Disclaimer: I do not own DBZ or the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.
Warnings: Cursing, more cheesiness than the last chapter.
A/N: Surprise! Originally this was going to be tacked on to the end of the last chapter, just a quick one-page conclusion—but if you've read this far you should know nothing I do is ever quick, and this somehow morphed from 1 page to just under 10 (whoops). Plus, this rounds out the chapters on and ao3 to fifty, and my OCD ass liked that quite a bit. So, for all of you who have made it this far with me, consider this a gift…especially after it took me over four years to get these last two chapters out.
Epilogue: Reasons to go (Back) to the Heathen New World
The sea breeze hit Bulma's upturned face, the spray refreshing as the waves crashed around the ship they were on, her sea legs holding her steady even as the deck swayed. The bustle of a busy deck was behind her, but Bulma stood at the bow of the ship, ignoring the hustle of everyone around her as she was lost to thought.
Seven years. I can't believe it's been seven years since I've been back home.
Bulma sighed, studying the open sea, smiling as the barest hint of land could be seen from her vantage point. After the last few weeks of being on a boat (even one as fabulous as the one she had designed and was currently standing on) Bulma was aching for the feel of solid ground under her feet again. Well, that and to finally return to America after so long. Seven years was a long time—and she was so glad she was finally almost home after all this time.
Was it home though? Much had changed since Bulma had left America all those years ago. She had remembered getting on the Saiyan Lady with grim determination, her thoughts only on helping her brother get through a season with the British Ton. She had never even dreamed of staying longer than that one season, nor of marrying a man who fascinated half the Ton while scaring the bejesus out of the other half. And she had certainly not expected—.
As if summoned by her thoughts, she felt something smack into her lower body with a loud, "Oof!" Bulma's maternal instincts took over and she steadied the small boy who had smacked into her, his blue eyes blinking owlishly at her before he gave her a large smile, pushing off of her yelling behind him, "Sorry mom!" She looked at the purple-haired hellion who was her son, smiling as she followed his movements, his younger cousin Gohan following him as they darted around the ship playing a game, oblivious to everyone around them as they weaved in and out of the busy workers.
Bulma considered calling after the cousins as she turned her body to watch them, but rolled her eyes instead, knowing it would be useless to try and get their attention as they played with each other. Instead, she just enjoyed the sight of them, crossing her arms as she followed them with her eyes. They darted around the men, most of the sailors playfully egging the boys on, used to these two after the last few weeks of travel. The two young men were rambunctious (to say the least), especially when they were together—and the last few weeks at sea had seemed to be driving them both a little stir crazy. Bulma was glad to see them getting some of that energy out—maybe Trunks would actually let her sleep in a little tomorrow.
She snorted at that thought, shaking her head. Yeah, right.
Trunks started to climb the ropes up to the crow's nest, and though she saw Gohan hesitate for a moment at the bottom, he jumped on the ropes a second later, not that far behind Trunks as they moved like monkeys as they climbed, reminding Bulma of her and Goku's youth. How many trees had they scaled together, trying to beat each other to the top?
She was glad Gohan and Trunks had a close relationship—it was good for both of them, she thought. Trunks needed someone who he could play with that was not just Earl's son who was looking to make a social connection or some shark mama already trying to make a marriage match between her daughter and the six-year-old Viscount Vegetasei. And Gohan—well he needed someone to have fun with, that was for sure. If it was up to his mother, Gohan would never play, even if he was only five.
Thankfully with Goku only in Scotland, the cousins saw each other plenty of times a year, and she was glad Trunks and Gohan seemed to have the same relationship she and Goku had had all those years ago…. Well and now, she mused, as she thought about the way they had broken into the larder last night to find the chocolate she knew was hidden down there. Goku and she had both gorged themselves on the sweet's reserves, staying up late and talking like they had used to do before they had both gotten married to their respective spouses. She smiled at that thought, especially as she thought about how guilty Goku had looked when Chi-Chi had found them, throwing her hands up in exasperation as she saw the empty chocolate wrappers, most of it smeared around Goku's mouth.
Bulma chuckled as she thought about the lecture her brother had surely gotten from his wife on setting a good example for their son and the clansmen he ruled over since he was now the head of the Ox-King's clan. Bulma had quickly escaped, ignoring Goku's 'please help me' look, before she had snuck back into her own quarters, rubbing her satisfied belly, her chocolate cravings thoroughly satisfied.
Bulma watched as Trunks hit another sailor as they came back down for the crow's nest, his younger cousin the one who actually stopped to apologize respectfully even though he had not been the one to do anything. Ah Gohan, too polite for his own good.
"GOHAN! YOU GET BACK HERE NOW SO WE CAN CONTINUE YOUR STUDIES!"
Chi-Chi was intimidating as her voice rang throughout the whole ship, even the most hardened of seamen stopping in their tracks to see the tiny woman, whose voice could be heard for leagues around them. Even with a bouncing, smiling baby Goten (who was the spitting image of Goku) on her hip did nothing to soften the severity of the women, and everyone fastidiously avoided her deathly glares, going back to work, grateful that the glowers and yells were focused on someone other than themselves. Bulma's amusement grew as she watched Chi-Chi, a force to be reckoned with no matter where she was—the kitchens, the rolling hills of Scotland, a ship which had only the most hardened of sailors on it—it did not seem to matter. She just had that power to make grown men cower in their boots.
Gohan, Kami bless him, looked beet red as he stopped running after his older cousin, and instead walked over to his mom, head down. He must have mumbled an apology because Chi-Chi smiled at him as she got on her haunches and hugged him before catching Bulma's eye across the ship giving her a shrug as if to say what am I supposed to do with this boy?
Bulma smiled back, so glad that Goku had found a partner who was exactly what he needed. Someone who could be a hard ass to keep both him and the boys in line exactly when necessary—but someone who without a doubt loved her family more than anything and would mama bear anyone who would dare to do anything to hurt them. She was perfect as Goku's partner, and Bulma was glad the woman had found her way into their family.
Now that Gohan had left him, Trunks stuck his tongue out at his playmate's back, before scanning the ship and seeing Bulma watching him. He smiled innocently as he caught her eye and wound around the men before he scurried back to her, Bulma's arms already open to catch him.
Bulma ignored the weight of her son, grunting silently under his weight as he knocked the wind out of her—but she did not mind. She buried her nose in his hair, smelling the scent of the ocean on him, smiling as she felt the weight of him. He was growing, and growing fast—she did not know how many more years she had left of her being able to pick him up, whether it was because he was too heavy, or simply because he found it unfit to be held by his mother, Bulma did not want to dwell on. He was her biggest fan currently, following her around, asking her a million questions about her inventions, watching in awe as she created stuff, trying to learn as many languages as her, listening to the stories she would tell with rapt attention—but she knew how quickly time seemed to be moving and she feared she was going to blink one day and he would be all grown up, married with his own family.
Before her thoughts could grow too wistful, Trunks pulled her out of them, "Mum, are we almost to New York?" She nodded, and he was off like a rocket, asking more questions, "What's New York like again? Can I see your old bedroom? What about your first lab? Do you think Grandpa will let me into the menagerie to pet the animals in there? Are Grandma and Grandpa going to be waiting for us at the docks? Oh, I can't wait to see them!"
Bulma smiled at his youthful energy, knowing it was unnecessary to answer these questions as he was so hyper he was sure to forget what questions he had even asked before moving on to the next one. She just turned back to scan the growing dot of land, glad that after all these years she was returning home, even if just for a visit to America to show Trunks where she had grown up.
Thankfully Bulma's parents had been able to come for visits every year since Trunks was born, so they had quite a close relationship with her son, but Bulma felt a twinge of guilt that she had not made it back home.
Trunks tugged on her hair, grabbing her attention from her thoughts, "Mom… Grandma and Grandpa will be waiting for us, right?"
Bulma hugged him closer to her, assuring him, "Of course Grandma and Grandpa will be waiting for us! They're so excited to show you all over Manhattan and our upstate residence. If I remember correctly in his last letter your grandfather had some new animal collections he wanted to share with you… something about a turtle all the way from South America?"
Trunks' eyes grew big, his grandfather's love of naturalism skipping Bulma and going straight to her son. "Wow! Can we bring it back with us?"
Bulma frowned at the thought of yet another animal to add to Trunks' growing zoo, before she gave the answer she had used to hate receiving as a kid, "We'll see."
"Aw, mom! That means no!" The pout on his face was so cute she had to fight the urge to just squeeze him closer and promise him everything and anything he wanted.
Instead Bulma said nothing, giving him that enigmatic smile she had seemed to perfect in the last six years of being a parent. She ruffled his hair, smiling as they both looked toward the hint of land starting to appear ahead of them, changing the subject. "While your father and I are away checking out Grandpa's factories west, Uncle Goku, Gohan and you are going to go train at the Turtle Gym with Goku's old training partner Krillin!"
Trunks reared back, looking at her in amazement. He might be as bright as she had been at his age, but Trunks was also a fighter, following Vegeta around begging to train with him. "Wow! I get to train in the Turtle Style?" Bulma nodded, watching as the little boy bit his lip, looking around, before he leaned closer whispering conspiratorially, "Is dad okay with that? He always says Turtle Style is less refined and for commoners!"
Bulma snorted, shaking her head as her eyes sought out her proud husband, standing at the wheel, looking more in place here as a swashbuckling pirate than as the stuffy Duke he had to play at being when they were in England. Hmm, swashbuckling pirate Vegeta—yum. There was a definite fantasy she would be playing out with her husband as soon as they could.
Bulma looked back at Trunks, smirking, leaning closer to whisper, "Let's keep it our little secret, okay?"
Trunks snorted at that, covering his face with his hands to hold his laughter in, before he nodded, leaning in to kiss his mom on the cheek that had her heart soaring.
Bulma held onto him for a moment longer before Trunks wiggled away, seeing his favorite (and only) uncle coming down from the crow's nest. Bulma watched as Trunks ran up to Goku and threw a feinted punch, though Goku acted like Trunks had thrown the hardest punch he had ever received in his life, collapsing and moaning on the ground. Goku then grabbed Trunks and began to tickle him, the pair of them laughing, before Trunks scampered off, Goku catching her eyes and smiling at her as he got up and walked towards her at the bow.
"Hey, Bulma! We're almost to New York!"
Bulma smiled at her brother, turning back to the still teeny dot of land ahead of them, "I cannot believe it has taken us this long to get back there."
Goku smiled at her as he stood next to her at the rail, "I cannot believe you're not underneath the deck puking your lungs out as we sail the open seas. Remember how sea-sick you were when we originally sailed to England?"
Bulma grabbed her stomach, groaning dramatically as she put her hand to her forehead, swooning into her younger brother, "Don't remind me!"
He laughed, catching her swoon, before she straightened, smiling at him, "Those stabilizers I invented a few years ago that go with the steam engine has really helped with my seasickness. I've only thrown up a few mornings this whole trip. Quite a bit different than the last time we were sailing the Atlantic."
Goku laughed as he looked off into the distance, "Man how things have changed since then… Krillin was saying he's opening his third Turtle Style gym."
Bulma smirked as she thought about the smiling bald man she had not seen since he had left England to elope with Eighteen, thinking of the life he had made for himself since returning to America. "I still can't believe he landed someone as beautiful as Eighteen. Don't they have a daughter too?"
Goku nodded, "Yeah, Marron. She's only a year younger than Gohan."
Bulma shook her head with amazement as she thought about the bald midget, who used to follow her around and moon over her, had somehow bagged an amazingly beautiful wife and ran a successful business. It seemed like they were happy from everything Bulma heard from Goku, and though Bulma had a hard time imagining the icy Eighteen she met married to the outgoing and joyful Krillin, she was glad they had found each other.
Goku spoke, pulling from her reverie, "Man, imagine if we had never come to England? They would never have met!" He paused for a second, growing serious, "Wait, Chi-Chi and I would never have met either! Or you and Vegeta!"
Bulma smiled at her brother, "Yeah, who would have thought coming to England would have been…a good thing?" Bulma put her hand on her brother's arm, a mock serious look on her face, "Wait does this mean we have to thank Vegeta for making us all go to England in the first place?"
The siblings paused for a second, before they exclaimed at the same time, "Nah!"
They laughed at that before Goku got called over by another sailor, hugging her before he went back to work, his excitement so palpable she could feel it bouncing off his skin. "We're almost home sis!"
There was that word again. Home. For most of her life, New York had been her home, and as Bulma turned back to the sea, she thought about how happy she had been when she had lived in America. She had had her parents, her brother—but now… she could not explain how much happier she was. Not because she was in England of course. She still hated the airs she had to put on in society, or the way she still got judged for being American, despite being a duchess—no, England was not the reason she was happy.
Quite simply, it was Vegeta and Trunks who made her so ridiculously happy. The man who had caused the chain of events who had brought her to England, who she had sworn she was going to hate for all her life turned out to be the biggest surprise she could never have anticipated.
Bulma turned back to watch her husband across the deck, following his eyes as they watched Trunks, the endless fount of youth and energy, running for his father. Vegeta, without stopping from steering the Saiyan Heiress, caught Trunks with one arm as he continued to steer with the other, making Bulma's heart clench at seeing her two favorite people in the whole wide world together. Bulma watched as Vegeta spoke to Trunks, pointing things out to his son, questioning him, Vegeta's pride evident even from across the ship as Trunks answered all of Vegeta's questions satisfactorily.
As if sensing her gaze, Vegeta met her eyes from across the ship, a bolt of heat rushing through her body. Kami, would her husband ever not have that effect on her? It did not seem to matter if he shot her that look in a crowded ballroom, on a bustling deck, or late at night when it was just the two of them—it always had Bulma feel heated as her body warmed, her skin tingling, yearning for Vegeta's touch.
Vegeta smirked as if sensing her thoughts and handed off the steering to another crewman as he put his son down as they walked along the deck, Bulma's blue eyes following them as they talked about who knows what. The ship? Their fighting lessons? How to be a Duke one day?
Bulma's heart swelled as she saw the pair of them, amazed still at how much Vegeta had taken to fatherhood. After his hellish childhood, she had worried Vegeta would be distant with their son. But no—though he had not changed so much to be outwardly loving like Goku, his every action spoke about his care for his son, his progeny. Bulma could count on her two hands the number of times she had heard Vegeta say 'I love you' to either her or Trunks, but his actions… they spoke louder than words ever would.
Bulma turned back to the ocean, watching the approaching land as she thought of her husband. He was certainly not the man she had imagined when she was younger as the one who was going to be the love of her life, her husband. She had wanted a romantic who worshipped the ground she walked on—instead, she got a mulish grouch who challenged her at every turn, infuriating her to no end—but who made her the best version of herself. If that was not love, she did not know what was.
Bulma felt a heat stir in her belly as two arms appeared around hers on the bow, Vegeta pushing his front to her backside, kissing the side of her neck, much like he had done the night she had snuck onto deck seven years ago. Despite it being so long ago, her husband could still cause the flame inside of her to rage to an inferno, no matter if they were alone or on a ship deck full of crowded people. Bulma did not know if the desire she felt for Vegeta would ever go away, but she had to imagine as she turned in his arms, that the answer to that question was no. The rest of the ship disappeared as she looked into her husband's eyes, leaning into the familiar warmth of him, breathing in that musky, spicy scent that was all him.
Vegeta smirked, his eyes flaming as he took her in. That damn smirk still did something dangerous to her insides, and she blushed as she thought about how he had woken her up this morning with soft caresses that had turned into hot need…which was the best way to wake up in her opinion. "You finally did it, woman, you got me back to this uncouth, uncultured, uninspiring, and backward country you still call home."
Bulma smiled at him, wrapping her arms around his neck, "It only took six straight years of begging."
Vegeta snorted, shaking his head as his eyes danced with fire, "Yeah but you have been begging pretty hard since the new year." His eyes grew suspicious as they drew together, his eyebrows knitting closer, "Any particular reason?"
Bulma was proud of herself for not cackling or rubbing the teeny tiniest of bumps that heralded the growing child in her belly. When she had found out she was pregnant, she had waited to time it just right to make sure…well, that her morning sickness could be confused for sea-sickness, and that she and Vegeta might conveniently be so far into America it would be impossible for them to make it back to Britain for this child's birth.
But instead, she just smiled warmly at him, tightening her arms as she drew closer, "I just want Trunks to know where his other half comes from."
Vegeta snorted, rolling his eyes, making his feelings on America superbly clear. "The sticks as far as I can tell."
Bulma stuck her tongue out at him, before leaning in to give him a quick kiss.
She ignored the blown raspberry from her brother and the, "Oh yuck!" From their son as they deepened the kiss slightly, before Bulma pulled back, her blood heating.
Vegeta pressed his forehead to hers, giving her a dangerous look, "It would be improper of me to drag you to our quarters during the middle of the day to continue this kiss, right?"
Bulma smirked at him, running her finger along his exposed neckline, "When has propriety ever stopped us?"
Vegeta gave her a throaty chuckle, before giving her a softer kiss, turning her back to face the approaching land. "How long do we have to stay in this Kami-forsaken place? A week?"
Bulma smirked deviously as she could not stop her hand from running down her still flat stomach, doing some quick math in her head. "I told Dad we would go check out some of the factories in the further west states, so it will be about six months at least."
Vegeta groaned behind her, before dropping a kiss into her hair, "Fine, but you better make it worth my while woman."
Bulma grinned at him over her shoulder, thinking of what was sure to be their American born daughter. Her senses were just tingling like they had been with Trunks—it was definitely going to be a girl this time.
His voice was exasperated as he took in her grin, "Oh no. I know that smile. I'm in trouble aren't I?"
Bulma felt her husband frowning behind her, so she just leaned back a bit and kissed him on the cheek as he leaned into her, holding them closer together as he rested his chin on her shoulder. A warm silence enveloped them, shielding them from everyone else around them as Bulma just basked in being in her husband's arms.
Her voice was soft when she spoke next, meant for only the two of them despite the busy deck behind him, "You know that this place will always be where I'm from…but I don't think it's my home anymore."
Vegeta cocked his head, watching her, "Oh? Do you claim England now, a clearly superior country?"
Bulma rolled her eyes, chuckling, "Hey, don't make me bring up the Revolutionary War buddy—as far as I can remember, America proved its dominance pretty well back then."
Vegeta scoffed, but Bulma turned back to face him, as she locked eyes with him as she wrapped her arms back around his neck, "No, England isn't necessarily home for me either—it's you. You and Trunks. Wherever you are… that is home for me now."
Vegeta's eyes softened at that, before he drew her into another kiss, the pair of them uncaring of anyone else on deck. When he pulled back from the kiss, they were both heated, Bulma panting a little as he whispered back, "Same Bulma." The dark smirk he shot her, thrilled her, heating her blood and wishing they were somewhere much more private, "And I would have it no other way you distracting wench."
Bulma scoffed, but saw the teasing in his black eyes, deciding sometimes the best way to shut up the Dark Duke was not with words, nor with bickering, not even with teasing—but a kiss. The kind of kiss that let him know no matter how obstinate, headstrong, or stubborn he was—she was going to be right there challenging him and loving him for the rest of their lives.
A/N: So, this time I promise I'm done. As much fun as I have had writing this story, I had to give the Dark Duke and his wife a final goodbye. Plus, I couldn't not have the next generation of Z fighters at least make a small appearance! Hopefully, you see this chapter for the cheese-fest it is intended to be, a final happy note to end off on. Plus, even years ago I loved the thought of Bulma tricking Vegeta into letting her have Bra on American soil. No matter how much those two love each other, they will always be looking for ways to one-up the other. And I'd have it no other way!
Love to all xx