Surviving Together: A New Legacy  

Chapter 23 – Loss

Sitting quietly upon the bed in which Trunks was resting, Vegeta's intense gaze consumed his son. He wasn't certain why, but he had the bizarre and overpowering need to speak with his son, as if the next words he would say would be his last. But he couldn't speak to him. The boy was still unconscious from his fight earlier. 'Such power,' Vegeta thought as he touched his son's forehead, twisting his fingers through the boy's lavender hair.

He would have given anything to have been present throughout the boy's early life. It was a strange admission for the Emperor, considering he had never even considered fatherhood, having an heir, yes, but raising his offspring? He would have never imagined having any desire to do such a thing. But things were so different now. Perhaps it was the emptiness of the last ten years of solitude he had suffered. During those six months upon Freeza's ship that he had spent with Bulma, he had learned feelings of a healthy kind; trust, honor, respect, concern, and even love. She had taught them all to him, and what had he given her in return?

The debt, which no amount of convincing by Bulma would dissuade him from believing it existed, would never be repaid in his mind. To spend every waking moment of every minute of his life catering to her every need could not equal what she had given to him. She took his pain away when no medicine in the universe could, she gave him courage when he was more than ready to quit, she offered him love when he was most undeserving, and if all that was not enough, she gave him a son. His heir, his legacy, the ultimate and inexorable connection between the two, for all eternity, was embodied in the existence of the small boy sitting before him. 

It was at that moment that Vegeta knew whatever would happen to him was irrelevant. His life was meaningless in comparison to his mate and son. He would give his all for their protection, no matter what the cost.

Leaning down in an atypically tender moment, Vegeta placed a kiss upon his heir's forehead. Pulling away, he rose to his feet, straightening out his armor and cape before taking one final look at his son. "You have made me proud, Trunks no ouji," the Emperor whispered before heading to the docking bay. He did not look back for fear the temptation would make him wish to stay longer, but he had no time for that right now. His mate's life was in danger because he had not been able to eliminate Cooler sooner. A mistake he intended to rectify immediately.

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Bulma's eyes slowly opened and closed as she attempted to regain her focus. She felt little, which was probably a positive circumstance, considering the helpless position she was trapped in. Her back was pinned against a cold black wall and her wrists bound tightly above her head with Cooler's chi. He had not been very gentle after dragging her from the docking bay to what appeared to be a prison much like the one she had been taken to after the attack on Merigh. Though the ambiance was not much to be spoken for, she would suffer any room as long as she was not in the presence of Cooler; pity that was not the case.

"Well, nice of you to wake up," a voice from the shadows whispered.

Bulma's head snapped back and forth before Cooler materialized right in front of her. "I think I'd rather be unconscious again," she gritted her teeth as she watched him return a smirk.

"You have fire, wench, I can see why monkey boy likes you," Cooler conceded with a twisted smile. "Lucky for you, I like the same in my women, so I may actually spare your life once I have taken that of your lover's."

It was Bulma's turn to smirk. "Take Vegeta's life?" She laughed at the possibility. "And just how do you plan to do that, Cooler? You aren't strong enough. Everyone knows it. You can't beat a Super Saiya-jin. You will fail just like your pathetic brother did." As soon as the words left her lips, Bulma felt a fist slam right into her stomach. She crouched forward only as much as she could with her hands trapping her body against the wall. She couldn't stop the pungent blood that began to drip down the corner of her lip, but she didn't scream or cry. She wouldn't give Cooler the satisfaction of seeing her pain. 

"Ah, that a girl." Cooler ran his index finger below her lip to wipe some of the blood away. "Your strength and determination are quite the turn on, you know; I think I will enjoy beating that quality out of you when this is all over."

"The only one who will have anything beaten out of them is you, Cooler, by me, until you finally join your bastard brother in the next dimension where you belong."

Both Cooler and Bulma turned their heads to see Vegeta, in all his glory standing before them. His uniform had stains of blood carelessly spat all over it, telling Cooler that he had killed several of his men to get to the bottom of the ship. That, combined with the look of utter fury upon his face, gave the Emperor an insane look about him that made Bulma take a moment to remind herself that Vegeta was fact on her side. She could not help but wonder what his appearance did to Cooler.

"Nice of you to join our little party," Cooler smirked; he was visibly fazed, but not enough to weaken his bearings. Quickly grabbing Bulma's wrists by the chi he had bound them with, Cooler pulled Bulma from against the wall, and wrapping an arm around her neck, placed her in a position that would allow him quick and effective access to her successful execution. "I was just telling your dear mate here about how much fun we will have once you are dead, wasn't I, dear?" Cooler looked down towards his hostage, but Bulma ignored him. She kept her eyes glued to Vegeta the entire time.

"You're wasting your time, Cooler. I came here for a battle, not a petty squabble over some damn woman. So cut the bullshit and fight me like a true warrior!" Vegeta demanded while flaring his chi.

Cooler only laughed at Vegeta's poor attempt at tricking him into releasing his prize. "Honestly, Vegeta, you don't think your tone of indifference is going to convince me that this whore means nothing to you? I know she is the slave my brother gave you so many years back, the one you helped escape, the one that was carrying your brat. My brother might have been foolish enough to let this little bitch flee his grasp, but I shall not."

"And that shall accomplish what?" Vegeta's eyes narrowed tightly. "She dies, you die. Your only chance for survival here is if you release her and hope that you can conjure up enough strength to best me in combat. That is your only chance at victory."

"Oh, but I disagree." Cooler tightened his arm around Bulma's neck, forcing her to choke for air a few times. "You see I have another option, Vegeta." Cooler turned his head towards the same hidden entrance he had emerged from just minutes ago. "Guard!" he ordered as a short green-scaled soldier joined the pair with a small black container. Cooler immediately confiscated the bottle and the guard scampered off. "Do you know what this is?" Cooler opened the container and emptied its contents into his hand. It looked like a white pill, no bigger than what Bulma remembered to be the size of an aspirin back on Earth.

"What the hell is that?!" Bulma was never one to handle suspense.

"It is called a Raiji pill," Cooler announced, "It is derived from a now extinct plant that I had confiscated from a planet I purged years ago. Amazing little weed it was. The level of toxins it unleashes into the body upon mere touch is poisonous enough to kill an average mortal instantly. But this little pill encapsulates the potency of an entire Raiji root; which, translated for those of us too inept to understand the lethality," Cooler stared Vegeta dead in the eyes, "means that it is potent enough to kill even a Super Saiya-jin."

Vegeta's eyes widened slightly as he finally realized how Cooler expected to achieve his victory. No grand battle, no physical exhibition of domination, Cooler wanted to win this battle in the most cowardly way possible. He wanted his opponent to take his own life. "You can't be serious."

"It's a simple trade, Vegeta," Cooler shrugged, "if you want to ensure the life of your mate, you have to take this; your life for hers. So what say you?"

"No!" Bulma answered for him. "We all know if Vegeta dies you'll kill me anyway. You can't actually think he's going to consider this for one fucking minute!"

"Oh, but he will," Cooler disagreed. "If he refuses this, I will snap your pretty little neck right where you stand and go on to fight him, most likely to my death, but at least I'll know I'll have taken with me what's most precious to him. So what will it be, Vegeta? Your life or your mate's?"

How could he choose? His mate was right; in all likelihood Cooler would take Bulma's life as soon as he swallowed the pill, rendering her just as helpless as she is now; and what then? Cooler will certainly take what's left of his fleet and annihilate his soldiers, his ship, Garock, Trunks—Trunks! What of the boy? He could loose his life as well, unless, perhaps the boy has a chance at beating Cooler. But how could he leave such a burden upon a child? Vegeta's eyes drifted back to Bulma, all his questions and confusion seemed to clear instantly. For as complicated as the situation was, Cooler was right, his choices were simple. If he refused to give his life, Bulma would assuredly die. But if he does, she at least has a chance of survival. Even as slim as that chance was, he could not, would not take that away from her. He owed her too much to be selfish now. "I want your assurance, her life will be spared."

"Of course," Cooler was quick to lie.

"You can not!" Bulma voiced her objection once again; she could not let him do what she feared he was about to. "Vegeta, don't even consider this! Please, forget about me, think about Trunks! He will lose both his parents; Cooler will kill me and then go after him! You can't—"

"That's enough out of you!" Cooler slammed his hand over her mouth to silence her attempt at dissuading Vegeta, assuring his own defeat. "You have my word, I will take the little wench back to your ship and she and your offspring can fly off to freedom. Neither are of serious threat to me, therefore, I have no reason to harm either of them should you meet my demands."

Vegeta spared little time before answering, he knew the more he thought about it, the more difficult his decision would become. "So be it then."

"Vegeta, no!" Bulma's lips became freed as Cooler removed his hand so he could give the Emperor the means to his defeat.

"Wise choice," Cooler conceded, ignoring Bulma's objection, and throwing the Raiji tablet towards Vegeta.

The former Saiya-jin no ouji raised his hand to catch the pill, but it strangely never made it too him. "What the—" Vegeta felt his heart stop as he realized Bulma had snatched the capsule almost immediately after Cooler had released it.

Both Cooler and Vegeta had been too disoriented by the woman's sudden move for either of them to stop what was about to happen next. "I will not let you unleash hell on our son and this entire universe just to protect me, Vegeta." Bulma cried her intentions before swallowing the pill herself. It did not take more than a few seconds before her body when limp within Cooler's arms.

Time seemed to stop as Vegeta watched the helpless form of his mate collapse ungracefully onto the ground. Within a split second, Vegeta was on his knees, next to his mate, taking her lifeless body into his arms after Cooler had ever so sullenly dropped her. "Bulma!" Vegeta cried her name again in a vain hope she would awaken. "You will not leave me again!" he ordered before continuing to talk to her unresponsive body while furiously shaking her. "Damn it woman," he cursed hopelessly, "I can't do this alone. The boy, our son, he needs you. I need you. Wake up, Bulma!" Even as his pleas continued, he received no answer. The alien tears that began to fall down his cheeks could not bring her to open her eyes. He growled, enraged by the bitter twist of fate that had befallen him, no amount of his pleading could reanimate her, just as no feeling of console could heal his pain. 

"Well, is this not a sight to be seen? The mighty Saiya-jin prince brought to his knees by a pathetic little earthling woman." Cooler laughed menacingly. With Bulma dead, and Vegeta as incensed as he was, Cooler knew his time was limited, but that would not stop him from savoring his small victory before losing the war.

Ravaged by the loss of his love, and malicious words of his enemy, Vegeta slowly raised his head so that he could see that beast that had killed his woman, his mate, the mother of his son, and the only being he would ever love. Gently laying the lifeless body of his mate on the ground, Vegeta rose to his feet. "Now," history began to repeat itself as energy began to engulf the Saiya-jin's body as he let out a thunderous cry of both physical and, even more so, emotional pain, "you die."

The wrath of two powerful beings then collided as they embarked on a lethal confrontation that would bring forth only one victor.

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"Mom!" the young lavender haired boy screamed as he sat up abruptly in his bed.

"Master Trunks, are you all right?" a concerned Garock asked nervously.

"My mom," Trunks jumped off of the bed. "She is in trouble, I can feel it. I have to find her. I have to—"

"Please, calm down young sir." Garock placed a halting hand against the boy's shoulder. "Your father has gone aboard Cooler's ship to save her. I am certain he will not allow anything to happen to her. You must trust that he will take care of her."

"What? What is my Mom doing on Cooler's ship!?" the young boy asked nervously, "what has been going on, Garock?"

Taking a long breath, the elder man slowly began to explain to the half Saiya-jin all that had been happening between the time of his Oozaru transformation until he just awoke. Not surprisingly, the boy did not take the news well.

"So then my Mom is in great danger! I knew it! I could feel it! Garock, I have to go help!" Trunks insisted; he had as much, if not more, of a right to help his mother than his recently discovered father had. "Take me to Cooler's ship!"

"I can not," Garock sighed sadly. "There is not a ship left for you to travel to."

Stopping dead in his tracks, the young man slowly turned around to ask dangerously, "why not?"

"It…" Garock stuttered his answer regretfully, "It blew an hour ago. We are still waiting for word from your father."

"Then he defeated Cooler," Trunks sounded slightly desperate in his conclusion, "it has to be true."

"I can only pray so," the longtime advisor hoped. "The bridge commander seems certain that the energy blast that engulfed the ship was formed by Vegeta's ki. Though, why we have yet to hear from him leaves us with some concerns."

Unable to respond to the pessimism the older man held, Trunks turned around and walked back over to the bed he had awakened on. "They have to be all right. They have to be," he whispered desperately, before the sound of the chamber doors slowly squeaking open stole the attention of both men. "Mom!" Trunks called hopefully as he ran over to the entrance. The young boy's heart skipped several beats as his eyes fell upon the horrifying sight before him.

Vegeta stood emotionlessly in the entranceway of the room, his eyes staring blankly; he was a man so clearly shell shocked. But to understand why, one would only have to look into his arms to see the lifeless form of his mate, hanging limply in his grasp, covered in blood, just as he was. "I failed," the prince whispered two words his pride had never before allowed him to admit aloud. Then, in one fluid movement the king fell to his knees as he unleashed one mind numbingly agonizing shriek. It was all he could do to liberate his despair.

"No," Trunks shook his head as tears began to flow freely down his cheeks. Unsure of what was more horrifying, the condition of his mother or his father, the shattered boy could not handle the sight before him. "Mom," Trunks whispered her name as he ran over to touch her, to find out for himself that what he witnessed was not just some cruel lie. "Mom!" he repeated as she wrapped his arms around her chest and hugged her tightly, as if he could will her back to life. "She is so cold," he began to ramble, "she just needs to get warm… she just needs some time in a regeneration tank… she needs some rest… something… she is going to be all right… I know she is!" the boy sobbed. "Please, you have to do something, you have to help her!" Trunks raised his eyes to implore his father. "Damn it, please!"

"Trunks, it is too late," Garock intervened, seeing that the Emperor was clearly in no condition to be offering such a conclusion. "I am sorry," he placed a consoling hand on the boys' shoulder, "she is gone."

"NO!" The half Saiya-jin screamed in a rage as he pushed the comforting hand off of his shoulder, thereby sending Garock flying back several feet in the process. "You said you would protect her!" he turned his rage towards his frozen father. "You let this happen! You killed her!!!" Trunks spoke the all too crushing words as he began punching Vegeta's chest. "I hate you! I wish you were the one dead! I wish it were you! I wish—"

"So do I," the soft confession stopped Trunks' tirade mid thought. "I would have given anything. I tried to give my life, but she would not let me. She gave hers instead. I could not stop her. I just lost her again… forever." These repetitive statements were all he could produce from the trancelike state he had succumbed to.

Sinking to his knees in a similar manner as his father had, Trunks looked over his mother's dead body as he choked back his building sobs. "We both lost her," he gently alerted his father that he too deserved to mourn her. 

Slowly lowering his once again mobile gaze, Vegeta barely nodded his head in affirmation before reaching out to place a gentle hand on his son's cheek. "You have so much of her in you," he noted as if for the first time realizing, "but mostly her heart."

With a forced smile, Trunks leaned forward to wrap his arms around his father's waist. "I am sorry I said I hated you. Mom would be upset with me for saying that, she would want us to be nice to each other after… after this."

Not moving to respond to his son's embrace, Vegeta merely grunted in approval. His mate had given her life to protect many, but only two were her focus. He knew the boy was right, Vegeta knew Bulma would want them to be the strong Saiya-jins they were and not dwell on what fate had rammed down their throats. She would expect their unity. She would expect them to move on together, to survive this together.

"Garock," Vegeta's deep voice called the dazed man to his feet. "Have the ship return to Frost."

"Yes, sire." The elder man nodded humbly before parting from the room without further response.

Trunks released his embrace on his father as the larger man rose to his feet and carried his mother's body over to the bed he had just slept on. Gently placing her on top of the covers, Vegeta then exhaustedly took a seat beside her motionless form. Leaning forward, he placed a gentle kiss upon her frozen lips while silently vowing to her spirit, 'I may have failed you, my queen, but I will not do the same with our son.'

"Dad," Trunks interrupted as he crawled onto the other side of the bed and lay next to his mother. Wrapping his arms around her and resting his head on her chest, he barely managed to ask through his tears, "Can... can I stay with her for a little while. I just, I just need some time with her alone… So I can say goodbye." 

Taking a long breath, Vegeta slowly lowered and raised his head in permission. "I will wait outside," he quietly rose from the bed and left the room. He could hear his son begin weeping once again as soon as he closed the door behind him. Dropping his body against the door, he sunk onto the ground, his legs still too shaken to support himself.

"How is he?" the sound of a familiar voice echoed through Vegeta's ears.

The younger man only narrowed his eyes before snapping, "I do not know; how did you feel when Freeza killed your mother?"

Garock frowned as he took a tentative seat next to the man he had watched grow from a small boy. "I was devastated," he began honestly, "but, then again, I did not have a father to get me through the loss."

"Neither does Trunks," Vegeta said in a half chuckle. "I can not deal with my own pain, how the hell can I help his?"

"Well, you could start by dropping the self-pitying attitude. It does not become you." The elder man spoke boldly, "your mate is dead, yes, but you still have a son in this dimension. Do you not see, Vegeta? The gift you gave her to face your believed death is now the same gift she has left you to survive this tragedy. She raised your son alone these last ten years; you now owe it to her to do the same for as long as your life will permit."

"I know," the Emperor, whispered roughly, "I have vowed to take up the challenge that is our son, but I fear that will not be enough, not for either of us."

"I hope, for both of your sakes, you are wrong," Garock sighed before rising to his feet. "I will have burial preparations made, if you so desire, sir."

Vegeta nodded a brisk agreement before being left to his private thoughts once more. Thoughts he expected to be his focus for every waking minute of the rest of his days. Thoughts of her, the only woman he has ever, and will ever, know the bliss of love for, his mate, the mother of his child, his lover.

'Bulma.'

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"Are you certain?" The bored voice sighed with only mild interest.

"Yes, sir," a female intelligence officer informed, "The renegade Saiya-jin prince has now defeated both Freeza and Cooler. The latter's death was confirmed just hours ago."

"Really?" the large man smirked at the possibility. "Well, it serves Cooler right. He should have known he would fare little hope against a Saiya-jin elite."

"Well, it would appear that Prince Vegeta had a weakness, an emotional attachment to some woman. He was allegedly prepared to admit defeat to spare her life, but something had gone wrong with Cooler's plan, and the result was first her, and then his death."

"A woman?" the intrigued man's eyes narrowed, "what woman? What was her name? Describe her to me."

"Um," the nervous soldier scrambled for her notes, "ah, yes, she is approximately as tall as Prince Vegeta, her hair color is blue, her eye color blue, her skin is a very pale shade of cream, and her name is…"

"Bulma," the word rolled off of the now smirking man's lips.

"Yes, Bulma, do you know her, sir?" the woman asked curiously.

"Oh, that I do," the devious warrior's mind had already begun concocting a plan. "You said she was killed by Cooler, and this has brought Vegeta great grief, ne?"

"Oh yes, apparently the pair even shared a child," the woman noted to her commander's surprise, "a ten year old son."

"Really?" the burly man caressed his chin. "Oh, this keeps getting better," he chuckled aloud. "You know Keila, I have been for some time dreaming of facing off against the Saiya-jin no Ouji once more. Perhaps Cooler's defeat has now given me the means to avenge my own grievances against dear Vegeta."  

"How so, sir?"

With a relaxing sigh, the brawny man licked his lips before answering, "Let me worry about that. Right now I want you to have a course set for the planet Namek." 

"Namek?" the officer questioned, "but there is little on that planet. Why would you want to go there?"

"Let's just say, there, I will be able to pick up a personalized invitation to have a private audience with my long forgotten prince," the powerful man chuckled.

"Very well then," Keila nodded in acceptance of her order before turning to leave her captain's private chambers.

Once he was left to his privacy once more, he quietly walked over to his window to look out into the vast reaches of space. "Soon Vegeta, I will have my vengeance, very soon."

The End.

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Author's note:  Oh, I can already see the flames: 'how could you end it there!?' Now, before you all go ahead to protest, I would just like to mention that I am I writing yet another part to this story. It is going to be a trilogy. The third part is going to be entitled/posted as: Surviving Together: Retribution. It will answer all the questions I am sure you now have after the ending of this part, along with the introduction of yet another new plot with new characters, but you can also expect to see originals from the second and first parts as well. I do not have an exact date when I shall start posting the conclusion; so keep checking my bio (see below) for further information. So make sure to review, so I know what you thought of this part as a whole.

Side Note: In the meantime for those of you who need a LGV fix, check out my other stories that are currently being posted: Falling In Love The First Time, and Ward.

Email list: For anyone who would like an e-mail notice when I start posting the third part, along with any other new chapters to my other fics, I can add you to my update list. All you have to do is send me an e-mail entitled 'add me to your update list' and you will get an announcement along with a link every time I post.

Author's Bio: I also would like to remind that I have begun using my 'bio' space on my author's page as a way to keep readers alerted to my plans for posting. I update it on the first of every month. So, if ever a story of mine has not been updated in a while, a quick answer to your curiosities may be to check there before writing an e-mail. Though I am not opposed to receiving/answering questions of the like, it is quicker for me to deal with concerns this way.