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.

Chapter 6

They walked in through the huge doors and into the banquet room. It was already crowded.

Despite having the confidence in knowing she looked nothing short of stunning in her dress, Bulma tightly gripped the inside of Vegeta's elbow in nervousness.

A few people discontinued their conversations to glance at them. A few nodded in acknowledgement.

"I see you made it," his father greeted them. He eyed Bulma in a way that made her feel very uncomfortable. "You are looking exceptionally regal this evening. One could almost mistake you for an actual princess and not a simple bed slave." He said loud enough for those nearest to hear.

"Thank you, your highness, you are most kind." She replied in the nicest, most gracious tone she could muster, despite the grave insult. Could he not attempt to be nice for five minutes even?

"Bulma is my mate. Therefore she retains the title as Princess of Vegeta-sei." Vegeta said boldly to his father, also loud enough for those who were listening to hear.

"I suppose you could pass her off as such easily enough," his father shrugged dismissively. "Very well, I will play along with this charade for the evening; enjoy yourself, my dear." He said to Bulma with a nod.

Vegeta glared at his father a moment before walking away from him, taking Bulma with him. There seemed to be a very awkward silence filling the banquet room as they walked silently through the crowd. Bulma wished they could just turn back and head back to their suite, but she continued to walk at his side with her head held high; she was not going to give the king or anyone else there the benefit of knowing how uncomfortable she was being scrutinized for simply existing. She took Vegeta's lead; he didn't seem bothered so therefore she would try and act as though she wasn't bothered either.

He led her to a table with several different drink concoctions. "What would you like?" a servant asked them.

Vegeta turned and looked at her. "I'll just have a glass of wine." Bulma said quietly.

The servant poured her a nice, healthy glass of red wine and handed it to her. "Thank you." She said quietly, not wanting to be reamed out again by the king for displaying politeness to the servants.

Vegeta got a drink for himself and they headed off towards the head table.

"Vegeta, are you sure we're allowed up there?"

"Of course we are," he replied gruffly. "Where else do you think we will be sitting?"

"I don't know," she shrugged. She was still very uncomfortable with this whole situation. "With the other servants in the kitchen?" she joked.

"Hey, guys!" Kakarott greeted them on their way. "You look really pretty tonight, Bulma."

"I love you're dress, Bulma! Wow!" Chi-Chi gushed.

"Thanks!" She said, turning around to show her friend. "You look amazing as well."

Chi-Chi was wearing a long, strapless, plum-colored satin gown with angled gathers and ruching. It fit snugly around her bust and the length of her body but flared out just a touch from the hips downward. It showed off her nicely toned arms and curvy figure beautifully.

She wore her hair up in a French roll but let a few strands strategically fall around her face, framing it delicately. Bulma noticed she had also given herself bangs, which added to the sophisticated, yet sleek look. She had always thought her friend looked better with thick bangs.

"What a beautiful necklace." She commented, glancing quickly at Kakarott who grinned childishly at her.

"Thanks!" She beamed. "Kakarott came back with it. He also got me this matching hair pin as well." she said, turning around again, revealing a gold and amethyst-stoned barrette that she had placed vertically in her hair. It perfectly matched the gold necklace with a large amethyst tear drop pendant that she wore. All in all, her look was very simple, but classically elegant.

"Kakarott, I must have a word with you." Vegeta said urgently to the younger Saiyan. "We can leave the women alone a moment."

"Sure thing, Vegeta, just don't take too long, I'm really hungry."

Vegeta rolled his eyes and walked away from them, Kakarott following him.

"So where did you find your dress, Bulma? I love it! You're so lucky. I bet you have access to amazing stuff here! And your jewelry? It's perfect. Where did you get it?"

"There's a seamstress here, she's awesome." Bulma said, still watching Vegeta and Kakarott walking away, wondering what could possibly so urgent that they had to discuss it right away. "I met her the first time I was here so I saw her again today and the jewelry Vegeta picked out."

"Really?"

"Yea, I had my own stuff picked out left over from back home and he surprised me with all of it."

"Wow!" Chi-Chi commented. "He never ceases to amaze me, that guy."

"Yea, tell me about it. I had no idea!" Bulma gushed. "The tiara apparently was his mothers."

"Oh wow! Really?" Chi-Chi exclaimed. "It's gorgeous! Oh, you're so lucky! Wearing queen jewels."

"That is a very beautiful design." Asia said, walking up to them eyeing Bulma up and down. "And just where did you manage to scrounge up something like this so last minute?"

"Thank you. I called up my Fairy Godmother." Bulma said to her jokingly, more than relieved that Asia was commenting on her dress and not the jewelry.

Asia just looked at her blankly, not getting the reference.

"Chi-Chi, this is Asia, the queen of Vegeta-sei." Bulma said quickly, changing the subject, not wanting to start anything.

"It's nice to meet you," Chi-Chi said to her.

"You're a human as well?" Asia asked, looking her over.

"I am," she nodded.

"Chi-Chi and I were best friends on our planet," Bulma said. "It was a pure fluke that we found each other."

"Fluke?" Asia repeated with a slight frown.

"A fortunate accident," Bulma clarified. "Anyway, Kakarott is her mate."

"Oh," Asia nodded. "I suppose congratulations are in order."

"Thank you." Chi-Chi nodded.

"Where is Vegeta?" Asia asked Bulma.

"He and Kakarott left, I don't know, to go discuss something a few minutes back." Bulma answered. "Why?"

"No reason," Asia shrugged. "Just surprised he let you out of his sight."

Bulma shrugged. "He can't watch me every moment of the day."

"Where is your son?"

"Someone volunteered to look after him for the evening, you know to give us a night off. How is your son?"

"He's good." she nodded.

"I'd really like to meet him," Bulma said to her with a smile. "Maybe we could arrange for a play date some time? I could bring Trunks. Maybe they could be friends."

"Saiyan children do not play," she replied dryly.

"Chi-Chi has a son too," Bulma volunteered.

"His name is Goten," Chi-Chi said. "He and Trunks play together all the time. Kakarott brings me here to hang out with Bulma some days so she's not all on her own and the boys can hang out."

Asia nodded at them. "That sounds nice. Perhaps one afternoon I will bring Tarble by."

"Sure!" Bulma chirped happily. "Why not?"

"It might be alright," she agreed. "After all, there are no infants or young ones his age at the palace."

"Great!" Bulma exclaimed, she knew Vegeta would more than likely not approve, but she was so sick of sitting around by herself! She and Asia may never be friends, but at least they had something in common; even if it only was the fact that they each had a child.

Asia gave her an odd look and walked away. She wasn't sure why she had agreed to that. Tarble was a prince, the next heir of Vegeta-sei. Why would she allow him to hang around a couple of half breeds? More importantly, why would Bulma have any interest in her or her son after everything that she had said and done to her? She would have thought the girl would want to remain as far away from her as possible; on the other hand, Asia well knew the adage to keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. Was that what the invitation had been about? She wondered skeptically if the two human women were perhaps mocking her. They seemed sincere enough; Bulma especially.

Asia dismissed it all together for the moment and decided to enjoy the evening. The people's reaction to Bulma could prove to be quite entertaining and thankfully, she had front row seats.

Vegeta and Kakarott returned a short time later. By that time, dinner was ready to be served.

Vegeta and Bulma took their seats at the head table a few seats down from the king and Asia.

Is everything alright? He asked her.

Yea, it's fine. You? What was that all about?

I needed to inform Kakarott of the current situation with this possible war with Cold. We needed to come to an agreement.

An agreement? About what?

I will fill you in later on.

Bulma sighed in annoyance. He hadn't told her anything with regards to any of that since they got here. She had hoped that since he hadn't brought it up that maybe it meant that things had just blown over, though who had she been kidding? She knew it wouldn't just disappear; and if it did, Vegeta wouldn't let it.

Dinner was finally served. It was an assortment of wonderfully scented meats, fruits and vegetables. Bulma wasn't sure what to choose first so she watched as Vegeta filled his plate with a few different things that looked interesting before following suite.

King Vegeta shook his head as he noticed how little she had taken in comparison to everyone else at the table whom she had not been introduced to; she assumed they were high ranking officials and cabinet members.

Everyone at the head table ate their meal in a sort of awkward silence for the first half of the meal. It wasn't until Bulma had gotten up to get a second helping of some kind of fruit salad that anyone chose to acknowledge her or Vegeta's presence.

"So where is it that you are originally from?" one of the older Saiyan men asked her. "I did not have the opportunity to meet you during your previous visit, but I remember you very well."

Bulma looked up at him in surprise. Frankly she didn't think anyone would be willing to speak or even look at her. "I am from a planet called Earth that isn't around anymore. I was taken before it was destroyed."

"And you met our prince, how?"

"I was working someplace and we met and," she smiled, feeling her cheeks redden just a little at the memory of their first meeting. "And the rest is history, I guess."

The King snorted rudely. "He acquired her as his bed slave would be a more accurate account."

She smiled at the king, despite his rudeness. "Yes, that is true, however things just sort of fell into place."

"It happens," one of the older men at the table shrugged. "Wasn't Borrak's woman a courtesan at one point?"

"I believe she was."

"They met at some function she was working at and I can't remember the details, but he caused somewhat of a scandal stealing her from her owner," the first man explained. "Lovely woman, amazing cook. They have been together almost seventy years."

"Wow. Seventy years?" Bulma commented. "That's a long time."

"Who was that slave that you favored, your highness?" another older Saiyan male asked the king.

The king glared at him.

"Which one?" Asia asked in a snippy tone. "He has so many."

"That one with the long, pink hair," he continued. "My god, she was something; I remember she was able to play pretty much any instrument. Didn't you release her?"

"I did," the King nodded. "I have no clue as to her whereabouts."

"I think she lives on one of the small islands, your highness. The last I heard she is mated with a family. Not sure who to though. Lucky bastard."

Bulma couldn't help but feel a little more comfortable. Other than the king, none of the others present at the table seemed to have a problem with her and Vegeta's history or her race.

Vegeta relaxed somewhat on the inside as he finished his meal. So far with the exception of his father, everyone was being polite to Bulma and she was handling herself very well. He knew she was still a little nervous, unsure of what to say and what not to say, but she carried herself confidently and did not falter. Most seemed impressed with her and he did not get the impression that they were speaking to her only to mock her later on behind closed doors. He had not once have to come to her aid; she seemed comfortable to take on any question she was asked and even found nothing but the most polite responses to his father's odd rude remarks he would throw in time to time. He was not surprised by her though. He knew she could verbally defend herself if she needed to. It was important that she speak with them all herself instead of referring to him.

"Can you tell us about your transformation, my prince?" someone else asked, bringing him out of his thoughts. "I heard you let the men see it yesterday. I would love to witness it firsthand."

Vegeta went into a brief account of his ascension. Everyone was eager to hear of it. He even shared Bulma's involvement in assisting him with the use of the gravity simulator and how a larger one to accommodate more soldiers at a time was in the process of being built.

She smiled at him as he told the story of her invention and its benefits; he hadn't needed to do that. She would have been happy if he had taken responsibility for doing it on his own or if he had given Bardock full credit for the gravity simulation; it had been Bardock who had built it on his own after she had left Vegeta-sei.

"So you are far more than what meets the eye," Paragus said to her. "Interesting."

"I was a scientific engineer on my planet." she clarified with a smile, not liking how he was looking at her. "My father was a well-known inventor and I had planned on following in his footsteps. It is my honor to have helped out your prince. However, I have no doubt he would have done it on his own eventually anyway."

Dinner passed by quickly and without incident. As soon as the King was finished with his meal he stood up to make an announcement.

"My people, it is with great happiness that I have gathered you all here today to welcome back and celebrate the return of my son and heir back to our kingdom," he began. "He has been on leave for some time now. As I am sure you have all heard through some means or another, he has lived up to my expectations and has claimed his birthright; he has ascended to become among the Legendary. He is a Super Saiyan."

Many of the soldiers present clapped and hollered at the announcement.

"I am proud to welcome him back. He has been on leave perfecting his transformation, as many of you know, Vegeta is a perfectionist and would not rest or return until he was completely confident in his new abilities. He returns here a stronger and smarter warrior and with a mate."

Bulma didn't miss the way the word mate was said with distaste and refrained from snorting at him.

"My wish here tonight is for you all to welcome them here. Vegeta has been given full decision making authority where King Cold is concerned; my full confidence is with him in this matter.

"But tonight is not a discussion about war and combat; tonight, I wish for everyone to enjoy themselves. Eat, drink, dance and enjoy my hospitality on this joyous occasion."

Everyone present in the banquet hall clapped, cheered or raised their glasses.

"Have you anything to say, my son?" the king asked.

"Not particularly," he sighed. He wasn't sure what to say.

"Just say something simple, Vegeta." Bulma whispered quietly to him. "You don't have to make a big speech. Just something quick and to the point."

"Hmmn," he nodded in agreement at her as he stood up, but grabbed her arm, prompting her to stand up as well.

Vegeta, I'm not saying anything. She said quickly in panic. I can't! This is your thing, not mine.

You do not have to.

Bulma nodded once, relieved that he wasn't going to make her say anything. She folded her hands delicately in front of her and looked out at the now intimidating-looking banquet hall. She wasn't sure what Vegeta was going to say; she only hoped the guests wouldn't throw things at her in an outrage at her being there and standing at his side. She really liked this dress and really didn't want it ruined.

She caught Chi-Chi's excited smile for her and smiled back awkwardly.

"This should be good," Asia muttered to her father and the King. She sat back with her arms crossed and her wine glass up near her cheek with her head tipped in interest.

"Thank you for the warm welcome," Vegeta said somewhat awkwardly. "I realize that my absence has been long and for the most part unexplained. I do not wish to go into detail but my father is correct, I have ascended. What he did not mention was that I could not have done it in such a timely fashion without my mate. I fear I cannot take all of the credit for that. Those of you who know me well, know that if I could, I would."

Several of the soldiers chuckled at him.

"I return here with a mission. It is my hope to repair the reputation of the Saiyan race, damaged over the years because of our association with the Ice-jin. It will take patience and many years, but I am confident that it can be done. Our victory in this coming war will be our first step in breaking away from them and making our own name in this universe; but that is enough talk of that. I must agree with my father that tonight is for rejoicing. Tomorrow we will discuss war strategies."

There were many shouts and applauds at the completion of his speech and Vegeta sat down, satisfied. Bulma couldn't help but smile at him; he hadn't had to mention her part and it surprised her that he had, but that he did warmed her heart.

With dinner for the most part finished, many of the tables were cleared and an orchestra began to play. Bulma watched in delight as many of the couples present began to dance together in what looked to be very similar to a slow waltz.

"Do you want to dance, Vegeta?" she asked excitedly.

"No."

"Awe, why not? Everyone else is." She said, gesturing at the several couples out on the dance floor.

"I do not dance," he replied. "Ever."

"Yes you can," she objected playfully. "Remember that night we first met? You danced with me then. I remember you being pretty good."

"I did not say I couldn't dance; I said I do not dance." He clarified.

"Awe, come on, Vegeta," she whined. "Look; Kakarott is dancing with Chi-Chi."

Vegeta looked at his first lieutenant and his mate a moment and wrinkled his nose in distaste. Kakarott was attempting to dance with Chi-Chi, though he looked stiff and clueless and it looked more like she was trying to show him how. "He looks like an idiot."

"Well at least he's trying," Bulma sighed. "I know you won't look like that, so come on! It'll be fun; quit being such a wet blanket."

"No," he insisted sourly.

"Son, I must have a brief word with you alone in private." his father said to him. "Paragus has some new and potentially crucial information with regards to King Cold and his current station whereabouts."

Bulma held back an inward groan and instead just sighed in disappointment.

"Do not worry, my dear, I will only borrow my son for the briefest moment." the king said, noting her unimpressed demeanor.

"Hey, don't hold back on my account," she said sarcastically. "Business is business, right?"

"Indeed it is." The king nodded at her.

"You are to remain here," Vegeta whispered in her ear. "Do not speak with anyone but for Kakarott and his mate and you are to not leave the hall."

"I get it, Vegeta," she sighed in annoyance. "I'm not three."

He glared at her a moment before leaving her sitting at the head table on her own. If anyone hassles you, you are to let me know.

I will. Just hurry back, Vegeta. She replied. What a disappointment tonight was becoming. Vegeta was in a foul mood, she wasn't allowed to wander around or mingle. So much for making a few friends and acquaintances, she thought to herself bitterly.

Bulma watched Vegeta exit the banquet hall with his father and a few council members and slouched back in her chair with her arms crossed, looking all together like a sulking child on a time out. She didn't care though. She scoffed inwardly at how her mother would have been scolding her for slouching if she had been there.

She watched Kakarott and Chi-Chi. They appeared to be having a good time together despite his cluelessness on how to dance. She held back a laugh as he stepped on her and she was trying, nicely, to correct him but she could see her friend's annoyance bubbling beneath the surface. At least they were together and trying to have some fun, she mused to herself.

As the minutes went by and her boredom increased, she noticed her wine glass had become empty and decided to get another drink for herself. She got up from her seat, smoothed out her dress and made her way to where the bar was.

She grabbed herself a glass of wine and stood at the sidelines of the banquet hall, quietly enjoying her wine by herself and observing everyone else. She smiled as she watched Chi-Chi and Kakarott still dancing together. It looked as though they had made some progress and Kakarott was getting the hang of it.

A few Saiyan women approached her and spoke briefly with her, admiring her dress and accessories. They seemed nice enough and for a few minutes, she forgot that Vegeta was still gone.

Bulma was going to go back to her seat at the table when she noticed that guy from outside earlier when she had been on her walk with Aro. He was by himself, not talking to anyone but was staring at her.

She smiled at him, but he didn't acknowledge her. She sighed and looked away for a moment, feeling somewhat awkward. When she happened to look in his direction again she noticed that he was still standing there staring at her.

Buma smiled at him uneasily again. What is his deal? She wondered to herself. He was just so quiet and reserved. He didn't say anything, just kind of sat back and observed; which wasn't a bad thing. Vegeta could be socially awkward at times, but this guy seemed different. Is he a mute? She wondered.

Feeling awkward standing there by herself and beginning to feel somewhat creeped out by his unwavering stare, she decided to go over and speak to him.

"Hi, I'm Bulma," she said, walking up to him. "I'm-"

"You're Vegeta's mate," he finished for her.

Okay, so he can talk. She thought, nodding. "Yes, I am. What's your name? You seem to be as much an outcast here as I am."

"I am Brolly," he answered. "I am a family member of Asia's."

"Oh," she said, feeling really stupid now; of all the people she could have randomly chosen to talk to, she just had to choose the one that happened to be related to Asia. "Yea, I've met her a few times." She nodded, trying to remain neutral.

"She has spoken of you lots."

"Oh, I'll bet she has," Bulma chuckled to herself, wishing Vegeta would return quickly or that the ground would swallow her up; whichever happened first.

"You're even more beautiful than she had let on for you to be," he said.

"Why thank you," she stammered, feeling her face redden just a bit. This situation becoming more awkward by the second. "So, um, how come I've never seen you around at any of the events before? I mean, not that I was here that long before; I was only here like a week or two at the most. I don't remember seeing you here."

"I grew up on a different continent of the planet with my family," he answered. "I decided that farming and tending to crops is not something I wish to do my whole life so I joined the military with hopes of becoming an elite soldier."

"Cool," she nodded, unsure of what to say. "Sometimes picking up the family business isn't always what you want and you have to choose your own path, I guess; nothing wrong with that."

Brolly nodded and narrowed his eyes somewhat at her insightful comment. She had no idea how true that statement really was; he had no interest in being here. He was only here because his father had dragged him here. He hated social gatherings, he hated politics. He would rather be back home with his grandmother than here.

"Very true," he said. "Is it common for women of your race to have such a unique hair color?" he asked, changing the subject.

"No, not really." she shrugged. "I'm special though."

"So I hear," he nodded. "I have heard much about you."

"Yea, I'm sure you have," she said quietly, looking at her feet. "I think everyone has."

"You have nothing to be ashamed of," he muttered. "Neither does my prince; as you say, sometimes you need to make your own life's path."

"Thank you." She smiled at him.

"There you are, Woman," Vegeta said, walking up to them.

"It's about time you made it back," she said gratefully, giving him a relieved smile. "I was starting to think you'd ditched me for good." She teased.

"Do not be ridiculous." He said, rolling his eyes.

"This is Brolly," Bulma said, gesturing to the seemingly forgotten Saiyan male still standing silently next to her. "He's a family member of Asia's."

Vegeta regarded him silently a moment. "Other than Paragus, I have never met nor have even heard of another family member of Asia's. What is your business with my mate?" he asked, narrowing his eyes suspiciously at him.

"Its fine, Vegeta," she said to him, placing a hand lightly on his shoulder. "I came to talk to him."

"I warned you to keep to yourself. Where's that fool, Kakarott?"

"I can assure you, my prince, I meant no harm where your mate is concerned," Brolly said. "Kakarott is over there with his mate at their table. Your mate simply came to introduce herself, which was a harmless, but a great kindness on her part as I simply detest social gatherings such as these; she is very kind, indeed."

"I see, then what brings you to such a gathering?" Vegeta asked coolly. "I have never seen or met you before."

"I am simply here to honor his majesty's return to the planet Vegeta-sei along with everyone else present this evening," he replied, bowing his head respectfully. "It was also my pleasure to meet your lovely mate, my Prince. As well, I have just enlisted as a soldier, your highness. It is my wish to one day fight at your side and gain your full respect."

"We shall see," Vegeta said, frowning at the other Saiyan and ushering Bulma back towards their seating place.

That was rude, Vegeta! She exclaimed accusingly.

I told you to keep to yourself and speak with no one other than Kakarott and his mate.

Yeah, I know while you left for like a half hour off doing who knows what? You expect me to just stand here like a wallflower and not talk to anyone all night?

You're right, what was I thinking? You can't keep that mouth of yours shut for any length of time without resisting the urge to speak to someone.

And that's a bad thing?

He sighed heavily and growled in agitation. Under normal circumstances, no. But here it is an issue!

Then why did you bring be back here, Vegeta?

Do not put that on me! I was all in favor of leaving you behind until I had sorted out matters over here. It was you who insisted on coming with me.

Fine, you win that one; but I'd really like to know what it is you have planned, Vegeta? Because I'm bored. You leave me all day to go do whatever with your father and the council and your training. There's only so much Bardock has for me to do, not to mention it's unfair to him for me to always be dragging Trunks with me. He takes up too much of my attention for me to be of any help to him.

You bring me out here tonight, you won't dance with me and you expect me to hang out in a corner like a pariah while you discuss more war plans with your father. I understand you're busy and that I can't help you out on this, but I feel like you're shutting me out completely, Vegeta. What's next? You locking me up in your suite all together so I'm not allowed out ever to do anything because you're too afraid someone's going to do something to me? Guess what? The few people I have had the opportunity to talk to and meet have actually been really nice. Is it possible you're overreacting just a tad?

I would rather overreact than underreact.

"May I borrow your lovely mate, son?" the king asked, approaching them both.

"That depends." Vegeta replied, narrowing his eyes suspiciously at his father.

"I only wish to dance with her; that is all."

"You do not dance. Ever." Vegeta said. "Go and find your own mate to dance with."

"I said I would make the effort for the evening on your behalf. It is such a shame such a beautiful girl hasn't had the opportunity to dance this evening." He said innocently enough.

Vegeta looked at Bulma a moment, considering whether or not he should allow his father the opportunity or not.

"Sure, why not?" Bulma said with a smile, quickly making the decision for Vegeta. "I don't mind, seeing as you're being such a drag." She added teasingly.

Watch yourself with him. I do not trust him.

Are you planning on leaving again?

No.

Then I am sure it will be fine. He's not going to do anything to me in front of all these people, Vegeta.

If he does, I will end him.

I really don't think it will come to that.

"Shall we, my dear?" the king said, offering his arm to her.

Bulma took a deep breath to calm her nerves and hoping for the best, she went with him; leaving Vegeta standing on the sidelines. I'll be fine, lighten up. She said to him.

A moment after they left, Asia walked up to Vegeta, frowning at the King and Bulma. "He never dances," she commented sourly.

"Oh, I know," Vegeta huffed, crossing his arms. "I do not know what he is up to."

"Well, would you dance with me?" She asked hopefully.

"No." he replied, watching his father and Bulma very closely for any sign that his father had ill intentions.

"I'm so bored," she whined.

Vegeta completely ignored her as his kept his gaze focused on his mate and his father. They looked to be having a civil conversation.

-0-0-0-

"Are you enjoying yourself this evening?" The King asked as they started to dance some kind of waltz that she was easily able to follow.

"I am, thank you."

"Good," he said with a nod. "I have a few things I need to discuss with you while we have a moment."

Oh, great. She thought to herself. "Of course, what would you like to discuss?"

"What would it take for you to leave my son and to never return? Name your price." He asked her bluntly, not skirting around the subject.

"There is no sum of money that could sway my decision to stay with him." She answered with a slight frown.

"Everyone has a price, my dear, simply name yours." The king said. "If it is not a matter of price then there is something of value; everyone wants something. What do you want? Name it, it is yours."

"You couldn't give me what I want. Not even close." She smiled, shaking her head, not breaking eye contact with him.

"Try me,"

"Well, I would love to have my planet back, live happily and peacefully with my parents again. You know on my planet, my family was among the wealthiest and most prosperous. My father and I were very highly respected and thought of; I was, in a sense, practically royalty, the one and only heir and successor to his empire. It would be nice to have that again, but I'm afraid impossible. So that's one thing you can't give me.

"So, Vegeta and Trunks are my family now. Do you really want to know what I want? All want is to live quietly and happily with my family." She answered confidently and truthfully; after all, that was all she really wanted and so far, he was the only one seeking to prevent that.

"You'll never get that with him." The elder Vegeta scoffed, shaking his head. "He is a warrior; born and bred to lead this planet to victory, not be a domesticated family man; it simply is not who he is. He may have had a lapse in his judgment and thought that settling down with you and that brat was a good idea; but that will not last, my dear, despite his best intentions.

"I know he managed to destroy Lord Frieza and he may defeat King Cold but that does not guarantee peace. Peace is for women and weaklings; how ironic that you fit the bill on both aspects of that. Besides, there is always somebody left to fight, a world that needs to be conquered; you get the picture, I am sure. We are a warrior race, I am sure you know by now.

"My point, my dear, is that Vegeta will not be content for long living this little fantasy life that you've somehow sucked him into. You've had your time with him and I will acknowledge that he does care deeply for both you and the child. I will even commend you for keeping his attention this long; you are a strikingly beautiful woman, I must admit that if I had seen you before he did that I would have been content having you in my bed for a time until I bored of you. Therefore, you must have some usefulness outside the bedroom to be able to keep his unwavering loyalty for this long of a duration. So you should feel fortunate. No concubine has ever achieved what you have and I will admit that have greatly underestimated you.

"Take heart in that and know that it is simply time for the two of you to part ways," he continued, not giving her a chance to reply or object to anything he had to say. "I have tried to get him to see how obvious it is that he sever ties with you and the child. I raised Vegeta to be the perfect warrior; therefore it is imperative he not have any emotional ties holding him back. I have tried to get him to see reason; I am sure you are more than aware of how stubborn he is. He will not listen to reason from me but perhaps your influence will prove more fruitful. I meant what I said to you over dinner the other night that you would command my full respect if you left now without making a fuss. Surely you care enough about Vegeta to not want to hinder him any longer than you already have."

"I am not hindering him or holding him back." She replied evenly, ignoring his cruel outlook. "I do not make his decisions for him. I support him in anything he wants to do. Why can't you just leave him be? Give him a chance-"

"Why can't You leave him be? Let him become who he is meant to become. He will never reach his full potential if you do not walk away from him. Is that what you want?" He asked her in a clipped tone. "He has the potential to be the greatest king Vegeta-sei has ever seen in over a thousand years and I will not sit back and watch him waste his life away over a woman."

"I agree with you," she replied calmly. "I think he has the potential to be a wonderful king. I don't see what that does or doesn't have to do with me."

"Let me put this to you another way: You are a parent and want nothing but the best for your child, do you not?" He asked her after a heavy, exasperated sigh and she had to swallow back a smile at how much he resembled his son, or rather his son resembled his father when annoyed.

"Of course I do."

"Then look at it from my point of view for a moment, as a parent and not some foolish female hanging on to ridiculous sentiments of romance; I have been told you are a genius so humor me, this notion should not be overly difficult for you to grasp I should hope.

"Say your son grows up to be a respectable young man and manages to make a name for himself and you as a parent are proud of him and all of what he could accomplish in life and just as he is beginning to mature and come into his own he meets a woman.

"I do not know what would be considered unacceptable as a potential mate in your culture, but for this exercise, try and picture someone detestable enough whom you could absolutely not accept into your family. Your son chooses this person to be his lifelong, bonded mate despite your concerns, warnings and council. Would you not, as a parent only looking out for his future and his best interests, do everything within your power to keep them apart to protect him from making a disastrous life choice? A choice that could ruin him?"

"Wow, I didn't fully realize how detestable you found me; thank you for illustrating that." She said sarcastically.

"Answer the question."

"Alright," she sighed, hoping she could explain her point of view in such a way that he could both understand and hopefully respect. She happened to catch Vegeta's eye from across the room, sending him a quick smile of reassurance that she was fine even though she knew he was probably upset with her for blocking him from listening in to their conversation, but this was something she needed to do on her own. Maybe this was her chance to possibly begin showing his father that she wasn't just some opportunistic girl out to ruin his son for her own amusement and selfish gain. However, she also knew the chances of that were slim to none at best; but she would try and understand his objections and reply in a dignified and respectful manner and ignore the insulting remarks he seemed to find appropriate to throw at her. Now was the time to try and put on a good impression, not spew insults back at him; she was better than that and she knew it. He had been baiting her all night; she knew that and hoped just a little bit that if she ignored it and held her composure maybe she could score some brownie points, even if they were just the tiniest crumbs of the brownie.

"Firstly, unless she's a drug addict or someone that would hurt him, like, say couldn't be faithful to him and this person has proved to not be the person he should be with then yes, as a parent I would be concerned. However, that is still ultimately his choice to make. If he is a grown man and has found someone he truly wants to be with then there is not much more I can do but voice my concerns and let him figure it out for himself. I would hope that I would never put Trunks in a position to choose between myself and someone else that he has decided he cares for; it isn't right."

"And if you know that it is a grave mistake?" he pressed her.

"Kids are going to make mistakes, it is how they learn," she shrugged, beginning to get annoyed with him. "As a parent, I believe it is my job to be there for him; to instill in him values and principles and at some point, I will have to take a step back and trust in him that he will make proper choices and trust that Vegeta and I raised a sensible, well-adjusted young man who will make good life choices. If he makes a mistake, all I can do is be there for him and help him guide his way through it. And with regards to finding a mate, I can't be with him forever. If he finds someone that I'm not crazy about, all I care about is that this person is loyal to him and cares for him as much as he does for her. It's his choice, he's the one who will have to live with her.

"The same goes for Vegeta. I get where you are coming from, as a parent. However, I am not out to do any harm to your son. I care very deeply for him as he does about me. I realize that in your society I am not considered an acceptable choice, but it was his choice. I am not with him because of his title or because of what he can do for me. I am with him because I love him and I want to be with him; whether he stays here and becomes a king or we leave here and live quietly together with no titles or any of that. He made his choice knowing everything that was at stake. We discussed it. I don't even know why he chose me. I'm weak, I can't fight; I get it. But it was still his choice to make and I think you should respect that. I am not going to leave him just because you have a problem with us being together. Give me a chance. I am not just some stupid broad or a piece of arm candy he picked out randomly off the street. I am a genius, a technological genius. I have helped him and I will continue to help him. If you would just sit back and let us be, maybe you would see that I am not the worst person in the universe to be with your son. Trust that your son is smart and can make his own decisions; that he saw some redeeming qualities in me other than where my looks and potential bedroom skills are concerned."

"I would hope so," the king snorted. "At least he has not lost all sense then. I do not care what he sees in you as far as redeeming qualities are concerned, I am asking you to see the un-redeeming qualities from my point of view and am asking you from a parent's perspective to understand my objections."

"I understand your objections and that is all they are, however unfounded," she replied sweetly as she smiled at Vegeta again from across the room. "Honestly, I just want to live the rest of my life with my husband and my son."

"And how long, may I ask, is the life expectancy of your race, my dear?" He asked her.

Bulma frowned at him and kind of shrugged. "I don't know, seventy, eighty years? Sometimes ninety if you're lucky. Why, what difference does that make in the case which you seem to be building against me?"

The older Vegeta sighed heavily and shook his head.

"What's the big deal?" she asked. "What's the life expectancy of a Saiyan then?"

"I see, you never discussed that?"

"No," Bulma shook her head. "Why would that come up? Don't tell me you guys have some freakishly long life span of like five hundred years."

"No, not five hundred; but we have been known to live as long as one hundred and twenty years to one hundred and thirty years of age." He replied in almost a monotone. "Most Saiyans never get the chance to die of old age; we die in the glory of battle."

"Sounds wonderful," she said as she rolled her eyes.

"It is," he nodded. "It is honorable; not that you would understand anything about that. Now can you understand why I am so upset? How old are you, girl? Twenty, if that? Within another twenty or thirty years you will begin to start withering away and Vegeta will still look as he does now. Not only that it would be only two or possibly three decades more for you if you manage to be as you say, lucky, and live to your full life expectancy; by that time, Vegeta will be just reaching the prime of his life."

Bulma frowned slightly and swallowed hard at his words. This had been something that had never come up before. It had never occurred to her; she had assumed something as trivial as life expectancy would have been the same for him as it was for her. And now that she knew they were decades apart in terms of life expectancy, she could somewhat understand his father's outrage. "We're bonded," she said, looking up at him.

"And do you know exactly what that means, my dear?" he asked. "Did he explain that to you?"

"Yes, I know. He told me all about the bond and the side effects," she nodded.

"Did he happen to mention it before or after he so foolishly bound himself to you?"

Bulma scowled at him; it was one thing for him to insult her, but quite another for him to insult and think so little of Vegeta. "I was well informed about the consequences before we committed ourselves to one another."

"I see," he nodded. "Yet you failed to discuss something as crucial as life expectancy."

"Why would it occur to me to ask something like that?" she objected. "On my planet, everyone more or less has the same-"

"Your planet; a planet of weaklings, obviously," he spat. "I could understand somewhat you not thinking of such things, coming from a weak race but not once, did it not cross your mind that a warrior race with superior strength and abilities might have a longer life expectancy than yours?"

"No."

"Vegeta should have known," he growled. "That stupid boy. Thinking only with his cock and not his head."

"Give him some credit at least," she defended angrily. "You know, for a parent you sure are hard on him and only seem to want to dwell on his few negative traits. I'll have you know Vegeta's positive qualities far outweigh his negative ones."

"Well it does not matter now, does it? Being that he bonded with you the chances are high of him passing once you do. What a waste, what a complete waste of the most promising King this planet has ever seen; thanks to you."

"Well what if he doesn't die?" she said. "He told me you managed to work your way through it, that it's a rare occurrence, but that you did it. Maybe he can too; I would hope he could do the same."

"I can only hope," the king sighed in aggravation. "At this rate, it is a blessing I have another son. I will more than likely outlive you and him both; what a joke!"

"How old are you, you're highness, if you don't mind me asking? Just out of curiosity sake."

He narrowed his eyes suspiciously at her a moment before replying, "I am in my eighty-first year."

"What? Wow!" she breathed, genuinely shocked. "I would have never guessed that."

"Do not attempt to flatter me, girl," he growled. "I am well aware that I appear much older in years than I am."

"Sorry, I wasn't mocking you," she said. "I assumed you to be in your late forties, early fifties maybe? Though that was an estimation solely based on Vegeta's age and not how old you appear. If you were a member of my race, I would have pegged you more in your late thirties, early forties at the most?"

"Wonderful, I appear middle-aged by the standards of your weak race; I see you were indeed mocking me or you have no fear, which in your case is very stupid."

"No, sir, I wasn't. I merely made the observation going by Vegeta's age." she shook her head and then sighed in defeat. What was the point? He obviously hated her and there wasn't anything she could do to change his mind and obviously nothing she could say to place herself in his good books for even five minutes. "Never mind."

"Maybe you are not so stupid," he said. "I still believe it is in your best interests to leave him. Let him focus on becoming who he needs to become. Raise your child on your own."

She shook her head. "I can't do that," she said. "Not unless it's what he wants."

"You know as well as I do that he will never go along with that."

"Then I'm sorry, I guess you're going to have to get used to the idea of us being together." she said jokingly in an effort to try and lighten the mood. In actuality, she wanted to go running back to Vegeta. "It would make family dinners a whole lot less awkward, you know."

"I suppose I could crush you. Right now, at this very moment." He growled, shaking her slightly.

"I know, but you won't." She replied boldly.

"You don't think I would?"

"No, I don't. Vegeta would end you and you know it."

"He would still be rid of you in his life. It would be worth it."

"True, but we're bonded, remember? If I die, he'll die too. I'm fairly certain you don't want that. Though who knows?"

"He wouldn't." The king snorted. "He's too strong to allow himself to be destroyed over something so trivial."

"I see, so then why the issue of me not leaving him then?" She asked with a smirk. "If he wouldn't allow himself to fall over losing me, then what harm is there in me staying? Furthermore, if you're so sure he'll pull through it then why make a big deal over life expectancy?"

The king glared at her as he realized that she was right; she had turned his guilt trip he had tried to put on her around and against him; clearly she was smarter than he had given her credit for. "Because he cannot have any distractions; you and the brat that, is all you are to him. A waste of his time and nothing more than a distraction."

"And you doing away with me and destroying a bond wouldn't be an unnecessary distraction while he tries to fight through that?"

"Well then heed my words and leave and you can spare him that. I will ensure your safety and send you away to any planet of your choosing with enough funds to start a more than comfortable life for both you and the child for the rest of your days. All you have to do is leave."

"And you don't think he would destroy half the universe looking for us? There's a great way to distract him from whatever it is you want him to be doing," she snorted sarcastically. "Just leave us be. I won't distract him. Vegeta has a mind of his own and does what he wants; I'm sure you know that, and believe me, he's more than capable."

"True enough, but he does not need your soft influence hindering his actions or plans."

"You obviously don't know him as well as you think you do," she laughed lightly. "I may weigh in my opinion from time to time, but that does not mean he goes along with it."

The king nodded at her. "I am not convinced, I am afraid. It does not matter, in the overall scheme of things. Seeing as he may or may not return from this war, I feel it would be a kindness to let you know that you need to start considering the safety of yourself and that of your child in the event that he does fail."

She paused for a moment and looked at him. "Is that the plan?" She asked. "Send him out on a mission that he will fail just because of me?"

"Not exactly, you assume too much."

"You, you are a bad man; a horrible, evil person," she said quietly, trying to contain her rage.

"I did not stay where I am because I am a nice person," he said mockingly to her, "and neither will you. You seem like a nice girl, and I am sure you are, but you do not belong here. Take my council and leave."

She swallowed a lump in her throat that had been threatening to take over her and push her composure out the window all together. Don't fall apart now, please don't fall apart now; not now, not in front of him. She kept telling herself.

"Try not to fret over it too much, my dear. You have plenty of time to make the right choice and do right by Vegeta." He said casually. "Enjoy the rest of your evening. For your own peace of mind, I gave Vegeta my word that you are safe here for the time being."

"You mean until Vegeta fails in this war campaign you've got him obsessing over?" She snorted, stubbornly blinking back the tears she felt wanting to fall.

The king shrugged. "I said no such thing. I am only advising you that it would be beneficial for you to not get too comfortable here."

She nodded at him but did not say anything, keeping her teeth clenched so she would not say anything stupid to him.

Vegeta frowned as he watched them. He could not figure out what the nature of their conversation was because Bulma had blocked him out, much to his annoyance. However, he was able to pick up on her mood and determined that she was somewhat distressed. She looked alright, but he could tell that she was trying with great difficulty to appear unbothered by his father.

He decided that it was time for him to cut in. He marched up to them brusquely.

"Would you like to cut in, son?" his father asked him cheerfully. "It is only proper that a man dance with his spouse."

"Your own spouse is looking for you; I suggest you go and find her." he snapped at him, taking Bulma and skirting away from him.

"Thank you," she said to him, composing herself again.

"What did he say to you?" he asked her.

"It doesn't matter," she sighed. "It was a friendly conversation, for the most part. Don't worry about it."

"It did not appear friendly to me. Perhaps civil, but not friendly. Why are you so upset?"

"I'm not," she lied, weakly she knew as he scowled at her. "Alright, I'll tell you, but not here Vegeta. Can we not for five minutes just enjoy the evening without you leaving to discuss war stuff and your father belittling me? I just want to dance with you and enjoy myself and so far none of that has happened." she complained, still trying to hold her emotions in.

He nodded at her and didn't comment further as he pulled her close and they danced together.

They danced together for a little while and did a few laps around the banquet hall together. They spoke with a few people in passing. Much to both Bulma's surprise and delight many of them were very polite, friendly and quite interested to know more about her.

She was introduced to Raditz and Nappa. She was surprised to learn that Kakarott had an older brother. They looked nothing alike. She remembered both him and Nappa from the tavern the first night she and Vegeta had met and to her amusement, Raditz took full credit for them getting together.

Despite their size and Nappa's surly demeanor, she decided that they were alright. Vegeta spoke very highly of them both and acknowledged that she could trust them.

They conversed briefly for a few minutes before Vegeta lead her out of the banquet room into a small hallway and out onto a wide balcony away from the celebration where it was quiet and no one could observe them.

They both leaned against the railing, side by side and looked out at the stars and valleys of Vegeta-sei. being that the stars were so many and so big, combined with the huge moon, it lit up the surface of the planet in a silvery aura, making everything shine somewhat almost like the illustration of one of Bulma's fairy tale books she thought.

This isn't us, Vegeta.

I know.

You're completely miserable.

I know.

So then, fix it. What can I do to help?

Bulma took a glance behind them, making sure no one was there. She mirrored his position but leaned into his side slightly, extended her arm slightly over the edge, bringing it parallel to his arm; his arms outstretched as he leaned on his elbows and had his hands folded together. She extended her small finger, brushing the side of his hand with it and to her delight, he released his fingers and allowed her pinky finger to entwine with one of his fingers.

There isn't anything you can do. Just-

What? Leave you alone?

Hmmn.

Well, that's not going to happen, Vegeta. You brought us here and ever since then you have been distant and miserable. You don't spend any time with me or Trunks. I feel like we're just an afterthought. She said, trying to not come across as needy and whiney, but she had to let him know what she was feeling at this point. Please, Vegeta. Let me in. I know you probably think I am just being whiney and unreasonable, but I am trying here; I can't live like this. You can't just expect me to shut up and be content with doing nothing all day. I'm lonely and I'm bored. If you would just loosen up, let me go out and meet people or even showed me around so that I could feel safe going for a walk or have some kind of activity to focus on, let me get into a routine, find my own groove, I wouldn't be nagging at you. I don't need you around me twenty four seven, but I need to be able to have some kind of freedom, some kind of life here.

Please, Vegeta; something has to give. I know how much you want this and I am behind you one hundred and ten percent; but there has to be a way to make this work for all of us so that we are both happy. The way it stands right now, I am not happy and I know you are not happy either and I hate that.

"What did my father want?" he asked after a long moment of silence, changing the subject all together. "You seemed to find it necessary to keep yourself blocked off from me. Why?"

She sighed in frustration of him ignoring her but decided it best to drop the issue for the moment. "I don't know, I guess I kind of wanted to talk to him and attempt to maybe get to know him a bit and what he's all about with a completely unbiased and unprejudiced son's comments distracting me." She said somewhat playfully. She had known that he would be annoyed at her blocking him so he could not listen in on their conversation, but she wanted to see for herself if his father was really as bad as Vegeta said. Maybe he had a softer side he just did not want to show; she had hoped that him asking her for a dance was a possible peace offering. Unfortunately, it was anything but and Bulma was more than alarmed after their conversation.

"I see; fair enough," he nodded once. "You were disappointed, I assume? You're upset."

"Yea," she sighed. "You're right about him. He won't ever accept me or Trunks. He made that more than clear. He did, however reassure me that we were safe here." For now, she added mentally to herself not wanting to bring that up just yet. What if her suspicions were wrong?

"What did he want?" he asked again.

"He wants me to leave you," she said lightly, looking at their hands; he had laced his fingers with hers a few moments back; she had not noticed until now. "He even offered to give me enough money for Trunks and I to live comfortably on any planet of my choosing for the remainder of my apparently pathetic life span."

Vegeta looked at her with an expression she couldn't place. "Is that really what he wanted to discuss with you?"

"Yea," she nodded.

Vegeta shook his head and clenched his teeth in annoyance; the audacity of that man!

"Did you know that Vegeta?" She asked him.

"Know what?"

"That my life expectancy is like half of yours?"

"I know," he said with an indifferent shrug. "Well, I assumed as much. A long time ago, when we first met you had mentioned that few couples in your culture managed to spend their lives together without separating from their union; I remember you mentioning some would be together fifty or sixty years. Assuming that the age of majority in your race to be around twenty years, I estimated your race must only live to around seventy or eighty years."

"Oh," was all she said, suddenly feeling really stupid now. "I, it didn't occur to me to ask you how long Saiyans live. I just assumed it would be the same."

"What does it matter?" he asked, looking at her with a slight frown. "What did my father tell you?"

"He just gave me another perspective to look at all of this from his point of view." she said, avoiding his gaze and simply looking out onto the dark horizon. "I can kind of understand where he's coming from-"

"What!"

"Just listen a minute," she said quickly before he started to jump to any conclusions. "I'm not saying he's right and I'm not saying I agree with him, I'm just acknowledging his input. Despite the fact that I think he's incredibly selfish and narrow minded, he really only has your best interest at heart; for the most part, I think."

"My father only cares about himself and his kingdom," Vegeta growled. "He has never cared for my best interests."

"I get how you see that; but you know how we have the bond and so if I pass then you might pass, right?"

He simply nodded and exhaled heavily, already knowing what she was getting at and not wanting to discuss it right now, or ever.

"So, when I'm like seventy and a wrinkled up old woman, you're going to look not much older than you do now. That does not bother you?"

"No," he answered.

She chuckled at him. "Great answer!"

"What else?" he asked, even though he already knew what she was going to say.

"Well, let me put this in your father's words, Vegeta, it makes a lot of sense and is a very valid concern for him; when you are just approaching the prime of your life, I will either be too old to be of any use to you or will have passed on. There's a very high possibility that you'll follow."

"I already know that." he said awkwardly. "You do not think I considered this before committing myself to you?

"But why, Vegeta? That's not fair to you."

"If the roles were reversed would you have walked away from me?" he asked.

She thought about it for a moment. "No, but I don't have to worry about taking over an empire either."

"What if your planet still stood? You said your father was one of the most influential and wealthy men on your planet because of his inventions. You have never mentioned siblings, so that would make you his one and only heir to carry on his empire when he is deceased.

"If the roles were reversed, would you have walked away?"

"I don't think so, no." She answered. "But humans don't have a bond like you do."

"What if they did?

"Alright, knowing how much I love you, no. I wouldn't." she answered. "I wouldn't want to live another forty years mourning you, but that's not the point."

"Then what is your point?"

"Your father is right in the sense that it is a waste for you! You give up so much! I understand why he is upset; your father is right to be upset and disappointed in you." She said. "Do you know how that makes me feel, knowing that?"

"Why do you think I never told you? I knew you would be upset."

"All the same, you should have told me-"

He cut her off, crashing his lips against hers and kissing her deeply, urgently as though that would solve their dilemma. She kissed him back, despite the fact that she was still upset and had more to say to him.

"I don't trust him," she murmured against his mouth.

"Then don't listen to him."

"There you guys are!" Kakarott said cheerfully, walking out onto the balcony to greet them.

Vegeta quickly took a large step away from Bulma in embarrassment at being seen in such a passionate embrace. He knew Kakarott wouldn't care or judge him, but he hoped no one else had seen them making out up there.

"What do you want?" he growled.

"Just to let you guys know that Chi-Chi and I are heading out." he shrugged.

"Where is Chi-Chi?" Bulma asked.

"Oh, she's dancing with Raditz." he said, scratching the back of his head. "I stepped on her feet too many times and she got mad and apparently he knows how to dance a whole lot better than I do. Who knew?"

"Oh, I am certain quite a few could have called that one, clown." Vegeta deadpanned.

"Thanks for coming!" Bulma said "And please tell Bardock and your mom thank you for taking Trunks. I hope he's not being too fussy."

"Not a problem. I'm sure he's fine, Bulma and you can tell them tomorrow yourself when you guys come for breakfast. You're still coming, aren't you?"

"Of course!" Bulma nodded. She had wanted to meet Bardock's mate since forever.

"When?" Vegeta grunted.

"Not too early," Kakarott shrugged. "Like mid to late morning? It's already pretty late and I think Chi-Chi will want to sleep in seeing as she doesn't get to very often anymore."

"Sounds good!" Bulma nodded. She was pretty tired herself.

They watched Kakarott leave.

"What about you?" she asked him. "Are you about ready to turn in for the evening?"

"Hmmn," he nodded. Truth be told he had been ready to leave five minutes after they had arrived. He led her back into the banquet hall and they bid farewell to a few people on their way out.

It didn't take long for them to make their way back to his quarters; they walked there in silence, both contemplating the evening.

Bulma made her way to the bathroom and began taking off her earrings when Vegeta came in behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her in close to him. She noticed that he had already removed his armor; he was only wearing his royal blue flight suit.

She smiled at him through the mirror and leaned back into his embrace as he skimmed the back of her neck with his nose, burying it in her hair which was still in a loose bun at the nape of her neck. He closed his eyes as he breathed in her scent deeply. Her eye caught his hand moving up her side and she managed to quickly grab it, stopping him as he gripped the delicate fabric of her dress. "Don't." She said, stopping him.

"Hmmn?" he growled in question, glaring at her playfully through the mirror.

"Don't ruin this dress," she said. "Please?"

His frown deepened and his lips turned downward in a petulant sulk. "What is the fun in that?"

She shrugged. "You've ruined lots of clothes that I really liked, and I don't object all that much and I'm sure there will be plenty more garments you'll destroy in the future. Just please don't ruin this one."

"Very well," he murmured against her hair as his hands roamed her sides trying to find where to begin undoing it. "Ha," he hissed in victory as he finally found a button and a zipper on her right side, concealed beneath the delicate fabric.

As he slowly unzipped her dress, she reached up and began unfastening the small concealed buttons on the back of her neck, keeping the mesh taught. He noticed that she was having difficulty and assisted her. Bulma held her breath for a moment as she watched him, half expecting that he would destroy the garment but she was surprised when no such thing happened; true to her wishes, he did not destroy or damage it in the least. His gentleness, when he put effort into it, always astounded her.

He let the dress fall off her small frame, revealing her nakedness. He could not believe that she had worn nothing beneath her dress. "Uncouth woman," he muttered, though not angrily.

"Surprised?" she asked, turning around to face him.

"Very," he mumbled kissing her lightly on the lips. "It is not a bad surprise."

"Well, this type of dress doesn't really allow for undergarments, sorry."

"Who said I was complaining?" he said, allowing his tail to leisurely brush up along her thigh and rest loosely around her waist.

Buma kissed him back and wrapped her arms around his neck, tightly pressing herself against him. He ran his hands up her sides sensually as he kissed her back. A moment later, she pulled her lips from his and just looked at him; he frowned slightly at the serious expression on her face as she studied him intently.

Her hands travelled from around his neck as she arched back slightly from him so she could really look at him without stepping back and away, as his arms and tail were wrapped firmly around her waist and her hips leaned into his.

She tipped her head to the side as she thoughtfully took in the sight of him; he never failed to take her breath away. Beautiful was not a word she would usually use to describe a man as masculine and driven as Vegeta, but it was the first word that came to her mind if she had to describe him in one word. Handsome didn't do him justice, neither did hot; he was a combination of both and so much more. Cute certainly didn't fit. The only other word that she could possibly think of was magnificent, but that word she more thought of a large, black majestic heavy draft horse galloping through a field of wild flowers with his long mane and tail whipping behind him in the wind. She smiled slightly at the thought of how appropriate that word and depiction suited Vegeta and absent mindedly brought her hands up, running them through his thick black hair, musing how it kind of reminded her of a horse's mane in its thickness, though the texture of it was suprisingly much softer.

Bulma continued to look at him, taking in his features; he really did resemble his father. He was nearly a shorter carbon copy of him with the exception that he had no facial hair and he didn't have lines or wrinkles in his face; not that he wouldn't be handsome with them as he aged, she was merely making an observation and noting the differences between him and his father.

She slid her hands down from his hair to rest at the sides of his neck as she looked at him another moment before bringing her right hand up, cupping his cheek; and stroked the side of his face with her thumb, smoothing the slight scowl from his eyebrows gently, mentally snickering that if he did age ever, he would have frown lines instead of laugh lines. Finally, her fingers traveled down again, lightly touching his lips with her fingers.

He gently nipped one of her fingers. She chuckled lightly at him and brought her arms back around his neck and hugged him tightly. It wasn't fair, she told herself.

"What is not fair?" he asked her and she cursed herself for letting the thought pass through the bond. She didn't want to discuss some of the things that took place this evening; not yet, perhaps tomorrow. Now that they were back in the confines of their room and away from his father and everyone else, he had let his guard down and left the stress behind. They were Trunks-free for the evening and she didn't want to spend the night rehashing all of the horrible things his father had said to her; she just didn't have the energy for it. On the other hand, if he wasn't wound up so tight maybe they could rationally discuss it now.

"What is not fair, woman?" he asked her again.

"You. Us. Everything, Vegeta." she said, burying her face in the side of his neck.

He growled at her. "I do not wish to discuss this anymore."

"I agree. I don't want to either but do you expect me to just forget about it just like that, Vegeta?"

"For tonight, yes. It would be nice," he huffed. "The brat is gone. I can think of a few things I would rather be occupying my time and energy on than obsessing over some stupid thought my father put in to your head.

"It's not a stupid thought, Vegeta!" She objected, leaning back to look at him again. "You may feel that way now because we're both young and stupid and reckless but what about down the road? You're not going to resent me eventually?"

"Why would I resent you over something like that? It isn't something that you have any control over."

"Maybe not now. I'm young, I'm still pretty. In terms of age, we're still on the same page but what about down the road? When you're still looking like you do now and I'm a wrinkly old bag? Are you still going to be attracted to me? Never mind that; Vegeta, you're ambitious. You have plans for the future, I am assuming. You may never live long enough to do the things you want to do and right now that might not matter to you because we still have lots of time together but eventually it may begin to bother you."

"It won't." He said firmly with conviction.

"How could it not, Vegeta?" She asked with just as much firmness. "As my life will begin to come to an end, you will see your end coming prematurely. That isn't fair to you! I'm already nothing more than a burden to you; I'm weak and frail. I may not be able to give you another child, and even if I do, any children, Trunks included, that we have no one will accept them. As much as I dislike your father, he's right on this, Vegeta. He is one hundred percent correct."

"That is how he wants you to feel." He growled. "Do not let him mess with your head."

"Vegeta, you know me; I am smart, confident, well assured. I don't need a man in life to define me or make me feel whole or tell me who I am. I am proud of myself as a person and as a woman." She said, trying to keep her emotions at bay. "The way I feel right now, after speaking with your father this evening, I have never in my life felt so low. Even all that shit we went through never did I feel as useless and out of place as I do right now."

He frowned at her and clenched his jaw in anger. That his father made her feel that bad about herself enraged him.

"I'm out of my element, Vegeta." She said sadly, sniffing. She berated herself, telling herself she would not cry. "I always knew that too, but I just couldn't walk away from you. You're, you were just-"

"Enough." He growled. He did not want her to start crying and continue on with this self-loathing pity party she was throwing. It angered him. Bulma almost never cried, never doubted herself and never displayed such outright weakness as she was right now. That is why he chose her. That she was wallowing in this way over something stupid his father said, while understandable, still disgusted him. "My father said what he did to put a wedge between us. It obviously worked, seeing as how you are carrying on the way you are. Ignore him. This is exactly what he wants."

"Vegeta, this doesn't have anything to do with your father." She said shaking her head and frowning at him at the harsh things he had just said. "Yes it was him who informed me of our differences, but had you or Kakarott or Bardock had told me about this I would still be just as upset as I am right now. Do not blame him. He's an asshole, I'll give I'm that, but you are his son and he has high aspirations for you; I understand it. As a parent, I do. Your father was right; and don't take this the wrong way, but maybe we shouldn't have bonded."

"What do you mean to not take it the wrong way? What other way would you like me to take it?"

She sighed heavily, trying to get her thoughts in order and figure out a way to explain what she meant without deeply offending him. "I love you. I don't regret us being together. I just, I wish there was no bond; and not because I don't like being connected to you mentally and emotionally but because it's going to destroy you in the end. I won't live as long as you could live and knowing that I might drag you down with me really disturbs me and I'm sorry I never thought to inquire about your life span. It honestly never occurred to me. I feel that I'm letting you down, that I'm failing you. I am the worst candidate you could have chosen. I don't like Asia, but she would have been a better choice."

He pushed her away from him, keeping her at arm's length. "I am so tired of this! I do not need him, or you or anyone else second guessing my decisions." he snarled. "I made my choice and that is the end of it. You do not want me to resent you? You are doing a good job of it by your incessant whining over the subject."

"I'm not trying to belittle you or call to question your choices, Vegeta this isn't about that."

"Then what is it about, Woman? I do not understand why you are so upset with me."

"You're more than likely going to die once I do, Vegeta! How can you not understand that? Don't you understand how useless that makes me feel? I'm no good to you! No wonder your father hates me!"

"That would happen whether we had the same life expectancy or not. You could die tomorrow and it would still be a possibility; I know this, you know this. For all I know I will not pass when you do, I may live on; I do not see the point in dwelling on it. Why is this such a big deal now?"

"Because if we were the same, you'd be a cantankerous old man the same time I'm a grouchy old woman; now I'm going to drag you down and you'll die like 40 years earlier than you should."

"You already drag me down!" he snarled back angrily without thinking and regretting the words the moment they came out of his mouth.

Bulma nodded at him and swallowed hard at the lump in her throat.

"It is what you want to hear, is it not? You've kept saying it since your conversation with my father."

She shook her head and reached around him for a towel that was hanging up on the wall behind him and wrapped herself up. "This isn't us, Vegeta." she said quietly. "I don't want to fight with you; I'm going to bed. It's been a long day. I'm sorry I'm such a burden on you; that was never my intent."

He frowned as he watched her leave the bathroom and head to their bedroom. He knew he shouldn't have said what he had; he had not meant it. "I cannot concentrate on anything having you around for fear that something might happen to you. When I am not worried about you I am worried about the brat." he explained angrily as he followed her into their bedroom. "I have your safety and well-being to take into account all the while trying to train and ready an army of men and come up with a battle plan to defeat Cold. This is precisely why I wanted you to remain behind."

"I know," was all she said as she calmly crawled into bed. "I only wanted to come with you to help you and to support you. I guess I was wrong and you were right; I don't know what I was thinking when I insisted you bring us here with you."

Vegeta frowned at her, knowing that her comment was only half serious and half sarcasm. He didn't know what else to say; so far anything he said to her only seemed to anger her more and then began the vicious cycle of him becoming angrier with her and saying hurtful things in retaliation despite knowing that none of this was her fault.

"Are you coming to bed or are you going to stand there and glare at me all night?"

"I do not need this," he growled. "I have enough on my plate to deal with at the moment other than your petulancy." he snarled and left their suite.

Bulma lay in their spacious bed all alone and curled herself into a ball. She didn't cry; she was too upset and angry with him to cry. How had the night become such a disaster she wondered? She hadn't meant to nag at him and upset him the way she had.

She supposed she could have handled herself a little bit better; she knew she was being stupid. She also knew that Vegeta hadn't meant what he had said to her and felt bad that she had pushed him to the point where he felt the need to lash out at her like he had.

They never fought; not like this, anyway and even when they did, he usually wasn't vicious. Since they had come here, though she felt like that was all they did. Either bickering or not speaking at all. She hated it.

Bulma felt her exhaustion begin to kick in; it had been a very long and emotional day. She decided not to dwell on it; Vegeta just needed time to cool off. She knew that. She only hoped that by tomorrow things would be a bit better between them than it was now. She had said a few things herself she wished she hadn't, but how else was she supposed to react?

She sighed as she fell asleep quickly, despite her anxiousness.



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