UPDATE: I originally posted this as a one shot but awhile back at the Bulma/Vegeta livejournal community we had a week-long challenge involving the seven deadly sins as prompts so I decided to give this one shot more of a backstory. I didn't post the rest of it on here but since people here seem to be enjoying it too I thought I might as well. It's already finished so don't worry, I'm not quitting "The Deal" to work on this other than minor editing.
Now about Vegeta, when I first posted this story I said "Sorry if Vegeta seems a little OOC here but I think that even he has to get things off his chest every now and again." Now that I'm posting the rest of this I'll go further to say that Vegeta will definitely seem OOC because he wasn't the hardened, killing machine that had everything stolen from him in this. He's a prince and while he's still a fighter he's a little bit spoiled and unaware of the condition of those below him. So while this first chapter is in Bulma point of view, the rest of the story takes place in Vegeta's as we see him face and overcome roadblocks that he never expected to have.
That being said, I hope you enjoy the rest of this story.
Disclaimer: Dragonball Z and its characters belong to Akira Toriyama. I do not own them nor do I claim to.
Bulma never imagined that she'd be invited to a formal banquet during her stay on Vegetasei. After all, the main inhabitants of the planet, the Saiyans, were a proud warrior race that cared more for fighting than civility. But here she was, standing in the biggest ballroom she'd even seen, surrounded by people of several different races dressed in their idea of formal wear. From the fancy armor of the elite warriors to the universe's most glittering fabric swaddled royals from the farthest reaches of space, everywhere you looked it was the cream of the crop rubbing elbows and pretending to be interested in people other than themselves. Somehow Bulma doubted that talking about her scientific achievements would be well received by anyone here. These were the type of people to be appalled by the fact that they took the time to speak to you if you weren't a royal or an elite.
'Why am I here again? Oh yes. His majesty, King Vegeta, insisted that the genius responsible for increasing trade between planets be present at this showy affair. As if any of these people care how the work was done. They probably just assume that the things they want fall into their laps because they will it.'
Bulma sighed as she looked at her reflection in one of the floor length windows lining the hall and tugged down her dress for about the hundredth time. She hadn't packed any formal wear when she moved Capsule Corporation to Vegetasei because she assumed she wouldn't need any. Then last night when she was ordered by the King to attend she found herself looking through every inch of her wardrobe for anything suitable for the event. Unfortunately all she had brought were business suits, lab coats, coveralls for work, and some casual clothes. However, being Bulma Briefs, she made do with what she had and fixed herself to the nine's with the best dress available.
Despite the opinion these people had of 'commoners', Bulma had gotten several stunned looks when she entered the ballroom. Her vivid red sleeveless dress covered her curves perfectly and stopped just short of her knees, showing just enough to not be considered trashy, by her book anyway, and her matching stilettos and clutch completed the ensemble perfectly. Add her red painted lips and the red hair sticks holding her hair up in a meticulous updo and she was quite proud of what she had accomplished.
As the night went on though and after more and more obvious gossiping and disgusted glares she was getting she became increasing more aware that her look, while stunning, was not in the least formal. 'I should have just insisted that I not come. Surely the King would have understood that I wasn't prepared for anything like this.'
Bulma looked over to the thrones at the far end of the hall and contemplated talking to the King so that she could excuse herself for the evening. However before she could see the King's throne she made eye contact with none other than the bane of her existence, Prince Vegeta.
Snapping her gaze back towards the window she cursed that fact that he'd seen her like this. Ever since the first day she'd set foot on Vegetasei Prince Vegeta had constantly made sure that her life was a living hell. He would belittle her during presentations, demand new training equipment with impossibly short deadlines, and take every opportunity to make her explode with anger.
Of course she didn't take his abuse without a fight, she wouldn't be like the thousands of ass kissers and timid servants that surrounded him daily, but she had a feeling that he was more amused by her comebacks than annoyed by them. As if he was so bored of everyone being submissive to him and sought out someone that didn't bow to his every whim.
Looking back over at Vegeta she frowned as she saw that he was still looking at her with an amused smirk on his face and quickly looked away again. 'No, he just finds joy in making me angry. That's all.' If she didn't know better she would have sworn that that Saiyan Prince had a playground crush on her.
She chuckled as she remembered a time when she was younger and a boy on the playground had picked on her. Her Mother had said that he was only doing it because he had a crush on her and didn't know how to act on it because since all the other boys didn't like girls, he couldn't admit to liking her. She had thought it was silly, why someone would be so desperate for her attention that they'd want to be seen in a negative light, then but it had turned out to be true. Years later the boy had confessed his feelings to her.
'Of course that has nothing to do with what is going on now. Vegeta's far past the 'girls are icky' phase of his life I would hope.' However even as she told herself that she couldn't help but ponder what it'd be like for him to admit to it someday, that everything he'd done was because he had a major crush on her. He was cute. Actually he was more than cute, he was hot. It was little surprise that he was the most sought after bachelor on the planet. He was also wittier than some of the barbarians his race consisted of, that fact made obvious by him constantly gaining the upper hand in their arguments.
Chancing another look to see if he was still staring at her she realized that he was gone from his seat completely. Blinking, Bulma looked around wondering where he could have gone. 'Vegeta's not the type to mingle so where…'
"Woman, why are you wearing cutlery in your hair?" came a sudden, deep voice from behind Bulma making her jump.
Clutching her hand over her heart, Bulma spun around to glare at the Prince that had snuck up on her. "What?"
Pointing to her hair, Vegeta laughed. "I believe that those are what your people use to eat with. I know that you didn't have anything to wear to this event but surely you had better options than your dinnerware."
Bulma stomped her foot and placed her hands on her hips, "These are hair sticks, not chopsticks," she answered furiously, temporarily forgetting that she wasn't in her lab but in a crowded ballroom in the sights of hundreds of people watching her every move.
"They look the same to me. In fact," Vegeta smiled and fazed out of her sight, "I could use something to eat with since I haven't had dinner yet."
Before Bulma could turn to find him again she felt her hair fall around her shoulders. Looking behind her, she saw that Vegeta was holding the sticks in his hand like he was ready to eat with them. The sound of laughter filling the air only made Bulma more furious with him.
"How dare you!" She yelled as she snatched her hair sticks from his loose grasp. She didn't care if she was making a fool of herself. Nothing had gone right this evening and he'd pushed her beyond her breaking point. "I come here to save your planet from economic downfall and design training equipment to make you stronger and yet every day, every single day, you ridicule me. You think you can walk all over me just because I focus more on intelligence than physical strength or because I don't bow to your every whim? Or is it simply because I'm nothing in your eyes because I wasn't born in a castle feeding off my people's tax money?" Bulma finished and tried to even her breath, but seeing Vegeta's still smirking face her fury came back. Looking down, she felt tears of frustration spill from her eyes and she clenched her fists hard at her sides. "I…I hate you. I hate you. I hate you! I…," Bulma snapped her head up ready to yell her curse directly in his face when the bitter words caught in her throat.
To everyone else in the room, Vegeta was highly amused by her antics. After all he was still smirking at her and his body was relaxed. But for Bulma who was directly in front of him, she could see the truth in his eyes. It was as if he was in pain. Not physical pain but emotional pain nonetheless. It didn't make sense. He was used to her yelling back at him so this was nothing new but for some reason her proclaiming her hatred for him seemed to actually affect him. 'But why? He hates me so why would that bother him?'
Before she could think on it any longer, Vegeta cocked his head to the side and grinned. "I know," and having said that he broke eye contact and quickly walked past her and out of the hall through one of the side doors.
All around her Bulma could hear people talking. 'How dare she?' 'Who does that commoner think she is talking down to royalty like that?' 'Why would Prince Vegeta let her live after such a distasteful show?' The insults went on and on but all Bulma could think of was the look of actual hurt in Vegeta's eyes.
Without another thought Bulma ran out of the room, somehow making it through the crowd despite her blurred vision. The dark, abandoned hallway echoed her footsteps loudly as she continued to run. "Why, why didn't I see it before?"
It made perfect sense now, why he went out of his way to bother her, why he constantly came by her lab to see how she was progressing: He couldn't admit to his feelings for her but he wanted her attention regardless. Yes, Vegeta was well past the 'girls are icky' phase of his life but that didn't change the fact that their social statuses forbid him from acting on anything.
Part of her wanted to defend her words. After all, Vegeta had said some mean stuff before but the rational part of her realized that, though frustrating, Vegeta's insults had never been anything more than playful teasing. Thinking back on it Vegeta had never used his status against her or called her a commoner. More than likely he didn't want to be reminded of that fact. And she just went and shoved it in his face. "I'm such an idiot."
Finally out of breath, Bulma stopped and leant against a wall. She rubbed the tears from her eyes, uncaring that her make-up was probably ruined. Deciding that she should head back to her room and retire for the night, she pushed away from the way and headed down an adjoining hallway towards her room.
She was almost there when she passed by some open balcony doors and caught sight of the last person she wanted to see that evening.
Sitting on the ledge Vegeta watched the stars seemingly unaware of her presence. 'Crap did he go this way when he left? He's probably going to think that I followed him intentionally.'
"You're far too emotional to wear that much make-up, Woman," he said in a bored tone.
"Ah, yeah. I guess so." Bulma felt nervous as she opened her clutch desperately trying to find something to clean her face but realized that she didn't bring anything useful. "I don't have anything with me so I'll just get out of your way…," she was about to leave when a handkerchief appeared in her vision. Looking up she saw that Vegeta was still looking away from her but couldn't stop the sad smile appearing on her face. It seemed that despite their fight Vegeta didn't want her to leave just yet.
Once cleaned up, Bulma looked back at Vegeta who was still seemingly ignoring her. "Why'd you leave? I thought that you were going to eat."
"As if I need an excuse to leave that pathetic excuse of a party. I was only there because Father made me go. 'Have to keep up appearances, Boy,' he said. More like 'have to pretend to care about idiots flaunting their wealth." As if they amount of money they have will make them more interesting to me."
"I can relate. I've been to stuffy, formal parties back on Earth but back there we didn't have nobles, just business partners. But even then you'd have to pretend that everyone there wasn't trying to get on your good side in hopes that you'd make a deal with them. When I became the President of the company and got the offer to aid Vegetasei I saw it as a refreshing new start away from that stuffy, nonsensical environment and into one that focused more on foundations than frivolities. I guess that backfired on me. I should have refused to come instead of showing up in a short, bright red party dress with chopsticks in my hair," she said the last part with a shaky laugh.
She waited for a response from Vegeta, something along the lines of 'so you're finally admitting that they're utensils' but nothing came. He just continued to silently look at the stars.
"Well, I can tell that you want to be alone so I'll just leave."
"This balcony or this planet?"
Bulma was taken aback by the question. "Do you want me to leave the planet?"
"Yes." Short and to the point. No dancing around the subject for this man.
Bulma didn't understand why but it hurt to hear him say that. She couldn't believe that she had angered him so much with her rant earlier that he'd want her gone completely. "Is it because you don't need my business anymore or is it because I offended you?"
"I don't need to explain myself to you," Vegeta answered in the same bored tone.
Bulma's fists clenched as Vegeta still didn't bother to make eye contact with her. "I can't believe that I tried to defend you actions. For a moment I thought that there may be something more behind your teasing and taunting, that I believed that deep down you actually liked me a little. But now I see that you're nothing more than a spoiled brat," she turned, fully intent on storming away.
"I suppose I am," he admitted stopping Bulma in her tracks. "When you first came here Father warned me that I couldn't treat you like a slave because you were a very important person. I didn't understand why he felt the need to tell me that when it was obvious. You were coming here of your own free will so of course you weren't a slave. But the moment I saw I understood why. He wasn't talking about making you wait on me hand and foot, but that I couldn't order you to come to my bed, that I could never use you with the intent to throw you away after I was done. The thought angered me at first, that there was something I wanted and I couldn't have it, so I decided to order you around in a different manor, by making you useful to me in other way."
He laughed, "But you shocked me. You knew how powerful the Saiyans were and yet you still stood up to me and had the nerve to tell me no. I thought it was hilarious that such a frail woman could be braver than even the strongest elites on the planet. So I pushed more wanting to see how far I could go and to see how you would react. Before I knew it, it had become an addiction. I found myself making excuses to come by and bother you."
"One day I made myself face the truth. In my efforts to forget about having you physically, I became attracted to you mentally as well. But I knew nothing could come from it. While no one would bat an eye at me for taking someone 'below my level' to bed for a night, it would cause an uproar to for me to form an actual mutual relationship."
Bulma bit her lip, still a little surprised that Vegeta was actually calmly admitting to this. "I thought that you didn't care about those people."
"I don't, but I can't risk my title on something as petty as lust."
Bulma nodded. Vegeta was smart, smart enough to know that, even though he was stronger, if his people were against him the only way he could rule would be as a tyrant. If he was going to risk his title for something it had better be worth it.
"So I decided that if I could push myself away, that I'd push you away. Increasing my insults, forcing more work onto you. I did everything that I could to make you hate me. And then tonight, when you entered the room I was shocked by your appearance. Everyone was. Even though your outfit was far from formal you were stunning and had the attention of every person in the room. I could tell that you were nervous by the way that you stayed off to the side and were constantly adjusting your dress so I decided to see what would happen if I were to push you that maybe even the slightest nudge would set you off.
"And it did. As always you fought back not wanting to seem weak and as always it amused me. But when I saw that you were crying, that amusement left me. I had wanted to push you away, but the second you said you hated me my chest tightened. I couldn't move. I didn't know why it hurt me so much to hear you say that but I held myself together so that no one could know how I really felt. But you could see, couldn't you? That's why you stopped yelling and stared at me with shock. Because even with the depths of hatred you felt for me right then," Vegeta finally looked at her, "you were the only one that could see the truth."
He held her gaze for a moment longer before turning away again. "I can't have what I want so I went out of my way to destroy it and now that I realize that I hurt myself more than anything I just want to forget that it ever existed. So, yes, I am just a spoiled brat."
Bulma closed her eyes as she took everything in. Much like herself, Vegeta was extremely stubborn and used to getting his way so despite being a spoiled brat she knew how much it took for him to say what he had been feeling aloud. She also knew that there was very little chance that she'd ever hear it again.
She opened her eyes with a small smile on her face. "I'm sorry Vegeta but despite the jump in the economy here there's still plenty of work to be done. I'm not leaving just yet so you'll have to bear it for a bit longer." When Vegeta didn't look at her or say anything she had an evil thought and smirked.
Walking over to where he was seated, Bulma leaned over and gave him a peck on the cheek. He froze for a second before looking over at her, his eyes wide with shock. Unable to stop herself, she leaned in again pressed her lips to his. Vegeta groaned and grabbed the back of her head to deepen the kiss. Afterwards, when she pulled away she saw that his expression was more open than she had seen it all evening. They were full of desire but also of pain because he was still restricted by the standards set out for him.
But she wouldn't pursue it any further that evening. Instead she finished what she was saying before. "Maybe in the remaining time I have here you'll find something else that makes the risk worthwhile. Until then, goodnight Vegeta," she smiled and finally left the balcony feeling his eyes on her until she was gone from his sight.
Tomorrow things would be back to the same bait and insult routine that it always was because for now that was all it could be. But maybe one day, when this planet decided to forgo the traditions of the past and embrace the fact that people should be able to decide what's best on their own, she would be able to enjoy the Prince's company without the frustration of being belittled or judged.
"First things first, I'm due for a much needed shopping spree. I need to be well equipped for whatever random surprises this planet throws at me next."
Hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to read and review, I love getting feedback.