"WOMAN! Where the hell are you?"
Vegeta scowled as he hunted the house for her. A slight bump on his road to Super Saiyan-dom had climaxed with the destruction of all of his training robots and a severe malfunction in the gravity machine... meaning it no longer worked. Usually when he broke something she was right there to chastise him for giving her and her father more work to do or to see if he was okay – as if he couldn't take a few minor explosions. In fact, lately she'd been underfoot even more than usual, so it was odd that he couldn't seem to find her anywhere now that he actually needed her. She hadn't been outside waiting for him to exit the smoke filled gravity chamber, she wasn't in the kitchen making him food (not that she ever was, but she should be), she wasn't even in her lab tinkering with some worthless invention of hers... he wasn't sure where else to look.
As he passed the entrance to one of her family's many living rooms, he pulled up short and took a step back to look inside. As it turned out, his eyes hadn't been playing tricks on him, there was indeed a large green tree sitting in the middle of the room.
Vegeta took a quick glance down the hall in either direction, for some reason feeling that he didn't want to be caught doing what he was about to do, and then stepped into the room for a better look.
What in the name of kami had possessed the humans to put a tree in the middle of their house? A quick check of the base revealed that the tree was not actually planted in the room, but was resting in some sort of base. So, not only had they put a tree in their house, but it was a tree that was going to die... what was the point?
Curiosity having driven his desire to get ol' what's-her-name to fix his training equipment from his mind, he hesitantly began examining the room more closely, glancing over his shoulder every couple of minutes to make sure no one saw him. He was growing ever more certain that the humans were either complete morons or trying to play a joke of some sort on him.
He hated being the butt of a joke.
A fireplace in the room had some sort of footwear hanging from it, each adorned with a family member's name... or at least he assumed that's whattheir names were. The first two names he didn't recognize as he was sure he'd either never heard the woman call either of her parents by their first name or never cared enough to remember if she had. Her name, Bulma, had been yelled around the house a number of times, most frequently by that annoying wannabe fighter with the long hair.
What was his name? Something about food... Muncha? Something like that, Vegeta didn't really care anyway.
His eyes turned to the last piece of footwear hanging above the hearth and he froze.
Someone had placed his name on one of these bizarre things? What were they thinking?
He leaned forward to examine it closer. The stitching around his name was atrocious. In the palace on Planet Vegeta a servant would have been beaten to within an inch of her life for such shoddy workmanship.
"Do you like it?"
Vegeta spun at the sound of the woman's voice, but relaxed when he saw it was only Bulma.
"Where have you been?" he demanded as a scowl crossed his face. "I was yelling for you, why didn't you answer?"
She scowled back as she placed her hands on her hips, the physical sign that she was going to scold him again, as if anything she said meant something to him.
"As it so happens, I was in my room and I didn't hear you," she retorted. "Believe it or not, I'm not some servant just waiting around to serve you on bended knee. I have a life outside of fixing your toys. I was in the middle of..."
Vegeta rolled his eyes as he tuned her out. Why did he put up with this? It just didn't make any sense. Less than a year ago, he would have killed any weakling who dared speak to him the way this woman did. Sure, she and her father were needed to fix the gravity machine, but he really only needed one of them, right? He could easily blast this shrew into the afterlife and then force her father to do what he wanted.
No, that wasn't true. As long as Kakarot was stronger, Vegeta would have to play nice with the silly human's the third-class liked so much... but when Kakarot's advantage was erased, things would be different.
He turned his attention back to the woman whose rant seemed to be dying down.
"...so stop being such a jerk!"
"Are you done?" his tone implied that he found whatever it was she'd just been saying incredibly boring, which would have been true if he'd actually bothered listening to her tirades anymore. "The gravity machine is broken... again. You or the old man need to fix it."
"Didn't you hear what I just said?"
Hmm, that wasn't good. Did she actually say something of some importance in the middle of all that finger wagging and shrill screaming?
"I told you Dad took mom shopping and I'm going out too, you'll just have to wait until one of us gets back."
Nope, nothing important, just more of her asinine ignoring of the android threat that the strange boy from the future had warned them about. "Fix the gravity machine; your stupid stores will still be there tomorrow... unless you keep pissing me off."
She ignored the threat as if he hadn't even said it. "No, I'm going shopping. It's Christmas tomorrow and I'm not going to blow off getting gifts for my friends because you keep breaking your toys."
He stared at her in confusion for a moment, trying to figure out what the hell she was talking about. "Kismos? What in kami's name is kismos?"
She gave him a confused look and then smiled. "First, it's Chr-ist-mas." She pronounced the word slowly and he gave serious consideration to knocking her through the wall for her insolence, but decided against it. "And Christmas is a holiday where friends get together and give each other gifts."
"Is that what the tree is, a gift?"
"No," she giggled, "that's where you put the gifts before you give them."
He expected her to yell, she usually did when he told her what he thought about just about everything she did, but this time she just kept smiling.
"Maybe, but it's fun. I'm getting you something too this year, you know."
"Why don't you just give me a fixed gravity machine and keep your idiotic gifts?"
"That's not a Christmas gift, I'd do that anyway... you'd whine too much if I didn't."
He glared at her, grinding his teeth at her insult and vowing once again to destroy her first once he was stronger than Kakarot. But, he wasn't there yet; her demise would have to be put on hold for a little while, at least while she was still useful.
He let out an annoyed huff and then asked, "What's with the socks?"
Her grin widened. "Do you like yours? I worked on it all day yesterday; it was the first one I've ever made."
She apparently missed that he was insulting the silly thing, because she practically beamed at his words. Perhaps she thought he was saying that her hard work was what showed? He made a mental note not to overestimate her species intelligence anymore.
"So..." she shuffled her feet in a way that made him think she was actually nervous, though he was sure it wasn't something he'd ever seen her do, "since the gravity machine is broken and Dad and I can't fix it today, does that mean you don't have anything else to do today?"
He shrugged without thinking, with the gravity room out of the question and the snow and cold making outdoor training more of a waste of time than anything else, he really didn't have much to do. Of course, he should have said that he had plenty to do; because she was obviously asking a leading question, but he was still wondering why a race of beings that seemed moderately intelligent at times (present company being an exception) would celebrate such a useless holiday and wasn't really paying attention.
"Great!" she said enthusiastically, alerting him to the fact that he had apparently agreed to do something she liked – a concept he had always studiously avoided as best he could. "Then you're free to come shopping with me."
"Wha—? No! I'm not doing any such thing! I am a saiyan, the Prince of all Saiyans, we don't shop!"
She had already started towards the doorway, but stopped and looked back at his words. "Then how do you get things?"
"We take them."
"So you pillage?"
He shrugged, "Call it what you will. A saiyan doesn't need 'things,' he needs only his strength, with that, he can get anything else he wants."
"Well, this is just like that," she replied as she started to leave again, "except instead of strength we'll be using our platinum MasterCard and instead of taking things we'll be paying for them."
"That doesn't sound at all like the same thing."
"Maybe not," her voice called from the hallway, "but there will be a battle or two to be had today, trust me, you'll like it. Go get changed into some real cloths."
Though he didn't trust her as far as he could through her (which was pretty far), the idea of a battle was quite appealing. Though it went against his better judgment, he headed upstairs to his room to get some clean clothes... after all, he really didn't have anything better to do until she fixed the gravity machine and any battle, no matter how trivial was better than sitting around waiting for her to return.
"Do you think Krillin would like this shirt?"
Vegeta glared at her with a loathing that could not possibly be expressed fully in words, his arms laden with several bags that represented her success during the last few hours. This was what she considered fun? Was she a sadist? "I think baldy would prefer a toupee."
She tsked his remark, examined the nice shirt one more time and then handed it the saiyan. "It'll look nice on him, now we just need to find something for Gohan and... uh... I guess that's it..."
"What about that pathetic simpleton that's always clinging to your skirt?"
Bulma's eyes fell to the floor and she bit her lip nervously, another mannerism he'd never seen her display before and found incredibly annoying, the only reason she was even remotely more interesting than every other being on the planet except for Kakarot was her spunk.
"We... he and I aren't... we're taking a break… besides, I got him something earlier."
His expression clearly displaying his indifference to the state of her love life.
She was strangely quite for a moment longer and then seemed to snap out of it as she turned and walked to the checkout line.
Vegeta watched her walk away with an oddly thoughtful expression, one eyebrow raised questioningly over her actions and then he shrugged and followed after her, just far enough back as to make it clear that he wasn't some puppy following at her heel.
He entered the next store and stared in amazement at the pandemonium inside. Humans everywhere were pushing and shoving against each other, sometimes snatching packages out of each other's hands, other times screaming at one another over some perceived offense. Vegeta felt distinctly torn between the desire to yell at all of them to shut up and the desire to laugh at their idiocy.
"I told you there'd be a battle today," Bulma whispered softly in his ear, sending an unpleasant shiver down his spine.
His dark eyes observed the mob for a moment longer before he turned to her and said, "This isn't a battle, this is just a bunch of weaklings fighting over some worthless trinkets."
"Well, if you're scared of going in, then I guess I'll have to do it," Bulma replied with an exaggerated sigh. "I want to get Gohan one of those Zerkon robots, apparently they're all the rage for kids Gohan's age and Chi-Chi never lets him have anything fun like that."
"He's a saiyan. He doesn't need toys, he needs to train."
"All children need toys," Bulma shot back, "even saiyans."
"Unless some previously unknown saiyan comes waltzing into your life looking to procreate, you'll never know what a saiyan child needs."
The aqua haired woman gave him a sour look and then started making her way into the crowd to try and get her hands on the toy she sought. Vegeta watched with disinterest, wondering why he'd ever agreed to come with her in the first place.
It only took a moment before the trouble started – and really, Vegeta was sort of surprised that it took that long. Shortly after Bulma reached the shelf holding the prize she was after, another woman grabbed the item in the Capsule Corp. heiress's hands and refused to let go. That began a rather heated shouting match which degenerated into an even more heated shoving match, and then a large man – Vegeta assumed it must be the second woman's mate – arrived, pulling the toy out of Bulma's hands and handing it to his wife as he pushed Bulma away.
The bags that Vegeta had been holding landed with a thud as he began stalking towards the scuffle.
After only a few steps, he glanced over his shoulder at a teenager who was peeking into the bags with far more interest than he should have been.
The teen's hand was starting to descend towards the items in the bags when suddenly a beam of light scorched the ground at his feet. His eyes went wide in surprise and then rose to where the Saiyan Prince was pointing a finger at him with a murderous glare on his face. The teen gave a small, terrified nod he backed away from the bags and then turned and fled while Vegeta continued of his quest.
"That's mine! Get your own, jerk!" Bulma yelled as she followed the couple towards the checkout line. "Hey, give that back!" she grabbed hold of the man's arm and attempted to spin him around.
The man came around and so did his fist, connecting squarely with her jaw and laying her out flat. He seemed stunned by what he had just done, probably not even sure if he'd really meant to strike her or if he'd just been trying to scare her. After looking down at her for a few seconds he appeared to decide that what was done was done and turned to leave, bumping into a scowling short man with a ridiculous haircut.
The dark orbs of Vegeta's eyes took in the entire scene in a glance, Bulma lying on the ground with a dark spot forming on her face and the man and his wife trying to move away from her before their crime was pinned on them. The saiyan's blood boiled.
It was one thing to beat an opponent in a fight, but to strike such a weakling as the woman over a little toy? That was unforgivable.
"You will give the woman back that item, right now," he growled threateningly.
"Look buddy," the large man replied without flinching, "my kid's been bugging me all month for that stupid thing. So you and your little girlfriend are just going to have to go find another one somewhere else." He tried to step around the Saiyan Prince, but Vegeta's powerful hand caught him by the shirt and spun him around.
"You're lucky I don't kill you for insinuating that I want to touch that… female. Now give it back, I won't ask again."
The man, looking much more sure of himself than he had when he'd hit Bulma, threw a punch at Vegeta's face.
The saiyan's hand intercepted it with plenty of room to spare and began to squeeze, driving the man to his knees. He smiled, now THIS was his kind of shopping. The man cried out in pain as Vegeta prepared to break his hand, his wife jumped on the Saiyan Prince's back and began hitting him, but he didn't even seem to notice.
Vegeta didn't exactly stop, but he didn't squeeze any harder either, as the smile on his face fell and his usual annoyed scowl returned.
"Just get Gohan's present and let him go."
"Must you ruin all my fun?" Vegeta asked as his grip relaxed, with a shrug of his shoulders, the woman on his back was dropped unceremoniously on her butt. The saiyan reached down, snatched the toy robot out of her hands with a contemptuous glare, and then tossed it to Bulma.
Bulma paid for the toy while Vegeta went and collected the bags, which had remained untouched, and then the two headed out into the cold December air.
A few minutes later, Bulma wasn't feeling very well and the seemingly-fruitless search for her car wasn't improving things. Her chin was throbbing and her head was aching and for the life of her she couldn't remember where she'd parked. The natural thing to do would be to tell Vegeta he would have to fly them home, but she wasn't sure she could do that. He hadn't exactly been Mr. Sunshine all day and she'd basically tricked him into coming as it was.
He would probably take her home, she was his key to keeping the gravity room up and running after all, but he'd also make sure to tell her what a chore it was dealing with a 'weakling' like her. He'd come to her rescue once already that day, she wasn't going to ask him to do so again, she'd just keep looking…
"Where's the car, woman?"
"It's around here somewhere… give me a minute to think."
"If you're going to be thinking, this will take a lot longer than a minute."
"Shut up." Truthfully he was more right than he knew, thinking was becoming difficult. Her head was getting worse and the cool air she'd thought would do her some good seemed to be having the opposite effect on her.
She took another few steps, rubbing her temples in hopes of relieving some of the pain and then felt herself stumble as her vision swam before her eyes. She managed one more stumbling step and began to fall…
And then she was floating.
No, not floating, flying. For the briefest of moments, Bulma was confused, and then she glanced up and found Vegeta's face only from her own. He was studiously not looking at her, his dark eyes staring straight ahead as he cut through the air holding her and all of her bags as if they weighed nothing.
They flew in silence for a minute before Bulma finally forced herself to whisper, "Thank you."
Vegeta grunted – a contemptuous grunt, at that – but said nothing.
Bulma didn't seem satisfied by his response or her thanks so she murmured, "This is really… really… sweet of you."
The Saiyan Prince glared down at her, considering her words, and then said, "Don't think I'm doing this for you. Your father would probably have been a bit putout if I'd left you in the snow with all of your ridiculous purchases. I need one of you to fix the gravity machine and for some indiscernible reason he seems to like you, he might have become uncooperative if I'd let you die."
His words were calculated to both insult her and explain away his own actions; naturally he was trying to pick a fight with her. She, for some reason, didn't seem to grasp the concept choosing to smile at him instead of yelling.
"Of course," she whispered, "I understand." And then she snuggled closer to his chest and closed her eyes for the rest of the trip. A muscle in Vegeta's jaw flexed and he made it a point not to look at her or even acknowledge her actions.
They landed outside the building and Vegeta carried her and her packages up to the strange room with the dying tree and odd footwear and dumped them all onto the couch before vanishing from the room.
That night, after all of the gifts had been sent to or picked up by their intended recipient, Bulma sat alone on the couch that Vegeta had dropped her and stared at the dying fire in the fireplace. She hadn't seen the saiyan since they'd gotten back from shopping and a part of her wondered where he'd hidden himself… and why.
The obvious reason for 'why' was because she'd forced him to spend an inordinate amount of time doing something he hated that day and didn't want to give her a chance to do so again, but she prayed that wasn't it.
She wasn't sure why, but she hoped that somewhere deep, deep, deep, deep down, Vegeta had enjoyed spending time with her, because she really did want them to be friends. He was rude, arrogant and even a bit crass at times, and perhaps, maybe just a little good-looking, but she was sure he was lonely, even if he wouldn't admit it. After all, everyone needed friends, right? She was Goku's first friend and look at how he turned out, so perhaps if she was Vegeta's friend he'd be a little nicer.
"You know, I didn't think it possible, but that bruise on your face makes you look even more hideous than before."
She turned and found him standing in the corner, arms folded as always, watching her. "If you want, you can come sit over here," she said, patting the couch cushion next to her.
He snorted and smirked, but did not make a move to join her.
"I got you a present," she offered as further incentive to join her, though the privilege of sitting next to a beautiful girl like her should have been incentive enough.
"Because… because you're my friend."
"I am?" he asked in a mocking voice. "What gave you that idea?"
"If you weren't my friend you wouldn't have come with me today," she flashed him a smirk that was identical to the one he always gave her.
"I was bored and you wouldn't fix the gravity machine… plus you promised that there'd be a battle."
"Maybe, but you also helped me get Gohan's present back," she countered.
"I just wanted to do some fighting today, since the battle you promised was more of a girlish slapping match."
"You carried me home," she pointed out next.
"I need you to keep your old man fixing the gravity machine," he quickly retorted.
Bulma frowned and stared at him for a long time before asking, "Is it so bad? Having a friend? Is it that horrible? Am I that horrible?"
Vegeta grunted and looked away. "I don't need friends, I only need power."
Bulma nodded silently and then said, "That must be very lonely."
"Shut up, no one asked you."
She assumed that he would leave after that, but when she looked back up, he was still there, staring at the wall opposite her. With a flick of her wrist, she sent his gift sailing through the air right at his face.
It crashed into his forehead with a loud 'thunk.'
"What the hell was that for?" he yelled, glaring daggers at her.
"Well," she replied with a laugh that informed him she wasn't very scared by his 'bad man' face, "I thought you saiyans had quick reflexes. I'm sure Goku would have caught it."
"Kakarot is an idiot; you can't hurt him by hitting him in the head!"
Bulma screwed up her face to angrily defend her friend, but found she couldn't really think of anything to say. "Maybe," she was eventually forced to concede, "but he was smart enough to become a Super Saiyan before you."
Vegeta was in front of her face before she even realized that she'd hit him where it hurt most. "Kakarot won't be the only Super Saiyan for long!" he snapped. "And once I've surpassed him…" his voice trailed off, but she was plenty ready to pick up his rant for him.
"You're going to make us all pay, blah, blah, death, destruction, blah, blah, blah, I know. I've heard."
His rage momentarily robbed him of his ability to speak. His mouth opened several times and veins popped out on his forehead and neck, but all of the expletives he had prepared for her seemed to have gotten stuck inside his throat.
"Well, while you're waiting around to kill us, you could open your present," she teased.
Vegeta gave her another scowl and then tore into the gift, pulling out a pink, flower-print Hawaiian shirt a second later. "Is this a joke?" he demanded.
"I just figured since you liked your other pink shirt so much, I'd get you another so you'd have more than one nice shirt to wear. Now you have some choices in the morning," she giggled.
"I've killed people for lesser offenses than this!"
"But you won't kill me, we're friends."
He stared at her and then shook his head in wonder. "You have got to be the most idiotic, self-assured female I've ever met."
"I know. That's why you like me so much."
Vegeta rolled his eyes and started to walk out of the room, but was stopped when Bulma called out, "Wait, I'm going to bed too."
With much muttering – and even more questioning of why he let her get away with giving him orders – he waited for her to rise and walk next to him. As they stepped through the doorway, Bulma paused and looked up. "Mistletoe."
She pointed to the green leaves that someone had pinned above the doorway, drawing his attention to it. "It's mistletoe."
She scratched her head and grinned in a very Goku-esc manner. "Traditionally, two people caught under the mistletoe have to kiss."
Vegeta was still looking up at the odd – and in his opinion, rather ugly – plant. "That's stupid. Why would these leaves force people to do such a thi—"
He'd turned his head towards her as he asked the question, but was cut off as her lips touched his. His whole body froze and his eyes went wide in surprise.
For nearly a minute they stood there like that, her lips on his, her hands on his chest, his hands at his sides, his eyes wide open, and then Bulma backed away. "Sorry," she whispered as a light blush appeared on her cheeks. "Tradition, you know?"
His eyes remained wide for a moment longer and then his body relaxed. "R… right… tradition. Don't do it ever again."
"It's just a Christmas thing, it'll be down tomorrow."
The remained in the doorway, both looking awkward and unsure of what to say next. Finally Bulma opened her mouth, but before any words could come out someone else spoke first.
They turned and found Yamcha standing in the hallway, a dozen roses in his hand and an apologetic smile on his face. The human warrior's eyes narrowed at the sight of Vegeta standing so close to Bulma, but his attention quickly returned to the aqua-haired woman.
"I'm sorry about… you know… earlier. You were right, I was being a jerk."
Bulma looked questioningly at Vegeta, though what question she was asking him was a mystery to him.
Vegeta gave her a blank look and then said, "Well, well, well, what a surprise. The weakling comes crawling back." He began to chuckle, "Too bad he took so damn long, if he'd been hear earlier I wouldn't have had to waste my time with you today." He folded his arms across his chest and wandered off down the hall.
Yamcha's angry retort was silenced when he noticed the expression on Bulma's face as she stared after the short saiyan. "What was that all about?" he asked with a hint of concern and perhaps even jealousy in his voice.
Bulma was quiet for a moment longer and then turned and flashed her boyfriend a smile that informed him that she was in a forgiving mood. "Nothing. Merry Christmas, Yamcha. Wait here, I'll get you your present."
A/N: First off, I hope I haven't offended anyone by making this a story in which the sole reason behind Christmas is the giving and receiving of presents. I am well aware of the true reason for the season (being a Christian myself), but in Dragonball Z there doesn't really appear to be any sort of organized religion (and the Z Fighters do know several deities), so rather than insert it, I just left it a secular holiday. Also, I should probably apologize for the complete pointlessness of this story. It seemed like a good idea when I started writing it, but it just seemed to drag out way too long. I've never written a one shot before, so if it seemed to just meander along, I blame it on a lack of experience. Still, I hope you all enjoyed it. Merry slightly-belated Christmas!