Chapter 24: "Guard Duty"

Author's Note: CHAPTER CHANGE! Please note guys that what had taken me so long with updating is this simple fact. I had no idea where I wanted to go with my story from this point to get to where I'm planning on going. I do not reread my chapters when writing my new ones so the fact that I'd not touched my fic. for so long is the reason behind the two chapters I'd written for this installment. Honestly I've been annoyed with myself since I posted this chapter, and I agree with you all now that I've decided to read my fic. from start to the point I stopped. So, forgive me for doing this, but I've taken the last chapter out, and added the other one I'd written as an alternate in its place instead. So, please don't hate me. I dislike when authors do this, but I felt it was necessary. SO, I will update sooner than I did on this one, and I do apologize for the wavering I've done. Hopefully this will be better…if not…please don't shoot me. I'm slightly losing inspiration to write with all the craziness that is my life. My brother recently threw a divorce at us, and my focus hasn't really been the greatest. SO, again, I do apologize for the inconvenience, confusion, and crappy chapter. I hope this alternate chapter is more to your liking…if not…I don't know what else to do.

Her eyes drooped and her head nearly fell from its position against her palm as she jerked awake with a start before her head could come in contact with the table she was sitting at. She'd parked herself by her surly house guest's bedside a few hours ago and hadn't moved since he'd had a particularly nasty bout of spasms. It'd been more like a seizure, but she'd experienced enough to know that it wasn't. After he'd had a few legit seizures she'd become more adept at telling the difference. She'd fallen asleep soon after he'd calmed, but had the misfortune of cramped joints from sleeping atop the desk…again.

She'd done her best to lower his ever increasing temperature with cold compresses, but after; determined his increased body temperature was actually a good thing. The heat was relaxing his muscles, making his thrashing a little more bearable for his body. She'd given him a stronger dose of pain medication, and after much deliberation, decided against maintaining his sedated state. He nearly took her head off for that one, but after they exchanged a few choice words; he calmed down a bit. The sedatives didn't work very well on him to begin with, and apparently didn't agree with him when he woke. Whatever was in their sedatives caused him to lash out aggressively due to a longer duration of disorientation after the drugs began to wear off. She rather liked to keep her head, and that forced her to play nurse.

His metabolism was through the roof, and if she thought he ate a lot before, she was on constant watch with him now. His caloric intake was incredible, but she understood why. Each time he awoke she made sure to have the healthiest and most filling foods available. His favorite being grilled steaks, potatoes, green beans, and the like. The only problem she had was that he couldn't even raise his head let alone feed himself so that task had fallen on her; to both their chagrin. She knew he was going to retaliate against her in some way for seeing him in such a vulnerable state, but what other choice did he have? It literally took every ounce of strength they both had to get him to the bathroom for baths and bathroom breaks. Oh the degradation. She blushed at the memory of accidentally walking in on him when she'd heard a thump. He had a nice ass she'd give him that.

She shook her head of the mental image that was now seared across her subconscious then rubbed her eyes before propping her head on her palm; elbow against her knee.

'Come on; wake up already so I can leave.' She thought as her foot began to bounce in agitation. So long as he was awake he was free of his spasms, and seizures. He didn't need her company, and most of the time vowed he never wanted it again. So, in preservation of her sanity, she would feed him, and leave him until he was asleep a few hours later. It was fairly routine for her after a few days, and she somehow found herself in sync with his sleep patterns which didn't help her in her work any. She was even more dependent on caffeine than before.

She'd only needed to call on Goku once to help her haul Vegeta's ever increasing weight back to bed when he'd had a seizure on her halfway across the room. He'd had plenty of them during the week he'd been down, but after her father had run some tests on him, and deemed everything normal; she chalked it up to his fever. Lucky for her; Vegeta never knew of Goku's assistance. The younger male had confided in her, and she'd found that his thrashing hadn't been remotely close to Vegeta's. He confessed that he'd merely been taken off his feet for a few weeks with joint pains that were more of an annoyance than anything. The barely concealed concern that marred his features as he stared at his downed senior didn't go unnoticed, and she frowned at the thought that even Goku was worried about him.

'You better come out of this soon fuzz butt.' Bulma thought in exasperation as she stared at his debilitated form. She ran her fingers through her hair before fisting and tugging it at her nape. She wasn't cut out for this. She was an inventor, and a scientist. He was sweating profusely, breathing heavily, and twisting and turning in his discomfort. Even in sleep he couldn't find rest. She sighed before retrieving the cool compress from the water basin on his night stand, and returning to the task of trying to at least keep him comfortable. He visibly relaxed and heaved a relieved sigh at the contact of cool, wetness against his tanned flesh, and she couldn't help but smile. She'd grown fond of him during the time he'd lived with her, despite his surly and sometimes downright macabre attitude, he was endearing in many ways. She'd caught him studying her a couple times during their bathroom trips, and he'd asked her on more than a few occasions why she was even bothering to help him. She'd answered rather quickly before she really had time to think about the gravity of her statement that she cared for him, and that she wasn't about to let him suffer alone. What worried her was the fact her statement was true. She did care for him, more than she wanted to. She knew what he was like, and she wasn't completely sure he would care for her in the same way, or if he was even capable of caring at all. It made her stomach drop at the thought, and she frowned before shaking the thoughts from her already jumbled mind.

"Kami, I need a break." She said on the edge of a groan while stretching her tired limbs. She rubbed her eyes tiredly as she stood from her spot and crossed toward the door. She took one more glance at his sleeping face before deciding it safe to venture down to the kitchen for more food, some coffee for herself, and a short break from "guard duty" as she'd dubbed it in order to shower. That sounded more appealing to her than bedside nurse. She'd gotten the image of a nurse Betty when her mother had called her that in jest, but she still wrinkled her nose in disgust at the idea.

"Bulma."

Bulma stopped in the hall as she heard her name being called, but made no move to turn around. Shortly, her father was beside her and the two continued her path toward the kitchen.

"He's still down?" Dr. Briefs asked as he gently ran his hand through his daughter's messy hair; trying to smooth the tangled strands.

Bulma heaved a heavy sigh before nodding her head. The two rounded the corner, and entered the kitchen where she immediately set about making herself some coffee, and Dr. Briefs in an act of compassion began making some sandwiches and soup for Vegeta. As much trouble as the boy was capable of causing, he couldn't help but admire his spirit and drive. He also couldn't help the relief and gratitude that flooded him after a few months of his residence with them. After getting to know the pup better, he couldn't help but see a bit of himself in the boy, and that eased his mind, and helped him get a better understanding of things. He'd also seen a change in his daughter, and couldn't begin to describe the elation he felt. Bulma had been slipping further and further within herself, and he felt that he and Goku were the only ones capable of seeing it. As much as he wanted to believe she'd fix herself; he knew that wasn't going to happen. However, the surly prince had proven to be something of a Kami send. His attitude and quirky behavior kept her on her toes, and whether she was willing to admit it or not; he was good for her in a way. She was always easily distracted, and when her mind began to wander; things never went well. Something was amiss with her, and despite his refusal to give up, he knew that he wasn't going to be able to help her.

"Thanks for helpin dad. He eats nearly twice his normal amount these days. I can hardly keep up." Bulma said as she leaned against the counter with her fresh cup of coffee. She could see that she'd pulled her father out of his thoughts and cast him a questioning look.

"Sorry dear, I was just thinking." Dr. Briefs offered as a pathetic excuse followed by a weak smile.

Bulma wasn't stupid, not by a long shot, but she knew damn good and well when to leave something the hell alone. Her father was a man of few words, and he wasn't one to talk about his feelings. Neither was she, and that was why they got along so well. To be honest, she liked Bunny, but she wasn't her real mother, and she just couldn't quite get to the point where she felt inclined to share the same frankness with her as she did with Dr. Briefs. He'd taken her in when no one would, and for that, she was grateful.

She offered him a small smile and a nod as she accepted the food capsules from his outstretched hand, and made her way back up the stairs. She spared him no extra glance as she exited the kitchen, and ascended the stairs.

'I don't know how much more of this I can take.' she thought as she stepped out of her shower, and wrapped a pink towel in her hair after drying herself off. She wiped the condensation from her mirror, and stared at her reflection.

She growled in irritation as she turned this way and that; surveying the damage.

"Perfect, just great, peachy!" She raged under her breath as she took note of the numerous bumps and bruises that littered her body. She knew he wasn't intending to cause her harm, but that didn't make it hurt any less. Her ribs had healed nicely over the course of his down time, but not as quickly as she'd have liked give the fact she kept getting half-assed rib shots from her downed guest.

"Bulma, are you in here? Are you decent?" Bunny called from the entrance of her daughter's room; knocking against the open door for good measure.

Bulma quickly pulled the towel from her hair, and secured it around her body before calling to her mother it was safe to enter. She watched as the blond haired woman stepped into her room, and leaned against the doorframe, and watched her daughter go about her nightly routine.

"Is he getting any better darling?" Bunny asked as she went to retrieve her daughter's sleepwear from her bed when she noticed it was needed.

Bulma waited for her mother to return with her garments. She took the offered items from her mother, and proceeded to put on her black underwear and sports bra, followed by her orange, navy, and yellow plaid, girl's boxer shorts. She tousled her hair till it lay in messy waves down her back, and swiped her bangs across her forehead before moisturizing her face, and putting lotion on her legs; all the while remaining silent.

"Bulma, did you hear me?" Bunny asked kindly; knowing her daughter had a lot on her plate, and mind. She noted all the bruising, and frowned. Her husband had assured her that their guest meant no harm, and she'd seen his thrashing firsthand. She knew it was true, but she just didn't like the idea of her daughter being injured.

"I heard you mom, sorry. I just don't know. One minute he seems like he's coming out of it, then he just takes a turn for the worst. Poor guy was in so much pain last night I stayed up all night massaging his knees and legs just so he could have some relief. The pain meds don't do shit for him, and he can't handle the anesthesia without vomiting, and we can't figure out what's causing the seizures so we can't give him anything." Bulma ranted as she finished rubbing her lotion in, and threw her hands in the air.

"Well, let's hope the poor dear gets back on his feet soon. I don't like seeing you this way." Bunny said with a hint of irritation in her voice that didn't go unnoticed.

"I'm fine mom. I'm just tired. He's been showing some improvement, and I'm sure it can't possibly last for much longer." Bulma said with a huff as she made her way back into her bedroom.

Bunny watched in silence as her daughter retrieved a book from her shelf, and headed back toward the door.

"If you need any help dear, you let me know." Bunny called as she followed her daughter down the hall; pausing at the break to address her daughter.

"Just keep the food coming mom, and we'll be in business." Bulma said as she waved her mother off dismissively as she continued on her way toward Vegeta's room. She hated being so short with her mother, but she was just too exhausted to really handle her mother's babying and questioning.

'Now I know why Vegeta avoids her like the black plague!' Bulma thought as she entered his room. She sighed and shook her head, a wave of empathy coursing through her chest as she observed her father trying to soothe the trembling man. He must have been making a real racket or her dad just happened to be passing by if he was in the room without her.

"Dad, what happened?" Bulma asked as she tossed her book on his bedside table, and rushed to his side. Vegeta's eyes were flickering slightly open and closed, and she was able to tell instantly that the trembling was caused by a minor seizure; possibly the smallest one he'd ever had.

"He had another seizure. This one was tame compared to what he's thrown at us before, and it didn't last long. If I was a betting man I'd say we're almost out of the woods with him, but I'll not place bets on someone as unpredictable as this man." The Dr. said as he rose from the cot by the surly Saiyan's bed in order to make room for his daughter to take her place by the male's side.

"I think I'm going to hit the cabinet, want me to bring you something, possibly a nightcap?" Dr. Briefs asked sarcastically as he eyed his daughter with a small smirk.

Bulma rolled her eyes in her father's direction before releasing a humorless laugh. She would love nothing more than a stiff drink, but with Vegeta; she needed to be on his guard, and any delay in reflex could mean her head.

"Um, no thanks dad, I'm good. Though I think I may drown myself the next time I leave you in charge." She chuckled as she threw his lab coat at him that was hanging on the chair behind her.

Dr. Briefs caught it effortlessly, and left the room without another word to his daughter. Bulma sighed in exasperation. She knew her father wasn't too keen on her spending nearly every minute watching over him, but she was grateful that he seemed to understand her need to do it. It was just who she was.

"You're going to owe me big time buster brown." Bulma said as she reached over to the bedside table to retrieve her book. She shot one last look at the man across from her before flipping open the cover, and fingering through the worn and discolored pages.

She sat on her cot reading for what felt like hours, taking a glimpse at his state every now and again. She just couldn't concentrate. Her bruises were starting to physically manifest, and she was starting to feel rather uncomfortable in her own skin. When he awoke she would need to take something to ease her pain and help her sleep. Looking at the clock on his bedside table, the glowing red numbers made her groan. It was a lot earlier than it felt. She was absolutely beat; in more than one sense of the phrase.

'They don't call it a "Thrashing" for nothing.' She thought humorlessly as she watched his eyes dart about under his eyelids, and his body twitch rhythmically to whatever sort of nightmare he was having.

"You better come out of this soon fuzz butt, you're really putting me through the ringer here. If I didn't know any better, I'd say you wanted me to coddle you." Bulma said as she gently reached over to run her fingers through his hair.

His scalp was blazing hot, and his hair was slightly moist with sweat. That didn't bother her, however, as she continued to soothe the man lying in agony beside her. She didn't pity him, no it wasn't pity, she felt something else towards him. It was something she just couldn't quite put her finger on. She slipped her hand away when she noticed his features soften and his body relax.

She set the book on his nightstand before opening the food capsules and setting the food out on the desk. She then turned back to her cot after retrieving her book, and sat in the center of the makeshift bed she'd been occupying for the past two and a half weeks, and resumed her reading. After a week spent bent over his desk in an uncomfortable chair; she'd had enough. She'd decided to move a cot into his room. If she was going to be on 24/7 watch, she at least wanted to be comfortable. She also figured if he was going to be an ass; she wasn't going to help him any more than necessary, which, unfortunately turned out to be quite a lot.

Her woman's intuition was that he was slightly milking things so he could escape before she had a chance to give him the physical okay, and she loathed that she felt responsible for him. She felt the same way toward all of her friends, but none of them gave her as hard a time as Vegeta did. The little she gathered from Goku and Vegeta, was that Saiyans were pack driven. They were gregarious in nature despite Vegeta's claims otherwise, and humans were the same in that regard. She'd not had those close interactions with her friends or other people as of late, and it was only natural for her to feel closer to Vegeta. Besides, she was spending nearly every waking hour taking care of him. She hated that fact because whether she liked it or not; they each filled a void in the other. She guarded and watched over him like a mother with young because of his complete ignorance of how things were supposed to be, and he protected her from any perceived threat due to her lack of physical abilities. It disturbed her greatly, but she allowed herself to relax slightly in his presence; if only to keep up her tough girl appearance despite the unease he stirred within her. Pack or no, the fact his kind and hers were similar in that regard irritated her more than it comforted her. She'd done everything in her power to stay distant from everyone, but for some reason he was like a flame, and she the moth. Eventually she knew her wings were going to be burned off, and she'd be damned before she allowed herself to be burnt again.

'I must be a glutton for punishment…that or a masochist.' Bulma thought as she shuffled her mental deck, and focused in on her book.

Hours passed like minutes, and she nearly jumped out of her skin when Vegeta let out a pained growl before shifting his gaze toward where she was sitting. It had only taken him a few days to realize that she wasn't going to leave his side. It was after the third day that he'd begun searching for her each time he awoke from his restless sleep. She hadn't missed that little fact, but the gravity of his sudden attunement to her whereabouts since she'd moved her cot in was lost on her seeing as how her mind was otherwise preoccupied. She grounded him. Her scent, her presence, everything about her, calmed him and helped him gather his bearings. If not for her; he'd have most likely already tore the compound apart.

"Woman." He groaned when he realized he'd gained her attention. His energy was still drained, but he did manage to give her hell. It was the only thing that kept the situation less awkward; for the both of them.

Bulma's eyes rolled heavenward as she snapped her book shut, and set it on her seat before moving to his side. He was breathing heavily, nearly panting as she checked his pulse and felt his head for a fever. She'd given up on a thermometer long ago when his temperature had blow three mercury one's to bits. She relied on feeling alone, and unfortunately for them both she'd learned long ago the most reliable way to gage someone's temperature. She pressed her lips against his forehead as she'd done before, and was grateful that he didn't freak out. He'd nearly lobbed her head off the first time, but after a rather embarrassing explanation; he'd settled down. He was even more snarky now than he was before. She could tell he was getting better, but his hormones were still out of whack. It was like dealing with a bitchy woman. He was definitely not fond of being down, confined to his bed, and least of all being cared for. She couldn't say she blamed him. She'd be the same way, but his behavior toward her at the moment was a lot different than where they'd been before his thrashing. She wondered if his disposition was being affected by his change as well. She hoped not, Kami could only help her so much, and his attitude was starting to get on her frayed nerves.

"If you're finished violating me woman, I require sustenance." Vegeta growled as he batted her away. She rolled her eyes and motioned toward the table. He glared at her before attempting to drag himself out of his bed. He managed to pull himself into a sitting position, but that was as far as he could manage before he had to rest; his breathing coming out in huffs. The insufferable woman was forcing him to push himself. Despite everything, he was well aware of his own physical limitations, and at the moment he was even more embarrassed and enraged at the fact the woman was forcing him to show those limitations by pushing him. He wanted nothing more than to wrap his hands around her throat and end her. The humiliation he was enduring in her presence was more than he could take. He growled to himself as he lay with his back against the headboard glaring at the blue haired woman who stood before him, tapping her foot impatiently.

"Fuck off. I don't need your coddling nor prodding woman. You're insufferable." Vegeta raged as he bared his teeth at her. He really did hate her for putting him through all the hell she had over the past few weeks, but his hate was offset by her sweet and gentle demeanor; even if he could see the rage lurking beneath the surface.

Bulma bristled against his verbal attack, and pointed her finger at him. There was only so much she was willing to take from him, and at the present moment, she wasn't about to put up with any of his shit.

Bulma watched his eyes twitch in the dim light, and could see the pain etched across his taught face. His eyes were lined with dark circles, and he looked absolutely miserable. The fact she could see the pain in his countenance only solidified her suspicions that he was in immense pain. She swallowed her snarky comment, and chose to be more productive. Screaming never really got her anywhere with Vegeta anyway.

"Here, I'll help you, but don't you dare swat at me. I've got enough bruises as it is, and I'm not above hitting you back." Bulma said with a small smile on her face as she made her way closer to his bedside. Oh how she wanted to wring his thick, corded neck!

She reached forward, and looped his right arm over her shoulders. He stiffened, and growled as he allowed her to assist him as he did his best to slide out of the bed on his own. She frowned, and felt her chest constrict at the sound. He had many different types of growls, and vocalizations she'd come to learn over the weeks, and the most common one was the result of extreme pain.

'He's trying so hard to hide it, but why?' She thought as she gently wiped the sweat from his brow with her hand. He was breathing hard, and she could tell he was struggling to fight back the pain, and settle back into the chair at the desk.

She wasn't completely against feeding him in his bed. After all, she really didn't want to cause him more pain, but he insisted in getting up, and walking around each day to ensure that he was not atrophying. She could understand that desire. The poor man was suffering from his thrashing, but on top of that he was bored.

"There, see, you're fine." She cooed as she ran her fingers through his hair; scratching his scalp gently when he finally reached his destination, and flopped down unceremoniously.

Vegeta closed his eyes, and heaved a great sigh. If there was one thing he relished in; it was her cool hands against his heated flesh. His body temperature had risen to nearly unbearable levels all in an effort to relax his muscles. However, the woman was more perceptive than he'd given her credit for. Despite the fact that he appeared catatonic most of the time he was in fact well aware of what was going on around him, what was being said to and about him, as well as what was being done to him. The woman would most likely kick his ass, or try to, if she knew he was privy to her pampering. He'd initially intended to snap at her the first time he'd felt her touch him, but was forced into submission when she'd used a cold compress against his forehead. It had felt wonderful, and she had enough sense to not try and lower his body temperature, but to only offer him some relief from the intense heat.

He couldn't help but purr as she caressed his head, and gently pulled on his hair. She was rather gentle with him, and despite his initial concerns with her touching him in any way, she brought immense relief to his aches with her kneading hands on his knees and legs. He wouldn't lower himself to asking her, but he wasn't above allowing her to coddle him if it meant relieving some of his pain.

'Weak.' His mind screamed at him, and for once he ignored it.

Bulma could tell he was starting to relax, and decided that feeding him while he was remotely comfortable would be better than waiting for his joints to flare up again.

"Alright, here ya go ya big galoot." Bulma joked as she removed her hands from his head. She knew he enjoyed it even though he threatened her afterwards, but since he was in such a state; she took liberties.

Vegeta watched her with interest. He hadn't missed her night attire, and although appealing, knew that it wasn't for his viewing pleasure she dressed in such a way. She'd been sleeping in his room by his side for weeks. At first it unnerved him, and he'd done everything he could think of to abolish her from his domain, but she was relentless.

He was about to scold her, but snapped his jaw shut when something dark caught his eye. His jaw tensed, and he could feel something in his gut twist.

"What the hell happened to you, woman?" He growled low as he stared at the angry black and blue mottled marks all over her body.

Bulma looked over her shoulder at him with confusion before following his gaze toward her exposed flesh. She blushed momentarily before turning around, plate in hand. She said nothing as she made her way back to him, set his plate of food on his lap, and returned to her cot.

Vegeta stared at her expectantly for a few seconds before lashing his tail out, and catching her wrist as she made to retrieve her book.

"I asked you a question, and I expect an answer woman." Vegeta raged as he stared at her. The longer he looked at those bruises the sicker his stomach felt. Had the weakling harmed her while he was out of commission? Was he that useless as his pack mate's protector?

Bulma didn't want to tell him for fear that upsetting him may cause more damage to his already depleted body, but figured there would be no dealing with him if she didn't. She heaved a sigh, and unloaded.

"You." She said simply as she tried to return to reading her book; using her free hand to flip her page.

Vegeta withdrew his tail from her wrist as if she'd burnt him, and his eyes widened in disbelief. He'd caused her that level of harm?

"I didn't… I…" He stammered as he struggled to get the words out that he knew needed to be said. He would be a fool to think she wouldn't come to any harm, not with her being so close by. However, the fact that he'd harmed her without even knowing bothered him immensely. Where was his self control?

Bulma, watched his struggles, and took pity on the man. After all, he was trying to bite back his pride in order to apologize for causing her harm. She knew he never intended to hurt her, and held no grudge against him for it. However, the fact that he was actually trying to apologize meant the world to her, and she couldn't figure out why.

"Hey, don't worry about it. You were seizing, it wasn't like you tried to hurt me on purpose. Had you meant to hurt me I'd have hit you back; if I lived." She laughed as she tried to lighten his somber mood with a light tap to his tail.

Her declaration fell on deaf ears, as did her swatting at his tail. He felt ill, worse than ill in fact. He'd made a promise to her, and he'd broken it. He said he'd never harm her, and he had. Unintentionally or not, he had harmed her. He had marred her flesh worse than even that weakling, scar face had. He turned away from her; suddenly losing his appetite.

Bulma could see what was happening, and decided to put an end to it before it could begin. Vegeta was the king of self-loathing. He liked to beat himself down to a level it was nearly impossible to pull him up from. She'd seen him retreat into his own mind many times, and it disturbed her greatly. She knew that feeling all too well, and refused to let him feel sorry for himself or attack himself without reason. An angry and irritated Vegeta she could easily handle; a depressed Vegeta, that was something else entirely.

Vegeta bristled, and snarled at the brazen female who so carelessly pinched the tip of his tail.

'Vile, vile woman!' He thought as a surge of testosterone shot through his tail, and into his body. He was about to scold her, but his eyes once again settled on her battered form, and he relented in his anger.

The look Bulma received sent a slight tremor down her spine, and she nearly squealed when his hand reached down to caress her hair. The immediate change from anger to something completely unreadable caused her heart to stop. He stared at her with a tenderness that she'd never seen, and it was at that moment she realized why he was so upset. He'd told her he wouldn't hurt her, and he had. She felt horrible as she watched the myriad of emotions flash across his features, and his jaw clench.

"Vegeta, I'm fine, really. You said it yourself, people get hurt during this thing, and I've been here the whole time. You've never hurt me consciously so why beat yourself up about it?" She wondered aloud as she stared at his ruffled form.

He said nothing in reply as he turned his eyes away from her, his hand resting at the nape of her neck gently. He just didn't have the extra energy needed to put up a fight or to explain himself to the little female. He didn't want to agitate her further.

It seemed to him that her disposition had changed throughout the duration of his thrashing. At first she'd been downright sickening with all her coddling, and concern for his well being, but as the days turned into weeks she was beginning to grow more and more agitated with him. Her patience was thin, and she became almost downright aggressive toward him at times due to her exhaustion. He could see it in her eyes. She was both mentally and physically drained. He'd not asked nor truly desired her assistance, but she'd offered it anyway. However, to say he wasn't a little disturbed by her back and forth approach to caring for him would be an understatement. It was as if she wanted to care for him, but at the same time was preparing herself for when he regained control of his physical self. He'd told her on more than one occasion that payback was going to be a bitch for what she'd forced him to endure. He'd been downright homicidal toward her at times; something he regretted for only Kami knew why. Though, instead of being cowed like she would have been before, she was showing a whole other side he'd never thought her to possess. She intrigued him, and he was certain there was something different about her. He wasn't sure what it was, but something was happening, something was changing between them. He didn't quite understand it, nor did he like it, but this sudden shift he felt with her excited him. It awakened something in him he'd never experienced before, and it terrified him. She was getting comfortable with him; just as she was with Kakkarot. He was getting a taste of the real Bulma Briefs, and for once, he wasn't irritated.

He quickly finished his meal, and heaved a satisfied sigh before mustering his strength to return to his bed. It wouldn't be more than a few days before he was back on his feet. The woman's parents he was certain remained unaware of that tiny fact, but he was sure the woman knew what his plans were. He'd desired to keep it a secret from all of those involved so when he was back to health he could simply slip away without their interference or insistence on further testing of his person. The excruciating pain in his body had ebbed away to a dull throb, and he'd been overcome with an extreme wave of fatigue. His body was recovering, and in a few days time he would be back to regular training.

"Hey, I'm going out for a few hours to restock. Mom is making more food, and dad is repairing some of the things you broke that I've not had time to touch. Do NOT move from your bed until I get back or I'll jerk a knot in your tail." Bulma threatened half-heartedly as she gathered his dishes, encapsulated them, and headed toward the door. She paused momentarily to make sure Vegeta intended to heed her warning, and tossed him the peace sign once he'd settled back into his bed.

'Now what the hell does that daft woman expect me to do?' He thought in irritation. He wasn't sleepy, yet he was completely exhausted. That irritated him, and he found himself scanning his room with his eyes for anything that may prove useful without causing the woman to screech at him upon her return.

'What the fuck is that?' He thought as he stared down at the dusty old book lying forgotten on his floor by the desk. He snatched it up, and fingered the tarnished and dinted gold symbol that adorned the front of the hard, black leather covered book. There were two winged beasts opposite one another with an unknown symbol behind them. It appeared to be a crest of some sort. The edges were capped in aged gold, and it had a leather and gold lock on the front. He deftly fingered the lock, and raised a curious eyebrow when he found it unlocked.

'Apparently the daft woman forgot to take this with her.' He thought as he popped the lock, and flipped the book open. He expected it to be a journal of sorts. However, his self-satisfied smirk melted into a deep frown as he flipped through the pages. Confusion was creased across his brow which was soon replaced by white hot fury. It was a journal, in fact, it was the woman's. He noticed an odd looking pen poking out from under the pages, and realized that she must have not written in it for years. What he'd read thus far was infuriating. Her life was not what she'd portrayed it to be, and the things done to her were completely unacceptable. She'd endured far more than most he'd come in contact with; yet she seemingly remained unaffected by it for the most part. It became apparent to him why she seemed to be so different. She had the ability to read others better than anyone because she herself was forced to hide her true self. She had way too many skeletons and dark secrets that her friends wouldn't understand, and the thought that Kakkarot may be privy to her experiences crossed his mind briefly. It would explain the younger male's overprotective nature towards her, and it built up a tiny shred of respect in him for the younger Saiyan. At least his pack mentality wasn't completely gone.

He was able to relate intimately with what she was going through. The mental damage that had been done left a huge mark on both of them, but he just couldn't fathom why she would give in. It went against everything he knew about her character. He was sure there had to be more going on than what he was aware of. However, instead of accepting fate and living a lie in order to feign normalicy for the sake of those around, he fought against everything, and held onto his identity with the last shreds of sanity he was able to piece together. She'd given more of herself than any other he'd ever known, and it made him hate her for allowing those fools to take advantage of all she'd sacrificed. Kakkarot may be their champion, but without the little female; he would have been dead before his first thrashing.

He slammed his fist down on the desk with such force the legs gave out, and he couldn't help the satisfaction he felt in breaking something. He could feel his strength returning; fueled by his rage. However, his exhaustion sapped the energy he gained like it was never there, but somehow managed to stand to his feet and cross the room to his door. He stopped momentarily to rest before he slowly made his way through the compound. He picked up the woman's scent, and was surprised she hadn't already left. He slowly made his way down the stairs, and bit back the growls of pain that threatened to give him away. The woman was in the kitchen, and he was a little more than curious. His tail flipped around in anticipation, but he was more anxious than he was excited. He really wasn't in the mood for her yelling, but his near insane boredom and curiosity drove him on.

"Mmmmmm. Must, have, coffee!" She groaned as she stretched her aching muscles. She'd gone through the cabinets, fridge and freezer three times while making her list, and still couldn't get the feeling that she was forgetting something out of her head. She'd set her list down, and set about making herself a pot, and couldn't resist the childish urge to stare at the pot while it brewed.

"Boo."

"AHHHHH, WHAT THE FUCK!"

THWAK!

"GOD DAMN IT WOMAN!"

Vegeta lay on the floor of the medical wing in a daze. He shook his head violently before collapsing into a ball on the floor in order to right himself. His movements were sluggish at best, and he felt extremely embarrassed for being so easily caught off guard.

"Seriously? What the hell, Vegeta?" Bulma asked as she watched him pick himself up from his position on the floor. She'd whacked him a good one when she realized she wasn't alone in the room, and had it been anyone else, she was certain they would have a nice red mark if not a bruise. She couldn't help the self satisfying smile that graced her lips at catching the surly prince off guard. The fact he'd fallen over a kitchen chair from the force of her blow only increasing her amusement; though she didn't comment for fear of angering him further. It only served to remind him that he was still not back to perfect health, and regardless of her feelings of irritation at the moment, she didn't want to lash out at him for such a petty offense. He'd done nothing out of the ordinary. He was an ass after all.

"What are you doing down here? You're supposed to be resting." Bulma growled as she took a few steps in his general direction; her joints popping and cracking as they settled back into place.

Vegeta let out a low warning growl of his own in response as her intentions became clear.

"Don't fucking touch me woman. I don't need your help." He spat as he warded off her outstretched hand. He was unsteady on his legs, but that didn't mean he wasn't recovering. He was weak, but staying in bed would only increase his fatigue. The pain in his body had dumbed down to a dull throb, and it was tolerable. The last thing he wanted was for the idiotic woman to confine him to his quarters once again. His cover had clearly been blown, and now that she was aware of his abilities to get around unassisted; he feared she would coddle him again.

Bulma raised her hands in surrender, and without a word snatched her book from the floor where it had fallen during his fall.

"You really shouldn't take things that don't belong to you. It isn't very nice." Bulma said with barely concealed malice. The look she shot the surly male caused his hackles to bristle, and a warning growl to rumble in his throat as he watched her move closer to him in an unfriendly manner. Something about her was setting him off.

Vegeta glared down at the tiny woman standing before him, and it wasn't until his brain registered their size difference that he became aware of the changes that had taken place over the course of the past few weeks. He suddenly looked himself over, as if seeing his body for the first time, before returning his gaze to Bulma's. He wasn't checking her out, not really, but she was the only real point of reference he had on how much his body had grown.

Seeing the sudden change in his demeanor and focus, Bulma followed his lead. It was obvious where his mind had gone, and she couldn't help the startled gasp that escaped her lips when it dawned on her just how much he'd grown. Before, he'd been roughly the same height as her; only an inch separating the two. Now, he was nearly a foot and a half taller than she was, and his form had filled out exponentially to accommodate his increase in height. She suddenly held her hand up, and was surprised when he didn't hesitate to place his hand against hers for comparison.

"Dear Kami, Vegeta, you're fucking huge!" Bulma said when he curled his fingers over hers; a smug smirk pulling at his lips. His tail swayed behind him lazily before coming up to wrap around her wrist as he crossed his arms over his chest.

Bulma stared at the appendage with renewed fascination. It had grown with him, and it was much larger than it was before. It was almost as big around as her forearm, and the fur was thicker, and much more luxurious than it had been before. It almost reminded her of a leopard's tail.

"What did you expect? I told you what would happen, didn't I?" Vegeta rumbled in amusement as he watched her appraise his new appearance. To say he wasn't pleased with his results would be a lie. He was nearly twice his original size, and it wouldn't be too farfetched to say he may rival Kakkarot in stature. He knew he was larger than the younger male; he had been before his thrashing. Kakkarot was much leaner in his build where as he'd been mostly bulk. The only difference then was his lack of height. He was eager to get back to his training, back to his prime health, and even more eager to test his newly gained strength against the younger male!

"You're still not 100% yet, but there's no need for you to stay in your room. Just don't even think about using the gravity room until your legs are steady." Bulma said as she poked him in the chest; eyes twinkling as his muscles rippled under his flesh, and he wobbled a bit before catching his balance; tail releasing from her wrist to assist him in his task.

Vegeta leveled her with a heavy gaze before giving her wrist a yank with his tail; hauling her flush with his chest. His nose barely touched hers, and his breath fanned against her face as he glared daggers at her. A low growl rippled through his chest, and he had to fight the urge to throttle her. His hormones were still erratic, and he had to reign himself in; mostly around her. She was infuriating, challenging, and she was doing it because she knew he was unable to retaliate; yet. He could see that playful glint in her eyes, and he couldn't help his anger at her amused expression.

"Do not presume to tell me what to do female. I'm on my feet, and therefore do not need your coddling, and your assistance is no longer needed." The ragged male grumbled as he snapped his teeth at her.

Bulma didn't so much as flinch away from him. Noticing that he wasn't going to give her the space she really needed she brought her finger up and tapped him on the nose. Vegeta snorted, and gave her a few inches space, but remained rooted to his spot before her as he awaited her response to his challenge. Bulma rolled her eyes at his antics.

"What's your deal, Vegeta?" She mumbled out as she turned back toward the coffee pot. Her hand hovered over the handle, and she was about to tap the glass when she felt a furry appendage wrap around her wrist once again, and heard a low warning growl right behind her ear.

"Don't play coy woman. You know exactly what I'm on about." Vegeta heaved as he struggled to keep his temper in check.

"Vegeta, if you're referring to what I think you are, then I'm only going to say this once, so listen up. I've been through and seen some serious shit. The psych ward was only part of it, and most of what I wrote in that book doesn't even begin to cover everything I've been through. Goku and I were friends for years before the others came along, and my dad has taken a huge risk in hiding all that shit for as long as he has. I owe my life to him, and I will do everything within my power to make sure that nothing happens to ruin him in any way because of my actions. If you know what's good for you; you'll stay out of it. I am perfectly capable of handling myself should the need arise." Bulma warned, her voice taking on an edge that took Vegeta by surprise. He recognized the look in her eyes, and he wondered exactly what other things had happened to this tiny female to make her the way she was. His tail uncoiled from around his waist, and swished around in angst at the thought.

"I could care less about your petty dealings with those weaklings, and I could care less what you do. As far as I'm concerned you serve one purpose, and that's to repair the GR, and to provide me with the training equipment I need to train." Vegeta growled as he turned his back on her. The anger he felt toward her was founded in his feelings of betrayal. It was as if she wanted him to expose every dark part of himself to her, yet she kept hers at bay with false smiles.

Bulma's eyes widened at the sudden coldness he was displaying toward her. She couldn't understand where it was coming from. If he'd read her journal, she figured he wouldn't harbor any resentment toward her for why she was the way she was. However, she was completely floored when he turned his back on her.

"Vegeta? Talk to me." She said gently. She could tell he was upset with her about something, and that was evident by how tightly his muscles were tensed, and the clenching of his fists. His tail had rewound tightly around his waist, and the tip was tapping against his hip; a dead giveaway to his agitation.

"What is there left to talk about woman." Vegeta growled as he turned his head to the side; glaring at her out of his good eye.

Bulma's eyes widened as her mouth made a silent "Oh" motion. He was sore at her for not disclosing this information to him earlier. Her eyes darkened as she squared her stance, and poked her finger at his glowering form. For some reason she couldn't place, she felt anger rising within her, and she was unable to stop herself.

"Alright, listen up fuzz butt. I've known each and every Z fighter a whole lot longer than you, and they STILL don't know. I'm sorry you've taken offense, but you're just going to have to get over it. If I haven't told my friends who I've known for years, why would I do any different with you? As I said before, I'll do whatever I need to in order to protect my dad. I hope you understand, but this isn't some television show drama. This could cause some serious trouble for me, my dad, and the company, and that is something we don't need at this point in time." Bulma said. He wanted honesty; he was going to get it. All she could do was pray he'd come around.

Vegeta turned toward her his tail fuzzed. Her words had struck a chord within him. His chest constricted at her declaration "If I haven't told my friends who I've known for years, why would I do any different with you?" Something about the way she'd said it had made him want to put his fist through a wall.

"Apparently all humans have certain characteristics in common; you're all hypocrites. You require honesty of others, but there is no return on investment. So, what benefit is there in your concept of "friendship"? He asked genuinely as he stared at her with an unreadable expression.

Bulma's eyes softened as she considered his words, and sifted through to the meat of his statement. He was adept at hiding his hurt behind anger, but she was even better at reading him than she'd been before. Things were changing between them, and she couldn't help the constriction in her chest when she realized he'd become fond of her somehow.

"Listen, Vegeta. Other than this, I have been nothing but honest with you. We all have some skeletons in our closet, and just like you; I don't like showing mine off." Bulma said softly so as to help calm his nerves.

Vegeta's eyes widened, and he shot her the oddest expression. It was a cross between shock and confusion. Bulma's lip twitched on the edge of a laugh when she realized Vegeta was most likely thrown off by her skeleton comment. The poor man was still unfamiliar with so many of their expressions.

"Vegeta, I don't mean literal skeletons. It's a figure of speech. It just means we all have things we don't want anyone else to know about." She said, surprised that she was able to keep herself from collapsing to the floor in hysterics. Sometimes his facial expressions were priceless; especially when confused or concerned about something.

Vegeta visibly relaxed. He should have known it was another one of her sayings, but one could never be too sure with the life he'd lead, and the information he'd just been given. He cocked his head to the side, and leveled his glare at her. He was still sore at her for the past few weeks, and the drugs she'd pumped him full of. However, his ire had toned down, and for some reason he felt at peace with her. Her aura was slightly different, and it seemed to give off a calming vibe; one he was powerless to stop.

Bulma watched curiously as Vegeta sucked his tongue across his teeth once before turning. She said nothing as she followed him with her eyes as he made his way to the fridge.

"Why are you staring at me woman? Don't you have other things to tend to, like repairing my training equipment?" He groused as he stuck his head into the fridge to see if there was anything left he could make semblance of. He'd had a decent amount for lunch, but his appetite was ever increasing. He knew it would level off once his body was fully recuperated, however, until that time he was loathed to spend most of his waking hours eating to build up his reserves.

Bulma huffed indignantly, but said nothing as she shouldered him out of her way. She caught the death glare he shot her as she passed by, but pretended not to be amused.

"For your information, everything has been taken care of, and I'm not staring at you, I'm getting myself some coffee!" Bulma growled out as she fished out her favorite mug from the dish washer before pouring herself a cup of the fresh brew. She turned to lean against the counter as always, and regarded him with a playful expression.

Vegeta rolled his eyes before gathering everything he desired from the kitchen, and set about preparing his midday snack. He could feel her eyes on him, but did his best to ignore her. However, after five minutes of staring, his patience had worn thin.

"Woman, fuck off!" He said evenly, and his voice carried a hint of warning to it. He was in no mood for her smart mouth, and he wasn't sure he would be able to keep from knocking her through the wall if she continued to grate on his nerves. Bulma growled at his snarky demand, and his tail fuzzed up slightly at the sound. Regardless of what she may interpret his fuzzed tail as; he was quite turned on by her growling. Apparently she'd been around him too long. She was picking up on a few things she shouldn't.

Vegeta watched the blue haired female closely out of the corner of his good eye as she glared heatedly at him. He could feel his hackles bristling because of her silent glare. There was something unsettling about the woman. Despite her unchanged ki, her aura easily gave away her malice. It crackled between them in unseen waves, but he could sense it. It was as if her presence extended out in an invisible barrier around her; pressing against him. He felt somewhat smothered by her ire. It was a sensation he'd never felt, and frankly, he definitely didn't like the fact it was coming from her. It meant he was tuning into her, and becoming hypersensitive to her emotions; that wasn't a good thing for an unmated male Saiyan.

Bulma finally turned when the coffee maker beeped. She poured herself a cup, and eagerly took a sip. She sighed heavily as she felt the warm liquid smooth over her irritation like a brush through her hair; relaxing her instantly.

Vegeta let loose a rumbling growl of relief as he felt the woman's aura settle back to normal. However, he remained at the counter to eat his snack; he needed to stabilize himself. Contrary to what the woman and her father might believe, his weakened muscles weren't the cause of his instability; his tail's growth was. His tail was larger compared to his body now, and it was throwing him off balance. He smirked at the thought, and let his tail swish around behind him contentedly as he ate, after all the larger and longer a Saiyan's tail, the better.

Bulma smiled behind her mug as she watched Vegeta's tail slash through the air. She could see the pride in his eyes, and the slight twitching of his muscles gave away the fact that he was happy with his growth, and testing out his new body. She couldn't say that she wasn't impressed herself. She may have thought him attractive before, but she couldn't help but stare at him now. His boost in confidence was long overdue. Sure he was a narsasistic, sociopath, but most of it stemmed from his insecurities and his inability to predict the actions of others based on what he perceived as "normal". He was clueless about everything, and it was difficult for him to cope with being flooded with all the new rules, norms, etc. that were being thrown at him. It surprised her that he was doing as well as he was considering.

'Well, let's see how far we can go with this shall we?' Bulma thought with a cheeky grin on her face as she stared at the male before her. She had to suppress her laughter as she watched Vegeta's tail bristle. The man looked absolutely flustered by her sudden change in demeanor.

'Not so tough now, are we?' She sniggered to herself as she set her mug on the counter, and made her way to stand beside him.

Vegeta did his best to pay her no mind, but he could feel the lithe female's aura brushing against his. He scowled as he gnashed his teeth while taking a rather vicious bite from his sandwich, and turned toward her indignantly.

"Woman, back the FUCK off or you're liable to lose your head!" He raged as he smacked her rump with his tail as way of punishment for her intrusion.

Bulma started and gasped at the sudden sting against her tush, and without really thinking about the ramifications of her actions reached over and returned the favor!

Vegeta's jaws clamped down on his sandwich, his eyes widened dramatically in shock, and his body tensed.

'….'

He was absolutely stunned at her audacity. His mind was blank, and the shock was bare on his face.

Bulma laughed, and retrieved her mug from the counter and refilled it. She then turned to leave the kitchen, and just as she saw Vegeta finally start to recover she couldn't help but leave him with a few parting words.

"THAT'S WHATCHA GET!"

From the other side of the living room the good Dr. Briefs was heading toward the kitchen from his labs, and shook his head at the conversation he'd just overheard.

'This is not going to go well.' He thought to himself as he re-routed himself towards the garage; deciding to avoid entering the kitchen in favor of some carry out for he and his wife.

Author's Note: Alright, I put this chapter up as soon as I had the opportunity. Please don't shoot me. I redid this chapter in hopes to appease a few of my regular readers. I admit that I did go back and reread most of my chapters prior to this one, and the chapter update was a bit out of sorts. I WAS ALREADY HAVING PROBLEMS FOCUSING! That is why I had two versions up, and why some of you were so upset with me for updating then taking the chapter down. So, read review, and tell me what ya think of the altered chapter. Please don't kill me! Please don't kill me!