Mind of a Prince - VII: Conquest

April 12, 764

I am surrounded. By idiots.

Today mom and dad left; they went on some sort of half-assed Bermuda vacation, and before they left, they gave Vejiita a key.

A KEY. A kami-damned KEY. Am I the ONLY being around here who isn't completely nuts? They gave the guy who can fly and blow this whole planet to hell a key, because they seem to think he's just one of the gang now. Well, I know he's not. And he knows he's not. And now that my parents are gone, as well as Yamucha, Gokou, Piccolo, and anybody else who matters, I really don't know what he's going to do.

Vejiita's been avoiding me all day now. I'm really not sure what he's getting into, exactly; he could be training, but he's not in the training room. And he hasn't come by for any food, although I did catch one glimpse of him when he was going from the kitchen to the outside.

Gods. I wish for ONCE in my life, SOMEbody would tell me just what the hell was going on.

Vejiita was annoyed. Of course, phrasing it that way was sort of equivalent to saying, "the sun is hot." Vejiita was VERY annoyed, not leastwise because his self-prescribed fix simply wasn't working. He was avoiding her. He wasn't talking to her. He wasn't even looking at her - but still, she permeated his mind.

He picked up her scent walking around the corridors, so he abandoned the building.

He heard her step when he was practicing, high above the roof, so he flew far away.

He pictured her curved softness in his mind while he was tearing into imagined combatants, and THAT was the most unforgivable of all. One moment he was utter perfection, a killing machine, and the next his punches were off balance because instead of thinking about bruising and blood, he was thinking about breasts and bottom. Not acceptable; snarling, he shook his head to clear it and resumed his training -

Only to find himself misjudging a simple attack a short while later, overbalancing, and slamming to the ground because he was recalling the way her body felt breathing against his for the moment he'd held it. He roared; he slammed his fists into the ground, creating miniature craters. This was not fair. NOT FAIR.

And it kept happening again. And again. And again.

By the time the sun set that evening, Vejiita had more than had enough; not one of his long-and-involved practices had worked out the way they were supposed to, and as a result he was seeing red on a level he hadn't achieved since he was on the planet Namek.

Darkness finally swept across the land, reaching over the mountains and across the sky like a giant blanket, and Vejiita stood and watched it. The moment he began to see Bulma's eyes in the twinkle of the perfect stars he knew there was no more avoiding the issue.

There was only one solution for this. Quiet and resolved, he lifted off into the air and turned back toward the Capsule Corporation to kill Bulma Briefs.

April 12, 764, second entry

Ooookay. I'm getting a little worried now. Vejiita's been gone, but in a way it's worse; I could SWEAR I heard him screeching like some sort of animal a little while ago, and it never really occurred to me before, but you know that old expression, the enemy you know is better than the enemy you don't? It kinda applies here, only I'd say: knowing where the hell enemy is is better than not having a fripping clue.

I am NOT a happy camper.

I guess I hadn't really thought about the fact that without Vejiita around I don't exactly have much protection. Annoying; since it means I have to actually set my stupid security robots back online again, and I HATE doing that because... well, really. Do YOU know how much Gokuu cost me by breaking those damned things? I swear it's Murphy's Law; I turn them on, and they're going to get buggered.

Sometimes I hate my life.

Dende paused. "I'm not boring you, am I?" he asked oh-so-innocently, peering at Popo with sincere concern in his eyes as he looked for an answer.

"No sir," said Mr. Popo, who had long ago given up even the pretense of dusting the rooms. Dusting was a good excuse; he'd "accidentally" woken Dende with it when the time began to creep toward afternoon, and had continued to dust as Dende had his filtered breakfast. Then Dende began to talk; and after a while, Popo put the feather duster down.

"Please continue," he said, hoping vaguely in the back of his mind that Dende would not, in his odd innocence, tell EVERYTHING that happened. Popo had no desire to hear about the actual creation of Trunks, after all; but at the same time, he really had no desire to squelch Dende's story-telling streak. So, a quandary; which he solved by saying nothing at all.

Dende looked pleased with his encouragement. "Okay," he said cheerfully, and bounced a little on his cushions before continuing.

When Vejiita arrived, he did not bother dismantling Bulma's robots. He didn't want to take the chance that there was some sort of absurd alarm system installed, which could possibly alert Kakarotto to his activities. Kakarotto would be dealt with - but not at this time.

This time was for Bulma.

The thorn in his side. The nail in his shoe. The flat beer after a long day of training. This was it; he was going to kill her, once and for all, and just be done with the whole damned business. He'd teach her to distract him while he was busy becoming Strong.

It was a funny thing, though; even as he zipped past the security robots too quickly for them to register his presence and in through the fourth-floor story window no one ever remembered to lock, he had a feeling things were not going to go quite as he had planned. It was a momentary, niggling doubt; not one he cared to consider, and as he stood inside the room before he went down the stairs, he knew: this was his last chance to change his mind.

Vejiita only considered for a moment; that was all it took for the damned fan...no, IMAGES of her to creep back into his mind. And that, as they say, was that.

April 12, 764, third entry

Either I'm going nuts or he is. I just saw - no, I FELT - Vejiita show up in the house. I know it doesn't make sense; my robots didn't report anything, and they beep every stinking field mouse and gnat that slinks by, so I know they'd catch that big lug.

Short lug. Heh heh. Whatever.

But whatever he is, I know he can't be here. Only... it FEELS like he is.

Logging off now. If I don't ever log back in, or something, then Vejiita killed me and whoever reads this (if anyone ever DOES) will know he did it. For all the good it'll do you - peeping tom, reading my journal. Better get Gokuu, honey, because you'll never be able to handle the Prince of Haughty by yourself.

Bulma out.

She was just putting away that silly little hand-held computer she typed in all the time when he arrived.

The woman looked up; it was classic predator technique. Vejiita stood in the doorway, watching her, leaning carefully on the doorframe so that the shadows covered nearly everything but his eyes. He wanted her to feel a good dose of fear before it came time to kill her.

He could already feel himself doing it; tearing that lovely flesh right off her bones, being careful to leave her organs intact long enough for her to memorize exactly what she sounded like when she screamed, laughing as he punctured her heart so she would know forever as she died just who had killed her and why -

Because he was better than she was, that's why. And their stupid little games had finally come to an end. Eyes narrowing, he waited - daring - for her to make the first move.

Bulma had just put away her Toshiba Personal PC (with Toriyama XP on it, of course) when Vejiita arrived. It was classic deja vu; he stood, shadowed in the doorframe, his eyes visible and not much else, naturally looking very scary - but that wasn't why she shuddered.

She was reminded again, forcefully, that he was the most beautiful man she'd ever seen in her life, and a very large part of her being wanted to cry, "it's not FAIR."

Instead, she crossed her arms and glared at him. "Well hello to you too, mister dark and scary," she remarked, crossing her arms and giving him a stern look. "I don't know where YOU'VE been all day, but if you expect me to just drop whatever I'm doing and give you dinner now, then you are SADLY mis...taken." Her voice trailed off; his eyes had narrowed further, and he had yet to speak. Bulma was torn between a sudden urge to run and scream - either into his arms or the hell away from him.

Damnit, she couldn't decide which one.

The woman had stuttered! Well, almost - close enough for him, anyway. Vejiita felt an unexpected but welcome swell of pride; for the first time in a long time, the woman was showing genuine fear of him. Oh, not when he'd thrown her to the floor, anyone could have gotten a reaction for that. This... was fear in the face of HIM - because of him, of who he was, WHAT he was.

Everything was coming together. It was time to strike her down.

He started walking across the kitchen floor.

The moment he moved, she knew she was in trouble. The moment he stepped into the light - the look on his face, a combination of weird passion, confusion, anger, so MUCH anger -

And then he was in front of her, and casually - so casually - slipped his hand around her throat and began to squeeze.

Bulma's eyes widened. No; no, she couldn't die like THIS - not like this. Please Kami, not like this; there was so much more to DO, so much more to invent, to see, to learn...

She gripped his wrist helplessly when he began to lift her just a little, hoping in some vague way that she could support her weight and keep from choking to death in his hand; but then, although she did not know why, he simply...stopped.

Vejiita's hand stayed where it was; he did not loosen his grip, but he didn't tighten it, either. And more importantly, he'd stopped lifting.

His eyes... his eyes were ON her. In her, seeing through her, past her very bones; locked on her face, then traveling downward, and the slight confusion she'd already seen on his face seemed to multiply tenfold - and the anger piggybacked with it. His gaze came back to her face, and he stood unmoving, breathing a little more heavily than he had been, just looking at her as though he couldn't understand why whatever was affecting him was doing it the way it was, and that's when she realized his touch had changed yet again.

He was still holding her by the throat; but he was no longer lifting at all. His grip had gone... gentle.

She could have slipped out of it easily, had she been so inclined, but the moment his gaze came back to hers she'd been trapped in it, as surely as if he'd somehow gripped her attention instead of her neck, and she wasn't going anywhere. For an endless cycle of heartbeats and breaths they stood, silent, feeling the body heat grow inexplicably between them and becoming shiveringly aware of his hand on her skin; and then, unbidden, his thumb moved just enough to caress her lips.

The woman... gasped. Not a gasp of terror, but of unexpected pleasure, and shivered, as though he'd done something far more intimate than he had. She couldn't hide the sudden responding flush in her cheeks, nor did she try - if anything, she arched her head just a little so he could see it more clearly. Her lips were soft; that surprised him. He hadn't been expecting sandpaper, of course, but this...

They were... so soft.

Vejiita stared at her, peering at her skin, her flawless complexion, then down at her body - then up to her eyes; and he stayed there. The blue of her eyes was just perfect; deep, threatening, beautiful like the depths of the ocean and just as dangerous - and Vejiita knew, KNEW, knew the way he'd know he would be super saiyan some day, knew the way he'd know upstairs that he'd reached a crucial decision, KNEW... that if he did not pull back now, he would drown in the blue of her eyes.

Vejiita, prince of the Saiya-jin, did not pull back. Moving as though he were swimming slowly through a dream, he leaned in close - and kissed her.

It wasn't a kiss; their lips touched, pressure was applied, but it wasn't a kiss. It was fire.

Passion suddenly exploded between them like a landmine, giving no warning, engulfing all within range in an inescapable heat and glorious blaze. Vejiita and Bulma fell away from the counter, first to the table, then to the floor, and somehow - kami might know, though neither of them remembered - ended up in Bulma's bed, almost all their clothing strewn along the way.

Madness ensued; passion, flame, desire, all those words failed to contain the explosion of power this held. The rest of life inconsequential and their enemies non-existent, they tore through this world and into one of their own creation, one in which they were all, and they were one - pleasure mattered, together mattered, and precious little else. It was a battle like neither of them had ever seen; but as the sun began to rise through the eastern windows and birds, unawares, announced the coming of the morning, both of them finally put their energies to rest with an unspoken understanding that this was merely a lull - not the end of the war.

They slept; they continued in the afternoon. They slept again, showered, ate a little something which neither could recall, and continued on late into the night. And when the second morning came, unaware and uncaring of the date, time, or anything else, they mutually fell apart like petals in a stream, drifting for a while on the current of contentment; and neither of them said a thing.

What was to say? Their ultimate battle had been fought, and both had come away victor.

Three days and four nights passed this way before either one seemed to recall duties in this world - back in the world they had abandoned - but somehow, not discussing it, they both understood their places. He went back to training, and she resumed work in her lab, just as before - only now, they no longer bothered to stare at one another through the window in the dark.

Talk about it? What was to talk about? To talk would break the spell; would force them to think, to take their own private world down to this one and merge the two, messily, filthily; and so, they did not talk. About this, at least; everything else was up for grabs.

Gokuu came by one more time before the android menace arrived. Not noticing any changes, he ate a lot, and talked, and sparred a bit with Vejiita - infuriating the latter by flipping into super saiyan as easily as turning on a light switch. And Bulma watched; but by the time Gokuu left, she knew what was going to happen.

Somehow in the midst of all the eating together, fighting together, and tangling together, Bulma had found time to build another space ship; and that afternoon, Vejiita stole it and flew away.

Bulma was not upset; she wasn't even terribly worried. She understood - oddly, intuitively - why he'd had to go, and exactly what it was he was doing. He had to find his path to super saiyan on his own, and she had no intention of stopping him. The world they'd created would still be there when he came back.

Although... it would be a little different. Three weeks after Vejiita ran away, Bulma discovered she was pregnant. Unmarried and unprepared for such a scenario, one would think she would naturally have thrown a fit, gone into hysterics, perhaps even gone hunting the one who'd done this to her.

Instead, she just smiled, and waited for him to come home.

Dende took a long, pleased breath that was more than half sigh, and smiled and Mr. Popo.

Popo stared. "Wh... but... that wasn't love."

"It was for them."

Dende seemed so sure, so confident of this; Mr. Popo didn't want to abuse him of the notion. His expression, however, gave him away.

"What, you don't believe me?" Dende asked, tilting his head to the side like a curious bird, and Mr. Popo looked guilty.

"I... ah. Ahem. Well, sir, it just seemed to be... ah, things other than love."

Dende smiled broadly. "It was love for them, Mr. Popo. That's why Vejiita accepted the fact that Bulma had had his kid and THEN - injury to insult - had the tail removed. You really think that was easy for him to deal with? But he didn't kill her for it, did he?"

"No, I... I suppose he didn't," Popo said, trying to think about it.

"It's why Bulma forgave him for nearly letting them get killed when everyone was fighting Gero and the androids. You know she knows how to hold a grudge, too," Dende added, waggling a finger in Popo's general direction.

"Well, that IS true," Popo agreed, still looking a little bit wry.

"And why do you think that whole Majin Buu thing went off the way it did, including Vejiita sacrificing his life? Don't tell me you forgot about that!"

"Oh, ah, no, I had not, sir," replied Mr. Popo. "But I'd rather thought that was when he realized he loved his wife and son."

"It was." Dende smiled cheerfully.

"...it was?"

The Namek laughed; it was a gentle laugh, open and free from criticism. "It's when he ACKNOWLEDGED it, Mr. Popo," Dende said, shifting on his pillows. "But he already knew Bulma was his, so to speak, just as much as she knew he was hers - although of course, she knew she loved him long before he knew he loved her." Dende grinned and leaned forward conspiratorially. "Did you know that neither one has ever said 'I love you' to the other? They didn't HAVE to, and in the beginning it could have frightened either one of them away, anyway. Isn't that marvelous?"

"Did he... know he loved them when he gave his life against Majin Buu, sir?" Popo asked, still trying to sew all the various pieces together in his head.

"Love? Well; honestly, he'd never use such a word. Did he know they were his? Yes; his in a way that only family is, his in a way that only things treasured are - in a way that only things worth dying for can be. He knew right then that he'd give his life for them over and over again if he had it to give, and he couldn't quite explain why - or rather, he didn't want to. He'd already gone into that battle knowing that they were making him 'weak.' You know. Because... they were making him feel things."

Mr. Popo thought about all this carefully, chewing on it in his slowly pensive way, and then he shared a thought. "I find it odd that Bulma at least hasn't told him she loved him yet," he commented, checking Dende's face for reaction.

"She doesn't have to," Dende said, and grinned. "Besides. Bra says it all the time, and you should SEE the look Vejiita gets on his face when she does it - when nobody else is around, of course." He beamed. "There's more love in that family than in most of the 'normal' families on earth who say those three supposedly magic words; these guys just... don't even need to say them."

Popo considered this further, and Dende stood up. "Well, Mr. Popo," the young kami said. "I've taken enough of both your and my time to do this little experiment; I'm going to go talk to Piccolo now and give him what I've learned. I know he'll be curious about my success."

"Success?" Popo asked distractedly, glancing over the side of the tower toward earth and thinking Never said I love you? What a shame - a crying shame, really.

"To discover what romantic love was, of course," Dende said with a little bounce, and scurried down the walkway to an open meditation room, ideal for telepathic communication. Popo watched him for a moment, and then decided... he had to know.

Keeping track of the earth warriors' activities had its plus side; Popo knew for a fact that Gokuu, Vejiita, Goten, Trunks, and Piccolo had gone on a massive training trip to Mars or something, off in space for at least the past month, working on building up their defenses and becoming even more familiar with one another's moods. He already knew that they had just today returned, and were going home.

Popo knew how the Son family would react to the return of their missing male martyrs; but he did not know how the Briefs would react. Glancing around to avoid detection, Popo sneaked cautiously into the observation room, and searched for the Capsule Corporation living area.

His timing could not have been more perfect.

Vejiita arrives, as he always does, with enough fanfare and displays of power to wake the whole neighborhood; but if they aren't used to him by now, they're never going to be, and nobody raises a fuss. All the younger kids are safe at school, after all.

She is waiting for him in the doorway. Arms crossed, looking stern, she glares as he tracks mud right past her without remorse into the kitchen.

"A MONTH?" she declares, pausing in her diatribe to give her similarly filthy son a hug before sending him upstairs to take a shower. "Where the hell were you people? You could have said something. But nope, NO one has time to make a LITTLE com call...."

"Woman. Shut up," Vejiita replies without ardor, whipping open the fridge door and snatching a beer. American beer; for whatever odd reason, it's Vejiita's favorite, and she has never forgotten to keep it stocked.

He takes a swig and eyes her, uncapping the thing with his hand and capping it again the same way. His look, now that they are unobserved, has swung into something like bemused, if bemused could be heated.

"I'm glad you're home," Bulma says briskly, taking the bottle from him and wiping up the bit that fizzed out onto the counter. He watches her for a moment, observing her form, her motion, her life; and he is smiling.

"It was time," he says with a shrug, and then takes the rag from her hand and throws it away in lieu of offering her something warmer to hold.

Mutual, unhesitant, they kiss. And filth or no, Bulma wriggles as close to him as she possibly can; more importantly... he lets her.

Mr. Popo turned off the viewer. Dende had been right; there was love there, the kind that holds firm past all kinds of difficulties and trials, past the strain of arguments, children and time apart, past the world-shattering events of demons and monsters and aliens, oh my.

In his searching, Dende had been looking for an example of true, romantic love. Mr. Popo had had his doubts; but now after everything, he finally had to agree.

Dende couldn't have possibly found a better love story.