Insert standard disclaimer here.

The Price You Pay: Prologue

Train, and when you're done with that train some more. And after that, train again.

Sweat dripped from Vegeta's over worked body as he continued to do a series of difficult katas in the pressurized gravity room. The red florescent lights that lit the room cast an eerie glow on the blue-tiled floor, accentuating the many cracks and crevices that covered it. After about eight hours in the gravity chamber and six of those hours without a meal, Vegeta's body had just about had it. Of course, that was more than he'd ever admit, but after 15 years in Freeza's service, Vegeta's body had become accustomed to enduring extreme circumstances, and Vegeta himself, accustomed to ignoring the signs of exhaustion.

The rain that had been beating down on the Capsule Corp headquarters and the gravity room hadn't eased up since the afternoon, and the lightning and thunder had become more intense as the storm neared. Storms were typical of the region, and as the large system approached, Vegeta hardly noticed when the lights in the GR turned from their normal yellow, to red as the backup generators switched on. If there was one thing Vegeta was thankful to the 'onna' for it was her practicality concerning his training and her ability to help remove the less controllable hindrances of his strenuous work load. Knowing Vegeta's training habits and how "no weather condition is a concern of the Saiya-jin no Ouji" she had had the foresight to install several backup generators to the GR so that if and when Vegeta decided to train in a storm, he wouldn't kill himself with the sudden release of 300gs or more.

"Not that I value your existence here, Vegeta," Bulma had added with obvious chagrin while installing the generators he'd 'asked' her to build.

After Goku's defeat of Freeza a few months prior and his Ascension to the level of the Legendary, Vegeta had become even more consumed with the prospect of defeating the less than skilled younger Saiya-jin. No Saiya-jin, let alone the Saiya-jin no Ouji could bear to be out powered by a lower-classed warrior. Vegeta, being who he was, made it his objective to train 24/7 in the hopes of making sure that this insult to his pride was eliminated with haste. He woke up, ate the Briefs out of house and home, trained for ten plus hours, ate whatever was left over, and then trained some more. It was a wonder to any of the members of the Briefs family that Vegeta had energy to expend on blowing up at Bulma in between his training bouts. But considering this was the only time Vegeta ever communicated with any of them, except for on rare occasions, these little outbursts of anger were quite welcome. If not to Bulma, then to her parents who needed some excitement in their lives.

But truth be told, Vegeta really had no problem with Bulma, even if he found her exasperating and irritating at times. When he had the time, Vegeta would reflect on his life with the Briefs (which was a lot better than he had originally let himself believe). They provided shelter for him and let him keep up with his grueling training schedule. Bulma was always kind to him (much to his chagrin), as were her parents. Upon occasion Bulma refused to show as much respect to Vegeta as he thought fit for the Saiya-jin no Ouji, but other than that, she was painfully civil.

They all had their separate lives. Goku had his family, the Briefs had the responsibility of keeping up with their monopolizing business, and Vegeta, well, he trained and trained and trained and trained. In his mind, there was nothing more satisfying. With the shadow of the androids looming over all of them, many of the Z Senshi were consumed with the idea of becoming strong enough to defeat the foes and return to their normal lives. None wanted to face the villains the boy from the future had all too painfully warned them about. But saving the planet, for the umpteenth time, took priority.

To Bulma, it seemed like all the men in her life were slipping away, being weighed down by the pressure placed on them by the responsibility of protecting the Earth and all of its inhabitants. So it wasn't like Vegeta was the only one training, he was just training for his own reasons. Reasons which just happened to include achieving the status of the Legendary and defeating Goku. But until that day, he had sworn that he would help the 'pathetic' Chikyuu-jin defeat the androids. And, despite his other flaws, Vegeta was not one to break an oath. Ever.

The clock located near the GR controls began to beep and flash, indicating that it was midnight and time to stop training. Vegeta grunted, called out to the computer to stop the alarm, and continued his katas for 15 more minutes.

After switching off the training equipment and making sure all the electronics that he had been using in the room were in order, Vegeta keyed in his password to open the vaulted door and exited the GR. Although he wasn't as worn out as he usually was after a full day of training, Vegeta was starting to feel the tingling and aching associated with soon-to-be cramping muscles. Even his tail, which was now swaying back and forth behind him in a lazy way, was sore from the exertion. He shifted his neck from side to side in an attempt to work out some of the more persistent knots, and wrapped his tail protectively around his waist. The stretching did more damage than good as the muscles in his neck stretched and cramped. He growled deep in his throat, and after the GR door closed behind him, re-entered his password before starting the journey, through the rain, back to the Briefs' home.

The night, despite the storm overhead, was beautiful and thick with the sweet, intoxicatingly cinnamon smell that most late summer nights on Chikyuu seemed to possess. The rain that beat down was laced with the smells of summer, smells that Vegeta was drawn to because they reminded him of Vegeta-sei and the lost planet that was his home. Vegeta's stomach tightened and he quickly extinguished all thoughts from his mind that called him back to a place that no longer existed and a people he would never have the privilege of ruling. Nostalgia was something Vegeta cared little for.

It wasn't very far to the dome-shaped building that was the Briefs' home, and the rain helped sooth his overheated body. His mane of unruly jet black hair somehow managed to overcome the torrential downpour and remain erect. Hell, if it could stay in place under 300gs of gravity why not through the rain? He smirked.

The substance that united all the Saiya-jins: hair gel.

He supposed that he shouldn't be laughing about that, but since there weren't any true Saiya-jins left except himself, he decided it wasn't worth worrying about. If no one else could make fun of him, he would. Although the fact that he was the only non-corrupted Saiya-jin left didn't exactly settle over as well in his conscience as his hair gel joke had.

He was almost at the house and started to flare his ki to dry himself off. As much as Saiya-jins enjoyed being wet, he really didn't want to deal with Mrs. Briefs' screeching again. He'd like to be able to hear in the morning, thank you very much. Not to mention what Bulma would say or scream at him. He smirked again. Now that could be interesting. Nevertheless, he decided to stay dry. He just somehow managed to avoid wiping of his feet at the door.

That'll have her going tomorrow,
he thought slyly as he looked down at the thick layer of mud tarnishing his usually immaculate white and gold boots. He thudded through the kitchen door.

Unfortunately, the mud wore out about half way to the refrigerator—unlike the through the house, up the stairs, and leading strait to the door of his quarters he had hoped for.

Oh well, they'll know who did it.

Another dangerous smirk graced his devious face. He enjoyed getting a reaction out of her. They were few and far between, but very worth while.