Piece by Piece
He was just floating, eyes half-lidded, not really thinking, trying to ignore the tugging at his vacant heart.
Yes, their voices were muffled. Yes, trying to look was like trying to see something through murky water. But he could make out the shapes and sounds of this scene. He could feel the ghost of her touch as she offered her comfort and steadiness to him
He was calmed now. His earlier rage and hurt dwindled. He was thinking clearly again, and he came to realize something. He regretted it. He regretted showing him that. For as long as he could remember, he'd kept his memories separated. He'd protected, sheltered even, this person he hated so much. He didn't know why.
But that wasn't the whole deal. There was something else monumentally important. He was jealous. He was so furiously jealous of him that he could appreciate company of the past, and the love of this strange woman.
He had nothing like that.
There was only anger and bloodlust and pain.
He was so tired. Gods above he was just so tired. He wanted to sleep. He wanted to forget everything, and never wake up.
So he closed his eyes, and let the water pull him under in a soothing sleep. In a drowning sleep.
And the pain in his chest wasn't real. Just another shadow under the murky water.
Vegeta didn't go back to the mansion. He didn't even remove himself from Bulma's sofa for the rest of the night. He simply stared at his hands in absolute awe at how filthy they were. How red they truly happened to be.
Of course, Bulma had expected this kind of behavior. After all, he had just found out that he had ruthlessly slaughtered his own brother.
But it was morning, and she was sick of waiting. But he was depressed, and had no motivation. But she had investigated the Dragon Balls, and was eager to share her new information. But he was moping, and had no desire to do much of anything.
Imagine who won.
The argument went something like this:
"Vegeta, get up."
"Because I said so."
"Quit pouting like a little kid. Get your butt up, mister."
He closed his eyes. Hers twitched.
Krillin would have said that they were acting like they were married.
"I need you to help me figure out how to fix this. I learned a lot from Prince and I was able to research it!" He sat up at this. But not for the reason she thought.
She slapped her hand to her forehead and threw down the books and articles she'd gathered. She took a deep breath and tried to calmly explain. "What do you mean, 'Who?' He's your other personality or whatever!"
He laid back down. "I didn't know he had a name." Her eye twitched again. So, being Bulma, she did something impulsive that most people would think twice about before doing.
She jumped on him. And grabbed his collar. The universe rolled its eyes. "You're being absurd! Listen to yourself! Your acting like a five year old! Stop with the whining and moping and get your shit together! You're not a lost cause! This can get better but you have to work at it." She leaned in very close. She had his full attention.
All of it.
Vegeta nodded and sat up, but didn't pull her off of him. "You're right."
It then seemed to dawn on her what position they were in. "Uh, Vegeta..."
"Hm?" His hands rested on her hips.
"Did Prince, ah, by any chance, show you anything else? You know, that might help?" She said this nervously, with a forced smile. Her hands had loosened around his collar. She looked closely, and saw something different in his eyes. Somehow, they were...burning. The same onyx color, and unfathomable depth, but they were more alive.
"I love him." That was what she'd told Prince so easily. His other half. She couldn't help but wonder, 'Did he show him what I said?'
"Yes, he did. But I'm not sure if it's particularly useful," he answered calmly. There was mischief on him.
"O-oh. Really? What was it?"
He smiled slightly. Since sharing the memory, he felt...not closer, but more connected to his other half. And he felt more alive since she'd gone and yelled at him.
He ventured to guess. Prince had shown him nothing else, but she was hiding something from him. "You...did something I find interesting," he drawled.
She gulped. 'That bastard.' Taking a deep breath, she jumped to no conclusions. "What was it I did?"
The tension was thick. Vegeta's expression did not change. His hand slid up to hold her lower back. She knew it. She knew Prince had shown him, and if so, then this was a clear sign, right? If he didn't, then he wouldn't be this close, would he? Would he?
"You - " But she cut him off.
Her lips were warm against his. They stayed there lightly, waiting for him to return or pull away. 'So that's what it was...' He fell back down on the sofa, and pulled her with him, returning the kiss with such force that she gasped. Her hands slid over his chest and his fingers tangled in her hair.
When they broke for air, she was smiling so brightly it almost hurt him to look directly at her. "He didn't show me anything other than Tarble," he admitted. For a moment she thought she'd be angry, but then she laughed and hugged him, her face buried in his neck.
"Do you...really feel the same?" He responded by wrapping his muscled arms around her tightly.
From the other side of the gate, she waved good bye, promising she'd be there the next day. He nodded, and went back to the pond to read. But as much as he focused, his mind wandered. Her face appeared everywhere he looked.
Eventually he gave up and wandered the grounds. They offered him no answers. He tried to pull up anything helpful. Words of wisdom from his parents...
Vegeta: 8 years old.
His father laughed boisterously at the question. Love? It seemed so simple. He ruffled the boy's hair and knelt in front of him good-naturedly. "Let me tell you something, my son." Little Vegeta grew serious, nodding. "You'll know that she's the person for you when you can't think about anything else. And even if that's not enough to convince you, you'll know if she cares enough to slap you in the face."
He rubbed his cheek at the thought. "Are you sure? When Zorn's daughter came to play the other day, I threw a frog at her and she slapped me. I don't think I really like her at all."
He chuckled, and sat, dragging him to sit on his lap. "That's something quite different, Vegeta. You'll figure it out."
He frowned in thought, but these things were complicated, and could only capture the attention of an 8 year old for so long. "If you say so."
"Good." His father stopped smiling. "Now what's this throwing frogs at girls business?"
"Uh..." He tried to jump up and get away, but the man already had a firm grip.
"You're mother will not be happy about this!"
He'd not forgotten the thrill of seeing her for the first time. Of hiding behind the curtain on the second floor, waiting in anticipation for her crown of blue hair to become visible on the other side of the gate. He'd not forgotten his obsession. He'd not forgotten the relief of no longer being alone.
Vegeta smiled with nostalgia. He climbed to the top of a hill and sat under a tree as he watched the sun disappear below the horizon.
"You were right, I suppose."
The wind blew gently.
'I guess that means I love her...'
"So that's what happened..." They sat cross legged on her floor, papers, books, and empty coffee mugs strewn about. Vegeta had changed into a pair of sweat pants and blue T-shirt Bulma had for him. She leaned against the sofa where they'd been making out just two hours earlier with a blanket crumpled in her lap. She'd just finished explaining what Prince had said happened with Frieza. "It wasn't a burglar after all."
"My theory is that first we need to connect you and Prince so that you're one person again."
"But didn't he say that the negative energy from these things contributed to his existence? That's not from me."
"I'm not so sure about that part, or if it's even true. We know that the memories he told me about are pretty accurate, but I'm not sure if the Dragon Balls would have done much more than separate you and prevent your physical body from aging," she explained.
"And how's that going to happen?" She tilted her head in thought.
"Well, I've been thinking... Ever since Prince shared that memory with you, you've gotten more expressive. You have some touches of his traits I guess. So, if we can get him to share more memories with you, that might repair the link."
"And what if I start to kill people like he does?" He looked at her seriously. That possibility was a very real one, and he was not going to risk it.
"Before Frieza did this, did you ever want to kill someone?"
"No," he said honestly.
She shrugged. "Then I'm guessing it's a side effect from the Dragon Balls."
He set down the book he'd held a moment ago. "There's just one problem. I have no idea how to communicate with him."
She frowned. He noticed the way her lower lip stuck out in a light pout when she did. "I guess we can just wait for him to take over again, and I can talk to him."
"That could take months."
"It's better than nothing."
His eyes trailed after her as she went to put their mugs in the dishwasher. He felt more free to admire her beauty now that they were...whatever they were. He smirked. She was right. Despite the horror of the memory Prince had shown him, he did feel more alive.
He had to thank him for that.
He stood and stretched his arms above his head, then followed into the kitchen. She asked him if he wanted lunch, and set about making sandwiches for them. When he thought about it, things were almost...normal for the time being.
They ate, and pretended they were going to keep searching for clues, but after a few minutes, they were back on the sofa.
Doing guess what.
Their tongues fought and they let themselves fall into passion. Vegeta was kissing her neck and pinning her under him.
Then the doorbell rang.
Startled, Bulma went to leap up and answer, but ended up smacking foreheads with Vegeta. He rolled off her as they both rubbed their heads and she went to get the door.
Somehow, she wasn't surprised that it was Goku that had interrupted such a wonderful moment. Coming up behind him was Chichi, holding Gohan's hand. Trying not to look too flustered, she smiled. "Hey, what're you guys doing out here?"
"Just thought we'd visit," said Chichi as she climbed the porch steps. Bulma let them in, and was, again, not surprised to find Vegeta grumbling as he leafed through papers about split personalities. "Oh, who's this?" she asked.
He looked up at these new people, and vaguely remembered Bulma telling him of her friends from school.
"Oh, yeah. Chichi, Goku, Gohan, this is Vegeta." He just looked at them.
As they sat down to engage in good conversation, Goku picked up one of the articles. His brows furrowed. "Ne-oo-rology? What's that?"
Bulma took the paper from him. "Neurology. Brain stuff."
Chichi looked confused as well. She grabbed some books and scanned their titles. Vegeta sat down next to Bulma. "Bipolar Disorder, Split Personalities, Ancient Fables? Bulma, what is all of this?"
"Oh! Well, you see, Vegeta is a neuroscientist, and we were trying to figure out the effect of fairy tales on the brain. Yeah." Vegeta cocked his brow and shot her a questioning look. "Right, Vegeta?" He rolled his eyes.
"That's really interesting! How did you meet?" Goku was pretending he didn't want to raid the fridge, and Gohan listened dutifully to the adults' talk.
She smiled nervously. "Ah, well, we uh met at the mall." She laughed. Vegeta wondered what a mall was. "Yeah, I was in the food court, and I tripped and got my smoothie all over him. It was a real mess. But we started talking and we thought we could work together."
He was looking back and forth between Bulma's guests. His throat seemed to close up, and the room seemed much hotter than it had been a few minutes earlier. He'd gotten used to Bulma easily enough, but suddenly sitting in a room with three strangers and trying to fabricate a believable story to explain their association had him choking.
More connected to the rest of himself or not, he'd spent over one hundred years without talking to more than one person at a time. He didn't know how to talk anymore.
Then his head slowly began to pound. He closed his eyes for a moment and cradled his left temple for a moment before slowly standing, and staggering out of the room. He was unaware of the bewildered stares of the Sons, and the worried one of Bulma's.
The pain got worse as he moved. He remembered the scent of Tarble's blood mixed with that of the pine he'd cut down to kill him.
He felt tired.
Eventually he found Bulma's room and collapsed on her bed, holding his skull with both hands while his eyes were clenched shut. The pounding was louder, following his heart beat with agonizing synchronization.
Bulma looked after him as he rounded the corner, and Goku was watching her expression. He may not have been the brightest person around, but he knew people. And that was not the look a woman sent after just a colleague. There was something else going on.
"Uh, I should go check on him, guys. Just give me a minute." She got up and went after him.
The pain wasn't real. That was what he thought. And it was amazing. He didn't think he'd ever had a thought like that before. It was just one thought. Not two. Not half with the other missing. It was one thought.
And it was one thought, because they were both thinking it as one.
He was vaguely aware of Bulma kneeling beside him. Of her cool slender hands on his forehead, checking for a fever. He was also aware of how clouded his eyes must have looked. How unfocused they were. How they stared at blurry shapes in her room with no comprehension as to what they were called.
He sort of heard her shooing her friends out the door with obviously fake and rushed politeness. He felt her turn him on his back and press a wet cloth to his brow. His vision was collapsing inward, shudders periodically ran up and down his spine, he was so tired, his limbs felt like they were made of lead, and his mind was wind.
She was calling to him. Telling him to stay awake. Trying to convince him to just wait a couple minutes before he fell asleep. But he couldn't. All he could think of was how nice her voice was, and how wonderful it was that she smelled like the cherry blossom tree and strawberries.
And these were all those kinds of thoughts. The single thoughts.
Then he was swimming and floating and falling all at once. Velvet washed over him and he closed his eyes.
Bulma was still hovering over him.
Then he was awake. Not the groggy awake when there wasn't good sleep the night before, and it's 11 o'clock in the morning. But the awake that exists when a person snaps up, eyes wide and the world more clear than what's comprehensible.
The first thing he noticed was that he had no eyes. The second thing extended off of that to realize he had no type of body part at all. That he was just there. The third thing he noticed was that there was someone else, and like him they had no body. There was nothing there of that person for him to physically see, but he knew they were there, and he didn't really perceive how he could question that.
There was energy, that much he knew for certain. The person in front of him was energy, and if he had to say what kind of energy this person was, he'd say that they were a warm spring green.
But he couldn't say, because he had no mouth and he had no voice.
These bodiless beings circled. They swayed, drew close, pulled back, and moved with the pulses of their energies as they slowly started to merge. Everything felt like moving through water.
Then they were close. But there was something separating them. Something that repelled them against one another. He didn't like it. Their energies were spiraling almost perfectly together, and they just needed to cross this one piece. This last thing, and then they would contact.
He had no voice but he conveyed, "Show me. Show me what this is."
And then the warm green energy took shape. It sprouted legs and arms, grew spiky hair. Like a glowing green shadow of someone. "Why?"
And then he too, took the shape of a shadow, black outlined with white. No face, just like the other. "I need to see."
He paused. "Tell me why I should give myself up for you."
"Not for me. For us. For you. You are me and I am you. We're the same. You're not giving anything up. Just the loneliness. That's all it costs."
He seemed to think for a moment. "And what happens when I've shown you all I can? You're withholding information as well."
"I will share."
"Why would I steal from myself?"
"Fine. You will not like all that you see."
"There are many unpleasant truths in the world."
"As have you."
The green shadow slowly began to dissipate, and drift off as smoke. He did the same. "Follow me then."
A/N: AHH! I'm so sorry that took so long. I've been super busy.
So, finally some BXV action. I know it was kind of abrupt, but it had been building up if you were paying attention, which I recognize is hard to do with my irregular updates, so, my apologies. Anyway, working on another chapter for "Trouble." That should be up fairly quickly, I hope. Happy holidays my friends!