Well, I'm back with the final chapter of this story. I hope you didn't think I was going to leave it unfinished. It's just that, with student teaching, the more I have taken over the classroom as the teacher, the less time I have had to do the things that I like, since lesson planning has taken precedence. But I decided that today, I was going to take time to do something I enjoy, but have been too tired to indulge in: writing. I'm sure most of you don't want to read an extremely long author's note, so on with the story.
Disclaimer: I don't own Dragon Ball Z or any of its characters.
Letting out a quiet sigh, I close my eyes briefly and then stand, pushing out some of the tension that has seeped into my body as I begin a short journey towards the door that's in front of me. Turning around slightly, I briefly smile and say thank you and then I exit the room, shutting the door gently behind me as I leave.
It has been about three months since I finally started to make steps towards acclimating myself towards the loss of Toma and regaining the normalcy of the life I had had before that horrible event took place. Coming to the realization that I was slowly destroying myself and the family I already had responsibility for had been a wake-up call for me. I have always thought of myself as a cheerful optimist, even if that hasn't always been the case. However, the guilt and the despair over losing my unborn child had taken a toll on me, and I had been too blind to see the consequences of such self-destructive behaviors until it was forcefully brought to my attention.
Since that day, it has been a struggle to return to the way I was before Toma died. Every morning that I wake up, I'm reminded of the fact that right now, I would have been taking care of a healthy, newborn son. Still, finally trying to make the best of my loss and moving on with my life has brought me a certain amount of comfort. I have come to accept the fact that there was nothing I could have done that would have prevented losing the baby that I had desperately wanted. I don't think that Toma would have wanted me to continue harboring guilt over his death at the expense of neglecting his brother and father. And even though Toma isn't here to share his life with the family he never got the chance of knowing, I am finding out each day how lucky I am to at least have one child I can care for and nurture, something I had forgotten in the aftermath of my miscarriage.
"Ma'am? Is everything okay?"
Smiling slightly, I let my hand slowly leave the door handle and look into the face of woman, probably only a few years younger then myself. I briefly murmur yes in response to her question, feeling foolish that I have been standing in a public hallway staring off into space for the last few minutes or so. Taking a step away from the doorway, I glance back and watch as she walks in the opposite direction as I make my way towards the reception area.
I have taken it upon myself to see a counselor as a response to finally learn how to effectively cope with my loss and the stress it has put on my family. In a way, I feel ashamed to have to come and discuss my feelings with a complete stranger. However, at the same time, it has been a relief to not only spill out the horrible feelings I let bottle up inside of me in regards to Toma, but to also discuss other problems I have had dealing with the relationships I have been in. I have finally found somebody I can open up to about Vegeta and the strange relationship we have shared ever since I broke up with Yamucha those brief years preceding the Android invasion. True, I'm paying this person a lot of money for the privilege to listen to me talk, but it is nice to know that I have somebody there to listen who won't judge me or the stupid decisions I have made in the past and present.
I don't really know if these sessions have helped me to overcome some of my grief, but I have slowly started to find the balance in my life once more. I think part of that has to do with taking up the familiar routines I had had with my parents and Trunks prior to my miscarriage. Instead of dwelling on the guilt, I have been focusing the energy I wasted hiding in my room on making up to my son for my lack of interest. Overall, it has been difficult for me, but the more I have reverted back to my previous behaviors, even if they started out as being forced, my deep depression has finally started to break. I can finally see a light at the end of the deep, dark tunnel.
Opening another door, I finally step into the reception area where there are a few people waiting patiently, reading magazines as they wait for their appointments to begin. Heading towards the door that leads to the outside, I'm surprised when I see a familiar silhouette nestled behind a newspaper. Pausing, I wait silently as the figure snaps the paper back in half and throws it carelessly on the coffee table in front of them.
Rising out of the reception area chair, they walk over to where I am standing with my hand halfway inside my purse.
"Are you ready to leave or do you plan on standing there gawking like a moron?"
"I'm ready. I'm…well; my car is parked out front. Have you been waiting long?"
"Long enough to know that anyone who bothers to read Earthling newspapers would be smarter to just stick their head in a vice grip and be done with it. Let's get out of here."
Smiling slightly and trying to contain my laughter from bubbling over, I watch as Vegeta steps past me and opens the door, waiting politely for me to walk through it. Closing the door behind us, I glance over as he sticks his hands inside the front pockets of the jeans he's wearing, looking slightly uncomfortable and unsure of himself while at the same time, trying to make out as though he's as cool as a cucumber. Maybe I pick up on his discomfort simply because I know him, but it isn't like him to make a point to pick me up from anything, be it an appointment or something else entirely. So to say that I'm surprised by his appearance is an understatement: I'm shocked. However, at the same time, I can feel a sort of glowing happiness deep within my heart, something I haven't felt for a long time.
Stopping next to my car, I put my hand back inside my purse, fumbling around for my keys before I pull them out and unlock the car. Walking around to the other side, I motion for Vegeta to get inside. I'm about to open up the door and slip inside when I notice that he's still standing next to the curb with his arms crossed, looking as though he's mentally debating whether or not it's safe to get into the same vehicle as me.
"What's the matter? I promise not to kill you in a car accident, if that's what you're worried about. Besides, with your Saiya-jin abilities, you'd get out of it without a scratch."
He looks over at me and shakes his head in mild irritation.
"That's not the problem Onna."
I think to myself what exactly the problem could be. Shrugging my shoulders slightly, I look over to where he's standing looking slightly indecisive. Unconsciously, I cross my arms underneath my breasts and jiggle my car keys impatiently; waiting for him to come to whatever decision he has balanced at the forefront of his mind. I can see him visibly clear his throat before he looks at me and cocks his head to the side.
"Let's go for a walk."
Raising my eyebrow at him, I nod slowly and then decide to encapsulate my car. I have no idea what Vegeta has brewing inside his head, but I don't want to lose this feeling of connectivity with him by saying something or doing something that will damage some of the repair I have seen develop in our relationship this past couple of months. Pressing the button on the side of my car, I watch as it disappears and drops to the ground with a clatter in its miniscule capsule case. Picking it up, I throw it carelessly inside my purse and then turn to follow my husband as he starts to walk down the street, his hands still deep inside his front jean pockets.
We walk for a few blocks in silence, simply enjoying each other's company without having to verbally express anything. In the last few months, while Vegeta hasn't really changed the frequency he spends his time with me, the tension that had been eroding our relationship for months even before I became pregnant with Toma has almost completely vanished. Inwardly, I think that it has to do with the fact that Vegeta has finally let go of some of the issues he's had since he was a small boy by finally opening up about his past. We haven't spoken of it since that night, but the change that has overcome him is obvious to me. For the first time, I can tell that he truly does trust me and that he cares about me, loves me. And because of that, I want our relationship to mature, to expand beyond the premise that it was formed on: as a way for a lonely man and an equally lonely female to find physical comfort with one another. I don't want to ever let go.
After a few more minutes of silence, I follow Vegeta as he turns a corner and then heads towards a gate that leads to the park not far from Capsule Corporation. It's near midday and I know that Vegeta must be hungry, but instead of heading towards a nearby food stand selling concessions, he travels towards the center of the park. There are a few people milling about: couples holding hands out for an afternoon walk and parents walking along, pushing their small children around in strollers. I can feel a part of me that wants to cave into the sadness, thinking that I could have been like some of those parents, pushing my own baby in a stroller, enjoying the beauty of the afternoon. Instead, I focus my thoughts on the man standing next to me and why he felt compelled to pick me up from my appointment and bring me here.
Within a minute or so, Vegeta turns off the beaten path and heads towards a pond that is located somewhere near the vicinity of the heart of the park. It's amazing to me that he seems to know so much about this place, but then I remember he's been taking Trunks here nearly every day. I wonder if he's taking me to one of the few places he finds sanctuary away from the bustle of Capsule Corporation and the demands of his family, and that warm feeling in my stomach returns. Part of it, I know, is because before Vegeta confronted me, it was as if a wall separated the two of us. I would share things about myself but Vegeta would never return the same favor, excluding himself from me except for when he needed something or felt compelled to have some sort of physical company. I understand the reason for this now, but I also realize that continuing to share some of his innermost secrets, things he never felt safe enough to confide in me about, has to be a continued ordeal for Vegeta and it only points out how much his willing to risk by finally putting his trust in me. It's a wonderful feeling to finally be needed and accepted by the man that I love, but it also is terrifying because I want so badly for this to continue on and not fall into a heap of ruins.
Blinking slightly, I almost run into his back when he stops abruptly, my thoughts having taken hold of my common sense. Halting, I can feel my body starting to tilt forward as I struggle not to fall against him. However, Vegeta has always seemed to have a sixth sense about me, even before we started having a relationship. Turning around swiftly, he reaches out for me, letting me fall against his chest and holding me up with his arms securely wrapped around my torso. Licking my lips, I tilt my head up slightly, my eyes locking with his. I can see faint amusement in their depths at war with the very sarcastic looking smirk plastered across his lips. I know he's going to says something insulting, but for once I can tell that whatever he's going to say is to only make light of the situation, not to intentionally make fun of the many faults of mine he has had the unfortunate habit of pointing out in the past whenever he would try to make himself out as more superior to me.
Once again, I find myself surprised when he pushes me back upright and lets go, turning around without saying a word before he settles himself in a seated position underneath a nearby tree. Trying not to gape, I follow his example and sit down next to him, careful to leave some space between the two of us. Folding my legs out in front of me, I fidget with my hands and glance at Vegeta out of the corner of my eye. He has his back against the trees, his arms crossed over his chest, his eyes half-lidded as he looks towards the pond in front of us. I can't figure out why he would bring me here, but I try to my best to not think about it. Instead, I concentrate on just being alone with Vegeta, sitting peacefully and just enjoying his presence next to me.
Closing my eyes, I lean sideways and find myself resting against Vegeta's shoulder, the warm sunlight making me drowsy. Part of me knows that he doesn't like close contact with anyone unless he initiates it, but he doesn't push me away. Instead, I feel his arm wrap around my waist and I let my own sleepiness take over, feeling safe and secure in his embrace.
Drifting off to sleep, pleasant thoughts invade my mind. Thoughts of Vegeta, thoughts of Trunks and…. and something more. I try to reach out and grasp it, but before I can catch the fleeting thought at the edge of my consciousness, I can feel something shaking me gently. Opening my eyes, I shade them from the bright sunlight with my hand and then push myself forward. Blinking a couple of times and swallowing some of the dryness in my mouth away, I turn towards where Vegeta is still seated. There is a vague feeling of déjà vu, seeing him seated next to me underneath a tree, clad in a pair of tight jeans but I know that in this case, there won't be a Trunks or Toma running towards us for a picnic. Containing another wave of sadness, I rub my arms absently and then feel embarrassed when my stomach gurgles. Even though I don't have a Saiya-jin's metabolism, I also get hungry and I know it's been hours since I have eaten anything. Glancing over at Vegeta, I can see his eyebrow cocked at me and I turn red underneath his scrutiny. Throwing a leaf at him, I mutter a curse underneath my breath.
"What was that Woman? I couldn't quite hear you."
Chuckling slightly, I just shake my head at him.
"And you complain about my insatiable hunger, yet who is the one to need satiation first?"
Again, he has his typical cynical smirk on the corners of his lips, but his eyes are distinctly soft as they watch me to see what reaction I'm going to give him. Noting the contrasts present in the man who is my husband, I playfully smack him in the arm, something I wouldn't have dared to do in the past.
"I have a feeling your insatiable hunger was quenched by my mother's cooking before you decided to come and get me from my appointment."
He tries to hide the truth, but I can see a small amount of sheepishness poke past his passive and controlled features.
"There's no use denying it Vegeta. It's the only thing that would explain why you didn't stop at the concession stand to buy all of the hotdogs in the cart when we got here. But unlike you, I haven't had anything since my granola and yogurt at breakfast and it has to be well past noon. Since you invited me on this date, it's only polite for you to treat me to lunch."
Letting that comment hang in the air, I watch as he struggles to think of something to say about it.
"This isn't a…a date. Saiya-jins don't…date. Besides, our relationship is beyond that ridiculous social custom."
Smiling at his rebuttal over my statement, I start to stand up. Before I make it onto my knees, Vegeta bends over and grabs my hand, pulling me upright and up against his chest once more. Blushing slightly, I'm surprised when his hand finds my chin and tilts my head so that we are looking into one another's eyes. Being close to the same height, it isn't hard to do so, but the effect of looking into the dark pools that make up Vegeta's eyes always leaves me flushed and nervous from the sexual tension that spreads between the two of us. I try to back away, but he obviously has other ideas. I can see naked need in those eyes of his, and for the first time in a long time, I can feel that need also building inside of me. I wonder what it is between us, this chemistry that we have that always leaves me breathless when he lets me see exactly what he wants. Licking my top lip with my pink tongue, I feel his thumb rubbing along my jaw line and suddenly, without warning, his mouth is on top of mine. Trying to keep control over my desires, I let him take the lead in the dance that is our kiss until I can feel butterflies in my stomach and weakness in my knees. It's been so…so long and there is no denying what both of us want at the moment. Yet here and now is not the place to share such intimacies.
Pulling away abruptly, I feel his arms loosen around me as he lets me back away. Pushing a strand of hair back behind my ears, I let out a shuddering breath, and glance over at Vegeta who is not hiding his blatant want for me, which makes me all the more uncomfortable in both a good and bad way. I know that a gauntlet has been laid down by him, and perhaps that was part of the reason he brought me here, to see how I would react should he push his desire for me out into the open after so long. There is a sense that he realizes how painful sharing physical intimacies with him could be for me, reminding me once again of what happened one night when our passions took control, only to end in death and misery. And there isn't any use denying the fact that I am afraid…but at the same time I know that such an action given to him by me would show that I have healed enough to let the possibility of another child being created back into my heart and to also show how much I truly trust him.
Stepping backwards, I pull my eyes away from him as a way to redirect the tension between us. Clasping my hands in front of me, I step around him and walk towards the pond, watching as a pair of ducks swim past slowly. Letting out a deep sigh, I think how lovely this place is in its simplicity and I can see why Vegeta would like to come here for solitude. Just being here shows me a deeper side to Vegeta that I never really thought about…that he enjoys beautiful things just like the next person, but that he has never taken the opportunity so share such thoughts with another being because of his inability to trust. To think that there is so much left for me to learn about this man is humbling, that he would share with me what he could not share with others for the majority of his life. Once again, I am struck with a heavy feeling of remorse, remorse that Vegeta has suffered so much more than I could have ever imagined. It still amazes me how he could have survived such hardships, but if there is one thing I have learned about Vegeta it is that he never gives up. Not when he has a goal in mind and purpose to fulfill.
Watching the placid water with its multitude of water lilies, I sense Vegeta's presence as he closes the distance between us, standing next to me and looking in the same direction. Clearing my throat, I turn towards him.
"Why did you bring me here Vegeta?"
He shrugs his shoulders and doesn't say anything. I didn't think that I would get an answer and the truth is, there isn't a need for one. However, that has never stopped my curiosity from getting the better of me. I am surprised when after a few minutes, he opens his mouth to answer me.
"To help you. This place…I found it by accident. When I'm…when I…"
I can tell that he still has difficulty talking about himself and his inner motives when it comes to something personally tangible and I don't want him to become stressed trying to express something in words when I know what it is that he's trying to say. Impulsively, I grab his hand in my own and squeeze it, letting him know that he doesn't need to tell me, that I already know.
"When you need to center yourself, right?"
He nods his head quickly but he doesn't let go of my hand. We stand like that for a few more minutes before he gently disengages from me and then turns around to leave. Following behind him once more, we start back towards the main path when he stops abruptly. Not facing me, he starts to talk.
"If you ever need…if you ever have the need to spend some time alone, you can come here."
Yet again, I find myself surprised and pleased about the gift Vegeta has just given me, to see the growing tenderness within him, although I know he would be loathe to ever admit that he is capable of such a feeling. Smiling, I catch up with him and tell him thank you, watching as he nods stiffly before he starts to walk, his hands once again tucked deeply inside his jean pockets.
The walk out of the park is as silent as the walk into it but I don't mind. Again I realize that with Vegeta, sometimes talking is nothing more then wasted words that convey no true meaning. It is enough for me to just be with him, especially since he has chosen to spend his spare time with me instead of training in his gravity room. We close in towards the entrance when he shifts direction and heads towards the same concession stand we passed when we first entered the park. Pulling out a wallet I gave him years ago from his back pocket, he takes out a few zeni and stiffly asks the man behind the counter for a hot dog with no mustard, extra ketchup and jalapeno pepper slices along with a small diet cola. Widening my eyes slightly in surprise over the fact that he knows my hot dog preferences so well, I grab the proffered food and thank him with a warm smile and an impulsive kiss to his cheek. He ignores the kiss as a necessity to save face as the proud Prince of all Saiya-jins, but I can tell he's pleased. Leaving the park behind us, I contently munch on my lunch as we make our way back to Capsule Corporation.
In about a half an hour, we find ourselves back at the gate that leads to the interior of the grounds that house Capsule Corporation. Stepping towards the house, Vegeta opens the door to the inside and then waits for me to walk past him. Once inside the doorway, both of us stop and look at one another again. I can still see the need deep inside Vegeta's eyes and I realize that I have to come to a decision. Pushing back my fear and uncertainty, I smile shyly at him, feeling like the awkward, loud-mouthed teenager I was when I lost my virginity to Yamucha years ago. Clearing my throat slightly, I think about what I'm going to say.
"I have some work I need to do in the office. Bureaucratic crap in order to wrap up the housewares line renovation project. And I promised to take Trunks over to Goten's for a few hours. I haven't seen Chi-Chi in a while…Um, I'll be…I'll be free around nine?"
"Nine? Hmph…I suppose I could train in the GR until then. Your place or mine?"
I blush uncomfortably, feeling Vegeta's gaze scrutinizing my body.
"Um…well, about that. I mean, well…it's our…shit."
I run my hands through my hair, feeling so…so stupid.
"It's our shit Woman? That's repulsive."
I laugh in embarrassment over how ridiculous my comment obviously sounded to Vegeta. The truth is that up until this point, Vegeta has continued to remain in his own room and I have been too uncomfortable to invite him back after I inadvertently kicked him out due to my depression. Trying to rectify the situation, I back up a bit and try to fix my mistake.
"That isn't what I meant. I guess what I was trying to say is that my room is…well, it's our room if you want it to be. I mean you don't have to keep staying in the guest room next door, that's all."
He nods his head and then turns towards the hallway, heading away from me towards the gravity room where he will no doubt work off some of his tension. Leaning against the wall, I let out a little sigh and try to get my thoughts in order. I'm…I'm happy about how things are between Vegeta and myself and I think he feels the same way. Stepping away, I hum slightly to myself as I also make my way down the hallway to work that calls my name and also helps to relieve my brain of silly thoughts that I have no need to worry about.
Many hours later…
The lights are off and the darkness of the night encompasses the room that I'm in, with only shadows visible as they dance quietly along the walls. Rolling over onto my back, I put my hands behind my head and stare at the ceiling, the gears in my brain whirling as I think about this particular day and all the days before since I confronted Bulma and told her things about myself that I have never told anyone. Not even Kakarrot when I lay dying before him on Namek-sei, telling him to avenge our people and to rid the universe of Freeza.
That night…that night had been the most difficult night of my life, telling Bulma my most shameful of secrets. Telling her that I, the mighty Prince Vegeta, and once been the victim of abuse. All my life I have always desired to appear strong and unbendable. To bear such a humiliating tale in front of her and to break down completely like that, for a few moments, I showed her everything that has shaped me into the man I have become. I feared that she would scorn me or turn away from me in disgust, but she didn't and because of that, I finally realized how much I could actually trust another being besides myself. To have such a weight lifted off of me, it has led me to feel almost like a different person. True, I will never find it easy to express my thoughts or feelings explicitly like Bulma has the habit of doing, but for once, I am not fighting this change that has been slowly overcoming me since Kakarrot's death: that I am capable of feeling and having such attachments to people like Bulma is not necessarily a bad thing.
I've spent so much of my time alone during my lifetime, to finally find someone who genuinely cares for me is not something I'm going to try to throw away anymore. Especially after seeing what it was like when Bulma isolated herself from both the brat and myself. She keeps me centered and she gives me a purpose. And I love her, even if love is still a highly overrated emotional sentiment in my opinion. At least the way humans constantly make it out to be. However, that is not how I feel for Bulma nor would I ever wish it to be. She infuriates me and at times she puzzles me, but the fact that she cares about me has always been obvious, even before we first found ourselves sharing sexual favors. I used to scorn her obvious affection even to the point where I would make her cry because I did not want such a dangerous attachment and the complications that would inevitably occur. But who suffered because of my assumptions? Certainly Bulma and my son did, but I have come to the realization that I also suffered as well. I did not want attachments because I did not want them to be taken away from me. Yet, up until recently, I haven't really been living, only letting life take me along without doing anything to progress beyond my fucked up past.
Rolling over onto my side, I glance over at the body lying next to my own. Bulma…
She has her back to me, the sheet covering the both of us having slid past towards her waist, exposing her creamy shoulders and the curve of her spine. Her hair is draped across her pillow and I watch as her shoulders rise and fall in a steady rhythm telling me that she is asleep.
I can tell that she still suffers from the loss of the child. Yet, the change in her since our confrontation a few months before has become obvious. No longer does she hide herself from Trunks or myself. The light that had been snuffed out before is back and even though I know she continues to feel guilt over her loss, she is almost back to the way she was before, except that she doesn't have the weight of wondering about what I feel or what I want in regards to her. She knows that I have put my trust in her and that has made all the difference between us. True, I still find myself floundering when it comes to her and to Trunks, but its easier to let go of a portion of my pride, enough that I can take my son and his idiotic friend to the park, or make a point to spend time with Bulma even if it requires dressing like a stupid human and mingling with the inferior masses of this mud ball planet.
Moving in closer towards her body, I breath in her sent and kiss the top of her head, feeling the silkiness of her hair sliding across my lips. She gave herself freely to me tonight and for that, I thank her. I don't even think she realizes how important her answer was when she agreed to this. It has shown me once again that she trusts me as I have come to trust her. We are a pair and we are inseparable and joining bodies, although originally intended as a diversion away from our loneliness and isolation, has become so much more then just a physical manifestation of the pleasure found between a man and a woman. There is a significance attached to the act of mating with her that I have come to associate with over the years. For a long time, it was the only way I could show her how I really felt about her, even when I still didn't understand what those feelings were. It still terrifies me, this idea of loving a person to the point where I will make sacrifices for them. However, I am once again reminded about how pointless life is if there is not a significant reason for living. Bulma is my reason and I won't ever let her go.
Letting out a deep breath, I press in close to her and pull the sheet up and over the two of us. Absently stroking the side of her body, I wonder where I would be had she not been there after Kakarrot's death. I still feel some guilt harbored deep within me that Kakarrot was willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of the people of this planet and I was unwilling to do so. I still don't know if I would be as brave or foolish as that baka, but I hope that if anything should happen to my small family, I would be willing to make such a sacrifice as that idiot. However, as I told Bulma, there is no use in continually thinking about the what ifs, and if anything, the end of this ordeal has made me realize that continually wallowing in self-imposed torment won't get me anywhere either. Kakarrot would not want that of me. Instead, he would want me to become even stronger so that should we meet again, we can finally put an end to our rivalry. Bulma would also want me to get stronger, and so for her, I am willing to make concessions I never would have imagined myself making.
Thinking of these things, I lean in closer to her. Finding her hand, I wrap my own in hers and allow myself to share in the closeness of her body. Rubbing my cheek against hers, I whisper something into her ear that before our confrontation, I had never uttered to her even though I had heard her say it to me countless times. Before this ordeal with the loss of our child, I didn't believe I was capable of feeling such a thing and I was afraid of it. True, I am still uncertain about it, but I refuse to live in the past. Not anymore.
"I love you."
I can feel her stir against my body, which is pressed intimately against her backside, but I have no intention of waking her from her sleep. She needs her rest and so do I. Backing off slightly, I still keep my hand twined in hers and I close my eyes, waiting for sleep to finally take me. Just when I'm at the verge of falling asleep, I hear her murmur something to me.
"I love you too."
It is enough.
Fini. After many, many months, the journey between Bulma and Vegeta is at an end. I'm sad but happy at the same time. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing when I finally had time to actually sit down and hammer out a chapter. Thanks for everyone who has supported this story and given me so many reviews! You don't realize how much that means to me!