Chapter One

"Oh, Vegeta. You worry too much," Bulma said with a flip of her hand. She double checked the contents of her overnight bag perched on the corner of the bed, pushing the contents back and forth to see if she'd forgotten anything essential. Satisfied with her choice of belongings, she arched her back to stretch her aching muscles. "I haven't been anywhere for months! I'm getting tired of this house!

"Don't argue with me," Vegeta warned, crossing his arms to more effectively block the doorway, the only escape route from their bedroom. "Not in your condition."

"My condition?" Bulma asked, rubbing her swollen stomach. "You use that excuse every time I want to do something fun. The way you carry on, it's like I'm carrying fine crystal instead of a baby." She waddled over to stand directly in front of him, bending forward slightly to get her face closer than her extended belly would allow. Her blue eyes were still slightly higher than his black ones. "I have done this before, you know. And without your help, I might add." She poked her finger into his chest, careful not to break a nail on his rock-solid muscles.

Vegeta turned his back to her, still blocking the door with his wide shoulders. To Bulma, it looked like he was closing the discussion. But Vegeta just couldn't let her see the regret in his eyes - an emotion the proud Saiyan prince refused to admit to anyone. Except himself.

"You've been so overprotective in the last few years," Bulma continued. She crossed to the bed and closed her small suitcase with a snap. "It's like all of a sudden you noticed Trunks and I exist even though we've been living in the same house for the last fifteen years!"

Vegeta grimaced and squeezed his eyes tightly shut. Vivid scenes of death and destruction haunted his memory as clear as if they'd happened just yesterday instead of six years ago. It had taken an evil monster murdering his wife and son to finally realize what his family meant to him. It was the deepest pain he'd ever experienced. Far worse than even his own death. Luckily, they were able to wish everyone back to life with the magical dragonballs and Vegeta had been given a second chance.

It was true that he'd taken Bulma for granted all those years. He'd been so focused on training to be the strongest and best warrior in the universe that nothing else seemed important. Even when Bulma had given birth to their son, Trunks, he spared no time for them.

As Trunks grew older and showed an interest in his father's training, Vegeta finally began to notice him. Even though they spent time together in the gravity chamber, he never made an effort to really get to know Trunks. The boy was just a pawn in the ongoing battle in Vegeta's mind between himself and the only Saiyan who had ever defeated him - Kakarot. Since Kakarot died trying to save the earth from Cell, Vegeta was denied his revenge. His only consolation was that he would prove Trunks stronger than Kakarot's sons.

Unfortunately, his vengeance was short lived. The same day Trunks won his championship fight against Goten, the evil monster, Buu, was released. Vegeta knew there was only one way to stop this menace from destroying the entire planet. He would have to sacrifice himself as Kakarot had done years before.

For the first time, Vegeta really looked at his son and felt a strange emotion he knew could only be love for the boy. It also dawned on him that he felt the same for his wife, Bulma. He couldn't believe the years he'd wasted and would never have again. The only way he was able to show them how he felt was to die for them.

In Otherworld, he learned his noble sacrifice was all in vain. Buu not only survived Vegeta's attack, he continued to kill those Vegeta could now admit to caring for. His anger was only matched by his determination for revenge. His wife and friends were dead and his son had become an energy source for the monster. There was one last chance to save him - fusing bodies with his nemesis.

That time, fused together, had also given Vegeta a unique perspective on Kakarot's power. He was never able to figure out how the other man was able to reach levels easier and earlier than he could. While fused together, he understood. Vegeta realized that while he was driven by pride, rage, and revenge, Kakarot was driven by his need to protect what he cared about - family, friends, and every living creature - as well as the pure joy of fighting. He also realized that he, himself, could be capable of this as well.

After being brought up to believe he would always be the strongest warrior in the universe, it was time to swallow his pride and admit that Kakarot was stronger. It was a hard pill to take, but one he could no longer deny.

With Buu finally defeated and the earth restored to normal, Vegeta dropped his need for revenge against Kakarot and vowed to protect those he cared for. He still trained, along with his son, but now he could do so with peace of mind.

But, if the opportunity to fight Kakarot presented itself, he would definitely jump at it.

"Come on, Vegeta," Bulma said and put her hand on his back. "It's just a birthday party. We'll be back first thing tomorrow morning. What could happen?"

His muscles relaxed under her touch and he gave a deep sigh. She was right. He was being overly protective of her. There was no rational reason why he shouldn't let her go the short flight to visit with her old friends. But that didn't mean he had to like it.

"If you insist on going," Vegeta said in a stronger voice than he felt, "then I'm going with you!"

"Good," Bulma said with a smile and handed him her bag. "Then you can put this in the jet - next to yours." Then she went to the stairs and called up to tell Trunks they were ready to leave.

"You had this planned the whole time!" Vegeta accused. He knew he shouldn't be surprised. While Bulma was just as hard-headed as he was, she was also extremely good at getting her own way.

"Of course I did," she admitted, then smiled at him over her shoulder. "But I'll let you drive."