Pain Runs Deep
Pain Runs Deep is the middle story of the "Soul" trilogy. The first is "Windows to the Soul", which doesn't necessarily need to be read to understand this story. I make sure everything is explained for those who haven't read Windows.
The past three days have been dark and gloomy. The rain has sufficiently washed away any hint of summer we had left and made way for fall. This was depressing. I've never really been a fan of rain, especially the kind that falls so hard that it stings on contact. I was supposed to go away to a beach front resort for work, but the test period was cancelled because of the rain. It makes me wonder why we hired scientists that think that rain is going to impact the study of a product that is to be used underwater. I will be considering a restructure when my father completely hands over the company to me. This particular scientist, the head of his division, wanted to reschedule in three days time. That was unacceptable. I've been tracking a certain ship through space for the past 7 weeks, and it should be landing in two days. He had looked at me like I had two heads when I told him that my boyfriend was returning home and that I would be unavailable. What a surprise, the forty-three year old scientist that lives in his Mommy's basement and does physics calculations in his spare time couldn't understand why I would rather spend time with a partner.
I sigh and place the palm of my hand against the tinted glass of the windows in my office. I watch the beads of rain run down the panes and hide behind my hand, only to reappear underneath and continue their journey. I should be working. I have figures that need to be looked over, expense reports that I need to sign, and I should really get in contact with my vice-president of sales at some point today. I hear a musical tone, signaling that I have just received yet another e-mail message. My e-mail inbox is like the rain today, there's so many already, what's one more little drop?
I turn around and walk back to my leather chair, sliding down into it. I click to open my inbox and roll my eyes. The new e-mail is a sponsorship request. I have a group of employees that deal with sponsorship requests, but yet, despite having the proper sponsorship e-mail address plastered on the form, people still send them to me. The vindictive side of me wants to make a new policy that states that any requests that come to me get declined automatically. The business woman side of me clicks the 'forward' button to send the message to a sponsorship representative.
When I first started out working for the company, Dad was still young and very much in charge. I was around nineteen and didn't want to take on too much at first, so I started out as the Sponsorships and Events manager. I loved that role, and being able to manage a group of employees and still be able to speak with the public. I didn't like some of the people I had to deal with though, mostly people who felt that they were entitled to our sponsorship dollars and got angry when we wouldn't throw our profits at them. From there I went into the role of vice-president of Communications, and am currently the executive vice-president. Dad still holds the title of President even thought I do most of the work that should fall under that title.
The media likes to rant about how Capsule Corporation, being such a large company, should elect a board of directors to be in charge. They think I'm an unsuitable executive vice-president and would make an even more unsuitable president when the time comes. I made quite a few enemies in the media when I was the vice-president of Communications. They were used to someone who would roll over and ignore their stories on how we misused our profits. When I took the position, I made sure that they were rightly informed of the facts, and communicated that any further slander of the corporation would result in a lawsuit. I refused to play their game, and I wouldn't be manipulated into giving them the quotes they wanted for their articles and stories. Some reporters have thus turned their eyes on me instead, which is fine.
I click on the next e-mail, which is a meeting invite concerning current media communications. I like to stay informed with our media strategies since I'm their favourite target. The subject of the next e-mail catches my eye, "Keywords: Bulma + Briefs retrieved". We have a media tracking program that sends anything with our keywords to my media employees. This must be some story for them to have forwarded it on to me.
I open the e-mail and scroll down, skimming over the story, which is a collection of different short gossip blurbs.
"Bulma Briefs, heiress to the Capsule Corporation fortune, has reportedly been traded in for a better model. This comes as no surprise, as many products of CC have been "traded in" for better quality products of competitors, apparently, including the vice-president. Ms. Briefs has been attending functions on her own as of late, sparking rumours that her decade long relationship with professional martial artist, Yamcha, was over. The truth to these rumours came out last night when photographers caught the young man with a younger, prettier, blonde woman in local club, La Spaz. Can Ms. Briefs' reputation really stand to take another hit?"
I rolled my eyes and glanced over the small picture that was included. I know that woman, she regularly models our products at conventions. He couldn't have picked someone that doesn't work for me to go tramping around with? I delete the e-mail and move on to the next. I must remember to tell the media employees not to send me any other articles like these. I don't care to know what they're saying about my personal life.
"Bulma, stop pacing," Taya's usual sweet voice is hardened by her command. Taya was my executive assistant when I was in charge of Communications, and has since decided to return to college. She's a darling and is my best human friend that isn't connected to Saiyan's in any way. She's short, and slightly bigger than I am. She has big brown, empathetic eyes and long purple hair. She laughs as I send her look over my shoulder.
I don't think I've been this nervous in years. My tracking device is reading that Vegeta should be landing sometime tonight, and I'm bubbling with anticipation and fear. It's been almost two months since I last saw him. He left not long after we reconciled the last time and Yamcha had walked out of my life for good. He wanted to remove distractions and get his priorities in order, so he left to train in space. I know how unpredictable this man is, and I'm afraid that he no longer has an interest in me. We don't much get along, and half the time he sees me as a nuisance, so for him to lose interest isn't that farfetched. Taya has been nice enough to stay and keep me entertained while I wait so I don't drive myself crazy.
"He will land when he lands. You making me dizzy with your pacing is not going to help," she says, trying her best to sound authoritative.
"I know, I know," I say, walking back and forth in the middle of my living room. I'm an independent woman who can stand on my own, but, I missed the Prince over the last two months and can't wait for him to get back. I wish I could completely confide everything in Taya, but I can't. She knows about Vegeta and I, but she knows nothing of him. I told her that he tests some secret training gear that is quite experimental and cannot be divulged to the public as of yet, which accounts for his absence. "But," I continue, "what if he met some really cute alien woman and wants to be with her?" I'm only half joking.
Taya giggles, "sweetie, I know there's some pretty weird and abnormal things on this planet, but there's no aliens anywhere near here. And, even if there were, they wouldn't look anything like humans and would probably have very incompatible genitalia."
I stop walking and turn to her with a grin, "silly Taya, of course there's aliens around here. I personally know many." The truth, but she'll take it as a joke, just like I intend. "Vegeta himself is an alien, and I can tell you right now that our genitalia are plenty compatible."
She laughs, "sure, you're dating an alien. It's every little girls dream to grow up and be with an alien. Forget princes, aliens are the way to go."
"Oh! He's one of those too!" I exclaim, to which I receive a confused look. "He's the prince of his alien planet," I explain, which sends her into another fit of laughter.
"Gee, Bulma, you're just so lucky," she says after a few moments of laughter, "I wish I could meet an alien prince."
"Keep trying and maybe someday you will," I tell her, keeping my tone serious. I sit down on the sofa beside her. "He just knows I'm waiting and is dragging it out just to torment me."
"I'm sure that's not true," Taya says.
"Oh, it is. He's evil and maniacal like that," I say, leaning back and closing my eyes. I open my mouth to say something when a sound from the back of the compound catches my attention. My eyes snap open and I jump to my feet, making my way to the back of the building with Taya on my heels. I lean on a window sill, looking out into the darkness. I smile and let out giddy laugh when I see the ship. "He's home," I say, turning and giving Taya and quick hug before pushing her gently the way we had come. "You can go now."
"Really, can I?" She responds sarcastically, letting me push her away.
I take a deep breath to calm my nerves before walking out the back door. I step to the side of our porch and lean on the railing while I watch the ship. It isn't long before a figure exits. I smile to myself as he walks closer. His armor is damaged and scratched, but he seems to be fine from what I can tell in the dark. "Hey you," I say as he steps onto the porch.
He cocks an eyebrow in amusement from what I can tell. He stands away from me in the dark, so it's hard to make his features out. "Waiting?" He asks, his voice rougher than usual from its lack of use.
I shrug, "of course not, it's purely coincidental."
"Do you remember that I have sensitive ears by human standards?" He asks after a moment passes.
I chuckle slightly, "that's a rather weird question to ask. Yes, of course I remember."
He nods and steps closer to me and into the light from the outside lamp.
My eyes go wide, "Vegeta!" I scream, "what the hell happened?"
He cringes from the volume of my voice, "I was hoping you wouldn't do that."
I gingerly reach out and touch his cheek with my fingertips, trying to ignore the hurt that comes when he tenses from my touch. A long open slash goes the length of his cheek from his temple down to his jaw, just narrowly missing his eye. He was staring at me as I looked over the cut, concern, I'm sure, was evident in my eyes.
"It'll heal soon enough," he says, moving his head to the side and away from my hand. "A few of the metal casings inside the ship came loose and one flew at me as I hit Earth's gravity. It'll need to be fixed before I leave again."
"You've been on the planet for not even five minutes and already you're talking about leaving again," I say, trying to keep my voice from showing my disappointment. What did I really expect? Him to be happy to see me? I should have known better than to expect anything of him. I don't give him a chance to speak. "Come on inside, then, and get cleaned up. Every time you show up at my house you smell like you haven't bathed in months." I turn away from him and lead the way into the house.
I make my way into the living room as he goes in a separate direction towards the stairway to the second floor. Not another word is spoken between us. Any excitement I had felt has been squashed and replaced with a hollow feeling. This just stands to be another reminder that my heart is more tied up in this man than it should be. I plop down on the sofa and grab the nearest fashion magazine. I try to immerse myself in it instead of wondering if it's even worth it to wait and see if his majesty comes back down to see me.
I'm halfway through the latest and greatest in fall fashions when he steps through the doorway. I place the magazine down and look him over. The cut on his face looks better when it's not surrounded by dirt and debris. There are random scratches over his arms and I wonder briefly what other marks are under the muscle shirt and track pants he wears. He crosses his arms over his chest and waits for me to speak.
"Welcome home," I say quietly with a small smile.
"This isn't my home," he replies without missing a beat.
My mouth falls open for a second before I snap it closed. "Fine," I say, keeping my voice neutral. I stand up and walk across the living room. "It's late, I'm going to bed."
"You waited for me to tell me that?" He asks, watching as I walk towards him.
"Yes, Vegeta, that is my exact reason," I reply sarcastically. "Is that all you want to say or is there more?" I stop a few feet in front of him and cross my own arms across my chest, mimicking him.
He shakes his head. "No, I have nothing to say. Since you're so intent on going to bed, where am I to sleep tonight?"
"Where ever the hell you want to," I reply and move around him. I refuse to give in to the nagging voice of my brain telling me that he's lost all interest in me as I climb the stairs and walk into my bedroom. I quickly change into a short silk nightgown and lay down in bed, snuggling deep into my mountain of pillows and blankets. "Stupid Saiyan…" I mutter quietly, closing my eyes.
I toss and turn for an hour before I give in and sit up. I can't get my brain to rest and let me sleep. I huff and blow a piece of hair out of my face, before swallowing my pride and climbing out of bed. I know I won't be able to sleep until I know where Vegeta and I stand. I creep out of my room and down the hallway, all the while hoping that Vegeta has decided to sleep in the guest room that was given to him long before he started sleeping in my room. I knock lightly on the door and open it, walking silently inside and gently closing the door behind me.
"Hey, you," I say, sitting on the edge of the bed beside where he lays on his back. He grumbles something in another language without waking up. I frown, "Vegeta," I say, a little louder. Once again he says something in a language unfamiliar to me. I narrow my eyes and lean down in his face, "Vegeta, either you wake up, or I'll… I don't know, but it will not be pleasant!"
"More unpleasant than being woken up in the middle of the night by an irritating female?" he asks after a moment, his voice still heavy with sleep.
"Yes, much more," I reply. "And, I am not irritating."
"Matter of opinion," he states, keeping his eyes closed.
"You are difficult," I lean down and bite his nose, effectively making him snap his eyes open. I sit back up with a smug look. "Now that I have your attention, we need to talk."
"Sleep, woman," he says, groaning, "we need to sleep."
"We can sleep later," I dismiss his statement easily. "I need to know if you met some strange alien woman that you, somehow, manage to find more attractive than me and have, thus, lost interest in me and have decided to pursue her."
He stares up at me for a moment before chuckling. "You're insane."
"Just answer the question," I return.
"No, Bulma, you still remain the only woman that I can stand to be around." He pauses before adding, "when you haven't completely lost your mind. Can I go back to sleep now?"
"You are such a jerk," I narrow my eyes at him. "You can't say anything nice, can you?"
He groans and turns away from me.
"Yeah, yeah," I say quietly, swinging my legs up onto his bed and laying down behind him. I loop my arm around his waist and move into him, finally content to sleep.
A/n: Thank you to everyone who read, reviewed and enjoyed Windows. Reading all the lovely comments on the last chapter really made it all worth it. Knowing that there's so many of you who were looking forward to this story encouraged me to take whatever spare time I have and write. I could really ramble on and on, but I won't, I promise. I picked up some great new readers with the end of Windows, and retained some of my loyal ones, so, this entire story is dedicated to all of you.