Disclaimer: Yup. I am the proud owner of Dragonball Z. Akira Toriyama is just a funky name behind my genius mind….it is all mind!!! BWA HA HA HA HA!!! That's why I waste my time posting free fan fiction on a free website instead of making more money off my anime creation. Yupperz, DBZ is mine alright.
A/N: Hey guys, sorry for the wait! It took me a while to get this chapter started, since I've been absolutely ITCHING to write chapter 9, not this one. I tried to make this chapter a little more light hearted - the rest of them were so much darker I think the story needs a chance to breathe a bit. This chapter takes place about a week after the last one left off.
Meaningless - chapter 8
New Life and Old Tears
"That is the ugliest thing I have ever seen in my life."
Bulma glared at the amused Saiyan sprawled in a nearby armchair and continued stringing crimped paper streamers over lampshades and picture frames. An oversized, hand-crafted banner bearing the words "Happy 1st Birthday, Trunks!!" hung somewhat lopsidedly over the room's large main window, and various packaged party decorations were scattered over the floor, couch, and table.
Vegeta snorted as yet another streamer fluttered down to the ground, earning a hands-on-hips scowl from Bulma.
"Alright, you!" she snapped, though her voice held no real malice. "If you're going to be so full of hot air, put it to good use!" She tossed an unopened package of balloons into his lap and tapped her fingers on her arm expectantly. "Well? What are you waiting for? Blow them up!"
The Saiyan Prince eyed the balloons disdainfully, then shrugged.
"If you say so."
The bag alighted in a small poof! of smoke and ashes as Vegeta briefly flared his energy aura, dark eyes reflecting the tiny flicker of flame before it too died.
Bulma screeched in exasperation and flung another pack at Vegeta's head, wrinkling her nose against the foul odour of burned rubber.
"You know perfectly well what I meant! Do it right this time, you stinker, or there will be no happy "after party celebration" for YOU!"
The warrior glowered, but obediently ripped open the bag and blew forcefully into one of the balloons - causing it to explode quite theatrically in his face. It took a total of 0.2 seconds for Bulma's high pitched, hysterical laughter to fill the room.
"You should have seen your expression!!" she howled, blissfully oblivious to the venomous looks shooting at her from across the room. She clutched her sides and collapsed onto the sofa. "If only I had a camera!!"
She continued to cackle as Vegeta slumped defensively into the chair, arms folded tightly over his chest and brows furrowed.
"Oh shut up…" he mumbled, stealing quick, dark glances at her seemingly incapacitated form.
Bulma pressed a hand over her mouth, though her eyes still danced with mirth. Picking her way through the wide maze of party accessories, she walked over to the disgruntled Saiyan and settled herself into his lap, hands clasped behind his neck. Vegeta feigned annoyance and refused to make eye-contact, but Bulma saw straight through the mask.
"Aw, did the widdle balloon hurt the poor baby's face?" She grinned almost devilishly and leaned in close to him. "Maybe I should kiss it better…"
Vegeta mouth twitched into a smirk, and he encircled her small waist in his arms.
"If you refer to me as an infant even once more, I'll kill you."
Bulma smirked back at him, but otherwise seemed to ignore the threat.
"I'll take that as a yes." she whispered against his cheek; then gave a quick peck on the Saiyan's nose and sat upright again.
Vegeta stared incredulously at her for a moment, then glared as her peals of laughter once again assaulted his hearing.
"While you find that highly amusing," he growled menacingly, tightening his hold about her waist, "I happen to despise jokes." He drew her in even closer, noting with satisfaction that she had ceased laughing. "Now pay up."
"Hey, just watch who you're commanding , Mr. Princey-pants." she retorted hotly. "I don't remember ever taking orders from you!" She poked his forhead with one finger on the last word, and was about to give in to the kiss when her stomach suddenly turned a somersault. Vegeta's eyes snapped open in surprised irritation as the deceiver jerked away from him and fled from the room.
"Woman!" he bellowed, leaping to his feet and storming after her. "I hope for your sake that you don't think you're being funny!!" The wet sound of heavy vomiting from the bathroom answered him.
When Vegeta appeared at the doorframe of the yellow-decorated room, Bulma was kneeling in front of the toilet, holding her hair at the nape of her neck with one hand. Her face was pale, and she wiped at the corners of her mouth with toilet paper before looking at him.
"Sorry…I must have caught the bug that's going around. I'm going to go lie down for a bit; try not to blow up any more party décor, okay?" She cocked her head curiously as Vegeta's eyes suddenly narrowed in suspicion. "What?"
The Saiyan Prince stared pointedly at her abdomen, making Bulma slightly nervous under his unexplained scrutiny. A moment later his gaze rolled up to the ceiling.
"What a surprise," he snorted, jabbing his thumb at the turquoise-haired woman's stomach. "Another brat."
ChiChi sighed and brushed a stray wisp of hair back into its bun. She examined the dress laid out on the bed critically, smoothing the fabric, fingering the fem and seams. Bulma had said to dress up for Trunks' party to make it more fun. It had been so long since she had dressed up for anything…or had the occasion to, for that matter.
She held the dress against her body and stood before the mirror, surveying her reflection. It was a simple design, but the material was lighter than her usual attire, and was colored a pale sea foam. It would feel strange to wear something other than her black widow clothing, but perhaps it was time to stop mourning…
That seemed to drain the last drop of energy from her body. Slumping onto the bed, she buried her face in her hands, digging thin fingers into her scalp. Breath shuddered in her dry throat, and almost automatically, tears began to trickle down ivory cheeks onto her palms.
"Oh Goku…" she half whispered, half choked, bringing her knees up to her chest and pressing her face into them. "How can I celebrate and pretend like I don't care that you're gone?"
The dress slid off her lap onto the floor as ChiChi curled up on the side of the bed that had once belonged to her husband. It wasn't right for it to be so empty…
She hugged his pillow to her, allowing the tears to come. She lay there often; not even the time lapse of over a year since his death had been enough to help the pain subside even a tiny amount. Each time she saw his side of the bed or his vacant chair at the table… it was like tearing open the wound of his passing all over again. She could change the colour of her clothes and plaster cheery smiles on her lips, but she would never stop mourning.
Never, until the day she died.
Bulma sat alone on the fuzzy yellow rug in the bathroom. One hand held lightly over her stomach, her face bore a complex mixture of emotions from one end of the scale to the other.
Another child? She hadn't even thought… now the sudden bombardment of thoughts and questions was making her head throb. Tying her hair back messily, she got to her feet before the sink and vigorously brushed her teeth. Even more bitter than the vomit's aftertaste, however, was the ominous thought of what to do next.
She couldn't decide whether she was more excited or scared. Her maternal instincts were thrilled (though the thought of another Trunks Terror made her cringe slightly) at the tiny life beating inside her, the fragile being while depended on her for its very existence. Yet at the same time…
What if Vegeta leaves again?
That was the breaking point - she made a beeline for the nearest phone.
Her tears had just dried when the jangling of the phone interrupted the isolated silence of her bedroom. ChiChi blew her nose once before picking up the receiver, and was immediately greeted by the now familiar anxious, advice-seeking tone in her best friend's voice. As she had done so often, ChiChi pushed her own struggles aside for the moment to listen whole-heartedly to her friend's plight.
"Bulma, are you okay? What's wrong?"
The details of that morning's events came spilling to her, and ChiChi had the sudden sensation of being a parental figure to Bulma, once again lending her counsel.
"Well," the raven-haired woman asked bluntly. "Do you want it?"
Bulma sounded somewhat taken aback.
"That's kind of an irrelevant question, isn't it?" she replied defensively. "It's not like the kid made itself. And you know me better than to think I'd ever consider THAT option."
ChiChi sighed patiently.
"Bulma," she said firmly. "If this isn't about whether you should keep the baby or not, then what is it about?"
There was a pause on the other end of the line, broken only by a gusty sigh. ChiChi could almost see her friend resting her forehead on her palm, brows furrowed, probably tearing her fingers through her bangs as she did when confused or bewildered.
"I don't know!" she finally burst out, and from her tone ChiChi surmised that Bulma was speaking though clenched teeth. "It's not that I don't want the baby, I honestly do! It's just…."
"You're afraid Vegeta will leave again?"
ChiChi chose to interpret the silence that ensued as an affirmative.
"Listen to me, Bulma. Vegeta left once for what he thought would be forever, but even he had to come back. I highly doubt his pride could take it if he ran again."
Still silence. Her anxious friend was obviously not fully convinced.
"And besides," ChiChi continued after a few seconds of empty waiting for a response. "Vegeta's a warrior. He knows better than to make the same mistake twice, even if it's in something he claims he doesn't care about like romance." She smiled at Bulma's resulting small sigh of relief, knowing that her words had been the right ones to say.
"So everything's still okay with you and Gohan coming to the party tonight?"
ChiChi had to laugh inwardly.
That's Bulma, alright,she chuckled. Completely moves on like it never happened. Vegeta's not the only one with a touch of pride.
"Yeah, everything's fine," she answered, stifling her laughter. "We'll be there."
A sudden burst of giggles greeted her through the telephone receiver.
"Uh, Bulma?" the widow queried. "What… was something I said funny?"
"No, nothing like that --" the sentence was cut off by another round of mad giggles. ChiChi was about to ask what was going on when the sound of Bulma muffling the mouthpiece and hissing "stop it!" answered for her. The dark-haired woman suppressed another laugh.
"Bulma, is this a bad time?"
More giggles and hisses of "Cut it out, Vegeta! Not now!" came before her friend was finally able to reply.
"Nonsense!" she declared, sounding slightly angry. ChiChi bit her lip and choked down her mirth as a mental image of Bulma glaring at an insistant Vegeta while covering the phone popped into mind. "This is perfectly -- HEY! Don't you have some more decorations to hang up or something?"
ChiChi raised a slender brow and quietly began counting down seconds. She had just reached three when Bulma said in a very flat, rolling-her-eyes-while-speaking tone;
"On second thought, I'll have to talk to you at the party. See you then!" A faint "There! Are you HAPPY?!" was the last thing ChiChi heard before Bulma hung up.
Shaking her head and snickering, she placed the phone back in its cradle, ignoring the hole which still throbbed with painful incompleteness in her heart.
The party was in full swing. Having finally given in to frustration, Bulma had hired a professional team to decorate the large party room with just about every ornamental product available. Strings of colored lights were strung around the ceiling perimeter, helium-filled balloons floated above everyone's heads, and the most magnificent display of fine party cuisine was spread in a most appealing design across the table.
ChiChi sat alone on a comfortable window seat, surveying everyone else through somber eyes. It felt so strange to be celebrating - had everyone forgotten the many graves which once were the lives of their closest friends? She swirled the last drops of bubbly liquid in the base of her slender champagne glass, staring at the floor though not focusing on anything in particular.
It was good for Gohan to be here at least. He was just a child after all, and not meant to be burdened with things most adults would never encounter. He deserved to get out of the grim atmosphere surrounding and penetrating every inch of their lonely house.
She, however, had never felt so out of place. And she was with friends! It was ridiculous how she clung to something that was gone, yet she could not bring herself to embrace life again; she had seen far too much death for that.
Abruptly ChiChi raised her head again. The last thing she wanted was for Gohan to see her this way. She forced herself to try and enjoy the night for his sake, and turned her gaze to the other party guests once more.
Bulma was trying to drag an unwilling Vegeta to the center of the room to dance (a ridiculously huge sound system had been installed for the purpose of the party alone) and not having much success. Master Roshi was obviously in good health - he had made a more than slightly risqué comment about her change of apparel the moment she had walked in the door, and a mere five minutes later was lying sprawled against a wall with a fresh handprint on his cheek after declaring he wanted to 'feel the expensive fabric' of Bulma's dress.
Gohan had been somewhat withdrawn throughout the evening, though this was to be expected. Her son always spent these kind of reunions chattering away to a pretending-not-to-be-interested Piccolo; it was only natural that he would not be himself tonight. ChiChi felt a sudden surge of loving empathy towards him; the spikey haired demi-Saiyan's expression was miles away as he absently held a slumbering Trunks in his arms. She wanted to take Gohan in her own arms at that moment; no boy of eleven should have to suffer so much pain.
ChiChi sighed. She felt guilty feeling discontented when Bulma had put so much effort into organizing the party. She plucked at her far-from-black dress, longing for Goku even harder than before. Somehow it just wasn't right to have a famous Capsule Corp party without the goofy Saiyan hovering around the food table, beaming at everyone through a mouthful of fried chicken and mixed fruit. And to think she had always nagged him about his appetite in public…
"So?" Bulma asked, taking a sip from her glass and flicking Vegeta on the nose with her finger. "Are you surviving?" The flame haired warrior snorted.
"I don't know why you insist on these infernal rituals - the boy will be a year older no matter how many presents he gets or how many people crowd into the house. This is all ridiculous."
Bulma smiled and placed a hand on her stomach.
"Looks like you're going to have to get used to this kind of thing. Just think of all the baby showers and second sets of birthdays that'll be here before you know it."
Vegeta's eye twitched briefly.
"Women." he grunted, as if that explained everything. "Make a brat and you're permanently dreamy-eyed. How sickening."
"Yeah, well, forgive my 'foolish human female whims', O Exulted One. Could you deign to at least pretend you're enjoying yourself?"
Vegeta glared darkly over her shoulder.
"Not when the lecher and that pig are eyeing your backside."
Bulma whipped around, face a mask of fury, hands planted firmly on her hips.
"Oolong! I'm gonna be eating bacon for breakfast if you don't keep your eyeballs in their sockets!" She rounded on Roshi.
"And YOU!" she assumed her most intimidating stance. "Just keep looking if you want Vegeta to pluck every hair out of your beard one by one! The next nosebleed you get will be because it's broken, buster!"
Smiling graciously at the chorus of laughter from the rest of the party guests, she turned back to Vegeta.
"If you would just let me blast those two into ashes you wouldn't have this problem."
Bulma rolled her eyes and reached up to bring his face close to her own.
"Take it easy, Grumpy. I guess I'm just too gorgeous for any man to resist!"
Vegeta pulled roughly away, his gaze flicking to all the other inhabitants of the room.
"Oh relax!" Bulma chided, slipping her arms around his tensed neck, tracing her fingers over the lines of flexed muscle. "Nobody's looking."
ChiChi felt something painful twist in her chest when Bulma kissed him. She found herself unable to look away from them, though with each passing second her agony grew.
She knew thousands of people were feeling the same as she at that very moment. She knew many more were far less fortunate than she. Death had been a stranger to no-one since the jinzouningen's arrival, but she bled as if it were only she who suffered. She felt so selfish…
"Kami, Goku, do you miss me as much as I miss you?"
She watched Vegeta encircle Bulma in his arms in the shadows, and suddenly she despised her pale dress, her fixed hair and cheery smile. She hated that she had almost come out of mourning, almost betrayed the one she had loved - still loved - so much. She hated everything in this world that had so quickly turned its back on her.
And so the party went on. Amidst the balloons and bright lights, the festive music and laughter, one woman sank quietly into a corner and cried.