again. So long it had been. Much too long. But for all the waiting involved, this moment was a
memory that Bulma wouldn‟t soon forget in the many years to come. Her hand slid up his chest and
up the column of his neck slowly, to curl around the back of his neck and draw his head down to hers.
Vegeta was willing to comply. Their mouths met firmly once more, and with the contact was a shock
of remembrance that Bulma had all but forgotten. His lips, warm yet smooth against her own,
pressing against her and seeking his entrance into her with soft, sweeping explorations of his tongue
against her partially opened mouth. She countered his own search with one of her own, remembering
the taste and texture of him as though it had been in another life that she had last done this. She lost
all track of time once again as she stopped thinking and did nothing but feel. His strong arms
wrapped around her tightly, one hand tangling in her hair, tugging gently as he unconsciously drew
her even closer to him. His other arm grasped her hip and kneaded it gently, sweeping up under the
hem of her blouse to dance patterns over her stomach, her muscles tightening at the feeling of his
skin against hers, unhindered by his once ever-present gloves. But they both froze as an indignant
voice cut across their consciousness, wailing at the too-close contact. They drew back enough to look
at each other, breathing unevenly, eyes hot. Then they both looked down at Trunks, who was angrily
voicing his discomfort. Vegeta‟s eyes flashed once.

“He has your voice, woman,” he said hoarsely. “And a bad sense of timing.”

Bulma grinned slightly as she hefted the baby up against her shoulder, cradling him securely. “Or a
good sense of timing, if you look at it from a difference perspective. We are in a public park, after all.”

“Hmph.”

Her grin widened. It had been a while since she had heard that particular grunt. Then it morphed into
a thoughtful smile as her thoughts filtered into a more rational vein. Finally, things had made
themselves right. And she couldn‟t remember being more happy in her entire life. How had Vegeta
managed to make himself such an important part of her life? And she in his. Bulma had no idea, but
she did know one thing, she wasn‟t sorry for it, not one bit. Still, some things had to change.

“Vegeta,” she started, her voice a little more serious, “there are some things that we need
straightened out. I don‟t expect you to act all soft and mushy with me around people, and to tell you
the truth I don‟t think I would like that all that much anyway. But-“

“Just as you shouldn‟t act in that way either,” he pointed out. Bulma wrinkled her nose delicately.

“Would you let me finish? Jeez. What I‟m asking is that you at least acknowledge me around them,
just so I know that if you freak out on me, I‟m not being totally blown off.”

Vegeta glared at her darkly. “And just what am I supposed to do?” he grated, seeming put out by the
idea that he should have to do something to prove what he had already said.

Bulma chewed her lip thoughtfully. “Call me by my name,” she said simply. “‟Woman‟ sounds so
second class.”

He narrowed his eyes at her as he thought about it. “That‟s. . . feasible. Agreed. But know that I won‟t
always be so compliant. Don‟t expect me to-“

“Keep it up all the time. I know, I know. I can‟t contend with your temper.”

“Exactly,” he said, satisfied. She smiled at him.

“And I won‟t make it seem as though we‟re joined at the hip, or let on that I control you in any way,”
she said mischievously. He let out a choked sound of shock.

“You never controlled me, woman! I am the Prince of all Saiy-“

“Oh, here we go,” she said rolling her eyes. “How I missed this. And you already broke your promise!!
Woman! Argh, why do I bother-“

“I told you I wouldn‟t keep it up all the time-“

“But come on, that wasn‟t even two minutes! Where did your control go, tough guy?”

“Woman, I‟m not-“

“There! There it is again!”

Vegeta let out a roar of exasperation and hauled her into his arms. “Will you ever shut up?!” he
almost yelled as he took to the air. Bulma squealed and tightened her grip on Trunks as he blasted
above the clouds, assumedly heading for CC.

“You can‟t just drag me off like some caveman, Vegeta, I have rights, you know!” she said an
annoyance, but she was grinning. This was familiar, and she had missed it.

“Does it look like I give a damn, Bulma?” he said with a growl, shooting her a glare. Her eyes
widened, ignoring the sarcastic emphasis he put on her name. He had said it! He‟d called her by
name before, but this time he had done it because she had asked him to. Stretching her neck up as
much as she could, she planted a kiss along the slant of his cheekbone.

“I think you give a damn, oh mighty Prince of Saiyans. I think you give a very big damn,” she said
softly. He shot her a glance, and his eyes softened slightly. She drew Trunks tighter against her,
making sure he wasn‟t upset by the blasting wind. But he was awake, and he didn‟t seem to mind it
all that much. His face was hidden against her shoulder so that the wind didn‟t hurt his eyes, but he
was gurgling happily. She noticed Vegeta‟s eyes stray to the infant and stay there for a long moment,
but he said nothing. But his eyes held untold emotion that spoke nothing of rejection. And that was
fine by her.

They flew on through the clouds, saying nothing, but no words were needed. They had said all that
they had to. . .

“Does the GR still work?” he asked.

Bulma groaned. “Yes, it still works. Way to ruin the moment, Vegeta.”

He gave her a confused look that slowly morphed into a frown. “Is your mother still there?”

“Yes!”

He cursed.

“Don‟t use that language in front of our son,” she scolded. “And Mom isn‟t that bad, you know.”
Vegeta then shot her an amused look.

“I suppose I should be grateful. Your cooking could be used to poison the enemy in a war.”

Bulma huffed. “You‟d be relieved to know that I have taken cooking lessons, Vegeta, and I can cook
as well as, or better than Chi-chi now.”

Sceptical look.

“I can!”

Smirk.

“Oh whatever,” she said irritably. “You just wait and see.”

“Hmph,” was his only reply. Vegeta poured on more speed, making her hair whip backwards in wild
disarray, blowing in the wind. Vegeta spat some of it out.

“Damn it, would you get that cut or something?”

She shook her head. “I will when you do,” she said smugly. He looked scandalized, making her laugh.

“Never mind.”

The clouds were dense where they were, and Vegeta dropped altitude enough so that they could see
the whole city. He made a beeline for the huge dome that marked Capsule Corporation HQ.

They landed softly on the grass lawn surrounding the house, and he set her down carefully as he took
a look around the grounds. Bulma watched his eyes zero in on where the GR stood, gleaming in the
sunlight, looking much as it did when he had last been there. She made a mental note to upgrade it
so that it reached at least 1200 times gravity. She still had the knack to do that, at least. Vegeta‟s
eyes swung back to her and he opened his mouth, but a high voice floated out to greet them before
he could speak a word.

“Oh, Vegeta, it‟s good to see you again!” Mrs. Briefs gushed, sticking her head out the window by the
kitchen. “We all missed you, you know, wherever did you go off to? It was so quiet here without. . .”
Vegeta looked defeated for a moment, listening to the woman prattle on about just about anything
that flew into her empty head. One thing he hadn‟t exactly missed in all his time away was that
piercing voice. Dr. Briefs walked out of the lab a few seconds later, wondering who the heck his wife
was talking to. His eyes fell on Vegeta and Bulma standing out in the yard and stopped, before he
continued walking towards the house. About time, he thought.
Bulma sighed happily. This was more like it. She jiggled Trunks slightly, making him laugh and wave
his chubby arms about. Vegeta‟s glance fell upon Trunks again and then flew up to hers as Mrs.
Briefs supposedly disappeared to make lunch.

“Things. . .went well?” he asked her quietly, looking at Trunks with an unmistakable meaning. She
nodded.

“. . . Yes.” She said quietly, grateful for his gruff concern. She wouldn‟t tell him that she had given
birth to Trunks alone, what was the point? He didn‟t need to know that, everything did go fine anyway.
He shook his head slightly, and his eyes seemed to un-focus for a moment. Bulma wondered what he
was thinking about, he sure looked like he was concentrating hard. She rubbed her head slightly as a
slight headache made itself known to her, and she winced when she realized she had used the last of
all her aspirin. Damn that. She rested her head against Vegeta‟s chest lightly, smiling as his hand
stroked her temple unconsciously, as though he knew where the ache was. She was surprised at the
act, but she enjoyed it nonetheless. She looked up at him and her smile froze at the ferocious look on
his face.

“What?” she asked him worriedly. “What‟s the matter?”

He crushed her to him for a moment. “You idiot,” he muttered into her hair. “You just had to do it
alone, didn‟t you?”

Shit! Bulma thought. Shitshitshitshitshitshitshit!!! He had looked at her thoughts!! He had actually
gone into her mind and read her thoughts! The ache was still there, so Bulma thought up every dirty
word her impure mind could remember and threw it his way on a wave of violation. Vegeta‟s eyes
widened sharply, and the ache abruptly disappeared from her left temple. He blinked.

“I didn‟t know a few of those,” he said mildly. Bulma scowled.

“Don‟t do that again, you. . . you peeping tom! How would you like it if I did that to you?”

“I knew you wouldn‟t tell me if something had happened-“

“It didn‟t matter! There was no point in telling you,” she argued. He growled and crossed his arms.

“I deserve to know, Wom-. . .Bulma,” he corrected himself with a grimace. The words „you‟re mine‟
remained unsaid, but they were there. Bulma heaved a sigh, she was never going to rid him of that
assumption, but she knew that he didn‟t mean it in a bad way. Still. . .

“Ass.”

“Wench,” he threw back at her.

“Oh this brings back memories,” she said dryly. He smirked.

His arm was still around her, so she snuggled into the crook of his shoulder slightly, seeing his
concern under the words he had masked it with. She smiled. That intuition was coming back, thank
Kami. She noticed his eyes stray towards the GR once more, and she grinned.

“Go on, it‟s all ready if you want to use it, Vegeta.”

He cut an amused glance in her direction and let go of her. “It can wait, there is something else I‟d
rather do at the moment,” he said in a rough whisper. Heat flared up inside of Bulma, and so did a
longing she no longer wanted to squash down.

She gave him a naughty look. “If you‟re going to say „eat‟, I‟ll have to kill you.”

He smirked. “Put the boy to bed, woman.”
Bulma was more than willing to follow his instruction. After one heat-filled glance back at him, she
walked towards the house. Finally, this was her life back as it should have been. Things were back to
normal, and Bulma had the feeling that though the coming androids were a looming shadow that
neither could forget, if things went all right in the coming battle, he would not leave her again willingly.
Though he had never said it, and she wasn‟t sure he even knew it, his feelings ran as deep for her as
hers did for him.

She could live with that.

                                    The end. . . Finally and for real.

								
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