NOTE: So, I don't know exactly what all I'm doing with this, but these seven years are definitely way under-appreciated in the fanfiction world, from what I've seen, so I thought I'd try to tackle them. I hope you enjoy the journey with me. These will probably be all more or less short "stand-alone" pieces, so don't expect too much chapter-to-chapter continuity.

Please leave me your thoughts! They are very helpful to me, both in motivating me and helping me figure out what I need to do with the story.

...

The door rattled open and Bulma glanced up from her glass, swirling its contents absently as she watched him enter. "Hey," she mumbled, "didn't know you'd be coming back here."

He shrugged, tossing his rain-soaked jacket over the couch. He'd been back once since then—where else would he have gotten the jacket?—but supposed Bulma hadn't known. It had been a short trip, and he'd been absent for some time since—more than a few days, but he hadn't counted. With the miserable and pervasive rain, differentiating between day and night had been tougher, and it had been easy to sleep through the daytime. Bitterly he wondered if the Earth was weeping for the same pathetic reason that he was back at Bulma's, peeling his wet gloves off, waiting for the woman to continue speaking. She didn't—glanced back down at her glass, swirled it a few more times, took a drink. He watched her intense interest in the way the waves abated as she held it still. "You'd know if I'd gone," he finally spoke. "You'd be missing a spaceship."

"Mm," she nodded, now fishing through a cabinet for another glass. "So are you going back?"

"Back where?" His fingers were cold, but quickly warming. He was certain there was an extra pair of gloves lying around here, somewhere.

"You know. To space."

His eyes bored into her. "You talk about it like it's a place to be."

"Well..."

"All space is, is in-between time. Between one place and another. Best slept through," he muttered.

"I guess," she shrugged. In her mind, Vegeta, this alien, lived anywhere that wasn't Earth. He'd never been at home here—just biding time. She assumed that sooner or later, he'd be leaving, to wherever his home was. There was a faint whining from the next room, but neither did anything more than glance in its direction. "So are you staying?"

"You sound surprised. You think I have someplace to go?" his voice grew loud along with that of the child in the other room. "Now?"

She bit her lip, and after a moment's pause redirected the conversation. "Where were you?"

"Doesn't matter," Normally he wouldn't have put up with such inane questions—but what else was there to do? The way she swirled her glass was hypnotizing, and he could feel vicariously the warmth of the alcohol as it slid down her throat. Being back inside reminded him of how much the rain had chilled him. He used the nearest cloth—Bulma's jacket, hanging near the door—to dry his skin, and she frowned at him, but said nothing.

She ducked around the corner and returned with both glasses full, stepping closer to Vegeta and holding one out to him. He took it quickly, and watched her carefully as she drank it, copying her.

"You gonna help me take care of Trunks?" she tried not to sound too hopeful. She'd not expected Vegeta to stick around even when she decided to keep the child, but now, well—if he was going to be here anyway—maybe—

"Yes." His answer was surprisingly resolute. There was a quiver beneath it, and she was certain she knew why. "I will train him."

Resounding silence ensued, and Vegeta emptied his glass with speed. He held it out to Bulma, who took it and refilled it. She leaned back against the counter, and Vegeta reclined against the wall on the opposite side of the room. The prince heard a quiet noise from the woman, and he wasn't sure if it was her choking on her drink, or something else. There was babbling from the baby in the other room, approximating the tempo of the rain as it struck the windows. Vegeta's reverie was broken at the sound of shattering glass, and his eyes snapped to Bulma. Bits of her glass chimed against the floor as they slid from the counter, and the wine dripped from her hand and from what of the glass remained. "I can't believe Son!" she blurted, and swatted the stem and base of the glass across the room. It clinked against the nearest chair pathetically, and rolled along the ground. He was surprised the words hadn't come from his own mouth, short of her Earthling name for the man. "Like anyone buys his 'for the good of the Earth' bullshit! I've known that kid since he was twelve, and you know what? If you told 'im some strong guy would show up if he stood still in the middle of the forest for a year, he'd do it! Like hell he left so that people that he could fight would stop coming to Earth!" She took a deep, rattling breath, eyes blinded with anger as she looked through Vegeta. "Guess we're not good enough for him, guess he just couldn't wait to go to Heaven."

"Guess we're not good enough for him," Vegeta repeated, so quietly that Bulma wasn't sure if she'd heard it. He looked up at her and raised his voice as he continued, "What's it matter to you?"

Bulma crossed her arms tightly against her chest, glaring at him. "What, so the fact that I found him doesn't matter? That we were friends?" she seemed to lose her steam as her gut dropped. "Hell, he never cared. We didn't see each other so often, and maybe it was partly my fault, but—shit—" She locked eyes with Vegeta and breathed again, bracing herself to start anew, slowing her mind to the pace of her tongue so that she could make more sense. "He was such a kid. I got in way over my head, he pulled through—no matter how much danger he got us in as he did. He went off to train, he came back a better fighter. He left again, same thing. Then, once, he came back a man," she glanced down, "ran off the same day with Chi-Chi, not the slightest idea what he was getting into. I never had a chance, anyway."

"You..." he began, "you wanted..."

"Guess I'll never know," she kicked at the glass nearest her foot, "and I try not to think about it." Bulma huffed and turned away. "I always go for the stupid men. Everybody who'd leave me at the drop of a hat. Son would be the same."

Vegeta seemed affronted by the comparison, snarling. "I'm still here," it came out more of a whimper than he'd wanted, but Bulma didn't seem to hear it.

"He always goes after his own thing," she leaned back, resigned. "Well, whatever. Maybe he really is too good for us."

Vegeta's jaw quivered as an idea seemed to strike him, and he took a step forward. "Hit me," he voice was carefully neutral. Bulma glanced up, raising her eyebrows. "All I wanted was another fight," he seethed. "To defeat him as I should have the first time." He may have been shivering; Bulma couldn't tell. He seemed to have dried off, but perhaps he was still cold. If it was rage rippling through him, well—she feared it. "Now, I'll never have it."

She opened her mouth to argue, but saw the desperation in his eyes, and braced herself. "All right, but..." he inclined his head slightly and let his eyelids slide closed. She hopped over the broken glass and took a run at him, pulling her fist back and letting it strike his abdomen. He didn't move to block it—or her next strike, or her next, awkward as they were. She felt his muscles react beneath her hands, twitching and hardening as he so easily withstood what blows she managed. As Bulma pulled back to lunge at Vegeta again, he grabbed her fists and pulled her closer, holding her against him. They'd been in close contact like this a few times—Trunks was evidence enough. But off and on as Vegeta trained, most of their contact had been in the form of arguments. Once, they had laid in the same bed together for the entire night after one heated argument brought heat elsewhere. The closeness and quiet with Vegeta had been heart-stilling, and she suspected he had been just as afraid of the calmness they had felt in those hours as she was; they avoided each other for weeks afterward.

His hands continued to grip her fists and she leaned in against him. He tilted his head forward, and she was worried it would be a painful headbutt—but his brow stopped gently against hers. Vegeta's eyes were still closed, and he drew in a breath through his teeth. "Is that all you can do?" he managed to hiss out, fists tightening around Bulma's. She swore at the pain, but her arms could not struggle against Vegeta's, so she swung her leg up to kick his shin. His surprise was enough to let her jerk her fists loose, and his lips pulled back over his teeth in what her pounding heart could not discount as being either anger or hunger. "Hit me again."

Bulma hopped up onto the counter, not sure of what to do next. She'd never seen Vegeta in such a state—not that she'd claim to have seen him enough to have expected to. It surely wasn't alcohol-induced, and his eyes weren't on her. Maybe hers weren't on him, either. As he came closer, his bare foot pressed against the broken glass, and he winced, pausing mid-stride. Bulma hopped from the counter, nearby glass crunching beneath her boots as she landed. "Here," she muttered, directing him to the table, and after she pressed hard enough against his shoulders he cooperated and sat, eyes following her carefully as he awaited her next move. "Just wait a second." She turned on her toes and left, slipping out of her glass-coated boots just before pacing onto the carpeted area, returning after a moment with a small bag. Biting her lip, she carefully pulled the shards from the prince's foot with a pair of tweezers from the bag. He leaned back against the chair, resigned. He felt her lay some material against his forefoot, pressing it and pulling it off slowly, and winced when she poured alcohol over the cuts, shivering a little at the comfort of so shamelessly expressing his pain when a whimper escaped his lips. His breath softened to a hum as she rubbed some ointment against him, and then Bulma began wrapping something around his foot—bandages, he decided, eyes still closed. His blood crept through the cloth, barely staining the outside layer. As her hands laid against his foot, he thought, briefly—they had never been so close. It was nice—it was bearable. He looked up just in time to see her licking a smudge of his blood from her knuckle. There was fight in her eyes still; passion which had left him laid within her. He leaned down to look at her closer. She was a stranger, but more familiar than most he'd ever known. It was odd, being here with her and having nothing to argue about. "It keeps raining," she finally spoke.

"I noticed."

Lightning crackled past the window in the next room, and when the thunder boomed moments later, baby Trunks began bawling from his crib. More distant lightning danced behind it, and its rumbling followed after some time. "Guess the sky's mad at him, too."

"Poetic bullshit," he muttered, still close to her. She turned her attention from the window and came nose-to-nose with Vegeta as her head twisted back to him. From the corner of her eye, she saw his toes wriggle as his foot tested the limits of the bandage. She supposed it was the first time he'd ever been fully conscious when she'd patched him up. She'd preferred it that way, anyway; no need for him to see the way she'd looked over him as she'd done so, pondering the minor differences of the Saiyajin physiology. Of course, she'd had other opportunities to do so as time went on, but tried to avoid thinking too much on it at those times. There was no advantage to him finding out that the first time, she'd grown bored of his novice fumbling; and anyway, he improved fast enough that she gave him a second chance. Even she wasn't brash enough to question him directly about whether he'd ever had sex with anyone before. It was some comfort to think that with Goku, it might have been worse— "That moron," he muttered, and she blushed as if he'd heard her thoughts; she was sure they'd been thinking about the same person. "If he were the Saiyajin he was supposed to be, I could fight him in Hell."

She bit her lip. "Well, I'd be dead for sure, if he killed us like he was supposed to."

He looked into her eyes carefully, wondering if it mattered which words he chose. Could she make his life more miserable if he spoke the wrong ones? But what did he owe her, anyway? "I'd rather fight him than fuck you."

Bulma leapt to her feet, and remembered at the last moment the glass behind her, stepping to the side in case Vegeta stood too, to shove her backwards. She felt the hair on the back of her neck rise. "Funny," her face grew hot with anger, "I think I'd rather fuck him than fight you!" And she knew she was right to move to the side, for in moments she was stumbling backwards as he stood, towering over her despite their similar heights.

"Seems we're both out of luck," Vegeta rumbled, thunder echoing through the sky to back him up. "So you'll just have to do your worst." He leapt back in surprise as she stomped on his injured foot and shoved his torso with both hands. Vegeta found himself with his lower back pressed against the table, and Bulma ran at him, hesitating as she neared and tried to best position her hand to strike his abdomen. Finally, she settled on stepping onto both of his feet and leaning over, forcing him to lean back until his hair brushed the tabletop. Her fingers locked around his arms and she used her legs to brace herself higher up on his body, pressing her cheek against his before biting his ear. His hands snapped to her sides and prepared to throw her off of him, but he stopped when her mouth moved to his, drinking him up with the kind of passion he'd hoped to defeat his rival with, unrelenting and drawn from the pit of his stomach. Vegeta jerked his head back so that their mouths broke apart, smirking a little. "It seems to me you want me more than you thought," he challenged.

"Speak for yourself," she shifted her weight so that her midsection pressed against a conspicuous bulge.

He sneered, and a short hiss escaped through his teeth. "Nonsense. I was thinking about—"

"Yeah," she carefully removed her necklace, and his brows twitched as he realized what she was saying. As he stood still in thought, she paused with her shirt over her head. "Well, are we, or aren't we?" She made as if to pull the shirt back onto her body, and Vegeta grabbed her arms to stop her.

"Yes," he answered, more loudly than he meant to.

"It's a good enough distraction, right?" she tossed the shirt carefully to the opposite side of the room, where it would collect no glass shards, and went to work on her bra.

"Good enough," he answered gruffly. And that, he supposed, was what most of his life was going to be. The baby whined from the other room, and he let its cry settle into his bones. At least there was that—at least there was the boy. And at least there was her, the woman perched atop him, sharp eyes and a sharper tongue. It rained outside, and that was good enough for the Earth. But thunder rumbled through his chest and he knew he had a quiet contract with the phrase—"for now."