Chapter Seven: "You're Off My Naughty List"
(A/N: I know I'm getting bad...two years to finish a seven-chapter story! Hopefully, I can finally beat this writer's block for good. Thank you all for sticking with me and begging me to finish, even though I wasn't sure just how to end it. Anyhow, have an early Merry Christmas, and may you enjoy this conclusion. )
Vegeta pushed past both Bulma and Perky, before Perky could begin her tale. Both women raced behind him.
"I'm coming, Bra!" Vegeta shouted. "No one's going to hurt you while I'm here!"
Perky gasped and grabbed Vegeta's arm. "Vegeta, wait, please! Bra will be—"
"Get off of me—NOW!"
Bulma pulled Perky away from Vegeta. "You better do as he says. Bra, baby, Mommy and Daddy are coming!"
"Please!" Perky shouted. "Bra is okay—"
Neither one of Bra's parents paid her any mind. Vegeta was the first to reach Bra's candy-pink bedroom door. He kicked her door open, and it was dangling off the hinges by the time Bulma and Perky caught up with him.
In the darkness, he saw Bra sitting on the lap of a strange, gigantic man. Vegeta slammed on the light switch and shouted, "RELEASE MY DAUGHTER NOW, YOU SON-OF-A-WHAT THE HELL?"
"Daddy?" Bra began timidly. "I'm-I'm okay now."
Vegeta did not reply. With his jaw dropped to his chest, he stood in place, frozen. Bulma's mouth was as open as her husband's. Perky remained the calmest of all, although even she was a bit startled by this unexpected visitor.
"Santa? You-you did make it," she whispered, amazed.
Santa Claus's belly rumbled, as he patted Bra on her back. "I got your message, Perky."
"What's going on here?" Bulma demanded to know, assuming her usual bossy persona.
"Perky." Vegeta turned towards her with dark, narrowed eyes. "Just how do you know this man?"
"He is Santa, Daddy!" Bra chirped. "The real Santa! He told me that Santa you beat up was just someone dressed up like him, and that you were just trying to protect me and Mommy when he said mean stuff about us."
Santa smiled. "That I did, and now little Bra here has something to tell you." Bra looked at him worriedly. He whispered some words into her ear, which made her smile. She slipped off of his lap and walked towards her father with her arms wide open.
"Daddy," she murmured. "I-I forgive you; it's okay. And I'm sorry that I stayed mad at you for so long."
Vegeta's jaw trembled; he had no words to describe the unusual rush of emotions coursing through him. Hesitantly, he bent towards his approaching daughter, and she came into his arms. He scooped her up and pressed her to him tightly; nothing short of death would make him release her.
"I love you, Daddy," Bra whispered. She did not notice her own tears mingling with the several that her father was secretly shedding.
Everyone remained quiet, and after what seemed to be an hour, Santa arose and spoke:
"Ladies, may I please be alone with Vegeta for a few minutes?"
"Uh-uh-huh." Bulma's astonishment had returned.
"Santa?" Perky asked, just a bit worriedly.
Santa smiled at her. "It will be fine, Perky, I promise. You have done wonderfully for your first assignment. Your teachers would be proud. I know I am."
"WHAT?" Vegeta and Bulma exclaimed. Bra only grinned.
"Didn't Perky tell you she was a real elf?"
"I did hint," Perky admitted.
"This is insane!" Vegeta hissed. "Are you certain this isn't some sort of prank you and this old man cooked up? Scaring my little girl like this, what the hell is wrong with the two of--"
"Vegeta." Perky's voice was reproachful. "I'll admit I have kept a few things from you, but I have never lied. Now you can be alone with Santa; he'll tell you everything."
"I intend to find out everything. No detail will be left out." Vegeta's expression was grim.
"Wow!" Bra exclaimed, as Vegeta handed her to her mother. "I can't believe that you're really an elf, and that the real Santa is in my room and my house!"
Perky cupped Bra's chin. "It's true, little Bra. And I'd like to tell you a secret before we go, okay?"
"Sure!" Bra was all smiles.
Perky whispered, "You really have a very good daddy, okay?"
Bra blushed. "I know."
"So, will you be nice to him from now on, and do what he says?"
Bra looked from Perky to her father to Santa. "Yes, ma'am."
"C'mon," Bulma ordered her firmly. "Let's go get you something to eat." She still wasn't certain that the stranger in her daughter's room was Santa, but she decided to allow her husband to have it out with this man.
Perky was twirling about on her toes, as she guided Bulma and Bra out of the bedroom. "I told everyone that he was real!" she declared.
Vegeta closed the door behind him, as Santa motioned for him to sit on Bra's bed. Vegeta was still suspicious of this man, but his curiosity had the best of him, and he was determined to find out just what was the actual deal with Perky and this "Santa".
"Perky better be telling the truth about you." Vegeta's arms were crossed, as he sat down.
Santa's expression was now grave. "She is. Vegeta, I usually don't make off-season visits like this, but Perky sent me an urgent message warning me that you were coming close to telling Bra that I didn't exist."
"Why shouldn't I have? She was furious because she was convinced that I attacked the real Santa. I was not going to be hated by my own daughter, no matter what!"
"Vegeta," Santa began calmly, "Bra never hated you. She was hurt and angry, yes, because you harmed someone she thought was a good man. Yes, she held on to her grudge for too long, and she and I talked about that. She understands now that you were just trying to protect her and her mother, and I hope that you understand now how important it is for you to control your temper."
"I do." Vegeta's voice was reluctant. "But I want to know how that moron, Roddy, or whatever his name is, wound up, as you that day."
"Vegeta, many men, and yes, some women, portray me, and I don't mind that, as long as they represent me well. Rodney didn't, but he was a sick man in need of help, and he's getting it now where he is. Actually, I paid him an off-season visit too, and I have a letter from him—"
"I'm not interested."
"Vegeta," Santa began warningly. "Your daughter forgave you; I believe that was what you wanted most for Christmas. Now you can return the favor, so I am insisting that you at least hear this letter."
"Fine." Vegeta did not look at Santa, as Santa began.
Dear Mr. Briefs,
I just want to say that I'm real sorry for how I treated you and your family. I was a bad Santa, but the real Santa came to me last night (I didn't believe he was real, at first, but he seemed real sincere). He showed me just how wrong I was. I shouldn't have talked about your kid and her momma like I did, and I hope someday you can forgive me. Even if you don't, it's okay; I just hope you and your family know how sorry I am.
This is a good place I'm in. Santa told me I'm doing just fine now, and that I got a good shot of staying off the booze. I've been sober for two weeks. Actually, you beating the crap out of me that day was the best thing that anyone's done for me in a long time. So, really, Mr. Briefs, I have to thank you, cause now I'm getting the help I need.
You and your family have a Merry Christmas.
Vegeta grunted. He still hadn't forgiven Rodney, but at least the fool had apologized, and he was fighting his weakness; it was a start.
"I hope he keeps his word," was all he would say.
"He will," Santa told him gently. "And I know that you and Bra will be better for this incident this month. Now, Vegeta, I had to intervene; I couldn't let you ruin Bra's childhood or take away her innocence."
"I couldn't get her to forgive me; what else was I supposed to do?"
"Wait it out. Trust me, even, if I hadn't come, Bra would have forgiven you in time. Children have a much easier time forgiving and forgetting than adults; that is part of what makes children wonderful."
"I suppose I'm on your naughty list for good."
Santa smiled again. "Nah; you're off my naughty list now. Yes, your behavior while you were disguised as me was…questionable at first, but Perky assured me you had the best of intentions. She told me of your kindness towards Janey, your protectiveness of Andrew and how you encouraged him to stand up for himself, and your telling a little dentist boy to follow his dreams…no matter how strange they might seem. She also mentioned your faithfulness to your wife, when Tommy's mother made a play for you, and how sad and remorseful you were about alienating Bra from you. Vegeta, for a former assassin and temperamental man, you're…" Santa winked.
"And now, Vegeta, I must go. And, oh, I must advise you not to eat too heavily Christmas Eve."
Santa chuckled. "Let's just say a certain…Saiyan with hair of fire wouldn't be pleased. Tell your wife she won't have to cook on Christmas Day."
Vegeta's smirk turned into a grin. "Gladly!"
"And when you wake up on Christmas, don't be surprised, if you find yourself just a bit stronger than before."
Vegeta pumped his fist. "Tell him I said thank you!"
Santa arose and strode towards the window. As he opened it, curls of wintry wind blew in. "And one last thing: would you do Santa a favor?"
Vegeta didn't look his way, but he was unusually jovial. "Suurre."
"Tell Goku to stop asking me to send him a strong opponent to fight! Earth has had more than enough trouble without another super-villain!"
Turning around, Vegeta chuckled. "He can face me. And also—"
Before he finished his sentence, Santa has disappeared. Not even his footprints remained. The icy wind continued to gust into Bra's room, before Vegeta finally closed the window.
The party was now coming to an end, and in the living room, Goku was about to teleport him and Chichi home, where Chichi's father awaited them, when Vegeta approached them.
He briefly told Goku Santa's message, and a disappointed Goku hung his head down.
Vegeta, however, favored him with a rare smile. "Kakarot," he said quietly. "I want you to know, that you're not the only Saiyan who believes in Santa."
"Really?" Goku's face was now brighter than any Christmas light. He ignored Chichi's clenched fists and tight expression.
"Your wife could learn something from you," Vegeta said wickedly. "But Kakarot…"
"I don't care how much you believe in Santa, but if you EVER sit in my lap again, even he and the threat of his naughty list won't be able to save you from me!"
"What?" Goku exclaimed. "Since when did I sit in your—"
"Goku, let's just go!" Chichi ordered.
"But Chichi, I never sat in--"
"Let's just go!"
Vegeta strolled downstairs to spend time with his wife and daughter after the party had ended. He had just remembered he was supposed to take Perky home. His family was sitting around the kitchen with Goten, whom Trunks had invited to stay the night.
"Where's Perky?" he asked. He wanted to thank her in private before he took her to her boarding house.
A puzzled Bulma sipped her cup of hot chocolate. "I-I don't know, Vegeta. She just thanked me for inviting her over. She told Bra that Santa would bring all she wanted, and that I would get out of cooking on Christmas Day. She also said something strange, even for her, something about asking you to say hi to the Dark Saiyan for her."
Vegeta chuckled, unusually good-naturedly.
"Where is she now?"
Goten scratched his head. "Trunks and I offered her a ride home, but she said no thanks, and said she already had one. But she left before you came downstairs."
"And she left with no coat!" Bra exclaimed. "She'll freeze to death."
Vegeta grinned and swept her up in his arms. "No, she won't!" He kissed his daughter on her cheek. "Trust me, she'll be just fine."
The next afternoon at work, Vegeta donned his Santa suit, with much less reluctance than usual. He still thought he looked like a fool, but at least it was for a good cause.
"Hiya…Vegeta, is it?"
Vegeta's mouth fell, as he saw a new elf—a three-hundred-plus woman looking like an overstuffed burrito in her costume.
"Who are you? Where in the hell is Perky?"
Stuckey came up behind her. "Oh, this is my cousin, Edna, Perky's replacement. Perky quit this morning. Didn't stay long either. Said some weird stuff that I didn't pay much attention to…only thing I really remember was that she said something about her 'work being done here'. Anyhow, Vegeta, she left a note for you. Kind of odd she left so fast, since she always said how much she enjoyed this job. C'mon, Edna, I'll show ya around." He slipped Vegeta the note, and he and Edna sauntered away.
Vegeta unfolded the note, feeling strangely sad, but yet not really surprised.
Dear Prince Vegeta,
I really have to tell you—I enjoyed working with you—I was never bored around you, that's for sure. Thanks for helping me pass my first assignment—Santa and my teachers were so proud! I wanted to stay with you through the holiday season, but there are other people who need me now—maybe I'll get to come back next Christmas!
Give Bulma and your kids a hug for me…pretty please!
P.S. A certain Saiyan with fire for hair says he's very proud of you. He said to keep up the good work.
Vegeta didn't smirk, as he folded the note and tucked it into his pocket. Instead, another un-Vegeta-like smile had formed.
As he walked out towards Santa's throne, he rubbed his hands, as his smile curled into a wicked grin. He saw the children eagerly rushing towards his chair.
"Oh, trust me, Perky and Dark Saiyan, I intend to."