Do ut des

Written by Maz

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Authors Note:

Lectori Salutem!

I promised myself in the previous chapter that I would try to stop and excuse myself for having the lack of time to update, you certainly don't deserve it. I actually came to the point this time where I thought, why not drop the whole charade of updating when I don't seem to get around to it anymore. But I really do want to finish it- perhaps to show myself a little that I can actually finish something. So in case there still some readers out there, thank you for keeping up with me.

This chapter tells you about the happenings at the Northern Borders and their journey home to Rome. In the next chapter expect it all to come together and to see how the plot will reveal itself. But please don't hold your breath, I sure wouldn't want to be responsible for the consequences ;)!

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Last chapter:

While Vegeta, Goku, Bulma and Chi Chi won the battle at the Northern Borders the situation at the Atrium Vestae, the Palace of the Vestal Virgins, changes drastically by the King's presence.

At the first King Vegeta acted as a polite guest, not bothering to punish Albruna even though she has a child. The King even told Chiaotzu he can arrange a school programme for him. Tien is certainly not happy about the situation and doesn't trust the king at all. He pushes Launch further in her training of martial arts, but is delighted to hear that she still likes him dispite of that. At a comfortable conversation at the fire she tells him she loves him and he admits he loves her too.

When Launch walks to the bedroom after her night shift, she sees a crying Claudia walking through the halls and when she checks on Chiaotzu she is horrified to find him gone.

Albruna stumbles on the true culours of the King as she sees how he is trying to abuse Claudia. In the knowledge how terrible this would be for the young girl, she sacrifices herself for the King's needs.

A few miles away in the forest, Gabrielle sees the interaction happen through her crystal sphere and is desperately sorry she did this to her 'sister'. Saving the empire from a civil war, a mission that had started as she showed the Chi Chi the images of three death soldiers and she showed the Prince a glimpse of his future genereation, certainly wasn't worth it. It was all about making choices at the right time, and thinking she could influence that had been a terrible mistake.

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Chapter 32

Drifting dreams

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Their days lingered and strayed and their journey back to Rome had already stretched to three weeks of wonder for all four of them. But perhaps for Bulma the most. As a young girl she had dreamt of the wonders of travelling. Until the age of six her father had been kind enough to show her the festivities of Rome, the fairs, the plays of amusement. Even at this day, more than twelve years later, she could remember the feeling of excitement that rose up like butterflies in her stomach at the wonders around her that she could discover.

In the years that followed Bulma could only cherish those memories between the walls of the Atrium Vestae. Her trips were reduced to the same old path towards the market of Rome and back again. And of course to the imaginary journeys through the realms of adventure she found in the library. As she thought back to those days before Albruna had given birth to Justin, before she had met Vegeta, she realized they were boring and her books had been her only escape from that everlasting dullness.

But now she had the opportunity to visit the places she had read about. She remembered the excitement she had felt when Vegeta had opened up a map in their tent and had explained how they would travel back to Rome. She understood he needed to visit the surrounding cities and villages to strengthen their alliance.

And Bulma didn't mind it at all as they were always welcomed with open arms.

Every single chief saw it as his duty to show the Prince of Rome and his company the finest sides of the city. Luxurious buffets, stages of amusement in every possible form- dances from all over the world, plays of comedies and musicians skilled by all the directions of the wind.

It wasn't hard to lose track of time, but after a few days of excitement and little sleep they longed back to the lonely tracks through the vast forest. The company had felt in a comfortable rhythm in such times. Chi Chi usually took care of dinner while Bulma made sure they had done enough shopping to prepare a good meal. Vegeta was often taking short trips to nearby villages for business and was sometimes accompanied by Goku. Even though the latter would enjoy afternoons fishing by the lake just the same. After dinner they would make a campfire enjoying the warmth before heading to bed.

Yesterday they had visited the city of Como and she had gladly strolled with Chi Chi over the markets where they sold the finest silk. They had retreated back to their path near the river late that afternoon and tonight they would roast some of Goku's freshly caught fishes over the fire. Bulma had learned the rhythm of packing and unpacking her belongings and today she had even managed to set up their tent alone. Vegeta had stayed in the city a few hours longer and he had told her to be back in time for dinner.

Bulma had enough things to do in the spare time, first she took care of the horses, combed their long manes and fed them, she sure had gotten over her fear for the large animals. She helped starting the fire, so Chi Chi could start cooking (she left that task to the kitchen-princess) and in the meantime searched for more wood in the rims of the forest. Knowing they would need some more to last Goku's stories by the bonfire.

She just bend down to add another wooden block in her basket, when warm hands crept over her waist and pulled her against an even warmer body. She yelped and almost swinged with the block of wood, before she recognized the contour of his body against hers and settled with cursing Vegeta's abbility to sneak up on her like that.

Vegeta. She couldn't have imagined it would be this way with him, not in her wildest dreams- no scratch that, Bulma had certainly dreamt about this kind of relationship, but never thought there existed such wonders for real. She had braced herself when she felt her feelings for him return even after he had hurt her so.

She still remembered the coldness in her heart from his rejection back then. Those four months ago when they had been standing in the meadow, her back against a tree and an apple pinned by his arrow in the wood, his lips against hers and then the crumble of her pink cloud as he told her it didn't mean a thing and announced a visit to the Colloseum just to prove that she was still nothing.

She had felt so weak, so vulnerable when they had been standing in that same meadow just after the day in the Colloseum and her shoulders shook from the anger and regret that thrust through her veins. She had been so upset about what she had done, about the gladiator, Petro, she had allowed to be killed. She had been absolutely shocked about her own action and even when she thought back about it on this day she still couldn't figure out what made her push her thumb down. In that vulnerable state she had allowed him to hold her, allowed him to scare those feelings of regret, anger and frustration away. And somewhere in that process she allowed him to make some room for other feelings, feelings for the Prince himself.

Bluntly put she had been scared of those feelings, afraid of her need for him, afraid of rejection. And yet with everyday that passed he took up more space in her heart, she was aware of every touch of his skin against hers during their spars, her heart beated faster every day when their bodies came close during training. She would wake up with a smile, looking forward to have their private breakfast laced with small talk and teasing arguments. And before she would go to bed her thoughts would wander straight back to him, she would wonder about his life, about his feelings for her- she would imagine how things would be if he wasn't a Prince and she wasn't a Vestal Virgin.

But then it was Vegeta himself who tested those boundaries, and with the same old feeling of fear for his rejection she had allowed his hands on her body. And then she should have known she had started to drown within this passion they shared. She remembered their first night together, how she truly had not wanted it to happen and had wished his lips on hers on the same time. The next day she had been tired of feeling so vulnerable and Bulma realized that she wasn't going to play this game this way.

Jupiter knows he had turned her world upside down when he told her he would cancel the fights in September. To her it was an confirmation that she did mean something to him, that his touch was genuine- and that she wasn't a total fool to be in love with him. Yet it took some time for her cautiouness towards him to fade, to trust her feelings for him, to trust him. But Bulma was a fast learner and with everything they had been through the past weeks- their journey to the Northern Borders, the surprise to find Goku death and alive, the fight itself and the horrible aftermath of it and now their wonderful journey back home- she knew she trusted him fully.

Now she felt sure of them being together and she knew it was alright. It was alright to love him.

"You're back." Bulma said almost absent-mindedly as he pulled her closer and out of her wavering thoughts.

His lips found the nape of her neck and nibbled on her sensitive spots. "Obviously." He stated and worked his finger underneath the warmth of her stola and over the thin cotton of her tunica. She didn't understand his sudden eagerness, but it was contagiously just the same. How long had it been that they had been intimate like this, two days? Three at the most? Yet as his fingers moved upwards over her belly button, she knew it felt too long ago.

Strange how his touch could still excite her so even though her skin was drawn against his every night as she shared his bed for the past month. She turned around and was pleased to see that familiar sparkle of need in his beautiful midnight eyes. Her lips found his and she kissed him softly, agonizing slow- not showing how swept away she was by his touch.

After several seconds of bliss she pulled away and untangled her arms around his neck (as they always crept their way, her fingers curling around his thick hair even to herself unnoticed).

"Later, Vegeta." She said with amusement, already taking pleasure and contentment out of the feeling that he wanted her. By Jupiter, she could taste it on his lips.

"Are you sure?" He whispered in her ear while his hands caressed her ass and shoved her fully against him.

"No," she replied, almost finding his lips again. "But I think Chi's ready with dinner."

She almost chuckled as she noticed he took a step back at her words, refocusing. She turned around and pulled the almost forgotten basket from the ground and looked up to get an unexpected quick kiss from her Prince.

"You're already regretting it, little one." His voice sounded deep and masculine, and she realized that he was right. The corner of his lip curled into a smirk before he took the basket from her and walked back to the tents.

She followed him towards the air of delicious smells of roasted fish. And she wondered with a smile, could her days be any more beautiful?

Before their days started to linger and stray, Goku took a short trip to visit his sister in law Cecilia. Just a day after the battle with the rebels he had left to Radditz house a four hour drive from where the battalion was settled.

Goku had planned for a short visit to pay his respects for their broken faimily. He had never visited his brother's family often. Two times a year at most. But it wasn't because he didn't like to. The battles for Rome distracted him and he was often called away even before he had a chance for such a trip to the Northern Borders. It was a pity, and now it was too late.

Goku liked the joy of the two boys that would beam around him when the only member of the family visited. Goku's mother died ten years back of phenomia and his father died a few months later in battle. Back then some had said it wasn't a coincidence that such a great fighter had died shortly after the death of his wife- but Radditz and himself hadn't wanted to hear anything of it. Their father had died in honour, defending their empire.

Cecilia's two boys, Tomas and Corno had sprinted towards him enthousiastically as he drove up the lane. And as soon as he was on foot the boys embraced him with their little arms longer than they ever had before. "Hi, Uncle Goku." The youngest boy of six said and Corno had held his hand securely as they walked to lane towards Radditz' villa.

Goku ended up staying for two days in which the death of his brother was with every step he took around the house. Celicia had broken down crying the first time her light-clouded eyes met his and Goku had held the sobbing woman to calm. When Goku had visitid the grave of his brother in the backyard he realized with pain and shame in his heart that Celicia had digged the grave for her husband alone. Or perhaps she had sought help from her six and seven year old boys.

He spend half a night alone with his brother grave. Goku had whispered old memories in the dark until he felt at peace. The next day he took the boys fishing and told them everything about the adventures he and Radditz used to have when they were younger. Everything that he could remember.

After dinner he made a campfire and even Cecilia joined them. He told them what a great warrior Radditz had been, that he was a brave and determined man. That he would be honored by Rome for all internity.

Silence had fallen upon them, but as their gazes were drawn to the consuming flames none of them felt alone.

The next day Goku had left early in the afternoon. He had hugged the family and held close and promised them he would be back within a half a year for a visit. He told Corno to make his father proud in heaven and he told Tomas to take care of them while he was away. After he kissed Cecilia on the cheek he told her she was doing great as such a strong mother for her sons.

When he drove the horse away from the villa as he waved them all goodbye, he realized he was glad that he had visited them. And during the short journey back to the battalion a peacefulness reached him that had been lost for a long time. It was time to go home.

The roasted fish settled in Vegeta's stomach while he leant back on his ellbows. It had been a long time since he felt sleepy after dinner, his usual daily routines making no space for a moment to doze off, but during these days that old habit started to make move once again. It was silent around them, as they were gathered around a bonfire. That sure wasn't helping.

He glanced to his side to Bulma who was combing through her blue locks absentmindedly, her eyes lost in the flames before them. She was as beautiful as ever and he realized he wouldn't mind just to sneak back in their tent for a little siesta and whatnot.

"What happened to Yamcha?" Goku asked from the opposite side from the fire as his thoughts must have come to a dead end. As they usually do with the fool.

The question startled the Prince out of his thoughts and he thought back to the incident with grimace. Yamcha had deserved a good punishment for ignoring the battalions regulations, the thought of killing him with his own sword to make a statement had certaintly shot through his mind. But he knew it would bring agitation among his men and Kakarot would probably throw a fit about it. Vegeta had settled with the decision to just torture him a little, to grace him with some new scars that ran deep enough for him to remember to whom he was loyal to.

But his Vestal had been standing next to him, her eyes widened with surprise and even a glimpse of fear settled within her sky blue depths. Bulma couldn't hide it from him and even though he wouldn't like to admit it, he was dead tired of seeing that look in her eyes. Vegeta realized he didn't want her to see this side of him. This darker side, the ruthless warrior that belonged to him as well.

After he asked her to return to her tent and she was out of sight, he still couldn't bring his sword to the man's neck; a soldier of their own battalion who was foolish enough to chat a little too much with his family members.

The scarred soldier had blurted out everything he had told his Uncle, which was pretty much everything based on rumors. And what could that politician do with those? He had bought Yamcha's uncle Marlus off with two sacks of coins- more than enough for him to shut up. And Marlus would keep these rumors to himself if he knew what was good for him.

Even if they did spill what did it matter? The fact that there wasn't going to be a battle in the Colosseum with Vestal Virgins partcipating only proved that it had only been rumors.

With those thoughts his nerves had calmed down and he treated the soldier in such a shamefull way, that he still shook his head at his own actions when he thought back to it.

'The news will reach your dear Uncle that you're a dead man. You'll not leave this area and not a word of you will reach the Empire. From now on the fool Yamcha is dead and only a retard remains who will set up a new Supervision Office until the new Supervisors arrive. Then you will be at their service and remain like that until you whither away in this hell hole.' Vegeta had done his best to lace his verdict with darkness, but it was pretty difficult when you basicly told someone he could enjoy his fucking holiday.

The boy's eyes shone with shame and relief at the same time. Yamcha bowed deeply in gratitude, bend down in such extent that his wild hair swifted up the dark sand below him. 'I'll promise you that I will be at my best service here and I'll be loyal to the Supervisors to come. I am forever ashamed of my actions and will do everything in my power to make the villagers understand they belong to the Roman Empire of a fair and just ruler. I am forever in your debt, Prince Vegeta.'

By Jupiter I've become such a pussy. A fair and just ruler... pfeh.

"Well, Vegeta?" Goku insisted when seconds past without getting any answer to his question.

"He's been taking care off." He replied with a tone that suggested that the topic was closed.

But by morons standards of course it wasn't.

"Derseus told me you've kept him alive to set up a supervision camp in our borders."

He wanted to throw something to his annoying head. "Why do you insist on asking when you already know what happened?"

Goku's lips crawled up in a knowing smile. "Just wanted to check."

Vegeta hated that look on Goku's face, that content sparkle in his eyes that showed how pleased he was with the answer. Only for that reason alone he wished he had worked Yamcha up if only for a little so he could pick out a fight with the fool.

But Vegeta knew it was hard to pick out a real fight with Kakarot after he told him he would cancel the fights in the Colosseum. Back at the Atrium Vestae he had felt the dead silent anger radiating from Goku, just after the day they visited the Colosseum. Back then he had wondered if his loyalty towards him, towards his empire, would stretch that far. In all honesty Vegeta had wondered how far he could go before Kakarot would hold him back with all of his moral bull shit.

All those months ago when he had found Tien and that child from their hiding place in the forest, he had been amazed to see Kakarot stand by his side while he questioned the Ranger his way. By Jupiter he had been so angry back then, he had been searching for the ex-Gladiator for two clouded years.

Revenge. For with all it's complexity, with all it's difficulty it didn't deserve to be such a simple word. Those two years after Marena's death could be summurized in that mere word. Joilted anger that sparked from him like he was the lightning it self caused several great vicotories in their corners of his Empire. He had fought for months on straight. Nearly died countless times, if it wasn't for that seething drive in the top of his stomach that made him stand up in the mud.

When he heard his men had found the Gladiator he returned back to Rome as soon as he could. The strangest thing was, as soon as he drove back in his city his anger faded with every step closer to the Colosseum. He didn't understand it, but it left him bitter all the same. He had met Bulma shortly after that out on a path near their army settlement. And when his men had finally gathered the Ranger for him and he saw his broken body lying in the mud- the little glimpse of revenge that was still there dissapeared in an instant.

The truth was he hadn't a clue what to do with the man who killed his Amazone. And eventually settled for a unsuiting punishment as for him to be a trainer to one of the Vestals; for Launch. Jupiter knows their fucking by now.

Vegeta noticed immediately that there wasn't much left of the friendship between Goku and Tien- and he was still amazed that Goku had chosen his side back then. But by the months that followed he noticed that Goku had enough of standing by his side and it all piled up till the day Sergus delivered the news of Radditz's death.

Goku left in a hurry and it left things unfinished. It was natural for him to come back to it. Vegeta just thought it wasn't natural for him to see it coming like that.

When Goku came back from his short visit to Cecilia they had a very short conversation about it.

Goku had been standing in front of his desk with an air of confindence around them. His eyes strong with determince, nothing close to the empty look in his eyes on the last day of the battle. When he practically saved the man.

'I'm not working with you this way.' Kakarot had told him with strength in every word. They never needed much words around each other. But he understood the true meaning of his words, the threath that laced underneath. By his words he didn't only mean he didn't want to have anything to do with the future battle of the Vestals in the Colosseum- he basicly told him there wasn't going to be any battle. He knew by the look in the Soldiers eyes that he wasn't going to let him do it. Goku would be so blunt to stop him from persuing the fight. And it meant that even though Goku wouldn't want to provoke it, he wasn't afraid to have a fight about it. A man to man battle.

Skipping the thought that Vegeta wasn't entirely sure who of them would win. He just told the man a few simple words. 'Don't nag about it. It's cancelled.'

'Just like that?' He had asked bewildered, the seriousness around him melting like snow during springtime.

Vegeta had shrugged and for a moment searched for words to describe how foolish it had been to suggest such a punishment for the Vestal Virgins. But when he looked at the man in front of him and the goofy smile that played on his lips he could only reply; 'Just like that.'

With that the last shreds of silent anger disappeared around the soldier, and Goku was now back to his old self.

Needless to say it drove you mad.

Luckily the hours passed without any other stupid comments of the fool. And soon the sky darkened enough for Chi Chi to lure her lover into her tent. As soon as the area was free from prying eyes Bulma shifted closer to him, picking up his arm and leaning on his shoulder comfortably so his arm was draped around hers.

A year ago all he did on a daily basis was slaughter people. And now he was allowing a woman to snuggle up close to him.

Vegeta shook his head, the world was insane. She made him insane.

"What?" Bulma asked as she looked up at him. "Am I hurting you?" She attempted to shift her weight, but he kept her still in the lock of his arm.

"Don't overestimate yourself, Bulma." He said in her hair and couldn't help but chuckle.

She relaxed again, her fingertips tracing over the skin of his arm while she rested her head against his shoulder. He was glad that her cautiousness towards him had faded, that she no longer refrained from touching him when she wanted to. Yes, he had to admit, he was quite grateful for that. Somehow she had started to trust him.

He could hear her breathing change to a more deep rythm and he knew from experience that she was about to fall asleep. Her mouth opened slowly and her hand rested on his, no longer listening to the tasks of her mind.

He was about to pull her up in his arms and carry her to their tent, when she murmered something that made him freeze completely.

"I love you, Ve -geta."

The moment her blurred words reached his thought they tightened him to the ground as if they were the force of gravity. In his frozen state he wished for the cold numbness as well so that her confession would fog up to such extent it wouldn't reach him.

But it did reach him. In fact there didn't feel like there was any way around it. As if she had not whispered the words a little jumbled in her dreamlike-state, but had shouted them at the top of her longs. With such force this confession of love hit him.

And just what the hell was she thinking? What in the world possessed her? Was she insane? Did she not know the kind of man he was? Did she not learn by now he wasn't a kind-heated man, one that could bring out his love on a silver platter?

Did she not realize he couldn't live up to any of the fairytale expectations in that pretty head of hers?

An unexpected frustration welled up in him and he was glad she was asleep, so she wouldn't notice his rigid jaw and furrowed eyebrows.

Having the feeling he had stand still for several minutes, he continued the walk to their tent swiftly and laid her down on the pillows without undressing her.

Even though she probably wouldn't mind.

In an automatic rhythm he went back outside to check that the horses were tied down, the fire was out and to bury the last remains of food (which, thanks to Kakarot only were a small pile of bones).

All too soon he realized in the darkness that he was done for today and could turn back to bed. Since stargazing wasn't on the top of his to do-list- even though she probably would like to think that- he hesitantly got back in the tent and undressed before slipping under the covers.

It didn't take long for his eyes to adjust to the darkness and soon they shifted over her sleeping form.

He sighed and a bit of the restlessness inside of him leaves his body along with the hush of air.

She's curled towards him, her mouth a little agape and a lock of sky blue hair tickling her nose. He reached out to tuck the lock behind her ear.

"What are you thinking?" He founds himself questioning her out loud, with a soft gruff voice that didn't disturb the silence as it sounded like it belonged to the darkness itself.

Love wasn't made for a man like him, for a warrior he was.

Yet, she seemed to think differently as she snuggled closer towards him in her sleep. His arms wound around her as if on their own record, and all that was left from his frustration and restlessness flees.

She fitted in his arms so perfectly, as if she belonged there, belonged to him.

Perhaps he could not love her, but he could protect her. He would take care of her.

With the woman who loved him in his arms, the Prince drifted to dreams. Just as the dreams had drifted to him.

To be continued…