Disclaimer: I do not own DBZ, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story
A/N: I've had this idea for a while, doing an B/V AU, that combines DBZ with another love of mine, historical/regency romance novels. I'm not exactly going for historical realism (expect anachronisms!), and I'm hoping I don't let the characters become too OOC (you know, for being DBZ characters stuck in early-mid 19th century America/England). Also, if anyone is interested in helping me beta the rest of this story, please send me a message/comment/email- sometimes I'm the worst self editor, and I would appreciate the help!
One last note- a Bow Street runner is basically the historical English equivalent of a private eye.
Prologue: Reasons to go to the Heathen New World
Bob Wicket prided himself on being the best Bow Street runner in all of London, as years in the shady business had taught him many things- including the inability to fear. Being a runner meant putting yourself in difficult situations that others didn't want to be in, or stalking dangerous people, or finding people who just didn't want to be found. All of these situations, if he wasn't at his sharpest could, at best, lead to altercations, at worst, lead to his death. Fear was not a part of his job, as it would undoubtedly paralyze him when he needed to be at his sharpest if he let it.
But Bob Wicket was a smart man as well, and he knew that fear could never completely be banished from any human being with a soul. Every now and then it did creep into his bones, as his line of work let him see the dark side of humanity-other times it caught him completely off guard. For instance, right now as he sat in front of the Duke of Vegetasei? He felt fear. Unabashedly, unequivocally, and irrevocably, though he hid it behind a mask of respect.
How did he get in this situation? Wicket thought back to what had brought the Duke into his life. When Wicket had first been approached by the tall, hulking bald brute (the Duke's everyman he had later found out) for this job, Wicket had been willing to refuse it as it would take him months to complete the job, what with the travel to America and all. The bald man had tried intimidating him with strength, but Wicket could hold his own against brute's such as that one, who were all strength, no brains-but then the dark carriage had opened, and out had come the Duke, and Wicket had unaccountably felt fear. The man wasn't imposing, or particularly evil looking-he just exuded that menacing darkness, and that air of always getting what he wanted, no matter what the cost. He was not one to cross, this Duke.
The Duke didn't say much to Wicket, just repeated the offer, his soulless black eyes never blinking, never leaving Wicket's face, and Wicket had numbly nodded, feeling as if a cold air had come with the Duke, sucking the breath out of his lungs. The night seemed darker, the Fall air seemed colder, and it took every ounce of Wicket's professionalism not to run screaming away from this man. It was only after Wicket had accepted that the Duke had broken eye contact, getting back into the carriage, that Wicket felt himself able to breathe again, and he had realized the job he accepted.
From that point on, Wicket hadn't seen the Duke again, instead (thankfully) dealing with the bald oaf, Nappa, completing the request with unusual speed, as he wanted to be done with the Duke as quickly as possible. He had managed to work quicker than he had anticipated, and the money was good but...something about the Duke made him think of the evil spirits his wife was constantly warning him against when she was trying to get him to church.
Now as Wicket sat in front of the Duke one last time, presenting his final findings, Wicket's mind kept thinking of those evil spirits his wife was so afraid of, and, though he prided himself on not being superstitious, Wicket was glad he had worn his wife's cross under his clothes today. It provided some small measure of relief and protection to the scared man, though he had initially laughed when his wife had suggested taking it today, waiting until she left the room to put it on. But the Duke wasn't even looking at him, instead leafing through the information Wicket had handed him, a frown on his face, "so you've tracked him down to Capsule Corporation? What is that?"
Wicket looked over the man's shoulder, refusing to meet his eyes, afraid that if he looked into his black eyes too long then his soul might just be sucked into them. When he spoke, it wasn't with his usual brash voice, but rather a polished one that would have had his friends laughing, calling him a pretender. Around the Duke, Wicket found himself toning down his usual South London accent, instead pulling on his years working with the Ton to sound as much like them as he could, ever since the Duke had displayed great annoyance at Wicket's cockney accent. "Capsule Corporation, as I've discovered, is a company founded by the genius Dr. Briefs, who is a leading industrialist, with companies both here and in the United States."
"As in the company that has been building all of those factories?"
Wicket nodded, gulping.
The Duke's eyebrows rose in...shock? Admiration? Amusement? It was hard to tell when this man's face didn't change much, and those eyebrows could be telling Wicket anything. Wicket usually prided himself on reading people, a skill he found incredibly useful to his job (it always did help to know who was, and wasn't, lying), but with the Duke he found himself completely mystified at all times. He just couldn't get a read on what he was thinking, or what was going on in those soulless pits that were his eyes. When the Duke didn't say anything, Wicket started to babble, saying stuff that could easily be found in the papers the Duke was holding, "richest family in America, maybe the world, has helped the New World find its own feet... and the person you're looking for is a part of the family."
The Duke's lips turned down into a frown (the only expression he seemed to have other than stoicism) as he repeated softly, "a part of their family?"
Wicket, still looking just past the Duke's ear, nodded, "yes'sir. There's Dr. Briefs, who runs the company, his wife, who's the daughter of the Baron of Manchester, their daughter, and their son who fits the description of the man you've been searching for."
The Duke was silent, and Wicket knew that he was looking over every inch of Wicket's face for any indication of, something, anything, before he looked down to the papers, effectively dismissing Wicket as he said, "Nappa will pay you for your services on the way out."
Wicket didn't need to be told twice, and he bolted from the room quickly, hoping that the Duke would never see fit to employ him again.
Right when he was about to turn the corner to leave, the Duke's voice, heavy, dark, stopped him, "and Mr. Wicket?"
Wicket's fear caused him to drop his carefully cultivated accent, "oy?"
The Duke's eyes narrow, but he doesn't comment on the slip as he continued, "if I hear even a rumor that I employed you, or what you have discovered, anywhere, even among the other runners..." He didn't finish, nor did he need to, in Bob's opinion, as the threat carried across loud and clear.
Wicket just swallowed hard, nodding, and then left the room, once again glad to feel the air around him becoming less dense with every step he took away from the appropriately-nicknamed Dark Duke.
Nappa entered the room a short time later, while Vegeta was still frowning over the reports the runner had left with him. Vegeta didn't bother to look up as he asked, "did you take care of him?"
Nappa frowned, swiping the cap he kept on during colder months off of his head, rubbing his bald head absentmindedly, "yeah, he's been well paid. I doubt he'll ever tell even his wife who he was working for." Nappa replaced the cap, frowning at the young Duke, who he has known since he was just a boy. "Don't see why we couldn't kill him."
Vegeta looked up, his frown deepening as he took in the older man before him, "because, Nappa, there is no need to kill a man who I have put the fear of God into. Plus, he might be useful in the future."
Nappa grunted, but didn't say anything else for a few moments, shifting from foot to foot, before he burst out, "he could talk."
Vegeta was back to looking at the papers, his voice certain, as only a man who has had everything handed to him in life could be, "he won't."
Nappa considered going after Wicket himself, tying up any loose ends, but before the plan could be fully formed, Vegeta spoke again, "I'll need you to prepare the Saiyan Lady."
Nappa nodded, "when do you want us to be ready to sail by?"
Vegeta still didn't look up, his voice toneless as he continued, "as soon as you can have her ready by-preferably the next tide."
Nappa didn't even blink at the request, continuing, "where am I telling the captain to take us?"
Vegeta finally looked up from the papers, his lips curling, flashing his teeth in a smirk, "America. It seems that little Kakarrot might not be as dead as we thought..."
A/N: Dun dun duhhhhh! Probably a predictable way to get a British Vegeta and an American Bulma in the same room, but its hard not to draw parallels for English lords with their American contemporaries in the 19th century, and the Saiyan prince with the earthlings. Next chapter we meet more of the characters!