Yamcha's one month trip had turned into a two month-long absence, with no current estimated date of his return; not that Bulma had minded all that much. She had spent two lovely weeks at the spa. Even if Vegeta hadn't spent nearly every evening with her, it had been exactly what she'd needed. She was left alone, not pried at or constantly fussed over. It was how she liked it. The hardest part of leaving was leaving behind hers and Vegeta's evening ritual of a long, hot bath. Half the time they didn't even do anything, but laying there in the deep tub in the soothing warmth of his arms and the water made her feel like everything would work out for the best.
Vegeta had still come to visit her on a frequent basis after she had gone home, much to Baba's distaste; and she hated to go back to pretending he was just a concerned friend of her husband's.
Baba wasn't stupid. A part of Bulma was concerned that the older woman was going to figure it out, but another part of her did not care if she did. She was tired of hiding and not being honest with Vegeta about this. Every day her belly grew, the heavier the guilt weighed on her. She was not sleeping, despite the fact that all the home renovations had been completed. Everything was ready for the baby to arrive. She should have been happy that she was nearly ready to give birth, but instead, all she felt was despair.
Vegeta's frequent visits had to come to an abrupt halt when her parents had come by and had spent three weeks with her. They had left three days ago and she finally felt as though she could breathe again. Her mother's constant nit picking and rearranging of things and unsolicited advice had just about driven her to the point of insanity. About the only positive highlight of their visit was her mother's blatant disapproval of Yamcha's extended absence.
If Bulma hadn't been so bogged down with exhaustion from her pregnancy and her own guilt, she would have done a victory dance around the entire house every time her mother griped about how shocking it was that Yamcha was not around. Of course, Bulma did not jump to his defence and remind her that he had been around the majority of her pregnancy. This was how it was between them. She'd been alone the majority of their first year of marriage and she was certain once the novelty of having a new baby to fuss over had worn out, he would be absent the majority of the time again.
It was the middle of the afternoon and Bulma was feeling melancholy. She decided that a long walk was what she needed; she could not remember the last time she had been allowed to go out on her own for a walk. Her doctor had ordered her to stay in bed as much as possible now that she was so big. She had reported the return of dizzy spells and nausea again.
She waited until Baba was busy with something before sneaking out of the house through the back door. Thankfully, Roshi had been nowhere to be found and so she was able to make a quick and easy getaway for a walk along the beach.
It was quiet today and not many people hanging about. It would have been the perfect day for Vegeta to come out and walk with her, but today she just wanted to be alone. She couldn't remember what she had dreamed the previous night, but knew she must have dreamt something bad because she'd woken up with a start and in a cold sweat and had felt nothing but anxiety and dread in her stomach.
She'd barely made it to the washroom where she'd been sick and had unfortunately caught the attention of Baba who had wanted to call the doctor, but she had managed to talk her out of it by agreeing to eat a light breakfast. She had tried to rest, but could not. The feeling of something awful happening would not leave her and so here she was. Hoping the fresh ocean air and sunshine would put her at ease.
Bulma didn't think about anything in particular. She just walked slowly, her mind blank, enjoying the feel of the sand beneath her feet. She didn't realize how far she'd wandered until she felt the cold water brush up and around her ankles.
She looked down, almost mesmerized by the back and forth rocking motion of the waves. It was soothing. She heard nothing and felt but the tide coming in and going out, the slight breeze wrapping around her and the sun kissing her cheeks. Indeed, it was the perfect afternoon, she mused.
So why was she so miserable?
She looked out towards the ocean and the horizon and wished, not for the first time that the waves would just carry her away to some sort of distant land. Someplace where she could be herself and not have to hide or lie anymore.
Thoughts of Vegeta came back to her. She had asked him to leave here with her and he had declined, she remembered bitterly. Of course they would have to leave the country and flee someplace where no one would have known Yamcha. It would likely mean boarding a boat and sailing across the world and making a new life in America. It would be difficult and frightening, but she was up for it. Why hadn't he?
He hasn't even entertained the thought for more than a few fleeting moments when she had suggested it. In her gut, she knew he was not going to stick around even as a friend once she'd had this child. Perhaps Lazuli had been correct.
The thought made the weight of everything else feel unbearable. And once again, she felt hopelessly trapped.
"I thought you were not supposed to be out of bed," Vegeta's voice said to her from some distance away.
Bulma turned, startled as she saw him approaching her. She had not been expecting him. "I needed to get out of the house; I cannot stand it in there anymore. A walk and some fresh air will do me well,"
"I see," he nodded. She looked tired and pale and very pregnant. "When are you expected again?"
Bulma thought a moment and was very careful to answer. She knew she should be due any time now, but no one else did. "A month."
Vegeta nodded again. "Just do not overdo it,"
"I won't," she snipped, getting tired of everyone hovering over her and telling her what was good and what was not good for her, what she should and should not be doing. She just wanted to be on her own; she didn't even want Vegeta's company at the moment. She turned and began walking again.
He quietly walked next to her in silence for a while before asking. "How are you feeling?"
"Like shit," she replied bitterly, watching the waves, a part of her still wishing they would wash her away. "I'm fat, I'm tired, and I am always hungry. I was sick this morning. I'm uncomfortable no matter what I do, so I can't sleep!"
He listened patiently as she went through her list of everything that was not okay with her at the moment. Regardless of what she thought, he disagreed with her being out here on her own and was glad that he'd decided to come out for a little while for a walk to clear his own head.
"I'm needy and wanting like a bitch in heat," she went on.
Vegeta smirked at her and her vulgarness.
"What?" she snorted at him. "You think it's funny?"
"Well, no," he admitted, though she looked positively adorable even though she was in a foul mood, complaining. "I will make it up to you after…"
"Right," she rolled her eyes. "Will you be around after?"
"Why wouldn't I be?" he asked with a frown. He'd still spent so much time with her during her pregnancy that he was very curious to meet the little life she carried inside of her. That she would suggest that he would not be around, especially after making it known to him that she did want him around, offended him.
"Because," she said, her voice cracking in emotion at the thought that he would lose all interest in her. "Because who wants a mistress who had a baby?"
Vegeta shrugged, not understanding the problem. "I have been with women who have had children; it makes no difference to me,"
"Right!" she scoffed, starting to cry. "Why am I not surprised?"
"You are being ridiculous," he sighed, coming closer to her.
"Look at me!" she cried. "I am ruined! I'll never look like I did before!"
"You think I spend my time with you because of how you look?" he asked, beginning to grow impatient with her.
"Like if I wasn't pretty you'd have taken a second look at me!" she said accusingly.
"I will admit, that did help, but that is not the reason I remain with you. Besides, the last I heard, you weren't complaining," he growled. "What is wrong with you?"
"I don't know!" she bawled, stamping her foot on the ground. She knew she was being stupid and picking a fight with him for absolutely no reason than because she was so afraid he would lose interest in her once she'd had her child. What possible reason could there be for him to want to be with her? "I just wish I wasn't-" Bulma gasped mid-sentence as she felt something rip through her abdomen and suddenly there was an overwhelming feeling of pressure in her groin and in an instant, as quickly as it had come, the pressure was gone and there came the rush of water crashing to the sand and water between her legs. She looked at Vegeta in a mix of horror and embarrassment at the realization of what had just happened; her water had broken.
Vegeta did not miss a beat, understanding immediately what had just happened, he strode towards her, scooping her up into his arms and ran as quickly as he could, back to her house.
"Vegeta," she cried as the contractions began to start and her insides already began to feel as though they were being torn. "The baby is coming,"
"I assumed as much," he growled irritably. "I told you, you should be inside!"
"Well sorry!" she snapped at him, gritting her teeth. "You try being shut up all day in that stuffy old house with nothing to do!"
"Hang in there," he grunted, bolting up the incline of the beach; the house was at least visible from where they were. "We're almost there,"
Bulma clung to him and couldn't help but begin weeping against his shoulder. "What if the baby isn't okay because I went for a walk!" she cried. "I know I thought things and said things, but I didn't mean it!"
"I am sure everything is fine," he said, trying to reassure her and not lose concentration on the momentum he'd thrown himself into.
She cried silently into his shoulder, thinking about all the worst case scenarios and cursing herself for her stupidity and selfishness for getting herself in this position. Had staying in on bedrest really been that horrible a chore? For all her negative thoughts and worries though, she was at least happy that Vegeta had been with her and that she had not been on the beach alone.
They finally made it to the house, Vegeta managed to open the door with Bulma still bundled in his arms. "We need a doctor!" he shouted.
"What on Earth-" Roshi exclaimed, rounding the corner and staring at them.
"Roshi, you need to go and get the doctor, immediately!" he said to the flabbergasted old man, who was still more in shock to see Vegeta carrying Bulma bridal style than anything else. "The baby is coming!"
"The baby? Isn't it early?"
"What the fuck does that matter?" she screamed at him, in near hysterics.
"Alright, alright," he muttered, quickly putting his shoes on. "I'll be back in a hurry,"
"Baba!" Bulma shouted as Vegeta began climbing the stairs two at a time trying to get her to bed as quickly as possible.
"What's going on?" the older woman bellowed as she came into the master bedroom to find Vegeta frantically removing Bulma's soiled undergarments.
"The baby…" Bulma croaked between laboured breaths. "I think it's coming,"
"There is no thinking," Vegeta corrected, "it is coming!"
"Well, get out of the way!" Baba ordered him, pushing him aside to help Bulma. "You're certain?" she asked her as she began helping her remove her dress.
"Her water broke," Vegeta said quickly, looking at Bulma in concern as she was moaning in pain, trying to shrug out of her dress but was clearly in far too much discomfort to be useful in getting it off herself and was more of a hindrance to Baba's assistance than anything. Not knowing what to do or how to be helpful, he strode across the room and began rifling through her things trying to find something that resembled a night gown. Finally, he found what he thought he was looking for and realized it was the night shirt he had given her the first night they'd spent together. Not wanting to give her that in case Baba wasn't aware of its existence, he found a different garment, one that looked like an actual nightgown and tossed it to where Baba was still trying to help a distressed Bulma.
"Get out of here!" Baba scolded him as she grabbed the nightgown and pulled it over Bulma's head, trying to save some of her modesty in front of the man who was present in her room.
"No, I want him here with me!" She insisted almost hysterically, reaching out frantically for his arm.
Vegeta frowned at her, but let her take his hand and laced his fingers with hers. The whole scene made him extremely uncomfortable, but he couldn't bring himself to leave her.
She was essentially all alone. Aside from him, her only real friends were house servants. Her husband was god knew where and her parents were several hours travel away, at least; and that was if they took the train, however it would take that long just to get a letter to them, informing them that their daughter was in labour. He was the only person she had for support, other than Baba, and even though sticking around and helping a woman birth a newborn baby was not on his list of things he wished to experience in life ever, he could not bear to leave her to do this on her own.
Vegeta nodded then at her in acceptance of her request as he began taking off his jacket and tie, tossing them onto one of the chairs in the room. He unbuttoned the first few buttons of his shirt as well as the cuffs and rolled them up to his elbows before stepping closer to the bed and motioning for her to sit up somewhat. If he was going to be here for her through this, he was going to make sure they were both damned comfortable and that she kept some of her dignity intact. Of course it was nothing he hadn't seen of her before, but no one else knew that. He crawled into bed behind her, nestling her in between his legs so she could comfortably recline and lean against him.
"Everything will be okay," he said softly, bending down to her ear and taking both her hands in his, placing both their hands on her swollen belly. "I won't leave you alone,"
Baba glared at them. This was completely inappropriate.
"Thank you," she whispered as she shook like a leaf in his arms. She closed her eyes and rested her head on his shoulder as she felt a contraction coming on and knew she'd be in even more excruciating pain in a moment.
Bulma screamed as the pain ripped through her abdomen and she pushed and squeezed Vegeta's hands as hard as she could.
She was in so much pain and distress that she couldn't hear or really comprehend the calm words of encouragement he quietly and tenderly whispered in her ear; all she knew was that he was with her and trying to help her the only way he could and that meant more to her in that moment than anything.
"Get a bowl of cool water and a wash cloth." He demanded as she relaxed against him when the contraction had finally passed.
Baba nodded and scurried out of the room.
"Vegeta," she sighed, turning her face so her nose was lightly touching the side of his neck.
"Hmmn," he grunted softly, looking down at her.
"I cannot do this," she cried. "It's too much,"
"Yes you can," he replied confidently. "Stop speaking nonsense."
"It hurts so much!" She shouted as another contraction took over.
Vegeta let her squeeze his hands to her hearts content; the strength of her grip genuinely surprised him. He continued to encourage her as she pushed and pushed to no avail.
A moment later Baba returned with a bowl of water and a face cloth as asked. She placed it on the night table beside them and was about to drop the towel in the bowl, when Vegeta shook his head at her and gave her a stern look. If he was going to be here for Bulma through this because her useless mate couldn't be, he'd make sure he was damned useful and actively do everything he could to ease her through it.
Baba stepped away and gave him a suspicious glare. She was not stupid. She'd suspected for a while that there was something more to their friendship but had never said a word to anyone. She had no proof, only suspicions.
She watched carefully as Vegeta took the cloth and gently ran it across her forehead in such a calm and caring manner that in her mind that was the only proof she needed that there indeed had been something inappropriate going on between those two. What woman would insist a man who was not her husband be there for the birth of her child? Not only that, but he was holding her and she was leaning right into him as though it were completely natural!
Bulma began to cry again as the contractions started again. "I can't, I can't! Vegeta I can't!"
"You can, and you will," he said comfortingly to her, letting her squeeze his hand again and placing the cool cloth along the side of her neck. "And in a few hours from now you'll have brought a brat into the world as obnoxious and as obstinate as you,"
"Bastard!" She yelled at him.
"The child will be as brilliant and as stubborn as you," he continued.
"Or be a dick like his father!"
"I think she will be just like her mother in every way," he replied calmly.
"How can you be... oh god! So sure it's a girl?" She asked between heavy breaths. "Yamcha wants a son,"
"Yamcha is not here," he shrugged. "He will be proud no matter what you have."
"He fucking better be!" She screamed. She was in an unbelievable amount of pain but hadn't let that cloud her judgement in letting anything slip that she shouldn't. Not with Baba around. "Bastard will be lucky if I ever let him touch me again!"
About a half hour later, Bulma laid against him in an exhausted slumber. The contractions had subsided somewhat, but no baby yet.
"You should leave!" Baba hissed at him venomously.
"Over my dead body," he retorted nastily. "She asked me to remain with her through this and so I shall until she asks me to leave."
"I'll tell the master," she threatened. "I know there is something sinful taking place between you two. I just have no proof of it."
Vegeta chuckled darkly. "Go ahead, tell him!" He goaded her. "He asked me to keep an eye on her in his absence, make sure she was alright. Besides, what kind of pathetic excuse of a man leaves his pregnant wife so close to delivery when he knows there are issues? It is shameful.
"She has no one! Her parents married her off to the fool without any thought of her wishes. Why did Yamcha even agree when he clearly has no interest in being a family man? He is away far more than he is around and could not even be bothered to stick around to make sure his child is born without issue. I will not abandon her as everyone else in her life has because it is the honourable thing to do. If that is what you base your proof of infidelity on, you are foolish and ridiculous."
Baba nodded at him, though her frown remained. She didn't disagree with him on his thoughts regarding Yamcha's absence at this critical time, however her gut still told her that there was more going on between the two of them than what Vegeta had just claimed. "I will leave momentarily to take care of a few things, but I will return to assist when she wakes."
Vegeta nodded at the old woman, glad that she had the good sense to not push the issue further where his presence was concerned.
Now that they were alone, he reached for the damp face cloth in the cold water again and gently ran it along her chest, bringing it lower down her shift along the top of her breasts. The old woman would have had a nosebleed if he'd have done that in her presence. Dampening it again, he soothingly wiped along her collarbone, neck, shoulders and arms before shifting his weight so he was a bit more comfortable and she was laying further back into him instead of somewhat sitting against him.
As he looked down at her sleeping form it dawned on him how strange this whole scenario was. He was laying with his long term lover, assisting her birth a child that wasn't even his. How bizarre was that? He could understand how Baba or anyone else would find that suspicious. Hell it was weird to him!
The more he thought about it, the more strange it seemed to him. He had come to care more for Bulma than anyone in his life. He would have never done this for any other woman he'd bedded, even if he had accidentally sired a child with one of them; he didn't even think he would insist on being present for Lazuli to this extent if they happened to have a child together. They were partners and had an amicable relationship, but that was as far as that went. Neither of them had ever discussed having children. He decided he would have been around and close by if she was in labor to make sure everything went alright, but he doubted he'd be an active participant as he was right now for Bulma.
As he thought about it, it didn't escape his notice how right he felt being with Bulma right now. In the months leading up to her delivery, he'd barely touched her and his interest in her had not wavered. He even admitted that he was somewhat excited to see the child she birthed. That was odd to him; he'd never had an interest in children. Regret washed over him that his life had turned out this way.
He knew he would never have children of his own with Lazuli. Too much risk of mental illness in her family, not to mention she was far too vain to want to ruin her body.
Acceptance washed over him that he would be more than content being a presence for Bulma and watching her child grow up without actually having to be a parent himself. Yes, that would not be so bad, he decided.
Bulma began to stir again, whimpering in discomfort. "You're still here," she sighed in exhaustion, smiling up at him and reaching up to touch the side of his face. It warmed her heart that he'd stayed even though she was certain there were many other places he'd rather be than here with her. Somehow it seemed right that he be the one with her, seeing as this baby was his and not Yamcha's. She just hoped that it would not become blatantly obvious once the child was born that Yamcha was not the father.
"Of course I am still here," he snorted. "Ridiculous woman."
She smiled weakly. "Why couldn't it have been you?"
His eyes hardened at that as that foreign feeling crept over him again. Was it a sign that she was having the same thoughts he had been having only moments ago? "Do not say such ridiculous things."
"You just called me a ridiculous woman," she pointed out. "So it stands to reason that I'd say ridiculous things,"
He snorted at her and leaned forward to graze a kiss on her forehead quickly so as not to be noticed if someone happened to check in on her. This whole scenario was more than fucked up. He supposed it was a good thing she was having the child. They couldn't very well carry on an affair once she had a child and this affair had gone on long enough.
Bulma sharply inhaled and squeezed her eyes shut as she took his hand again. "Oh god… it's starting again,"
"Just breathe," he said soothingly, feeling like an idiot. He had no idea if that was good advice or not. He was simply repeating what he recalled a doctor had told a woman in labour many years ago when he had been at war. He had been injured and resting in the infirmary when one of the nurses who had been pregnant went into labour near where he had been recovering, he recalled. He hadn't paid much attention, being that he was young and completely disinterested, but he did remember some of what had taken place. "It will be fine, you're almost done…"
"I'd better be!"
The doctor had apparently arrived and Baba showed up almost immediately upon hearing that Bulma was awake and resuming labor again.
"Bulma," Baba called to her. "The doctor has arrived,"
"Great," she groaned, in so much pain she didn't care. She just wanted this whole thing to be over and done with.
"Thank you for your help, Vegeta, but we do not need you to stick around," Baba said firmly to him.
"I will remain until she is finished or she asks me to leave," he repeated to her.
"He stays," she said between grit teeth. "Unless he wants to leave,"
"I shall remain," he said to her, squeezing her hand back reassuringly.
It was another four hours of screaming and crying and pushing before she finally birthed a beautiful baby girl with a patch of blue hair the same shade as her own.
Bulma had fainted at the end so Baba cleaned up and swaddled the newborn baby, reluctantly handing it to Vegeta, who stubbornly remained in place behind Bulma. She glared at him once again before leaving the room.
Vegeta looked down curiously at the child in his arms. This was a surreal moment he'd never thought he'd ever encounter. Vegeta had no interest in children, but found himself not wanting to leave and revelling in the moment of post birth with Bulma. Once again, the thought ran through his mind of how perfect this felt with her and lamented internally that it was only an illusion.
She woke up suddenly and smiled at him as he shifted so she could hold and see her new baby daughter for herself.
"It is a girl," he said to her.
"Hmmm, you were right," she said, looking at the baby in awe. She was wide eyed and awake, though not fussing. "I don't even know what to name her. We never discussed girls names, just boys."
Vegeta nodded as he looked at them both and couldn't help the small smile tugging at his lips. Truly, he wished in that moment that they were both his real family. "What about Bulla?" he suggested without thinking. Wait a minute, what the hell was he thinking? He thought as he realized he was far more invested in this than he should be.
"Bulla?" She asked curiously.
"Never mind," he said quickly suddenly feeling like he really did not belong there. He needed to leave. "That's stupid,"
"No it isn't," she said frowning slightly at his sudden abruptness.
"I am sure you are exhausted," he said, leaning her forward slightly so he could get out of bed. He needed to leave. Now. Before he started rationalizing the feelings he knew he shouldn't be feeling.
"You don't have to go," she said.
"I will call on you tomorrow. Congratulations." He mumbled almost sadly, throwing on his jacket and leaving as quickly as possible, leaving Bulma feeling sad and confused amongst an array of several other emotions she was just too exhausted to identify or understand.
She stared at the door a few moments after he closed it behind him and couldn't help but feel like she'd just experienced and caught a glimpse of the life she should have had. Vegeta closing the door had woken her up from that pipe dream.
How was it that the man who was not her husband was a better friend, lover and husband in every way than her actual husband?