Author's Note: This is something I wrote two years ago. I intended it to be a prologue for a longer story, but as of now that story is abandoned. The style is overly sappy for my tastes now, but it is interesting to see how my writing has changed.
I think Yamucha is treated unfairly in many fics, cast as a womanizer, a total idiot, sometimes even an abusive sadist. A far cry from the sweet, noble, somewhat clumsy man we see in the series. Here's my take on the relationship between him and Bulma before the Saiyans arrive.
Someone was knocking on the door.
She opened her groggy eyes, groaning as she realized she had drooled on the arm of the Italian couch she had been reclining on. The television screen glowed brightly as a commercial for detergent came on, temporarily blinding her. Squinting, she saw that the clock above the television spelled 12:39 AM.
So he was late today. Wiping the offending moisture off the leather couch with her sleeve, she got up to answer the door.
"Hello, Mister I-Love-to-Interrupt-Bulma's-Beauty-Sleep," she said petulantly. At the sight of his tired, scarred face smiling warmly at her, her irritation quickly melted away. She hugged him at the doorway, comfortable in the warmth emanating from his body as the cold night air swirled about them.
"Hello, Bulma." His voice was enough to bring a smile to her face.
He sat down on the couch as she gave him a glass of water. She took in his appearance—he had obviously changed out of his training gi before he had come, but he looked so tired. His hair was still tousled, his shoulders tense and his jaw set squarely, as if he had been worrying all day about something. He watched the TV for a moment, downing the glass of water in a few gulps. She inched closer to him and settled against his shoulder.
"So how was it today?"
"Nothing special. Krillin and Tenshinhan seemed a little on edge. I sparred with them for a while but it seemed like they were both distracted, nervous or something. I told them we could finish early, and just chill at Master Roshi's, but Krillin refused. It was weird for him to be so intense like that. So we just kept fighting until an hour ago."
He sighed, looking down at her as she rested against him. She touched his cheek lightly, tracing the old scar as she always did when listening to him talk. "I wonder if they know something we don't."
He shook his head. "Nah. We'd all feel it if the Saiyans had arrived. I think it was just something personal bothering them. Hope it wasn't me."
"I wouldn't be surprised if it were you, Yamucha," she teased. "With your habits of waking me up this late and all."
"You know you like it," he said, bending his neck to kiss her. She wrapped her arms around him and leaned into his embrace.
They parted slowly. Her face was flushed, and she wondered how he could still make her feel like that after so many years. They had been together for over a decade. Sometimes it felt like they were married already. Other times, she felt like he was purposely keeping his distance, as if his childhood fear of girls still lingered in his mind. She resented him for that. They often got into fights about it; she would accuse him of all sorts of flaws, of being unfaithful, immature, and selfish, even though she knew she was wrong.
He was afraid that he wasn't good enough for her. And he was afraid he would hurt her. Last year, she had thought he was going to ask her to marry him for sure. But then the Saiyan's arrival and Goku's death had shattered the peace for everyone. She had watched as he turned his attention from her and began training earnestly for the imminent arrival of even deadlier enemies. She berated herself for being so selfish, wishing in vain that all these threats would go away so that they could finally marry and start a family.
Even after she had gotten used to his new lifestyle of hardcore training, she had still felt lonely and unwanted. One day she'd brought it up in casual conversation, making a caustic remark about how he seemed to be using her during the brief times he did see her.
His reaction had been of shock and hurt, and she'd immediately wished she hadn't said anything. "Bulma…" he had stammered. "I didn't think you would take it this way…I'm sorry if I hurt you but…"
"No, it's my fault," she had hurriedly interjected, taking his hands. "I didn't mean it. I'm just upset that we hardly see each another anymore."
He had been concerned for her, but flatly realistic. "I've got to be ready for the Saiyans' arrival. You know that. Kami let us have a look at what the Saiyans were like; he placed us in a dream-state where we fought with two lower-level Saiyans on their home planet. They killed us without breaking a sweat. And the guys coming to Earth are supposed to be a lot stronger."
She had tried to interrupt him then to reassure him that she fully trusted he was capable of winning, but he had kept going, determined to let her know why he had to leave her so often.
"Goku's dead. We don't know if he'll be back by the time the monsters get here. The strongest fighter we've got is Piccolo, and no one trusts him. I've never been able to match Son's power, but I have to try my best to do my part in his place. I want you to understand, Bulma." He paused. Then, "I quit the team a few weeks ago, and I'm not going back."
She had frozen, speechless, at his words. To play professional baseball had been his lifelong dream. He'd kept the fact he'd dropped out a secret, not wanting her to worry about him. She had realized at that moment just how serious this fight was going to be.
"Don't die," she had said emotionally, clinging to his neck. He had just kissed her, holding her tightly in his arms. That had been more than two months earlier.
For the past two weeks, he had been frequenting her home at night, staying to talk to her and hold her as she slept. They hadn't talked about the upcoming fight much, both trying to avoid the dreaded topic that hung so heavily over their heads. Just the fact that he was visiting so often told her he was worried. The aliens would be arriving any day now. It comforted her that he wanted to show her how much he cared, staying with her into the mornings even when she overslept.
He sighed and reached for the remote, turning off the dull throbbing light from the television. Moonlight filtered through the half-drawn shades of the windows, swathing them both in pale shadow.
"What are you thinking about, babe?" he said gently, caressing her hair.
"Nothing really. Just…about you…us," she responded softly.
He was silent, listening. The feel of his fingers threading through her hair filled her with quiet peace. She continued. "I was just thinking about what things will be like when this is over. When this new threat is gone and Son-kun comes back. For once, I'm sick of adventures. I just want the world to be at peace and life to be normal."
"Bulma Briefs, sick of adventures. That's a thought that could bring the world to an end," he said, smirking. His hand stopped its motions and fell to his side. He sobered. "I've been thinking about that a lot too. All the time, actually. It would be hard to keep up this intense schedule of training, eating, and sleeping if I didn't constantly think about what would happen if I didn't work hard enough. And now that the day is so close, it's got all of us more worried."
"I believe in you," she said, looking up at him. She searched his dark eyes, seeing that ever-present flicker of insecurity. "You've definitely worked hard, and you'll win. Goku's coming back, and you guys will show those Saiyans not to mess with Earth. And I'll be watching on TV, cheering you on when you shoot a ki blast through one of them."
He shook his head and grinned. "Thanks, Bulma. It's good to know someone still has confidence in the Z team."
"What do you mean?" she said indignantly, sitting up. "We all believe in you guys! You know you'll win."
She knew he wanted to argue, but he was keeping his words in check for the sake of keeping the peace. He took her hand and laced his fingers with hers. "Bulma, Bulma, Bulma. Man, sometimes I wonder what it'd be like if you were a fighter. Your strength would probably rival Goku's. Do you know how much I admire you?"
"With my brilliant mind and gorgeous looks, I don't know what isn't to admire," she huffed, sticking her chin up playfully.
He laughed, a genuine sound of merriment. It was a welcome sight after these tense two weeks when he scarcely smiled without looking weary and beat-up. She smiled warmly, loving the way his eyes sparkled when he laughed and the way he squeezed her hand more tightly. She loved him. Yawning, she lay against him in a more comfortable position, and he put his arm around her.
"We should go to bed."
"Let's just stay here for a little longer," she insisted.
"All right. Is there something you wanted to talk about?"
She had intended to talk about their relationship earlier, but they had gotten off-topic. She brought it up again.
"I guess I just want to know about where we're going. As in us. When this is over…what's going to happen? I know this is hard to think about right now, with the world about to end and all, but I have to know what you feel. I really love you, Yamucha, I think you know that, and it's been eating at me lately, how we just seem to always be…together…but kind of unsure about it," she said steadily.
He took in her words slowly, seeming to search a long time for the right answer. "I think you know I love you too. I haven't loved anyone or anything more than I love you, Bulma. The years we've spent together have been great…I mean wonderful. When I'm with you, I'm happy. And it crushes me to see you hurt. We've been through so much together…our relationship is something very special to me. I would never want to ruin it," he said, ending somewhat awkwardly. He had evaded the answer she was looking for, not mentioning if he wanted to get married, wait another year, or anything.
She didn't know if she'd see him the next day or not; she couldn't let him just brush off the subject when so much was hanging in the balance. "I'd never want to ruin our relationship either. But I'm wondering how we can make things better between us, and I think we need a more concrete idea of where we're headed—I don't want to be hanging in limbo for another ten years. I just want you to tell me honestly what you want out of this, and what you see happening in our future."
She knew she was being hard on him, but he had put up with her stubborn, pushy personality throughout the course of their relationship. She didn't want him to be afraid to tell her what was truly on his mind.
"Bulma, I…" he started, trying to hide the strain in his voice. "I want you to be happy. I don't want you to be hurt—I mean I don't want to hurt you. I would never forgive myself if something I did…I mean…aughh, this is just so hard to get out."
She bit her tongue and didn't say anything, forcing herself to wait for his full answer. He looked away in frustration for a few seconds, regaining his composure, and continued. He looked into her eyes with an emotion that clenched at her heart.
"I'm afraid." His voice was soft, like that of a man who was lost. "With this battle coming up any day now, I don't know if I'll live or die. I don't know how long I can be with you, Bulma. That's why I can't tell you what you want to hear. I couldn't do that to you and then rush into what very well might be my last fight, knowing I'd be hurting you."
"You're not gonna die!" she said emphatically, her eyes burning with defiance and fierce love for him. "I know it—you've trained so hard, and everyone else has too, and you're all more than ready, I know it!"
"No," he said plainly, his tone leaving a crack in her forced confidence. "None of us knows what will happen. If Goku doesn't make it in time…if Gohan can't fight because he's too young…and if Piccolo dies…no Dragonballs to wish anyone back. So many things could go wrong. I know you believe in me and all of us, and I love you for it. But it's time to look at things realistically. There's no room for wishful thinking. I would rather have you be safe than break your heart. I…I can't talk about this anymore."
She didn't know he was crying until she felt the dampness on his cheek as he hugged her close. She tightened their embrace, feeling the tears from her own eyes flow freely down her face.
"It's not fair. It's not fair that every time some fucking moron tries to take over the Earth, you have to go try to save it so billions of clueless people can keep living, blind to how much you sacrifice for all of them. It's not fair…to me," she choked. "I'm sorry I'm so selfish. I'm just sick of waiting. I wish things weren't this way. I just want to keep loving you and not have to worry about something coming to take you away."
"I'm sorry," he said, stroking her hair as she cried. "I'm not the big hero you want me to be. I can't guarantee you anything. To me, knowing you love me is enough. I just wish I could give so much more to you, and be everything you want. But…I can't."
"Stop, stop talking," she said, sobbing against his neck. The thought of him dying hit her like a wall of cold steel, not relenting to her fiery attempts to deny it. She clung to him as if he were going to vanish any second. The time they had together was so short. Soon, they would sleep, and the next day he would leave to train, and each day that passed would be one day closer to the possible termination of everything they had between them.
After a long time, she turned to him, dry-eyed, and touched his face.
"Don't die," she told him before they slept, repeating the words she had said two months earlier.
He kissed her, holding her lips to his until she couldn't breathe in the rush of that nameless emotion he instilled in her, cradling her in his arms as they lay in the darkness. She took that as his promise.
The next day, he broke it.