Author's Note: Here it is, the long promised epilogue. At the end will be a long, self-indulgent author's note if you're interested.
Bulma sat up, putting her hands to the small of her back and groaning as she stretched. It was tiring work focusing on this delicate thing for hours and hours on end. When she finished, this would be the seventh infinite power drive she had built. Constructed from her notes and memories of Dr Gero's invention, they were invaluable. The first she built was used to power the lab and the house and all the other home-projects on the capsule compound. Second was used to power the wider neighbourhood – the two dozen families who now lived and farmed on the banks of the West River. Others went to a mansion that had been converted into a hospital outside of South City, the demolition and recycling project of West City, a mine near Pine Tree Ridge, and a factory for manufacturing batteries. This next one would go into a factory for manufacturing more infinite power drives, and then that would hopefully be the last one of these Bulma constructed by hand.
She walked out into the hangar to warm herself in the sun that was blazing down through the open overhead doors. This coincided with a visitor dropping in, flying directly down to land in front of Bulma.
'Hey,' said Eighteen, folding her arms, and treating Bulma with one of her top-shelf thin-lipped smirks of repressed affection.
'Hey,' she replied and mentally counted down. Three, two, one…
'Is Trunks around?'
'He's out training with Vegeta. They'll be back soon.' She raised an eyebrow at Eighteen, but the younger woman was oblivious.
'I suppose you've got Sixteen babysitting again?'
'Yes. He enjoys it.'
'Huh. He's soft in the head.'
'How did you do at the market today?'
'I sold everything of course,' said Eighteen, quite smugly. She had found a sewing machine a couple of years ago, which Bulma had refurbished for her, and she used this to make clothing which she sold. Her creations were popular, even if the creator wasn't. 'I can't wait for next year's cotton harvest. I've had enough of scrabbling for salvaged material.'
Bulma kept her mouth shut. While she appreciated Eighteen's reintegration back into society, her complaints were rather hard to take when she had been jointly responsible for the sad state of said society.
'Are you looking for Sixteen?' she asked instead.
Eighteen shrugged again. 'I guess. I have something for Trunks too,' she said, and Bulma noticed the rolled up material under her arm for the first time.
'Yeah, what is it this time?'
'Pair of trousers. I was experimenting. I thought they looked like his size.'
'I can give them to him if you don't want to wait.'
Eighteen looked uncomfortable. 'No, I'll wait.'
Well, the girl was persistent, she'd giver her that.
'I was just going up to the house,' Bulma told her. 'Got to get lunch started for the boys. Will you help me?'
'Sure. I'll even help you eat lunch.'
They walked back through the lab and up the stairs into the garden. Bulma had long since satisfied her curiosity about Eighteen's rekindled desire to eat. Eighteen didn't really understand it herself, but when she was around people she would get hungry. It was an instinctive habit that had nothing to do with need, and much more to do with socialisation. Even Seventeen was known to eat these days.
'How is Seventeen?' Bulma asked as they crossed the meadow of the garden. They had goats and cows now, so the grass was clipped relatively short these days. The new house was built on the foundation of the old one, but it was a far more modest building than the one it replaced. It was a wood-framed, four bedroom, two story house with wattle and daub cladding and wooden shingles. The building was a collaborative effort between herself, Trunks, Vegeta, Sixteen and Eighteen, and Bulma was immensely proud of it, despite its tendency to leak and its rather dodgy plumbing. It was the first house she'd ever been involved with building, and it had been a learning process to say the least. They'd replace it one day, she was sure, but in the meantime it was home, and her heart swelled with happiness every time she saw it. It was comfort and permanence and family. Her life of running and loneliness was over.
'I don't know,' Eighteen replied. 'He's gone again.'
'Again? What happened to that Macy girl?'
'He broke up with her. He's gone down to Cresent Bay or somewhere looking for more action,' Eighteen replied sulkily. Since Trunks had returned and Bulma had announced to the world that the androids were no longer a threat, Seventeen had lived a mostly nomadic life trading on his new celebrity. He lived his life like a TV Western, rolling into town, saving the day and wooing the girl before riding off into the sunset again. Bulma suspected that he caused as many troubles as he solved, but there was no end of girls willing to throw themselves at the "dangerous" bad-boy.
'Well, with his track record he'll have no trouble finding some "action".'
Eighteen made a noise in he back of her throat. 'Girls just fall all over him, and he doesn't even care about them. It's not fair.'
Bulma turned back to Eighteen to study the girl's face. She was glowering at the ground.
'What do you mean?'
'I mean, he doesn't love them. He's just playing with them, you know, just sleeping with them for fun.'
'Well, there are a lot of silly girls out there. What's not fair?'
Eighteen stopped mid stride, causing Bulma to turn back to her. Eighteen's frown was twisted up painfully.
'What's wrong, Eighteen?'
'I'm not going around slutting it up,' said Eighteen. 'I only want…' She trailed off, rolling a goat turd with the toe of her boot and then kicking it away. 'Hey Bulma, do you think that maybe there's only one person out there for everyone? One person who they will love and who loves them? What if you missed that person? What if they were dead?'
'No,' said Bulma, realising who Eighteen was talking about. 'They'll be someone else out there.'
'Really? I know all about you and Vegeta. There was only one out there for you, wasn't there?'
Bulma opened her mouth to deny it, but realised that she couldn't. She couldn't imagine anyone else. There hadn't been anyone else. Even though her first Vegeta had died before she could even get to grips with the thought that she loved him, and well before he loved her back, somehow her heart had waited in stasis until another Vegeta had impossibly come back into her life. What else was that if not pre-destined love?
Eighteen's eyes flashed up at her and away with a bitter smile. 'See?'
'I'm sure there's someone else out there for you to fall in love with, Eighteen.'
'But what if I fall in love with someone and they never love me back?'
And now Bulma knew who the new focus of this conversation was. God, it was pathetic, and she really did feel sorry for Eighteen, but she was barking up the worst tree possible. It was positively masochistic the way she pursued Trunks. For his part, Trunks had come to tolerate her uneasily for his parent's sake. Sometimes he even seemed to not dislike her, but he had told Bulma that Eighteen was two different people in his mind – Before Eighteen and After Eighteen. And whenever he remembered that After Eighteen was also Before Eighteen he burned with hatred and the urge to kill her.
'Then it wasn't meant to be and you'll find someone else,' Bulma replied levelly.
Eighteen's face crumpled, but then she bit down on her emotion and her face returned to its neutral sulk. 'You'd better be right.'
Bulma sighed and walked on. She hoped she was right too. She didn't think Trunks knew what Eighteen's continual attempts to build a bridge between them meant. Eighteen was so emotionally locked down and Trunks tried so hard to turn a blind-eye to her that hopefully he had missed the sentiment. She could just imagine Trunks's disgust if he realised Eighteen was attempting to court him.
As they neared the house Sixteen rounded the corner, striding after a nanny goat. One child was riding the goat with delight (the child's, not the goat's), and the other child perched like a queen on Sixteen's shoulder.
'Bardock, leave Cocoa alone!' Bulma said, plucking him off as the goat scrabbled away.
'Mama!' he said, laughing like he didn't know he was in trouble and kicking his legs to be put back on the ground again.
'What am I going to do with you?' she grumbled at her reckless, mischievous, eternally cheerful son. He was not yet three years old and was already too much trouble for his own good. She set him on the grass and watched the wild spikes of his blue hair bounce as he ran away from her after the goat. He looked a lot like Trunks at the same age, except for his hair, but he was happier, and even cockier. She wondered if it was his father's influence somehow. He was even named after Vegeta. Bardock was only his middle name, but they called him that to avoid confusion. She couldn't stand the suffix Junior, and Bardock had a nice ring to it. When she and Vegeta had been throwing names around it had been her favourite sounding Saiyan name, and he had told her it was the name of Goku's father.
Suddenly his twin sister launched herself from Sixteen's shoulder into her arms.
'Oof!' Bulma exclaimed, caught by surprise, barely hanging onto the toddler as she nearly knocked the wind out of her. Bonnie looked up and graced her mother with one of her rare smiles. Bulma opened her mouth to scold her and found the little girl's expression so sweet she couldn't bring herself to do it.
'That was silly Bonnie, Mommy almost dropped you,' she said instead, rubbing her nose against hers. Bonnie chuckled and turned away from the affection. She was a slippery one Bonnie. She was named after Bulma's mother, but she was turning out nothing like her namesake. She was a serious, thoughtful, but fearless child, and possessed a determination that was alarming in a toddler. If she had dropped her daughter, Bulma had no doubt she would be fine. Bonnie had already jumped out of a second storey window with no ill-effects other than the heart attack she'd given her mother. Bardock was more likely to get himself in a situation where, say, falling out of the window was a regretful consequence, but Bonnie would coolly and purposefully leap. It was strange that the twins were so different from each other, and yet they both reminded her of herself and Vegeta.
Bonnie was black-haired like her father, with a mild widow's peak, but it fell soft and straight on either side of her face, and her pink bow lips stood out against her pale skin. Her eyes were almost as black as her father's. Trunks had nicknamed her Snow White, and it was a name that stuck.
Vegeta had been subdued when they had been told by their midwife that she was carrying twins, but Bulma had put that down to anxiety. Twins were far riskier with the increased chances of complications and premature birth. Bulma had been beside herself with fear at the news. In the remaining months of pregnancy she had hunted down a former obstetrician, rebuilt the med lab with proper surgical facilities and built two incubators. And it was a good thing that she did, because the twins came four weeks premature by emergency caesarean after Bardock presented in breach and got stuck, sending Bonnie into distress. The med lab was now known locally as the "Briefs Delivery Suite" and had been the scene of a number of complicated births since then.
Bulma had finally noticed Vegeta's disappointment in the days after the birth. He was relieved, and he was happy and smugly proud of his two new children, but when he looked at Bonnie he wasn't able to hide it completely. There was sadness spoiling the mix, and Bulma could guess why. Even at just a few days old, with her fuzz of dark hair and peaked hairline, it was plain to see that Bonnie was no Bra. She'd understood his sadness, although it pissed her off (and they'd argued about it). He'd gotten over it though. As the twins' personalities began to express themselves the comparisons to forever-lost daughters faded away.
Bonnie twisted backwards, nearly pitching herself out of Bulma's arms again, and so she put her on the ground too, sighing. Bonnie made a bee-line for Eighteen, sizing her up, and Eighteen crossed her arms.
'Just keep walking, kid.'
Bonnie stopped, but then took an experimental step towards Eighteen anyway.
'Beat it!' said Eighteen, without any real heat, leaning down to glower at the girl. Bonnie veered away, running after her brother, a mocking laugh ringing out as she went.
Eighteen was curious about the children, and had been about Bulma's pregnancy too, but she didn't really get them. She certainly wasn't comfortable with them. Sixteen, on the other hand, was delighted by the twins in his quiet way. He liked watching them, although Bulma did wish he did more than just watch when he babysat them. As a nanny he was far too permissive, the goat riding being a case in point.
'Shall I mind them while you cook?' he asked her.
'If you would, Sixteen,' she replied. 'Don't let them terrorise the livestock though.'
Just then she caught the sound of air being rent by fast-moving bodies.
'Goody, more help in the kitchen,' Bulma said. Her men landed next to her, twin expressions of stoicism in place. Vegeta's slipped though as both toddlers ran at him, attaching themselves to his legs. He walked over to her, pretending to ignore the peals of laughter as his two youngest tried to cling on for the ride.
'Good morning's training, honey?' she asked him.
He lowered one eyebrow in disapproval of the endearment. 'Good enough.'
Bulma noted that his clothes were still in relatively good nick, but sighed when she saw that Trunks's outfit had taken a beating again, as had he most likely. Trunks was frowning at Eighteen, but Eighteen darted a look at Trunks and caught him staring. Trunks had the frown knocked right off his face before he turned away.
'Looks like you need the gift I made you,' said Eighteen, unrolling the trousers and holding them up to Trunks.
Trunks grimaced and approached Eighteen, getting just close enough to take the pants with an outstretched arm. Bulma only needed a second to note how stylish and complicated the cut was. Eighteen's designs and execution were constantly improving. Trunks was probably the most fashionably attired man on the continent thanks to her regular wardrobe additions.
'Thanks, Eighteen,' he said woodenly. 'You didn't need to.'
'I know,' she said simply. 'But who else is going to keep you in clothes if Vegeta keeps mashing the shit out of you all the time?'
'Shit!' said Bardock, his dark blue eyes shining with glee. Somehow he knew it was a naughty word.
'The boy did well today,' said Vegeta. Then he grinned. 'Very well. The second level of Super Saiyan is within his grasp, if not his control.'
Bulma laughed and ran to her older son. 'Is that right, Trunks?'
He finally smiled and nodded, breaking the tough shell he had taken to using in Vegeta's presence. In a way it was cute the way he mimicked his father in his manner, but at the same time it was sad that he felt he had to.
She grasped his face between her hands and squeezed his cheeks like a baby. 'Trunks that's amazing!'
'Thanks, Mom,' he said, 'but Father's right. I still have to control it. I've got a long way to go.'
'I know,' she said. 'You'll do it though. I'm so proud of you!'
He grinned back at her, his happiness breaking free.
As she turned back to Vegeta to share the moment with him she saw his matching grin falter and his eyes shoot up towards the sky. Time felt like it slowed down as she swivelled on the spot to see what he had, and her body delivered her a massive shot of adrenaline when she saw...a time machine, her time machine, hanging in the air over the garden. As it dropped toward the ground, Vegeta thrust Bardock into her arms and practically threw Bonnie at Trunks. He came to a snarling defensive stance in front of his family.
'Who is it?' shouted Sixteen above the din of the twins' frightened crying.
Eighteen gasped and then let out an unhinged laugh. 'What? Is he suicidal? Why would he show his face here?'
The machine touched down a little way away, scaring the goat and the chickens. Bulma held her breath as the hatch popped and raised, but straight away she could see that someone else was in the cockpit with him, though she couldn't make out who.
'Huh,' said Vegeta, his glower relaxing a little.
Kibito Kai leapt to the ground and walked towards them. He looked faintly embarrassed and nervous she noticed.
'Peace!' he called, slowing as he came nearer. 'Please don't be hostile Vegeta,' he said. 'Would you mind standing down your team?'
'Team?' said Eighteen, outraged. 'I don't work for Vegeta!'
Sixteen however looked to Vegeta for his cue. Bulma felt a stab of annoyance that since she had a baby in her arms she seemed to have become irrelevant to the situation. Vegeta straightened and crossed his arms, stance and face both projecting cynicism. Eighteen unconsciously copied his pose.
'What are you here for, Supreme Kai?' Bulma asked.
The Kai focused on her narrowed eyes and looked sorrowful. He bowed his head to her, which instantly made her feel bad about being so suspicious of him.
'Bulma, I feel terrible for everything that I and the other Kai visited upon you. I hoped you might have forgiven me by now.'
Bulma shrugged uncomfortably. 'I was pretty angry with you when it happened, and you haven't shown your face for more than three years.'
'I thought it wise to keep my distance,' he said, his eyes flicking to Vegeta and Trunks and back to her. 'But I've come back with a peace offering.'
'Is that so?' said Vegeta, his mouth curling up in a reluctant smile.
Kibito Kai smiled back at him as if they were sharing a joke. He turned and walked back to the time machine, and Vegeta followed him, the rest of them tagging along behind. Trunks cast Bulma a questioning look over Bonnie's head, and she shrugged back at him. Whatever or whoever was in the time machine it couldn't be too bad, judging by Vegeta's reaction.
As they got closer to the machine the other person in the cockpit stood up. The first thing she noticed about them was that they were green.
'Now, Supreme Kai?'
'Yes, now Dende!'
Bulma laughed out loud with surprise as the Namek jumped to the ground. He was tall, a fully-grown man, but definitely Dende. She rushed around Vegeta to see him up close.
'Bulma, you look exactly the same!'
'You don't,' she said, and Bardock struggled in her arms to face the stranger. 'Gosh, Dende, it must be twenty, twenty-five years since I saw you! Look how you've grown up!'
'Mommy,' said Bardock loudly. 'He's green!'
'Yes, I know that Bardock.'
'I don't think it's been quite that long for me,' Dende said.
'Oh, that's right! Vegeta said you'd been taken from this universe.' She looked over her shoulder and saw Vegeta trying to suppress a smile and the Kai grinning knowingly.
'He was,' said the Kai. 'But when the Time Patrol came across the universe where he'd been taken, we decided to return him at once.'
She looked back at Dende and he immediately answered the question she was about to ask.
'A man called Dr Gero tricked me into going with him. He said that my help was needed on Earth, but all he really wanted was a set of Dragonballs he could control. He took me back to his own universe where his creations had already killed Kami and Piccolo. If I'd known what he'd planned…Bulma, he wished for terrible things.'
'Dr Gero? It doesn't surprise me at all. Thankfully he's dead in this universe.' She stared at Dende's kind, alien eyes. She wanted to ask him why he was here on Earth and not back on New Namek, but the hope was so great that if she were wrong the disappointment would be shattering.
'I asked him if he would mind serving the Kai and the people of the Earth as it's new Guardian,' said the Supreme Kai. The hope leapt to Bulma's throat, making her next question breathless.
'Did you say yes?'
'Yes. I would love to serv-'
'Yes! Dende!' She grabbed him into a hug with one arm, squeezing the puzzled Bardock between them. 'I can't believe it! A new Kami!'
'And new Dragonballs,' added Vegeta, voicing the hope that Bulma was too tactful to mention.
'Hee,' said Bulma in embarrassment. 'Well, that's another good thing.'
To her relief Dende replied 'It looks like Earth needs them. I hope you don't think it's rude of me to say that your planet is a mess!'
She laughed again, aware in her peripheral vision that Eighteen was fidgeting uncomfortably. 'No, it's true. It's a great big mess, but it's on the mend.'
'Dende,' said Trunks, stepping forward. 'It's good to see you again.'
Dende frowned. 'I'm sorry, but I don't think we have met.'
'Oh, yeah, of course. Not in this timeline. I met another version of you.'
'How confusing. I think I liked it better when there was just one thread of time moving from the past to the future.'
'Dende, this is my son, Trunks.'
'Is this your daughter?' he asked Trunks of the struggling toddler he held in his arms.
'No, my sister Bonnie. And that's my brother Bardock.'
Dende's eyes flicked over the twins, to Vegeta and away again quickly. 'Of course! Vegeta's children. You're all Bulma and Vegeta's children.' He looked back at Bulma again and smiled, blushing slightly. 'How marvellous!'
'I know,' she replied, grinning even as Vegeta snorted disparagingly behind her.
A dull thumping noise made everyone look over at the machine. Bulma saw a sandaled pair of scrawny legs kicking the lower dome of the machine.
'Oh no,' said the Supreme Kai, 'I forgot all about the lower hatch!'
He pressed a button on the remote and the lower hatch sprang open too. The legs dropped to the ground, and attached to them was a crooked old man wearing shorts, sunglasses and a Hawaiian shirt. 'One more minute in there and I was going to blast my way out!' said the crotchety voice. Bulma shoved Bardock into Dende's hands and ran to the old man as he was stooping to get clear of the time machine.
'Master Roshi!' she cried, grabbing him to her. She immediately wished she had waited a moment longer, as he fell forward with his face pressed to the front of her scoop-neck t-shirt.
'Boy am I glad to be back home again, especially when this is the kind of greeting I get,' he said as his arms made their way around her waist and gave her a surreptitious squeeze on the bottom.
'What?' snarled Vegeta.
Roshi looked up. 'Oh, that's right, he's here now.' He let go of her and winked. 'When I get back to my island, come pay a visit Bulma. Leave the stiff at home - we've got a lot to catch up on.' He looked down at her breasts with a wistful smile. 'I've missed you so much!'
Trunks made a choking sound.
'You filthy old pervert!' scolded Bulma. 'I can't believe it, you've only been back ten seconds and you've already embarrassed everyone!' And then she burst into laughter. 'Oh my goodness, Kai! Who else do you have up your sleeve?'
'Only these two I'm afraid. We found him in the same universe as Dende,' said Kibito Kai. Then the smile faded from his face. 'I've got something to ask you though, you and Trunks. Please consider it.'
Bulma felt her happiness doused with cold. 'So what strings are attached to this deal?'
'No strings. You can refuse, and you have every right to do so. But the other Supreme Kai and I would like Trunks and you to join our Time Patrol.'
Vegeta was at her side in a moment, an arm around her waist pulling her hard against his side. He looked bloody murder at the Kai, who gulped and took a step backwards.
'I knew that would be your initial reaction,' he said.
'It's going to be my only reaction,' she told him. 'Even if I felt like helping you, I just got my life and my family back together. I've got two little kids. As if I could, or would, leave all that to work for you on the Planet of the Kais. I can't believe you would even ask!'
'You're not taking her anywhere,' added Vegeta in a dangerously hushed tone.
'And I wouldn't!' said the Kai, holding his hands up. 'Please hear me out, before you say no. Bulma and Trunks could remain here. They wouldn't have to live on our planet. It wouldn't even be much work for you, Bulma; just occasional machine maintenance. We have more machines than Time Patrollers now. Things are starting to get out of control again – the remaining universes are continuing to split faster than we can shut them down. If it goes on this way your monumental clean up act will have meant nothing, Vegeta. We'll be swimming in more universes than we could ever cope with.'
'I notice you didn't ask me to join your little Kai brigade,' Vegeta replied.
The Kai gave a little hiccup of laughter. 'Would you want to? Besides, we've had a Vegeta on the Time Patrol before. It didn't really work out.'
'Huh. You're damn right. I never want to touch a fucking time machine ever again. And neither do I want my woman or son in one.'
'Well, I'm sorry then,' said the Kai, looking between the hardened faces of Vegeta and Bulma. 'I understand. I don't blame you.' He made to turn back to the machine, but Trunks called out.
'Wait! Supreme Kai! I want to do it. Or at least try it.'
'What?' shouted Bulma and Vegeta in unison.
'No!' protested Eighteen.
'Trunks, why?' said Bulma.
'If the universes go on splitting to infinity, that's bad, right?'
'Very bad,' agreed the Kai. 'The power of the Kai to guide and oversee the universes would be watered down to nothing. It would be unremitting, random chaos until all creation broke apart.'
'The multiverse needs help Mom. I can help. I want to.'
Bulma couldn't believe it, but Trunks actually looked excited.
'It's not your fight Trunks! We need your help here too!'
'I think you can spare me for the sake of all of creation, right?'
Bulma turned and growled at the Kai. 'Taking my son away from me again! I can't believe it!'
'But I'm still going to be living here, Mom,' objected Trunks. 'You'll still see me.'
'I don't want to lose you again!'
'We have a very good safety record with our Time Patrol,' said he Kai. 'They have only ever left voluntarily. We've never lost a single one. And we'll make him deletion-proof.'
Bulma looked to Vegeta for back-up. Vegeta had his eyes narrowed on the Kai.
'Will this interfere with his time spent training with me?' said Vegeta.
'Vegeta!' yelled Bulma. 'That is not what is pressing here!'
'Woman, the boy is twenty-three years old. If he wants to use his life to do something useful, let him do it. He wants a battle to fight. I don't approve of the company he'll be keeping or the method, but even so.'
Bulma looked from his face to the Kai's to Trunks's, feeling betrayed. She could see it all over Trunks's face, the hopeful anticipation of danger and adventure. Damn it! She clutched Bardock to her more tightly, At least this one wasn't going to get away and risk his existence anytime soon.
'Mamma!' he complained, struggling to get free.
Finally she growled and stamped her foot in temper. 'Fine! Whatever! But I'll be the one doing the maintenance on your time machine! I won't trust anyone else to touch it!'
'Thank you, Bulma,' said the Kai.
'But…' said Eighteen.
The Kai turned a puzzled face to her. 'Yes, Eighteen?'
Eighteen lifted her head and stuck her chin out. 'I want to join the Time Patrol too.' Bulma almost had to pick her jaw up off the ground. Kibito Kai looked even more surprised.
'Are you sure?' he said, looking rather alarmed.
'Yeah, why not? It's boring round here unless you're into babies or farming.'
He stared at her open mouthed for a second and then told her 'It might be a little hard for me to trust someone who tried her best to kill me every other time I met them.'
Eighteen stepped towards him, a mocking smile joining her haughty expression. 'You scared of me, Pretty Boy?'
'N-no!' stammered the Kai. 'But you don't precisely have a long track record of doing the right thing. Forgive me, but I don't know that you can be trusted with something with as much potential to be abused as a time machine.'
Eighteen looked rather pissed off by that evaluation of her character. 'Fine, don't trust me with your stupid machines then! What other jobs do you have on the Patrol? Perhaps I could come one board as the Kai's tailor and stylist.' She contemptuously plucked one of the ridiculously puffed sleeves of the Kai's shirt. 'Looks like you could use one!'
The Kai blushed pink and stepped back from her. 'Your offer of help is noted. It will be taken into consideration.'
'Consideration? Don't bullshit me. You mean it absolutely won't be taken into consideration.'
'Well I can't see it ever happening, let me put it that way.'
Eighteen's eyes flashed with icy fire and she clenched her fists with rage. 'I can't believe this! You beg Trunks to do this thing, but when I offer of my own free will you all freak out! No-one ever really trusts me! There's only one exciting job prospect, and you won't even let me have a crack at it! Urgh, whatever.' She turned and strode away to the house.
Bulma shook her head – Eighteen would be bending her ear about this later on, she had no doubt. When she turned back to the others she was not surprised to see that Master Roshi was openly oogling Eighteen's retreating backside. Trunks and Kibito Kai were also still watching her go with matching looks of confusion on their faces. Vegeta caught Bulma's eye.
'That's settled then,' he said. 'Where's lunch?'
Spring flowed into summer, and slowly faded into autumn again. Bulma sat in her ground floor study watching the open grasslands that stretched from what used to be the boundary of the Capsule Compound to the river, and the distant figures of the people cropping the dry grass into haystacks. She had been checking her planting calendar to see what they should be preparing to put in the ground, but she'd become distracted by the sight of the open fields. She still hadn't gotten used to it. West City was no more, and the only remainder of what used to be was the unnaturally symmetrical series of hills a little way back from the river. One was concrete, one was polycrete, one was steel, one was glass, and so on, in smaller and smaller mounds of conveniently arranged recyclables. It had taken a very carefully worded wish, but now all the cities of Earth were gone, the land they sat on returned to its natural state, and their materials sorted for reuse. Dende and Korin had agreed with her. There was no point in wishing for the restoration of the cities – there simply wasn't enough people left in the world to live in them. Though some small towns had remained occupied, the urban centres had all been abandoned when their infrastructure fell apart. And they'd always been a red flag for the androids. It was a different world for sure.
Bulma frowned when a familiar lavender-faced figure winked into view in front of the vegetable gardens. Trunks was not here – he was working some mission for the Time Patrol, and the sight of Kibito Kai here by himself was not at all reassuring. She remembered that Eighteen was on some sort of trial run with the Time Patrol today. Oh god, what had happened?
She stood up as the Kai made his way calmly to the house and knocked on the door. It couldn't be to bad if he was wasting time knocking, could it? Or maybe it was the worse kind of news – the kind where the swiftness of delivery could not make it any better.
She opened the door.
'Kibito Kai,' she said, flinging the door open. 'What's wrong?'
The handsome features looked up at her distractedly, his fist still raised from knocking on the door. Wherever his mind was it was far away from here. And though he didn't look happy, he also didn't look too upset.
'Wrong? Oh, I guess there is something wrong. Or at least I'm sure it's not right,' he said, seeming befuddled.
What the hell was wrong with him? 'Kai, is Trunks okay?' she demanded.
'Yes,' he said, looking surprised now.
'Oh. Yes. Though I don't think the Supreme Kai will let her join the Time Patrol after her first solo mission.'
Bulma groaned in disappointment. She would have a malcontent spinster robot back here in no time, twice as bitter at her place in the universe.
'Is that why you're here?' she asked him, letting him in the door.
'Yes and no,' he said. 'Bulma, I need to ask you another favour.' He lowered his head, embarrassed. She felt resentment fighting with pity at the sight of him. 'And perhaps some advice,' he added softly.
Well, this was new. None of his other requests had been accompanied with this much humility or discomfort.
'Let's hear it then,' she said, leading him back to the study where she sat back in her comfy chair, letting the Kai take the rigid wooden one. She felt a little triumph at her power play, having a god sit in the second best seat in the room while she lounged in the best. But this was forgotten the moment the Kai spoke.
'I may not be a Supreme Kai for much longer.'
He looked quite lost sitting in her study with his shoulders hunched. She could suddenly see that there was something missing from him. His surety was missing. His authority.
'I might need a place to stay a little while if that comes to pass. I've lived for eons, but spend them all on the Planet of the Kais. I'm not sure if I know how to take care of myself outside of Heaven's gates so to speak, and…I've become rather attached to this place.'
She stared at him open mouthed.
The Kai's face became distraught. 'I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked. It was foolish of me to impose on you and Vegeta any more than I have!'
'No!' said Bulma. She may have raged and resented the Kai at various times, but she felt sympathy for him now. She wondered how this would go over with Vegeta, but that was a question for later. 'No, you can stay. But Kibito Kai, why? I didn't think that Supreme Kai was the sort of job that you could lose.'
'It isn't usually,' he said with a wry smile. 'But I've not exactly been the Eastern Supreme Kai of old lately.'
'I don't think it should be a surprise really, at least not to me,' he said sadly. 'Ever since Kibito and the Eastern Supreme Kai fused with the Potara earrings to become me, there have been mutterings amongst the other Supreme Kai that I was not quite as I should be. I was not quite so objective, not quite so distant, not quite as dispassionate. They made their opinions clear to me after we formed the Time Patrol. I took a leading role. They said I was too involved. They said I was becoming too attached to people and places. I disagreed with them. I thought it was no bad thing. The feeling of attachment was natural to me. I can't remember how the Eastern Supreme Kai or the bodyguard Kibito used to feel before the fusion, but I am me, and that is all I know how to be.
'But then as we pursued your Vegeta and others like him I knew that I wasn't being as ruthless with him as I could. I could not be cruel to someone who even deserved it…simply because it was Vegeta, and I knew him. I didn't want him removed from the universes. Even when he made me furious, I felt it was not right for him to be destroyed. I towed the Supreme Kai line though. Or I thought I did. Since that blew over I hoped that the criticism of me would die down too. It didn't. And now I'm starting to think they are right. You might not know it, but I've grown very fond of you and your family Bulma. Distractingly so. I have other duties, other focuses, and I'm afraid I let them slide somewhat.'
Bulma stared at him. She was getting quite worried about where this was going.
'There are other universes, other planets, other people that I know need my attention, but I can't drag it away from my friends enough. And it only feels natural to me to want to look out for those that I know personally…but it's not seemly behaviour for a Supreme Kai. I've lost my objectivity, if I ever had it to begin with. I'm failing in my duty.'
'I'm…flattered that you consider us friends,' she said. She'd almost said surprised rather than flattered, but decided at the last second it sounded too rude.
'Well, in trying to do right by my friends and by my duties, I have done neither well,' he said. 'I'm not surprised you're shocked. I did try to usher you both into the Next Dimension after all. So that's why I decided to put an end to this fence-walking. I think I shall abdicate before I am asked to step down.'
'Is that what you needed my advice for? It sounds like you've already made your decision.'
'No,' he said, and his cheeks pinkened slightly. 'There's something else.' He paused for a while, looking out the window before he continued, keeping his eyes carefully averted from Bulma. 'I lost my objectivity. I'm no longer impartial. And what finally convinced me was when I realised I was becoming particularly partial to Eighteen.'
Bulma gasped and had to stifle a laugh behind her hand. Kibito Kai glanced over at her, offended. He looked pained.
'I'm not laughing because it's funny,' she said, though actually it was a little. 'I'm just very surprised. What you mean by "partial" exactly?'
'The other Supreme Kai were very sceptical when I convinced them to trial Eighteen in the Time Patrol, as I was at first, to be truthful,' he said, staring out the window again. 'She completed the assignment today, clipped some universes, but returned with some new pairs of shoes and bottles of nail polish and other cosmetic supplies that she liberated from the doomed universes.' He smiled at the recollection, and Bulma smiled too, both at Eighteen's pragmatism and at the soft look on Kibito Kai's face. Who would have thought?
'What's wrong with that?' said Bulma.
'One could argue, not much. It's a victimless crime. I was inclined to look past it, but the other Kai felt that it showed a streak of corruption and selfishness. They argued that if she were willing to do that in her first jump when she was being observed, she would take much greater liberties later, when on-one was looking. And I realised they were right. Based on her trial she can't be trusted with a time machine. I just found that I didn't care. I wanted her to be on the Time Patrol anyway, just so that I could spend more time with her.'
Dammit, she wished she'd paid more attention to Eighteen and the Kai when he visited. She'd completely missed the clues. She thought the Kai stiff and pompous around Eighteen. Eighteen enjoyed roasting the Kai with her dry wit, and had cajoled and baited him into letting her have a go in the Time Patrol. What exactly had the Kai found enticing? And had Eighteen even meant to entice?
'So, you the two of you are…friends now?' asked Bulma leadingly.
'I don't even know,' he said. 'I know what it feels like to have a friend. That is not what this feels like.'
'What does it feel like then?' she asked, definitely intrigued.
The Kai blushed. 'I can't stop thinking of her. I'm always thinking of excuses to see her and talk to her. I have to resist the urge to touch her. When I think of her I almost feel anxious.' He put a hand on the front of his tunic between over his chest. 'I feel a tightness. A trembling. I feel terrible,' he finished in a whisper.
Bulma pinched her nose and turned red as she tried not to laugh hysterically. 'Oh yeah,' she said, when she was able. 'That sounds like you're in love, Kai.' And it sounded like he had it bad.
He nodded his head and took a steadying breath, as if a doctor was confirming a very grim diagnosis. 'I thought it might be, but how? I've seen countless billions of couples fall in love, but I'm a Kaioshin. I've never done it myself. I didn't even think I was able to.'
'And does Eighteen feel the same way?'
His frown deepened. 'I do not know. I had hoped that you might know more.' He looked hopefully at her.
'Don't ask me,' she said. 'Has she given no indication?'
'She kissed me after I told her I'd gotten the other Kai to agree to this trial. I think she was just teasing me. I'm not sure.'
Bulma's mouth popped open with astonishment. She felt that it was quite likely Eighteen had just been playing with the Kai, cruelly, if she suspected the Kai's feelings for her. But then again, who knew? She decided to question Eighteen about it.
'I think it is all moot anyway,' he said. 'I believe Trunks has some prior claim on her.'
'What?' choked Bulma. 'Trunks! My Trunks?'
'I could be wrong,' said the Kai. He looked very upset. 'I'm completely lost. Bulma, I don't know what to do at all!'
Bulma didn't know what to do either. 'Trunks and Eighteen, I can't believe that!' She looked at the distraught purple skinned man, who no longer looked remotely godly, just handsome and innocent and confused. 'We'll get to the bottom of this. When are you stepping down as Supreme Kai? Are you sure it's worth it if she doesn't feel the same way?'
'I have to step down either way. I'm compromised. I'll do it today. I'm sure if I leave it any longer the other Supremes will force me out.'
'Will you lose your powers if you're no longer a Supreme Kai?'
'A few of them. The immortality is the scariest thing to lose. If I stay in the Next World I won't age, but if I live here in this dimension I'll age just like any mortal, and die one day.'
'Then why don't you stay in the Next World?'
'Maybe I will,' he said sadly. 'But I don't feel much connection there outside the Planet of the Kais. I could stay there and live like the Grand Old Kai, but I don't want to stay there. I've been staring out at this dimension all my life…I want to join the life I've watched from afar.'
Bulma hardly knew what to say. Immortality was not anything she'd ever had to consider giving up. In some decades she'd be dead and gone, with her children and hopefully their children the only things she left behind.
'Wait a minute,' she said. 'How are Kaioshin born?'
Kibito Kai looked at her like she had asked something very obvious. 'They begin as seeds and ripen in the fruit of the Kaiju Trees on the Planet of the Kais until they are needed, and they are awoken to service.'
'I'm not sure that this is going to work out between you and Eighteen then,' she told him regretfully.
'What do you mean?'
'If you ever manage to get her there, you might leave her a little disappointed in the bedroom department.'
'If you're asking if I'm equipped' he blushed the colour of a raspberry, 'I am.'
'Though I thought all the bits were just for show until recently.'
'Oh,' she said, covering her mouth again, covering both her own blush and the mirth that was threatening to break free. 'And what happened recently?'
'All in working order is it?'
'How should I know?' he snapped at her, still blushing. 'I've not exactly had any opportunity for extensive testing.'
'I'm sorry! I'm sorry Kai!' she said, unable to stop her laughing. When she caught her breath she got out of her chair and patted him on the shoulder. 'I can't imagine what you're going through.'
'I thought you said it wasn't funny,' he said dully.
'It's not, I swear,' she said, calming down. 'It's terrible that you have to leave all that you've ever known behind. It must be disconcerting to discover a whole new side of yourself that you never knew existed. But you will get used to it. You will find the way forward.'
He closed his eyes and sighed. 'Perhaps at last I can start being a true friend to you,' he said. 'I miss the Bulma who worked with the Time Patrol. She gave me a lot of insight on what it's like to be a mortal being. I always held back from being her friend completely because I was a Supreme Kai, but if you let me I'd like to be your friend.'
'I'd like that,' she said, suddenly knowing that he needed to hear that someone was looking out for him. How old was he? Thousands of years old? Millions? Suddenly now he didn't seem much older than her Trunks. 'Come to dinner' Bulma commanded. 'It will be the first meal of your new life. You do eat, don't you?'
'Oh, yes. We eat the berries and fruits that grow on the Planet of the Kai.'
'Well, we're not having Kai-Planet fruits and berries for dinner tonight, we're having roast venison and vegetables. Let's see if you're equipped for that at least.'
He smiled tremulously. 'Thank you, Bulma.' He got to his feet and she followed him back out to the door.
'I will bring Eighteen home with me later,' he said. 'I'm sure she won't be very pleased when they tell her they don't want her.'
'I'm sure she won't either. I'll guess you'll both be here for dinner then. Bring her home the long way.'
'What do you mean?'
'Show her some amazing sights she's never seen before. I'm sure with your knowledge of the universe you know a lot. Doing something nice for her can only help your case.'
'Oh, I see. Courtship.' He nodded his head, and then frowned. 'I really don't think this is going to work.'
'Not with that attitude it won't. Faint heart never won fair lady.' Bulma would do everything in her power to make it happen. Trunks and Eighteen indeed! There was no way she was having a stropy android for a daughter in law! Much better to palm her off on the Kai.
Kibito Kai gave another weak smile, and she was suddenly moved to give him a quick hug. It was so odd, she thought, how eager she was to forgive and befriend him now that he was laid low.
'See you soon Kibito Kai.'
A short while later she was busy simultaneously supervising the twins' eating their lunch, and making bread dough. In honour of Kibito Kai's first day as a free agent she was making bread using her supply of wheat flour. She had a sack of milled flour form last year's wheat harvest; the first decent effort of grow wheat in years. What was even more unusual was that she paid money for it. Since the Androids were no longer a threat the rapid expansion of farming or other projects required that people be extended credit while their efforts were being invested into their fields or hydro dams or whatever it was they were doing. IOU notes became common, and four years on, although bartering was still used at least half the time, the world was well on it's way to becoming a paper economy again. Small scale banks and money lenders could be found running out of stalls in the markets. Bulma sighed, not sure if this was a good thing or not. She wondered if she'd be buying pastries on a credit card before she died.
A sudden sensation of heat at her back gave her a second's warning before two strong hands slipped around her from behind, stroking up her stomach to grasp a breast each, and pulled her back against a hard chest.
'Oh, my lover,' she said, her hands still in the dough on the bench in front of her. 'You'd better hurry before Vegeta comes back!'
Vegeta growled. 'Think you're being funny, Woman?' he said, pressing his crotch into her backside and rubbing circles over her nipples with his thumbs.
'You have no sense of humour,' she told him with a smile, and leaned back into his ministrations.
'You'd never stray,' he told her, rubbing his face up her neck. 'I'd smell another man on you a mile away.' Suddenly he froze and then pulled away from her, spinning her on the spot to face him.
'Kibito Kai?' he shouted, incredulous.
'What about him?' she said, rattled.
'Why can I smell him on you?'
Bulma laughed when she realised the unfortunate connection he'd made in his mind, but he looked like he was going to have an apoplexy when she did.
'Calm down!' she scolded. 'He was here before. He was quite upset, I gave him a hug and some sympathy. God, Vegeta, as if!'
He did calm, but continued to look grumpy. 'Since when are you so friendly with him?'
'Since today. He needs friends right now. It turns out he considers us his friends.'
'Huh. What is the Earth saying? With friends like these, who needs enemies?'
She frowned, wondering how to tell him.
'He couldn't really be a friend before because he was trying to be a Supreme Kai. And he couldn't really be a Supreme Kai because he wanted to be friends. But by the end of this day, he won't be a Supreme Kai anymore.'
Vegeta grunted with surprise. 'Why not?'
'He's stepping down before he gets kicked out of the board room.'
'Because amongst other things…he's in love with Eighteen.'
Vegeta's face went comically slack, and then he opened his mouth, guffaws of laughter already coming out as he gasped 'Eighteen! In love with Eighteen?' Bulma tried to remain serious but couldn't, giving in to her laughter all over again. They both laughed harder and harder, feeding off the mirth of the other.
'That – that bloodless bastard!' he choked out. 'I wouldn't have thought he knew what to do with a woman!'
'He doesn't really,' she told him, gasping. 'But he told me he's got a…' She laughed so hard she almost couldn't get the words out. 'Got a full set of equipment! But he, he hasn't had a chance to test if it's working yet!'
Vegeta roared with laughter, and laughed so hard that he subsided into silent shaking, falling to his knees with it. The two kids came running over from where they'd been stuffing bits of biscuit in the gaps between the floorboards to see what was going on.
'What's wrong with Daddy?' said Bonnie, her little face upset.
'He's laughing,' said Bardock, full of puzzlement.
Bulma nodded her head, still laughing too hard to talk while Vegeta rolled around on the kitchen floor. He held his hands out, and she automatically grabbed hold of him with her floury hands to pull him back up, but instead he pulled her down on top of him. The kids began to chuckle, then decided that they wanted a slice of this pie, and piled on top of their parents.
'Oh my word, Woman, I don't think I've ever heard a funnier joke,' Vegeta said eventually.
'Is this a good time to tell you that I told him he could stay with us a while?'
He rumbled in annoyance, but then continued laughing. 'What the hell. It might be worth it just to see him make a play for the robot. It'll take the heat off Trunks at least.'
'Hmm, yes,' she said, unable to resist kissing him while they were entangled on the floor. Bardock's knees were digging into her lower back quite uncomfortably though. 'Both Kibito Kai and Eighteen are coming round for dinner tonight,' she told him. 'Maybe we'll get to see love at work,' she said, giggling again.
'Oh. Trunks will be here too. He's already home.'
She laughed again, anticipating the potential emotional carnage at the dinner table.
'Do you think The Kai has a chance with her? She's been after Trunks quite doggedly.'
Vegeta grinned. 'Oh, I give him more than a fighting chance. As long as he can figure out how to put his equipment to work with her.'
This set Bulma off again. Bonnie reached out a hand and grabbed her cheek.
'Daddy's funny,' she said, laughing at the joke she didn't understand.
Bulma felt tears leaking out the corners of her eyes; not just tears of laughter, but tears of happiness and gratitude towards the winds of fate that brought Vegeta back to her. How happy was she? Tangled on the floor with the love of her life and two darling windfall children. By rights she should be a lonely menopausal spinster by now. Instead, she'd never been happier. She felt like she'd had two lives, and now that she was living her second one she could look back and admit that the fifteen years between the two lives had been her time in Hell.
'I love you Vegeta.'
'As you should Woman.'
Author's Note: The End. And it's been quite a journey. I have enjoyed writing and posting this fic far more than I thought I would. If you laughed and cried, and got confused and worried as the story went along, I was right there with you. I love Vegeta and Bulma even more now that I did when I started, andI have a new appreciation for all the minor characters too.
If you haven't checked out my profile for a while you might not have noticed that I've begun another story called Never Ever Land. It's another AU, thought quite different to this one.
If you'd like to ask questions, please login and leave a review, or PM me (reviews rock though). If you don't have a account you really should - you're missing out on a lot of useful features without one. Believe me, I did without for the longest time, and when I finally made my account, reading and following fan fiction became so much easier. But if you still don't want an account, but really want to ask a question or chin wag about the story feel free to email me. My email address is dragonbabezee at aol dot com. I can't reply to questions asked in anonymous guest reviews.
Before you all ask if Eighteen ends up with Trunks or Kibito Kai...I don't know. I'll leave it to you to imagine. It's outside the scope of my story.
And now for the long, waffly indulgence! I wrote this in a PM to Smalsa. She thought that other readers might be interested. Don't feel you have to read it, but if you're interested in how I wrote this thing, read on. I'll just add this. My initial inspiration for this story was watching some clips of Mirai Bulma again, and how realising how sad and dark her life had been, and then watching some bits of DBGT and realizing that I freaking love Vegeta in leather and jeans.
I haven't had anyone to really talk to about this. I couldn't even talk to the readers at the time I was writing it without giving up spoilers. It's bursting out of me now.
Heh, I didn't know that my story was going to be so angsty and full of heartbreak for Bulma and Vegeta when I started writing it. It was going to be shorter and simpler. I just wanted Mirai Bulma to meet post-Buu or post-GT Vegeta and see what she was missing out on. But then I wanted her to have a happy ending. And then I was like, 'What the heck would Vegeta be doing there anyway?' So I made him lost in time, trying to get home. And then I realised that I had immediately set up a conflict of interest that made my heart wring for both of them at the same time as I rubbed my hands together in glee at the torture I was about to inflict. I wondered what and who Vegeta might have encountered over the years and I remembered that in the DBZ games there is a character called Time Patrol Trunks who gives out missions, and hardly anything is known about him. Then I wondered why a Trunks would be patrolling time and that's where both Time Patrol Trunks's first encounter with Bulma sprang from, and at the same time the scene with Vegeta punching Kibito Kai and telling him he was going to kill him, and I knew I had a much longer story on my hands, but also one with more motivation. The Kaioshin were an obvious answer to the question 'Who does the Time Patrol work for and why do they do what they do?' The more complicated multiverse stuff all sprang from there, and making Vegeta and Bulma fugitives upped the pressure on them.
The pregnancy came from a scene I imagined where Vegeta drops the whisky bottle accidentally on purpose and Bulma cries about it. I don't know why that occurred to me, or why I wanted to put it in the story, so I had to ask 'Why would Vegeta do that?' and realised it must be because she was pregnant (at 49?!). Luckily I was writing the Kaioshin scene at that point, so I had him make Bulma younger and plant the seed of the idea. So cruel. And things flowed from there.
Things kept turning up. Goku turned up in my head and wouldn't go away, and so I ended up with that fight scene which actually became essential to the story arc. I had no idea that Oolong would show up till I saw him come down the steps into the house. I had no idea that Korin would return after the funeral to be first a convenient place for Vegeta get food and board, and then be an important character. I had no idea that Sixteen would be show up again after Vegeta freed him, nor that I was going to need Eighteen and Sixteen to get Bulma and the time machine safely to the finishing line. When Vegeta thinks to himself that it was lucky he tamed Eighteen because it turned out they really needed her help, that was me realising that I really needed her, and if I hadn't decided I liked her so much and plucked her up for the ride, I wouldn't have had her around to call upon.
When Time Patrol Trunks turned up the second time and ate the cake I was beginning to wonder where this Trunks had originated from and why he was helping Vegeta. I always had it in my mind that he would be the guardian angel that delivered the shining solution - the co-ordinates for Vegeta's originating universe- but I had no reason for him to do it, other than the kindness of his heart. I pondered whether he might actually be this Bulma's son. I was trying to decide if that would work, and thinking it maybe would, but literally as I was writing that part where Korin says 'But these two are not your actual parents' I wrote 'Trunks's eyes flitted over Bulma and lingered on Vegeta a moment' and I thought, hold on, WHAT? What did I just write? Trunks is Vegeta's son? WTF? How does that work? I didn't know whether to erase it or not. I'd already burned through a few endings to the story in my mind as the story evolved, and I knew that this would complicate things immensely, change the ending and possibly cause me a massive headache. Given that I was already posting chapters as I went by that point, I knew that if I screwed up my ending and couldn't make it work I was in trouble, but I loved this exciting twist. It was a surprise for me too! You guys had to wait until the end of chapter 35 for the surprise, but I had it at the lunch party scene.
I was right about the headache though. My first resolution I realised didn't actually work and I had a sleepless night trying to figure out how Vegeta could ever stay with Bulma. I thought I had a solution eventually, but then as I was writing ch 35 and 36 (Home Again and Prodigal Father) I realised again that it DIDN'T WORK! Not only that but I had to do some pretty darning on Prodigal Father to patch up some big plot holes (posting as you write is not the way to come up with this stuff), and I came up with a new solution. However, ha ha! When I was writing Chapter 41, I kid you not, as Time Patrol Bulma was explaining to Vegeta how he was wrong and he had screwed up I realised 'Fuck! *I'm* wrong! *I've* screwed up!' My ending broke my own rules of time travel. Another sleepless night spent wondering how I could get Vegeta out of this hole, and I came up with something else. For a day or so I thought I might actually have a sad ending on my hands. Either that or end the story with a massive plot hole. Incredibly as I wrote chapter 42 it happened again - I had to throw out and rewrite half the chapter because I realised even this didn't quite work. Man, I was as thrilled and relieved as you guys when it all worked out. What a freaking ride!
PS, If you've read this far, you'll probably be the type of person who is interesting in joining the We're Just Saiyan community on Google+. It's an incredibly active community dedicated to readers and writers of BV fan fiction. Go there and check it out! maymayB and Mallie-3 who put it together create podcasts with guest authors and sometimes readers, and they're hilarious and very interesting. The community is very friendly too, and loves new members.