Taste Aversion

Some things never leave you. Vegeta remembers the worst moment of his life.

"Oh, Vegeee-taaa."

Being addressed by his wife in that trilling tone was perhaps the only thing left in the universe that could make Vegeta feel fear. The damn woman only used it when she was either very pleased with him or very angry, and he still hadn't been able to discern a difference between the two. He waited, half-expecting his doom to come around the corner.

"Vegeta, I have a surprise for you."

"What is it, woman?" he grumbled, for that did not give him any clues. She came into the kitchen waving a small object in her hands; from here it smelled like something edible. Poison? Or was this a sweet-tasting reward for something he couldn't remember doing?

"Here, I want you to eat this," she said, thrusting it under his nose. Definitely food, and a somewhat familiar flavor that he wasn't entirely certain he'd liked the last time he tried it, though what flavor that was he couldn't remember. "It's a protein bar, designed specifically for Saiyans and their little monster children. It's got enough calories and nutrients to keep you going for a whole day, I think. Give it a try."

Vegeta gingerly took the bar in front of him and studied it. It was a variegated dark yellow-ish color, and thoroughly unappetizing. Still, on most days it was a pain to get down the nutrient-poor Earth food that meant he was eating breakfast for about an hour before he was anywhere close to feeling full. Both the rations on Frieza's ship and the banquets he remembered vaguely from Vegeta-sei were far more filling, though earth food at least tasted much better than the rations. He sniffed the bar delicately, and took a bite.

Instantly bile rose in his throat, and he had to use battle speed to make it to the sink before vomiting up that small bite and most of his breakfast and lunch. He stood shaking over the sink, trying to fight down the flash of memories that were parading relentlessly through his mind, the most prominent of which was of yellow rations that tasted almost identical to these. He remembered vividly taking one last bite after closing off communications on his scouter, and then promptly leaning over and throwing up, again and again, until he was dry heaving, as he was now, the words "Planet Vegeta has been destroyed" running constantly through his mind. He'd been five years old, and had never been able to stomach Ration Flavor #3 again.

He felt gentle hands on his back, hands he felt no instinct to flinch away from or attack, and the present made itself known to him once again. It was Bulma, murmuring soothingly, asking him what had happened, for this was surely the first time she had ever seen him throw up; hell, this was probably the first time he had thrown up since his childhood. He opened his mouth to protest that everything was fine, to push her away and deal with it on his own, and then he remembered why she'd been working in the food department in the first place: machining labs were no place for a pregnant woman.

Vegeta became aware that he was being faced with a choice he'd never had before. His instinct to hide all signs of weakness from everyone wasn't necessary to his survival anymore; and furthermore, actually being present and involved during Bulma's second pregnancy was strengthening a protective instinct in him that made him feel weak in the knees when he thought about it too much. A pregnant woman was so vulnerable, and this fact made him ache, but what hurt worse was knowing that his happiness depended on something so fragile. Worst of all, however, was the fact that none of this bothered him nearly as much as it would have three; five; twenty-five years ago. He was soft, and he didn't care.

Vegeta realized, leaning over the sink, that he could tell Bulma what was bothering him, and furthermore, that doing so might actually help. She would never use it against him, and she would think no less of him for it. He had never been able to trust that about anybody before, but as he spat into the sink one more time and then swallowed a little water he knew that above all else, he wanted her to know. It was a frightening feeling, but this time, for perhaps the first time in his life, he gave into it.

Burying his nose in her hair and holding her gently to him, Vegeta whispered into her ear. As his story progressed, all she did was tighten her arms around him and let him hold her without saying anything. After that she dropped the idea of protein bars for Saiyans, and it was he that assured her, a few days later, that he liked normal food better anyway.

I always thought little Vegeta (who was only five years old) took the news of his home planet being destroyed rather too calmly. He was probably in shock, poor thing. (If you've never seen Bardock: Father of Goku, you should.)