A/N: I don't own Dragon Ball Z, I'm just a fan. :P
This is my first DBZ story, and my first attempt at writing one of my favorite couples. The ever infamous 3 year gap before the arrival of the androids. Hope you guys like. :)
He was born to be the greatest warrior the universe had ever seen, and he was going to stop at nothing until he finally achieved the power that was his birthright.
Vegeta's body was screaming for rest, but the floating bots were ready to attack again. He grit his teeth, breathing heavily as he struggled just to remain standing in the unbearable force of 350 times Earth's gravity. He'd been working nonstop for two straight days without so much as a water break, fueled by a fierce and stubborn determination not to quit. In the back of his mind, seared forever into his memory, was a constant motivator: the image of a third class Saiyan and a kid from the future both making the legendary Super Saiyan transformation before his very eyes. It was an insult to his pride and honor as the Prince of all Saiyans that he was being outclassed. Just thinking about that sight, about others reaching a level that was destined for him and for him alone, it made Vegeta want to scream with rage. It was that very rage that was keeping him standing.
He blinked sweat out of his eyes, squinting at the bots that were in front of him. Bracing himself, Vegeta put his senses on full alert in anticipation for the next attack when his sensitive hearing picked up loud laughter right outside the gravity chamber. Without wanting to, he immediately placed the person laughing as that annoying, loud-mouthed blue-haired wench. He took a quick glance towards the laughter with an annoyed sneer, his attention diverted for only one second.
He instantly paid the price. Looking over at the side, Vegeta didn't have time to get up a defense before an energy beam slammed into his ribs and knocked him back against the wall of the gravity room. Falling on his back, he hissed in pain as he clutched his ribs and squeezed his eyes shut, the embarrassment stinging more than the physical pain. It was completely unacceptable for a Saiyan Elite like him to get distracted. If the bots would've been the androids, he'd be dead. Slowly, Vegeta rolled over and by willpower alone, he painfully got back up to his feet.
Taking a deep breath to soothe his burning lungs, he clenched his teeth together hard and brought his hands back together. Light instantly pulsed from his hands as he summoned up the little energy he had left, before unloading a blast that destroyed all of the bots in sight, sending them all crashing to the floor. Vegeta smirked a little in satisfaction, before slowly and painfully trudging over to the control panel in the room. The relief was instantaneous and would have likely sent him to the floor if he didn't have the control panel to lean on. He couldn't keep his smirk from spreading though. Not too much longer and he was going to be used to 350 times Earth's gravity.
Vegeta glanced over at the fried bots and remembered the distracting laughter he had heard earlier. His smirk disappeared, replaced by a deep scowl at the memory. These goddamned humans were so annoying, but he unfortunately had to deal with them. His strength slowly coming back, he pushed away from the control panel, going to find one of them.
He had a specific human in mind…
Bulma placed her left hand on her hip, while she squeezed her brand new cell phone in her right hand. Her only regret was that she wasn't squeezing Yamcha's neck instead.
"Are you calling me a LIAR?"
"Did I say that?"
Bulma exhaled through her nose in frustration, beginning to pace in her bedroom while trying not to trip over the mess on the floor. "Look here buddy, I have things I have to do! I have work to do tonight, and I just can't go see this movie with you!"
Over at his apartment, Yamcha rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Yeah, you're always busy, aren't you? Even I'm not as busy as you are and I've been training hardcore for these androids."
Bulma threw her head back and laughed loudly. "Oh puh-leeze! You have the most relaxed training program I've ever seen! Every single day you're calling me wanting to do something, but you forget that some of us have actual jobs to do around here."
"Hey, I am training hard!" Yamcha snapped, purposely not mentioning the fact that he currently had a baseball game muted on the TV. It was just bad timing; he deserved a break. He leaned back in his sofa and had a bitter look on his face when he added: "Just because I'm not killing myself every day like that jerk you're housing doesn't mean that I'm not going to be ready when those androids come."
"The only jerk I'm dealing with right now is the one ON THE OTHER END OF THIS PHONE!" Bulma shrieked, making Yamcha wince on the other end. "I told you that I'm busy and then you have the nerve to call me a liar!"
"Well, you wanted us to give our relationship a try again, but you hardly seem like you want to try! It's called making an EFFORT, Bulma!"
Vegeta's scowl deepened as he walked down the second floor hallway of the Briefs home. He heard the woman as soon as he walked inside from his training. That damn woman was so loud sometimes. She was such a nuisance, always with a response on her tongue whenever they ran into each other and actually exchanged some words outside of his training equipment. He'd never had anyone speak to him as freely as she did, and could still remember being stunned into complete silence the first time she'd fearlessly strolled right up to him and told him to his face that he needed a bath. If it wasn't for her familiarity with Kakarot and for her scientific knowledge and technical expertise, not to mention the sheer speed at which she could crank out her work, Vegeta had no doubt he would've ripped her head off by now.
He paused in the doorway to her bedroom, his dark eyes briefly scanning the room before finally settling on her. Bulma had her back to him while she ranted away on her cell phone, and his eyes slowly roamed her body while she continued her conversation with that weakling human that was always coming by the compound. That fool annoyed him even more than she did. At least the woman was actually useful with her gadgets and inventions. Her weakling mate wasn't even worth the effort and energy it would take to kill him.
"Excuse me?" Bulma yelled angrily, unaware that the Prince of all Saiyans was standing in her doorway. "You know what, FINE! I'll show you lack of effort you jackass!" She then hung up and threw her phone angrily on her bed, where it bounced and then went flying to the floor. She glared at it the whole way as if it embodied everything that was wrong about her off-again, on-again relationship with her boyfriend. "He is such a child… argh!"
Startled, Bulma spun around towards the voice, her breath momentarily catching in her throat at the sight of Vegeta standing before her. He had a white towel hanging from around his neck, the sweat still glistening off his chiseled chest from his training session. His hands were clenched into fists, as if he was bracing himself for a fight. His face was twisted into a menacing scowl as his dark eyes bore into her blue ones.
"Vegeta," she breathed out in surprise, one hand going over her heart while she wondered how long he'd been standing there. Vegeta's scowl deepened when he heard the soft way she said his name. Bulma took another breath, studying him curiously. "Is everything okay?"
"No, everything is most certainly not okay!" he snapped at her, and she frowned. Bulma straightened her back, placed her hands on her hips, and glared fiercely at him.
"Now what's your problem, huh?" Bulma demanded.
"My problem," Vegeta sneered, his tone scathing, "is that you were busy laughing it up right outside of the gravity chamber like the arrival of these androids is some kind of fucking party! How am I supposed to train when you and the rest of these idiot humans are distracting me? Do you want these androids to kill everyone, is that it?" he snarled, his voice rising with his rising fury.
"Now look here, you ass. In case you've forgotten, this is my house, Vegeta, and I'll do what I want, when I want. You have NO right barging in here and bossing me around!" she yelled at him.
Before he could think, Vegeta yelled back, "One of the bots you and your father created nearly killed me because of YOU distracting me!"
He regretted the words as soon as he said them. Bulma's features instantly softened, her blue eyes widening in concern as she gave him a quick once over, looking to see any bruises or injuries. She hadn't meant to get the man actually hurt, and she approached him to get a better look.
"What? What happened? Are you alright, do you need help?"
Vegeta started backing up instinctively, feeling extremely awkward as she came closer to him. What the hell was the woman doing? And why was she looking at him like that?
"I'm fine, woman!" he barked out. "I am a Saiyan warrior and the fiercest fighter in the entire universe! Your ridiculous robotic toys can't harm me!"
Bulma stopped walking, and he felt an overwhelming sense of relief. The look of concern on her face melted away to one of amusement. She looked at him and smiled knowingly, and he suddenly felt very uneasy. He clenched his fists again and glared at her, trying hard to figure her out.
"Weeeell…" Bulma started, her smile widening as he gave a low, annoyed growl. She put her hands back on her hips and leaned forward a little, her smile turning into a playful smirk, "If you weren't in any danger, then what exactly is the problem with us using the area around the gravity chamber, tough guy?"
He bristled, fuming now and feeling his energy level rising, "BECAUSE IT'S DISTRACTING! I am working to help destroy these androids and save your miserable pathetic little planet, and all I want is peace and QUIET!"
"Okay, okay," Bulma relented, backing up a little when she noticed that various items in the room were starting to levitate in response to the Saiyan's fury. "I'll sound proof it so you won't hear a thing, okay?" She gave him a small, warm smile. "We don't want your training to go to waste after all, right?"
Vegeta grunted, the offer taking the edge off his fury even though the menacing scowl was still on his face. Bulma gratefully noticed that nothing was levitating in her room anymore. The prince crossed his arms over his broad chest and stared at her with his intense gaze.
"Do it tonight then, so it will be ready for me in the morning," he ordered, his eyes hard. "Also, I destroyed those pathetic bots. I will need replacements immediately. Stronger and faster ones that are suitable for a warrior with my abilities."
Her own temper flared up instantly, "We just replaced those bots for you three days ago!"
"Well replace them again, woman! Maybe if you had a brain, you could build something that could actually last!"
"Who do you think you are?" Bulma screamed at him. "You jerk, don't you know that I have a life too and I can't just spend every damned night repairing what you destroy? Small wonder you're not stronger than Goku, you can't do a damn thing with everything we've given you except destroy it!"
Vegeta's dark eyes flashed at the sound of his rival's name, before narrowing dangerously. He lowered his fists to his sides, clenching them tightly over the audacity this weak, human woman had.
"I mean…" Bulma stammered, trying to cover her tracks. She had struck a nerve and had wounded his pride, she could see it in his irate eyes. "You're not stronger than him yet, but you will be."
"If you ever question my abilities again, I guarantee you that it will be the last thing you ever do," Vegeta warned her, his voice ice cold.
"Vegeta…" She'd crossed the line, and she knew it. "I'm sorry, I-"
"Just fix the damn things, and stay out of my way," he growled, not liking the way she was looking at him again.
Vegeta turned and marched off towards his bedroom without another word. He was pissed off, frustrated, and sore as hell from training for two days straight. He wasn't one for giving into rest, but he needed it so he could at least recover enough to continue training.
He sneered at the thought of Bulma. She spoke to him like no one else had ever spoken to him. How dare she speak to him with such blatant disrespect? If anyone on his home planet had ever spoken to him like she had, he would have killed them on the spot. Hell, forget his home planet - if anyone outside of Frieza and his top lieutenants had ever spoken to him like Bulma did, they would have met a cruel and painful death.
But then there were times when the woman genuinely looked concerned about him, or when he caught her looking at him curiously like she was trying to figure him out. Vegeta hated those times the most because he didn't know what to make of them. He was used to people shrinking back in terror from him, not looking at him like that.
He just couldn't get a read on her at all.
"Vegeta destroyed the bots again," Bulma sighed as she sat with her parents at the dinner table. Upstairs, they could just barely hear the water running as Vegeta showered.
"That boy trains like a madman," Dr. Briefs remarked, his eyes on his food as he slowly cut into his dinner. He shook his head with a frown. "I really think he's overdoing it."
"Oh, nonsense," Bunny said, waving off the comment with a giggle. "That sweet boy is just dedicated. He wants to grow strong and he's so passionate. What's wrong with that?"
"Well, he's a jerk," Bulma mumbled. "He never even says please or thank you, just demands that things be done and barks out orders all the time. He just barged in on me tonight wanting me to drop everything and fix the bots for him. I am not his slave."
The heiress frowned, continuing to mindlessly pick at her mashed potatoes. She hadn't liked the look in Vegeta's eyes when she'd brought up the fact that Goku was stronger than him. She knew the man had pride but had perhaps underestimated how much he had. She'd struck a nerve, poured salt on a wound that wasn't healed.
And now she didn't like the guilt that lingered inside of her over it.
"Maybe that handsome boy is just hungry," Bunny said, looking over at her daughter with her eternal bright smile. "Why, he must be starving from how hard he works! Dear, why don't you take him some food?"
Bulma was about to object, before sighing and reluctantly relenting, "Yeah, I can't remember the last time his royal highness asked me to cook for him. I guess I should just be proactive and beat the jerk to the punch."
"Oh, Bulma, how is Yamcha doing?" her father asked, peering over at his daughter. "I haven't seen him around in a couple of days either. Has he been sparring with Vegeta in the gravity chamber?"
Bulma guffawed; that would be the day. "Dad, please. Vegeta could beat up Yamcha with one finger and with his eyes closed. Yamcha and I just haven't been able to meet up… he's been annoying me about that…" she sighed loudly as she remembered their earlier conversation. "Ugh, men are just impossible," she growled.
Her parents just chuckled. Bulma looked up at the ceiling, her mind going back to Vegeta. Food was smart; he was a Saiyan, so he was bound to be hungry. And who knew? It might help him unwind. The Saiyan prince was always agitated for no good reason that Bulma could figure out, always looking like he was ready to murder the next person he saw. His whole disposition was the worst she'd ever encountered in her life: he was crass, rude, impatient, and completely inconsiderate. Her brows furrowed as she finished her dinner, all the while trying to figure out just what Vegeta's deal was.
There had to be more to him than the hard shell he wore all the time…
Vegeta was pulling on some clean shorts when a knock came at his door. His eyes narrowed suspiciously as he immediately placed the person as that annoying wench of a woman. This was the first time she was actually seeking him out in his room, and it put him instantly on edge. Briefly, he wondered if she was already done making him new bots, but she wasn't that fast.
He opened the door, and his scowl was replaced by a look of surprise when he saw what she was carrying. Bulma also looked surprised to see that he was simply wearing some snug-fitting workout shorts. He was freshly showered and she was momentarily awestruck by how handsome he was… especially when the scowl briefly disappeared from his face.
"Hey you," Bulma said, giving him a friendly smile. He frowned at her when he saw it, unease settling into his stomach as he tried figuring her out.
What is wrong with her, is she bipolar or something?
"I thought you must be hungry after training so hard the last couple days. I brought you some food. You have to eat when you work out so hard."
Vegeta looked back down at the plates of food she was carefully balancing in her arms. He grunted and stepped aside so she could enter his room. She walked over to his bed and placed some plates there and the rest on the desk in his room while he leaned against the wall by the door. Vegeta watched her carefully, his face completely impassive and his eyes hard as always as he crossed his arms over his chest. His eyes scrutinized every detail of her appearance, especially when she bent over to put his food down…
He immediately looked away when Bulma turned back to him, feeling angry and ashamed of himself. He was the Prince of all Saiyans, and he was here ogling some ordinary human girl.
As if she could ever have anything to offer him.
"Okay, well, here's some food for you," Bulma told him with another friendly smile.
Vegeta looked back at her, caught her smile, and sneered, "It's about time you learned some damn respect, woman."
Bulma's smile disappeared, replaced by a fiery glare. "You're welcome, your majesty," she said snidely.
Vegeta couldn't help but crack a smirk, seeing that he was getting under her skin. This pleased him greatly, to be able to rile her up just like she did to him. "That's more like it."
"Ugh, you are impossible!" Bulma yelled at him in frustration. "I'm trying to be nice here, Vegeta! Would a thank you kill you?"
"Perhaps," he remarked, his smirk growing a little. He motioned with his head towards the door next to him. "You can leave now, woman. You have work to do on the gravity room so that I can continue my training tomorrow."
"Well, you know what, your highness?" Bulma shot back as she put her hands on her waist. Vegeta grit his teeth at the mocking tone in her voice. "I won't be doing any work on your precious gravity room unless you ask me nicely. What do you think about that, buddy?"
He snorted. "I think I'll just ask your father then. Perhaps you forget, but you aren't the only one here with a brain, woman."
"My name is Bulma!"
The two stared at each other intensely. Moments turned into seconds, and seconds began to trickle into minutes. Vegeta's intense glare met its match with Bulma's resilient stare, and neither side looked like it was going to back down any time soon.
Finally, Bulma's cell phone began to ring in her bedroom. Vegeta smirked when he heard it, and Bulma was infuriated by that annoying and completely maddening smirk. Oh, if she could smack that smirk right off the jerk's face (without risking her life and the planet's safety in the process), she wouldn't hesitate for a second.
"That must be your pathetic mate calling to beg you to see him," Vegeta said with a snort of disgust. "A real man wouldn't need to beg to see his woman."
"Like you would know, a girl would have to be clinically insane to ever give you a second look," Bulma shot back.
"Better run along now," Vegeta said, his smirk growing. "We wouldn't want the weakling to start crying, now would we?"
Bulma glared at him before heading to his door, her head held high. Just as she was passing him though, she stopped and reminded herself of what she'd said earlier. Taking a deep breath to calm her temper, Bulma looked over at Vegeta and studied him critically. He kept his eyes straight ahead, away from her even though he could still see her through his outstanding peripheral vision. His smirk slowly disappeared when he realized she hadn't left yet. He scowled as he felt her eyes lingering on him. Why the hell hadn't she left him yet, so he could be in peace?
Bulma's eyebrows furrowed a little as she saw how uncomfortable he was, and her expression softened. He was such an enigma, such a mystery man, a fierce warrior...
Not able to help herself, she felt compelled to say something more to him.
"Hey, really… I'm sorry about what I said about Goku. I really think that with the way you train, you have a great chance of surpassing him. I mean, you are the Prince of all Saiyans after all."
Half out of his doorway, her cell phone still ringing in the background, Bulma stayed as she waited to see if she'd get a response. Vegeta's jaw was clenched tightly, a muscle flexing there rhythmically, the tension clear in his body. He was within arm's reach, and inexplicably, she almost felt tempted to touch his arm just to put him at ease.
"Leave," Vegeta finally said gruffly, turning his head away from her. "Now."
Bulma sighed and did like he asked, running off to her room to try to catch whoever was calling her. Vegeta heard her running, and his muscles finally relaxed now that she was gone.
That damn woman, he thought, mentally cursing her as he released a deep breath. She has some nerve...
He stubbornly stood there against the wall for a long time, not wanting to eat the food she'd brought him. But the smell was too strong, and he decided he might as well not let it go to waste.