Chapter 8

It wasn't cheating. In order for it to be cheating, one had to be in an actual relationship. And her and Radditz were, by no means, in a functional relationship. So they had sex every now and then? They were in no way bonded or mates, so Azuki was free to go off and do whatever with whoever the hell she wanted. She liked variety. Radditz was the one who seemed adverse to having multiple sex buddies, and that was his loss.

She'd kick his ass if he went back on that, but that was another matter entirely.

So she'd fucked Jude? So she'd fucked the one man that Radditz truly couldn't stand?

Azuki could have fun if she wanted to. If she wanted to taste something other than Radditz's predictable mintiness, then fine. There was nothing wrong with it. Her and Radditz would never be mates - not that she wanted to be. It was forbidden. Her and Jude would never be mates - again, not that she had any inclination to ever mate with a man. Being the last female Saiyan should have left quite a weighty responsibility on her shoulders, but the only Saiyan ranked highly enough that it wouldn't be atrocious for her to fuck by Saiyan laws was Nappa. And hell if that ever happened - she'd rather cut off her own tail and swear to be abstinent for the remainder of her life. Besides, the old man probably didn't even have sperm left, or something.

So, the weight of reproducing was lifted from her shoulders - and Azuki ran away with it.

She doesn't even remember how her and Radditz decided to risk death and ruin. How flirtations had escalated into something entirely too dangerous. And why did they keep doing it? The only punishment Azuki faced was public humiliation and slap to the wrist, but Radditz faced death every time they disappeared to the woods to be together, and Azuki was unable to wrap her head around why. Although Radditz occasionally got obnoxiously mushy, Azuki never returned the sentiment, even if sometimes she did feel the contentment that Radditz described when together. Her pride just couldn't take it. And, truly, she had no plans to mate with the Saiyan, so why get unnecessarily emotionally attached?

On the other hand, why had Jude just risked it?

The assassin was known to put his own life above near anything. So what was his purpose? For a fun little experience? A chance to say that he'd done it? But no, he couldn't even do that. His intentions could not be as pure as Radditz's. He held no true affection for her, nor her for him.

Right?

Jude did provide something that Radditz did not: a challenge. Although Radditz was by no means stupid (gods knew she wouldn't even poke him with a stick if he were), he was unable to provide the verbal sparring that Jude did. And she did enjoy sparring, physical or not.

On the plus side, she now had a nice little threat to hold over Jude's head.


"I spy with my little eye, something green."

The only evidence that Vegeta heard her was the slight lift of one eyebrow.

"It's an old Earth game, I think," continued Bulma. "You have to figure out what I'm talking about."

Vegeta's eyes flickered over the forest that stretched on for miles around them.

"C'mon, Vegeta. Something green."

"Gee, maybe the leaves?" snarled the Saiyan, pure sarcasm and contempt in his tone.

"Wow, good job! Your turn."

Silence.

"Ok, I'll go again. I spy with my little eye - "

"If you don't shut the fuck up I will rip out your tongue."

"...an asshole."

Vegeta didn't respond to her barb, and she crossed her arms over her chest in annoyance. Her eyes shifted to the wounded warrior's leg, and, unbidden, she wondered how much longer that the leg could possibly hold him up. He was much stronger than the average person, yes, but the blood was oozing out and his limp was growing more and more severe as time went on. What would she do if he passed out from blood loss? She certainly couldn't lug his body around; he'd be too heavy. The wolves would come, too, once they sensed that the threat was gone.

He had to sleep some time. A good fire could keep the beasts at bay, and maybe she could run ahead and try and find help. The other civilizations that had no affiliation with the Rings were still under Vegeta's reign, and they'd have to be obligated to help, right? Frieza's men only stayed in Frieza's palace, so there was little chance of accidentally asking enemies for help.

Bulma eyed Vegeta. Unfortunately, the stubborn Prince showed no signs of slowing to rest, and night had long since fallen. He held a shining ball of ki out in front of him to light their path. Saiyans must have some odd inner sense of direction, because Bulma had lost track of which direction they were going hours ago.

"Why'd you come back for me?"

It was a simple question. She had every right to be curious. Why had Vegeta come back to get her after the battle? Jude was supposed to, but he had been injured and Azuki had transported him off the field. And then Nappa had been knocked unconscious, and Radditz had taken care of him. Kakarrot and Gohan had been the only two to actually leave with who the Prince had told them to. And that left Vegeta. He had had to come back for her if she was to survive, but why did he want her alive?

"You are to build the ki detector on a larger scale when we return to Ring One. A device that will stay in the Ring and give an alert if enemies are approaching."

"Oh."

Well, at least she was good for something in his eyes.

"What, you thought I actually cared for your safety?" sneered the Prince, and Bulma could just picture the arrogant smirk on his face.

"Ha, good one," Bulma shot back, not letting his barb get to her. "The only thing you care about is your damned biceps."

If her words affected him, he was hiding it pretty well. Then again, she could only see his back, so whatever expression that crossed his face was not for her eyes to see. Bulma sighed, figuring now was as good a time as any to try again. "Vegeta, we should really find someone to help -"

"No."

"Why not?" cried the blue haired scientist, throwing her arms up in the air in pure frustration. "You're going to pass out from blood loss and the wolves or whatever else lives in this forest are going to eat us alive."

"I will not pass out."

"You will."

"No," he growled, clearly losing patience. "I won't." He turned around and snarled at her, baring his teeth in what must have been an effort to intimidate her. Bulma's fear for the Saiyan had long since diminished, however, and she just stuck her tongue out at him. Vegeta paused, blinking down at her, before growling and mumbling something to himself that involved 'infuriating woman'.

"Can we at least eat?" asked Bulma, an idea forming quickly in her head. "You can make the fire and I'll make a nice little soup or something." Honestly, she had no cooking skills whatsoever, but he didn't need to know that. Bulma wasn't about to die in this forest. Vegeta might kill her afterwards, but that was much better than dying now, anyways. And he wouldn't be able to defy her logic when he awoke to a newly healed leg. And hey, maybe his pride would be wounded a bit, but there was really no harm. She was trying to save him, after all. That had to count for something!

Much to her relief, Vegeta conceded. He gathered some wood and used his ki to ignite a fire, and plopped down on a log, waiting patiently for her to gather her ingredients for her 'soup'. Bulma scurried around the forest floor, making sure to keep close to the dull glow of the fire so that she wouldn't be dragged off kicking and screaming by something she preferred to not picture. Somehow, she figured the Saiyan wouldn't feel the effort of saving her was really worth getting up.

They were, quite unfortunately, lacking a pot, so soup was out of the question. Instead, Bulma used a flat rock to mash up some plants and berries she'd found together on a slab of stone. Vegeta had leaned up against the fallen log, head back, eyes closed. If he were asleep Bulma's job would be quite a bit easier, but she knew he wasn't.

When she was finished, she had a nice mushy lump of berries and plants. It wasn't the prettiest bit of food in the world, but it'd do. She scooped up a large amount of it on the rock she'd used to crush it and offered it to Vegeta, who took it without even opening his eyes. And for a second, Bulma marveled at the absolute trust he was displaying in her when he put the substance in his mouth and swallowed without a second thought.

"Can we move on, now?" Vegeta grumbled after he finished, but his eyes didn't open. His voice was groggy and unsteady, and she wondered if he knew what was happening. He showed no sign of violence or alarm.

"C'mon, Vegeta. Let's just rest for a little while," purred Bulma, sitting behind him so that she could soothingly rub at the tense muscles in his shoulders. He growled warningly, but the energy to reach up and swat at her was long since gone. "I'll wake you up in an hour. I promise."

Vegeta's eyelids fluttered, and seconds later his chest was rising and falling peacefully, his breathing deep and slightly labored.

"You'll thank me later," mumbled Bulma, staring down at the now-unconscious Saiyan leaned up against the log. He looked rather peaceful, his face finally slack and relaxed. She was by no means a biologist, but Bulma knew what plants in the forest caused unconsciousness from years of school and study. Guilt twinged in her stomach, but she ignored it for the most part. This was necessary. Vegeta refused to get help himself, even when it meant survival, so she would do it herself. The fire would keep monsters away while she left to search for the nearest town using her ki detector. "I'll be right back," Bulma promised.


"This is no way to treat your guests!" screamed Bulma as the burlap sack was shoved roughly over her face, casting her into darkness. Hands grabbed her arms and heaved her up onto her feet and shoved her forward. Bulma continued screaming, mindless of the fact that the sack was muffling her words and that her captors couldn't hear her threats and promises of pain.

So perhaps finding the nearest city hadn't been her best bet. Maybe Vegeta had known what he was talking about when he said he wasn't going to pass out...oops.

She'd been headed towards the mass of ki's on her ki detector when the bag had been shoved down over her head out of nowhere. She hadn't even gotten a good look at whoever had captured her. For all she knew, they could be Frieza's men. The thought made Bulma's stomach squirm. How would she get help to Vegeta now?

They'd been shoving her along for an indefinite amount of time, and finally she was pulled down into a chair and told to sit still.

"Is she a spy of Frieza's?" asked a deep, gruff voice, somewhere off to her left.

Bulma let out a breath she hadn't been sure she'd been holding. At least she knew that these people weren't on Frieza's side. She'd be safe.

"Not sure. Found her roaming through the forest."

A sigh. Then, a much higher and squeakier voice said, "C'mon, Tien. I doubt she's one of Frieza's spies."

"You can never be too sure, Chiaotzu," The man called Tien responded. "I've heard Frieza's spies can be found anywhere, even in the Rings."

Bulma scowled. If they'd just remove the damned sack from her face, she could assure all of them that she was by no means one of Frieza's spies. The thought was absolutely ridiculous. And to think, she'd once had a plan to settle down in Ring Two and ignore the war for as long as she possibly could. Ha. Now that was a good one.

And then the bag was ripped from her face and Bulma was looking up at a three-eyed man.

The instinct to scream and reel back had to be beaten down, but something must've shown on her face, for the man scowled. "You aren't a spy," he grumbled to himself, and she recognized the voice of the man called Tien.

She wasn't sure whether to be relieved or insulted that this man could tell from a single look that she was no spy. Bulma sat in a chair in front of a desk in a tiny box of a room, metal walls all around them. Tien stood on the other side of the desk, watching her. Another man guarded the outline of the door that led to freedom. "Of course not!" Bulma spluttered.

The three-eyed man tugged on the shoulder of his green gi uncomfortably. He glanced down at his feet and Bulma followed his gaze, laying eyes on a tiny, white-skinned creature with rosy red cheeks. Bulma gawked. The man - boy? - tugged down his black cap over his eyes and squeaked, "I told you, Tien."

"Look," Bulma began desperately, her initial mission coming back to her and hitting her full force, "Prince Vegeta is out there in the woods. Dying. Please, you've gotta help him."

Tien barked a laugh that made Bulma's skin crawl. It wasn't a forgiving sound. "Prince Vegeta? So you're with him." It was strangely accusing. He nodded to the nondescript man that was standing off to the left. "Tie her arms."

"What?" screeched Bulma, leaping to her feet. However, the man was much stronger and had already pulled her arms behind her back, forcing her back down into the chair and tying her to it. "He's your Prince, too! Your King!" Bulma struggled valiantly, seething and spitting. Chiaotzu shuffled backwards awkwardly, pulling his sleeves over his hands and watching her apologetically.

"My King." Tien laughed again, that same horrible, unhumorous laugh. "My King that leaves us here to fend for ourselves against Frieza's armies and offers us nothing except when he wants us to go to war. I owe Prince Vegeta nothing."

"Tien," squeaked the little man, but he was cut off harshly.

"Not now, Chiaotzu."

"But Tien- "

"Not now!"

Don't worry, I'll talk to him.

The voice resonated inside her head and Bulma gawked open-mouthed at the little white-faced man who had just spoken inside her mind. He paid her no heed as he chased after Tien, who had made a dramatic exit and slammed the door shut behind him. Had she just imagined that voice, or had he really just telepathically communicated with her?

Bulma blinked a few times, trying to register what had just happened as she was left in the silence that followed the exit of the men.

What the fuck.


It took Vegeta's eyes a few moments to adjust to the light streaming down through the trees and landing on the forest floor. He groggily lifted an arm and wiped his gloved hands at his eyes, trying to rub the sleepiness out. How was it daylight? What had happened? Rage seared inside him. He had had every intention of not stopping at all until they returned to Ring One. He couldn't let Azuki beat him there, or she'd have control and there was no telling what she would do with it. The last thing he remembered was settling down and eating the slightly disgusting concoction that Bulma had whipped up. He'd been quite polite, too, and hadn't even commented on how bitter and tasteless it had been -

Wait, Bulma. Where was that blasted woman? Had she run off? Vegeta's eyes swept around him, taking in the dying embers and the empty campsite. He lifted his nose in the air and caught a whiff of her scent, headed off in the north. In the direction of Epac Town. He hated that fucking town. Always asking him to send food and troops and supplies. Could no one take care of themselves but him?

So she'd headed off to find help while he had fallen asleep. Although his insides raged, at his very core Vegeta couldn't help but admire her stubbornness.

Vegeta's tongue felt oddly heavy. He glanced down at the smooth rock that had once held his dinner. Fingers trembling, Vegeta brought it up to his nose and sniffed.

That...bitch.

Cursing and spitting mad, Vegeta heaved himself up to his feet. He wobbled for a fraction of a second, then took off in a mad limp towards the north. When he got his hands on her, he was going to wring that woman's neck.