Okay, so I've decided to change the format. From now on, all thoughts will be in italics, including Bulma's "speech". I'm going to assume that you're all intelligent enough to tell when she's talking to someone and when she's muttering to herself.

Anyhow, this chapter just about killed me. Inspiration wouldn't come all day but OH HO as soon as bedtime hits, BAM! Instant inspiration. So yes, I am tired. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: I am not Japanese.

Song Prompt: Sleeping to Dream ~ Jason Mraz

Chapter 18: Mine For The Taking

When the crowd finally started murmuring, he did not appreciate it.

The whispers consisted of people wondering who had won the bets cast between the two female finalists, some of which quickly escalated into fights, but not once did he hear anyone ask if the poor girls were alright, or if either of them were going to survive.

He wanted to murder them all.

Not kill. Murder. In his opinion, those two words were slightly different. Kill meant to take away a person's life quickly and insignificantly as possible. It meant that it would be a fleeting event in the news, like a person was killed in an accident. Murder meant to revel in the feel of their flesh tearing in his hands, the taste of blood in his mouth, and the shark crack! of bones in his ears. Murder was to kill someone on purpose and to love it, to laugh whilst the crime was being committed, and to grin at the corpse like it was a masterpiece when he was finished. Murder was creating genocide.

He wanted to murder them all.

"SHUT YOUR GODDAMN MOUTHS!" he screamed. The Prizes near him winced at the volume, which rose when no one heeded his command. "SHUT THE HELL UP!"

"Vegeta, be calm –" Cineé started to murmur.

"DON'T YOU FUCKING TELL ME TO BE CALM!" he roared. His head snapped in the direction of the Colds, his glare deadly and seething. "I SWEAR TO THE KAIS, IF SHE'S DEAD, I WILL PAINT THIS SHIP WITH BLOOD, YOU HEAR ME FRIEZA?"

The Ice-jinn looked down at him coldly, a deep frown etched in his pale features.

"Chikyuu girl will be fine," Cineé tried to reassure him.

He shook his head wildly, on the verge of panic. "I can't feel her," he whispered, eyes wide. "I can't feel her! She's either unconscious, in a coma, or…" he choked as he trailed off, sinking to his knees. "She can't be…Oh, God, this is my fault."

"It's not," Cineé insisted, dropping to her knees beside him and nudging his shoulder with her own. Had her hands been free, Cineé surely would have hugged him. "Chikyuu girl chose this. She will survive."

He squeezed his eyes shut and gritted his teeth. He could not sense her…he'd barely been able to sense her Ki outside of battle in the first place, what with it being so small and all these people here, but now he could not feel her mind, and that terrified him.

What would he do if she died?

I have seen this much blood before, easily, but never on someone I cared for. She has such a tiny little body, I didn't even know she had this much blood.

I smoothed back her now cropped hair as the bot rolled her down the hallway at its quickest speed, and the blood in her hair stained my white fingers. It looked thick and deeply red against my skin, but against my black nails it looked dull and thin, as if lifeless.

She'd better not be lifeless.

The nurses in the infirmary were expecting her and Cuzodae, who was carried on the other shelf of the bot, but they were in no way expecting me. Upon my arrival, they jumped to attention and bowed deeply. "Princess Shiver," the main doctor started.

"Shut the fuck up and fix her!" I commanded, pointing to Bulma.

He blinked, surprised, then moved to check her vitals. "Set the tanks," he called. "She might still make it."

"What do you mean, might?!" I hissed.

He flinched. "She is very weak, Princess. There have been many cases that a tank cannot heal…such a wound, for instance, might call for her to be in there for years, if not decades. If that's the case…she cannot stay inside for that long, Princess."

I glared at him. "Then you'd best do you damnedest to make sure that doesn't happen," I snarled.

He paled, and began to work with slightly shaking hands.

I glared at a nearby nurse. "You!" I barked. "Come here."

She trembled, but came closer as I'd commanded. "Yes, m'Lady?"

"See if this one is still alive," I ordered, pointing a stabbing finger at Cuzodae's pale form.

The nurse checked her vitals, carefully, then said, "She is dead, Lady."

I heaved a sigh of relief as I looked down at Bulma's tattered form, knowing that if Cuzodae had been alive, I'd have slit her throat right there.

My tail lashed angrily, uncontrolled, and the fur smacked the back of my legs a few times before I finally opted to curl it around my waist. I had never felt so utterly hopeless in my life.

She had to be alive. She had to. What would I have to live for otherwise? I needed her. I looked back at our past and I wished I had cuddled with her more, like she wanted. I should have held her when I could. I should have made her stay out of these stupid Games in the first place.

"She will be okay, yes?" Cineé said confidently. "Vegeta will see. Cineé never doubts woman's instincts."

If I was meaner, I'd tell her exactly where she could shove her "woman's instincts" but Bulma has softened me too much. I grit my teeth at this; I should have ignored her from the start. I would not be experiencing this…this feeling if it wasn't for her. I should have let her wallow in her depression and let her die, so I wouldn't have to wish it was me later.

I shouldn't feel this! I am the Prince of all Saiyans, the most powerful race, the finest race, and yet some weak little female has wormed her way into my soul like this! What have I allowed to happen to myself? I almost wish I could go back in time and warn myself to just ignore her.

But even if I could, I know I wouldn't, because goddammit, I need her. My sanity is cracking as it is, and without her I would be an empty shell of myself. I would be dead, probably. This emotional weakness…if this was what it took to care about her, then so be it.

Because, damn it all, she was mine. My bakarra. No one had the right to take her from me, especially when she didn't deserve to die. If someone was going to die then for God's sake it should be me for letting this happen to her.

If Bulma survived, she would save me, and she would not regret it, no matter how much I fussed over her. If Cuzodae survived, she would chose me, and the moment that happened, I would slit her throat and tear out her heart, consequences be damned.

If they both survived, they would go back into the arena.

It was a practice that had been used many a time before; I had seen soldiers go down at the same time, only to come back out a few hours later to duel again. And of course, sometimes the tank would not have time to fully heal and rest one of them, so the battle would often be one-sided. I knew that if both of them came out again, Bulma would lose. She was only a human; she could not recover in the short amount of time that Cuzodae most likely could.

I decided I would kill myself if I had to watch her die twice.

I felt people prodding and poking at my skin. It stung, and if I had the strength to move I would have batted them away, or at least cried out. I felt cold hands on my forehead – Shiver, I reckoned – and warmer ones near my wounds. I barely had the strength to flinch.

Finally, someone stripped me off my armor, picked me up, and placed me in a tank. Healing liquid filled the container like a basin, cooling my burning flesh, and if I was over half conscious, I would sigh in relief. The medicine was a fast worker; I felt a dull sting in my skin as I began to heal.

I wondered briefly if it would be enough.

I drifted in and out of partial consciousness, not really sure if any of this was still real. I felt myself growing weary, and the more I fought to stay awake, the more tired I became. I was in extreme agony, the sensation of which seemed to be dulling, and I thought that maybe I wasn't going to make it.

Abruptly, a thought occurred to me. Vegeta. How badly would he suffer because of my failure? How harshly would he be treated? I knew that even with his power level, the collar reduced him to being barely as strong as a few grown human men. And if he broke down again…if he slipped back into insanity…no one knew the method for getting him out of that. They would surely kill him. And even if he didn't, he would still be a slave. They would treat him as though he was worthless, and not like a prince.

All because I wasn't strong enough, or fast enough.

I was too weak to seek out Cuzodae's energy to see if she still lived. I could barely sense Shiver in the room. I was too exhausted to try to contact Vegeta…my brain was on the verge of a severe and possibly permanent lockdown.

Another thought hit me like a slap in the face; what if he could still feel me? What if I was unknowingly sharing this pain with him? Illusionary though it may be on his end of the stick, this still hurt like hell. I did not want to share that with him, or force that on him.

I didn't want him to feel me die, no matter how much he would rather be by my side.

I put up a mental block, and then my consciousness left me.

Jigūshei thinks that she can hack into the computers easily enough to even pair us in training exercises. I told her that was too conspicuous. They would guess what she was up to, surely. She sighed, clearly disappointed, but she heeded my advice.

I can't wait to get out of this damned place. I didn't think the people Frieza were currently engaging in war with were that strong, and I'd had enough training. I wanted to fight someone for real. I wanted to feel blood on my hands again. I want to go to war.

Jigūshei called me a battle hungry ape. I told her to stop analyzing what she didn't understand. She's such a techie.

A really pretty techie, but a techie nonetheless.

She and her blueness seem to catch my eye more every day. Her blue bangs seemed electrically colored against her dark skin, almost as much as her eyes did. She was for the most part extremely innocent, but occasionally she would get a look in her eyes that clearly stated her longing for blood, or intimacy, and it was so strong in her that it reminded me of a Saiyan.

When she's angry, her veins turn sharp blue, like pixels are underneath her skin. I asked her once if she was partially machine, to which she replied that she was. I wanted to know how much of her was Giygga-jin, and how much was mechanical, but she only looked at me passively and said she didn't know, because there is no such thing as a Giygaa without mechanical parts, nor is there any Giygga-jin who has the same mechanical makeup as another.

I've learned that if she so wishes, she can faze through walls by separating her molecules by a process not unlike dialysis. She would take apart her megabytes and shift them through materials. I told her she was more like a computer file than a person. She laughed at me.

Still, having a companion made training slightly more bearable. She wasn't as strong as I was, so we rarely sparred, but we did get a chance to watch each other fight occasionally. I sometimes pointed out some flaws in her fighting tactics, and she would only mess up a few more times before she finally fixed whatever it was. We started eating together, and during what few short breaks we were allowed, she would tell me stories about her homeland, and I would tell her about mine.

Once, before lights out, she sat down beside me and started braiding my hair. I let her for a moment, until I remembered that braids weren't manly, and I smacked her hands away with my tail.

I did not expect my fun to be ended so quickly. My previous plan would have no mirth in it without that girl. And besides that, I had waited for her, like a patient lord, and yet now she was dying, like the worthless insect she was.

What a waste.

I grow tired of these Games. I have seen these soldiers fight before, and I must admit, it is no longer impressive. The little people only impress me anymore, really. It's so amusing to watch them fight, as if it will save them from people like me.

"Some fight, eh Frieza?" Cooler grinned at me. "I say, you truly have some feisty ones in your harem."

This was more of an insult towards my ability to control my slaves than it was a compliment on my tastes. I sneered at him and said, "Yes, well. I am not one to have uninteresting company. It dulls the intelligence, you know."

He scowled at me and opened his mouth to say something sharp back, but Father shushed us, and so I got the last word.

I glanced down at the monkey prince, who was clearly in distress. I haven't seen him so worked up about something in ages. It's delightful. Still, the delight will be short lived, unless that girl survives.

I propped my chin up on my hand and scowled fiercely. How disappointing, to have the height of my amusement completely dependent on a foolish Chikyuujin that shouldn't have survived in the first place.

What a bother.

I opened my eyes. They burned immediately.

Aww, fuck! I cursed to myself, snapping my eyes shut. Jeez, that hurt.

"Bulma?" a muffled voice called. "Are you awake?"

Shiver! I'm awake.

"Thank God," she sighed. "You got beat up pretty badly."

I frowned. Did I win?

I felt her grin. "Yes, you killed Cuzodae. You won the Games."

I heaved a sigh of relief. That's good. I didn't think I was going to make it.

"I don't think anybody else did, either," Shiver admitted. "You were injured more than she was by a long shot. You lost a lot of blood and have a ton of broken bones. If you hadn't nailed her in the heart…"

I pressed my lips together and exhaled heavily, leaning back against the wall of the tank. I'd have died, I know.I paused, then said, I thought she'd stabbed me.

"She did," Shiver bristled at the memory. "Just below the heart. Your lung was slightly punctured, but for the most part, she missed the vital organs. You were lucky."

I grinned behind my oxygen mask, and if I could open my eyes I would wink at her. Not lucky. Smart.

"Oh?" Shiver blinked. "How so?"

My grin deepened. I flew. If I hadn't, she'd have got me for sure. Good thing I'm short.

Shiver looked pleased. "That was quick thinking," she commended me. "You're right…if you'd been taller, she'd have hit one of your organs regardless of flight. Be glad for your youth."

I nodded. Suddenly, I bolted upright, my eyes popping open. They stung again, but that was currently not my main concern. Shiv, what time is it?I demanded.

"It's almost midnight," she answered. "The last battle of the Games should be finishing up."

I have to get out! I cried. If I'm not their when they pick the prizes, someone will take Vegeta!

"Bulma, you can't!" Shiver snapped. "You're barely over half healed. Do you want to die?"

Crank up the machine! I screeched. Make it heal me faster!

"That could kill you! You have to have it keep it at a specific setting!"

I DON'T GIVE A DAMN! I didn't go through all that shit to lose him!

She bit her lip, looking unsure, then sighed. "Alright. Fine. I'm going to trust that you know what you're doing."

I nodded eagerly, and she started turning the controls. The medicine around me started to feel like it was growing hot, boiling hot, and it stung like fire. I hissed as it forcibly healed me, closing my wounds and mending my bones.

I felt like I was being cooked alive.

The last battle was over, and I still felt nothing from her. No one had announced a winner for the Weaponries division…if they were both dead, there would be no winner.

What if she was dead?

I felt myself starting to hyperventilate. Cineé nudged me, whispering that it was going to be alright, and she could feel it in her gut that it would be fine and I just wanted her to shut the fuck up



"Orca has won," Cineé said happily, spotting her brother. "Chikyuu girl has won too, Cineé is sure."

I was quiet.

She looked at me and sighs. "Vegeta would die without her, no?"

I flinched. "I told her not to enter. I told her…"

"She is strong, like Saiyan," Cineé said. "She will survive."

I shook my head. "It's been hours, and I still can't sense her mind."

"Perhaps Chikyuu girl sleeps."

I sighed. "I hope so."

But she still did not come out. For a moment, I could swear I felt my heart bleeding.

This worry was unlike anything I had felt. When I found out about my planet, I didn't need to worry. I only needed to grieve. There was no reason to worry about something that could not be undone. But this was different; I had everything to worry about. I could lose her. There was a distinct possibility that I would never see her again.

It was driving me insane.

The winners, three out of four, lined up parallel to the Prizes Bench, each of them ready to claim who they wished. Orca came up quickly and took his sister from Vegeta's side, waiting patiently as a guard unlocked her cuffs from the others. She gave Vegeta another beaming smile before she was led off.

He just nodded at her.

A large ogre of a man covered in scales stopped in front of him, much to his dismay, speaking into a scouter. "You sure, sweetheart? I've heard this one's unstable."

From the scouter, he heard a girlish reply. "Yes, Papa, I like that one. Please?"

The man sighed.

Okay, seriously? You enter a life risking tournament to get a slave for your daughter? Was it that difficult to just go out and buy one? Vegeta wrinkled his nose in disdain.

"Very well," the man said into his scouter. Shaking his head at his daughter's finickiness, he reached for the chain around Vegeta's neck.

The loud sound of a gun went off, whizzing by the man's ear. He cried out and stepped back, and Vegeta felt a small body slam into his chest. He grunted and looked down, seeing blue hair.

"Bulma!" he yelled.

She had run out not completely healed, and had just thrown on her torn armor, not patient enough for more to be fitted for her. The suit was littered with tears, and the right arm was completely gone, as was the bottom half of her left leg, as revealed by her torn boot.

Bulma didn't reply, to his outburst but pulled away and showed the chain in her hands to the crowd. For a minute, everyone fell silent. From the Observer's Deck, Frieza looked incredibly amused. Shiver appeared beside him, looking slightly worried, but also relieved. Finally, part of the crowd began to cheer, and the rest of them groaned. The bets had been settled; the Chikyuu girl had won.

"Hey, that's mine!" the scaled man roared.

Bulma turned her sharp blue gaze on him. Vegeta heard nothing, but she said, Really? Because I do believe I got to him first.

"You shot at me!" he snapped.

Poor big baby,she sneered, I hope you aren't bleeding. You're not bleeding, are you? No? So then, given my record for calculated shots, how do you know I really shot at you?

He looked speechless, then snarled, "You missed on purpose! You never really wanted to shoot me!"

Her gaze narrowed. Oh no, trust me, I really would like to shoot your brains out. Don't tempt me.

The man hissed. "Do you have any idea who I am? I won the Elite Division!"

Good for you. I won the Weaponries Division. We should get together sometime and compare notes.

This time, she rendered the man so speechless that he only sneered and stalked off, barking into his scouter as he went.

A guard came and unlocked Vegeta's handcuffs from the chains that bound him to the other slaves. He handed Bulma the remote to his collar, swiftly explaining the controls to her. She held up her hand and demanded that he showed her how to take the collar off. Paling, he pointed to a button, and she smiling politely at him before she snatched the remote, and the keys to the room she would be staying in during the six months, and the keys to the cuffs around his wrist.

Bulma looked at Vegeta, and he blinked, realizing she was talking to him. Why couldn't he hear her? It was like something was blocking them.

She took note of his blank face, and she remembered that she had blocked him to prevent her thoughts from traveling to him while she was in pain. She lifted the block from her mind, and their emotions clashed; his worry and panic collided with her pain and fear.

And then there was relief.

"How…" he whispered, staring at her. "How are you alive?"

She flashed a small smile. Let's just say I'm one helluva human and leave it at that. She tugged on the chain around his neck. Come on, fuzz butt.

He smiled at her and started walking. Behind her, he noticed that she was still limping, and her shoulders were hunched with obvious discomfort.

Vegeta looked back at the arena one more time, and noticed that a lot of the crowd was still watching them leave. Frieza looked down at him with a suspiciously amused glint in his eyes. Vegeta glared at him, held his head high, and followed Bulma out of the arena with pride.

Once they were out of the arena and heading down the hall, Vegeta grasped Bulma's hand and pulled her to a stop. "You won –" he started.

She pulled him into a walk again. Not here.

He followed her, occasionally telling her that she was going the wrong way, but the room that the key went to was a long, tedious walk from the arena, and the silence was bothering him.

Finally, they reached their room. Bulma slid the keycard in, and it opened with a little beep. Stepping inside and dragging the Saiyan Prince behind her, she swiftly unlocked his cuffs, removed his collar, and cast them into a corner of the room. He rubbed his wrists as warm Ki flooded over the suite, at which she smiled, then turned to gape at their surroundings.

It was a lot nicer than the dungeon, that was for sure.

The bed was huge, queen sized, perhaps, and Bulma figured this was a guest room reserved only for Game Winners. There was a big dresser and a nice sized closet (oh hell, how she'd missed her closet), and a bathroom was off to the side, not too huge, but much bigger than any average hotel room bathroom. It had a separate tub and shower, and decent walking space, as well as a full sink and vanity beside the toilet. Bulma hadn't felt so pampered in ages, even though she remembered Capsule Corporation having rooms much bigger and nicer, but jeez, after what she'd put up with previously…this was heaven.

Vegeta put his hand on her shoulder, snapping her out of her awed daze, and when she turned around, he grabbed her around the waist and spun her until she was dizzy.

Geta! she cried. My head hurts!

He stopped and looked at her, his dark eyes roaming about her face. "You won," he said, still a bit awed.

She smiled. I know. I told you I would. Excitement danced in her blue eyes, but then she frowned. What's the matter?

His brows had knitted, and his jaw clenched. "I…I thought you…Dammit, Bulma, I thought you were dead, you stupid girl!"

Any other time, she'd have been sorely offended, and given him a sharp verbal lashing, but she felt and understood his worry, so she just grinned at him and touched the sides of his face gently. I promised you I'd win, she reminded him. I told you I would. And winning requires survival, doesn't it?

Vegeta grasped her wrists in his hands and pulled her fingers away from his cheeks, shaking his head. "I couldn't feel you," he ground out. "I was so afraid that I'd lost you, dammit…" he squeezed her arms until they almost hurt, and still she could feel him shaking with restraint. He pressed her knuckles against his mouth, scenting her as though he wasn't truly sure she was real.

Bulma bit her lip in guilt. I'm sorry, Vegeta…I blocked you. I was scared that you were trying to read my mind while I was dying…I didn't want you to feel that. I was too out of it to think it through properly, and when I woke up, I'd forgotten about it.

"Stupid!" he shouted. "Stupid, stupid, stupid! If you were going to die, I'd want to be there so you didn't die alone! Don't you ever shut me out like that again!"

She winced at his sharp tone, not expecting him to be so angry with her. Suddenly, she found herself being crushed in his arms, with his face buried in her neck.

"Stupid, stupid girl," he murmured. "Stupid bakarra."

She was so happy to hear him call her by that name that the day's events seemed to come crashing down on her then; she had fought and killed and won and now he was hers.

She burst into tears and cried into his shoulder. Her should shook so badly that her knees just caved out from under her, and she dragged him to the floor with her. He curled his tail around her waist and ran his fingers through her short hair, studying the clipped hair. Trying to make light of the situation, he muttered, "I like it."

Bulma made a strange hiccuping sound, like laughter. It probably looks awful, she chuckled. First haircut I've had by knife.

"You're beautiful," he admitted quietly.

She looked up at him, and he brushed away her tears with his knuckles. She gave a watery smile and smoothed his knitted brows. It's finally over, she said.

He returned a very small smile, and his hand moved to the base of her neck. Bulma felt her stomach flutter as he leaned closer, her lips parting – oh my God, he's going to kiss me – and her eyes closing.

He watched her expression fondly for a moment before he closed his eyes too, and they were so close that their noses were touching and he could feel her breath float over his mouth –

Shiver burst into the room then, whooping with victory, and the two teens leapt back from each other in mortal embarrassment.

"You did it, B!" the Ice-jin cried, picking Bulma up from the ground and dancing around the room. "That was fantastic! I'm so proud of you!"

Bulma grimaced. Shiver, for God's sake, my head hurts! Put me down.

"Oops," Shiver laughed. She seemed completely oblivious as to what she'd interrupted (either that, or completely unapologetic) and she sat the human down on the bed and immediately started chatting the girl's ear off.

Vegeta folded his arms and glowered at the pink alien, livid, his tail thumbing heavily against the floor.

"I thought she'd never leave," Vegeta groaned once Shiver was gone, two hours later.

Bulma smiled. She's just excited. I feel like squealing and jumping around myself, actually.

He growled. "Don't you even think about it, Little One."

She giggled and winked at him. Just once?

"No. You're banshee squealing would kill me…Bulma, I mean it, don't you dare –"

She squealed and pounced on him, much to both his chagrin and amusement, and he let them fall back on the mattress. For the first time in ages, they genuinely laughed.

I won, I can't believe I won! Bulma cried happily.

"I can't, either," Vegeta teased, pinching her arm. "You're so scrawny and weak."

She smacked his bare chest, glaring at him. Hey –

"I was kidding," he said, shaking his head at her. He frowned; a thin scar on her bare arm had caught his attention, and he was sure there were many more that he just couldn't see. He sighed, then pillowed his head under one hand and wrapped the other around her waist, squeezing her. Both of them were quiet, too embarrassed and prideful to bring up the kiss that had very nearly happened, never mind try it again.

Bulma smiled when his tail curled around her leg and squeezed him back, burying her face in his chest. We're safe, for now, she said, as though it hadn't really sunk in yet.

He merely kissed the top of her head, silent, and a rumbling purr surface from his chest. They'd fall asleep like that a half hour later, Bulma murmuring their lullaby in their minds.

Just close your eyes
You'll be alright
Come morning light,
You and I'll be safe and sound...

The Games were over.

Okay. Finished. There.

Now, I've gone back and read this story over and let me tell you, most of the things in previous chapters make me cringe. CRINGE I SAY.

So, I am going to slowly start going back and majorly revising. Less stupid fangirl things and more stuff that makes sense. I recommend that once I start this process for you to read it again, because there is going to be a lot of stuff different.

Anyhow, I hope you liked this chapter.