Howdy! Sorry for the massive delay on this chapter. There's just something about hospitals and medication that makes days go by so much faster than when we're well. I hope you all forgive me - this is quite a bit longer than the usual.
If anyone is confused, the chapter begins on a Monday and then backtracks to show the events of that weekend just passed.
The sun shone brightly over West City that following Monday morning, and the place warmed up gently with the help of a warm front that swept from inland. Bunny slid the kitchen curtains to the side to open the window and let in the sweet scent of her garden. She felt a deep appreciation for the change in weather on many levels, and was glad to see the sun was no longer hidden behind a veil of thick, dark rain clouds as it had been since Saturday morning, the day after her theatre visit. Although they were well into winter, it had been unseasonably warm and she had grown accustomed to it, but the sudden downpour had given her garden a well-needed watering, making everything look much more refreshed and shone with a newfound glow. Well… the same couldn't exactly be said of her household.
Because of all of the trouble that had been going on recently, Bunny thought that she would step in for once and try to mend the broken 'friendships' her dear daughter and the kind 'gentleman' she was boarding possessed. She just knew that if given a nudge in the correct direction, the two could get along famously, and an idea had sparked within her. Bunny decided that she would prove that she was the most wonderful mother, setting her determination alight and showing that she was more than just a pretty face.
She looked around at her kitchen, shaking her head as she evaluated the damage. Today is going to be a long day, she thought to herself, as she tried to remember exactly how a plate of spaghetti came to position itself to awkwardly dangle from the ceiling. However, instead of worrying about spilt milk, particularly the carton that lay splattered over half of the floor giving it a sticky coating, she grabbed a mop and began to scrub.
THUD. THUD. Groan.
A dull banging noise could be heard along the hallway leading to Bulma's bedroom on the morning after she had locked herself outside. The source was, in fact, Bulma hitting her forehead against her door as she tried desperately to think of a plan to escape this circus tent. Surely, Bulma could run away to any other family on this planet and not have to endure the torment that she did here; at least she could rely on the fact that there was only one Vegeta, and he was quite content to stay put, geographically speaking. All she would need to do is make some calls, get a fake ID, and perhaps dye her hair.
"Uhh… nothing works with this blue hair!" she groaned to herself nonsensically, trying to imagine herself as a blonde like her mother.
After ten minutes of whacking her head against her door with an occasional thud, she finally resigned herself and deemed this train of thought to be fruitless. She sighed heavily and turned to look at the clock by side her bed. The face read 9:22am, which was a little disappointing to see, but explained why her head was on fire on the inside, unaided by the by the damage she had dealt in that past few minutes. The night before she had been sitting outside her house for well over two hours, and wasn't actually in bed until about 2:30am. The combination of sleep deprivation, mental exhaustion, and trauma had created a sickly concoction that now swam inside her mind. At least it's Saturday, she thought to herself.
Not knowing what else to do, Bulma dressed herself modestly enough, throwing a robe over her pyjamas as she usually did on a weekend, and made her way to the kitchen; maybe something in her belly would combat her perpetual motion sickness. She trundled her way along the common pathway that she had known for as long as she could remember, not bothering to take in any of her surroundings. In fact, she was so out of it that by the time she reached the kitchen, she sat straight down at the dining table and slouched to rest her head in her arms on the table surface. By this point it was too late; she was trapped in the spider's web.
"Good morning Bulma dear," came a sweet welcome from her mother, as a plate of food was placed before her. She was always able to sense when she was needed in the kitchen, which made her a very reliable and well-respected wife and mother to her family.
Bulma peered up from her elbows to look at the plate before her; her mother had gone all-out on waffles with syrup and ice cream. It looked delicious, like having dessert for breakfast, or something like that. "Thanks mom," she said sleepily as she slowly reached for her fork.
"You're welcome dear," Bunny replied, "and here you are Vegeta," she continued as she set down a large plate of bacon opposite Bulma's seat. As she glanced up and over her plate, it suddenly became clear that she wasn't the only person at the table. For some reason Bulma wasn't as tense as she had been in the past weeks, but she was still uneasy. It didn't matter though, as Vegeta seemingly paid her no attention in return.
After ten minutes of an uncomfortable silence, broken only by Bunny's cheerful humming as she shuffled around in the kitchen, Vegeta had finished several platefuls of food, and was about to head for the training pod as he usually did. But as he pushed his chair backwards from the table to get up, he noticed that Bunny had firmly placed her foot behind it. Although it was obvious that he could overpower the woman, he was always cautious not to set her off in any way, and so, he put on an inquisitive look and let her say what she wanted to say. It was easier this way, as he knew only too well. By this time, Bulma was sitting with her head buried in her arms on the table once more, trying to ignore both the dull throbbing at the back of her head and the goings-on around her. However, the shrillness of her mother's voice jolted her from her sleepy trance, and caused her to look up as she watched her fate unfold.
"Oh Vegeta, surely you aren't expecting to go outside today!" Bunny squealed in concern towards the bulky Saiyan, who clearly didn't like what she was saying. "It's raining, and I don't want you to catch a cold."
"I never get sick, we Saiyans have a superior immune system to you Earthlings," he sneered in protest, but Bunny wasn't going to give up so easily.
"Dear, I work so hard every day to make sure you have good food to eat, clothing to wear, and a comfortable bed to sleep in. Surely, you understand that I'd feel bad if you fell ill while in my care," she chirped whilst Vegeta rolled his eyes. "I think you should stay inside while it's raining outside, just to be safe."
There were concerned looks on both faces sitting at the table, as neither liked what they were hearing. For Bulma, this was a violation of her privacy. She didn't feel right to go do any work in her lab today, and wanted to just lounge around the house, but this couldn't happen with that oaf spoiling the atmosphere. For Vegeta, however, this was much more of a moral dilemma. He had recently heard rumours that Goku and his son were already reaching new peaks to their training, whereas he still couldn't muster up the ability to reach anywhere near Super Saiyan; as far as he could tell, he was still only halfway. Should he decide to stay inside until the rain subdued, he would be missing an unknowable amount of training time, which was so precious to him. However, to disobey this woman might mean any number of irritating consequences, including the denial of food, or even worse, that infernal woman's harping-on.
Bunny noticed the internal conflict Vegeta was struggling with. As she watched him involuntarily clench his fists on the table, she piped up with the rest of her plan. "How about you spend some time with Bulma!" she exclaimed as she clapped her hands together cheerfully, ignoring groans from both parties, "she gets awfully bored on the weekends, and locks herself up all alone in her room. You two would make good company for each other."
"Mom!" Bulma cried, fed up at this point. "Why don't you just let him do his stupid training? He's trying to save the world, or at least that's what he wants you to believe." She slouched back into her chair, folding her arms crossly.
"I'm sure one day isn't going to change much. All work and no play makes Vegeta a dull boy!" she responded, as she placed her hands now on Vegeta's shoulders as she moved to stand behind him to get a better view of the other side of the table.
With that, Bulma decided she had heard enough. She slid her chair back forcefully, screeching across the marble tiles, and rose promptly to storm out of the kitchen and straight for her bedroom. So many thoughts were running through her already aching mind that she felt like she could scream. Just the previous night, her mother had told her to 'come to her senses', right after delivering a brisk slap across her face. Bulma put her hand on her cheek, still in disbelief that that event had actually happened. Bunny was always such a calm and caring woman who, although she always did what she wanted in the end, was happy to go along with others without question. What was this nonsensical meddling about that was causing her to become such a different person, if only for a glimpse of a second? Unless she was actually being straightforward about everything all along, and actually expected these two to actually end up together… Bulma often thought of the day she'd be with her dream guy, living it up in the lap of luxury, and Vegeta didn't fit the bill. Besides, she was still together with Yamcha, even if it was just barely. At least that was something she could still be sure of.
The day rolled by slowly, as the rain continued to fall with no hope of letting up. Bulma had stayed true to her whims and remained locked within the confines of her bedroom sulking. She was in a terrible mood, but it could not be anything as dreadful as what the proud Prince was feeling at that moment. Once a carefree soul who did exactly what he pleased, when he pleased, Vegeta now sat in the library grumbling under his breath as he tried to take his mind off of how much time he was wasting. To add to this problem, Bunny kept popping in every half hour to check up on him, making sure that he was comfortable and had his tea topped up (but she never had the chance to refill the dainty little teacup that perched on a table, which was ignored completely).
At several points in the day, Vegeta tried slipping out of the house, but his plans were foiled every time by the happy housewife. It was ludicrous how he was so skilled and could move so quickly, yet was unable to detect her presence until he was right at the door, and she spotted him. By the time dusk fell into evening, Vegeta was in foul spirits, detesting the fact that he could not stand up to such a powerless woman. Unbeknownst to anyone, Dr Briefs made a game of the day, occupying a nearby sitting room, and chuckling to himself silently at each of these escapades and the reaction on Vegeta's face. It was the first time that he had shown any true weakness since his collapse, and he seemed to be, if ever so slowly, becoming more and more human as the days rolled on.
Dr and Mrs Briefs carried on cheerfully with their day off as they usually did, seemingly unaware of the sickly aura of abhorrence that filled certain parts of their home. In light of what was happening, Bunny decided to cook a roast chicken dinner to lift spirits and encourage a warmer attitude towards each other being together as a family, Vegeta included. The delicious scent wafted down hallways and under the cracks of doors, eventually reaching both Bulma and Vegeta (neither of whom had eaten anything in their entire day of sulking). In response to this, both parties eventually came out of their rabbit holes and made their way to the dining hall, which was set in a gorgeous array. Bulma was bemused that the fine china had been set, as they usually only sat at the table in the kitchen except for special occasions, which this was not. She sat in her traditional place in the set up, and felt somewhat underdressed in casual attire. The situation had taken her out of her grumpy stupor, but it was thrust back into her face only too quickly, as she looked up from her place to see that tall widow's peak and two dark eyes staring at her intently. She had the sudden urge to go back to her room and sulk some more, but the tantalising smell of dinner reminded Bulma that her stomach was empty, so she decided to endure.
By the end of that night, Bulma lay in her bed with the covers pulled tight as she reminisced her day that was anything but wondrous. She had spent those feeble hours flipping through magazines, and then decided to organise her wardrobe just to kill time, even though she knew it didn't need doing. The last time she recalled being this bored, she was stuck in a rocky outcrop on a far-off planet, waiting for the son and perverted friend of Goku to gather dragon balls. Funnily enough, that was shortly after she had chanced her first encounter with a certain Saiyan. Back then she considered him a real looker, falling right away for his figure-hugging attire that showed off just how strong he was. Nowadays, though it had only been little more than a year, she couldn't look past her distaste for the ogre of a man. He was always so wrapped up in power that he couldn't stop for one moment and think of anyone else… except for Goku, which just made him go on more about himself. At that moment, Bulma realised that by now she was no longer afraid of Vegeta, rather than being extremely pissed off; his brutish way of life infuriating her so much. She paused to consider if he was really just all talk, like a tame lion with an overgrown mane, after all, he hadn't done a single thing to cause any real harm other than psychological damage. Sure, he could lash out, but he always made sure that the chaos he spread was caused by non-violence, surely inflating his ego tenfold. Bulma felt thoroughly irked at the idea, and she suddenly realised that he had been playing everyone from the get-go, with his chauvinistic disposition and threatening manner. After all, Vegeta was still inside from the rain just as Mrs Briefs had declared, which showed that he was either an idiot or trying some elaborate ruse to get more of a reaction from Bulma. She folded her arms under her bed sheets as she pondered. Perhaps what he needed, apart from a swift kick in the rear, was something to really get his motor running: a challenge.
Morning came only too quickly, and the murky light shining from the window once again hit Bulma's face as she tried to burrow deeper into her bed. The pitter-patter of raindrops tinkling against the glass pane brought only sad news, as she anticipated that this would be another rainy day inside. She took a deep breath in for good measure before pulling off the covers and reaching for her robe. The first few minutes went by rather uneventfully as Bulma washed her face and tried to do something with her hair; it was getting pretty awful to tame lately due to her growing indifference to everything in the past few weeks. As she was brushing out a particularly gnarly knot that had developed overnight, she then remembered exactly what had happened the day prior… especially her thoughts just before she nodded off.
"That bastard," she muttered to herself as the brush became stuck in her long blue locks, pulling so hard that she almost ripped the strands right off her scalp. She sat on her bed and took a long time to think of what to do whilst trying to unstick the stuck brush. It wasn't something easy to conjure in her mind, she had somehow managed to push all thoughts of Vegeta as far back into the recesses of her mind as she could so that she didn't end up shaking uncontrollably or something of the like. But now she decided to be her own psychiatrist and evaluate exactly what it was about the Saiyan that made her boots rattle.
Of course, she thought to herself, he broke my wrist… She looked down for a moment to inspect her arm and, of course, it was perfectly healed without any sign that she was ever hurt… yet it seemed to tingle uncomfortable every time Vegeta popped into her mind. At that point Bulma felt the brush give way as she pulled it out of her hair, with a large clump as a souvenir. Relieved, she let herself fall backwards onto her mattress, lying face up towards the ceiling. Holding the brush above her, she inspected it with her blue hair providing a stark contrast. Vegeta was a little like this: different.
Being the heiress of such an economically and socially important company, Bulma knew only too well what it was like to have men from rich families try to woo her. Her parents (well… Bunny anyway) just didn't feel that Yamcha was a suitable match for their daughter, so Bunny often had gentlemen visit whenever she knew Bulma had a day off. Of course, Bulma practised her sass whenever one of these men was around, so Bunny entertained them for the rest of the day, which was her idea of a win-win situation. As a result of these encounters, Bulma came to know only too well that most men were egotistic, chauvinistic and always held themselves in the limelight for a little too long. Here is where Vegeta comes in: Bulma knew that he has every right to portray such a large ego, and he was one of the (very few) men on the entire planet who had even half the strength he claimed… yet, he rarely used it. She knew that any average man would spend every waking moment flaunting something that was that impressive, yet Vegeta did not. Sure, he threatened everyone a hell of a lot, but you wouldn't guess that this short-stack with hair as tall as his pride could do half of the things he mentioned unless you chanced a peek at him training. The sheer power…
Something clicked as a light flickered on inside Bulma's mind. She wasn't so much intimidated by his actions, but his power, and the fact that he could very well do whatever he wanted, but didn't. This almighty Saiyan Prince, who was supposed to belong on the 'dark side', actually stopped himself from committing any indecency, which was… well, weird. Anyone would expect him to have blown up West City by now.
So knowing the 'who' and the 'how', Bulma let her scientific mind race to eventually come to the conclusion that this jerk deserved a little of his own medicine… with her own flair, of course. It was still extremely unnerving, thinking that she would actually set out to challenge Vegeta, when being near him was enough to put her in a foul mood. Luckily, she was one to follow plans and experiments, and she deduced that the chances were that his reaction would be nothing but intimidate. If she could prove this, then maybe she could let herself relax a little with him in her house.
Another day wasted. That was the only thing that was on Vegeta's mind as he spent another day trying to find things to keep his mind off of his temporary imprisonment. Even though he was so wired, rearing to get out there and exert some energy, he knew that it was impossible, and he didn't want to cause any hassles with the lady of the house. However, this didn't stop him from scowling for the duration of the day. That morning, after his cold shower, he could swear that he looked less defined in the mirror, as if his muscles were deflating. It had taken a very strict regime to get his body just the way he wanted it, and here was his hard work going down the drain. He had weighed himself too, noticing that he had lost a few ounces, which was most probably the muscle mass that he detected was gone.
Vegeta had spent the entirety of the day prior in the library, studying the Doctor's engineering books, and had come to the conclusion that the pod he trained in could be upgraded substantially, and already should have been. He had spent hours mulling over how the change in gravity and other forces that an improved training area could increase his potential, and wether or not he could have already ascended to that of Super Saiyan. By the end of the day, although he had a superior intellect to most organisms in the galaxy, he was unable to come to any conclusion to such a question. Instead, today he decided to do as much training as he could in his own bedroom, although it was completely pointless compared to what he could do in an enhanced gravity field. Even his pre-warm-up stretching was done at 30x that of normal gravity. 1x was admittedly pathetic, which was why he was having such a hard time coming to terms with the fact that he could not escape the interior of this mansion without detection of that blasted blonde woman.
By the time the sun peaked in the sky, Vegeta found himself back in the library, trying to get his head around the strange quantum mechanics of Earth physics, having decided that this was a better way to 'waste time' than to pretend to train in his room. Besides, he had once again knocked over a standing lamp, and the shattered glass and broken fixtures strewn across the room made it suddenly feel cramped and uncomfortable, and if he made a point of being downstairs, Bunny would soon venture into his room and give it a thorough clean. She wouldn't even ask how or why there were large shards of glass protruding from the plaster in the wall or the burn marks on the ceiling. Despite her faults, she had long ago already proved that she was an asset to his life, providing him with food, shelter, and a clean floor to sleep on. With this mention of food, he noticed that the smell of dinner had crept its way into the library as it had the day before, signalling that it was time to be fed once again.
Vegeta put the engineering book away carefully and left a barrage of martial arts texts strewn across the room. He didn't want anyone to think much of his intelligence; it was a secret weapon of sorts. He then made his way to the kitchen to notice that the table there was plated as usual, rather than the fancy dining hall like the previous night. He didn't care one way or another (the lighting in the dining hall was too bright and hurt his eyes, but he suspected that Mrs Briefs went to an extra effort and prepared more food because of the change in location), and he sat at his usual spot, resting his fingers in the dents he had created from rapping them in boredom when he had to wait for his meals. Tonight was another western dish: spaghetti. The long pale noodles were slathered in a rich red sauce with great dollops of meat surrounding. It didn't look too satisfying, but there were a great number of side dishes to accompany the meal, so he didn't think anything of it after that.
As Bunny and the Doctor seated themselves, Vegeta felt his stomach gurgle in hunger, but was instructed to wait for Bulma, as they always did. He didn't know why exactly he had to exact such a courtesy upon her when she did all that she could to ignore him. He was just about ready to give up and dig in, when he sensed her presence as she strolled into the room. The room was silent, and Vegeta with his eyes set on the food, like any real Saiyan, began eating the moment he heard Bulma pull in her chair. After a few moments, he had already consumed one plate and was beginning his seconds, when he heard his name called.
"Vegeta," came an indifferent tone from none other than Bulma, who had been avoiding him as best she could. "Pass the vegetables, would you?" she said in a soft voice that tried to feign confidence. He gave no response to her request and continued with his pasta. There was a slight pause that was soon followed once again by the ringing shrillness of Bulma voice. "I can't reach, pass them over." Again he didn't respond, so she made one last attempt, taking a deep breath to steady her confidence, "Vegeta, don't ignore me."
She had managed to lower her tone and make herself sound cross, even though she was obviously unsure of wether or not she should risk saying such things. Even so, this difference in her voice was all that Vegeta needed to make him stop and look up in something close to disbelief. That was when he noticed that Dr and Mrs Briefs were politely pretending not to peer over their plates at his reaction. Bunny shot him a quick smile, which he didn't understand, so he turned to look towards Bulma across the table.
For some reason, she didn't seem like the same person as the day before. It wasn't only the fact that she had gone to some ludicrous lengths to 'pretty' herself up, but also that she was letting her voice travel farther than it usually did. Honestly, he didn't care that her hair was smooth and straight and she was wearing makeup for the first time in weeks. He was more interested in her psychological changes rather than the physical ones. Although the look on her face was still somewhat unsure of herself, she was actually making an effort to exert herself. She had spoken up to him… just like she had so long ago when she was seemingly fearless, and obnoxious as hell.
He gave the plate of steamed vegetables a quick flick of his wrist and it slid across the table like a hockey puck. Luckily, Bulma just managed to catch it before it flew off the table, and she shot him a cold glare. He responded in turn with his own fierce gaze and promptly returned to his dish. The rest of the meal went on in near silence, with only the clinking of cutlery and the sound of Vegeta shovelling down his food to break the cold layer of air that had settled around the table. That is, until Bulma decided to speak up once again, feeling more confident in herself as her nonverbal threats were undisputed.
"You're supposed to be eating the food, not inhaling it," she shot down the table at Vegeta, "you are aware of that, right?"
Through mouthfuls of pasta, Vegeta was barely audible. "This is how Saiyans eat," he said, pausing to gulp down what was in his mouth to continue, "you never had a problem with it before."
Bulma looked back at him in disgust as drabs of sauce was smothered around his mouth and gave the look of bright lipstick. She collected herself once more before protesting again. "Well I have a problem with it now."
Suddenly it had become a proverbial tennis match, with slander being thrown across the room like so many yellow tennis balls, bouncing around and turning the icy air hot. Although the row only lasted 30 seconds, it was enough so that the both of them were red in the face, and the doctor and his wife and slunk back slightly in a feeble attempt to retreat from the action. Suddenly the shouting stopped, and something was mumbled on Vegeta's side of the table. Although it was muffled by his clenched fist covering his mouth, Bulma was sure she had heard something profoundly horrible, and rose from her chair to challenge it without any thought whatsoever.
"What did you just say?" she questioned him, as her upright posture towered over the table.
Without hesitation, Vegeta also stood from his chair and now repeated what he had mumbled in full volume. "I said, at least I don't walk around looking like a sick animal with all that rubbish on my face!" he bellowed loudly and directly.
Suddenly Bulma didn't have a word in her vocabulary that could express how she felt then and there, but her shaking physique showed that her blood was boiling and she was about to explode. Her first reaction was to slap Vegeta in the face, and she almost did, but as she went to raise her hand she instead went for her plate of spaghetti. In one fell swoop she threw it with full force in whichever direction she pleased, her eyes focused deathly on Vegeta's, the plate landing with a squelch not on the ground, but stuck to the ceiling, food and all.
"At least I'm not some stupid oafish ape," she blurted out. Then, deciding she had had enough excitement for one evening, Bulma stormed out of the kitchen and towards her room.
The heavy silence once again settled over the table, Vegeta still standing for a moment longer before sitting back down to finish his own food, a smirk on his face as he did so.
"Well…" came an overwhelmed breath from Bunny as she stared up at the ceiling where spaghetti glue plate and plaster together, "maybe next time I'll go easy on the sauce." She too then found herself smiling to herself as she finished her meal. Sure, this wasn't the best scenario, but at least they were back to talking to each other. It's a start, she thought, pausing as another thought entered her mind. She looked up once again at the spaghetti on the roof… I'll clean that up later.