Encounters:

Contact

Disclaimer - I do not own, nor have I ever owned Dragonball Z in any form. I just like to play in their world.

"So, you want me to say something intelligent, do you?" Bulma said in a tight, strained voice, her blue eyes sparking with fury as they met his darkly sardonic ones.

"If you can." Vegeta responded, the corner of his mouth twitching into that consistent expression of disdain he always wore. "Which I doubt. It would be a welcome surprise."

"All right." Bulma planted her feet solidly and crossed her arms. Her brows creased. "You are nothing more than an arrogant, manipulative, short alien creature having a constant bad hair day. You have delusions of grandeur, and questionable taste. Your manners are non-existent. You have no class, no polish and no sense of style. No one likes you. You live on charity because you have nowhere to go. You don't contribute anything to anyone for your keep, yet you expect to be fed, clothed and housed in comfort. In short, you are nothing more than a self- indulgent leech." She uncrossed her arms and stabbed her forefinger into the center of his chest. "So, Mr. I am the Prince of all Saiyans, bringing you back was the biggest mistake we ever made with the dragonballs."

"If you're expecting an apology, you'll wait a long time." He said coldly, even though his eyebrows had steadily risen during her clipped statement.

"No, I don't expect an apology." Bulma said, drawing back her finger. "That would be way too much. That would mean you would have to act like a rational being, which, for all of your boasted powers, you are incapable of doing. Why don't you just fly off and kill something. It's what you're best at, isn't it?"

"I am a warrior. I am not a politician or a diplomat." Vegeta snarled.

"You are a spoiled brat, pretending to be an adult. You beat up little kids. You are insanely jealous of Goku, the nicest guy there is. You ridicule others who aren't quite as strong as you. You have to be the best, the strongest, the most powerful or you have a temper tantrum. Grow up, Vegeta! The real world isn't always about who can beat up who." Bulma turned away, his sour look affecting her in a strange way. She should hate him, this evil Saiyan who tried to kill them all at one time, and who now was trapped on earth with them by a trick of fate and wording. But, as much as she wanted to hate him, a part of her ached with the hope he would listen for once and try to at least understand. She didn't know why it mattered, only that she felt a whisper of compassion for this lonely, isolated man, despite his past.

"You have lived a sheltered life then. In my world, that is exactly what real life is about." He said, features taut. "We learned that early." Bulma turned back to face him, her eyes wide, an expression in them that mystified him.

"I forgot." She said in a low voice. He found that the look in her eyes was beginning to make him nervous. He stepped back a pace. Bulma lowered her gaze. "Goku told me…."

"That is an explanation, not an apology." He broke in. "You may have domesticated Kakarot, like some lapdog, but I refuse to give up my pride just to fit in on this mud ball."

"Goku is happy. That is something I don't think you even know how to be." Bulma snapped back, her brief moment of sympathy dying at his arrogant tone. "That is, if you aren't in the process of beating someone to a pulp."

"Being happy is not a worthy goal to have in life." His chin went up as he crossed his arms.

"And being a miserable outcast is? Boy, Vegeta, you really have your priorities messed up." Bulma sniffed. She waved one arm towards the blue sky. "Why don't you just take off and go to some planet where they like bloodthirsty, selfish pirates?"

"I will, as soon as I have a spacecraft." Vegeta said.

"Well, since you're a charity case, I guess you'll have to wait for awhile." Bulma responded.

"This is an absurd conversation." He turned to walk away.

"At least it's a conversation!" Bulma said sharply. "It's better than your insane laugh and taunting words when you think you are impressing people. You just don't get it, Vegeta. People here would rather like you than hate you. Maybe you grew up in an atmosphere of hate, and I don't doubt it. But why must you try to make enemies?

"I learned long ago not to trust anyone." Vegeta looked over his shoulder at her. That look was still hovering in her eyes. It gave him a chill. "The only security is power and strength. That is something you will never understand."

"Maybe not. But, I'm sorry you feel like that. You might have a chance to start over here, to live a different kind of life." Bulma sighed. "No one wants to try to "tame" you, or "domesticate" you. It would just be nice if you would make an effort to be civil now and then, especially to people that are helping you. I'm sure you could be if you tried. In fact, if you put half the effort into it as you put into training, I'll bet you could be drop- dead charming." It came out. It wasn't meant to. Bulma felt her face go suddenly hot as a flush spread over her cheeks and down her neck. And, of course, he had turned to look at her. There was no doubt that he saw it. His gaze stayed on her, unblinking, for way too long. Then his lips curved, not just the one corner, but both. A real smile, not the twisted scorn she usually saw, flickered on his features for an instant. The dark eyes glittered. Her breath caught in her throat. He looked so...different.

"I'm a prince, Bulma. I can be charming if I choose." His voice was silky and low. Before she could move, he had stepped forward, reaching out with one hand and grasping hers, lifting it. His lips brushed the back of her hand like a whisper as he bent slightly over it. The contact was electric, sweeping up her arm. He straightened, and his eyes met hers for a moment, her hand still clasped in his.

Then, he released her hand, turned and walked away without another word. Bulma stared after him, lips parted but no words spilling out. She had never been speechless before. She could still feel the warmth of his hand holding hers, and the back of her hand burned with the memory of that touch. Her mouth was dry, and her throat was tight. He turned a corner and was gone. She let out a breath she wasn't aware she'd been holding.

"Damn it, Vegeta. What… just happened?" She whispered to herself.