Chapter 21 - The Final Move
It wasn't at all like she thought. It wasn't at all like a friendship and it certainly wasn't anything like love. It wasn't what she had been searching for. It wasn't even dependency, at least, not anymore.
It was only lines on a board.
Some moved diagonally along those lines. Others moved forward, unable to go back. Yet, some, could play the entire board.
How was it she found herself in check?
How did she end up as a pawn?
The contemplative woman's eyes looked up to those of her father's. He was cleaning his glasses on his shirt, as was his ritual. After placing them back on his face, he blinked a few times as if his eyes were adjusting. Seeing her eyes were on him, he smiled. He patted the head of the cat that seemed to perpetually be on his shoulder.
Glancing down at the board to examine the pieces his eyes finally met hers again as he said the three words she didn't want to hear, but needed to hear nonetheless. Those three words to snap her from her wanderings and daydreams.
"It's your move."
Time melts away everything—memories, scents, feelings, even thoughts. How long ago was it that she was up in that old room playing chess with her father? How did she wind up from point A to point B? Was she even at point A in the first place?
And how fitting was it that she now found herself in the kitchen? This room once held a sense of fear. Was there longing too? She couldn't really place it. It seemed so long ago.
But it wasn't so long ago.
But time melts everything away.
Was she melting too? She no longer felt as if she existed. Somehow her movements couldn't be placed, and yet...
Yes, they had never before felt as much as her own.
Yes, that was it. They were hers. Everything was connected to her, and it was all hers. And the floor her feet touched, never made her tremble so much with feeling. It, too, was somehow connected to her. It, too, would feed her energy. Energy from the earth. The stars. Everything was connected, it seemed like, in this moment. Even in her sleep-deprived state, she had some energy. She could feed off the darkness in her thirst for light.
But she held onto herself enough to know that she wouldn't do that. She needed no dependency from the darkness. She could get by on the energy from the light...even if it was just light from the stars, which could radiate in darkness. Which couldn't radiate without darkness.
But Bulma was going to be the one that didn't have to depend upon darkness to radiate.
It must have been a strange sight to behold—the blue-haired woman in her silk nightgown that seemed to glow in the light pouring in from the windows. Shadows would float across her skin as the wind sang a song through the trees outside. Still, her skin never seemed so smooth, her features, so soft. But there was something cold encircling her, as well, and it shimmered with the moonlight off her nightgown, dodging the shadows playing all around her.
It must have been a strange sight to behold.
And it must have been a strange sound to the ears of one who thought silence was all that was worth hearing. A drained, soft, seemingly weak, yet somehow assertive voice rising from the glowing woman staring at the floor beneath her feet. Feet that must be cold on this night, and no warmth around the dark kitchen to warm them.
Such as strange voice.
"Still hiding in corners, Vegeta?"
The man in question silently kept his eyes on her profile. On the woman standing across the kitchen, staring at the floor. One step, and he was out of the dark, and immersed in the soft light of the moon, casting a more dominating shadow over the woman, like a demon ready for his conquest, looking for an entry, an open spot, on the woman waiting to be possessed.
"I have no need to hide."
"Then why are you here? Can't sleep?"
"I can sleep just fine."
The woman slowly raised her head, her eyes finally meeting those of her enemy.
"I thought so," was all she whispered when her eyes captured his.
"You obviously aren't fairing too well," was the harsh reply.
"Maybe it's not what it seems," the woman said in a low voice that was easily heard in the dead kitchen. Her eyes turned to the window, one small step and she was out of his shadow. Now the features of her face were illuminated by the moonlight and her eyes were deep, clear, and absorbing its power. "Nothing ever is, right?" she questioned.
Vegeta swallowed, with an obvious uncertainty with what was happening. Somehow, he didn't feel it a threat to let it show.
She continued as if consequence meant nothing to her. "Maybe it's..."
"...it's better this way?" he finished for her. "Is that what you think? It's better this way?"
"How about you tell me?" her head tilted slightly in an inquisitive manner.
"You think this is what I wanted?" Vegeta was in disbelief, but obviously was holding back somewhat. His fists clenched at his side.
"No, I don't think this is what you wanted." Bulma walked, in a slow, steady movement until she was in front of her possessor. "What do you know of shame?"
"More than you could ever imagine," Vegeta said in a darkening tone, warning her to back off. "so don't even begin to think you understand me." He spat the words out as her talking to him was making him sick. Maybe it was.
"Will you redeem yourself?"
Vegeta glared at the woman before him. What was she getting at? Where did she think she was going with this? What messed up game did she think she was playing?
"I've done things you could never even imagine—even in your dark, sleep-deprived state," Vegeta stepped forward, so she could feel the heat of his words. "There's no redemption for me, Bulma."
"So what could I possibly want from you?" Bulma questioned in an eerily calm voice that seemed unphased by his close proximity. "What could I possibly gain from continuing this sick game with a pathetic Saiyan who has nothing better to do than pick on earth women for sport?"
"What are you implying?"
"Something's changed in you, Vegeta. I see it, Yamcha sees it, my father sees, and I know you see it. Do you want something from me?"
Vegeta swallowed. Daring to be bold, daring to be vulnerable, daring to be...honest.
"Yes," he whispered.
Vegeta's eyes searched her face for something to pop out at him. He found himself completely lost before voicing, "I don't know."
Letting out a long, frustrated sigh, Bulma's eyes narrowed into slits. Grabbing one of his hands, she placed it on her face, down her neck, then slowly, to her chest.
Vegeta's breath steadily grew deeper; Bulma remained unmoved.
"I feel nothing," she hissed. "I no longer can feel the trembles or shivers given to me by your touch. I don't even feel the fear."
"You're a strong woman."
"You've met stronger."
"Most women insist that loving me would somehow cure who I was. They'd let me possess them. They thought love could set me free."
"And so you're just waiting for me to let you possess me?"
"I want something more."
"More than possession?"
"Are you laughing at me?"
Vegeta stormed past her, making his way to the sink, stopping, then, as if changing his mind, turning to her. She would not turn to face him, however.
"Is this what you wanted to say? You no longer feel me? You no longer fear me?"
"No; yes. Maybe. I don't know."
"Will you turn around?"
Vegeta winced at the vulnerability escaping out of his own voice. "Please."
Bulma stood, as if frozen, staring at the now empty corner. Her figure was still glowing in the moonlight.
"You told me...you said...if I had a...a broken heart...you'd laugh," Vegeta managed to get out, a little angrier than he intended. "For Kami's sake, Bulma! Would you turn around and face me?"
Bulma turned, her icy, narrowed eyes aimed at him. "Is that all you're worried about? Me laughing at you? Do you have a broken heart Vegeta? Because I see nothing broken in this kitchen."
"It can't break," Vegeta whispered, as if to himself, "I can't love."
"Precisely," Bulma's voice began sounding more coherent. "It's all a game, Vegeta. Remember that—it's all a game. Love. Hope. Life. It's all a game. With you—I get nothing out of it. Not anymore. I've become stronger now. I've learned to not fear you, now. But as it stands, I no longer can gain anything from you. So why should I continue playing?"
"If you stop now, I win," Vegeta growled.
"Win what?" Bulma's voice began getting a little louder in her frustration to make him see. "I'll no longer be part of your sick game of possession. I'm no longer available for your possession. You'll be left on an empty board, Vegeta. And that's the way you'll spend your entire life," realizing she was getting louder than was necessary, Bulma lowered her voice again. "You're pathetic and hopeless if you keep this up."
With that Bulma started for the stairs. "I'm walking away from this game—from you, and everything I thought I knew. I may be sleep-deprived, but I can still keep the sense to recognize that I don't have to be a part of this. In fact, once I leave this room—leave this game, leave you—I think I'll be able to sleep." Bulma stopped at the doorway, somewhat surprised he wasn't going to stop her, but disheartened by the fact he wasn't going to try.
"You could do the same," were her final words before leaving him in the darkness on his own. He could feel the electricity in the air—a storm was coming. Black clouds were now covering the moon, leaving the tall Saiyan with no light.
Bulma crawled under her sheets, thinking she was feeling something akin to power. However, once her cold skin made contact with the cold sheets, a wave of emotion began to leave her with a feeling of drowning once again.
She began running her hands softly over the sheets—her fingers ached so much to feel. Her breath became intense and wave after wave kept flooding her, she could feel herself sinking.
She quickly got up, and opened the balcony doors. Lightning flashed, and water poured down in cold reassurance. She had been so lost in her quiet she hadn't noticed the rain. Stepping onto the balcony, Bulma felt the cold rain gliding down her skin—but she didn't feel cold. Nor could she feel the contrast of heat on her face as tears began streaming down.
The only clue she picked up on was the sight of her breath in front of her.
Bulma turned, startled by the voice. "What are you doing here?" she asked, suddenly releasing her waves of emotion through her voice.
"I want to leave the game."
"I don't believe you!"
"And why should I care if you believe me?"
"Because you want something from me!"
"What do I want?"
"I don't know, but you can't have it!"
Vegeta was silent, so Bulma continued. "Prove to me, Vegeta. Prove to me that you can give me what no other man has given me. Can you love me?"
"I don't know if I can love you, Bulma. I don't know if I can give you what you want..."
"Then, what can you give me?"
Bulma felt her heart skip a beat in a moment that seemed to stop. Was he serious?
"I can devote myself to you, Bulma. It may not seem like much, but it's all I can offer."
She couldn't believe the vulnerability that he held in his eyes. Nor could she believe her senses, or her complete disregard for what she should be doing—leaving him alone outside in the rain.
"I could never redeem myself, Bulma," he began speaking again, but stopped, as if trying to find the right words to say.
"So you won't even try..."
"You misunderstand my meaning!"
"How the hell is it I always misunderstand your meaning? Maybe you should be clearer with your meanings," Bulma spat the last word out as if disgusted.
"I could never redeem myself—but I want to try and be better, regardless of it."
Bulma fell silent. Her eyes kept searching something from him.
"You're going to get sick."
"Let's go inside."
It wasn't until Bulma's feet touched her bedroom floor that she felt the cold again. She began to shiver uncontrollably.
"I'll get a towel," Vegeta mumbled, walking into her bathroom.
"Thanks," was all Bulma said as her eyes fell to the floor, her mind trying to take in all that had just been said.
"Here," Vegeta offered her the towel. When she didn't take it, he began to pat her dry. "You should get out of these clothes."
"Why are you so different?"
"I don't understand the question."
"Why will you devote yourself to me?"
"Because I want something from you?"
"I don't know," Vegeta hesitated, "But I want to be open...no...I want...I want you to...I want to be vulnerable around you," letting out a sigh he continued, "Yes, I feel I can be that around you. I'm not sure what I want from you. But I find it worth abandoning the game for...giving up my need to possess you for."
"Vegeta, I can't save you," Bulma slowly shook her head, as if revealing some tragic news to a dear friend.
"No, you can't. I told you, I'm beyond saving," Vegeta stood up to face her, "But you recognize it, as well, which makes me think that you could help me figure this out...this need...this thing that I want from you."
Bulma rose her hand, hesitated a small moment, but then softly placed it on his face.
Vegeta didn't move, but just stood, staring, as if curious what her next move was.
"I feel with you," he stated, as if mesmerized.
"But is it possible for me to conjure positive feelings in you?"
Vegeta was silent.
"I'm so tired..."
"I give you full leave to change your mind in the morning. For now, let me stay with you."
"You should get out of those wet clothes."
"Turn around and I'll change."
Vegeta did as he was told. Both were scared to death of the decision they had just made. Bulma, at least, had the comfort of knowing she could change her mind in the morning. Vegeta had the agony of wondering what he'd do if she did change her mind...and what would he do if she didn't?
After changing into dry clothes, both crawled under the covers, both not knowing what the morning would bring. Both slowly melting their worries and anxieties away in soft touches. Both silently trying to grasp what the other was about. What the abandonment of their game meant now. What the silence would mean in the morning.
Time melts away everything—memories, scents, feelings, even thoughts. How long ago was it that they were down in that cold room battling for the other's sanity? How did they wind up from point A to point B? Were they even at point A in the first place?
And how fitting was it that they now found themselves in each other's arms?
"Bulma," Vegeta whispered, finding himself not at all feeling awkward by the woman's head resting on his chest. "Are you still drowning?"
Bulma responded in a the mumbling of slumber, "I've come crawling on your shores."
And in a peaceful, unknowing bliss, both drifted onto the waves of sleep. Both began to melt in the unknowing future.
Time melts everything away.