A/N – By popular request, I am back with a new chapter in continuation of the first, since several of you wanted it. Thank you for all the lovely reviews! I didn't plan for a second chapter, so it may not be as good as the first. Let me know what you think.
Bulma suppressed a sigh at the sight that greeted her upon entering the kitchen.
The Prince's eyes were more intense than usual—chips of onyx fire glittering darkly amid a frustrated frown and closely-drawn eyebrows.
"I require sustenance, woman," Vegeta commanded.
Bulma, however, did not comply immediately.
The warrior kept one wary eye trained on the whimsical heiress, but in reality his mind was elsewhere. He had been inches away from the transformation. He could feel the wisps of power clouding his being and strengthening his limbs—a golden essence dangling just out of his reach. He could feel the cocoon of glistening energy surrounding him in light as his emotions heightened. He could feel it. He had been mere seconds from breaking through the barrier. But just as joy captured his heart and anticipation blossomed in the smirk that was sculpted into his features, he could feel himself descending, falling downwards, back into the bowels of hopelessness that had been tugging at him ever since Namek.
The energy had disintegrated, melting into nothingness. He had not made the transformation.
Rage had taken ahold of him inexplicably and suddenly, and in a blind tantrum streaks of crimson energy had ripped from his hands, destroying the robots that hovered before him. The light had bounced back toward him, besetting him on all sides, and he had not had time to dodge the onslaught…
The result had not been pleasant.
How could a low-class warrior do what the Prince could not? How could Kakarrot, a Saiyan child born with a power level of two, surpass the strongest of them all? Vegeta had deduced long ago that fate had a grudge against him. By retaining his place as the strongest, Kakarrot was mocking the Saiyan Prince, depriving him of his honor. It had been Kakarrot who had avenged the Saiyan race, when it was Vegeta who had dreamed of doing so and had every right to. It was Kakarrot who had achieved legendary status, when it was Vegeta who had spent his entire life longing for the day that he could finally attain it. It was his ticket to freedom and success.
It seemed that his life was defined by those who had been embraced by Power instead of betrayed by it. Frieza, in accordance with the ultimatum might makes right, had been his master. Everything that Vegeta had accomplished was linked in some way to Frieza—whether he completed a mission or trained to overthrow the lizard tyrant.
Now that Frieza was Icejin cold cuts, two new Power-wielding warriors had entered into the picture—Kakarrot and the mystery boy from the future. And now nearly every moment was spent striving to surpass them. And still the satisfaction of victory evaded him. What exactly did fate have against him?
But the Prince was used to nearly insurmountable obstacles trying to destroy him. He had been discouraged all of his life by the mocking laughter of those that surrounded him on Frieza's ship, and he had found a way to impose icy revenge. Cui, Zarbon, Dodoria—their bodies were mere stardust now, along with Frieza. If fate chose to battle against him every step of the way, he would cheat it somehow.
He had never been opposed to cheating.
The very names of his old tormentors wrought a shadow across his features, and as his countenance darkened it did not go unnoticed by Bulma. Her concern heightened when a flicker of emotion danced through his vision then was gone as quickly as it had come.
"Vegeta, what's wrong?" Bulma prompted again.
"Nothing, woman," he snapped with his usual temper, whisking whatever glimpse of weakness he had revealed behind the stoic mask he was so accustomed to wearing. He was a warrior, not someone to be pitied.
"No, Vegeta," the scientist persisted, "It's not nothing. You look exhausted."
He snarled under his breath.
Bulma was saddened by the subtle fractures of profound emotion that sped quickly over his face before completely disappearing. He felt the need to hide even signs of fatigue from her. She surmised that the environment which he had been forced to inhabit was a world in which it was every man for himself, and where none could be trusted. The Golden Rule of that barbaric world was none other than eat or be eaten, kill or be killed.
Could a man truly be indicted of murder when it was all he had ever been taught to do? Was his true, honorable nature simply repressed by the onslaught of cruelty that careened against him? All who were disdainful of him did their best to break him apart with their bitter taunts and harsh words—can he be blamed for reacting negatively?
Beneath the furrowed eyebrows and churning ebony pupils; beneath the devilish smirk and ever-brooding expression; beneath the sharply-contoured figure and chiseled muscles glistening with sweat; beneath the arrogant creature that several of the Z Fighters loathed with enthusiasm lay an entirely different person.
He had been bred a royal, with the potential to possess and wield all the admirable faculties which are bestowed upon the most honorable of kings. His posture and his varied vocabulary were indications of his heritage—a heritage that had exploded in a myriad of gold and crimson fireworks when Frieza eliminated Vegetasei.
The thought struck Bulma of how alone Vegeta must feel. Goku was a pureblood Saiyan, but he could hardly be a comfort to the Saiyan Prince. Goku had forgotten his Saiyan roots and was now the heralded defender of the Earth. Vegeta had no one to relate to.
And yet he loathed pity. The moment he witnessed the slightest glint of compassion in the eyes of those that were his companions, he revolted against it. Was it because he considered them to be mocking him? Was it a result of some distant memory on Frieza's ship that involved such things? He insisted upon clinging to his pride, and thought of pity as a violation against his pride.
At times he was difficult to comprehend, and at other times he seemed to be almost naïve. He was no stranger to the darker side of the spectrum, familiar with malice; acquainted, too, with unimaginable pain. And he found it hard to grasp the concepts of love and trust. It was unknown territory for a warrior who was experienced with fear and chaos. He had been plunged into turmoil at the age of five and had not had a chance to experience much else. He was accustomed to hiding his true emotions and rejecting those that hindered his efforts. He was accustomed to fighting a never-ending battle for liberty.
Now he had liberty, or as much liberty as he could salvage when he still had a grudge against the Saiyan who had gained a foothold over him in terms of strength; and he did not know what to do with it other than revert to his old habits of constant training and biding his time. As they say, old habits die hard.
And even as Bulma relented and gave her guest what he had come for, namely sustenance, her thoughts hinged upon the enigma that was Vegeta, Prince of All Saiyans.
Bulma recalled that day that seemed so long ago, when she had stood before the anxious crowd of Namekians with arms outstretch and eyes twinkling with hospitality as she invited them all to remain temporarily stationed at her home. He had been there, leaning neutrally against a tree, his features downcast and deeply engaged in thought. He had cocked one bushy eyebrow at the invitation she cordially extended toward him, with her plea to relax and to see what life had to offer him.
Life had not offered him much to rejoice in up until then. Life had stranded him in childhood as a slave on a tyrant's warship without a home or loved ones. Life had dangled the hope of the Dragon Balls before him, only to snatch that hope away and then desert him on Namek. Life had mocked his title by bringing forth a low-class who could surpass him with ease. What else did life have to offer him?
Neither Bulma nor Vegeta knew what the life that now lay before him would hold.
At that moment, neither Bulma nor Vegeta knew that a son would be born to them, and a family would be forged.
At that moment, neither Bulma nor Vegeta knew that the life that yawned before him would end in the most bittersweet of ways, only to begin again fresh and new with the family that loved him—a family he proved he was willing to die for.
At that moment, neither Bulma nor Vegeta knew that there would be a new addition to the family to make the threesome a foursome—a little girl with blue eyes who would worm her way into the heart of the Prince just like the other two pairs of blue eyes in his life had.
At that moment, neither Bulma nor Vegeta knew that one day, while Goku would leave his family and friends to train a village boy, Vegeta would remain faithfully by his family.
Neither of them knew.