A/N: Could this be a prequel to "Perfectly Bittersweet"? Sure. Why not? :) Not that you need to have read that to get this. I just find this alternate timeline intriguing. It'd be a little daunting to write a full-blown fic for this timeline, and make it that much different than You'll Be the Death of Me. But a one-shot is good.

I own nothing, and I very much hope you enjoy.

The only reason he had even bothered staying on Earth was to grow strong enough to defeat his archrival. However, there were a lot of steps between here and there. After all, how could he expect to truly defeat a Super Saiyan if he himself wasn't one?

Vegeta finally found his armor where he left it in one of Capsule Corp's spare bedrooms. The room had been his for a short time, but he had since moved into living quarters built underneath the floor of the gravity chamber. He picked it up now and put it on, his features crested into intense concentration as he thought about what he was walking into.

It occurred to him several days ago that the trigger for Goku to ascend was being pushed to his absolute limits in battle against Frieza on Namek. Vegeta had been training nonstop since being wished back to life. It had been over a year now, and he had never missed a day of training. But try as he might, there was simply no level of gravity that he could capture a true battle against a fierce opponent.

That's why he was going to challenge his rival to a spar. Well - he was going to tell Kakarot that it was a spar. The truth, however, was that Vegeta was going to force the younger Saiyan to give him the fight he needed to finally make his Super Saiyan transformation. He considered Kakarot to be a first-class fool, but there was no denying that he was a true Saiyan. He would not want to lose to the prince in a spar, no matter how "friendly" it was. If Vegeta just kept pressing, he could easily drive Kakarot to increase his power and effort until he gave him the fight of his life.

That's what Vegeta was counting on. He was going to make his ascension this way, and he was going to make it tonight. And once the two Saiyans were on even ground in their power, then the real fight would begin.

He took a deep breath as he finished getting dressed. This was it. This was his chance to knock out two birds with one stone: make the legendary ascension, and then restore honor to his royal bloodline by defeating the third-class Saiyan once and for all. He nodded to himself, and then turned around and walked out.

Meanwhile, Bulma was sitting in the living room, one elbow propped on the arm rest of the sofa as she flipped through pages of a magazine. She wasn't even reading any of it, distracted by continuous glances at her cell phone on the sofa next to her. Every few minutes or so, she would grab the phone and flip it open, just to make sure that she hadn't received a text message from Yamcha without the alert going off. Each time, there was no message, and she would release a deep sigh.

She looked over her shoulder when she heard someone coming down the stairs. Vegeta was dressed for battle, and Bulma's face scrunched a little in confusion. She hadn't seen him don his armor in a long time. Then again, it wasn't as if she sought him out on a regular basis. They would have their exchanges that mostly consisted of his training equipment, but for the most part, she stayed out of his way and he stayed out of hers.

"Hey, Vegeta, where are you going?" Bulma asked curiously, wondering if he was going to get back in the space capsule to leave Earth like he'd done before. Not that she wanted him to. It was kind of nice having him around, and knowing that her home was never at risk because she had the Prince of all Saiyans under her roof.

Vegeta walked on past her without even acknowledging her. Bulma rolled her eyes and shook her head. He was clearly in a mood, and she wasn't up to dealing with it tonight. She sighed and looked back down at her magazine, unaware that Vegeta looked over at her as soon as she did. His eyes scanned over her oversized t-shirt that he'd seen her wearing late at night when she was about to go to bed. He frowned; it was almost six in the evening. She clearly hadn't bothered changing for the day.

When he saw her glance over at her cell phone, the prince rolled his eyes and walked away. He didn't know anything about human dating rituals, but he had learned quite a bit about Bulma and Yamcha dating rituals from simple observation. Their routine was painfully predictable: he fucked up, she got enraged, she broke up with him, he apologized until he was blue in the face, she let him grovel for a bit, then she took him back. It was the stupidest shit Vegeta had ever seen, especially because the weakling always did the same things wrong, over and over again. He knew, because he could always hear Bulma ranting about it on the phone if he was anywhere inside the building.

But that wasn't any of his concern. If she wanted to waste valuable time in her life with that idiot, then so be it. He had bigger things to deal with. He had a destiny that needed to be met, and honor and pride that needed to be restored. Vegeta made a quick stop in the kitchen to chug down almost a liter of water, and then walked outside. His blue ki fired up around him, and then he left the compound.

He was also quick to leave Bulma's thoughts. She trusted him not to go out and massacre anyone, or anything insane like that. So wherever he was going out tonight, she was fine with. It's not like it was any of her business anyways.

After all, she had bigger concerns. Like what she was going to do with her on-again, off-again relationship with Yamcha. She was getting tired of dealing with it. Was it really that hard not to look at other women like he was seconds from devouring them? Was it that painful for him not to salivate over any decent woman, like he was still a teenager? Was it that impossible to just look at her, and not past her?

Bulma was nursing a beer later that night while she watched an old comedy on TV, absently flipping her cell phone open and closed in her free hand. It had been several weeks now since her last contact with Yamcha, but she was NOT going to call him first. In fact, she was giving him one more week to reach out to her, or she was ending it – for real this time. And nothing except proof of a lengthy hospital stay over the last few weeks would change her mind.

The beautiful heiress was checking for yet another non-existent text message, when she heard a violent explosion outside.

Bulma ran outside seconds later, barefoot and all. She gasped at the sight of the gravity chamber on the lawn in burnt pieces, with smoke rising into the night sky.

"Vegeta!" she yelled in alarm, running over. She desperately scanned over the damage, looking for signs of the prince, when she heard his gruff voice speak up behind her.

"Go back inside, woman."

Bulma spun around towards his voice, only to see Vegeta sitting down against the wall of the compound. He was right by the door she had run through, but she hadn't seen him. Bulma sighed in relief at the sight of him, before putting her hands on her waist and yelling at him, "You purposely destroyed the gravity chamber? What the hell is wrong with you? Do you know how long it's going to take to rebuild? Do you think I don't have other shit to do, Vegeta?"

The prince gave a small shrug, lazily looking away as he rested his head back against the wall. He had blown it up because he was angry, and looking at the chamber made him even angrier. "Not asking you to rebuild it."

Bulma's anger with him melted when she heard how defeated he sounded. She slowly came up closer to him, and her blue eyes filled with concern as she got a better look at him. He looked seriously worse for wear. There was blood on his face, and his uniform was shredded and stained with blood.

"Oh man. What happened? Are you okay?" Bulma asked him worriedly, kneeling down next to him. Vegeta stayed silent as she reached for his face, but he flinched away as soon as she made contact.

"I'm fine," he growled, swatting her hands away.

It was a lie. He could feel some broken bones, and could taste blood in the back of his throat. But he didn't care about that. He was used to injuries. Physical pain was sewn into the very fabric of his life.

Failure, however, was not. Failure was something he had never once encountered until he landed on Earth. Failure was something that met him at every turn when it came to the only other full-blooded Saiyan in existence. Failure was currently eating him alive, to where he could barely think.

His plan didn't work. Instead of the legendary ascension, all he got for his effort was another ass kicking from the man he respected, hated, and envied all at the same time. Then to add salt to the wound, Goku had seen that he was getting more than a little roughed up, and had outright refused to fight him anymore.

He hadn't even been able to keep pace with the third-class warrior. He had been thoroughly outmatched, even with all of his relentless training. It was completely embarrassing, and all he wanted now was to be left alone.

Unfortunately, the woman next him was more stubborn than he had given her credit for as she continued fussing over him. He barely paid her any mind as she examined the tears in his uniform.

"Oh, Vegeta," Bulma sighed, turning one gloved hand over to see burns on his palm. "Come on, I'll get you cleaned up, and then you can get some rest."

He scowled and pulled his hand back, turning to look at her directly. "I said, I'm fine," he growled more forcefully this time. "These injuries are superficial and will heal on their own time."

"Well, since you blew up the gravity chamber, you'll have to sleep in a spare room upstairs, and you aren't getting blood on any of the bed sheets," Bulma snapped.

"Then I'll just sleep out here," Vegeta snapped back.

"No, you will not, Vegeta, so stop being so damn stubborn!"

The prince's eye twitched, but he otherwise didn't move as he stared back at her. Never having been this close to her before, he was captivated by the depth of her eyes. The color in particular was mesmerizing. He'd never seen another with it.

"Now just let me help you!" Bulma insisted, looking back at his hand and gently examining it. "The sooner you do, the sooner I'll leave you alone."

"What do you fucking care anyways?" Vegeta snarled with more malice than he intended as he yanked his hand away. Bulma blinked at him in surprise, before looking almost hurt at his words. The prince frowned and looked away.

"What do you mean? You're hurt, of course I care," Bulma told him, touching him softly on his arm. His muscles flexed against his will, and his frown deepened.

"Stop touching me, woman." His voice was quiet and defeated again. He had burned up the last of the fight he had for the day, and now he just felt tired.

"Just come with me," she gently said, tugging on his arm a little. He closed his eyes and rested his head back. The woman was wearing him down. As if sensing that very thing, Bulma added. "I promise, I'll make it fast. I just want to make sure you're alright."

Vegeta looked back at her for some time, studying the concern in her eyes for him. Finally, he gave a nod, and got up to his feet. There was a slight sway to his stance, but he was quick to shake it off. He slowly led the way back inside, already knowing where the infirmary was.

"Take this off," she told him, tapping his armor when he sat down on an examination table.

Vegeta quietly did as she said, wanting this to just be over fast. He winced a little when he tugged off his armor, his muscles twitching against his will. He let the plate of armor fall to the floor, looking over at Bulma. He could only see her back, but he already knew what she was doing.

"Woman, stop being so fucking pathetic," he spat out, unable to keep his words to himself this time.

Bulma spun back to face him, her eyes wide in shock. Her hands were holding her cell phone which she had just barely managed to stuff into the pocket of her shorts before running outside.


Vegeta stared at her, his eyes hard. "You heard me. You've probably checked that communication device at least one hundred times today I'm sure, and it's pathetic."

Bulma glared at him. "It's none of your business, Vegeta."

"And my health is none of yours, but I'm not bitching, now am I?"

Bulma huffed a little, but turned her cell phone off for the first time in days. She put it back in her pocket and came back over to the Saiyan, helping him gently peel off his gloves, and then the shredded remains of his uniform top. She looked his hands over carefully before she examined his lower body. Aside from his uniform being ripped over his knee, he seemed fine there.

"It's called a cell phone, by the way," she told him, bending over to examine his knee carefully.

"Like I care," he spat out.

"Well, I mean, if you're going to live on Earth from now on, you should know these things, Vegeta."

Bulma got no answer to that, because he had none to give. When she looked up, she saw that Vegeta was leaning forward, one elbow on his other knee, his hand up and covering his eyes as though he was ashamed. Bulma frowned a little, and hesitantly touched him on his shoulder, close to his neck. It was the first time she had touched his bare skin, and she was almost taken aback by his body temperature. He was inhumanly hot as his body worked on healing his wounds.

"What's wrong?" she finally asked.

The prince didn't react to her touch or her words. Bulma sighed, and for the next ten minutes, she went about methodically cleaning the blood off him and bandaging him wherever he needed it. Save for an occasional harsh cough, Vegeta was silent.

It wasn't until she was bandaging a nasty gash on his bicep that he finally spoke.

"I'm not sure what else I have to do."

Bulma glanced up at his profile, but he still had his hand covering his eyes. She looked back down at what she was doing.

"What do you mean?"

"To make my own ascension, so I can defeat him."

"Oh," Bulma said, finally figuring out where his injuries had come from. She gently smoothed out the tape on his arm. "Well, maybe you're just pushing too hard." Vegeta lowered his hand and cocked an eyebrow at her, and so she continued, "You know how sometimes you just want something to happen really, really badly? But that's usually when it won't happen. I mean, you're training so hard, but there's no reason to. Goku isn't going anywhere, you can afford a week off every now and then, Vegeta."

Vegeta rolled his eyes and looked away. "You're a human woman. You know nothing."

"Um, actually, I know a lot. I'm the smartest person on this planet, bud, maybe second only to my father. And it's not by much," she informed him, gently raising his arm to look at his ribs, which were badly bruised.

"I meant that you know nothing about battle. And in any case, all this intelligence that you have, what's it for?" Vegeta sneered. "Look at the way you handle that weakling. Plenty of good your scientific knowledge is doing to help you there."

"Fine. I don't know anything about battle, but you also don't know anything about relationships," Bulma told him, gently touching his side with her fingers covered in lotion. Vegeta flinched when he felt the cold lotion. He recoiled a little, growling low in his throat, but she quickly reassured him, "It's okay, Vegeta. This is a healing lotion that will help with the pain."

"Hn." He scowled, relaxing a little. "Who the hell said I was in pain?" he asked, swallowing heavily when she started rubbing the lotion against his side.

Bulma rolled her eyes. "Of course you're not in pain," she said, sarcasm lacing her voice as she continued what she was doing. "Heaven forbid you ever admit that you are."

Vegeta grunted, barely hearing her response. The lotion did indeed feel good, an odd but soothing combination of heat and cold. But that feeling paled in comparison to her fingers rubbing against his bare skin. He closed his eyes, enjoying the sensation far more than he should have. Bulma snuck him a look and wasn't able to help her smile when she saw the completely relaxed look on his face. She had to admit- he was extremely attractive.

Bulma let her hands roam over Vegeta's hot skin a few seconds longer than necessary, shrugging a little even though he couldn't see.

"And if you must know. He'll text or call me eventually. He always does."

Vegeta snorted. "Woman, I might not understand relationships, but I understand pride and self-respect," he said, his voice deeper than usual. "You ought to learn some."

"I have plenty of pride and self-respect, you jerk!" Bulma argued defensively, removing her hand from him and walking away. The prince frowned when she did, lowering his arm. He watched her the entire way.


"What do you suggest I do, your highness? Since you're so opinionated tonight," Bulma said, coming back over to him with a towel. Vegeta shrugged, looking down. He didn't really know why he was pressing the issue. It's not like he gave two shits about her or her relationship with that idiot.

He flinched when Bulma touched his chin, looking back up at her in surprise.

"It's alright," she reassured him, gently cradling his chin in one hand as she wiped the blood off his face with the towel in her other hand. Her eyes were a little narrowed, looking over his skin carefully as if looking for a gash that might've produced the blood. Vegeta just stared at her, watching her eyes focus in concentration. She turned his head to the side a little, and he allowed it, keeping his eyes on hers.

"You're intelligent and decent-looking. You could find another and stop wasting your time."

Bulma's eyes snapped to his in shock at his words. She blinked at him, as if unable to comprehend what she had just heard. Vegeta maintained eye contact with her, and it only then sank in to Bulma just how close she was to him. She swallowed a little, lowering her hand with the towel, her other hand still lingering on his face. He made no move to remove it, staring at her with a raw intensity that made her briefly forget how to speak.

"…Anyone you have in mind?" Bulma finally asked, her words more breathless than she wanted.

"I'm sure it can be whoever you want," Vegeta said, barely able to recognize his own voice. For the first time all night, he wasn't questioning himself as a warrior or as the prince of his people.

Right now, he was just a man. A man who wanted a woman to lose himself in, and he wanted that woman to be her. He wanted her to touch him like she'd done just moments ago. He wanted to swim and drown in her touch and her body. He wanted her to help him forget the crippling shame weighing heavily on his mind and in his heart.

Bulma's heart was fluttering as she looked into his amazingly deep eyes. Vegeta was looking at her right now in the way she had been longing for Yamcha to look at her for a long time now. Like she was everything he wanted in this moment. She almost couldn't believe it. She had been waiting for Yamcha, and here was Vegeta…

Bulma slowly trailed her fingers up the side of his face, as if trying to prove to herself that she wasn't imagining this. Vegeta visibly relaxed at the contact, blinking lazily from it.

The heiress smiled, and raised a flirtatious eyebrow. "I'm only decent-looking, huh?"

"Would average-looking be better?" he asked, a smirk briefly spreading over his face.

"Ooh, the prince has a sense of humor," Bulma teased a little as she slowly got closer to him.

Vegeta grunted and stayed still. He neither encouraged nor discouraged as she invaded his space. He closed his eyes and sighed when he smelled her better. Encouraged now, Bulma came up even closer. Now that she was seeing him, truly seeing him as more than just the alien prince under the same roof as her, now she wanted him. She wanted him to ease the sting of loneliness she had been bravely masking over the last few weeks. She wanted to see for herself just what the Saiyan Prince had to offer as a man.

Her breath was lingering over his lips when he put his hands on her waist. She shuddered a little when he snuck his rough and bandaged hands under her shirt, exploring the soft skin just above her shorts while she leaned against him. His legs were spread, and her breathing picked up a bit when she felt how hard he was already.

No words were exchanged between them; it was obvious what he wanted, and she also wanted what he had to offer. It had been a long time since she had done anything with Yamcha, another sign of their failing relationship. Bulma ran a hand through Vegeta's hair, as he moved his hands under her shirt to her back, pulling her even more against him. They explored each other by touch alone for a few more seconds, until he finally leaned his head back and looked up at her. Bulma's hands were on the sides of his face a second later as she kissed him.

Vegeta groaned into their kiss, before he assumed control of it. He explored her mouth at will, relishing in her taste while she put her arms around his neck. She had once dreamt about kissing the powerful prince, but the reality was so much better. He was dominant, as though claiming her permanently as excitement tingled inside of her. He pulled her t-shirt up, and Bulma pulled away from him to tug it off. She had barely pulled it off before he ripped her bra clear off and tossed it aside.

He immediately hauled her back against him, his mouth latching onto one breast as he ravished her. Bulma clutched a tight handful of his hair and whimpered a little when Vegeta started tugging on her with his teeth. He was flirting with the line between pleasure and pain, but she couldn't remember ever being more aroused. She was breathing heavily as she rubbed her leg teasingly against his erection. Vegeta growled against her skin, the vibrations and the rush of air sending chills down her spine.

Bulma took a step back away from him when he got down off the table, right before he backed her up against the wall a split second later. Vegeta impatiently tore her shorts and panties off at the same time as Bulma pulled him back into a deep kiss. He never broke their kiss as he tugged his blue trousers down. In one motion, Vegeta lifted her up against the wall, forced her to wrap her legs around him, and buried himself inside of her.

They both groaned as Bulma's nails dug hard into his shoulders, her other hand gripping his hair painfully tight. His pace was relentless, making nothing but incoherent sounds of pleasure spill from her lips. He broke their kiss and watched her, forgetting about everything else as he took in her flushed features and her loose, sweaty blue curls. He had always found this human woman attractive, but she had never looked more stunning than she did now.

Bulma held him tightly, the friction from some of his bandages only heightening the experience as they lost complete track of time, their world only consisting of heat and moans. She finally felt the crescendo of ecstasy, and she grabbed onto him for dear life as she screamed his name.

When her world finally slowed back down to normal, Bulma found herself still trapped between the wall and the prince. He had lowered her so she was standing, and he was resting his forehead on her shoulder. They were both still out of breath when Bulma hugged him around his waist, pulling him closer. He didn't resist, much to her surprise. She licked her lips, still not able to believe that she had just experienced all of that with Vegeta.

But there he was, in her arms. Her very own prince.

For the first time in weeks, Bulma was happy.

That is, until she heard the raspy way Vegeta was breathing. She cursed mentally; how could she have forgotten? She brought her hands up, trying to see his face.

"Are you okay? Ugh, couldn't you have waited until you were better before jumping me?"

He snorted, before nipping at her shoulder sharply, making her flinch. "Goddamned woman," he growled. "Did it feel like I wasn't okay?"

Bulma chuckled. "I guess it didn't."

"And I did not jump you," he clarified with a scowl, finally drawing away.

He spared her a glance as he pulled his pants back up. When she gave him a smile, his scowl hardened and he looked away. He appeared completely indifferent to the world, but inside he felt better. Lighter in his chest. Calmer in his heart.

"Alright, well, you should still get some rest," Bulma told him, slowly going over to pick up her discarded t-shirt which thankfully came down to her knees. She slipped it on while he subtly watched her out of the corner of his eye.

"How? I have lost my domain," Vegeta muttered, cursing his earlier impulsiveness.

Bulma turned back to him, "Oh, that's right. You blew up the gravity chamber. Way to go, Vegeta," she teased.


"Well…I guess you could just crash with me," Bulma said nonchalantly, even though her heartbeat was starting to pick up again as Vegeta raised an eyebrow at her invitation. She shrugged, smiling at him a little. "It's just an idea. There are guest rooms too."

Vegeta looked away. He wasn't sure how he felt about that, but he could feel his strength slipping from him as the seconds passed. He had used up everything he had left with Bulma, and now he needed to sleep, or he was going to collapse where he stood, sooner rather than later. He briefly contemplated just crashing on the sofa, but he wanted some form of privacy.

"Whatever is closest," he finally relented, reaching up to rub at his eyes.

"That would be my room."

Vegeta kept his gaze away. His eyes briefly settled on a clock on the wall. They had been in this room for over an hour. The knowledge of how long he had spent with her brought overwhelming exhaustion onto his shoulders. He could barely manage a nod of acceptance.

"Just for tonight," he grumbled.

"Alright," Bulma said, turning away from him. "Follow me then," she said, trying not to sound as excited as she felt. She had been starved for male contact, and this night with Vegeta was just what the doctor ordered. And she didn't want it to end just yet.

He followed her in silence, even though the walk proved more challenging than he thought. He didn't complain, not wanting her to fuss over him more than she already had. As soon as she pointed to her bed, Vegeta trudged over and promptly collapsed onto it. He was out almost immediately.

Bulma took a quick shower before she finally joined him. She covered him with the blankets and laid down next to him. When she saw that Vegeta was definitely in a deep sleep, she pulled up to him and let herself enjoy being close to him. He was on his side, and she laid down on hers too so she was facing him.

She examined his features with renewed intrigue, gently touching his face with her fingertips. She forced herself to bite down the curiosity that was flaring up inside of her over this man. They had just shared in the utmost intimacy, and yet, she couldn't name five facts about him. Vegeta kept to himself, and it suddenly struck her how lonely he must have also felt…

Bulma sighed as she removed her hand from him, and closed her eyes to sleep. They would never be in a relationship, of this she was certain. Not because she was terribly opposed to the idea, but more because she was quite certain that Vegeta would walk away as soon as the sun rose.

But, perhaps, she could get to know him a little more. Come around more, talk to him more, and then just see what happened from there. It was worth a shot, she decided as sleep finally came.

And with that decision, somewhere in the maze of time and space, an alternate dimension was saved.