Ward

Epilogue

"Congratulations, Uncle Radditz." A three-year-old Gohan clapped his hands in elation after witnessing the relative's marriage.

"Thanks kid," Radditz rubbed his fingers through the boy's messy mop before lifting his hand to shake that of the child's father. The boy could not fully understand how joyous this event had been. After spending so many years pining over an onna who did not return his affections, at least not in the manner he wished, it was an unfathomable blessing to finally experience true love; shared love, given and taken. He had found it with Juuhachigou; their shared experiences, more like heartbreaks, in the romantic realm had made them kindred sprits. It seemed Bulma was always right in her stacks letters; it was only a matter of time before a lustful friendship turned into a full-blown love affair.

"This is long overdue for the two of you, if you ask me." Kakarrot flashed his white teeth at the pair, offering Juuhachigou, his new sister in-law, a brief hug. It was a relief to finally embrace the female without that pause, that lingering memory of what once was or might have been. They had each found their true soul mates; fate, in its infinite wisdom, had made sure of it. "You had better make each other happy," the playful warning was easily taken in jest before the chance for congratulations landed on Chi-Chi. She was all smiles as she embraced the pair, her brief sense of rivalry with her new sister-in-law, long forgotten.

"All right, enough of this mushy stuff. Juuhachigou, I believe you and your new prince here should be addressing your people," Kakarrot reminded thoughtfully. He was well versed in the etiquette of a royal marriage, he had suffered through all the rituals when aiding with Bulma and Vegeta's nuptials.

"Right so, Brother," Radditz turned towards his wife and slowly bowed to her as he extended his arm, "Will you allow me the privilege of escorting you, my lady?"

With a light curtsy, Juunanagou accepted her mate's hand and followed him onto the balcony where they would greet her finally re-stabilized people for the first time as husband and wife.

"They look so happy together," Chi-Chi blotted her eyes with a tissue she had been using throughout the entire ceremony. "Does it not remind you of Bulma and Vegeta when they were—Wait, where are Bulma and Vegeta?" Chi-Chi spun around, suddenly noticing the pair was nowhere in sight.

"No need to worry, Chi-Chi," Kakarrot grasped his son's hand in one, and then placed his other behind his mate's back to guide them towards the pair in question, "after the ceremony, Vegeta immediately escorted Bulma to the reception area so that she could rest."

"Rest?" the elder woman raised a confused brow. "Why would she need to rest, she spent the entire service sitting on her backside. I would want to stretch my legs if I was the poor girl!"

With a short chuckle, Kakarrot shrugged as he justified, "She is with child, Chi-Chi; it is no surprise that Vegeta is just being overly careful. Bulma is his entire world, and after what happened last time," he paused, his tone suddenly very somber, "He will do everything in his power to make certain she has the child they have so desperately wanted."

Chi-Chi offered no rebuff as she sighed in reflection of the man's sensitivity. Not many months after the pair had married, Bulma had discovered she was with child. The news had made the lovers ecstatic, as if the child they had created was proof of the rightness of their union. But tragedy had been just around the corner for them. Barely a month into the pregnancy, Bulma had begun to spot blood one morning, and then the spotting turned into a continuous flow that led to her losing the child. They were devastated.

Bulma had taken the blame, as if something was abnormally physically wrong with her. She ignored the midwife's advisement that this was not an unnatural occurrence among women. She failed to understand that this loss did not terminate any further hopes of her having children in the future. All Bulma registered while she sunk into her depression was that she had lost her child with Vegeta, the last piece to her perfect picture, the heir he wanted, and was long overdue for having.

Losing the child had been interpreted by her as an inadequacy, a failure as a wife and mate, and so she had responded by demanding a divorce, insisting he find a more able onna who could provide for him as she had been unable to. But Vegeta did not want another onna. He did not care if she could never bear another child, which was not the case; all he wanted, needed, in his life was her, and so he had vowed to pull her back from the depression she had fallen so quickly into.

The harder she pushed him away, the more pressing his need to reclaim her became. It had not been easy, with two wills as strong as theirs clashing. No one could have easily estimated a winner; but in the end, Vegeta was victorious, proving to themselves and everyone who had ever doubted the match, that their love was the kind only envisioned in fairytales. A love so strong that no obstacle could break their unity and no amount of devastation could shake their foundation, it could only make it stronger.

With a soft smile rising on her lips, Chi-Chi closed her eyes in a silent thanks to the gods that after so much misery, the couple was finally experiencing peace once again. After slaying all their demons, and living to tell of it, they were finally on the road to filling in the final piece to their puzzle. The child they so fervently yearned for was swelling inside Bulma's stomach.

Opening her eyes, as if on cue, Chi-Chi was met with the subjects of her contemplation. Bulma and Vegeta were seated alone at a corner table. Her back nestled against Vegeta's chest as he rested his hand protectively on her swollen belly, and Bulma with her hands atop his. A smile lightened each of their faces as they gazed into one another's eyes, no doubt whispering sweet nothings as only the love consumed pair could. 

"I hope we are not interrupting," Kakarrot cleared his throat as he directed his son to take a seat at the table with them. He and Chi-Chi, without permission, followed boldly.

"How are you, Bulma?" Gohan asked in his gleeful manner before eyeing the desserts that had been placed at the table. His attention, along with his father's, immediately diverted.

"Very well, thank you," Bulma responded regardless of her questioner's sudden lack of interest. "In fact," she twisted her head to glance back at her mate, "Vegeta just promised to dance with me."

With a low growl, the king shook his head, "I did no such thing, onna. I insist you stay right here and rest."

"Come now, Vegeta," Chi-Chi offered her sympathetic intervention. "Bulma still has nearly four months left until she bears this child. She should be savoring all the mobility she has now, before she completely balloons up and becomes a bloated mess, as I was with Gohan at the end of my pregnancy." She glanced amusedly down at the boy; her extra appetite had no doubt been very much a direct cause.

"See," Bulma playfully stuck her tongue out as she pushed her love's hands away and rose to her feet. "Now, I have been a very compliant mate this evening, it is time you return the favor," she extended her hands to reach his. "One dance, and then I will allow you to control my every movement, or lack thereof, for the rest of the evening."

With a grumble, Vegeta found himself useless to do anything but comply as he clasped her free hands and weaved through the clusters of visiting monarchs and senate members to walk her to the dance floor. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he buried his head against her neck, careful not to apply too much pressure against her womb as he aligned his body with hers, her condition always ever present on his mind. He wanted this child more than he could ever have imagined, but no longer for his more expected of reasons. He did not care if he had an heir to inherit his throne, all he cared about was making the onna in his arms happy, and he could think of nothing more idyllic than having the child they had prayed for.

As they swayed to the music, Bulma locked her arms around her mate as a drowning woman would to a life preserver, which in essence, was exactly what he was, had always been, to her. He was her every cliché, her knight in shining armor, her prince charming, her mister perfect that no man could ever come close to amounting to in her eyes. Vegeta was, and always will be, all she will ever need to survive. The man who has saved her life more times than she can count, both physically and emotionally, was now hers for eternity. "You have made me the happiest woman in the universe, do you know that?" she whispered against his unruly hair.

With a half smile, Vegeta raised his head so he could glance into his mate's eyes, "Happiest of women, perhaps, but as for men, I certainly have taken that title, thanks to y—" With a choked silence, Vegeta found himself unable to complete his thought as his eyes drifted past Bulma to gaze upon a figure he had long hoped was in the grave.

"Vegeta?" Bulma saw his worried expression, and stiffened. Turning her head around, she followed his line of vision to gaze upon that which had taken him aback. "By the gods," she swallowed deeply as the figure approached them. When he stopped at their side, Bulma could not help but address him breathlessly, "Father."

Taking a protective step in front of his pregnant mate, Vegeta glared at the petite man with an expression so deadly, a weaker man would have been sent running in the opposite direction in fear. But this man was too old and decrepit to fear anymore; the years had clearly not been kind to him. "What are you doing here, Alcon?" 

Never taking his eyes off his daughter, the small man ignored Vegeta's question. "You have changed much in fourteen years, Bulma." His eyes dropped to her enlarged stomach, and then rolled over to Vegeta with the most sinister of glints within them. "Ah, Vegeta, I knew never to doubt your intentions. I mean honestly, taking my daughter as your 'ward,' as if you did not have other intentions all along; but then again, once a barbarian, always a barbarian. How shameful that a member of my elite clan will bear such barbaric half-breeds as that of the Saiya—" A fist came barreling across his face before he could complete his thought. 

To Vegeta's astonishment, he had not been the one with the fast reflex to bring the man to his knees. With a look of pure rage engulfing her face, Bulma nursed her now throbbing hand as she scolded her fallen father. "I may have put up with your bullshit when I was young, but I am a grown woman now, a mated woman, and so help me if you dare to slander my husband or my people again, I will end what is left of your miserable life." A reassuring hand from her lover squeezed her waist as he pulled her back a few steps.

"Leave now, Alcon, before I alert your creditors you are here. I can think of several off the top of my head who would surely like to get their hands on you," the threat was more of a warning; Vegeta would certainly alert the creditors of his whereabouts. Better they deal with the man's 'disappearance' than himself. The father of his child's mother was not a man's blood he wanted on his hands, regardless of how much the son of a bitch deserved it.

Cursing under his breath, the elderly man crawled to his feet and pushed through the crowd of onlookers who had gathered when the commotion started. After a stern look from the Saiya-jin King, the grouping dissipated and Vegeta guided his mate back to her seat. "Kakarrot, get some ice," Vegeta ordered the guard who had witnessed the dispute from afar.

"Bulma, are you all right?" Chi-Chi knelt in front of the younger female. She had lived with the girl during those earlier years, she knew firsthand the kind of damage seeing the bastard again could elicit.

"I am fine," Bulma assured with a lopsided smile. Not a moment later, Kakarrot returned with a bowl of ice, and under Vegeta's direction, had her place her swelling hand into the frozen water. "I am fine, really," she looked at Vegeta pleadingly, hoping he would relax. The visible tension in his neck, however, only seemed to tighten.

"Kakarrot, why don't you, Gohan, and I go see how Juuhachigou is making out with her speech." Chi-Chi nudged her mate gently, it was clear Vegeta had a few choice words for his wife.

"Ok, right," Kakarrot slowly got the hint, "come on, Gohan." And with a swiftness that forced a frown upon Bulma's lips, she was abandoned by her friends, leaving her to face Vegeta's temper without any support.

"Give Radditz my best wishes, will you? I have a feeling I won't be seeing him again before he and Juuhachigou depart for their post-marriage bliss." Promising to do as she asked, Chi-Chi gave her surrogate daughter a kiss upon the forehead before disappearing with her family. And then, once they were alone, Vegeta grasped her arm and began guiding her out of the reception area, into the hall, up the stairs, and did not stop until they were inside the chambers they had been given for their stay.

"What were you thinking?" His tone was angered, but his movements were gentle as he seated her on the bed and after retrieving a few supplies began attending to her injury. "Your primary responsibility right now is attending to our child. Let me deal with annoyances like Alcon. I mean my gods, Bulma, what if you had missed his face and lost your balance? What if you fell? What if he struck you back? What if—"

"What if I lost another child?" she completed the thought he was chewing around. The easing of his expression proved he had not wished it to be said.

"I never want to go through that again," he whispered solemnly as he grasped her face, gently stroking her cheeks as he did so.  "Call me a macho pig, a domineering husband; I would suffer either title if it meant keeping you and our child safe. I do not want you to endanger your life in any way, which means when a little prick like Alcon crosses your path, you let me handle it. Let me handle everything for you," he ran his lips over hers. He did not want to control her, or make her feel helpless. He just wanted to keep her safe, his entire family safe.

"I would never have done it, you must understand, I would never do anything to endanger our child but," he stopped her, covering her lips before she could get any more worked up.

"But it was the man who abandoned you, who mistreated you, who deserves to burn in hell for all he put you through; I know these were extreme circumstances, just swear to me you will let me fight all your battles. I am your mate, you must at least give me that, promise me that." He was pleading, an uncharacteristic occurrence for the king, but nothing about him was ever characteristic when it came to her, save for his unwavering love.

"I promise," she answered, half crying, half laughing. Not certain why, but hearing him voice his protection of her, the thought of his obsessive watch over her, while it should have scared any normal onna, she welcomed it. He was the only man in the universe she would trust completely with her life, and now that he asked it of her, she would willingly give total control over to him. "You know I can deny you nothing," she pouted as he lifted her into his lap, resting his hand atop her stomach. A familiar ritual to him, always wanting to be sure he or she was still safe and secure inside his or her mother's womb.

"You know, though, we do owe him everything," Bulma whispered softly after a long pause. When Vegeta lifted his beautifully bemused eyes towards her, she further explained, "If Alcon had not abused me, and tried to force me to marry so young, I would have never had to kill King Yuria, my father would have never needed your people to clean up the scandal, and we never would have met. If you think about it, it was his incompetence as a father that brought us together," a quick burst of laughter shot from her lips as she realized, "oh, how horrified he would be to learn he had assisted in my happiness."

Joining in her amusement, Vegeta realized an irony of his own. If it had not been for Juunanagou's manipulation of him during his marriage to Juuhachigou, he would still be miserably wed to an onna he did not love. He would never have had the opportunity to take a fourteen-year-old chit as his ward, and even more bizarrely, had Juunanagou not returned years later to seek his revenge, circumstances may have never merged for him and Bulma to realize their feelings for one another. Amazing, how much good fortune arose from misery for them.

Gathering his mate more possessively in his arms, Vegeta laid the two out on their bed, snuggling her closely to him as he buried his face in her bountiful blue locks. "We have overcome so much to be together, onna, I have no doubt this child will be born without complications. We deserve this final blessing," he rested his hand on her stomach, "Our child."

"Our child," Bulma repeated; warmth spread through her body as she did so. She had scarcely over the past three years dreamed of the reality, but when he said it, she knew it had to be true.

As it was, just under four months later when a lavender haired, blue eyed boy with the face of his father and the gentle disposition of his mother was born. Prince Trunks, the heir to the Saiya-jin throne, the child who echoed a gasp of relief through the people of Vegeta, but more importantly, the child who was created out of the purest of love. 

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Author's Note: Ah, it's over. Yes, I know, but it had to happen sooner or later. But never fear. I have this nasty habit about finishing one story and then starting another. I have a new fic cooked up for your reading pleasure. If you enjoyed this story, I think you will find the next one to your liking as well. It is set in an alternate universe that is much like this one, no ki, no flying, no Super Saiya-jins, just warriors on horseback fighting with swords and arrows. However, the plot is very different. It's a darker fic, but still chopped full of romance, angst, and drama. It is call Unwanted, and I plan on posting it some time in the next month. But, should I not get it up that soon (and if you know me, that is very likely) stay turned to my author's page. I update it with story information monthly. In the mean time, I am still posting Surviving Together: Retribution regularly if you want a LGV hit. So now review and tell me what you think of the story in its entirety while I go off to work on my new story… Ah, a fanfic author's work is never done!