Author's Notes: To answer the inevitable question about time, this story begins roughly one year after the whole Buu thing.
"For the last time, woman, no!" Vegeta shouted as he stalked toward the kitchen.
But Bulma Briefs had never taken that order particularly well. In fact, she had never taken it at all. "Oh, come on, Vegeta," she whined, following her husband, "it's not like I'm asking you to go shopping with me or anything."
Without even looking back, the Saiyan bit out, "That's exactly what you're trying to get me to do, and we have an agreement about that! You don't drag me to your ridiculous shops, I don't terrorize the general public. It's a win/win situation!"
Rolling her eyes, Bulma managed to wedge herself between her irritated husband and the door to the refrigerator. "Well, what I'm doing doesn't involve a shop, so the agreement doesn't pertain to it. It's actually this beautiful historical house that's been set up for…"
"Will you be capable of purchasing things there?"
"Then it's a shop." Vegeta reached out and firmly grasped the door that stood between him and his lunch. "Now move."
The heiress stuck out her lower lip, trying to give her best pout. "Please, sweetie? I could really use your help there. I mean, there will just be so much that I'll need to take back with me, and some of it could be so big, I could really use a wonderful, strong man to help me out."
"Then call Kakarot!" the prince snapped, his temper growing dangerously thin.
Opting for a different route, the heiress crossed her arms in front of her chest and glared at her husband. "Why is it that every time I ask you to help out around here, you don't do it? I mean, is it really so much to ask for you to take out the trash, or mow the lawn, or help with the dishes? No! It isn't! So why is it that you never…"
Bulma suddenly found a hand clamped firmly over her mouth. "I don't think so, woman," Vegeta said with a smirk. "I don't do any of those chores for the same reason you don't do any of those chores: because you built robots to do them for you. And before you start yelling about how you spent so much time making them, need I remind you that I know perfectly well that the maintenance bots were all designed by your father, and that you only added a couple finishing touches that were usually only for aesthetic appeal?"
Shrieking into her husband's palm, Bulma roughly brought both of her hands to his wrist. She pushed as hard as she could, and while it would never have been enough to force him to move, it was well understood between them that it meant it was time to let go. "Damn it, Vegeta!" she shouted, rubbing at her mouth, "I know you hate doing this, I know it goes against our agreement, and I know that if I get desperate, I could call Goku. But it would really, really make my life easier if you would just help me out! These are antiques I'm looking at! It's not like I can capsulize them or anything! And if I have to choose between you threatening every guy that checks me out and Goku's unbelievable ADD, I would pick your violent threats any day!"
Vegeta closed his eyes for a moment. His lips were pressed into a thin line, and Bulma knew that it meant that the end of the discussion was nigh. It was the face he always had right before he either agreed to something, refuse and leave the complex so she couldn't bother him, or would be so mad that he would remove himself from the area because he was about to lose it in front of his family. Bulma knew that it wasn't going to be the last one, but it still didn't make waiting for his answer any easier.
The prince opened his eyes, and before he said anything, Bulma had her answer. She knew that look from a mile away. It was the look that said, "You may have one the battle, but the war will yet be mine!" Bulma began to giggle with delight, and she wrapped her arms around her husband's neck.
"I'm not going with you."
Bulma's eyes snapped open, and she pulled away from her prince. "What the hell do you mean you're not going?"
Vegeta rolled his eyes as he reached out and pulled his wife back up against him. "I mean that there is no way in hell that you're getting me to go to a shop, particularly one for antiquated technology, but if you call me when you're done, I will assist you in loading your purchases into the car."
Bulma's features softened as she looked into her husbands eyes. Even after ten years with each other, it was still rare for him to make such an offer. It had really only been over the course of the last year that he had started bowing out of their arguments and trying to find a peaceful middle ground. While Bulma would never dare say it out loud, she knew what had triggered that change.
She smiled up at him and cupped his cheek with her hand. "I think that sounds wonderful," she softly said. She kissed him gently and sweetly before pulling back. She adjusted her purse on her shoulder, smiling brilliantly at the man she loved. "You should be hearing from me in about five hours. It's going to take me almost an hour just to get there. Thanks, Vegeta!"
As she turned to walk out the door, she felt herself pause. She wasn't sure why, but she felt like the moment between them wasn't over yet. She turned back around to look at her husband, more than a little surprised to see that instead of immediately raiding for food, he was still watching her.
Bulma dropped her purse onto the kitchen table and strode to her husband. Simultaneously, they reached out for each other and pulled each other into a deep kiss. They held on to the moment for almost a minute when their nine year old decided to join them.
"Ew, gross!" he cried out. "Parental display of affection!"
"Shut up," his parents both responded in a calm fashion. Bulma again leaned up for a quick, tender kiss before pulling back slightly. "I love you, Vegeta," she whispered.
"I know," he replied.
It wasn't the most romantic thing in the world to say, but it was as close as he ever got to telling her what she wanted to hear. It was enough for her, though, at least for now. Giving him one final kiss on the cheek and waving good-bye, Bulma practically skipped out the door. She was in a great mood, and nothing was going to bring her out of it!
Thirty minutes later found Vegeta, Trunks, Goku, Gohan, and Goten in an open field, engaging in what they had described as a free-for-all fight. In reality, it was closer to a spar between the two full blooded Saiyans with the smallest of the half bloods trying to help their respective fathers and Gohan trying to keep the younger ones from accidentally getting seriously wounded.
Needless to say, Gohan was having a difficult time.
"Damn it, Goten!" the elder of the brothers shouted, yanking on the back of his brother's gi and pulling him to safety. "Don't do that!"
Goten turned around, wide eyed, and faced his big brother. "Gohan! You swore!"
"Ha ha, nerd boy swore!" Trunks taunted, trying to duck around to get Goku from the side. Trunks almost cursed himself as Goku blocked him yet again.
Goten still wasn't happy. "Gohan! Why did you have to pull me out?"
"Because it is NEVER a good idea to be anywhere between Dad's chest and Vegeta's flying fist!"
Goten stuck his lower lip out in a pout, but couldn't argue the point. He had wanted so badly to catch Vegeta off guard that he had deliberately forced himself between the two adults. While it had the desired effect of throwing Vegeta off, it hadn't given enough time for Vegeta to pull the punch enough. If Gohan hadn't anticipated his brother's move when he did, even Goten knew that it would have been very, very bad.
"Sorry, Gohan. I won't do it again."
Gohan smiled at his brother, knowing that it was only a matter of time before another stupid choice like that would be made. Goten, like Trunks, had an overdeveloped sense of what he could and could not do, which Gohan guessed was the result of growing up with that much power and no enemies to use it on.
"Just watch it, Squirt," he said with a laugh, ruffling his brother's hair. "Now let's get back into it. It looks like Trunks finally managed to get Dad!"
Goten's head snapped sideways as he realized that his brother was right. Without another moment's notice, he launched himself back into the fray.
Another ten minutes passed, and all five Saiyans were thriving. They were in their element, doing what they did best. Doing what they were born to do. Doing what they only got to do with each other. Nowhere else could they feel this alive.
Suddenly, Vegeta yelled out "STOP!"
All five Saiyans came to a grinding halt, and Vegeta's face drained of all color. "Oh, shit…" he whispered. Abruptly, he bolted from the group and took to the sky with a panicked look on his face.
Not missing a second, the other four followed him. Trunks got a sinking feeling in his stomach, and doubled his efforts to catch up to his father.
The Sons didn't know what was happening, but they knew it had to be bad. Vegeta never stopped a fight. He didn't leave to go check on something. He didn't take a break. Ever.
Soon, they found out why he had stopped.
By the time they landed, Vegeta was already pulling the door off of a half crushed car. Trunks tried to get to him, but found himself being forcefully held back by Goku.
"Let me go!" he screamed. "Let me go! She needs me!"
Goku tried to whisper calming things to the hysterical prince. Goten just floated there, staring, not knowing how to react. Gohan, needing to help, joined the elder prince on the ground.
Bulma's car was alone, at the base of a small cliff near a winding country road. It was obvious that she had lost control of her vehicle, and that she had skid through the guard rail and off the edge. The front of her car was thoroughly smashed, and smoke and flames were starting to rise.
Goku watched quietly from the distance as Gohan and Vegeta pulled his oldest friend out of the wreckage. He silently held Trunks to his chest as he watched them lay her half broken and bloody body on the ground, feeling for a pulse. He stoically watched as his son and fellow Saiyan tried to resuscitate her.
He had never felt so helpless in his life.