"I'm with Grampa all day anyway."
Bulla spun on her incessant four year old; every day she spent with her grandfather, Sokka became more steadfast and demanding. She was beginning to regret asking the veteran warrior to watch her while she and Trunks ran Capsule Corp, but Hell, no one else had the strength, time, or energy to keep up with her outside of Goku, and that was just not going to happen.
"Sokka, I've told you before: Grandpa's training is dangerous. He hurts himself when he's careful. It's not safe for little girls."
"But Sebi and Koto-"
"Are bigger, older, and stronger."
Sokka was shaking her brown head furiously, her face scrunched in the most intimidating scowl she could muster. "Nuh-uh. I put Koto in a head-lock and-" she gasped, eyes bugging out of her head. Too late, Bulla's eyebrows shot behind her bangs. Brushing past her daughter, she called for her dad. Sokka followed, hot on her heels.
Vegeta was outside, involved in a lighthearted spar with Trunks – light-hearted in that neither was Super and their knuckles were only a little bloody. Koto, now fourteen, and Sebi, twelve, sat with their mother at a garden table, watched on with vague interest. Fearlessly, Bulla stormed out onto the lawn, advancing in much the same way her mother had. Sokka ran to join her cousins; Koto, knowing standard operating procedure, lifted her into his lap.
Trunks laughed as he bounced on his toes, "You're getting slow, old man."
Vegeta grinned viciously. "Like Hell." He phased out, appeared behind his son, moved to strike but Trunks was turning, already blocking the impact. Unfortunately for him, Vegeta had already disappeared again; the strike landed on Trunks' cheek as he turned back. It knocked him backward a few feet, his heels digging into the grass. He shook his head, laughing it off.
"Okay," he said. "I deserved that."
Just as Vegeta turned, a blur of blue hair was upon him, shoving him hard. He looked baffled for a moment, but when his eyes settled on his daughter, his face looked torn between irritation and sadness. As his brain clicked back into place, he tried to advance; Bulla was having none of it.
"What is wrong with you?" he started, but she ignored him.
"What the Hell is your problem?" she shouted, stepping forward. "Can you not fucking hear the things I tell you?"
His face turned stormy as he glanced beyond her at his three grandchildren, watching. "Watch your mouth," he growled.
"I told you I don't want Sokka being trained; what about that is so difficult for you to understand, Dad?"
"I haven't been training her, I don't know-"
"It's too dangerous for her," Bulla insisted. "She's just a little girl. She ought to be learning how to read or draw or dance, not how to properly attack someone."
"Now is the best time for her to learn-"
"And I know you, Dad," she poked him in the chest for emphasis. "You'll take her into that damn GR of yours and crank it up so high she'll break, but you need to take into consideration what's best for Sokka."
"For God's sake, what are you talking about?" Vegeta shouted, bringing silence down around the compound; old or not, the man still commanded respect.
Bulla narrowed her eyes, a carbon copy of her mother. "Sokka just told me she put Koto into a head-lock."
Vegeta dared a glance at the little girl in question and couldn't repress a corner of his mouth twitching upward. She went from mousy to beaming in an instant. Koto pinched her arm.
"I thought I told you not to tell Auntie," he whispered to her, blue-grey eyes very close. She crossed her arms.
"I didn't mean to," she huffed. "It just came out." He rolled his eyes and turned back to the argument. He didn't see his mother's raised eyebrow behind him.
"It's not my fault if she picked it up," Vegeta was saying, trying to reason with his livid daughter. "She's a fast learner. She watches, she figures it out, it's what Saiyans are bred to do. You can't get upset-"
"I don't want my daughter learning how to fight, Dad. She's not like you. So you'd better make sure to keep your training with the boys out of sight if you want to continue taking care of my daughter."
Trunks gaped at his sister. She was threatening to keep Sokka away from their father. "Bulla, c'mon, don't you think you're being a bit harsh?"
"Shut up, Trunks," she snapped, turning briefly to flash him a glare.
When she turned back to her father, she wished she hadn't. A muscle in his neck jumped; his eye twitched. The veins stood out on his arms from clenching his fists. Everybody but Aina, who hadn't been trained in feeling ki, felt the static pull of his energy swelling. He took one step forward; she tried to retreat, but he was bearing down on her. His eyes glanced behind her at her little girl, his little Saiyan, who looked worried.
"She's stronger than you think," Vegeta whispered; he didn't want his grandchildren hearing what he had to say to his daughter. "I have been respecting your wishes, but now is the time for her to train. She doesn't know how to control herself and won't until you let someone teach her."
"She's just a little girl," Bulla insisted, though she matched his volume.
"Yes, and she'll be starting private school soon. You remember the bullying; do you think she'll be exempt? What will happen the first time she hits back, or the first time she loses her temper?" He leaned in closer, whispered right against her ear. "What happens when she breaks someone's arm?"
Bulla swallowed. She was losing ground, she knew it. "That won't happen-"
"You're being irrational," he insisted. "Your mother understood."
Rage flared in her eyes. Faster than the others – save for Vegeta – knew Bulla was capable of, she reared her hand back and made to strike him across the cheek.
He caught her wrist. His black eyes darkened.
"And don't you ever threaten to keep my granddaughter away from me again," he growled, more audible, before he tossed her hand to the side and stormed off.
"Grampa!" Sokka called, clumsily hopping from Koto's lap and racing after him. Bulla sighed and rubbed her wrist. She knew better than to challenge her father with physical confrontation.
Behind her, someone cleared their throat. She turned. Koto and Sebi stood with their heads bowed, blonde and purple side-by-side, hands shoved deep into their pockets. Aina stood with her arms crossed, looking disapprovingly at her boys. "Well?" Aina insisted, and the boys visibly cringed. "Don't you have something to say?"
Koto started, faltered, began again. "Uh, Aunt Bulla, we uh – I mean, I – taught Sokka how to do the headlock."
Bulla was taken aback. "What?"
Sebi was nodding. "It was our fault, we were wrestling in the living room, and-"
"And she saw me do a move on Sebi and put him in a headlock, and-"
"And she asked to see it again, so we did-"
"And then she asked if she could try, so I let her do it on me, and-"
"And it worked," Aina interrupted, frowning at her sons. "Vegeta's right, Sokka is a very quick learner. The boys are very sorry they disobeyed your wishes to keep her from fighting. Aren't you, boys?"
The nodded furiously. "Sorry, Aunt Bulla," they chimed together. All she could do was nod. Aina sent them to their rooms with half-meals – because they collectively believed it was cruelty to deny a Saiyan of any kind an entire meal – and followed them inside.
Trunks still hadn't said anything. They could feel Vegeta's and Sokka's energies nearby, probably off in the garden somewhere. Bulla sat heavily in the grass and sniffed loudly. Trunks sat beside her, as quiet and lithe as Vegeta. She looked away from her brother.
"You alright?" he asked softly. Even looking away, he could tell she rolled her eyes.
"No," she said, voice warbling despite trying to sound angry. "I don't want her fighting, Trunks. I just don't."
He sighed, put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Dad's not training her for battle, you know. Hell, if he'd had his way, I never would have seen battle." She turned to him, looking unsure. "It's true. It's just his – our – culture. It's all we'll ever have of being Saiyan, despite being freakishly strong."
"But that's just it," she demanded. "She'll be a freak. I don't want her to have to live with that, like…"
"Like we did?" Bulla nodded.
"Dad mentioned Jessica Rabsh."
"The girl you hurt in grade-school?" She hummed the affirmative. His mouth made an 'o.' "Is that why you tried to hit him?"
"No." Tears spilled out of her eyes. "He said, 'your mother understood.'"
Trunks blinked. "Well, she did."
"That doesn't mean he has the right to bring her up!"
When Trunks scowled angrily, she noticed, he looked exactly like Vegeta. It was a little unsettling. "Bulla," he started, sounding like he was struggling to keep his anger in check. "You need to get over this grudge against Dad. It's not his fault Mom didn't want to be wished back. She chose it, not Dad."
"But he wouldn't let us try," she insisted, crying freely now. "And I just wish she was here to help, you know? I mean, you and Aina are great and Dad does try to be helpful with Sokka, but… It's hard being a single mom and I know…she would've been able to tell me what I should do and, and I just miss her so much and it's not fair that he can use that against me. He can just be such an asshole."
Trunks chuckled at that but, while he understood what she was saying, he was struggling to feel sympathetic for her. "You're going to hate me for saying this, but… I agree with Dad on this." She gaped at him. "I know, I know, but he's not wrong. I've seen the way Sokka plays with the boys, and she beats the Hell out of them. She needs to know what she's capable of, or she's not going to be able to control herself when she goes to school."
Bulla hung her head and nodded. While she hated to admit it, he was right.
She waited up in the living room to talk to her father. Sometime after 11 p.m. he slipped quietly upstairs, carrying a sleeping Sokka with one arm. Her little drooling face peeking over his scarred shoulder was an amusing sight, especially with the black hair poking out in all directions. The recessive Saiyan genes shone through in her like a candle in the dark and, while she mourned that Sokka wouldn't have her and her mother's beautiful blue hair, she had to admit it was nice to see Vegeta's genetic touch to at least one of the grandkids.
When he came back, he paused at the foot of the stairs, looking into the dark. He could sense her out on the balcony, she knew he would.
"Hey, Dad," she greeted softly when he stepped through the open door, staring as he always did into the black abyss of the sky. She wondered if he was counting the stars he'd seen in person. "Thanks for putting Sokka to bed."
"She fell asleep on my back," he replied. "Kid's got an iron grip."
"You say that like it's a bad thing." He turned his head to give her a piercing stare; Bulla didn't turn to meet it.
They stood there a while in silence, staring up at the stars, an old habit that had started when she was younger than her daughter was now. It was nice, stargazing with her father; she used to ask questions about stars and planets and skies and aliens.
"I'm…sorry I tried to hit you earlier." He snorted. "And, uh, for assuming it was your fault. I didn't realize the boys had been to blame."
"Yes," he replied. "Sokka explained the situation."
Bulla ran her hands through her hair, frustrated. "Look, I'm trying to apologize, Dad. I shouldn't have jumped the gun and blamed you. And," she struggled to get the words out. "I think you're right. Sokka needs to learn. She wants to learn. That's how everything started: she was asking if she could start training with you."
Vegeta was quiet, but when she dared to look his way, he was grinning. "We'll start tomorrow. 10G's should be good enough."
He couldn't contain it anymore; his head fell back and he roared that awful, loud, comic-book villain HA-HA-HA laughter of his. Bulla relaxed, but not just because she realized he was joking. Vegeta was laughing again.