Numbness spread through her body, a dull feeling born of weariness from simply living. Her intuition had been right, again. Wasn't this what she had expected him to do? Wasn't this how he always reacted when he was pushed to the limit, whenever his world was turned on its axis?
He was leaving again. She closed her eyes briefly, resting her forehead against the cool glass of the window. Outside, Capsule Corporation's newest model of space-faring ships stood, a robot filling the tank with fuel. The baby squirmed in her arms, already wanting to be on his own. She cradled him closely to her breast, feeling his tiny hands latch onto her blouse.
"Trunks, don't you leave too," she whispered, and saw again with painful clarity how much his infantile features resembled his father's. His pale eyebrows drawn down in a light scowl, his piercing eyes, the blue color the only attribute that differed from his father's, looked up at her in wonder.
Unfair. How many times in her life did she have to lose someone dear to her, how many times did the good people have to die? She sighed, her breath forming a small patch of steam on the glass. Goku. Why?
Goku, sacrificing himself to kill his own brother…shot through the heart by Piccolo. Almost dying with the planet Namek as it broke apart, and then miraculously appearing on Earth again. Now dying again to Cell, and refusing to be wished back. Why? Didn't he know how much he was hurting them all with his carelessness? She did not know how he could be so flippant with his own life, living day to day as if he were a god. She only knew she hurt, the loss of her sweet childhood friend weighing heavily on her heart. She could only imagine how much pain Chichi and Gohan were feeling. She had not heard from them since the battle.
She had not heard from Vegeta either. He too was suffering from Goku's death, though he tried to mask it. He had grown cold, even colder than before. She hugged Trunks more tightly. She was glad the catastrophe was over; now she could drop the plastic mask of cheerfulness and stop trying to be strong for everyone. It was okay to stop pretending that everything between her and Vegeta was fine.
She had been plummeting to the ground with their child while he had simply glanced at them with cold disdain, burning like a golden torch above them. Her future son had saved her before the ground claimed her, but at that moment she hadn't even been thinking about her very real brush with death. She had heard the wails of her baby through her own screams, and Vegeta's face growing farther and farther away as she fell. He hadn't moved a muscle in their direction.
The older Trunks had bristled with fury and gone after his father with accusations of how heartless he had to be to let his wife and child fall and do nothing. Funny—normally it would be she who would rise up in anger and scream at him for all her life was worth—but she said nothing. She heard his words: I have more important matters to consider than that woman and the blasted child.
For all that she wanted to blame him, she couldn't. She realized how utterly foolish and brash it had been to rush headlong into a fight zone. She had wanted to see him so badly, see him in battle and finally witness the reason he had been training like a madman for the past three years and ignoring her outside their nights together. In her logical mind, she knew with clarity that he had been training to defeat the androids and then Goku, but she thought seeing him in action would appease her loneliness and bitterness towards him for leaving her. Selfish. She hadn't realized that she had more than herself to account for. Her infant son, gurgling happily by her side, not aware that his mother was going to fly them into a place neither of them had any business entering.
So it was her fault. Trying in vain to see him on the battlefield, she had ended up endangering her own and her son's lives and affirmed the worst. He didn't care for them. She wondered, had none of the other fighters been there, would he have saved her then?
Dwelling on the question would just tear her up inside. The moment he had turned that haughty, uncaring gaze on her as the older Trunks lifted her to safety, she felt something seal up within her. It was finished between them, with more finality than she dared contemplate at the moment. The plastic smile had slid back onto her face with practiced ease, and she hadn't said anything to him at all.
Now, it was okay to break down for everything she had lost and everything she had been missing all along. She knew that when the tears came, they would destroy her for days. But for now, she was numb and frozen. It was just too much to absorb in such a short amount of time. Vegeta was leaving, physically.
Who knew how long he'd be gone, or even if he'd be coming back. She wondered bitterly where her old spirit had gone, the spirit that had driven her to fight him to have every last word in each argument, to match him in fearless and stubborn battles of willpower. It seemed the bright flame of their relationship, born of lust or passion or whatever base desire they had started off with, had been smothered to ashes. The cold feeling in the pit of her stomach was all that was left.
And the child, she amended. She kissed Trunks on the forehead. Her precious baby, the only pure and innocent thing left in her life. "I love you," she said to him. "Don't leave me."
She stood rocking him for another hour until the sky turned dark and he was asleep. She set him gently down into his crib and undressed herself for bed. She lay quietly in the dark for hours, her eyes seeing nothing in the pitch-black of the night. The cold paralysis had settled into her bones, and she felt like she would not rise from her bed for a long time.
Kakarott, you fool.
He stood with his hands gripping the metal frame of the gravity room control panel, head bowed and eyes shut. This was the third time he had come in here to try to train. Each time, he could not even bring himself to turn the machine on. He could only stand, inwardly raging at his utterly defeated spirit.
The bitter fury in his heart swirled like roaring flames around a gaping hole, a gash that had torn open the moment he could no longer sense Kakarott's essence in this world. The idiot had bid them farewell and teleported himself and Cell out of the mortal realm, and a second later Vegeta had felt a piercing, soul-numbing cold spike through him. Kakarott was dead.
Every Saiyan was born with the ability to empathically sense his most powerful enemies, and Vegeta's sense of the third class soldier's life force had been a maddening, poisonous, yet completely invigorating drive in his veins. His only rival, the purpose of all his training and fighting and living, was gone, just like that. After all the torture and excruciating madness he had gone through to achieve the level of a Super-Saiyan—solely to beat Kakarott, not to defeat the androids, protect the Earth, or anyone on it—his purpose for achieving that goal was gone.
There was no reason to live. What would he do? Stay here and train to become stronger than Kakarott's pathetic, soft-hearted half-breed? Live with Bulma and grow weaker by the day, letting all the human sentiment around him fester until he became an Earthling as well?
He gritted his teeth in anger and frustration at his own weakness and idiocy for allowing Cell to become Perfect, his pride once again ruining all that could have been good. The guilt of it was gnawing at him like the serrated teeth of a predator, and for once he could not bury it beneath his iron wall of pride and hate, where he had always locked all the evils and tortures of his life as easily as…as killing a man.
He had become so remarkably like a human already, weak and moralizing, in merely two years of staying on Earth. He shook his head in disgust. What a miserable excuse for a warrior he had become. He let go of the cold metal and left the chamber, slamming the door shut behind him. The slight chill of the night air met his skin as he stepped onto the grass, under a sky dotted with white stars.
He was lost. It no longer mattered what he decided to do or not do. Nothing mattered. The ship would be ready for launch by the morning. Under the dim security lights of the Capsule Corporation complex, he could make out the metallic glimmer of the worker robot fueling the tank.
He would launch into space and figure out his course of action from there. The crushing weight of the guilt at having lost his war in so many ways was so heavy on his mind that he could not even think properly now. Once he was out of the atmosphere of this godforsaken planet, he would be free to revert back to a full-blooded Saiyan warrior, the last of his kind. The human traits that had polluted him would wash away with time, and he would once again be what he once reveled in being. He would owe no debts or allegiance to anyone, no accountability to guilt him into doing anything. He would live solely for himself, and nothing would stand in his way. Just like it had always been, before he had made the mistake of staying longer than a day on this planet.
The sharp edges of his guilt sank into him more deeply, and he stopped in his pacing, clenching his fists at the underlying thoughts he had tried to suppress for so long. Dammit, why did he feel any remorse at all? He did not owe anything to anyone! He was a Prince robbed of his throne, his homeworld, and his people. How could anyone demand any more from him!
The pain did not fade, but intensified instead, and he finally let go of the stubborn, tenuous grip he had forced upon his conscience. It could not lie buried under his crumbling wall any longer.
An image of blue eyes, infinite sadness shining in their endless depths, fixing him with their piercing gaze, burning through the disdain and pride that had pervaded every word he had spoken to her, every action he had taken toward her. Soft hands on his face and a warm body pressed against his, offering him all that was hers to give, demanding nothing in return. A voice, rising in anger or frustration but always with an undertone of concern and caring for him, maddening him with its alien pleas for things he could not give her, things he refused to think he had in the first place.
He owed…something…to her, didn't he? She had saved his life in more ways than one, and opened her home to him without asking anything in return. Each time he had left her, she had always welcomed him back with absolute trust. It was more than a simple debt to be repaid in battle. It was a blood debt that he could spend a lifetime trying to repay and never be able to cleanse it away simply because the existence of this debt sickened him to the core of his being.
Another weakness. The inability to pay back his due, to rid his mind of this woman once and for all…to erase the guilt of his dependence on her for his life on Earth and all the ways he had wounded her since he had first sought her bed.
He looked up, across the expansive lawn, at the high balcony outside her room. Beside the throb of the emptiness in his heart where his rival had died, he felt a tenuous sense of her dim energy. She was awake.
He had defeated her at last. When she had discovered his plan to leave Earth, she had not confronted him once about it. She had not sought after him at all, finally giving up on him. This victory did not give him any satisfaction. He realized it sickened him just as much as the fact that he owed her a blood debt. Swallowing the remains of his pride, he lifted off the ground and flew to see her before he left.
She turned her head toward the glass doors to the balcony, quiet and unmoving as a dark figure landed lightly outside. Moonlight filtered through the wide panes, illuminating the outline of his body in dull silver. Despite the frozen chill that had overtaken her entire being, something stirred in her heart at the sight of him. She lay in bed for another minute, seeing that he was making no move to enter. He stood with his arms folded, waiting.
A memory of fathomless black eyes burning into hers as they lay together in the deep hours of the night flashed in her mind. This was the Prince that had answered her childhood dreams, the wish she had never made on the Dragonballs. His shining armor stained with seas of blood, his cruel smile devoid of warmth, and having been robbed of his kingdom, he had sought to rule her instead. He had failed. She bowed to him no more than he did to her. But she loved him despite all the pain from fighting him, the pain embodied in the fact that he did not love her. She rose from the bed, mechanically draping a robe around herself, and went outside to meet him.
Part of her believed this was a dream, that he would actually come to see her and speak with her. The sharp edges of his face stood out in the moonlight, his stony features breathtaking in their cruel beauty. It had to be a dream. She closed the door softly behind her and stood to face him, the expression on her face as unreadable as the one on his. Neither of them moved, time seeming to stand still as she stared at the man who had always been a stranger to her, yet had let her into the buried parts of his heart that no one else had ever seen. The dull ache that had throbbed in her heart for two years slowly crept into her veins, driving back the numb cold. The need to know him and care for him, and have him care for her as well. But one look into his unflinching, proud gaze, and she knew there was no chance. Perhaps there never had been.
"Is there something you need?"
She exhaled all the cold out of her into that neutral question. She could feel all the pain and sorrow she had suppressed for the past week beginning to strain against the walls of steel she had clamped down upon her emotions. She would burst soon, and she hoped he would not still be here to see her break down.
He stared at her for a long moment, each second ticking like the interminable, oppressive moments before an earthquake.
For a moment, she forgot the question to which he was responding, and heard only the curt word of rejection in her head, echoing like a death knell. Faintly she closed her eyes and swallowed the rising lump in her throat. Her head was ringing. Was this what it was like to slowly fall into madness?
"Bulma. Bulma!" he said sharply.
She snapped awake from her trance, realizing strong arms were holding her, propping her up a foot from the marble surface of the balcony where she had almost fainted. She was suddenly staring into his midnight eyes, speechless at the conflicting emotions behind their sheen of iciness.
Had none of the other fighters been there, would you have caught me, like this?
"I'm all right. I'm sorry," she said as she straightened up and fixed her robe, her face flushed.
"Weakling," he sneered, letting go, but his hold on her had lingered long enough for her to realize his concern. This had to be a dream.
She sighed. "Can we at least refrain from insults for the last time we're seeing each other?"
He frowned in annoyance. She knew he disliked it when she referred to them together, anything with the word "we." He had never been committed to anyone, and he had fought for the last two years to keep it that way. She was still unsure if he had won or lost that battle. His returning to see her before he went into space had certainly thrown another variable into the winding, unpredictable pattern of her life concerning him.
"You assume much, woman," he said.
Assume what? That he had the civility to obey her request? That he indeed was leaving for the final time?
"Vegeta, why are you here?" she asked, brushing strands of hair out of her face with clear agitation. Might as well be frank with him if they were going to gain anything from this unexpected encounter.
"I thought you would know," he said too casually. She realized he was just as on edge as she was, still trying to keep up a front despite the tortured state he was in.
"If you want to screw and leave, it's not happening," she said flatly.
He looked surprised and vaguely amused. "You flatter yourself."
She had misunderstood him then. What could he want from her? "Vegeta, stop," she said, her voice cracking with weariness. "I'm tired. I don't think I can take much more before I just lose it. Just tell me what you want."
He regarded her coolly, his expression once again unfathomable. "There is nothing I want. A warrior…" He frowned and seemed to be biting back the words he wanted to say. "A warrior pays his debts. I am freeing myself of the last debts I owe on this stinking planet."
Debts? Was that how he saw his relationship with her? A simple matter of paying her off like a whore he was tired of? Another stab of pain behind her temples, threatening to snap her calm countenance like a twig.
"And how do you plan to do that," she said quietly, not daring to raise her voice any louder for fear that he would hear the quaking in her throat.
"I am here. With you," he said plainly. She looked at him blankly. He elaborated. "I am acknowledging you before I leave, woman."
"Leave," she echoed. So it was final, and this was closure for everything between them. She took a deep breath to ward off the dizziness. "Okay."
The second syllable of the word cracked and she collapsed with a wail of despair. The mantle had broken, and the tears poured down her face like a flood that had been dammed for too long. She realized he had once again caught her before she had fallen, drawing her roughly to him with one arm. She looked up at the proud, cold, painfully beautiful features of his face and sobbed, turning her face away, pressing her cheek against the hardness of his chest. She could not bear to look at those eyes any longer, those dark, haunting eyes she had seen in her dreams countless times since they had first met.
He said nothing but loosened his grip, letting her cry against him. She wondered why he was tolerating her tears, which he had always disdained and labeled as human weakness. Every emotion she had ever shown toward him, except anger and passion, he had scorned and spurned. Perhaps he was doing her a kindness this time, suffering through a final bout of her tears before he would never have to deal with her crying again.
"Pathetic fool," he said gruffly, but she sensed a different inflection in his tone. "Quit blubbering and speak while I am still here."
"Why?" she said as steadily as she could, still resting against him, not looking directly at him.
"There is nothing left for me," he said matter-of-factly. "I have stayed on this godforsaken mudball of a planet long enough, longer than I have stayed anywhere except my homeworld. I never meant to stay…and become so weak."
"You're not weak, Vegeta. You've never been weak, that's what I saw and admired in you from the beginning," she said, not caring if he sneered at her sentiment or not. "You've become a stronger, better man, and now you're throwing it all away." You're throwing me away.
He snorted softly. "I will never be strong enough. Once, I might have been. But Kakarott is dead," he spat.
Startled, she looked up at him and saw him turn his face aside in abject loathing. That was it, then. She realized with sudden clarity what had been at the center of his depression and subdued behavior for the past week. He was many times stronger than he had been two years ago, and he had become a better person, not bent on destroying and killing for the enjoyment of the act, yet all along he had been striving for more strength, the legendary state of Super-Saiyan, solely for the purpose of defeating Goku. And now he was lost, unable to cope with the loss of his most hated rival and closest ally. She wondered if he even realized that Goku had been the closest thing to an ally he had had. His soul certainly did, even if he refused to acknowledge it intellectually. It was killing him inside. He had lost his purpose, perhaps even his will to live. Her last thought sent a shudder through her; he wouldn't be going into space to die, would he?
"I miss him too, Vegeta," she said softly. "He's my oldest friend, and I love him with all my heart. But he's gone, and I have to move on. I can't stay and die with him."
"You cannot possibly understand, woman," he said. "A Saiyan's bond with his enemy lies at the core of his being, severed only when he kills that enemy or vice versa. My bond with Kakarott was stronger than all the other ties I have ever had, even my hatred for Frieza."
"So it's still there," she said. He nodded briefly, a look of disgust twisting his handsome face. He was ashamed of his failure, and angry that in the end, Goku had sacrificed his own life to save everyone, him included. And he had not been able to fulfill what the bond entailed. The bond was like a half-crumbled bridge in his soul.
"You have to let it go," she said bluntly. "Or it'll consume you. There's more to life than just fighting and destroying everything. There are other ways to live."
He shook his head, not even considering her words. "I told you, you cannot understand."
"Then make me understand, Vegeta," she said in near-exasperation. "For all this time I've just been trying to understand you and help you, and I'm still trying even though you don't give a damn. If you're going into space to die, I won't let you!"
"Idiot. A warrior who takes his own life is worth even less than one who has failed to fulfill the enemy bond," he said with distaste. He let go of her and leaned back against the railing.
"Then what are you leaving for? To train? To conquer other planets?"
Again, he shook his head no, saying nothing. She realized that he really didn't know what he was going to do. He was just as insecure as she was, unsure of his future and what he was supposed to do now that everything was changed.
She took a calming breath before speaking again. "Stay," she said. "For me."
Her crystal blue eyes, laden with sorrow and desperation, stared at him plaintively, awaiting an answer. He had known the minute he had decided to see her tonight that she would try to get him to stay. She had never given up on him. He fought to suppress a sneer. For all her sentiment and foolish ministrations on his behalf, he had never regarded her caring actions as anything more than an annoyance, attempts to make him weak so he would submit to her. But from the beginning, he had known deep inside that she was nowhere near weak, otherwise he would not have been drawn to her in the first place. He grudgingly accepted that she was his equal in terms of strength of will and intellect. Nevertheless, her constant outpourings of emotion and concern for him were smothering. No one had ever expressed such devotion and selfless caring for him. And she still trusted him this openly even after he had taken her heart and broken it countless times. She was either mad or blind.
For her. She wanted him to stay "for her." Again he fought the black wave of malice that threatened to surface, beating back the callous words poised in his throat. What did she mean to him? Just how far into his heart had she reached? He did not know, and realized he was terrified of the answer. So, he said nothing.
She took his silence in stride, closing her eyes for several seconds as they welled up with water. She opened them and spoke again, standing tears threatening to trickle down her pristine face.
"Would you leave our son? Just like that?" she said, her voice trembling. "Trunks. The boy who'll grow into the man who fought alongside you and risked his life to save all of us."
He clenched his hands into fists, burning with jealous anger at yet another reminder of his weakness; the son who had bested him in power, the warrior who had died by Cell's hands and triggered a wave of grief that Vegeta did not know he was capable of feeling. The vivid picture of the lavender-haired youth lying still in a puddle of his own blood, a hole through his heart, flashed through his mind. And right after, the image of his quiet, unassuming smile in the last seconds of his time here—staring directly at his father, and no one else—as he waved goodbye from the time machine, blinking out of sight as if he had never existed at all. Vegeta had found it harder than anything to raise two of his fingers in a brief salute, his hand dropping heavily to his side once the time machine had vanished.
Was that it, then. His fists clenched and unclenched slowly as he worked torturously through this madness in his head. It was fear. Fear of losing what he had gained, of seeing anything he remotely treasured in this life torn away like countless times before.
A brutal image of Bulma lying dead where Trunks had been, eyes blank and face bloodied, flashed across his eyes. Gods…if it had been her instead, what would he have done? It alarmed him. He could not allow himself to be so weak! He could not…he could not risk thinking about her anymore. He had to leave, or risk bowing and breaking to her, weakening even below the level he had descended to. His debts to her be damned. His guilt was merely a sign of Earth's corrupting effects on him; her pain was not his concern, never should have been. To his chagrin, the words he wanted to say clogged in his throat. He forced them out roughly, ashamed of his cowardice in running away with this debt on his head, and ashamed of the fact that he actually felt shame for this. "My time here is up. I cannot stay any longer; do not try to stop me."
The simple act of turning his back to her and walking away required such mental effort that his stony expression visibly faltered under her gaze. He wrenched away with an awkward jerk of the shoulders, inwardly cursing himself for the sting he had felt when she had stared at him with those pleading eyes.
He had not taken more than a step when she spoke again. "How could you." He stopped.
Her voice, hard and sharp as steel, was rising with something akin to anger…a passionate fury, characteristic of the old self he thought he had killed.
"How could you just walk away. You pride yourself on your strength and ki level and the fact that you've become Super Saiyan. Damn it all to hell, Vegeta, what does any of it matter if you're a coward when it comes to anything off the battlefield? You always talked about beating Goku, being the prince of all Saiyans, being the strongest and all that bullshit. Well, I find it hard to believe that someone who can't even stand up to his own family could be worthy of any of your claims. You're a coward, Vegeta, face it."
He turned back to her, standing in disbelief at the sudden return of her boldness, wondering how long she had kept all of these words inside. She had called him a coward. His eyes narrowed.
"I am no coward, walking away from something that never existed in the first place! You have a creative imagination, woman, leading yourself to believe there was something between us when there was nothing!" he snarled. The unflinching ice of her expression told him she could see through his façade of rage, she knew he was losing in this battle of denial, and she was closing in for the kill.
"You're the one lying to yourself. You wouldn't have come to me tonight if you truly believed there was nothing between us. For once, you underestimate yourself, Vegeta. You've underestimated the fact that you're capable of caring for another living being! It's not something to be ashamed of! Why can't you see?"
"I have cared for nothing and no one since I was first able to walk, woman. What makes you think anything has changed in the two wretched years I have lived on this planet?" he said harshly, but feeling the walls crumbling inside him as she stripped away his arrogant self-lies with her brutal honesty. No…he could not lose to her! "You overestimate your place in my life."
"But you've just admitted that I do have a place in your life," she said more softly. "I've known, Vegeta. That's how I've been able to tolerate all the pain you've caused me. Because I know that in these two years you've changed more than you have your entire life, and it's a slow process, but it's one I'm willing to wait for because I believe in you."
She stepped closer to him, and an insuppressible flash of desire rippled through his body, followed immediately by a wave of anger as he cursed himself again for such weakness. She could not be right…he could not afford to lose this battle, inwardly or outwardly. She touched his arm and he flinched too quickly.
"I've always believed in you, Vegeta. I know you hate to hear me say things like that but it's true. I see that no one has ever tried to understand or care for you, and because of that you've never wanted to be cared for…and you've never wanted to care for anyone else. I'm not even asking that-"
"You are in no position to be asking anything of me," he gritted out, wanting to scream in frustration at the crippling weight of his denial. Denial that he still owed her something.
She continued seamlessly, her voice pleading and commanding at the same time. "Just let me love you. Gods, Vegeta, I wouldn't care even if you didn't give a damn about me. All I want is to love you, and stop telling me that I can't!"
"Shut up," he growled. Pathetic, he thought. He had come to the end of his line. He couldn't think of anything else to say to her, so he just blocked her out. Shaking off her hand, he angrily backed away. He only took one step back before she reached forward and snared both shoulder straps of his armor, pulling roughly and closing the distance between them.
"I am not going to let this die between us, now that I know there's something to be saved," she said almost viciously, her face inches from his. "Just an hour ago I thought that it was the end, and I had given up on you. But now, because of you and your stupid, stubborn decision to come back here and pretend that you're rubbing this all in my face—well, I realized that you want to save this as much as I do, Vegeta. And there's no way I'm going to let you destroy what we have, now that you've finally begun to acknowledge that there is something."
"Woman-" he started angrily, his hands rising to seize her shoulders. She flinched away so hard that he thought he had accidentally burned her with his ki. And then he realized he had turned Super Saiyan without even thinking about it, his golden aura crackling in the air around them.
"Shut up," she said, her clear, azure eyes burning as if she were a Super Saiyan herself. "You will listen to me for one fucking minute, Vegeta. I know you've gone through hell in this life. I know I don't understand even a fraction of who you are or what your past was like. I also know that unless I try, I'll never get to see what's made you this way, this arrogant bastard who can't even admit to himself that he cares about his own family. And I'm willing to die trying. I need you to believe me."
She grasped his hand and placed it over her heart, holding it there with a grip that would have broken his bones had he been human. "You will not leave here without killing me, Vegeta. So either get it over with now, or accept this—accept us—and deal with the truth that's been staring you in the face for so long."
His palm actually shook as he tried to master his rage, his indignation and his amazement that she was commanding him in this way, commanding him to take her life…His entire form was awash in deadly energy at a level he had craved since he had first learned to fight, but now he felt none of the intoxicating exhilaration of all the times before this. He knew that at this proximity he must be hurting her, but she was bearing the pain without flinching.
"You don't know what kind of game you're playing," he said, his voice a low snarl. He was losing, still—from the trembling of his hand, she knew he was faltering with every second that passed.
"That's your problem. You see this as a game," she said, her voice a maddening mix of condescension and pity. "Or maybe a battle. This is not something to be won or lost. It's something to be treasured and saved and protected for all it's worth, and I'm telling you that it's more important to me than anything in this world. And you don't see it yet, but it's important to you, too. Here's your chance to redeem yourself and your broken pride, Vegeta. Stay. Save what you abandoned, protect what you care for, and treasure every moment you're alive. Don't be afraid of losing it—because again, it's not something that can be lost. You finally have a chance to enjoy life for all it has to offer, more than just riding on a bloodlust-high. Take this chance, and I promise you that you will never lose again."
Her eyes bored into his, her white-knuckled hand still holding his wrist firmly. He opened his mouth to speak, to retort in some way for no other reason than to assure himself he was still capable of fighting her. This time, there were no words poised in his throat, no words he could think of saying at all.
They stood, tense, frozen in time as his aura pulsated around them, tinting the night air an unholy gold. She did not move her eyes or her hand one inch. It was like staring into the eyes of an ancient statue come to life, subduing him under some inexplicable power.
She broke the silence when he could not. "There is more than just winning for the sake of winning, Vegeta. There is living for the sake of life."
"There is more than this," she said, her eyes glancing at the aura that surrounded them as if noticing it for the first time. She touched his golden hair, and stared into his eyes. In her stare, he saw the reflection of his own, unnatural blue gaze looking back at him.
"There is more than just this." She pressed his hand harder against her skin so that he could feel her strong heartbeat pulsing through his fingers.
She moved closer to him and her voice drew down to a whisper, cracking with emotion. "There is more than this." She kissed him on the lips, soft and slow like an ethereal breeze.
"So much more…" she said, kissing him again, more deeply this time as if savoring her last moment alive.
Her lips grazed his cheek as she melted against him, her hand letting go of his wrist and allowing him to draw his arm around her. He hissed as her teeth met the sensitive skin of his neck, and on impulse, drove his own teeth into the tender skin above her collarbone. Thought was quickly washing away as her words, all that she had poured out to him, suffused through every part of his being, as he surrendered to her at last.
She winced at the pain from his bite, but held him closer, still whispering in his ear. "Let me love you, Vegeta. It's all I ask…"
His aura burned around them like a bright flame in the still darkness of the cold night, shielding them from the outside world as if they would never leave this golden shell of power. It felt as if they were one being as he held her close against him, never knowing it could feel like this, just to hold her and taste her and know she was here. The salty taste of blood on his lips was a stark reminder of how real she was, how real her words were. She would not be snatched away. He could not lose her…simply because she had promised him he wouldn't.
He believed her. As he raised his face to look into her eyes, he saw that she knew. She had won this victory—and yet freed him, saving him from the loss he had been hurtling towards. He gazed in newfound awe at the power in that cerulean gaze, how she could have mastered him so easily. He found that she was smiling through her tears, and she kissed him again.
He felt her lips trembling against his as she felt the crackling power of his ascended state pouring through him, and he lowered his ki, dropping out of Super Saiyan. The rush of cold night air hit them both like a wave of clarity, jarring them from their wordless dance of intimate understanding. They both pulled back from each other, silent and breathless.
"I concede the victory to you, woman," he said softly, surprised at the even tone of his voice, devoid of anger or bitterness.
"As I conceded it to you a long time ago," she replied in kind, tears in her eyes, her face glowing with the remnants of his ki. In the moonlight, she looked like a queen out of ancient legends.
What an empire they might have ruled, had she been Saiyan and circumstances had been different. He realized now what real value this woman before him held, infinitely precious in the very real danger she posed to him just by occupying his heart. As he took her hand and led her inside, he thought perhaps he would allow this danger to remain—and trust the promise that it could be his shield.