The Science of Selling Yourself Short
When the beautiful, slightly bored genius and the arrogant, slightly homicidal Saiyan Prince are trapped under the same roof for three years, who knows what will happen? Well, besides Goku, their son from the future, and Piccolo, of course.
I do not own Dragon Ball Z. I'm just trying my hand at filling in some of the holes Akira Toriyama figured the twelve-year-old boys it was intended for wouldn't mind his leaving out.
Glaring down at the fruit resting on the shiny finish of the kitchen counter, Bulma came to the conclusion that it was all the stupid strawberries' fault.
Upon reaching this decision, she mumbled a death threat to the berries, aware that talking aloud to fruit was certifiably crazy. Perhaps even crazier than talking to oneself, which she'd found herself guilty of on more than one occasion.
What had she been thinking, she wondered, at sixteen when all she'd wanted was a lifetime supply of strawberries? If she hadn't made the Dragon Radar she'd have never met Goku. Without Goku there'd be no saving Earth or Yamcha or death on Planet Namek or knowledge of things like the precise date and time her world would come crashing down around her. No, Bulma would be as blissfully unaware as everyone else on Earth. Everyone, that is, outside her group of crazy misfit friends.
Besides, it wasn't like she'd been denied anything before. If she'd wanted strawberries everyday, they'd have been handed to her on a silver platter. What she'd really wanted was adventure and excitement, one summer vacation escapade to get a little messy and have a little fun. What she'd longed for was experience, and she'd gotten far more than she'd ever bargained for.
Then, somewhere along the way she'd changed her mind from wanting strawberries to a boyfriend. Her eyes darted from the carton of strawberries to the bouquet of pricey spring flowers. Apology flowers. A crease formed on her brow; what occasion was she gifted flowers otherwise?
Cancelled date? Flowers.
Forgotten anniversary? More flowers.
Caught at the supermarket with a girl from the aerobics class he'd met while training for impending doom? That's right, she sighed, turning her back to the admittedly lovely arrangement: flowers.
Not that he'd cheated on her. No, it seemed at times Yamcha was as faithful as a lost puppy, but her temper and the current state of their stale relationship had been enough to drive her over the edge.
And do enough obvious damage to warrant flowers.
She heard Vegeta in the kitchen. He hadn't made a sound upon entering the room, but who else would swing the refrigerator door open with such force she was surprised it hadn't been ripped from its hinges?
It had only been a few days ago that they had learnt of the threat in their future, of the death that was to come to everyone in three years time by the hands of the androids. The message had come in the form of a mysterious boy from the future, and as Bulma reflected on this rather serious matter, all she could think of as she studied the flowers was one of Vegeta's quips that fateful day. What exactly had he said when she'd handed him that pink shirt, she racked her brain for the precise words he'd used, one side of her mouth quirking upwards, about not being a variety of flower?
Vegeta studied the strange woman warily. The weak human had no sense of propriety, and even less preservation. She was like a time bomb, no inclination of when she'd blow. Not that Vegeta could be harmed by laughable human bombs, figurative or otherwise, but he'd found it was in his best interest to distance himself as far as possible whenever this particular human female lost it. When he'd first entered the room, she'd been glaring at a bouquet of weeds, looking both saddened and agitated by their presence. And now she was grinning like a fool. This quick shift in temperaments was a sure sign she was about to detonate.
"Idiot," he mumbled, turning from the room with the contents of a sandwich in tow. Bulma had never seen anyone use an entire loaf of bread to build a sandwich, but she was sure if there were another that could handle such a dietary feat it would be none other than Son-kun.
"Saiyans." She shook her head, sliding the strawberries across the counter, listening as they slid off the edge and dropped into the wastebasket with a satisfying plop. Bulma then picked up the vase, frowning at the beautiful arrangement of peonies before overturning it. She tossed the empty vase in the sink and dusted her hands together.
From the dining room table, Vegeat watched as the woman stormed out of the kitchen, her hands on her hips and her nose in the air. She sniffed, her ridiculous mass of curls swinging behind her as she marched past him and out of the room, slamming the door for good measure.
He did not even raise an eyebrow at her antics. More than accustomed to them, he took another bite from his sandwich and ignored her. Or tried to. He could feel her ki as she paced in the adjacent room.
She'd become something of an enigma to him. Sure, he'd noticed her looks on Namek, but he was still unsure why her presence had been required there. Truthfully, he didn't know much anything about her. From the moment she'd invited him to stay at her place, he'd purposefully distanced himself. He had her father for building and repairing training devices, and her mother to supply him with food. Vegeta had no reason to speak with her, and he'd made a point not to.
The day they'd been wished back from Namek, just after she'd pointed out that he had nowhere else to stay, the vulgar woman told him that no matter how attractive he might find her, he wasn't to do anything naughty.
A crimson blush stained the prince's dark cheeks, and he stuffed another mouthful of food into his mouth, fingers tightening around the bread as he pondered her words.
"As if I would ever," he grumbled.
On the off chance that he did exchange words with her, it was usually nothing more than a quipped quarrel. She was temperamental, and he found it amusing how quick to anger she was. Though that was the extent of their relationship, quick spats in passing, and nothing more.
From time to time he caught himself wishing he had someone to argue with. Not that blasted woman, of course, but someone. Nappa maybe, or Raditz even.
But he'd killed Nappa, and he would kill her, too. Eventually, when he was done with this planet. So there was no point in dwelling on the prospect of a new verbal sparing partner. It was an inconvenience; everything was, aside from him training.
He polished off his snack, and brought the plate back into the kitchen, dropping it beside the empty vase in the sink.
She slid the pair of safety goggles further up the bridge of her nose, and tried to concentrate on the tangle of wires on her worktable. The circuit board was nowhere near complete, but she had it in her mind that if she were able to focus, it would be done in no time.
Spinning her screwdriver, she tightened another rivet into place with a triumphant sigh.
"Beauty and brains," she beamed at her reflection in the shiny, green tile. "Now, if only those idiots would listen to you. I have half a mind to gather the Dragon Balls and find Gero's lab myself..."
"What was that, dear?"
She glanced up from the circuit board and blinked. Her father, black cat peeking over his shoulder, two steaming mugs of coffee in hand, was standing at the doorway of the lab looking at her.
"Oh, nothing," she answered, shaking her head. "Just trying to get this chip completed."
Her father sat one of the coffee mugs on her worktable, eyes glancing over her work. He too noticed how much more there was to be done. "Looks like it will be a late night for both of us."
She quirked a brow in question, her eyes not leaving the wire she was securing. Her tongue darted between teeth, and she clinched it with a pressureless bite.
"That young man has already mastered two-hundred times Earth's gravity," he shook his head in awe, taking a seat at his own worktable. "He instructed me not to leave my lab again until I can get it up to four-hundred."
Her hand jerked, and she blinked. Glancing up, she met her father's eyes. She knew he enjoyed the challenges Vegeta brought, but she was not convinced any instructing the Saiyan had done was approached civilly. "But… that's suicide. Dad, you can't…"
Shrugging, Dr. Brief's sifted through his notes, the smile still at his lips. "Well, he is dedicated. And he took on two-hundred easily enough. He seems to think it's possible, so who am I to stand in his way?"
"He's in denial," Bulma scuffed angrily as she corrected the damage her earlier surprise caused. "Pig-headed ass…"
Her father simply laughed. Spreading his work across the table, he began scribbling adjustments to his previous calculations. "Remember dear, he is trying to save you."
Bulma bit her lip, so as to not argue with her father. Vegeta was more than likely going to end up killing them all, that is if he didn't end up getting himself killed first. She took a sip from her mug, delighting the warm caffeine. It seemed to help calm her frazzled nerves, and she found being angry with Vegeta distracted her from her earlier irritation with Yamcha.
Bulma was aware that it was juvenile to be upset with her long-time boyfriend. At thirty years old, she knew she should be mature and take the highroad. He'd apologized, and he hadn't actually done anything. Now that they were both virtually celebrities, it was difficult to keep their private lives secret; rumors could be ignited from the smallest misunderstanding. What was most frustrating, however, was that while Bulma spent the majority of her time within the compounds of her family's home and business, Yamcha was out and about, without her, providing fuel for such rumors. It waspetty of her to get jealous that younger women were throwing themselves at her attractive, famous baseball beau, but every now and then Bulma Briefs felt she had the right to be a little petty.
And so she continued to work, focusing her thoughts on the reckless Saiyan. It was easier to think of Vegeta. It was painless, and in a strange way kind of enjoyable, to be furious and annoyed with him.
With each turn of the screwdriver, she picture jabbing her arrogant housemate. It made her smile, but only because she knew it would only serve to piss him off. There was nothing she could do to cause the Saiyan physical pain. Her blue eyes darted up at her father, lost in his work on the other side of the lab, and she frowned. No, she couldn't cause him harm, but she was fairly sure four-hundred-times Earth's gravity could. Maybe, she thought with a smile, if it were to squash him, it would serve to crush his ego as well.
"…. seven hundred ninety-one, seven hundred ninety-two, seven hundred ninety-three …."
He grunted the words through his ground teeth, his elbows shaking with each strenuous pushup. He frowned as a bit of sweat fell into his eyes, and he had to blink away the moisture skewing his vision. It did not stop him from his exercise, and as he continued to move, up and down, he felt his muscles tighten.
Yes, the force of the gravity was definitely serving to increasing his strength, but it wasn't enough. That was why he'd gone to the old man and demanded more. He would become a Super Saiyan, or he would die trying. Death or ascension, no other option was sufficient.
Eventually, Vegeta collapsed face-first on the gravity room floor. Through his panted breathing he could hear the hum of the chamber, and he squinted. Across the room, washed in dim, red light, the number '200' flashed back at him. He growled, picking himself back up the floor and continued his regiment.
Two hundred was twice what Kakarot had trained in to give him the edge he needed in order to transform. Vegeta started his pushups over again, beginning his count with the number 'one', determined that he would have to do twice the work if he wanted to keep up with the other Saiyan.
He wasn't sure what time it was, or whether it was light or dark outside. Time had become nothing to him, the days and nights blending together into his routine of sleeping, eating, and training. The only date he needed to focus on was May 12. In less than three years time he would have to prove himself. He had to. His teeth clinched tighter as he elbows bowed painfully.
Defeat the androids, and beat Kakarot. That was all the motivation he needed.
Bulma's arms stretched over her head as she let out a yawn. She glanced at her watch, seeing that it was one forty five a.m. Blinking away the sleep, she willed herself to stay up just a bit longer. Though as she walked through the living area, she was tempted to plop down on the couch without changing her clothes or brushing her teeth. Her bedroom was upstairs, and at times like these she found it awfully inconvenient to make the long trek. Especially when she was so beat.
"I wish I had Goku's Instant Transmission," she mumbled. Entering the kitchen, Bulma was pleased to find it clear of things like strawberries and apology flowers.
Glancing outside she saw that the Gravity Chamber was on. She could see the light it cast through its window on the lawn, and could hear the faint humming of it inside the quiet kitchen, lulling her already tired mind into sleep.
"Yes," she murmured, her eyes still on the dome-shaped ship on the opposite side of the yard, "well, he certainly is persistent."
With another yawn, Bulma deposited the remainder of her tepid coffee in the sink, turning away from the Gravity Chamber.
She spotted the empty vase still sitting in the sink, and frowned. The rush of her earlier anger coming back to her, the force of it was rather dizzying. Her purse was on the counter and she sighed. Reaching in, she fished through the cluttered, purple bag until she found her phone. Bulma flipped it open only to find that she had no missed calls or texts. There was, however, a missed alarm.
"Crap…" she mumbled, pulling out the small, white case, cracking it open and popping the pill labeled 'Thursday' into her mouth. As she swallowed, she glanced down at the five little sugar pills staring back at her, reminding her of how moody she'd be in the days to come.
It was also a sure sign that Vegeta would be avoiding her even more than normal. She wasn't sure if he could sense her moodiness during her time, or if he could smell it.
A blush tinged her cheeks at the thought, but she brushed it off. Besides, he steered clear of her all the time, it had nothing to do with …. with that. She made a mental note that it was getting low.
"But by the way things are going, there's no need to rush out and get it filled."
As soon as the words left her mouth, she heard the Gravity Chamber power down. Turning on her heels, she scurried out of the kitchen to avoid another run-in with the Saiyan Prince. She was far too tired to come up with any clever remarks, and she hated looking like a witless fool in front of him.
As she rushed up the stairs, she wondered if, perhaps, he was not the only reason their encounters were few and far between.
A bit short, but it's more of a prologue anyway. I really struggled between posting this and another AU, but this ultimately won out. I've always wanted to do a "three years" fic, and this is my attempt.
I will be out of town next week, but I wanted to get this out before I left. I know this plot is a dime a dozen, so thank you for giving it a shot. Especially my faithful "Illusoire" readers - I really hope you're all still with me! :)