Butterflies & Hurricanes

BY : Froglady15
Category: Dragon Ball Z > AU - Alternate Universe
Dragon prints: 1043
Disclaimer: Disclaimer:I don't own anything. Just my Husband, laptop, my 3 dogs and a very overactive imagination… Dragon Ball Z and any songs mentioned in this fic DO NOT belong to me. I MAKE NO MONEY/PROFIT!

Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Just my Husband, laptop, my 3 dogs and a very overactive imagination… Dragon Ball Z and any songs mentioned in this fic DO NOT belong to me. I'm just borrowing them for my own twisted amusement.

Butterflies and Hurricanes

Chapter 23

It took three weeks for Bulma, Trunks and Tarble to make it to Cold's base. Both boys had settled in alright and they were both walking at this point.

Bulma had made it a top priority to wean Trunks completely from her milk in the event that they just took him from her on their arrival like Vegeta had suggested they may. She hoped with everything inside her that would not be the case, but decided it was in Trunks best interest to get him on solid foods as quickly as possible. To her disappointment, it hadn't taken that much effort; he had been more than happy to start on the solid food when offered and within the first week it had been done. It was bittersweet; on one hand she was glad because it was one less thing for her to worry about where he was concerned, on the other it just showed her how fast he was growing and maturing.

In those three weeks, Bulma had grieved privately for everyone that had been lost. It was amazing to her how much like home Vegeta-sei had become to her in such a short time. It was such a beautiful planet that she'd barely had the opportunity to explore and see and now it was gone. Chi-Chi and Goten and Penelope; her friends, gone and she had wept for them many times over the past three weeks. What about all the inhabitants who had so graciously accepted her and Trunks despite them not being Saiyan? They had not deserved this end.

And what of Brolly, she had wondered repeatedly. Over and over again she kept wondering why he had not come back for her. She had seen him as a friend and protector in Vegeta's absence. Surely he hadn't abandoned her, had he? She had thought he was sincere in his actions with regards to Trunks and herself, that they were friends. He had rescued her from hell even! So why had he not returned to help her? Had Paragus found out and had something horrible happen to him? She wouldn't have put it past him to have found out and orchestrate something horrible to have happened to Brolly to keep him from coming back to help her.

What made her even more upset was she would have taken him with her and the boys if he had gotten her out. That way she'd have had at least one protector and ally on her side until they had hopefully found Raditz and Asia. She felt sick for them too. Their home was now gone as well and Asia probably assumed her child had been killed. More then ever now, she was glad she'd had the foresight to insist on bringing Tarble with her.

They arrived on the planet Isotope sometime in the midafternoon she estimated.

She was anxious, nervous and excited to see Vegeta; even though she wasn't exactly sure if she was up to seeing Vegeta or if he would even want to see her. She had no idea what kind of shape he was in. He had taken to keeping her blocked out during his time with Gero. It bothered her but she understood that he did not want her privy to everything that happened to him. If that was what he needed to do to keep himself strong then she would not push him. Instead, she made sure she was there for him and offered him as much comfort as she could when he sought her out.

She still hadn't told him about what had happened between her and his father or that he had been killed long before Cold had destroyed Vegeta-sei. While she did feel some guilt about it, she thought it the kinder approach to not tell him. In her mind it was better for him to believe that his father had been on a mission to come after him than that he had attempted the unthinkable against her and seemed to have no qualms or regret over betraying his own son. One day, if they ever made it out of this mess, maybe she'd tell him. If the need for him to know ever comes up, her mind quipped up.

"True," she sighed to herself. "What Vegeta doesn't know won't hurt him and since the miserable bastard is cold and dead and hopefully burning in hell, it doesn't matter anyway what actually happened to him, does it?" She had taken to talking to herself quite a bit in the last three weeks. This both comforted her and concerned her at the same time.

Bulma had just exited the shower, the bruising on her ribs had mostly gone away by this time but they were still tender to the touch and she wondered if maybe the king hadn't somehow actually cracked a few of them. If they had been simply bruised, they should not have still been causing her this much discomfort.

The long, deep scab lines on her back also remained. She only hoped that once it cleared up, they wouldn't be too noticeable; though she wasn't going to hold her breath on that, she thought with a frown as she tried to look at them over her shoulder. Thankfully they were easily hidden under a basic t shirt and Vegeta would not see them. Lastly, her poor hand was still a disaster. Any effort she had put in to trying to straighten her fingers was in vain and still caused her much pain; her mangled hand would likely remain that way for the rest of her days.

She threw her half dried hair up into a loose bun and applied some light make up so that she at least looked somewhat presentable. She didn't want to look over done, but she at least wanted to look alright for Vegeta, knowing that it would upset him if she looked like a complete mess, even if she felt like one inside. She figured she'd handled herself quite well up to this point she thought as she applied some mascara and light blush. "Good enough," she mumbled to herself. She hadn't done herself up to look like a knock out but at least she didn't look like a complete hag.

Bulma capsulated everything and tucked her capsules away in her socks where hopefully no one would think to look. Hardly anyone had come into the room since she had left and if they had it had only been for a moment and they hadn't seemed to notice the crib.

"Hey, woman," Jeyice barked as he opened the door abruptly without knocking. "You'd better be ready, we've just landed and Cold will want to see you right away."

Bulma grit her teeth in annoyance. Only Vegeta was allowed to call her Woman. "Yes, I'm ready and my name is Bulma, not Woman."

"Whatever, female." He snorted. "You're all good for one thing and one thing only so it matters little to me what your name is."

She rolled her eyes at him as she picked up her bag with all of her belongings and both boys, one in each arm.

Jeyice gave her an odd look but didn't say anything to her.

Bulma silently followed him down the hall and out of the ship. It was freezing cold and she wished she had thought to put the boys in something warmer but on second thought realized that she had no warm outfits for them or herself, really. Vegeta-sei and even Callisto were such warm planets she never needed a sweater. She hoped she could find some old sweaters stashed away from when she had been taken from Earth.

As she walked, she noticed that she wasn't all that cold; the two boys were very warm. Consequently, she hugged them closer to her, not only wanting to take in as much warmth from them as she could but if these were her last few minutes to spend with them, she wanted to make the most of it.

-0-0-0-

"King Cold requests Vegeta's presence." It announced in a bored tone as he strode into Gero's lab.

"Can you tell him to wait? I am in the middle of a very important experiment," Gero replied weaving his hand in dismissal. He was currently trying to figure out what Vegeta was allergic to, pricking him and exposing him to different things. So far, as it stood, all the tests had come back negative. This both frustrated and astounded him at the same time. It seemed that Vegeta was impervious to almost everything.

"You can tell him that yourself, however I do not think he will be too keen on waiting," It replied. "Prince Vegeta's family has landed."

Gero looked up and spun around to look at the Android. "Really? Has it actually been that long? By all means, this is wonderful! Absolutely! We shall convene immediately."

Vegeta looked up at the mention that his family was here and was overcome with the conflicting emotions of relief and dread. While a part of him wanted nothing more than to see them and see for himself that they were alive and well, another part of him almost wished they had perished on Vegeta-sei. If they had, perhaps he would have succumbed himself to the loss of grief and he would be reunited with them in the next dimension where they could remain unbothered for all eternity instead of still being used as a science experiment. Not only that, but he dreaded what his family may be facing upon their arrival. What made it worse was his inability to protect them or shelter them from whatever it was that Cold had in mind.

The Android walked up to Vegeta, checking his restraints before hauling him up on his feet and towards the door.

"I can walk well enough on my own!" He snarled at It, yanking his arm out of the Android's grip. He may be worn down, freezing cold and exhausted but he'd be damned if he'd let them drag him to Cold's throne room looking as defeated as he felt. He could not let Bulma see him that way.

The Android didn't say anything but stayed close in the attempt that Vegeta may try something.

Vegeta stood as tall as he could and marched down the hall with his head held high, holding himself as proudly as possible despite his arms being bound tightly in front of him.

-0-0-0-

"Greetings," Cold greeted Bulma with interest as soon as she walked into the large spacious throne room, fairly reminiscent in its bland interiors as Frieza's throne room had been. The lack of furnishings and shiny marble floors adding to the cold atmosphere of the room. "I am to assume that your journey here was satisfactory?"

"It was fine," Bulma nodded, looking him over warily. He was monstrous in size and in appearance compared to his son Frieza's small, compact appearance.

"Good," Cold replied, regarding her in the same curious manner. "I must admit it is nice to finally put a face to a name, my dear. I have heard rumors and stories of your beauty and influence on Prince Vegeta."

"I do not influence him, he does as he wishes," she said boldly. "Where is he?"

"He should be here momentarily, I have sent for him," Cold sighed in a bored tone. "How is it that I requested that you bring with you your son and you turn up here with two? King Vegeta said nothing of you having two sons."

Bulma had been ready for questioning with regards to Tarble. "I birthed twins, sir. Because of the close resemblance of the Vegeta line, King Vegeta took Tarble for himself and disregarded Trunks altogether."

"I see," Cold nodded. "Bring them here."

Bulma hesitated a moment before walking up to him cautiously. Both boys were awake but thankfully not fussing. She turned so that Cold could look at Tarble and hoped he would buy her story and not have him done away with. Being that the Vegeta and his father's features were so similar and so very dominant, the two boys could easily pass as brothers despite their difference in hair color.

"This one looks exactly like Vegeta, the other not so much," he commented, barely giving Trunks much more than a fleeting glance. "And they are full brothers?"

"They are," Bulma nodded confidently, boldly looking him in the eye. "Born within just a few short minutes of each other."

"And King Vegeta failed to mention the second child to me, why?"

"I don't know," Bulma shrugged. "I couldn't tell you. All I know is when they came for me, I told them I wasn't leaving unless I had both of them."

"And this matter with King Vegeta, what do you know of it?"

"What do you mean?" She asked. "You destroyed the planet for reasons which I don't know. King Vegeta is dead. That is all you need to know and thank god for it." She said bitterly.

"I destroyed Vegeta-sei because King Vegeta's advisor refused to cooperate with me and I had ample reason to suspect that King Vegeta was planning to come after me in an attempt to retrieve his son," He answered. "Among many other reasons which are of no concern to you."

"Well, it was for nothing because the king was dead for a few weeks before your men showed up to take me with them." She informed him. "You could have just gotten rid of that idiot Paragus and left everyone else alone."

"I suppose," he shrugged. "However I have grown tired of the Saiyan race and the games they like to play. It was time and well past overdue."

"You needlessly destroyed an innocent fucking planet!" She shouted, louder than she meant.

"Perhaps it was a tad over reaction," he agreed with a frown, musing to himself. "However what is done is done. The universe will be better off with only a hand full of monkeys remaining instead of a whole planet and race."

Bulma grit her teeth in anger. No, she had not resided on Vegeta-sei long, but it had been Vegeta's home; in her mind, that made it her home as well and that was a second home of hers now that had been destroyed by these horrible Ice-jin. She was about to say something more to him in her anger, but was distracted when she heard the door open.

She felt her stomach drop and her heart leap up into her throat when she saw Vegeta walk in looking nothing less than a disheveled mess, however he strode in proud and tall as though he owned the place. She knew it was just a front he was putting on, more than likely for her benefit, but she loved him for it. He looked tired and under nourished; he had dark circles under his eyes and she could tell he'd lost weight. That was only his outside physical appearance; she did not want to know how he actually felt physically. It would break her heart.

She turned from Cold and was going to go up to him. Do not. She heard him through the bond and she stopped.

But Vegeta, I haven't seen you in almost three months! She objected.

You will contain yourself and any emotional outbursts, he said firmly, his face perfectly impassive. Save it for later.

What if there is no later?

Then there isn't but you will not give them the benefit of seeing you display any such weakness. He instructed, knowing that should anything bad happen she would more than likely break down anyway but this was for his benefit as much as hers. If she folded, he would not be able to bear seeing it. He could do nothing to protect her or the boys, he could do nothing to help them escape; all he could do was stand by and watch as things unfolded; he was completely useless.

She didn't reply and he took that as a silent agreement that she would at least try and maintain a calm facade; at least for now. I need you to be strong, he added softly as an afterthought. He cringed as he felt the Android take hold of his right arm, as though reminding him that he was there and to not attempt anything.

Bulma gave him sort of a half-smile as his eyes met hers briefly and it was in that moment she fully understood just how much he was compensating with his proud stance and harsh words.

"What a nice little family reunion," Cold chortled. "Vegeta, you did not tell me of your second son."

"You never asked." Vegeta replied dryly.

"Bring them to me," Cold demanded looking at Jeyice and Burter.

Bulma glared at him. "No," she said, clutching them both as tightly to her as she could before they came to take them. "I kindly request that they stay with me. Please?"

Cold chuckled dryly. "Beautiful, smart and a sense of humor, I see. Absolutely not, my dear. They are going to be taken and accessed and their conditioning and training will begin immediately."

"But they're just babies!" Bulma objected. "What the hell is wrong with you?"

"Nothing. I can assure you this is standard procedure for young warriors, my dear; start them out as young as possible. Are they off the tit?" He asked coolly.

"Yes,"

"And can they walk?"

"Yes, but-"

"Then they are ready to begin their training." Cold reasoned, nodding again at Jeyice and Burter.

"Wait, I wish to remind you that I have a special interest in the infants as well." Gero pipped up.

"Don't you dare!" Bulma yelled at Gero. "I will die before I let you touch either one of them, you sick bastard!"

"You're interests are none of my concern and will have to be delayed," Cold said to Gero. "You have the prince to keep you amused. The infants are mine."

Bulma smirked triumphantly at Gero, who was glaring very disappointed daggers at Cold. Her smirk was short lived though as Burter took both boys from her grasp. "Hey!" she objected, reaching for Trunks as he was yanked from her along with Tarble both by the scruff of their shirts. "Give him back!" All at once, the two infants began to cry as they were ripped from her arms suddenly without any sensitivity or gentleness by the tall, blue alien.

"Nu uh, hun, sorry." Jeyice said, grabbing her around her waist to keep her from going after Burter.

Bulma fought against him, trying to get free and get to Burter. "Give them back! They need to stay with me!"

Vegeta clenched his jaw as he watched the scene unfold, ashamed that he was helpless to do anything. Let them go. He said to her, suppressing his own rage as the Android's grip on his arm tightened yet again.

Bulma turned and looked at him. "Are you kidding me?" she cried. "They're just taking them! I'm supposed to just let that happen?" Vegeta, do something! She practically screamed into his mind as she still was trying to get out of Jeyice's hold.

He looked at her with such a pained expression that it made her stomach drop. What is it you would like me to do? He asked. My hands are bound and I have no strength to speak of. I cannot do anything.

Well don't just stand there and let it!

Don't you think if there was something that I could do, I would have done it by now? He growled at her in offence; resentment building inside of him at the thought that she honestly thought that he would just stand by and allow this without protest if he had any other choice. I warned you of this.

"I know, but…" she cried. I'm sorry, I know there's nothing you can do. "Can't they stay with me? If you want to train them, then fine, but can't they stay with me when they aren't training?"

"No," Cold shook his head. "They will be taken and conditioned and trained. I cannot do that with your meddling influence. Don't worry, my dear, they will be very well taken care of. They are both very valuable commodities."

"They aren't commodities, they're my children!" She screamed at him as she watched Burter carry them out; both still crying and carrying on.

Bulma quit struggling once the door shut loudly behind Burter in finality. As silence enveloped the room, she sunk to her knees in grief, taking Jeyice with her.

I am sorry, Vegeta said to her; never had he felt his heart break as it was in this moment. He had thought nothing could ever be worse than when he had thought Bulma was lost to him on Frieza's ship. He had been wrong, this was far worse. But pull yourself together. You need to be strong.

I can't, Vegeta, she said as Jeyice stood up, hauling her up with him. I'm sorry, I just can't; they've taken Trunks, and poor Tarble!

"Show Miss Bulma where she will be staying," Cold said to It. "Tomorrow we will begin Prince Vegeta's trial. I suggest you get some rest. I need you to be able to recall all the events pertaining to my son."

"My Lord, where is she staying?" The Android asked in slight confusion.

"No one has prepared for her arrival?" Cold asked in exasperation as everyone looked around at each other, hoping the other had taken care of everything. "For god's sakes!" he cursed at them.

"I assumed she would be working in the lab with me, my Lord." Gero said.

"She will be, eventually." Cold answered. "But not yet; not until after trial and only if I can trust that she will not be conspiring against you and plotting an escape."

"She can stay with me for the time being," Jeyice offered with a smug chuckle bringing a hand from around her waist up to grope a breast. "I don't mind."

Bulma tried to elbow him in the gut but it only hurt her more than him because of his armor. "Get your filthy hands off of me!"

With the Android distracted by Cold's question and watching the scene between Bulma and Jeyice unfold, Vegeta quickly took advantage strode up to him and kicked him as hard as he could in the knee.

Distracted, Jeyice let go of Bulma, reaching down to grab his knee and got a second kick in the mouth from Vegeta, who was quite intent on pummeling him as much as he could before the Android intervened.

"You will not touch her!" He snarled, kicking him again; this time in the groin.

"Oy! What the fuck, Vegeta!" Jeyice shouted, a hand on his jaw and another on his groin. He quickly regained his equilibrium though and socked Vegeta in the face, sending him to the ground.

"Stop!" Bulma screamed, running for Vegeta and standing between him and Jeyice. "Leave him alone!"

"You're gonna pay for that!" Jeyice spat at him, taking a step back instead of kicking him like it looked like he was about to. "You're lucky, mate. Very lucky your woman is standing between you an' me. I won't forget this." he said, rubbing his jaw.

Bulma turned to help Vegeta stand up, holding back a dam of tears that wanted to fall at seeing him helpless like this and despite that, he'd still tried to help her; though he had gotten hurt in the process. I'm so sorry!

He didn't say anything in reply, still glaring at Jeyice as he stood up.

"Ms. Briefs can remain in the lab with me," Gero volunteered now that the dust seemed to have settled somewhat. "I have use for her and she can stay in one of my examination rooms until other accommodations are made available."

"Very well," Cold agreed. "However you must be sure to keep an eye on her; I'll not have her escaping with Prince Vegeta."

"I will keep an eye on her; I know Ms. Briefs quite well, you know." Gero said, giving her a sly look.

"I will trust you on this," Cold nodded. "You may take them back."

Jeyice took a step towards Bulma but she avoided him. "You stay away from me!"

He glared at her and looked at Cold who nodded. "Leave her be, just follow until they reach the lab in case she decides to try something."

Bulma looked at Cold a moment, grateful that he wasn't insisting she go with Jeyice. "Do not thank me, girl. Just be mindful that there is nowhere to go if you do manage to escape this place. The outside temperatures are as such that I doubt you would last longer than a minute outside these walls dressed as you are."

She nodded and didn't say anything, only followed Gero and walked beside Vegeta. The Android then followed suit, closely behind them, more so behind Vegeta as Jeyice followed behind her. She swallowed the feeling of extreme anxiety threatening to wash through her at being so carefully hovered over. Really, what could she do? Nothing.

Absent mindedly, she reached for one of Vegeta's hands, which were bound in front of him. Relief flooded her when she felt him respond to the contact, lacing a few of his fingers with hers as they walked.

What has he done to your arms? She asked, noting the open track marks all over his forearms.

Vegeta shrugged. I stopped taking note of all the things he is doing. What does it matter?

Bulma frowned. "What have you done to his arms?" she asked Gero.

Gero turned briefly to look at Vegeta's arms but continued down the hall. "I have taken many blood and skin samples for assessment," he answered. "Before I was interrupted by your arrival, I was testing him to see what he is and is not allergic to. It would seem that he is impervious to pretty much everything I have administered so far."

"He's not like us." Bulme ground out in disgust.

"Indeed, he is not." Gero agreed with a chuckle.

"So why can't you just accept that?" she asked in anger. "Why can't that just be enough for you? Why do you have to cut pieces out of him, poke and prod and inject and open him up to realize that?"

"Because he needs to be studied." Gero answered as though it was the stupidest question he'd ever been asked.

"For what purpose?" she insisted. "What are you going to do with your findings, publish them? Where? Our planet is gone now, thanks to you from what I understand. The Saiyan race is all gone now too so who are you going to share these amazing findings of yours with, huh?" she ranted as they walked down the hall. "Anyone who actually would care one iota about your sick science and experiments is gone and dead. You're not going to get a scientific award of recognition for all this so what is your purpose in all of this? Really, I'd love to know because for the life of me, I don't understand."

Gero stopped and looked at her a moment in puzzlement before replying. "You are a scientist as much as I am, I would have thought you would understand and appreciate my efforts."

"You're right, I am a scientist; or rather, I was a scientist. But my interest was always, now and forever the same as my father's, all about advancing technology. Not biological experiments on living things!" She continued boldly. "There's a reason why you were disbarred and had your all-important "Doctor" title stripped back home; because you're sick and you are unethical! You know despite your hard work and genius, no one had any respect for you? You were nothing more than an embarrassment to the scientific community, nothing more than a mad scientist who became the brunt of every joke at the conventions. Do you know what they used to call you?"

"Doctor Frankenstein." He replied almost proudly.

"Exactly!"

"Ms. Briefs, do you think I cared about the judgment and opinions of my colleagues back then?" he asked, continuing down the hall again. "I didn't, just like I don't care anymore about what they or anyone else would think now. No one took the opportunity or cared enough to ask me why I took an interest in the things that I did. All anyone did was judge, much the same as you are at the moment."

"Okay then, why?" she asked pointedly in a clipped tone. "You have my undivided attention, I won't interrupt or object; go."

Vegeta took a glance at her from the corner of his eye as they continued to walk. She had never spoken much about Gero after the death of Frieza and neither had her father. He was always a subject that neither one of them had wanted to discuss with much detail anytime he had happened to ask about him. He never realized how much she really had detested this man until now; he'd known she had held a certain amount of animosity towards him but he had always just assumed that it had been directly related to their interaction on Frieza's ship.

Apparently not.

Never had he heard her address anyone with such disdain and disrespect. If the circumstances weren't so dire, he'd have been silently gloating in pride.

"It is simple, my dear Ms. Briefs: Immortality." he answered, punching in the code at the door of his lab.

"Immortality?" she asked, puzzled.

"Yes," he nodded, walking in. "You can go now," he said to Jeyice, waving him away aloofly.

Jeyice huffed in annoyance at the rude dismissal. "I'll be around, Woman, be sure of that." he said with a wink before taking his leave.

"What is it the human race has always strived for?" Gero asked her as he closed the door behind them and punched in a code that Bulma had tried to see, but couldn't. "It is to prolong life to the longest. My experiments may have been seen as cold and unkind and unethical to those looking in, but there was a reasonable foundation behind all of them."

"Yea, okay," she rolled her eyes at him. "Kidnapping helpless children for your sick experiments wasn't unethical?"

"I never kidnapped anyone," he shrugged. "I was very selective in choosing the subjects of my experiments. I only chose those with no homes to go to or families to miss them. Orphans who were living on the streets on garbage and clothed in nothing more than rags as protection from the elements because no one else took an interest in them; tell me how cruel was that by comparison of the well-off not being bothered to spare them a second glance, never mind a few dollars for them to buy a sandwich?

"I took them off the streets and gave them a home and a purpose; something to live for," he went on passionately. "Yes, I made my mistakes and many of them suffered greatly at the hands of my learning but they all understood it was for the greater good in the quest to better humanity. I was on the verge of eliminating cancer and other such typical ailments that plagued the human race."

"At what cost?" she snorted. "I refuse to believe that your subjects gladly gave their lives for you to do as you pleased while they were still alive and fully cognizant of what you were doing!"

Gero shrugged nonchalantly. "Say what you will, I mean all of humanity despised the Nazis for their experiments on living beings during the Holocaust but everyone is so quick to forget that it is thanks those horrific experiments that the human race made some of the most amazing the medical advancements they had in recent years following the second world war."

"Great, so now you are glorifying and condoning Nazis," she rolled her eyes in disgust. "I don't know why that surprises me. You really make me sick!"

"Just as narrow minded as your father, I see," Gero shook his head, opening up a door to an exam room and reaching for Vegeta. "Such a shame. You may wait in here with him as I figure out where, exactly I am going to put you for the time being. Despite our differences, I am very excited to have you here and working with me."

Bulma walked into the small, cold room with Vegeta and glared at Gero as he closed the door behind him. "Oh my god, Vegeta!" she cried, throwing her arms around him.

He couldn't embrace her back, but leaned into her, turning his face into the crook of her neck, inhaling her familiar scent. It immediately brought him some form of comfort.

She stepped away from him and went to work on the bonds around his wrists, trying to release him. "Sorry," she whispered. "I should have done this first. Shit." She cursed, her mangled hand useless as she tried to undo the tight material bounding Vegeta's wrists together.

Vegeta looked down at her hands as she worked and frowned, only noticing now her injured and contorted hand. He managed to turn one of his own hands up and gently grasped her injured hand. "What happened?" he asked quietly.

She halted her movements and paled at the question for a moment. "Nothing," she answered abruptly as she resumed her efforts.

"That does not look like nothing to me," he argued, looking at it closely.

Bulma ignored him as she continued to work at his hands and smiled to herself when the material had finally come undone. She tossed it to the floor and rubbed his wrists, trying to get the circulation going again, as they had been so tightly wound that his hands had become discolored. "There," she whispered, overly concentrating on his hands and refusing to look at him.

He grunted as he swatted her one good hand away and examined her injured hand more closely. "What happened?" he asked again in a tone that told her that he expected an answer from her this time instead of skirting around the subject.

She winced as he gently held the hand and felt the bones.

"These have healed like this," he muttered quietly to himself. "You will have to re break all of these bones and they will need to be properly reset if you ever wish to have the full use of it again. Who did this?"

Bulma shrugged and shook her head. "I don't know, it happened when I was taken as I was trying to escape. I woke up with it like this in the cell and no one would give me any medical attention so I set it as best as I could." she lied.

Vegeta looked at her and nodded lightly at her account, knowing full well that wasn't the whole story. "It looks like it was intentionally crushed." he pointed out, putting his one hand around hers and squeezing lightly as though reenacting what had happened.

She winced at him and withdrew her hand quickly. "Don't!" Instead of acknowledging or denying his diagnosis she hugged him again as tightly as she could, scarcely believing she was with him again, even if only for a moment. "I'm so sorry for everything, Vegeta. Your home, us being here; everything! We will figure out a way to get out of here, I know we will!"

It took him a moment, but he embraced her back, holding her closely to him for a moment before she winced again at him and abruptly pulled away; he had unknowingly hugged her too tight and her ribs were still very sore.

"Let me look at this stupid thing," she said, looking at the ki collar around his neck before he had a chance to ask about her strange behavior. "You look and are acting like a complete zombie."

"I do not know what that is," he replied. "But it is draining every ounce of energy and strength I have. I cannot do anything with that damned thing on."

"I know," she murmured, deep in concentration as she tried to feel around it for any small, hidden off switch. Unfortunately there seemed to be none. "This one is different from the one I remember designing."

"I have tried to find a weakness in it but cannot." Vegeta agreed.

It was smooth all around, the seam where it closed around his neck was barely detectable. "How did he get this on you even?" she asked, continuing to examine it.

"I don't know. I woke up with it after losing the battle with the Androids," he growled. "Never mind that for now, it is impossible. What happened to you, what happened to my father and at Vegeta-sei?"

"Oh, god, Vegeta," she sighed, giving up on the collar for the moment, taking one of his hands with her good one and sat down against the wall opposite the door.

He sat down next to her and placed an arm around her as he noticed her shivering. He wondered in amazement how it was that she was warmer to the touch than he was. Normally she had the cooler body temperature and it was he who was able to keep her warm. At the moment it was the other way around and he was reminded yet again that without ki, it was difficult to keep his body temperature regulated. His heart sank in despair as his effort to even keep her warm was useless and it was her close proximity giving him warmth.

"Why haven't they at least given you a shirt?" she asked in annoyance, leaning into his side, accepting his warmth, though she instantly noted that he wasn't as warm as he usually was. She thought of pulling out her capsules and giving him a shirt or something, anything, to wear but didn't want them to find out that she had capsules on her. The last thing she needed was for everything to be taken from her. "I know you warned me, but I can't believe they just took the boys like that," she finally said, trying to make herself comfortable against him so they could both hopefully warm up a little.

"Hmmn," he grunted in agreement. "I need to know exactly what happened before Vegeta-sei was destroyed, Bulma. Cold dragged me out of here and interrogated me, thinking that my father was plotting against him. When you were taken, apparently Paragus was uncooperative with his inquiries. He instructed his men to destroy Vegeta-sei but I managed to talk him into waiting after my trial.

"I'm not sure what happened, but the next thing I knew you said something was happening to the ship. Vegeta-sei was firing on it, Cold could not get in touch with anyone to find out what the hell was going on and then he decided to destroy Vegeta-sei instead of waiting."

"I don't know what happened, Vegeta. I wasn't there when any of that stuff happened," she sighed. "I know Paragus was anxious to see me leave. Maybe he was so anxious because his whole plan all along was to shoot the ship down and have me and Trunks and even Tarble killed so that there were no remaining survivors of the Vegeta line to come back and claim the throne?"

"So my father was dead before the explosion?"

Shit. She cursed inwardly to herself. "I don't know if he was or not," she lied, trying to keep her thoughts in line with what she was saying. "I never saw him after I was taken except for the one time I already told you about."

Vegeta nodded, again, not fully believing her and knowing that there was more to it than just that. "And that hand of yours just happened to break itself?"

"No," she answered with a heavy sigh. "Look, I don't want to talk about my hand. It doesn't matter, I've given up on it. What I want to figure out is getting out of here. How are we going to find the boys?" I have everything on me; the ship, clothes, food, everything. We just need to get out of here.

"Hmmn," he grunted, glad that she had switched to the bond in case they were being monitored. Well that is something at least. "There is no way out and the halls are very heavily guarded." Unless you can figure out a way to get this blasted collar off of me, I cannot see how we can get out. Those androids are everywhere along with the rest of Cold's army. I cannot face one never mind several.

Then what do we do?

Vegeta shrugged. I suppose that depends on whatever happens after my trial. If Cold decides to execute me, you'll be on your own. In which case, my suggestion would be to bide your time. Figure out how everything works; guard's shifts, where the boys are. Plan it carefully and then make your move. Get the hell out and go to your parents. Hopefully Raditz and Asia will still be there.

I don't want to even think about that, Vegeta. She shuddered, wrapping an arm around his shoulder and hugging him as she ran her hand up and down his arm in an effort to try and warm him up.

Well, you need to, Bulma. Even if Cold does decide to keep me around for whatever reason, I am completely useless to help you. You are going to have to fend for yourself. He said bitterly.

"I know," she sighed against his neck, just wanting to be as close to him as possible if it was the last time. "I'll figure something out, you'll see." He grunted as she turned his face towards hers and kissed him. Chastely at first and then deepened it, kissing him as though he were her lifeline. First order of business is to at least turn that collar off so you can recover.

He didn't reply, just kissed her back hungrily.

The door to the exam room opened up, interrupting them.

"Ahh, none of that, I am afraid," Gero said mockingly, wagging his finger at them. "Unless you can make another child for me? He tried to tell me that you could not have any more children."

Bulma glared at him. "I can't."

"How unfortunate," Gero frowned to himself. "Well in that case, there is no point in leaving you two together, come with me, I have your accommodations ready for you."

"I'm staying here with him," she argued, not standing up but staying exactly where she was, next to Vegeta.

Gero narrowed his eyes at her and turned away for a moment before the Android walked in. "Go with It, or he will make you." Gero said simply to her. "You will be staying with another guest here, not with him. I cannot trust you to not compromise my experiments."

Just go with him, that android will break your other arm if you make it drag you to wherever Gero wants you to go.Vegeta said to her.

"Fine." She spat, getting up and following Gero out. "Who am I staying with? Better not be anyone creepy."

"You'll see soon enough, my dear. We are only moving next door, not far."

More than likely the Namek. Vegeta said to her.

There's a Namek here? She asked. Like Piccolo?

Yes. He's a prisoner, experiment just like I am though Gero has been using him to help him out here and there but he is not on Gero's side. He is a prisoner here just like we are from what I can tell. He's just a child.

How sad!

Show him your hand. He seems to have healing abilities. Maybe he can fix it for you.

Okay. I love you, Vegeta.

I know.

Gero opened the door to an almost identical exam room and shoved her in, closing the door behind her. True to Vegeta's word, there was a small Namekian child hovered in the corner looking at her curiously.

"Hey there," she said gently, sliding down the wall to sit opposite the child who was looking at her suspiciously. "I'm Bulma. I'm not going to hurt you. I'm Vegeta's wife."

The Namek looked at her carefully a moment before nodding once. "Vegeta is the Saiyan that's here, correct?"

"Yes," she answered.

"I'm sorry," he said to her. "Gero does all sorts of horrible things to him and then makes me heal him so that he can do more things to him. I, I hate it but I don't have any choice."

"It's alright," Bulma smiled at him gently. While news of that disturbed her greatly, she could tell the boy was genuinely sorry for being made to be a part of whatever Gero was doing. "I believe you. What's your name?"

"Dende," he answered.

"How did you end up here, Dende?" she asked.

"I was taken," he answered sadly. "Gero crash landed on my home planet and I was out on my own when I found him. I healed him and then he took me hostage. He made me help him with the repairs on his ship, saying that if I helped him and kept his presence a secret that he would let me go. Except he didn't, as you can see, and here I am. My people have no idea what even happened to me."

Bulma nodded sadly. "How horrible, I'm sorry you crossed paths with him."

"Me too."

"Hey, I know that we only just met, but you said you can heal?" she asked. She would have waited but her hand was beginning to throb from the cold.

"Yes, I can," he nodded. "Are you hurt?"

"Yea, I was roughed up and no one tended to my injuries," she said, showing him her hand. "Can you fix it?"

Dende walked up to her and gently took her hand. "It's mostly healed already, I can't reset these. I can heal what's still damaged so the swelling will go down and it won't continue to hurt you; but unless you get someone to re break it and set it first so I can heal it, there's not much I can do now with it. It's been left too long, I'm sorry."

Bulma nodded sadly. She didn't know why she'd gotten her hopes up even. "That's okay. Thanks anyway."

"Well, let me heal what I can at least so it doesn't hurt and maybe you'll be able to regain some function," he offered kindly and before she had a chance to reply a warm pulsing sensation took over the discomfort in her hand. "I can heal, but the wounds need to be relatively fresh for me to be able to do much good or make it brand new. Even Vegeta, the first time I healed him it gave him relief from his battle injuries, but the bones may not be set the way they should be because I don't know how long he was left like that before Gero made me heal him. Hopefully not long so he is alright and I was able to make him better."

"I'm sure you did just fine," Bulma replied in amazement as the swelling in her hand went away and it instantly felt better; it was still a mangled mess, but at least it didn't hurt. "Thank you for helping him."

"Well, I don't really know how much I'm actually helping him since as soon as I heal him, Gero starts back on him again," he replied guiltily. "Do you have any other injuries that I can try and fix?"

"Oh, umm, my ribs are really sore, and I have these open scratches on my back, but I'm pretty sure you won't be able to do anything about them now," she said, pulling down the side of her shirt to show him the long scrapes the king had dug into her skin.

"No, I can't fix that now. I can heal them completely, but the scars will remain," he answered with a frown. "Who did this to you?"

"Oh, no one," she brushed off. "Just someone on Vegeta's planet."

"That's terrible; that must have really hurt," he commented as he placed a hand on the bare skin of her shoulder and she felt the warmth from his healing method again.

"It did," she said quietly. "Thank you for doing this."

"I'm sorry I can't help more," he replied. "That's about as good as that's going to get. Where else did you say you were hurt?"

"My ribs," she answered. "I don't know if they are just bruised or if they were cracked; but it's been several weeks and they look okay but they still really hurt."

Dende nodded and placed a hand on her side. "I don't feel anything but I'll see what I can do." he said and once again, she could feel that strange warmth pulsating through her as he did this and immediately it felt better.

"Thank you so much!" she said to him. "I'm sorry I don't know you very well and it was weird of me to ask you to do that but I've been in so much pain over it that I-"

"No need to thank me," Dende said with a small smile, going back to sit in his corner again. "It's my calling to heal people. I'm only sorry there wasn't more that I could do to fix it better. Maybe one day, when my skills are more developed than what they are now I can try again; but for now, that's the best I can do."

"No, even this is amazing!" she shook her head, still somewhat in awe at this little guy and what he had been able to do. "I'm not in any pain and that's all that matters right now. Maybe I can sweet talk Gero into fixing my hand. After all, I know he's going to want me to work for him at some point."

Dende nodded, looking grim again. "He is a terrible person."

"I know," she agreed, sitting across the room from him. "I knew him on my planet before he was destroyed. He had a reputation for being a mad scientist. It's a shame he didn't perish along with the rest of the planet and inhabitants."

They talked for quite a while before Bulma went back to mentally check on Vegeta. Hey, how are you doing over there?

Hmmn, he grunted. Did the Namek fix your hand?

His name is Dende and did the best he could, yea, thanks. The injury was too advanced in its healing stage for him to make it normal, but he was able to make the swelling go down and it doesn't hurt. If I break it and set it, he can heal it like new again. She explained. Did Gero start anything else on you again? There were no windows anywhere in the exam room for her to look out of to have seen if Vegeta had been let out or not.

No. Cold apparently wants me well rested for my trial tomorrow.

Oh, she said. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

I don't know. It doesn't matter; Cold has made his decision with regards to me. This is nothing more than a grueling waiting game for my own execution as far as I am concerned.

Don't say that, Vegeta.

Well what other point in it is there? He asked bitterly. He's already told me that he sees me as guilty as charged. Why he wants to talk to you, I have no idea. From the way I see it, all of this is just a façade in order to make me suffer and wait out my own death instead of just getting on with it already. You and my son are trapped here for god knows what to be done to you both, my planet has been destroyed. What other point is there for him to keep me alive? I would rather execution than live as a lab experiment.

Bulma was quiet a while, trying to think of something comforting to say to him but there was nothing to be said. Truth be told, he was better off dead than to be left at the mercy of Gero and his experiments. Chances were that once Cold had passed a judgement over and if he didn't decide to execute Vegeta, in turn handing him over to Gero, he would not refrain from the more advanced, horrific experiments she knew he was probably just dying to get into. The thought of that frightened her more than if she knew for certain Cold would have him executed.

If it comes to that, I want you to find a way to end me. He said to her, obviously picking up on her thoughts. End me and find a way out for yourself and the boys.

Vegeta, I don't know if I can—

Yes you can, and you will. I expect it of you and if you are too weak to do it, then I expect you to find a way to give me the means to do it myself. He said harshly. I can feel it from you too that you know it is the better option.

I know, but what if there's a way for all of us to get out of here, together?

I doubt it. He scoffed. Security is too tight and you'll never make it out unseen with all of us.

Alright, she sighed in distress, not wanting to think of going down that road just yet. Let's just take a step back and worry about getting through tomorrow. Do you know what's involved in this trial?

Not a clue, only that you will be expected to testify.

I can do that, she replied confidently. I'll defend you to the death, Vegeta; you know that.

Yes, I know that but you will also have to be very cautious about what you say. Cold also holds you somewhat partially responsible for my killing Frieza.

Wait, how is any of this my fault? He had me kidnapped and brought there against my will! It's not my fault he got himself killed for taking someone else's wife. Not to mention what happened to me on his ship and what he had planned-!

Yes, I know, he cut her off. But Cold does not see it that way. All he sees is that it was because of you that I killed Frieza; you are the reason behind all of it. If it had not been for you, I would have not acted out the way that I had and killed Frieza.

Are you serious right now? She deadpanned. That's ridiculous! That's like saying if I had turned left instead of right this or that would not have happened and my life would have turned out different. Why can't he see it as if his son had not taken me to use as a weapon to be used against you, he'd still be alive and well and making more lives miserable?

You are absolutely right, but you will still need to be shroud in your manner of speaking tomorrow. You could very well seal your own execution as well if you are not careful.

Well there's one way of making sure Gero can't use you as an experiment. She said dryly.

Trunks needs you to stay alive and find a way out. He said to her softly.

Yea, I know. Oh, god I hope they're alright right now, Vegeta. That's all I can think about.

I'm sure they are fine; I know you do not like to hear it, but they are very valuable to Cold. They will be well taken care of for the time being and I would much rather Trunks be wherever Cold has placed him than here with Gero.

I know, but..

Don't dwell on them at the moment, they will be fine and not the first Saiyans to find themselves in this sort of predicament. If anything, it will be good for them to begin training.

But he's going to turn them into monsters, Vegeta! How can you say that?

Because if it is going to be a while before you can get out of here then if I cannot go with you, then they can accompany you if he hasn't turned them against us by that time.

And you don't worry about that? She asked, starting to get emotional about the loss of the two boys again. She knew she had more pressing matters to be considering at the moment and that Vegeta was probably right, that they were probably just fine at the moment but that they had been taken so coldly from her was making her sick all over again.

Not overly, no. He answered and she could tell he was getting tired again. They have each other and that is a good thing, plus Trunks is young enough, he still has a bond with you; one positive thing with regards to your over coddling I suppose. That is something that will not be easily taken away. Even if the bond gradually fades, which is normal as he grows up, you are still his mother and he will never forget that.

That made her feel a little bit better. What about Tarble though?

He's with Trunks, they will have each other to lean on much like I had Kakarott. It was smart of you to just say they are brothers because they will more than likely become close as any two brothers can be. That they have each other is a good thing and another reason why you need to stop worrying about them for now and start worrying about what may happen tomorrow.

Alright, I'll give it a lot of thought tonight, okay? And I will be careful of what and how I say it.

Just tell it like it was, be honest because I do not know how much he does know or who he has to testify against us in Frieza's favor. All I ask is for you to be mindful of not only what you say but how you say it.

She was quiet a long moment as she considered everything he had just said. I will, and I'll do the best I can to get us both off the chopping block, alright?

I know you will, I have full faith in you.

With those unsettling thoughts in mind, Bulma curled herself in a small ball and lay down, trying to remember everything as clearly as she possibly could. Hers and Vegeta's and even Trunks and Tarble's lives and futures all depended on this trial.

She just hoped she could do this and not let Vegeta down although could not fight the sinking feeling deep down in her gut that no matter what she said in their defense, it may not make the slightest difference in the final outcome if King Cold had already made a decision.

Well then, that's because he's never had a debate with Bulma Briefs before! She told herself confidently.



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