"Do you even love me?" As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she wanted to stuff them back again, but it was too late for that. Pretending to be mad at Vegeta was hard enough, for even their heart beats were in sync with each other. She searched his eyes for any signs of an answer but he had his emotions guarded from her.
"When you can give me an answer let me know, I'm going to work." Bulma grabbed her briefcase and capsule car case before dashing outside. Slamming the door on her way out.
Sitting in her car, she rested her head on the dashboard. How? Just how she had woken up this morning, a happy woman to this, a nervous wreck, it was insane. It was madness. She had no idea what to do. Her entire world had fallen apart in a matter of mere hours, shattered all around her. Vegeta was her all and without him she was left completely defenceless and alone. The reality was almost overbearing. Her safety blanket ripped away from her as the truth sunk in.
He didn't love her.
Three simple words was all it had taken. But unfortunately they weren't the ones she wanted to hear. I don't know. Love. Hate. Oxymoron. The distinct edges of the two blurring, merging, fading away into nothingness. She didn't know which side she was on. She had never known. Confusion had long since taken over.
She loved Vegeta, with all of her heart yet it was hard to accept that he didn't love her back. That love for him would never die out, she was sure of it. It was easy enough to say she was okay and didn't care or give a damn as she had done so many times before. But this was her husband, the man she was married to, her Vegeta, her love. They had spent seven whole years together. She couldn't just pretend that she didn't care. It was too late, much too late for that.
Late? 9:30. Shit. She was going to be really late for this meeting if she didn't get going. She had spent far too much time thinking about someone who didn't even love her.
Keying in the four digit code at record speed to the right of her, the engine purred to life. Systems awoke from their deep slumber and their bright lights sparkled like stars in the night sky.
"Hello. Destination please, Mrs Briefs?"
"Capsule Corporation headquarters and fast."
"Destination set. Estimated arrival time 09:47am"
"Wait." She was having second thoughts about leaving. She loved Vegeta yet here she was leaving him. Should he not be more important than anything else? Even her work?
Till death do us part. Elahish grunhina blug.
But he said he didn't love her, so what should she do?
Looking back at the house, she saw Vegeta stand up in anger and overturn the kitchen table, causing everything to come crashing down to the floor. She could tell from the expression on his face that he was angry, but no, she couldn't stay. She needed to get away from him for a while. She had made her choice. It was now time for him to make his.
"Confirmed. Go." Turning herself around to face the city and fastening her seatbelt, she did not see Vegeta turn sharply and move to the double glazed window doors. She did not see the blood that ran down from his hands to his fingertips as he reached out towards her. She did not see the pure look of loneliness in his eyes. She just did not see at all.
Sitting in silence, she contemplated her actions. Did she make the right choice in leaving? Their conversation was all she could focus on, his words were continuously replayed in her mind.
I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.
His eyes had shown no emotion. Their emptiness was what scared her the most. Did he not care at all?
Had he ever cared?
She could not have imagined her whole relationship with Vegeta. Fabricated this love from nothing but her imagination. Its lies. There was no way she could have misunderstood him to the point where seven years later she was still questioning his love for her. Or had she?
Her tears continued to fall. It was so hard to love and not be loved back. It was heart breaking. How could she have believed he ever loved her? How could she have gotten herself to believe he cared about her, and her son, even this world. How had she managed to build this life of deception, lie after lie. Love after love. Fight after fight. It hurt. It hurt so much.
Bulma just stop. Thinking about the situation will not change a thing. Calm down. Take a deep breath. Go to work, and show Vegeta you can be just as great without him.
"Yeah, I suppose you're right. It's just so hard, you know? I loved him and still love him even now. But you're right, you've always been right. He never loved me. I finally see it." Bulma sighed.
I finally see…oh Vegeta…
Bulma shook her head in frustration. "No. I have a business to run, a life to rebuild and a son who needs me…I cannot keep thinking about you. It's always been about you. I hate it." Bulma said, banging her fists down on the dashboard and breathing deeply. She then sat up and wiped her brow with the back of her hand. It was hard to forget all about the events of the morning. The hurt, the rejection, her anger. But she wasn't alone. She had Lace. The person she could always count on. The only person she could count on.
With renewed confidence, she adjusted her shirt. She was Bulma Briefs. The Bulma Briefs. And this Bulma was going places with or without a Saiyan by her side. No matter how difficult that may be.
Bulma wiped her face free of her tears, and re-applied her makeup. No-one needed to see how upset she was and had been, especially not at work.
She sat back in her chair and laid her head back in defeat. Fed up of listening to the silence of her car and her mind's thoughts as they wandered back to Vegeta; Bulma turned the radio on like she did every morning and gazed at the city buildings.
"News today, there has been an earthquake in the Pacific Ocean. Scientists say the epicentre of the earthquake is yet to be confirmed, but there is a chance of tsunami within the Pacific area. Seismic waves of magnitude 7.3 on the Richter scale were detected at approximately 3:35am this morning. Nearby towns and cities along the Pacific Ring Of Fire and within a two hundred mile radius have been notified for evacuation. There is also further warning of frequent tremors within the area due to the severity of the earthquake. This story shall be updated as more information is received.
In other more local news, celebrity Bulma Briefs, the owner of the Capsule Corporation was spotted over the weekend with her son, Trunks Briefs, at the beach enjoying the nice summer weather. Unfortunately, husband Mr Vegeta Briefs, was not present on this family day out. When questioned about his whereabouts it seemed that Mrs Briefs was unavailable for comment. However sources close to Mrs Briefs have allegedly reported that their marriage is on the rocks."
Turning off the radio, Bulma looked outside, deep in thought. It seemed everyone but herself had noticed that her marriage was not quite what she thought it was. Even as smart as she was, it seemed that she could not even read between the lines. In all honesty she had never even thought she would need to with Vegeta. Everything was always in black and white with him, no hidden agendas, just plain and simple. Or so she thought.
She was the princess, or now queen of Capsule Corp., she had gotten her prince and now she was meant to live happily ever after. Why was her life not following the fairytale? Where was her goddamn happily ever after? Fuck. Where had she gone wrong?
'Even Cinderella got her happily ever after and she was sweeping floors for a living…how much more the fucking head of CC...'
"Mrs Briefs, we have arrived at the Capsule Corporation headquarters. Time is 09:53am. Have a great day."
Shaken out of her daydream and anger, Bulma glanced at the digital clock not believing that it was 9:53.
"Wow. Seven minutes till the board meeting. Great." Bulma said sarcastically. Being late to yet another important business meeting would not sit well with her father. She was just thankful this time it was not with the board of directors. Grabbing her briefcase with her blazer rashly folded in the crook of her arm, she began to walk briskly to the main entrance.
Unfortunately as the work day begins at 8am for Capsule Corp. employees, the grounds were full of people and navigating her way around became difficult. It was at times like these, Bulma wished she had created alternate level pathways between buildings.
"Good Morning Mrs Briefs"
"Yes..yes. Good Morning." Not in the mood for small talk she rushed by her employees before finally reaching the main desk at reception.
"Good Morning Mrs Briefs."
"Morning Akiko. Please make sure to greet the heads of department when they arrive and notify Yoko, my secretary of their arrival. Keep them entertained and Yoko will inform you of when I am ready to receive them for the meeting. Okay?"
"Yes Mrs Briefs."
"Great. If any problem, just call Yoko. See you later."
Walking speedily to the elevator, Bulma could just feel that this was going to be a busy day. She could already hear the orders coming in from companies all over the globe. Her staff were already working at maximum capacity to fulfil the outstanding order for six major organisations worldwide, as well as several hundred privately owned companies within the country, as her father had nicely pointed out to her last week. There was no way Bulma could meet these orders by their deadlines without any luck, let alone any more.
"Good Morning Capsule Corporation Headquarters. Welcome to reception. This is Akiko, how may I help you?"
"Yes. Hold one moment please. I'll transfer you over to the Sales department, where you can place your order."
Deep breaths Bulma. I'm here.
Finally the elevator arrived. Its strong steel doors opened and she stepped inside.
"Hello. Welcome to the Capsule Corporation. What level please?"
"53. My office."
"Voice recognition activated and confirmed. Destination: Mrs Briefs Office on Level 53."
Okay, it's just another day at work Bulma. You can do this. It doesn't matter that you have so much work to do. You're the Bulma Briefs. You can do this. You can do this. You can do anything.
The elevator doors began to open in a slow fashion, revealing the place she would spend the next ten hours of her day.
"Level 53. Mrs Briefs Office is located on this level. Thank you. Have a nice day."
Deep breaths. Stay calm. Look professional. Be confident and commanding. You're in charge.
Walking out into the corridor to the right of the elevator towards her secretary's office and her own. She saw Yoko. Yoko did not look impressed or happy.
"I know, I know…I'm late. Don't start on me today, Yoko." Bulma said exasperatedly.
"Mrs Briefs, five out of the six departmental heads are already here downstairs, they are waiting for you." Yoko was quite irritated with Bulma. It was not her job to receive angry calls from reception demanding to know where Bulma was.
"What time is it?" Bulma enquired.
"Its 10:11am Mrs Briefs." Yoko said quite plainly. She should have been at work long ago, and to make Yoko take the blame for her inadequacy to arrive at work on time was not fair at all.
'Shit.' Bulma thought.
"Alright, find out where the last department head is, if he's not in work today, let me know and we'll start without him."
"What's on my itinerary today?"
"Well I cleared your schedule up until 1pm as I didn't know how long this meeting will take. After 1pm, you are to review company funding schemes as well as the staffing issue we're having."
"At 4pm, you are to review stock, and confirm orders and purchases. You are then to delegate new jobs for each department for the next week."
"Then at around 6pm, there's an employee meeting concerning pay, as many of our staff are having to work overtime to meet the increasing order demands as you are well aware of."
"At 8pm, we have the first testing for the new Capsule X technology, as the prototype is finished and seems to be fully functional according to manufacturing." Yoko said as she turned each page.
Exhaling deeply, Bulma said. "Okay, send a copy of my itinerary to my office and leave it on my desk."
Bulma then began to walk away, she knew it was going to be another extremely long day at work and she just didn't have the strength to deal with it today.
Placing her hand on the fingerprint detection system panel she was about to enter her office room when she heard Yoko say.
"Oh and Mrs Briefs?"
Sighing. She turned back towards her secretary. "Yes Yoko?"
"Your father called. He wants to see you immediately."
"Great. Now Dad's on my case too." Bulma said in an undertone voice.
"Fine. Send a message down to his office that I'll see him during lunch for a brief meeting. Schedule that into my day also."
"And Yoko? No more distractions please, I have a very busy day and lots of paperwork to do. If anyone else calls for me, take a message and let them know I'll return their call personally this evening or tomorrow morning." Bulma then began to walk into her office as she had held the door open during their conversation. She suddenly remembered another thing she had been meaning to tell Yoko. Popping her head out of the door and down the corridor she shouted.
"Also get human resources to find me a personal assistant. Thank you Yoko."
Entering her office, she threw her blazer down on her sofa arm rest and made her way over to her main desk. Sinking down into the chair, how did she ever let her life become this busy? Her company, her little baby was growing into a successful organisation thanks to her careful nurturing, but with the turn her life was taking, it suddenly all seemed overwhelming. This morning. Vegeta…
That's right. No more thoughts about Vegeta. First things first she had a meeting to attend to.
Retrieving a few documents from her briefcase, she exited her office room and made her way along the corridor to the board room on her level where only the most important clients and employees met. Next to the board room of course was her secretary's desk.
"Yoko, has the last department head arrived?"
"No Mrs Briefs, he called in sick today. Apparently his wife had…"
"Right, that was sales again wasn't it?"
"Yes, Mrs Briefs, I understand his wife is having a few troubles with her…"
"Okay, fire him with immediate effect."
"But Mrs Briefs…"
"I don't care what his excuse is. I'm running an organisation here, and nothing is so damn important that you have to miss such an important meeting today which would determine not only his fucking future but the future of the god damn planet."
'Idiot...so fucking selfish. He knows how much this business means to me, to all of us and he pulls this little stunt? Who even let that imbecile work here.' Bulma thought to herself.
Calm down. It's just an employee. You have to concentrate for this meeting.
Taking in a deep breath and reaching for the cup of coffee Yoko had prepared for her earlier she took a large gulp.
"Anyway, send the others up here. I want to get this done as soon as possible."
"Yes Mrs Briefs."
"Oh and Yoko, advertise the new position we have for the sales departmental head. Make it catchy. Ill be available for the interviews on Thursday at 2pm."
"Interviews, Thursday…2pm. Got it. Thanks Mrs Briefs."
Taking her seat at the head of the table in the board room, Bulma waited for the others to arrive. She had arranged her papers on the table in front of her, and her pen was at the ready.
Ping. The elevator doors opened. All that could be heard was their subtle muttering before Yoko sharply spoke up.
"Good Morning. Mrs Briefs will see you now in the board room. Follow me." Yoko calmly said.
Yoko knocked on the door, "Mrs Briefs?"
"Yes, Yoko. Come in."
"The departmental heads are here for the meeting as you requested."
"Thank you Yoko."
Standing up, Bulma walked around the large glass table she was sitting at towards where they stood. "Good Morning ladies and gentlemen." Bulma said, shaking each of their hands as they walked past her into the board room; if they were men, she greeted them with a firm handshake and a kiss on the left cheek if they were woman.
"Midori, head of Marketing and Finance."
"Daichi, head of Accounts"
"Ichiro, head of Manufacture."
"Ayame, head of Human Resources"
"Kaito, head of Advertising"
"It's wonderful to see you all. Please do have a seat and lets get down to business. As you are all aware we are here to discuss each of your departments in great depth. During this time you may raise any issues or concerns you have. I hope you have some good news for me today. Midori?"
"Well the Capsule Corporation is spreading worldwide. We have now received and successfully delivered to five continents globally, Africa, Asia, Europe as well as South and North America, making CC a global and international organisation. This of course is in line with the targets set last time we met here in September. The entire brand has been hugely successful and we are dominating the market, it does like highly promising."
"Great work, Midori. How are you planning to continue to market the brand?"
"I am in the process of creating an advertisement, which will be shown on billboards across the country, TV networks and major sporting events. Kaito and I, have already spoken to company organisers and they would be willing to organise a launch for Capsule X if all goes accordingly."
"Kaito is this correct? I don't know why you would schedule another launch…" Bulma said, flicking through the pieces of paper on her desk, until she found one in particular and held it up.
"According to the figures I have here, the last launch you scheduled did not bring about record profits as you promised me they would."
"Yes Mrs Briefs, it is only natural that you may feel some erm…propensity towards another launch but Midori and I have discussed this in length prior to this meeting. We feel as though with enough advertisement we will be able to attract potential investors as well as company directors to sample our products and promote the name of Capsule Corp. further."
"Okay, I am due to see the new Capsule X technology later on today, after I have done so I will speak to yourself and Midori about your methods of marketing and advertisement and we'll see if this launch of yours is feasible."
"Midori, finance was well, was it not this tax year?"
"We saw record levels of growth in the first quarter, however growth did in fact slow a little over the second and third quarters with new competitor products being released onto the market. A, one, Dapplecap Industries, had managed to create a rival product on the same level if not even better than our previous Capsule technology with the CC 3000 model. This is why I stress the urgent need for Capsule X as it's completely brand new and nothing can compare."
"Yes, yes I see. I have made a note of all you have said. I'll get on to development to see if they have any ideas in testing that could also prove beneficial."
"Which reminds me, Ichiro, how is the manufacture department doing?"
"Not well at all Mrs Briefs. The good news is that we did manage to stabilise the isotopic allotropes used in the alloy materials so it is now safer to use in the capsule models and provides 30% more durability. We also have produced the first prototype for Capsule X which you are to view and test later on today. However the increase in large orders we have are placing strain on the employees in manufacture especially, to meet demands and I fear we are suffering as a result. I'm sure Ayame as human resources, can agree with me."
"Yes Mrs Briefs, some employees have even quit and gone to rival companies because pressure is so severe."
"Shit, this is what I was afraid of. Have you tried to increase pay as a motive?"
"Well I did speak to Daichi, Mrs Briefs, but he stated we do not have the funds to increase them to the levels needed." Ayame said.
"Daichi? What level is that? I can not have my employees quitting when they feel like it. Make them stay. Add bonuses, holidays, cars, anything."
"Mrs Briefs, however nice it would be to have all of those things, the slow growth we have seen as Midori told you over the last two quarters have limited the amount of money able to be spent. Capsule X as you are well aware, took a few billion to produce alone and with slowing sales yet an increase in bulk orders more money had to be navigated towards manufacture. So to even begin to increase pay would have been suicide, I thought you would have agreed with me, after all you are the owner of CC."
"Right, limited…money I see." Bulma said writing this piece of information down.
"So how exactly do you plan to rectify this issue in funding?"
"Well all the funds for the rest of the business year have been allocated already and I cannot change this without speaking to yourself, and the board of directors. And it is highly unadvisable in any case. It is my hope that with the new launch for Capsule X it will generate enough funds to give staff an annual pay rise of 8%, as this will beat our competitors' rates. With this I have also seen fit to introduce a company loyalty scheme where after a certain amount of time of working for CC, certain rewards are given, that way the people stay motivated and encouraged."
"I have also taken the liberty to analyse any further areas that could help towards improving employee benefits and according to company surveys taken these past two years, our employees claim that they do not feel loved or part of Capsule Corporation, making it easier for them to leave. Many stated that, at their previous places of work they had a more…intimate working relationship with their boss, so I would strongly recommend for you to develop a friendlier approach towards our employees as this would help."
"Excuse me? Are you calling me, unapproachable? Unsociable? Bad-mannered?"
"E-err…not at all, Mrs Briefs. You have misunderstood me. I merely meant…"
"No you have misunderstood me. Your job is to manage the accounts not my life. So get managing and mind your own affairs."
Recomposing herself after her short outburst. She cleared her throat.
"Gentlemen and ladies, I have understood that whilst Capsule Corporation has grown remarkably, growth has slowed in recent times." Bulma said looking at Midori who nodded in agreement.
"You all believe that Capsule X is the solution to this problem, so I'll see to it that this gets done and I'll notify you of my response.
"The next concern raised was staffing. Increase the number of jobs available and provide a pay rise for current employees, the treasury will pay for it. Call it a loan, until Capsule X is launched."
"Yes, which reminds me, as for the launch, I will get back to you both, Midori and Ichiro, sometime this week on that also. Is that all?"
No-one had anything more to say.
"Okay, great. Meeting adjourned."
"Daichi, stay behind for a moment please."
"Yes Mrs Briefs?"
Bulma waited until all the other heads of department had left the board room before she began to speak.
"I wanted to talk to you about the way you spoke to me earlier. Whilst you raised some good points and showed initiative, the way and manner in which you spoke to me was completely inappropriate. I am your boss, better yet the head of the entire Capsule Corporation and you must treat me as such. Commenting on my personality traits is unnecessary and was uncalled for."
"But Mrs Briefs all I meant was…"
The look that Bulma gave Daichi was enough to send Frieza packing. Forget Super Saiyan, Bulma was all they really needed.
"Y-y..y-es Mrs Briefs, it won't happen again."
"Thank you, I do not like to be undermined in front of my staff. You may go." Bulma said smiling, acting as if nothing strange had happened and she had not threatened Daichi with her look of undefined pain.
"Thank you." Daichi said before running away in fear from the board room.
Humming to herself, Bulma composed her notes of the meeting. She had listed everything that was mentioned and devised a quick plan of action, ready to show her father later.
Carrying her notes, she walked back to her office to begin a detailed and thorough plan for how she could re-structure the business to make it work better. She was getting the feeling that whilst it was strong, it hadn't yet reached its full potential.
"Yoko, what time and where did my father schedule our lunch meeting for?"
"Two o'clock at the Plaza Hotel on the Broadway, Mrs Briefs."
"Okay, please come and fetch me at 1:30pm so I can finish up and arrive there on time."
"Yes, Mrs Briefs."
Entering her office, Bulma sat down at her desk and using her Mac computer, she began to look through the company finances, projected targets, returns, profit margins and quarterly growth rates.
She could see what Midori meant when she said growth had slowed. They had been selling 200 million capsule units consecutively in the first three months from September to December of last year, whereas now. They were barely averaging 70 million. Quickly doing the math in her mind, Bulma had lost almost 70% of her potential sales to rival companies.
She would need to launch Capsule X immediately. Losing 70% of sales was not a good sign at all, she really needed to get Capsule X up to scratch tonight as well as any other small projects she could find. She rarely had time to build anything any more with Vegeta's training and caring for Trunks taking priority over her own needs.
Wait, what? Trunks' needs fair enough. He was her seven year old son. But Vegeta's needs? Since when were they above hers? When was it that she had become his slave? His on-call maid? This was the 21st century for god's sake, there was no reason for her to no longer do the things she loved, especially building. Now that she came to think of it, Bulma could not remember the last time she had had some time to relax in front of the television.
When had she stopped taking days off to go shopping? When had she stopped having fun? Doing things for herself? Being Bulma?
Vegeta. The answer to all. Since Vegeta had entered her life, the negative had always overcome the positive moments of her life.
It was always "Woman, the training bots are broken again."
"Why can't you build some worthwhile junk for once."
"And you call yourself a genius? I've met space worms with more intelligence…"
"Hell…I could even build my own bots, but I am a Prince and I will not stoop to a meagre human's level."
When had she lost her courage to say no to him? Her spark? Her flame? Her fire?
When had she become a housewife? Nothing more. Nothing less. Just a house wife? Not even an intelligent one at that apparently, according to Mr. Saiyan Prince.
This was not what Bulma wanted, this was not what she wanted at all. She wanted love, affection and devotion. Not a life where she had to play slave to a Saiyan all day. No. She was not the richest, most beautiful woman on the planet for nothing.
Oh Bulma could just remember the days when she was Dragonball hunting. Sweet sixteen, full of life and energy. Her conquest for the dragonballs had led her to meet some of the bestest friends she could have ever hoped for. There was Krillin, Goku, Gohan, Chichi, Master Roshi, Puar, Yamcha, Launch, Tien, Chaotzu, Turtle, Piccolo and Kami.
She may not have gotten her wish for the perfect boyfriend in the end, but back then she had Yamcha, her teenage sweetheart. She loved his short spiked hair, the way her hands could journey through his dark locks as they kissed. Its smooth glossy texture and fresh smell. The numerous scars that covered his body, his chest. The way she used to trace her fingers along each and every one of them as she recalled his life as a bandit. She loved the fact he was dangerous and strong. His hard muscles against her flesh as she held him in her arms. She loved the way he blushed around her. That's what made him special to her. That was the Yamcha she always wanted to remember and not who he had become in recent years.
And she could not forget Puar, Oolong, Turtle and Master Roshi. The troublesome four. She cringed as she remembered the time she flashed more than just her underwear when she wanted that dragonball from Master Roshi. How embarrassing that was! And to think little Goku thought it was alright to walk around without any underwear on! Laughing, she remembered all the good days.
Whilst Master Roshi may have been a woman fanatic, with his leering and perverted ways. He was certainly funny and one of the group. It was him after all that had taught Goku and Krillin the Kamehameha wave. That move had saved their lives on more than one occasion, especially with that notorious General Tao around.
So much adventure had she experienced. Those days were the best. She missed those days.
Bulma's laughter was all the more short-lived.
She missed all of them so much. Her friends. She missed Goku more than ever though. She wondered what he was getting up to in the otherworld, probably training like crazy she guessed. That was Goku after all, always fighting. That didn't mean she didn't want her oldest best friend back though. These years without him just weren't the same.
She no longer even saw any of her friends, they were all too distraught over Goku's choice to stay in the other world, that there was no reason to meet again without him. It was too much. She knew they all blamed themselves for not training hard enough to help Goku out. Which was true, if they weren't so weak, maybe he would still be here. He wouldn't have needed to take Cell away in a last ditch attempt. He wouldn't have needed to cover their asses. He wouldn't have needed to get involved.
Poor Chichi and Gohan though. Gohan especially. It was him after all who would now have to grow up without a father after having been so close to him all his life. It must have been especially tough to see your father die before you and knowing there's nothing you can do about it. Poor kid. Bulma had never had the chance to experience what it was like to live without a father, but she knew what it was like to lose. Here she was, she had loved and lost, the pain in her heart never dulling. Its aching never ceasing. Its beats always yearning for another.
Slouching and resting her head down on the table, she wondered, when had she let her life and her independence became meaningless to herself.