Pain Runs Deep

A/N: I've decided to continue this story after a long time away from it. I had to go back and read everything again, but it was worth it. Please don't hesitate to leave a review, I love to read them.

Chapter 4

I sit and stare forward. There's a lit computer screen in front of me, and a list of unread e-mails staring back. Somehow my brain just doesn't want to focus on the words. I rub my eyes even though I'm not tired, and lean back in my leather office chair. What is wrong with me? I think I have too much going on in my life right now. Not only do I have to deal with my alien boyfriend being back on Earth (and is he really my boyfriend?), and my little cousins extremely expensive wedding, but now I have mysterious bruises appearing on me in places where someone in a dream had grabbed me. I absently lift my hands and look at where the mostly faded bruises once shone bright purple. Maybe I need post-traumatic stress counselling?

I sigh inwardly. How could I possibly explain to a therapist what is wrong with me? Let me see now… my alien boyfriend, who happens to be a Prince from a dead planet, has serious commitment issues and deep psychological scarring to the point that he will never love or trust me. My mother has decided to become surrogate mother to my cousin and continually make hints about how my life will never match the picture in her head of what she wants for me. My father is completely ignorant of any and all of this, and doesn't understand why my work hasn't been up to par. My annoying little spoiled brat of a lovesick cousin is trying to steal my family and is continually flaunting her 'perfect' life. And finally? Well, the woman I killed a couple months ago is now coming to me in dreams and leaving marks on my physical body. Alright, so maybe the family troubles are slightly normal, but pretty sure the alien man and dead woman attacking me would be enough for them to put me away in a crazy house.

Thankfully, in the past week, I have convinced Mesu that my attacking her was only me sleepwalking and mimicking the actions from my dream. I think she forgave me, but she hasn't tried to wake me up since, which I'm perfectly fine with.

Mesu has now been living with us for two weeks, which is two weeks more than I would have preferred. I have managed to complete repairs on Vegeta's ship in that time, and I know it's only a matter of time before he leaves again. I have considered the option of going with him to avoid Mesu, but I don't think that's a really viable option. Besides, he left to get away from me, which I have chosen to respect and not to think of the crushing pain from the man I love not being able to stand to stay around me.

I pull myself from my thoughts again and once again stare at the computer screen. I'm not getting any work done today. I minimize my e-mail and stand from my chair. It's time to go home.

"So, are you going to be a bridesmaid, Bulma?" Mesu asks me. She's standing by the stove chopping vegetables with my mother.

I look up from the wedding magazine that I had absently grabbed and started to flip through. It was just sitting at the kitchen table, my grabbing it to browse was merely instinct. "No," I reply, "I've seen the dresses you picked out."

"Bulma!" My mother chastises me. "That's not very nice, the dresses are just darling. I love the big pink bow on the hip and the matching big pink flower on the hat."

"Sorry," I mutter. The dresses Mesu picked were a cotton and polyester mess. They were a pastel pink, and way too… fluffy. Not to mention the bow and flower that my mother had kindly brought up. Mesu had guaranteed that no one would be looking at her bridesmaids with those dresses. I, personally, would have picked something classy. My bridesmaid dresses would have been a soft yellow, fitted and simple. I sigh before I can catch myself.

My mother looks over at me with a frown, but I pretend not to notice and she doesn't say anything.

"I can't believe it's a month and a half away," Mesu was rambling on, "there's still so much to do, so much to plan."

"You could always push the wedding back and go home," I offer up, trying to help alleviate her stress, of course. I glance up to see my mother giving me a disapproving look. "Sorry," I mutter again.

"It's alright," Mesu says, her voice dripping with mock understanding, "I know she's only lashing out at me because of the shortcomings of her own relationship."

"My relationship has no 'shortcomings'," I grit my teeth and try to keep from snarling at her.

"Hm, have you seen your boyfriend?" Mesu says, continuing to cut the vegetable in front of her, "he is the epitome of 'short'." She laughs at her own stupid joke, completely unaware that the man in question has just entered the room.

Vegeta cocks one eyebrow and shakes his head, "I would insult you back, but there's no sport in it, it's simply too easy."

Mesu whirls around and looks at him in complete embarrassment. Before she can stutter off an apology, I can't resist.

"Too easy," I say, "like Mesu!" I roar with fake laughter, making Vegeta smirk with amusement in response to my overly enthusiastic display.

Mesu sticks her bottom lip out and narrows her eyes at me. "You are so immature," she says haughtily, before turning to dump the cut up vegetables into the pot of boiling water.

"I know you are, but what am I?" I answer in a childish voice. I stick my tongue out at her, and make a stupid face.

"You know something, dear?" Mesu turns to lean back on the counter and regard me. "At least dealing with you will give me great training for when I become a mother. It's a good thing you will never require that training." She glances at the man retrieving a bottle of water from my fridge, before looking back to me with a smug look.

"Oh really?" I say, jumping to my feet. I don't really know why, but that comment seems to have struck a nerve with me. "When you become a mother?" I ask, "so, is that the reason for the short engagement, Mesu?" My voice is now dripping with venom, "are you with child? Did you get knocked up? It's a shotgun wedding, then?" Before anyone can get a word out, I storm off. I want to be alone.

Later that night, my mother finds me brooding in my lab. It's the only place I can go to get any peace, and my mother rarely enters that space. I'm surprised when I see her come through the door.

She makes a disapproving click with her tongue as she regards the mess surrounding her. In my defense, it's an organized mess. Well, a mostly organized mess.

I sigh and plop my butt down on a stool and wait for her to make her way to me. She chooses to stand in front of me instead of taking the opposite stool. This was going to be a mothering moment.

"I think you owe your cousin an apology, darling," she says, as stern as she possibly can.

"Yeah, yeah," I dismiss her comment with a wave of my hand, "I'll apologize tomorrow, alright?"

She hesitates before continuing, "I also wanted to talk to you about how you've been behaving with your cousin. It's unbecoming of a young lady."

I roll my eyes and nod.

"Honey, is everything alright?" She asks, her worry evident in her voice.

"Just great," I say absently.

"I was just thinking, dear, that maybe you didn't know what you wanted until you saw someone else get it," she ponders, "like my garden. I didn't know I wanted that lovely pink rose bush until I saw our neighbour get the exact same variety. I rushed right out and bought my own bush. And my, is it beautiful, and makes my garden complete."

"Mom, is there a point to this?" I groan.

She smiles at me and pats my hand, "maybe you thought you were content with daisies, but when you saw someone else with roses, you realised that roses are what you really want. And, as much as you love daisies, your garden won't be complete without those roses."

I stare at my mother in shock. Did she really just relate my life to… to flowers?

"Oh well, I was just thinking," she laughs airily, "but I'm sure you already thought about it. Such a smart girl, Bulma." She smiles at me, pats my hand again and makes her way out of my lab.

I stare at the door she has just passed through. Is my mother trying to sabotage my relationship with Vegeta? She adores him, she thinks he's just swell. Or I thought she did. Maybe she had expected things to escalate quicker than they have. But, that brings about another question entirely. Will our relationship ever really escalate? Vegeta has told me that he cannot love me, and has expressed his disdain for human traditions like marriage. Would he ever be open to having a child? Do I even want children? I absently moved my hand over my stomach. Could I go through life never having an heir and be happy? Happy with a man who will never stay by my side, but instead only return to me briefly before leaving again? I don't think I have ever actually thought about what we have in the long term, I've always been so grounded in the present and the short term. I love Vegeta, but is love enough to go through my life primarily alone?

"Your mother has a point," a voice causes me to jerk my head up and I look around in confusion. There's no one there. The voice was quiet, almost a whisper. I shake my head, I must be hallucinating.

My brain is playing tricks on me, I decide, and turn back to the workspace in front of me. I let my eyes drop to the table and let loose a piercing scream. There, sitting neatly on my work surface, is the same knife that I had buried in Lait's abdomen only months prior. I jump to my feet and bolt to the door, stumbling to open it in my panic. I race through our backyard to our deck, where I can just make out the form of the Prince.

I can't see his eyes, but I know he is watching me intently. As I reach him, he grabs my forearms to keep me upright and support me. I'm breathing so heavily, and my head is reeling. "The voice… the knife…" I manage to gasp out between breathes.

"What are you talking about?" he growls, sounding slightly annoyed.

"My lab… the knife, it was there, on the table," I ramble quickly.

"Stop panicking," he commands.

Something about the stern tone to his voice makes me breakdown and I start to sob. Everything I thought I had moved past has returned. I'm scared to look at my hands for fear that I would see the blood all over again. I throw my arms around Vegeta and bury my head in the side of his neck. I feel him tense and hesitate, probably questioning my mental state. He sighs in annoyance, but puts his arms around me anyway.

After a moment, I pull back from him and wipe at my eyes before looking into his face. I force a smile, "I'm sorry, I think I'm just tired and overworked." I have to rely on myself, there's no sense getting into the habit of relying on someone who has no intention of being there.

"You're lying," he states, so sure of himself.

I run a hand through my hair and force a laugh, "no really, I'm alright." I'm so scared to show any emotion to this man, or to act in a way to make him think less of me. I know he thinks so little of humans to begin with, I'm not about to let myself appear weak. Or, I prefer not to let myself appear weak, but I'm certain my previous panic had given him doubts about whether I was worth his time. It may have also given him doubts on my mental state. Currently, I'm having doubts about my own mental state.

Vegeta regards me doubtfully, "fine."

I want him to push to know what had bothered me, I want him to care. Instead of giving way to those thoughts, I wind my arms around his neck. "I don't suppose you'd care to escort me back to my lab?"

"Afraid of the dark?" He asks me, slightly tauntingly.

I pout, "of course not. Do you think I'm a child?"

He shrugs, "sometimes you act like one."

I snort, "well, sometimes you act like a conceited, spoiled, egomaniac. Oh, wait! You are a conceited, spoiled, egomaniac."

"Clever," he replies. "Your insults are so eloquent and intelligent."

"Yeah, well, I'm rubber and you're glue," I say defiantly, placing my fists on my hips.

He gives me a look of confusion. "Glue?" he repeats.

"You know, because things bounce off me and stick to you," I explain.

"What things?" he questions.

"I… you know what, nevermind," I say with a true laugh. I pull on his arm in the direction of my lab. "Come on," I urge.

He rolls his eyes, but complies with my request. He follows me silently back to my lab.

I open the door slowly and look around the dimly lit room before entering. "Huh," I mutter. I had half expected to see the source of the voice from earlier.

I walk deeper into the room, and make a beeline for the table I had been at earlier. Not surprisingly, the knife was no longer there. I let out the breath I didn't know I was holding. I laugh at myself. I must have been mistaken, or was so worried about other things that I saw something that wasn't there. I turn around to tell Vegeta that we can leave, but the words never even form on my tongue. His back is to me, and he's staring towards the near wall. My blood drains from my head and I start to feel dizzy.

Stuck into the wall was the same knife I had seen earlier, only this time it was stabbing through a pink rose.