Author's Note: I came up with this idea a long time ago, and typed up a brief synopsis and left it to sit on my computer along with a multitude of other stories (Pasta anyone?). As Ada has taken over my life (She claims she hasn't, but don't trust her), I haven't done much fanfiction writing lately. Then one day, about two months ago, this diddy reared its head again and decided it must be written. Of course, like all my stories, I got to the last page and lost interest (because of Ada, stupid bitch). So tonight, I made my self sit down and write that last bit. And here we have it, another adventure into the imagination of an overworked, underpaid wannabe writer with aliens on the brain. So for those of you who read Author's notes I hope you enjoy it.
By the way, I apologise for any mistakes in the author's notes and the last page. I was writing it with only one contact in, because one eye keeps playing up and I haven't got my glasses yet.
I hate being blind ;(
Without further ado…
All Bets Off
The explosion ripped through the complex much like it did any other week. The foundations shook. Plaster powder dusted the rooms. The generator surged and overloaded two hundred computers. Lights flicked and turned off.
Bulma Briefs screamed.
If the explosions weren't a regular occurrence, one could be mistaken for believing she was screaming out of fear, concern, even horror at what could have possibly caused such a devastating eruption.
But she was very much screaming out of frustration.
Three months. He had said it would take three months, tops.
He was wrong.
She could have handled three months. Three months of earthquake proportioned explosions. Three months of being insulted, annoyed, provoked, frustrated, outraged, infuriated, hurt…
You get the general idea.
She could have handled three months of living with a man whose ego rivalled that of most movie stars (though perhaps he had a more legitimate reason to have such an ego).
But three months was one thing. Thirteen months was another thing altogether.
Thirteen months was over a year. Thirteen months was the equivalent of about four hundred days. Four hundred days was the equivalent of nearly ten thousand hours.
Ten thousand agonising hours. The most painful ten thousand hours of her goddamn life. She had spent thirteen months of what could possibly be the last three years of her life with that…man. She could have used plenty of words to describe him but none of them were G rated.
She waited in the dark for ten minutes. The complex was uncharacteristically quiet after the explosion - a silence like poisonous gas, deadly and oppressive. But that was to be expected of silence.
It would take him three minutes to regain consciousness and pull himself out of the wreckage. It would take a further four minutes for him to survey the damage to himself and the machinery. And it would take the final three minutes for him to drag his bleeding ass to her lab on the lower ground floor.
She counted down the seconds of the final minute. She could hear his footsteps, slower than normal but no less foreboding.
The door to the lab swung open, clutching precariously to its hinges.
'WOMAN! That damn machine broke again.'
Act calm. Act calm. Count to ten. Breathe.
'The machine didn't break itself, Vegeta. You broke it.'
She swivelled in her chair to face him. In the dark, he kind of looked like a villain from a bad Batman movie (Was there a good one, she wondered vaguely). The whole flame silhouette hair and dark features. The only catch was the fact that his immeasurable strength and power was very real.
Hence, the explosion.
At her accusation of his part in the devastation, he presented her with an expression caught between disbelief and aggression. It almost looked painful.
'The only fault lies in the hands of that machine's creator,' he insisted, upon deciding that aggression was the way to go.
She rolled her eyes. Of course, it was her fault. What an old argument this was.
She sighed. 'Must we have this argument again? Can we not just agree to disagree?' It was a fair request considering they both knew that the blame lay quite comfortably in his hands.
Vegeta crossed his arms across his chest, looking insulted. Blood dripped slowly on the tiles, like a broken tap. Even in the dark, a deep bloodied gouge in his right arm was noticeable. 'I will not agree to disagree with a mere human. I would not even agree to disagree with a Saiyan of the highest class. I do not have to agree to disagree with anyone because I am-'
'I know, I know, I know.' Because he was the prince of the Saiyan race and he answered to no one, blah, blah, blah. Like she hadn't heard that ridiculous speech on more than one occasion. Sometimes she got really sick of swallowing her pride for the sake of a semi pleasant existence.
'Look, fine, no agree to disagree. Perhaps you could clean yourself up first, and I could get the lights back on and some of the computers up, and then we can discuss the gravity machine.' They could at least compromise, could they not?
He studied her for a moment, as if deducing whether or not her surrender was genuine. Finally, he grunted in assent, turned and left her to the dark room, slamming the fragile door on his way out. It groaned dangerously but held.
She should have known all those thirteen months ago that this would be the way things would go. They were alien to one another, and with that came all the differences in culture and tradition, in social class and standing, in gender roles and respect.
As the proud prince of the mighty, and practically extinct, Saiyan race, Vegeta had probably never expected that he would be forced to share quarters (or a house anyway) with her, the heiress to the most successful technology company on Earth. She was stubborn, she knew it, but she was not about to bow down to his sexist and elitist views on how a house (and society) should be run. She had taken him in because he had nowhere else to go, mostly due to the fact that no one else would take him. On top of that, she knew that if someone didn't offer him a place there would be hell to pay. And if not that, they would be one down in the ever nearer battle with the Androids.
When the boy from the future (whose name they had never received) had warned them of the evil Androids hell bent on killing her best friend Goku, and pretty much everyone who stood in their way, she had been forced to swallow her pride. As much as a part of her did not want to be walked all over by the stubborn alien, she liked living just a little too much.
That was not to say that they had not had their fair share of fights. She wasn't going to be a doorstop by any stretch of the imagination. To his credit, Vegeta had pretty much stayed out of the way, besides the weekly explosions. He had been training to the point of insanity; she could not fault him there.
Unfortunately, Vegeta was taking the fact that he had failed to achieve the status of Super Saiyan very badly. His three month deadline had evidently come and gone, and his rivalry with Goku had quite firmly crossed the line from jealously to outright hatred. As the only other full blooded Saiyan in existence (and therefore Vegeta's only true subject) Goku's ascension to the legendary Super Saiyan, a physical and mental power beyond comprehension, had infuriated Vegeta.
The gravity machine, the same machine Vegeta had just destroyed (at least in part) again, allowed him to train at a higher force of gravity than that which they experienced on Earth. Vegeta's destroyed home planet (quite appropriately named Vegeta) had experienced gravity ten times that of Earth, and the gravity machine's capability allowed him to train at an ever increasing level of gravity. It made him stronger, faster and generally, more powerful. But it had yet to yield the Super Saiyan status he so craved.
The downside to Vegeta's feverous training was the fact that the gravity machine was beginning to strain. Though it was made of a furiously tough alloy of her own invention, it was only metal. Vegeta's fierce grenades of concentrated energy eventually forced that metal to buckle. And whilst Bulma's father, the founder of the family's vast conglomerate, Capsule Corporation, could have as successfully repaired the machine as she could, Vegeta's patience only stretched so far. He did not take well to her father.
Ultimately, the problem was not really the machine or her father or even Vegeta. The problem lay in the fact that, like Vegeta, Bulma's patience was only so elastic. If she had to spend another day repairing that damn machine, no matter whose fault its condition was, she would be forced to beat the Androids to her own death.
Vegeta returned within an hour, his wounds cleaned and bound, as surly as ever. A minute spent doing anything but training, eating or sleeping was a wasted minute.
'You have to fix that stupid machine.'
Bulma ran a hand through her cerulean hair and squeezed her azure eyes shut. Maybe she could pretend he wasn't there, though now that the lights were back on, he cast a short but ominous shadow across the room. If she just got out there and had a look at it, she would be that much closer to getting the job done.
'Fine, show me the damage.' She swivelled in her chair and stood, only just shorter than him. He turned and led the way out the door, down a corridor, up a flight of stairs, down another corridor and finally, out into the sun soaked green yard. She blinked as her eyes adjusted, practically tiptoeing towards the looming machine. She was terrified of what havoc he had caused this time.
At the doorway of the machine, Vegeta slammed the press button with his fist several times before it began to grind open. Bulma held her breath. Lights flickered on and the pressure engine began to whirr. She let out a breath.
Then, with a sudden whining hiss, the pressure engine exploded.
Bulma squealed and ducked her head under her arm. She slipped back behind Vegeta, who seemed content with putting himself in the path of flying shards of metal. The lights of the gravity machine flickered erratically, as metal ricocheted off the walls.
'Bloody hell, what did you do, Vegeta?' Bulma demanded angrily when she finally found her voice, moments later. The flying metal had settled, and the lights had flickered off helpfully. She shoved past him and tiptoed across the dark floor, trying to avoid the debris. At the centre of the machine, a hub that housed the pressure engine and control panel looked rather worse for the wear. On the other side of the hub, sunshine beamed in through a whole in the roof of the machine. Obscure shadows danced above their heads.
Once again, Vegeta didn't take well to being blamed for the explosion.
'It's not my fault,' he insisted, offended. 'If you'd just build a machine that had stamina.'
She rolled her eyes. 'It's a machine, Vegeta. It's just metal and copper and glass, and unfortunately there is nothing stronger I can make it out of.'
'On planet Vegeta-'
'I don't give a damn what you had on bloody planet Vegeta,' she snapped heatedly, turning to face him. 'This isn't goddamn planet Vegeta. This is Earth, and if you don't like, then why don't you just bloody leave.'
Vegeta looked mildly taken aback, but she wasn't done yet.
'You know, 'cause I spend at least one whole day a week fixing this goddamn machine, 'cause you keep breaking it. I have other things to do with my time, Vegeta. I have a company to run. And if don't run that company, you won't eat. You won't have no damn gravity machine. I am sick of how ungrateful and selfish you are. And if you think it's so damn bloody easy, why don't you fix it?' She threw him a scathing look and turned back to the hub, glaring at the melted and twisted control panel.
'Why should I have to fix the machine?' he asked, as audacious and arrogant as ever.
She snorted. 'You wouldn't know how to fix this machine.'
If there was one thing about Vegeta she should have known after all this time, it was that he took everything as a challenge.
'And if I was to fix this machine, what would you do for me?' he asked, smug and confident as if her repair work was as easy as blasting a few villains into oblivion.
She turned around and crossed her arms over her chest, mirroring his stance. Perhaps in hind sight she should have pointed out all the things she already did for him but…
'If you fixed this machine,' she repeated, brow raised. He nodded.
'If you could seriously fix this machine.' He nodded again, confident bastard.
'If you could fix this machine, I'd…I'd…' she struggled to think of something. 'I'd sleep with you,' she said triumphantly, prodding his chest with a finger. 'That's how confident I am that you wouldn't be able to fix this damn thing.'
Vegeta regarded her for a moment, but she was too busy congratulating herself on being so damn ingenious.
'Fine,' he agreed. 'Deal.' He extended a hand for her to shake.
'Deal.' She took his hand and shook it. 'And if you can't fix it,' she added, 'no gravity machine for a week.' Vegeta nodded in agreement. She let go of his hand, sidestepped him and began towards the door.
'By the way,' she called out at the door. 'There's all the tools you'll need in a storage lab on the ground floor, and you can turn off the electricity flow to the pressure engine via the circuit board on the west side of the main building. It's near the window that looks into Dad's office.' With that, she turned and left the damaged gravity machine, marching purposefully back into the house.
She was in the kitchen, halfway through making lunch, when the gravity of her actions hit her. She had just agreed to have sex with Vegeta. What had she been thinking? What if, by some random stroke of luck, he managed to fix the gravity machine? She'd actually have to sleep with him. Sleep with him! The notion was ridiculous.
But then again, she thought trying to stay rational, what were the chances that he would actually manage to fix the damn machine? He'd practically destroyed the entire pressure engine; she wasn't even sure she could fix it. And even if he got close, it'd probably take him days and he'd get impatient and pass the job back over to her. There was simply no way he could possibly have the expertise or patience to fix that damn thing. He'd last a day or two, tops. She had nothing to worry about.
Lunch left forgotten, Bulma stared out the window, pondering her concerns and berating her rashness. There was no way he would be able to fix the machine. And why would he want to have sex with her? Even if he did manage to fix it. She was a human; she wasn't even good enough to associate with him. Wasn't that what he was always saying?
She considered going out to see how he was going, but just the thought that he might actually be making some progress scared her off. Besides, he'd only been out there an hour or two. It would have taken him that long just to assess the damage and decide what needed to be done.
The more she rationalised it, the calmer she got. He was such a brute; there was no way he would be able to handle the intricate technical process that was involved in rewiring the pressure engine to the control panel. She was glad now that she had never shown him how any of the delicate mechanics worked.
After finally having lunch, Bulma returned to her lab to start working on getting the remaining hundred plus computers back up. It only took her about an hour, but the sudden overload had knocked out several crucial programs that had been running at the time. She spent well into the night re-establishing links that had been disconnected and rewriting programs that had been wiped. She was unimpressed, not to mention tired and hungry, when she glanced at the clock to see that it was one thirty in the morning. Whilst she had fixed most of the problems, she had practically wasted an entire day on the stupid prince.
Heading into the kitchen to get something to eat before going to bed, she was surprised to see Vegeta sitting at the bench, inhaling food like no tomorrow.
'Given up already?' she asked Vegeta, sleepily. He stopped vacuuming his food for a moment, glancing at her with briefly unhidden surprise.
'I don't give up,' he declared haughtily. Bulma nodded absently, gazing into the fridge.
'Sorry, I forgot.'
Vegeta returned to inhaling his food.
'You know, though,' Bulma said, putting a bowl of leftovers in the microwave. 'If you do decide you don't want to do it, I will take over. I don't really mind.'
'And sacrifice a week of training?'
'Well, I guess we could just drop the details.'
Vegeta raised an eyebrow, looking faintly amused. 'Oh, you're not getting out of this one, woman.'
Bulma rolled her eyes. 'Who said I was trying to get out of it?'
Vegeta shrugged. 'It's written all over your face.'
Bulma pulled the bowl from the microwave. Well, it had been worth a try.
'Whatever you reckon, Vegeta,' she said, turning to the prince. She grabbed cutlery out of a draw and made her way towards the stairs. 'Night.' Vegeta grunted in response.
Bulma wasn't sure what Vegeta did after she left the kitchen that night, but when she trudged back down there the next morning, he was nowhere to be found. Whether he was still attempting to fix the machine or had given up and left the planet, remained to be seen.
She ate, showered and trudged back down to her lab to finish the last few repairs. She had a board meeting at eleven, meaning she had to drive herself and her father into the city. Organising the absent minded genius was always a fun task.
She was in the living room at ten thirty, waiting for her father, when Vegeta marched in. Covered in axel grease and dressed in sweatpants and a t-shirt she'd never seen, he looked like he might have been the local mechanic. Though the local mechanic she knew didn't wear a scowl like his.
'What's up, Vegeta?' she asked, brow raised. He took in her appearance silently. She herself was dressed out of character. She couldn't conduct a board meeting in jeans. Vegeta had probably never seen her in a suit and high heels, make up done and hair pulled back (she was so glad she had gotten rid of that ridiculous perm). It felt unnerving to be scrutinised by him so.
'Copper wire,' he finally said. Like always, his voice was hoarse from lack of use – gruff and full of potential misinterpretations.
'Copper wire,' she repeated, blankly.
'For the pressure engine,' he elaborated.
'Oh,' she murmured, 'right. The pressure engine.' The pressure engine. He was fixing the pressure engine! How the hell did he know how to fix the pressure engine?
'You're fixing the pressure engine?' she asked, attempting nonchalance.
'You know what you're doing?' she pushed. A confession of ignorance would have been nice. A plea for her assistance perhaps.
Vegeta just looked at her. 'The wire.'
No confessions or pleas apparently.
'Right, ah, it's in my lab.' She glanced towards the corridor behind Vegeta that led down to her lab.
'Ah, Bulma dear, are we going?' Mr. Briefs descended a staircase to her right. Bulma glanced at her father, briefly, and back at Vegeta.
'Um, just hold on a moment, Dad?' She nodded to Vegeta. 'Come on.'
He followed her down the corridor he had just come from, the light tapping of her heels the only sound. Down a flight of stairs and another corridor. They stopped at the door to Bulma's lab. She pushed it open.
'Copper wire, copper wire. Where did I put the copper wire?' Bulma stood in the centre of the room, tapping her nose with a finger, a hand on her hip. Vegeta waited silently in the doorway. If only she had the time to drag this out, maybe he would grow impatient. She was really beginning to worry now; the evidence suggested that he had made substantial progress. Perhaps he was bluffing.
'You know, Vegeta, I'm not even sure if I have any copper wire left?' He stared at her blankly. 'From the last time I fixed the machine,' she elaborated.
'Well, you better find some,' he advised her.
The seeds of panic began to sprout and she cracked. 'Do you even know what you're doing Vegeta?' she asked. Her voice balanced on the precipice, trembling dangerously close to hysterical. She did not want to sleep with this man.
'Would I be here if I didn't?' he asked rhetorically, tone edged with indignation.
'How the hell do you know how to fix something like that? All you know how to do is fight! It's a machine; you can't beat it into working!'
'I am more than the killing machine you assume I am. I have had to survive in conditions you can't even begin to imagine. I have had to have skills-'
'Whatever! I don't care what you've had to do!' she yelled angrily.
He glared at her, infuriated. 'Wire.'
She turned around, opened the top door of her desk, pulled a roll of thin copper wire out and threw it into his hands.
'I have to go to a meeting,' she muttered, shoving past him and marching out of the room. She met her father in the living room, and silently beckoned him to the car. He talked the whole way, not noticing her mood or unresponsiveness, as usual.
The meeting went as any board meeting did; complaints from shareholders, calls for pay increases, discussion of the economic future of the country and the company. She had trouble concentrating, having to ask to have things repeated on several occasions. She was riddled with worry and self-pity and dread. She was struggling to come up with a way of getting out of this ridiculous bet. Surely he wasn't serious. Surely he didn't want to sleep with her. They were from different species for what it was worth.
Maybe if she went home and just told Vegeta it was stupid joke and that she would never complain about fixing the machine again, he would relent. Maybe if she got down on her knees and grovelled. No, that would look pathetic. But still, surely he realised she hadn't been serious.
Yes, that's what she'd do. She'd just stride in there and tell him it was all a stupid joke. There was no way in hell she was sleeping with him, so he should just deal with it. Besides, it was about time he did some work. She wasn't his slave.
She repeated this mantra over and over in her head as she drove home. Her father prattled on, and she responded distractedly, nodding and murmuring her assent every now and then. He seemed satisfied with just hearing the sound of his own voice. She managed to shrug him off five minutes after they got home, telling him she had some urgent memos to send. He wandered off to talk to her mother, muttering to himself all the way.
She marched, confidently, through the winding corridors and out into the yard. The gravity machine loomed ominously, shadowing the grass. But she wasn't going to let it faze her. She was going to do this. She had created the problem; she could fix it.
The door to the gravity machine was closed, which should have been the first thing that tipped her off. The gravity room door was meant to be on automatic open because the wiring was being fixed. It was a fail-safe, so no one got locked in on the off chance they hit the wrong button. But, in her daydreams of trumping Vegeta, Bulma didn't notice.
She slammed a palm against the sensor to open the door. It ground open, as slow as ever, across the threshold, spreading light along the dark tiles. Vegeta's back appeared to her; he was staring at the controls on the hub in the centre of the machine. As the sound of the door reached him and Bulma began to take a step across the threshold, he turned and slammed a fist down firm on a red button.
She stopped, surprised by the edge of panic in his voice. Then, for the first time, she took in her surroundings properly, safe on her side of the door.
Sun no longer beamed in through the hole in the roof. The hole in the roof was gone. The control hub was no longer blown to pieces; each button was back in its place, neat and tidy. The tiles were no longer tossed across the floor and covered in glass. In fact, the floor looked like it had been cleaned.
And then, when she listened, the hum of the pressure engine littered the background.
She looked up at him, into his eyes, her own wide and shocked.
He had done it.
He had fixed it.
Without even realising, she stepped across the threshold. This time he did not yell out. The gravity was no longer in effect. Her safety was no longer in question.
She crossed the floor, dazed. Her heels clacked against the tiles. She stood before him. And for the first time, rather than the irrational fears of the day before, the gravity of the situation hit her, truly and completely. And she was sure the feeling was not unlike the impact of the gravity compounded on this room only moments earlier.
'You fixed it?' she murmured the words, unable to comprehend them. It seemed the only thing to say. He just stared at her, black holes for eyes like always. But in her head, she could hear his words from yesterday, his acceptance of their bet, the hint of amusement in his voice, the smirk on his face, the gruffness when he spoke, like sandpaper gone smooth.
And then, sudden but not violent, his hands were on her hips and his mouth took hers, and it was all over...
Author's Note: So there you have it.
Ada: My story's better.
Ratty: Your's is screwed up.
Ada: Are you saying I'm screwed up?
Ratty: Yes. Yes, I believe I am.
Ada: That is so no fair. You can't say that. Take that back now.
Ratty: I invented you. I can say whatever the hell I want.
Ada: No, you can't.
Ratty: I can lock you in a little box inside my brain and never let you out.
Ada: Then how come I've turned you into an insomniac.
Ratty: I can derive you of your sex life, sweet heart. Laughs evilly
Ada: pouts That's just plain mean.
Ratty: I have the power!
I have always wanted to do that, as corny as it is. I know everyone does it, but oh well. It's funny. Ada and I have the best arguments, especially considering she doesn't exist.
And they say having imaginary friends is bad for your health.
Hope you enjoyed it.