Disclaimer: I don't own or profit from DBZ.

Free My Soul

Chapter Twelve

"This is my will," Vegeta answered boldly.

The world flickered. It became red desert, and broken rock against a blue sky. It was green and rolling. It was red and bloody. It hummed with the satisfaction of a dragon. It vibrated with Nappa's laughter. Vegeta blinked, and the world stilled beneath his booted heals. He glanced down at his blue uniform, before looking ahead at the line of warriors squaring off.

A mountain moved next to him. Nappa was uncapping the vial of Saibaimen. Vegeta's hand shot out, stilling the subordinate. Nappa glanced at him in askance.

"No more. We will not be fighting the humans any longer."

"Huh?" Nappa's dumb confusion slid off his face, and echoed through the narrow valley.

Vegeta ignored him, and the stunned human warriors. He fisted his hand, staring at the strained white leather across his knuckles. He could feel the power strumming inside him, waiting to be released. He was Legendary. He had the power to crush Frieza with a thought. He could rule the universe as he was meant to. Everything he ever dreamed of was laid out before him.

"Prince Vegeta?"

Vegeta shot a look at Nappa. He expected to feel the typical disgust when he looked at his bodyguard, but the sick feeling of betrayal was gone. Nappa was supposed to have been his protector, and when his weakness had failed to keep Vegeta safe from Frieza's sadistic torture, he had blamed the man-blamed him for saving his life when he was thirteen, and bleeding out on the floor. Now, for the first time, Vegeta saw the situation with eyes untainted by anger. Nappa, dumb beast that he was, had done all he could for his Prince. He had been loyal to him, even has Vegeta had taken all of his suffering out on the older man. Vegeta's resentment had been nothing compared to his own guilt of not being Saiyan enough to care for his Prince as he would have liked.

Grim, Vegeta laid a firm hand on his bodyguard's shoulder. He felt the initial tensing of Nappa's muscles as he expected his prince to lash out at him.

"The humans are not our enemy, old friend. Frieza will be here shortly. It is him we must make ready for."

Nappa shifted to face his Prince. "How do you know this?"

"I know. I will kill him once and for all."

Vegeta watched as myriad of emotions crossed through the man's normally impassive eyes. Finally, after filtering between disbelief and concern, Nappa settled on fierce loyalty.

"Of course, My Prince. I will fight by your side to the death!" he roared.

Vegeta squeezed Nappa's shoulder, allowing a small smile to edge his lips.

"Not to our death, friend, to Frieza's. I have the power to defeat him now."

"Of course!"

Vegeta nearly laughed. Nappa clearly thought his Prince was delusional, but he would rather die than admit it. Vegeta couldn't believe the lightness he felt in his chest. The peace. In ten years he hadn't laughed. And now he was comforted in the shadow of a man that he had plotted to murder, just to alleviate his own disgust at himself for existing.

Vegeta turned to the Z fighters. He had made no attempt to hide his conversation with Nappa, and now they were staring at him with indecision.

"Earth has nothing to fear from us. We are now allies. Prepare yourself. An evil far greater than you could ever imagine is coming. Nappa, prep them on what they are about to face. I have something I must do." Vegeta clapped his friend's shoulder reassuringly, before launching into the air, leaving behind the stunned group.

Vegeta stretched out his senses. Bulma's energy was at the far-reaches of his mind, flickering with fear and curiosity. He adjusted his course, speeding towards her. Orange mountains melted into crystal blue water as he crossed the distance with blinding speed. A tiny gold dot appeared in the distance, growing into a tropical island with a single house at the center.

His booted heels sunk into the damp sand as he landed. The sunshine dancing off the blue water reminded him of Bulma's eyes. For the first time since he was a boy he felt nervous. A crowd appeared in the doorway of the house, pushing and shoving to get a good look at him. He straightened his shoulders, scowling at the ninnies gawking at him.

"I'm here to speak to Bulma."

His voice boomed across the sea. A gull squawked in a distance. There was a ripple among the throng of people. Someone shoved from behind. She emerged, looking young and fresh in a way that he had never seen her before. She was breathtakingly beautiful. All blue hair and pale unmarked skin. There were no bruises in her eyes, and he was rocked with the realization that he never met this Bulma. This Bulma, whose world had never been destroyed. She didn't know sorrow or regret. She knew nothing of pain or suffering. There was not a thing they had in common anymore. How could she possibly come to care for him again?

The woman in front of him was untouched by tragedy and bloodshed. She was innocent. Someone who would never look twice at him.

Tentatively, she made her way towards him, shaking off the old man who tried to stop her. She paused only a few feet from him. There was fear, but it was deeply buried beneath her ever-persistent curiosity.

"I am Vegeta."

"I know you from Babba's crystal ball, but how is that you know me?"

Vegeta shifted his weight. What could he say? We met in a different life. I'm cold without you. I'm sorry I fucked up. I killed our child so you wouldn't have too.

"I took something from you. Something I can never return."

She cocked her head to the side. She had watched him stand in silence or laugh with maliciousness through the crystal ball for the last day, when suddenly just moments before he took off into the air, she felt something pop in her chest. She watched him with renewed fascination. The way he moved, how his muscles rippled. The way he spoke with his body while saying nothing at all.

"I am sure I am not missing anything."

She was barefoot, and the warm, wet sand seeped between her toes. The sun was beating down, and she had to shade her eyes to look at him. In the crystal ball his face was always shadowed with something more than just a trick of light. There was something heavy laying on him that wasn't visible to the naked eye, but now as she looked at him, the shadow was gone, and she noted with a pleasant tingle in her belly that his black eyes were lit with an inner fire.

"It would not be missed."

"Then are you sure it was taken?"

Bulma was struck at the oddness of their conversation. It was riddle wrapped in vague words, a puzzle she felt destined never to unravel.

"Yes, I took it, but I intend to spend the rest of my life making it up to you."

Bulma rocked back on her heels. The suddenness of feeling that she felt in her chest was intense. She was silenced by the monumental commitment laid at her feet by a mere stranger. Smart, witty Bulma knew that running away screaming was the right thing to do. Smart, witty Bulma was awed by the man in front of her.

"Something that won't even be missed surely doesn't deserve such a promise."

"I promised you happiness before, and I intend to keep it."

"I am positive I would remember such a promise coming from the lips of man such as yourself."

Bulma found herself taking a step closer. Drawn to him. There was something inside him. Golden, pulsing and beautiful.

"How positive are you that I don't know that strawberry parfait is your favorite dessert? Or that you recite prime numbers when you are nervous? Or that you thought about letting some dumb fuck boy get you pregnant at sixteen so you would never be alone again?"

Bulma's jaw dropped. Vegeta closed the gap, grasping her beneath the elbows so she wouldn't drop to the ground in shock. Over her shoulder he could see the witless human throng roil with fear.

"How do you know these things?" Her voice wavered. Standing so close, he blocked out the sun, and she could see the firm line of his jaw, his full lips and his clear black eyes staring straight into her.

"We knew each other once, in a different time and place. You don't know me now, but I still remember everything. I know all your secrets."

"Surely not everything."

He stared down at her, his thumb swiping gently over the curve of her arm where he held her. She watched intently as the corners of his full mouth turned down as if he was fighting a war inside himself. A war of what to say.

"Please." She rested her hands on his arms. Even through the lycra of his uniform she could feel how warm he was. "Tell me."

"I will tell you everything. Even the parts I don't want to. But right now I have to go."

"No!" She dug her nails into is arm, holding him prisoner. "Tell me the secret you think you know." Her eyes were spitting fire, and Vegeta knew that even though their experiences together were lost, this was still the same woman he had come to crave in every corner of his being. He leaned closer, watching as her eyes rounded, and her tiny, kittenish grip on his arms loosened.

"I know what your true heart's desire is."

She paled, and turned her face away so he could study her profile. "Of course. Everyone does. My fifteen year plan."

Her voice was dismissive, and he could feel the tension in her body. It made him angry. He pulled her up until she was on her toes, shaking her lightly. She shot a horrified look at him, and he was struck by the realization that she didn't know him well enough not to be afraid. A huge mountain of man lumbered out into the sun, followed by a skinny old fart who looked as if they would intervene. He ignored them, looking Bulma straight in the eye instead.

"That's your ambition dream. Your true heats desire is love. Real love. True, burn me up with passion, the other half of your soul, love. Love that remains strong even as you grow old. The kind of devotion you would sacrifice everything for, knowing in your heart you would do anything for them. To be assured that nothing could ever tear you apart, and they would never leave you. That it would absolutely kill you to be separated from them. The knowledge you will never be alone." He thought back to that day in their cell while she perched on his back, describing to him what love was, and as he recited it back to her, in his heart, he knew she was right. With her in his life, he would never be alone again.

Bulma's face became ashen as he spoke. She lost all strength in her limbs, and buckled to the ground. Vegeta followed, falling to his knees before her.

"Oh, my, God. How could you? How did you know that?" She rocked forward on her knees, taking quick, gasping breaths as she clutched her chest.

Vegeta leaned forward to wrap his arms around her, but she responded with viper quickness. She thrust her palms into the center of his chest, shoving him back.

"Don't touch me! I don't know you." She stumbled to her feet, backing awkwardly away. She looked panicked, then confused. "I don't know you, do I?"

Vegeta rose slowly to his feet, solemnity settling over his features. "No. You don't know me." He cast a glance to the crowd that had been edging closer to them. They looked worried and afraid, and one dark-haired woman looked like she was getting ready to commit murder. "A threat is closing in on this world. I won't allow Frieza to hurt you again. I will keep you safe, Bulma."

He turned to leave, and Bulma momentarily panicked at the sudden sense of loss. This she knew had happened before. She could feel the tingle of déjà vu down her spine. The fear, anger, and deep sense of abandonment that accompanied the feeling was nearly overwhelming. She leapt towards him, brushing her fingertips along his shoulder. He shivered, and lightning traveled up her arm. There was something so familiar to the set of his shoulders, and the line of his back.

"I'll be back." He glanced over his shoulder at her. The heat in his gaze was poorly veiled by his thick, dark lashes. "Perhaps someday you will dance to Swan Lake for me again."

Startled Bulma dropped her hand, afraid to touch the not-stranger in front of her. She tried not to be sad when she saw the shadow flicker across his eyes before he turned away. He took a few steps away, and the flowing water splashed around his ankles. He fisted his hands at his sides, the line of his shoulders tensing, and she knew he was going to leave.

"Vegeta!" she called out with a suddenness that even startled her. He paused, but didn't look back. "What's your true heart desire?"

The question though awkward felt right. It was as if she had been waiting a life time to hear his answer.

He turned his head, glancing over his shoulder. His face was shadowed, but she could see light in his eyes.

"You, Bulma. It's always been you."

She sank to the ground, watching as he disappeared in the sky, the sand fluffing between her fingers, and the surf licking her toes. She didn't know what was going on, or who he was, but somewhere deep down was the surety that meeting him was going to change her life forever.

THE END

A/N: I can practically hear the cacophony of 'what the fucks' webbing their way to my e-mail as I post this. I am giving serious thought to a third and final installment of this story. The alluring idea of writing a story of a courting Prince Vegeta, and a frightfully confused Bulma, is nearly over-whelming. I mean really—How could that possible go wrong….0.o Throw in boyfriend Yamcha pawing at already 'claimed' Bulma. Omg let the shenanigans begin.

Before considering that, however, I will to be working on completing Fixation. So keep an eye out for updates there. Also, next Thursday if you so desire you can check out a B/V sexy one-shot Scandalous that I will be posting on media miner only, under my pen name Temptingtemptation.