Friends

The sun had set, the party was over. Bulma had watched everyone leave and had dragged Trunks to bed, though she had listened to his pleas on letting Goten stay the night. Now the two boys were probably running around in their pajamas instead of being in bed. Oh well, she thought. It was summer.

Now she stood on the balcony watching the stars. Normally the sky wasn't so clear in the city, but her dad had invented something a few years back that had dramatically lowered the amount of pollution in West City, adding more to his millions.

She looked longingly out at the gardens, all lit up by small dim outdoor lights. The grass looked so cool and lush. She opened a little gate in the railing and went down the steps that led to the gardens. She chose a gentle slope and knelt down, letting the feeling of the summer night wash over her. Then she lay on her back, letting loose a sigh of relief and contentment. Before long, she got so caught up in her star gazing that she didn't hear the sound of footsteps behind her. She blinked, startled, when she saw Goku sitting next to her. She was surprised, and then she felt a twinge of disappointment that it wasn't Vegeta. She had been longing to be alone with him all day, just so she could fully enjoy the idea of him being alive, and so she could hold him close to her. As long as they were alone, he would let her put her arms around him. She knew that he took secret pleasure in being loved and cared for. Now he even gave it back to her like he never had before, and he made her feel appreciated.

But she was glad for Goku, too. He was special to her, and she would never forget it. He felt like her younger brother, and she suspected that he felt that way to Vegeta too. She sensed a bond that hadn't been there before in the two of them, and she knew that they would always look out for each other from now on.

"Hey, Goku! I thought you had left already. I could've sworn that I saw you go out the door with Chi Chi and Gohan." Goku laughed, picking at the grass.

"I did. But I forgot something, so I came back."

"Oh. It couldn't have been the leftovers. You never forget those." She laughed and sat up, nudging Goku. He just scratched his head, chuckling.

"Well, no. It wasn't anything like that. It was more like something I forgot to do."

"Really? Well…aren't you going to tell me?" She smiled winningly at him.

"Gee, you really are persistent, aren't you?"

"Yep. And as nosy as my mother. Or at least that's what Vegeta says." Goku laughed out loud.

"I think he's right, Bulma. But, oh well. It has to do with him anyway." Now Bulma's curiosity was piqued.

"With Vegeta? What about?"

"I-uh…I wanted to tell him how much I appreciated that he was there for me as a friend, during this last battle. Just, you know…thanking him. I'm really glad that I can count on him now." Bulma hid her mouth behind her hand.

"I'll bet that embarrassed the heck out of him, huh?" Goku smiled at her in the dark, his eyes shining.

"A little. But he accepted it with good grace." When he saw Bulma nod and smile to herself, he felt mischievous.

"Hey, you really love him, don't you?" Unabashed, she looked him straight in the eye.

"I do, Goku. I always have. No matter what happens, I will never give up on him. There's just something there in him, a fire, and I'm not afraid of being burned. He's never hurt me, even when he didn't care about me all that much."

Goku leaned toward her and spoke softly.

"You know, Bulma, I think there has always been a part of him deep inside that cared about you. Otherwise, I just don't think he would have been able to have a child with you. It just wouldn't be his style to make you that important on his agenda if he didn't care."

"Gee, Goku. Are you saying that I was on his 'to do' list?"

Goku blushed and scratched his head again.

"Aw, Bulma. That's not quite what I meant."

"Oh really. What did you mean, Kakarrot?"

The two whipped around to see Vegeta standing by one of the yard lights, illuminated in its glow. His arms were crossed over his chest, and he had a smirk on his face. Bulma hit Goku's shoulder.

"Goku! You could sense him there, why didn't you tell me?" Goku just laughed again.

"Maybe it wouldn't matter if you weren't talking about me while you think I'm not around." Vegeta sat down with ease between Goku and Bulma. She giggled and lay down again.

"Oh, I say all kinds of things about you behind your back. Ah, ha, ha! Stop that, you brute!" She squealed and rolled around on the lawn when Vegeta pinched her arm. He used just enough pressure to make it tickle, but it didn't hurt her. He chuckled deep in his throat and shoved her enough so that she went rolling down the shallow hill.

"Hey-waaa!" She laughed the whole way down, and when she reached the bottom she stood, rolling up her sleeves.

"You're gonna get it, prince!" She marched back up the hill and stood to face him. His eyes were level with hers, and he stared blatantly at her.

"What am I going to get?" he whispered.

"This!" Her hand came up swiftly, and she flicked him hard the nose. He blinked, taken aback, and Goku, who was watching amusedly, started to laugh hysterically.

"She's definitely not afraid of you, Vegeta!"

But Vegeta wasn't listening, and he had started to lift Bulma up by the hips.

"You are a little too brash, woman. I think you need to be taught a lesson." He raised her up over his head, and she gave an indignant shriek.

"Hey! Stop it! Put me down, you lunk head!" But Vegeta just snickered.

"Didn't you say that you wanted to learn how to fly, Bulma? Well, here's your chance! Heh, heh…"

"Okay, okay! That's enough, you little jerk!" He lowered her to the ground after being kicked feebly in the back a few times. She looked at him, a flash of anger shining in her eyes.

"Geez, Vegeta! What will the neighbors think?"

"Heh, what neighbors? Most of them moved out after last month's explosion." He kept laughing even after Bulma pretended to slap him.

"Arrgh, you are hopeless! You do know that, don't you?"

"Of course I know it," he sneered.

Soon they were all laying on the grass again, the summer wind blowing through their hair. Goku had wanted to ask what Vegeta meant by the "explosion" but decided against it. Either Vegeta was the cause of it, or his son was.

"Wow," Bulma said after a few moments of peaceful silence. "You can see some of the planets tonight. It's not normally clear enough out here." Vegeta turned to her.

"Do you know any of them?" he asked.

"Well, yeah, I studied some parts of the galaxy."

"Let's see how much you know, then." He pointed to a rather large blue one planet that was located to the north.

"What's that one called?" He smirked to himself, and Bulma knew that he already knew the answer, but he was quizzing her again. She thought it was fun, and she liked to learn from him as well, being so well traveled. Goku looked on with interest. He found it sort of funny that the two were playing a game with each other.

Bulma pressed her lips together firmly, thinking back to her studies.

"Um, I think that one is Dracno, right?" Vegeta nodded.

"That's right. Do you know anything else about it?"

"Like what? Ask a specific question. I'll bet I know a some things about it. I've got quite a few facts stuffed into this brain of mine. Come on, throw one at me." Vegeta smiled his crooked smile at her fierce competitive nature. He liked that about her, because it reminded him of himself.

"All right then, genius. How many moons does it have?"

"That's easy. Dracno has four satellites, to use the proper term for them."

"Correct. But don't get so technical, Bulma. You'll confuse Kakarrot." He chuckled as Goku frowned.

"Hey, I know what you're talking about. Have you been to that planet, Vegeta?" He nodded.

"Only once. The Draconians don't live there anymore though."

"Really?" asked Goku. "What happened to th- Oh, never mind. Forget I asked." Goku stared at the ground.

"Hmph, they were a weak race anyway." Vegeta said nonchalantly.

"Aw come on, Vegeta." Goku said. " That doesn't give you an excuse for destroying them. That's what happened, right? If you ask me, you rank right up there with Freiza, destroying entire races like that. He destroyed ours, you think it's any different for them?" Bulma touched Goku's arm to caution him, but Vegeta just stayed quiet and stared at the planet. After a long pause, he frowned deeply, then, getting off the grass, he strode away without looking back at them.

Bulma felt her stomach churn with anger and hurt for her prince. He hadn't said anything, but she knew that he didn't like having his dark and evil past thrown up in his face, and she was surprised that Goku had said what he had said. He was usually the one who was sensitive about those things.

Goku sat up and groaned.

"Oh man, why did I say that?" Bulma could see Vegeta's silhouette on top of the house, dark against the moon. He looked small, and out of place, like he didn't belong somehow. She sighed.

"I don't know Goku, but he isn't going to forgive you tonight, so you better go home. Chi Chi's expecting you anyway." Goku looked at Bulma, his eyes full of guilt.

"You're made at me too, aren't you? I guess I don't blame you. The two of you are connected. I'm really sorry. I just get so self-righteous when it comes to innocent people being murdered." Bulma frowned, suddenly wanting him to go so she could be alone with Vegeta.

"You shouldn't have compared him to Freiza. There is no one else he hated more than him. It's taken him a long time to piece himself together after what that monster put him through. You of all people, should know how he feels about it. He told you first hand what he happened." Tears started to fall down Bulma's cheeks. "It wasn't fair, Goku. It wasn't fair of you to say that." Goku sighed and touched her arms gently.

"I know. I should go, but I'll come back in a day or two to see if he's still mad. I should've just kept my big mouth shut."

"Yes, you should have." She frowned. "Hey, could you do me a favor and fly me up there to him? You don't have to say anything yet, just drop me off, okay?" Goku looked in the direction of Capsule Corp uneasily. The dark form of Vegeta was small, but menacing.

"Aw man, Bulma. Do I have to? He's kinda creepy when he's mad."

"Just do it, Goku. Don't make such a big deal about it, he's only Vegeta, not the Angel of Death."

"Easy for you to say! He wouldn't pound you into the ground!"

But Goku flew her to the roof anyway, and Vegeta kept his back turned to him, tense and hard like a wall. After he was gone, Bulma came up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist. She felt his muscles loosen, and he pressed against her slightly. She thought she felt him shudder a little, and she cursed Goku inwardly for making Vegeta feel guilty inside. That night she comforted him the best she could through his nightmares.

In the afternoon of the next day, Bulma was hard at work when she just happened to glance out the window. She saw Vegeta flying away, and following close behind was a repenting Goku. She smiled. However many times Vegeta denied it, he was stuck with Goku as much as Bulma was, and she knew that he didn't really mind that much.