Disclaimer: I do not own Dragonball Z.

Author's Notes:  Well, hello, everyone!  Come to read a B/V romance.  Well, I guess you could call this one, but don't have any prior expectations.  This is not like any you've read.  This is told through the eyes of Yamcha in an angsty/comedic style.  What began as a one-shot blossomed into a… well… possibly a three-shot.  It's short, but I found that I needed to break it up a little.  The beginning is not so funny, but full of hopefully interesting explanation and characterization.  I certainly hope you enjoy this.  Oh, and a shout out to funny-feijoa.  I wasn't even considering writing a B/V romance at all.  I mean, been there done that, you know?  But feijoa got me to thinking about it, and then this idea sprang to my head.  So, hope y'all enjoy!

The Third Wheel

Yamcha climbed into his hovercar just as the evening shift at Capsule Corp was letting out.  Midnight.  He'd wanted to get into the bed early so he could get enough sleep with the early baseball practice the next day, but Bulma had kept him there for HOURS.  And just so she could…

Yamcha left that train of thought in disgust as he was pulling out of the driveway.  He waved to the night security man (Phil.  That's what his name is, he reminded himself.) and pulled onto the road.  After a few minutes, he put the top down, letting the cooled wind blow his hair back and blast in his face.  It had been a sweltering day, and having the top down would have been so nice, but Bulma would have none of it.  'It would mess up my hair,' she'd say.

"Well, good," he said to himself.  "That curly 'do is stupid-looking anyway.  I don't know what possessed her to do that to herself."

He didn't dare say anything, though.  Not even in a nice way.  That would lead to a lengthy discourse from her on his inadequacies as a boyfriend, a warrior, a man, and a human being.  It would eventually lead to his own hairstyle of choice, which he was getting tired of, if he really thought about it.  A bowl-cut just wasn't his style.  Not that he cared much.  It was easier to put on his batting helmet, as opposed to the long wild hair he'd kept in his teens when he was just living out in the desert away from everyone.

He braked quickly as someone cut him off.  On other nights he would just give in to the road rage and yell and scream like anyone else would.  Maybe even ride their bumper a little bit.  But tonight… he was just tired, and he had a headache, and all he wanted to do was get home and climb into bed.

Puar's still at her class reunion, he thought.  I wonder if she fooled anybody.  Yamcha smiled as he pictured a hotel full of shape-shifters, all of them probably as mischievous as they come. He shook his head in pity for the poor hotel employees.  One of the initial activities for the reunion detailed in the invitation was to come in a shape that no one would be able to see through.  At Yamcha's suggestion, Puar had decided to go as Piccolo Daimao.  It had taken her weeks to get the disguise perfect, taking the time to eliminate her trademark characteristics that stayed with her whatever she turned into – her ears and her tail.  What resulted was surprisingly accurate for someone who'd only seen pictures of the senior demon – Namek, he reminded himself – and she'd even scared the crap out of Master Roshi.  Literally.  The old master had barely made it to the bathroom.

Of course, then Oolong had to say something smarmy about Puar saying that she was above scaring people with her abilities, and she'd yelled back that at least she didn't steal young girls and terrorize a whole village, and at least she'd FINISHED her degree at Shapeshifter Academy, and then it just went downhill from there.  If Yamcha hadn't been trying to pull the shapeshifters apart, he would have fallen on the floor laughing at the sight to Piccolo Daimao arguing in a high, squeaky voice with a very indignant Oolong.  Instead, he'd said a hasty goodbye to Krillen and pulled Puar off the island and away from the other shapeshifter.

Yamcha was still half-smiling at the memory as he pulled into his parking space.  He was still in good humor as he unlocked the front door to his apartment and flicked on the lights.  His smile disappeared, however, after he saw the blinking light on his answering machine.

OK, there's three possibilities, he thought as he made his way slowly to the telephone.  He pressed the button, and the silence was filled by the familiar "Hi!  This is Yamcha (and Puar).  I'm either at my girlfriend's house, at practice, or being killed by a vicious monster from outer space.  If it's the former two, I'll get back to you as soon as possible if you'll leave your name and number after the beep.  If it's the other, it may take a little longer."  BEEP

As the message was playing, he continued his train of thought.  It could be my coach, checking to see if I'm in.  He'll probably have a lecture for me tomorrow (he checked his watch) – ok, today.  It could be my manager.  I'm NOT going to do any more promotions right now.  And then it could be…

"Hey, Yamcha," Bulma's voice practically burst through the speaker.  "I forgot to ask you when you were coming over tomorrow.  You can just e-mail me or something.  I know that you have practice tomorrow, and you're probably going to train, but I have this business function that I need to go to this weekend – I know I told you about it – and I wanted to take you shopping tomorrow to get you something nice to wear for it.  I know nothing you own will do, and tomorrow really is the only time this week I can make extra shopping plans.  You have no idea how busy I am.  Anyway, just give me a call back, or e-mail, or whatever.  Bye, Yamcha-baby."

By this time, Yamcha had sunk into his favorite chair, not even bothering to kick off his shoes.  He stared at the television, though it wasn't even on.  He didn't even like television, but Bulma had furnished his apartment while he'd been away at spring training one time, so he'd had no say in what went in and what didn't.

Had no say…

Just like this weekend.  Yes, he remembered her talking about the function.  He also distinctly remembered telling her that he wouldn't be able to make it – that he'd made plans with Krillen and Goku, and it was the only time the three of them could get together.  Of course, she'd just rolled her eyes and told Yamcha to change his plans – that she wasn't being caught dead at a business function without a chaperone, and she didn't want to take someone else.  "Besides," she'd said, "What's more important?  Your friends, who you never see, or your girlfriend, who always has time for you?"

He'd had to bite his tongue before telling her what he really thought.

Looking at the clock, he nearly growled in frustration.  I was almost one o'clock already.  He couldn't remember that much time passing.  Well, if I'm lucky, I'll get a good five hours sleep.

After Yamcha went through the mindless motions of getting ready for bed and actually crawled in, pulling the thin sheets up to his waist, he began to realize that there would be no way he could get to sleep.  Every time he closed his eyes, they would snap open and stare out into the darkness.  Every time he would roll over, getting the sheets all tangled up in his legs, he would just end up being as uncomfortable as before.  After a full hour of such activities, he shot up into a sitting position, groaning at the lateness of the hour.  He'd be a zombie in the morning.  But he just…

He just couldn't get her words out of his head!

Not only her words, but their whole frustrating relationship.  It wasn't even a real relationship anymore.  It was a routine to him.  Go to practice, train, then go to Capsule Corp and spend the rest of the day with Bulma, doing whatever she wanted to do.  It was usually something horrifyingly dull, like shopping, or keeping her company as she worked in her lab, or, most recently, listening to her tirade of how rude a houseguest Vegeta was.  Well, he thought, it's your fault for inviting him to stay with you.  No, he didn't actually ever say that to her.  Such statements never got from his brain to his mouth.  Maybe if I ever DID say it, she would finally throw me out.  Then this parody of a relationship could finally end.

Relationship.  As if it had ever been such.  Yamcha remembered back to when he first met Bulma.  She'd been one of the few girls he'd ever come in contact with.  At least, human girls.  It was ridiculous.  His best friend was a girl – ok, a shapeshifting cat girl, but a girl nonetheless.  But confronted with a human girl with her – proportions – he had just not known how to react.  So, he froze.  Actually froze in the middle of a fight that he was winning.  The middle of a fight with GOKU that he was winning.  Not many could say that they'd won a fight over Goku, and he'd lost his chance.  Ok, the guy was twelve at the time, and starving, but still.  He could have boasted that he'd beaten Goku in a fight.  Yeah, that's me.  Joining the ranks of… um… Master Roshi, and… Tien, and… well… did Piccolo count?  He killed him, but it was sort of a voluntary thing.  Whatever.  Of course, his train of thought cheered him up a little.  Say what they want about the pathetic human fighters who could never measure up to the Saiyans or Nameks, but only a couple of humans could claim victory over the virtually unbeatable Goku.

Yamcha's smile vanished as his thoughts got back on course.  Back to when he'd first met Bulma.  He'd been sixteen, and hormones had been running high.  And Bulma hadn't made it any easier.  For a while, after that first meeting, she was either in a skin-tight bunny leotard (a 'gift' from Oolong, he'd found out later), or, one night, full out naked.  He laughed to himself wryly, remembering the hormone-filled panic he'd gone into when he found out that the lumps in the bed weren't exactly dragonballs.

Over a time, though, he'd grown used to her.  She was spoiled, and willful, and selfish, and just plain annoying to be around.  Just the sort of person you need when you're in fear for your life.  She'd distracted him from his impending death via baking at the hands of Pilaf.  He grew used to talking to her.  Figuring that it was his last moments on Earth, he wasn't so bothered with what to say, how he could impress her, or even the way her incredible body got him all sweaty and nervous.  Though, when he thought about it, even then their conversations were more like arguments.  But it didn't matter.  They were about to die anyway.

Until, as usual, Goku had to change everything.

After the 'little' adventure of controlling Oozaru Goku, everything was different.  It felt like the end of any adventure – just sort of empty, with the almost depressing feeling of returning to normalcy.  Pilaf was gone, the dragonballs were inactive for a year, and besides the feeling of kinship after surviving a life-and-death battle (I laugh at what we considered 'life-and-death' then), Yamcha didn't really have any ties with anyone except Puar.  He had not even got the chance to wish away his nervousness around girls.  Of course, he hadn't known that practically every teenage boy in the world had the exact same problem.  He thought it was something horribly wrong with his personality, he would never achieve his greatest goal – to find his future wife and to finally have a family.  But the chance to get rid of it was gone.  He was pretty much back where he started, and all the work he'd put into trying to steal the dragonballs and generally stay alive had all gone to waste.  That was just something he wasn't prepared to deal with.

Many different plans had gone through his head – from various forms of suicide to joining the circus.  Of course, all of this was a product of adolescent exaggeration, but at the time it was very real, and very serious.  And the thought of going back to the desert just wasn't… appealing any more.  It had been a long time since he'd had anyone to talk to besides Puar.  He'd been practically living as a hermit in the desert.  The only people he'd really ever seen were too scared to have a meaningful conversation.  Of course, he was robbing them at the time, so that was to be expected.  By that time in his life, he was craving… friends.  People to talk to.  Even the companionship of a strange monkey boy, a perverted pig, and a spoiled brat was appealing. 

And that's when it happened.

Yamcha recalled just looking at Bulma, with her giving the same look – sort of like an animal struck on the head.  Then they just sort of fell into each other's arms.  No words were really necessary.  All the decisions were obvious.  Why look for the dragonballs when what you were going to wish for was right in front of you?  She got her boyfriend, and he got a girlfriend that he wasn't nervous around anymore.  He didn't want to live in the desert, and she had plenty of room at her parents' house.  It was all so easy.  It was all so…

… convenient.

Yamcha's back thudded back on the firm mattress.  He'd finally reached the word that he'd been struggling with for years.  Convenient.  Obviously, they were perfect for each other.  They had all the qualities that sort of complimented each other, at least on the superficial level.  He was handsome, strong, and had the roguish quality from being a bandit that would give Bulma her opportunity to rebel against her parents.  She was beautiful, intelligent, fiery, and had more than enough money to support them both should he fail to find a job.  All the way to Capsule Corp that day they'd talked excitedly about all those things, with Oolong making snide remarks the entire way.  But Puar…

She wasn't too happy with the whole situation.  No, it wasn't jealousy.  She knew that Yamcha craved human contact, and particularly a certain type of human contact after the advent of puberty.  She'd been trying to push a move to the city, after they had "raised" enough money to make the move.  She wanted him to start a better life among people, and eventually settle down with a nice girl.  But… she didn't think Bulma was the right one.  Bulma was pushy, standoffish, selfish, manipulative, deceptive, and immature, and Puar thought that getting involved with her was potentially the stupidest thing Yamcha had ever done.

Puar was right.

But Yamcha hadn't been paying attention to the cat at the time.  He was too busy falling into what he thought was love.  And it was great for a while.  Well, for a couple of minutes it looked as though they really suited each other. 

Bulma had a lot of fun talking about how her parents would react when she brought a bandit home as a boyfriend.  He'd kind of cringed at meeting the parents right off, but once he did… well… he liked the parents almost better than the daughter.  The Briefs weren't pushy or even very overprotective.  When Bulma had cheerfully told them who and what he was, they immediately took him into their home.  Dr. Briefs had asked if there were any warrants for his arrest that needed to be taken care of (there were), and Mrs. Briefs had asked him all sorts of questions, ranging from if he'd ever killed anyone to if he would like some sake. 

It had been hard to believe that they'd been married for years, because they acted like newlyweds around each other.  Mrs. Briefs even went so far as to playfully flirt with Yamcha.  Yamcha may have been shy around girls in his age group, but both her age and her non-judgmental manner put him at ease.  He knew that she was just kidding around, and he even playfully flirted back.

That's when he found out about Bulma's jealous streak.

And that was the end of the true happiness in their relationship.

First Bulma had screamed at her mother for stealing another boyfriend, and then she turned on Yamcha, calling him naturally unfaithful.  That label stuck with him for far longer than Yamcha had realized – mostly from the encouragement of Bulma.  After screaming at him, she'd stalked off to her room in a huff, leaving her new boyfriend and the two shapeshifters with her parents.  She didn't come out of her room for the rest of the day.

Yamcha remembered being angry and embarrassed.  Mostly embarrassed.  And a little confused.  He wasn't used to people, so he didn't know how to react.  And he didn't appreciate Bulma's derogatory statements of him.  Thankfully, the Briefs were there to help him out.  Laughing it off as another one of her temper tantrums, Mrs. Briefs went into a humorous and detailed story of Bulma pitching a fit when her father wouldn't sue the primary school for confiscating a couple of electronic gadgets she'd been working on.  Of course, when a few older children decided to tease her about it, she'd threatened to build a ray gun out of it.  That little incident happened right in earshot of a teacher, so Bulma got in trouble.  If it's one thing that Bulma has never liked, it's getting in trouble.

The way the Briefs had taken him in and made him feel at ease… it was like finally having a family – the one thing he'd been truly longing for on those lonely nights in the desert.  Only, his dream of having a wife was revealed and realized into that of… parents.  He couldn't even remember his own parents.  He had some vague memories of a home, and knew the sword he carried was once his father's, but other than that the only family he'd known before was a group of desert bandits that had raised him and taught him their "trade".  They'd regarded him a more of a mascot, however, and there was little affection or even consideration in his relationship with any of the bandits.  The Briefs, however…  They weren't overtly affectionate, but they were willing to do anything and everything to make a perfect stranger with questionable background feel welcome.  Yamcha had been expecting a cool reception and guards watching him at all times, with Bulma being his only refuge.  It had turned out quite the opposite.

Bulma had eventually gotten back with Yamcha, but things were strained after that.  For a long time Yamcha had believed that it was something wrong with him, but after even months of being around her, he realized that it wasn't anything so obvious.  Well, it certainly had something to do with him, but not completely personally.  It was… Yamcha was seeing Bulma in her home turf, where she wasn't an adventuring babe who wielded power through knowledge and genius.  At home and at her high school, her power was severely curtailed.  Her personality did nothing to win friends at school, and her parents, even when they spoiled her rotten, always had the upper hand with her.  And she couldn't stand that her boyfriend saw her in such vulnerable situations.  So, she blamed him.

And the same pattern went on, year after year.  Through battle… well… through standing by and watching Goku defeat all the enemies.  Through high school, where Yamcha found that his easy personality made him well-liked.  Through… everything.  Yamcha and Bulma would fight, and then later on pretend that nothing would happen.  Bulma would trash-talk Yamcha around their mutual friends, especially Goku and the others.  So why didn't they end it?

Yamcha stretched in his bed, staring at the ceiling.  He found the shapes he'd made in the rough texture of the ceiling, only now they seemed to be laughing at him.  Yamcha rolled over on his side, trying to get his thoughts back into focus.  Why didn't we just end it a long time ago? he wondered. 

Yamcha knew the initial reason why they'd stuck together.  It was like… Yamcha laughed at the only comparison he could find.  It was like when Oolong kept those stupid panties he'd wished for from Shenlong, even giving up his own pants to Goku before giving up the panties.  Those panties were given to him by the dragon god, and he was NOT going to give them up.  They were "divine panties," as Oolong called them when he was retelling the story.  Well, Yamcha and Bulma had not given each other up for the same reason.  Even though they were not sent to each other by Shenlong, it seemed like they were.  If it weren't for the Dragonballs, they would never have found each other.  It seemed like they were meant to be together, drawn to each other by divine forces.  Who were they, as mere mortals, to question the divine?  At least, that's what Yamcha had thought.

Of course, that was just a load of crap.

Thankfully, Yamcha was over that illusion.  Before, the divine had seemed… well… divine.  Unreachable.  Mysterious.  But now, he had trained with both Kami and King Kai, and had surpassed them both.  Becoming stronger than the gods, as well as more familiar with the faults of both, he had come to realize that there was no divine will holding sway over people's lives.  And that had set him free, somewhat.

So why hadn't he broken it off with Bulma, say, recently, after he was wished back to life?  That was more of a difficult situation.  One reason was that Bulma was routine.  He'd been with her ever since he was sixteen, and besides a few weeks here and there where they wouldn't see each other, they'd been together for all that time.  Yamcha remembered the trauma of dying, which was only rivaled with the trauma of coming back.  Suddenly, he was alive again, with a rush of sensations and needs that had lain dormant for a year.  It had been nearly overwhelming, and he'd almost considered drowning in the shallow pool of water he'd fallen into in the gardens around Capsule Corp.  But then, there was Bulma.  Good old Bulma, who had risked her life to go to an unknown planet in a centuries-old ship so that she could gather dragonballs, which they only knew about because an enemy alien theorized their existence from very little and insubstantial evidence.  All so she could wish him back to life.  He knew it was mostly because of him.  Bulma had never really cared for Tien and Chaotzu, and was just plain scared of Piccolo.  She would never have made the journey if it was just for those three.  But for him…

So, they'd fallen back into each other's arms.  Life was good, for a while.  Sure, there were minor disputes, but they were so relieved that their lives weren't being threatened (and that they were alive) that nothing else seemed to really matter… for a while.  But people get complacent after a while, and the old problems begin to show.  Bulma's controlling nature, Yamcha's lack of real grounding in his personal and professional life… and something else.

Ever since they were young, Bulma had been pressing to have sex with him.  At first, he'd taken it for a marriage proposal, and had said that HE would have liked to propose to HER.  But her mocking laughter was enough to tell him that she hadn't meant marriage.  That… was just not acceptable.  Bulma could call him old-fashioned as much as she wanted, but he WAS NOT going to have sex before marriage.  It was too risky, and it just wasn't proper.  He'd told her just that, and she was, of course, enraged.  Over time, her rage turned into overt temptation, until it got to be pure seduction.  During that time, Yamcha would feel himself giving in, until he stopped himself just in time.  Usually even going so far as to walk away when they were right beside the bed.  Sure, there was some making out, and he enjoyed that.  Who wouldn't?  But there was a line that he never crossed, no matter what Bulma did.

Pretty soon, both of them just got frustrated.  Yamcha kept rebuffing Bulma's attempts at seduction, and Bulma kept refusing proposals.  Not that Yamcha truly wanted to marry the girl, but he thought that it would be a good way to end their conflict.  Bulma had no desire to get married though, so the whole thing would turn into a huge explosive argument.  While Yamcha vented his frustrations through his many pursuits, Bulma vented her frustrations by complaining about him.  Except, the complaints turned into outright lies.  Yamcha remembered Krillen coming up to him in concern one time after spending a bit of time with Bulma.  More than being worried about Bulma, he was worried about Yamcha.  Apparently, Bulma was spreading the word around that Yamcha was a promiscuous cheater that bedded a different girl every night.  Krillen was concerned for his friend, both for his physical and emotional health at this unhealthy lifestyle.

Yamcha, after getting over the shock of these lies, had set his friend straight.  Thankfully, Krillen knew that Yamcha was infinitely more honest than Bulma, and took him at his word, even though he was a bit confused as to why Yamcha would stay with a girl who intentionally gave him a bad reputation and tried to pressure him into doing something he didn't want to do.  Yamcha had tried to come up with a reasonable answer, but he couldn't.  He'd just given a grin and a "well, she's my girlfriend."  Krillen was not satisfied, but he hadn't pressed.

Maybe he should have.  Then, maybe…

Yamcha sighed.  He'd had enough of "maybe".  He'd had enough of "if you love me, you'll…".  He'd had enough of "Yamcha is such a cheating jerk".  In fact, he'd had enough of the relationship all together.  More than that, he'd had enough of Bulma.

I should just get rid of her.  Slough her off on somebody else…

Yamcha sat straight up in his bed, coming up so hard that the sheets were thrown all the way across the room.  The same phrase repeated in his head, until it resembled a mantra.  Slough her off on somebody else.  Slough her off on somebody else.  Slough her off…

I'll do it.

The corners of Yamcha's mouth tweaked upward, then continued slowly, stretching his face in a full grin until his face was nearly to the breaking point.  It was the first true grin he'd had in a long time.  The thought – the very thought – gave him so much… freedom.  Freedom from this woman who had ruled over most of his life.  Freedom from…  It was just freedom.

Yamcha nearly jumped out of bed when he heard a SLAM at the front of the house.  Then his grin returned as he heard the loud thumping noises of luggage tumbling to the floor, followed by a muffled squeaky curse.  Regardless of the scolding he was sure to get when she found out he wasn't asleep, Yamcha ran toward the living room to greet his friend.

He stumbled into the living room to the sight of Puar gathering up the things that had practically exploded out of a suitcase that had come open when it hit the floor.  Very little of it was clothing, of course, but he saw a few bits of clothing that looked suspiciously close to his size.  He grinned and started to help her pick up the mess.

"EEEEKK!!!" Puar jumped back as she turned around with him practically towering over her.

Yamcha grinned.  "Sorry, Puar.  I thought you heard me coming down the hall."

Puar took a moment to catch her breath.  Then she frowned slightly.  "I thought that you would be in bed.  You know, it's three in the morning."

Yamcha grinned and helped her pick up the things littering the living room floor.  "Yeah, I know, but save the lecture, ok?  I've had enough lectures for one night."

Puar looked up at him sharply, expecting to see the sad and frustrated look he always got whenever things were going badly with Bulma.  Which was all the time.  But this time, he seemed genuinely… happy?  What had happened?  Puar desperately wanted to ask him, but knew that he would tell her in his own time.  They told each other everything, after all.

"So, how did the disguise go over?" Yamcha asked as he helped her carry her things back to her room.

Puar giggled, settling back into their usual easy conversation.  "It was perfect.  You should have seen it!  I had to chase after everyone when they all started to run away!  Of course, I guess I should have changed form before chasing after them," she added thoughtfully, much to Yamcha's amusement.  "But you should have seen that Margar girl that had always snubbed me every chance she got at the Academy.  Someone finally had to go out and find her after an hour.  Turns out, she was right in the hotel, hiding in a closet as an overcoat.  She didn't change back until someone tried to put her on!"

Yamcha laughed at the image, leading her back down the hallway to the kitchen, where he put a pot of tea on the stove.  Puar plopped down in her chair at the table, wanting so much to go to bed but too keyed up to get any sleep.  The two didn't speak until the tea was done, and Yamcha brought two steaming cups over.

"It's puar time," he said mischievously.

Puar tried to glare at him about the bad pun, but dissolved into giggles as the giddiness of extreme fatigue overtook her.  "You know that joke is really stupid," she managed to get out.  Yamcha just grinned.

Puar took a sip of her tea and set the cup down, giving Yamcha a serious look.  Of course, to anyone else, this look was just another "cute cat" look, but Yamcha knew how to read her after all those decades of living with her.  "Yamcha," she began slowly, "what's gotten in to you tonight?  You're never this cheerful when you're just around me."

Yamcha chuckled.  "So, you noticed."

Puar smiled.  "When you're sitting there, grinning like an idiot at three o'clock in the morning, it's a bit hard to miss."

Yamcha looked at Puar thoughtfully, considering, and then seemed to make a decision.  He leaned forward over the table toward Puar, his voice lowered conspiratorially.  "Alright, Puar, I'll tell you.  But I'll need your help in something."

Puar's eyes widened slightly.  "What is it?" she asked, lowering her voice subconsciously.

"Well," Yamcha's eyes sparkled mischievously.  "It's about Bulma."

"Oh," Puar said stiffly.  Oh, Kami, not this again.  What, is he planning some sort of special dinner or something that Bulma will just ridicule and make him feel even worse?  Puar waited with dread for Yamcha's explanation.

Yamcha did not miss the change in Puar's mood, and knew she would definitely be ecstatic at what he had to say.  He just couldn't help drag it out a little.

"You see, Bulma needs a date for this business function this weekend…"

"Yes, I know exactly what you're talking about," Puar interrupted angrily.  "You already said that you weren't going.  Exactly when was the last time you got together with Goku and Krillen and it not be a battle?  You promised them.  You can't just let her…"

"Oh, I'll be with Goku and Krillen this weekend," he said slyly.

"How could you… what?"

Yamcha watched in amusement as the proverbial light bulb flicked on in Puar's head.  She continued to stare at him, confusion turning to disbelief turning to joy.

"Yamcha, you're finally…"

Yamcha nodded.  "Let's not get ahead of ourselves.  I want to make a clean break with Bulma.  You know, I've broken up with her before.  She's broken up with me before, too.  We just keep going back together.  I want to make sure that doesn't happen this time."

"What are you saying?" Puar said suspiciously, though still incredibly happy.

"I'm saying…" he paused for dramatic effect, "slough her off on someone else."  Kami, he loved saying that.

Puar laughed, the laugh sounding full despite her squeaky voice.  "Slough her off?  Who would take her?"

Yamcha frowned slightly, meeting his first obstacle.  "I'm not sure.  Most everyone I know is either connected or married."

Puar was already pulling a sheet of paper and a pen from the edge of the table.  She flipped it over to the side that didn't have the scores of endless card games and made a quick list of his and Bulma's mutual friends.  If it had to be in time for this weekend, then Bulma would have to already know the "lucky" guy. 

The list went thus:

Goku

Krillen

Tien

Chaotzu

Yajirobe

Master Roshi

Oolong

Piccolo

Kami

Vegeta

"I just went ahead and put everyone down," she said upon finishing.  "Goku is, of course, married, so he's out."

Yamcha moved the list sideways in between him and Puar to look at it with her.  "No go on Tien either.  The entire time on King Kai's planet he was worrying about Lunch.  And, are you kidding about Chaotzu?"

"Chaotzu is a nice guy," Puar retorted.

"Of course he is," Yamcha said quickly, "but I wouldn't want to put the guy through Bulma rejecting him.  Bulma wants a guy she'll look good with."

"Well, we certainly couldn't fix her up with Kami.  I don't even know why I put god down there," she said, shaking her head a putting a line through his name, leaving six others.

"Bulma hates Oolong," Yamcha supplied.  "Remember?  Always has."

"Right," Puar said, putting a line through the pig's name.  "After all, who wouldn't?  Anyway, she doesn't really know Yajirobe all that well, and he just wouldn't put up with her."

"So that leaves… four.  Um… I think Piccolo is asexual, Puar.  Remember, there are no Namek females and they reproduce through eggs.  I doubt that Bulma will sit on Piccolo's egg."

Puar giggled, marking the junior demon's name out.  "Ok, that leaves Master Roshi…"

The two of them looked at each other for a minute, visualizing the results of such an attempt.  Pretty soon, they were rolling in the floor with laughter, the list all but forgotten momentarily.  It took them five minutes to pick themselves off the ground and continue with the elimination.

"Ok, so no Master Roshi.  Hey… how about Krillen?" Puar said thoughtfully.

Yamcha frowned.  "If they would have ever hooked up, they would have done it on the way to Namek, when they were practically alone on the same ship for months.  I think they got severely sick of each other on that trip.  Besides, I like Krillen too much to do that to him.  I know he wants a girlfriend and everything, but he's just getting over the whole Maron thing, so…"

Puar nodded and crossed his name off the list.  "So that leaves… Vegeta."

Yamcha leaned back in his chair and ran his hands through his hair, considering.  "He's the only one left, huh?"

"Well…" Puar began, "they DO already live together."

"They hate each other."

"He'd probably be the only one who could put up with her."

"They hate each other."

"He already does whatever she says anyway."

"They hate each other."

"You could call it revenge…"

"They hate… what?"

Yamcha sat up in his chair, giving Puar a calculating look.  "What do you mean "revenge"?"

Puar grinned, glad to have caught Yamcha's interest.  Since Vegeta was the last on the list, if they had crossed him out, Yamcha probably would have given up on his plans to leave Bulma.  "Let me put it this way.  You're probably still mad at her for being so controlling, right?"

Yamcha could only nod.

"So, Vegeta won't take most of her crap.  He's not as patient as you are.  Not only that, he'll probably do some controlling of his own.  He already has her fixing the gravity room every other night, even making her break plans sometimes.  So you'll give her a taste of her own medicine."

Yamcha grin grew wider, and he found himself nodding encouragingly.

"You can get back at Vegeta in the same way," Puar continued.  "I mean, ok, he didn't directly kill you, but he caused your death.  Plus, he's just a jerk.  What better way to get back at him killing you than to give him a fate worse than death?"

Yamcha sat quietly for a few minutes, letting Puar's words sink in.  Slowly, he brought his eyes up to Puar, a smirk tingeing his mouth.  "Puar, you're a genius.  A veritable genius.  I… I don't know what I would do without you."

Puar smiled in self-satisfaction.  "Well, for one thing, you'd be going to a boring dinner party this weekend."

Yamcha's eyes widened in realization.  "This weekend!  Of course!  We don't have much time, Puar.  We've got to get them together quick!"

Puar glanced at the clock.  "Well, it doesn't look like we're getting any sleep anyway, so let's plan."

They both grinned at each other as Puar grabbed another list for brainstorming.  Yamcha poured them both another cup of tea.

This is gonna be great.