A/N: Felt like writing something different. I tweaked a couple of things in this timeline for effect, so don't hate me too badly for things not meshing 100 percent with "History of Trunks" or with Trunks' description of events. I don't think the changes are significant. The overall gist is the same.
As usual, I own nothing… I hope you like.
And here she had once thought that her life couldn't get more stressful than those days she'd spent on Namek.
How wrong she'd been.
Bulma's stomach was in knots as she watched the latest newscast in horror. Another city had been completely destroyed, absolutely decimated with no survivors left. It was the eighth city to be destroyed in three days, and no one had a clue who was behind the mayhem. She had a cigarette in her lips, her old smoking habit coming back in full force in her vain effort to deal with her enormous stress. She raised her lighter up with a shaking hand. It took way longer than it should have, but finally, she managed to light the cigarette.
The Z-fighters had had no idea who or what this new threat was, but that didn't stop them from trying to find out. They had all gathered at Capsule Corporation on the first day of the attacks, trying to brainstorm a strategy to track down monsters none of them could sense. Vegeta, Piccolo, Gohan, Krillin, Yamcha, Tien, and Chiaotzu had all been in the living room where she was currently sitting, just a couple of days ago.
They had all argued, though it was mostly Vegeta and Piccolo shouting at each other with Gohan and Krillin trying to keep the two from coming to blows over their disagreement. Vegeta had been itching for a good fight ever since being denied his battle against Goku. He was more than willing to go find who was causing all this trouble and take them out immediately. Piccolo disagreed with the approach; he wanted to wait to see if the monsters would reveal themselves. He was preaching patience, but everyone finally sided with Vegeta on the issue. They couldn't afford to be patient anymore. People were being brutally massacred by the second. It wasn't until Gohan also sided with Vegeta, that Piccolo finally gave in. If the kid was going, he was going too.
Bulma had been in the room with Trunks while they were all discussing strategy, and she had thought none of it. Oh, all the destruction made her uneasy, of course. But the warriors in the room with her were the very best the universe had to offer. And with all of them working together, she was confident no one stood a chance. After all, these were warriors who never lost. They would simply take care of business as usual, and then they would use the Dragon Balls to wish back those who had died while erasing everyone's memories of the events that transpired. Life would go on as it always did, and she would be back to having the main concern in her life being the arduous task of puzzling out her extremely strained relationship with her son's father.
Even then, as he was heading off to battle, Vegeta didn't even glance over at her or Trunks. Never mind the fact that they were still lovers despite barely exchanging any words, and despite the fact that he barely acknowledged Trunks' existence. He infuriated her to no end, and yet, he drove her absolutely crazy with lust. She was left fuming and cursing him, already swearing that she wouldn't let him back in her bed for at least a month for being such an asshole – and already knowing she would fail miserably at keeping her end of the threat. She went about her daily routine, more concerned with what she was going to do with that stubborn Saiyan lover of hers than with the fact that all of her friends were engaging an enemy that none of them knew anything about.
Bulma got a horrible and heart-wrenching wake-up call later that night when the doorbell rang. Vegeta was before her, a sweaty and bloody wreck, barely able to stand. He was carrying an unconscious Gohan over one of his shoulders. It was all Vegeta could do to hand her Gohan, before his eyes rolled back and he finally collapsed into unconsciousness himself.
They were the only survivors.
That was a couple of days ago, and Bulma still felt like she was in a state of shock. Piccolo was dead, and all hopes of reviving anyone with the Dragon Balls died with him. She and her father had taken Vegeta and Gohan to the infirmary, both of them left shaken by how badly the two fighters had been injured. Chi-Chi had tended to Gohan while she herself had taken care of Vegeta. In the moments when the prince was coherent, he spoke of things that made Bulma's skin crawl. Two androids. Both much stronger than Frieza. Too strong. None of them had even given the androids an actual fight. They had all walked right into a massacre.
While he slept, Bulma had dutifully stayed by his side, crying tears of heartbreaking loss. Her friends were all gone, and her hope was badly shattered. If all of them couldn't destroy the androids together, what hope did Vegeta and Gohan have trying to do it alone? Who would stop these monsters? What kind of world was her little boy going to grow up in? The same questions were still raging in her mind now as she watched the broadcast on TV in numbed silence.
"Another city?" a rough voice asked from behind her. Bulma nearly dropped her cigarette in surprise. She looked over her shoulder to find Vegeta leaning his shoulder against the doorway to the living room, his arms crossed over his chest. His eyes were on the TV, a frown on his face as he observed the damage.
"Yeah," she sighed. She looked over his bruised and bandaged form with concerned eyes. "You shouldn't be up, you know."
Vegeta shrugged, his dark eyes shifting over and settling right on her blue ones. "The kid says that slob of a warrior who cut off my tail is on his way with Senzu beans." At his words, Bulma averted her gaze. He snorted. "You really are transparent, woman. You already have them, don't you?" It wasn't quite a question.
"So what if I do?" Bulma asked.
"Do you want more of your people to die?" Vegeta sneered.
"No, but I don't want you or Gohan to die."
There was silence for what felt like a very long time.
"We will both be much stronger having recovered our strength," Vegeta finally said. Bulma heard the way his voice lacked its usual conviction. It was such a subtle difference, that she doubted anyone else would have been able to tell. She sighed and turned back to the TV. She could always tell.
"Would it make a difference if I asked you to please not fight them again?" she asked softly, raising her cigarette with a shaking hand.
It was snatched out of her hand before it got to her lips. Vegeta raised the cigarette up and took a long and slow draw. He exhaled slowly, watching the TV for a few seconds. He then looked down at her, watching the way her brow furrowed with her troubled thoughts as she watched the newscast.
"Would you?" he finally asked.
"Would I what?"
Vegeta hesitated in answering. His tongue was flicking in his mouth, wanting to speak words he refused to say. Would she truly care if he died? Would she raise their boy properly if he were to fall? Would she tell their son something kind about him?
Would she even miss him?
He chose the easiest words to say.
"Would you ask me?"
Bulma looked over her shoulder at him. They made eye contact, and they both read each other perfectly. She gave him a strained smile.
"I would, if I thought you'd actually listen," she told him, raising an eyebrow at him with a look like she had him figured out. He grunted and smirked a little. It was the right answer.
"Where are the beans?" he finally asked, raising the cigarette again to take another draw.
"They're right in front of you."
Vegeta looked, and it was true. There was the pouch, sitting on the coffee table. He reached down and handed her back the cigarette, before walking around the sofa. He picked up the pouch and emptied it in his hand. Two beans. One for him, one for Gohan. He stared at the beans with a frown, while Bulma stared at him with apprehension.
"If you wait, we could figure something out, Vegeta."
He looked at her, raising an eyebrow. "Like what? Using water pistols on their circuitry?" he asked, his voice sarcastic.
Bulma sighed a shaky sigh and looked away from him. She raised her cigarette and took a draw to soothe her frazzled nerves, her mind racing for a solution. There had to be a solution. She shook her head, frowning as she tried working through something in her mind. But she hadn't slept over the last couple of days, and her emotional stress from taking care of Vegeta while tending to Trunks, while mourning her friends, while fearing for the future - it was all taking its toll. Never in her life had she been under this kind of stress, and her brain felt like it had stopped functioning.
"I don't know," Bulma finally conceded. "But if you just wait, I could-"
"We have to fight the androids. That is the only way," Vegeta said, his words terse.
The conviction was back in his voice, strong as ever. Bulma raised her hand to her eyes. She suddenly felt like crying.
"What about Trunks? He's our son, Vegeta."
Her voice was soft and tired. Vegeta looked at the TV for a few seconds before giving his answer with finality in his voice.
"Your son. Not mine."
No attachments made his decision easier. It made the daunting odds facing him more bearable. He tried to convince himself as adamantly as he could, that Trunks meant nothing to him. And neither did Bulma, for that matter.
Something in his chest wasn't quite convinced on either account.
Bulma felt that familiar surge of rage inside of her over his most recent rejection of their son. She glared at the prince, nothing but brilliant anger and a touch of hatred in her blue eyes for him. Vegeta's dry sense of humor and the rare smiles that only she had been privileged to witness had enabled the man to work his way into her heart. That was a long time ago though. That was before Trunks was conceived.
Now all he ever did was break her heart to pieces every chance he got. Things had only worsened after Goku's death six months prior. Their once playful and flirtatious banter had become nasty, hateful, and vindictive. Hell - she was honestly surprised they had lasted this long tonight. Their only civil communication these days usually consisted of their intimate contact at night, the only aspect of their failing relationship that still worked. The man made Bulma love him at night and yet, he gave her every reason to hate him during the day. He made her want to strangle him to death, and want to beg him not to fight the androids again. She couldn't stand him, and yet she couldn't stand the thought of life without him.
"You're an asshole," Bulma finally sneered at him.
Her nightly mantra.
"Tell me something I don't fucking know, bitch," Vegeta sneered back.
His nightly response.
He then swallowed one of the beans. He took a deep breath, letting the bean work its healing magic. Bulma raised her cigarette again as she watched Vegeta brush aside his bandages, like they had never had a purpose in the first place. The heiress leaned forward and extinguished her cigarette on an ashtray, before standing and walking away. Her tears were coming, and she wanted to be alone. Vegeta didn't follow her, though she could feel his eyes lingering on her back.
Bulma briefly checked on Trunks, but the baby was still asleep. She closed the door quietly, heading to her bedroom. Perhaps if she slept, she would wake up and realize that all this was just a horrible nightmare. Maybe she would wake up to find that there were no androids, her friends were all still alive, and her biggest problem was choosing which outrageous outfit would put Vegeta in the mood the fastest.
She was crying again by the time she laid down in bed. Clutching one of her pillows tightly, Bulma cried for her friends, and also at the thought of Vegeta and Gohan going back into that madness. But she couldn't stop them. Even if she had hidden the Senzu beans, they would have both recovered from the battle eventually. In retrospect, she should have thought things through. Vegeta was a huge jerk, but he was not irrational. He would have listened to a plan if she had one. But how could she have known how terrible this would be? Things had spiraled out of control so quickly...
Bulma wasn't aware that he had joined her in bed until she felt his arm wrap around her waist from behind. She sniffled, raising one hand and wiping at her tears self-consciously. Vegeta buried his face in the nape of her neck, settling comfortably against her.
His nightly apology.
"I thought you'd be gone already," she told him, her voice rough from her crying.
"Figured I'd let the kid sleep some. He made his Super Saiyan transformation when he saw Piccolo die. Little more rest won't hurt the boy," Vegeta mumbled, his voice muffled. "We'll fight the androids in the morning."
Bulma covered his hand on her lower stomach. She caressed his knuckles with a light touch.
"You said they only spared you and Gohan because they wanted to keep you both alive for fun. You didn't see how badly hurt you were. How badly hurt Gohan was. The androids are too strong, Vegeta."
"You could die like the rest."
"If I am not strong enough to defeat those metal tin cans even after taking this bean, then I deserve to die."
The finality in his voice left no argument. He had been defeated once, and he was going to fight again, no matter the price.
Bulma growled indignantly. Vegeta pulled back from her a bit as she turned to face him, scowling at her as she did.
"You and your goddamned pride," she spat out with remarkable bitterness. "God, Vegeta. Is your pride worth dying for? Is it more important than me and Trunks?"
"You assume I am facing the androids out of pride, woman," he said. It was dark in her room, but, as always, they could see each other clearly. "But a man sometimes has other reasons to fight," he added after a moment of silence, his dark eyes locked on hers as though she was the only thing that existed in the universe.
Bulma bit her bottom lip, her heart swelling with love over his unspoken words. "Like what?"
Vegeta cocked a sarcastic eyebrow, smirking a little. "Like the thrill of the fight, of course."
Bulma opened her mouth – whether to curse him or laugh, she wasn't sure – but it didn't matter because Vegeta kissed her as soon as she did. He put his arm around her and pulled her close against him, and she immediately responded to him. Their kiss was urgent and raw with desperation and passion, each of them well aware that tonight might well be their last night together.
He impatiently ran one hand up the soft skin of her leg, brushing her nightgown up, when Bulma suddenly took his face in her hands and broke their kiss. Vegeta blinked at her in confusion, his hand stopping.
"What?" he demanded breathlessly, narrowing his eyes. "Don't you want to fuck?"
"No," she snorted, and his lip twitched. "I want you to make love to me for once."
"I don't make love," he said gruffly, frowning at her in disapproval.
"Please," she whispered against his lips. "Just once."
Vegeta hesitated, searching her eyes thoroughly. Finally, he pulled her back into a kiss. This time, it lacked the raw intensity from before. He was loving and tender, and Bulma surrendered to him completely. His hands caressed her, his touch filled with an aching longing. Every breath he shared with her was filled with words he needed years to learn how to say.
He trailed kisses down the side of her jaw, his hot breath tickling her skin as he slowly rolled them over so he was on top. He ran his hand down her leg and hooked it around his waist, pressing his growing erection against her almost teasingly. Her hands were in his hair while he nuzzled against her neck, sending chills down her spine as he slowly lifted her nightgown with one hand.
Vegeta pulled back from her enough to tug it off completely and throw the nightgown aside, and then she was exposed to him. He was straddling her waist, on his knees and putting no weight on her as he simply stared at her. Bulma swallowed, her face reddening under his intense scrutiny as his dark eyes roamed over her, drinking her in as if this was the first time he was seeing her.
Or the last time.
She sighed when she felt Vegeta's hot mouth on her skin again. He focused his usual dutiful attention to her breasts, before slowly working down her stomach. He twirled his tongue around her navel with cruel slowness, teasing her before continuing his descent. He finally reached her underwear, and pulled it down with his teeth as Bulma whimpered in anticipation. The next thing she knew, he lifted her legs up over his shoulders as his tongue flicked over the center of her need. Bulma's eyes rolled back in bliss, all thoughts of the androids, her personal losses, and her raw fear for Vegeta's life disappearing. He was here, and he wasn't letting her get past the moment as he slowly tortured her with his tongue.
Vegeta finally moved back up, his tongue never leaving her skin, as though he could not get enough of her taste. Bulma was writhing under him by the time he worked his tongue back into her mouth again. Their kiss was sensual, and Bulma moaned into it as he slowly slid himself inside of her. Vegeta grabbed her hands and pinned them over her head, intertwining their fingers together as though he was desperate to be as close to her as possible, in any way he could.
Their lovemaking was perfectly bittersweet, his thrusts coming at a methodical pace as he slowly worked her into a frenzy. He let go of her hands, bracing himself on his forearms. Bulma's hands instantly went to the sides of his face, as though she could keep him with her forever if she could keep touching him. Vegeta moaned her name against her lips, and she tattooed the sound into her memory forever as they finally and blissfully climaxed together. Bulma absent-mindedly applauded her decision to sound-proof her bedroom, because everyone would have woken up from the sounds of pure ecstasy coming from both of them.
It was over way too soon. One minute, Vegeta's tongue was playing lazily with hers in their post-climax haze, and the next, she was lying on her side, wrapped in the bedsheets as she stared at his back. He had on his blue trousers, and was sitting on the edge of the bed, quietly working on putting his white boots on. There was light trickling in now, and she knew Trunks would be awake soon.
It was a mundane moment.
It was the perfect moment.
"I love you."
Vegeta froze, his right boot half-on. His back was bare, so she could see the tension that ripped through it clear as day. She would spend decades after this day trying to imagine the look on his face at this moment.
Finally, the prince shook his head and continued putting his boots on.
"You're a stupid woman," he grumbled.
"I know. There's no other explanation for how I feel about you."
He snorted, and continued shaking his head. Finally, he stood up and walked over to his armor which was in the corner. He picked it up and tugged it down over his head, leaving his arms bare.
Bulma bit her bottom lip, her eyes filling with tears again.
"Vegeta…" she started. "Please, don't go-"
"We will be FINE!" Vegeta barked harshly, stubbornly clinging to the belief that his power gain from the battle a few days ago would be enough. It simply had to be. He took a breath and reined his temper in.
"But what if you're not? What will we do?"
Vegeta snorted, slipping on his white gloves. "The battle hasn't even started yet, and you are already assuming we've lost," he sneered, looking at her out of the corner of his eye, his eyes cold and hard. "As if I, the Prince of all Saiyans, am pathetic like your weak friends. They were slaughtered like the pieces of garbage they were, but that won't happen to me."
It was a low blow. He knew it. That was, in fact, why he said it.
"Fine!" Bulma exploded at him, her tears spilling over. "Go fight these monsters that you yourself called indestructible! Go drag Gohan, who's just a boy, to his death with you, you arrogant son of a bitch."
"Gladly," he snarled hatefully at her, keeping to himself the fact that he was seriously thinking about leaving Gohan there to ensure that someone would be left alive to train his son. His eyes were burning as he purposely tried digging more hatred into Bulma's heart, "The boy would be better off dead anyways, than dealing with your constant bitching."
Bulma covered her eyes and looked away, too flustered and upset to form a coherent response. How was it possible to hate a man so deeply, and yet love him unconditionally?
Vegeta walked to the door, and hesitated. He looked back at her, and thought of taking his words back. The woman loved him. It was insanity. Yes, it was because of her love that he had to dig deep and be cruel. If she despised him, she would forget him easily if he died. She wouldn't be broken. He'd done his task, and now he needed to leave.
Instead, for reasons he didn't know, he lingered. He swallowed heavily, and finally answered her question.
"If everything today fails, don't lose hope, woman. The androids will fall, either by my hand, or Gohan's, or your son's."
"Our son," she whispered.
"Your son. Not mine."
Bulma snuck him a look to find him smirking a little. She briefly saw the flash of pride in his eyes, not for himself, but for his son. Just as fast though, Vegeta looked away, his face stoic as he exited the room without a look back or a goodbye. Bulma sighed and fell back in bed, exhausted. She hugged Vegeta's pillow close to her and breathed in his scent, falling asleep and letting herself dream that he would come back fine.
It was not to be. He wound up fighting alone, taking the extra Senzu bean for himself. Bulma immediately sent Gohan (hurt and all) after him as soon as she found out, but by the time Gohan found him, Vegeta was already dead. Bulma was devastated, her earlier grief coming back in waves a thousand times worse than before when Gohan finally dragged Vegeta's broken body back home. She gently held her lover's body in her arms for hours while she cried inconsolably, uncaring that he was covered in his own blood.
Even then, though, she was enraged with the prince as much as she was heartbroken over losing him. Why hadn't he listened to her? Why hadn't he waited? How could he have fought to the bitter end, knowing he would die? How could he have left her to raise their son alone?
Bulma cried her eyes out for days, and was unable to even tend to Trunks during that time period. Vegeta had broken her heart for the last time, and this time, he wasn't there to piece it back together at night with his breath on her skin, or with that lazy kiss that melted her every time. This time, she was truly alone.
Still - she did as Vegeta asked. She never lost hope. Even when everyone thought she was insane when she proposed a time machine, she kept chugging. No one thought she could do it; even Trunks had his doubts. But she did the impossible: she built a real time machine. It was her greatest achievement. She branded the word hope on the time machine in stark reminder of the only thing besides Trunks that Vegeta had left her with. She never stopped believing that one day the androids would be destroyed.
Finally, the day arrived.
Bulma couldn't help the smile that spread over her aged features when Trunks came in and boasted that he'd destroyed the androids once and for all. His speech had the same mannerism and tone that she would have expected from Vegeta if the androids had fallen at his hands that day so long ago.
Told you he was our son, she thought smugly.
For just a brief second, she could have sworn she heard Vegeta laughing.