Vegeta growled at the bane of his existence. Of course, the Prince of All Sayians had many banes of his existence, including the Woman's annoying mother, his brat's video games, the kind of small dog that yaps, and above all these, Kakarot. But this was a pain beyond all those. Oh yes. He was going to... the mall.
"Woman!" Vegeta objected. If he had been less proud, Vegeta might have whined. He wasn't that far from it as it was. And pleading, if the need arose. "Why did you drag me to this... this... there are no words to describe my disgust. I hate malls." They were standing outside the building, Vegeta having steadfastly refused to move another inch.
"Oh, you hate everything," Bulma said dismissively. "Besides, it's not healthy for you to spend all day cooped up in your gravity room. Get out, enjoy life."
"I do get out. I do enjoy life," Vegeta objected.
"Going out long enough to beat up our friends doesn't count."
"I don't beat them up. I'm not a thug. We spar, and I kick their asses." A cocky smirk appeared on his lips as he explained the fundamental difference.
"Well, whatever. We're here, so you might as well live with it."
Vegeta crossed his arms and scowled, signifying that while he was not looking forward to it, he'd accepted his fate. Bulma gave her mate a grin and, satisfied, dragged him into the mall.
It was even worse than he'd remembered it. It was packed with screaming children, loud mothers, tired husbands, and, while not strictly offensive, teenagers that looked about an inch away from becoming so. He gave his wife a pleading look, but she paid him no heed. "We'll go to the food court later, if you're going to be pissy the whole time we're here," she said, pulling him in the direction of the first department store she saw. "Anyway, you could use some new clothes yourself."
"Boots, Woman. I need new boots. I go in, I leave, two minutes. Tops."
"The shoe section, brilliant! That's where we'll start!"
Start? Vegeta mentally groaned. Fuck.
"Don't sulk," Bulma chided. "I won't need you for long." At this point, a vast Hell of footwear lay before them. And Vegeta, having been to Hell before, knew how it felt.
Exactly how it felt.
Vegeta scanned the aisles for a pair of men's boots that he didn't find offensive. He then purchased them. Or tried to, anyway.
"You can't do it that way!" Bulma cried.
"Why not? I like these boots. They cover my feet. They allow freedom of kicking movement. That's all I generally want in a good boot."
"You need more than that. You've got to comparison shop."
"'Comparison shop'?" Vegeta snorted.
"To get the best price."
Vegeta stared disbelievingly. "Woman, you're the richest woman on the planet. And, if I understand your barbaric customs properly, that makes me the richest man on the planet. And fifty zeni is a fine price for boots."
"Well, sure, but what if you get to a different store and the same boots are only twenty zeni? Then you'll be kicking yourself."
"Yeah, but I'll be doing it with my new boots. Can we go eat now?"
With a growl, she took the boots from Vegeta's hands and set them back where they belonged. Then she glared, as if daring him to pick them up again.
The phrase, "Pick your battles," screamed in Vegeta's mind.
Three hours, nine shoe stores, seven deparment stores, and a taco later, they were back in the store they'd started at. Buying the exact same pair of boots that Vegeta had attempted to buy earlier.
"Well, at least now we know that this is the best price in the entire mall," Bulma exclaimed cheerfully. She imagined that Vegeta snarled. She couldn't check his face, as it was hidden behind a stack of bags and boxes from their adventures in the mall.
"I had to come back," he muttered to himself. "I couldn't have just stayed in one of the further corners of the universe and let damned Kakarot fend for himself. Save his own damn planet. That would have been too easy."
"You say something, Vegeta?"
"Cursing my existance, Woman. Nothing out of the ordinary."
"Ah. What do you think of these?" She held up a pair of shoes. He looked around his pile to see.
"Yeah. You like 'em?"
"They're pink, Woman."
"Uh-huh. I think I'll get them. Then we'll go to the car."
"Mm-hmm. Got to drop this stuff off so we can get some more."
It was about that point that Vegeta's brain exploded.
"All right, this is the last stop. Then we can go home."
Vegeta almost did a happy dance as they entered the bookstore. Of course, the Prince of All Saiyans does not, as a rule, dance. But it was tempting. "Hmm. Something tolerable," he observed. "Bookslave!" he yelled to the clerk. "Where would I find books on your pathetic martial arts?"
"Ancient Wisdom, sir. After the cookbooks." The clerk pointed a finger without looking up. Vegeta didn't say thank you, but he didn't blow the clerk up either, so, as far as Vegeta was concerned, his thanks were evident.
The titles were mostly elementary. A Beginner's Guide to Self-Defense. Karate for Dummies. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Tae Kwon Do. Nothing for anyone who'd had more than two lessons in the subject, let alone a lifetime of learning.
Eventually, he backed away, with the intent to incinerate the bookshelf and, with any luck, the mall, but one book caught his eye. It told of a discipline that Vegeta, in all his years of training, was not familiar with. So he grabbed it, flipped through it, and decided by the pictures alone that it was worth his time.
"Vegeta, you ready?"
"One moment, Woman!"
He returned to the desk, grabbing another book on his way, and told the clerk, "The combined cost of these works is forty-seven ninety-five. However, I am giving you one hundred zeni. You will not need to see my purchases. Understand?"
The clerk nodded dumbly, and Vegeta left.
In bed that night (at home, at long last!) Vegeta read his second purchase. "Foolish boy," he muttered. "Can't you see how the girl lusts after you? Drop your broom and sire her children, you moron!"
"What?" Bulma asked, who'd been reading her own book.
"Nothing." Idiot boy. The redhaired one will surely be loyal to you. Make her your wife now and forget Cho.
All his thoughts about siring reminded him of his first book. He marked his page and brought out the other.
"Vegeta, what is that?" Bulma asked, seeing the cover.
"It is a discipline I am not familiar with. I thought it prudent to study and make use of whatever it could teach me."
"From the Kama Sutra?"
Vegeta nodded. "However, it seems we've done many of them already. Care to assist me with the rest?"
"You have a way with words, Vegeta," Bulma giggled. "But there's no need for the book."
"I have it by heart." With that, the light flipped off almost of its own accord, and Bra and Trunks down the hall wished that their hearing was not of super-human accuity.