Disclaimer: I don't own or profit from Dragon Balls Z.
A/N: Disclaimer time so gather round. This is a combination of a couple different genres. Psychological thriller, crime drama and romance. All my favorites! To be warned, if you don't enjoy any of these elements you may not be interested in this story. There will be implications of torture in brief flashbacks and behavior, but nothing graphic. There is disarticulation of body parts, but again, nothing graphic. I'm surely not going to write out some grisly, bloody scene. Mostly I'll be dealing with the emotional aftermath. I'm excited to write this story, since it's different from anything I've done before. I hope you all enjoy it!
Bulma Briefs wasn't so much pleasantly buzzed as she was happily sloshed. A Saturday night at one of the most exclusive clubs in West City would do that. When she had been younger she spent most of her weekends enjoying the night life, but lately it had been a rare thing. The last few years had been spent on adventure as she traveled to other worlds and faced down alien monsters. When she did show herself in public it caused quite a stir. As soon as she was spotted it would be sent out on the celebrity blog, and everyone who was anyone would flock to her location. She wasn't singer or an actress, she was something even more. She was an heiress. Blessed with more money than Midas and the looks of Aphrodite, she was everyone's best friend, even when she didn't know their names.
It was getting harder to fool herself into enjoying the party, but with every sip of expensive champagne, of which she bought every round, she would slip away. She drank until the lights blurred into a prism of fabulous colors, and every stranger who spoke to her was the most entertaining comedian she ever met. She danced until the room spun, and the music pounded in her ears even when there was a lull. And when two o'clock rolled around, and it was last call, she ignored everyone who begged her to go to breakfast at some all night dinner, because it was then she remembered, that although everyone else had a pumpkin waiting for them at the end of the evening, her coach would always be there. She waved goodbye to the crowd, thanking them for lifting her up out of her depression and reminding her that although she was lonely, she wasn't one of them. She was elite.
As always the paparazzi were waiting at the door, hoping for the million dollar shot of her make-up melting and her eyes bloodshot, or even better, her garments in hideous disarray exposing her breasts. Their cameras flashed and her bodyguards held them back. She melted into the shadows, only smiling when the newest guard shouted at her to stay close. Although it was wise for someone as rich as her to be protected she never thought it was necessary. She was so much more than just some dumb heiress with fake boobs. She was an adventuress! No one would be foolish enough to touch her.
She was still smiling when the sweet-smelling hand covered her mouth and a steel-framed arm encircled her waist. She shot a look at her guard who was saying something to a photographer. By the sharp snarl to his lips and the way the paparazzo's rounded eyes darted up to his, she knew it was nasty. She reached towards him, begging him to turn and see, but her newly manicured nails merely scrapped across the brick wall of the club as the stranger drew her further into the shadows. She tried to struggle, to somehow fight back, but she was small compared to him. So small that her father used to tease her by saying his little girl never quite grew up into a woman. It was in that moment she realized there was going to be no more growing up. No growing older. It wasn't her choice. Someone else was making it for her. But then again, death never really was a choice.
Max Nguyen forced himself to watch as the detective broke the news to the Briefs that their only daughter would never be coming home. He stood stoically, his jaw squared, as the strained hope in Mrs. Brief's eyes shattered, and insurmountable sorrow crested her finely-aged features. She had been perched ramrod straight on the formal cream settee, but now she collapsed onto her husband, whose ragged voice could barely utter vacant words of comfort.
As Head of Security for the Briefs family, he felt personally responsible for their loss. He was the one to hire the men sent to watch over Bulma. He had drilled them again and again to watch her closely, reminding them of her proclivity for slipping away, naïve in her beliefs that no one would ever dream of hurting her. He fired her body guard of course, but it was hardly necessary. Max could see the guilt haunting the man in his bloodshot eyes.
Max turned to detective Wong, his long time friend in the West City Policy Department. In his profession it was imperative he have connections everywhere.
"What happened, Jon?" He kept his voice respectfully low, but there was no mistaking the command in his tone. Before coming to work for the Briefs he spent twenty years in Special Forces. He was used to men obeying him.
"You know I can't discuss the details of an ongoing case with you, Max."
Max stared hard at the man, his black eyes steady. Jon smoothed his rumbled gray suit with nervous energy. He glanced around for any eavesdroppers before motioning to Max to follow him out of the den into the marbled foyer. Max leaned against the gold gilt stairwell banister leading to the second floor as he waited for Jon to speak.
"We think it was Sincerely Yours."
Max was glad he was braced against the banister or he would have stumbled back in shock. He brushed his calloused hand through his short graying hair, giving himself time gather his thoughts before answering.
"The serial killer?" he asked carefully. Jon nodded in the affirmative, while yanking on his breakfast-stained tie to loosen it. He glanced around again, waiting impatiently for Max to say something. Anything.
His gut clenched, and for the first time in a long time, he thought he might hurl. During war he saw a lot of horrible things. Some of them he even done himself. But that was war, and although innocents got caught in the cross-fire, Max always tried to help who he could. But this man. This monster, Sincerely Yours, was truly a sicko. Bulma Briefs had been a good woman. She may have been snappish with an angry streak a mild wide, but she truly cared about the people around her. She didn't deserve what happened to her. No one did. Max couldn't even bear to think about what her last moments would have been like.
"But that would mean," Max began, but was too horrified to continue.
Jon swivel his head to look Max in the eye before speaking.
"Only her head was found." Max tightened his grip on the banister, his palms sweating.
"And a note?"
Jon's lips thinned and the hard-scored lines bracketing his mouth deepened. "The same as usual. Just that he dearly hoped her family could find peace now that her remains could be verified, and they knew for certain she was in a better place, signed Sincerely Yours."
Everyone who watched the news or read the paper knew of the serial killer dubbed by the media as Sincerely Yours because of the notes he left behind with the remains of his victims. He killed ten women in five years, strategically placing their heads beside busy roadsides beneath street signs so they could be found quickly. In their mouths was always a hand written note, expressing his sympathy for the family's loss and his hope that he could alleviate some of their suffering by leaving the victims head behind for identification. The woman's bodies were never recovered.
His hunting ground was wide-spread with his victims being up to eight hundred miles apart. The police believed he traveled for work, but with enough disposable time to meticulously stalk his victims. He selected a new woman every six months, showing no signs of escalation. He enjoyed his work, and worse, he was in control of it. He was neat and precise, and the police had no leads on who he could be.
Max felt tingling on the back of his neck and he looked up, his gaze colliding with the soul-black eyes of the Briefs house guest, Prince Vegeta. He was standing on the second story landing, watching them with impassive features. Max knew enough of the man's grisly past to be weary of him. As Head of Security he leaned all about him when Bulma had returned from her search for the Namekian Dragon Balls. Max didn't like the man. He didn't need to read a bio to know a man was evil. Twenty years in muddy, bloody ditches routing the enemy taught him that.
Vegeta's expression didn't change as he pushed away from the gold banister, turning his back on the two men, and disappearing into the depths of the house. The sight of Vegeta disturbed Max, but it also gave him a brilliant idea.
Suddenly filled with a new sense of purpose, Max grabbed his friends arm, gaining his full and undivided attention.
"Jon can your department keep this under wraps?"
"What?" Jon gasped, astounded at the request. This wasn't some rich Politian's sex scandal to be swept under the rug. This was murder.
"I know you won't be able to put a lid on the rumors, but don't confirm anything. I'm going to put out the word that Ms. Briefs is on an extended holiday."
"Max what the hell are you talking about?" Jon asked his friend, but Max wasn't looking at him anymore. He was watching Mrs. Briefs through the archway as she sobbed inconsolably into her husband's arms.
"We're going to bring her back." Max turned on his heel, leaving his friend behind to stare at his retreating back, his mouth agape.
"I have to speak to Son Goku," Max yelled over his shoulder, before racing out of the room.