Twice Upon a Time

Summary- All Vegeta wants to do is fall asleep and wake up to see his dead wife, Bulma, in the Otherworld. Instead, Vegeta wakes up rejuvenated over thirty years in the past to find that he's been given a second chance.

Disclaimer- Dragon Ball Z is owned by Akira Toriyama and Toei Animation

Chapter 40-

The gravity room smelled. Bulma had gotten used to body odor but the confined chamber was full of stale sweat. The next upgrade should include periodic air freshener sprays, she decided. She would have made a quip about him stinking up the place, but Vegeta stood as king before her and he was a bit intimidating on training premises.

The look in Vegeta's eyes unnerved her. He wasn't looking at her with lustful interest, annoyance, or amusement. This was new. His eyes were filled with scrutiny like she'd seen her father examine a piece of machinery for flaws; the same sort of look she probably had while brainstorming about how to improve the gravity chamber. It reminded her of long ago when people examined slaves' teeth, hair, and physique to conclude if they were suitable to work in the field. But, Vegeta wasn't taking note of her teeth or hair, or even her body, no he was looking deeper than that, and the longer he looked the deeper his frown became.

Arms crossed, he said, "If I had to guess, your power level would be 5, not more than 7. Completely average for a human."

Bulma placed her hands on her hips and raised her chin, trying to show some pride. "I am completely not average! I am the most beautiful woman on this planet, Mister! And the most brilliant to boot!"

With a huff, he said, "That matters not when it comes to fighting. The Reconograms are the ugliest race in the galaxy and as dim-witted as a fly and have a power level in the 30,000s. Frieza's power level was around 530,000, by the way, in his first form. If you tell me you could look at him and not cringe I'll be a monkey's uncle."

That made Bulma laugh. "Actually, do you have any siblings? You very well could be."

"Oh, shut up, woman. You're trying to change the subject."

Maybe she was. All this talk about power level was of no interest to her. She longed to go down to the lab and get some valuable work done. The stack of proposed Capsule Corp. projects had piled up in the past week. Plus, there was the whole time machine matter. Training seemed a waste of time. So what if Chi-Chi knew martial arts? She never used her skills. And, it wasn't like Bulma would use anything Vegeta taught her either. There was only one reason she was putting herself through this. So she could get her way and go to the future. No way would she pass up on an opportunity to meet her counterpart.

Vegeta circled her. "Our goal should be to raise it to around 80."

"80?" Bulma squeaked.

"That is reasonable. Gohan's woman is around 30. Kakarot's woman has a power level of 70. Bra was around 80 when she was four."

The last name made her freeze. Vegeta turned and went over to the gravity control panel on the wall. She blinked at his back. "Vegeta. . ."

"Let it go."

"Is Bra our daughter?"

"Does it matter?"

Her lips parted. "Of course it matters. She was . . . is . . . will be . . . I want to know about her."

He growled. "Leave it alone. You will know about her. Now, let's get back to business."

The topic was a touchy subject for him. Why? Did he miss her that much? Did something happen to her? Her curious Briefs' mind demanded answers. If something bad happened then she wanted to know about it so she could prevent it.

"Fine. I'll train like you want, but I have conditions. If I reach this power level of 80, you are going to talk to me about the future. It isn't good to keep this all bottled up."

"It is my business. Let me handle it myself," he said sternly.

Bulma stomped her foot. "It is our business. I was a part of this future. I am a part of your new future. It is only right that I know about my own daughter. About my own future, so I can make the best decisions now. Wouldn't it be best to shape the present based off that timeline?"

Suddenly there was a beep and an electronic female voice overhead. "Gravity engaged at 2 times Earth's."

Bulma immediately collapsed. She ended up crumpled in a crouch and she couldn't move. Her breath stung in her chest like it took more strength to inhale. The tile beneath her pulled her in, suffocating her. She let out a choked sound but couldn't speak. She felt his shadow come over her but she couldn't lift her head to glare.

"Oh, come on! Your infant of a son can handle 5 Gs."

Her body shook but that was all she could manage, and she couldn't help but wonder if her bones and muscles were turning to jello.

"This is going to take a while," he scoffed.

The way he said it made her mad. And it was then that she decided to go along with his little plan because she had pride too. She would prove to him that she wasn't as weak as he thought. If he wanted her to obtain a power level of 80 she would reach 90. No, a 100. Only to make it known that Bulma Briefs was not someone to look down upon. She could do this.

With that, Bulma lifted her head and managed to glare. He smirked back.

"I'll turn it off once you stand."

Oh Kami. What had she gotten herself into?

Two weeks later, Bulma could manage thirty chin-ups and fifty jumping jacks at 2 Gs. He had her doing laps around the complex. He taught her stealth and becoming aware of those sneaking up from behind. Then, he began to cover defense tactics.

Bulma was sick of it all. By the time she made it to the lab she was exhausted.

All this work and she'd only managed to raise her power level to 15. The new scouter she'd assembled was a nifty device that she planted in a ring. All the user had to do was wave a hand up and down the body. At this rate it would take 13 weeks to make it to 80 PL. How much more of this could she handle?

When she complained, Vegeta called her a weak Earthling woman. Of course it would take ages to accomplish, he said.

"If you touch me, you can have the rest of the day off."

Vegeta zipped around the room. Now they were focusing on speed. Seriously? He thought she could capture him when he was clearly the cat and she was the mouse?

Panting, she shook her head. "You are bribing me? Will- did you do that with Trunks too?"

"The way I train my son is-"

"Your business. I'll take that as a yes. What'd you do, take him to the park?"

He remained silent but she could tell she'd guessed right. She barely tried this little game. He was way too fast, and it wasn't fair. She watched as he moved from one corner to the next, a blur, not in the slightest using his full potential, but still. . . Eventually, she stopped completely. This was not a game. He wasn't even having fun. Kami, he took this too seriously.

"Vegeta, come on! You've said it before, I'm not a Saiyan. I am not suited for this stuff. Can't we take it down a notch?"

Vegeta slowed before her and she took in his form, only in a pair of spandex black shorts. His chest rose up and down, droplets of water running down. She probably looked a mess, blue hair falling out of her short pony-tail, face flushed, leg muscles trembling. But him- He was a god. Faint scars cascaded over the ripples of his abs, with more on his back. She knew them all too well, having run her fingertips over the raised hypertrophic marks that felt too much like remains from a whip. One spot at his side was sunken in appearance, and she tried to block out the image of a certain lizard creature dipping his claws in to rip out fat or muscle. She'd never questioned about the blemishes, only accepting and loving them with her touch and lips, but they panged her heart with the truth of his past pains. His body was chiseled from brutality, and molded through dedication. Here she was, begging for reprieve, so she could go back to her spoiled rich la-de-da life. How did he do it? If only she could muster that same drive and determination, work through the agony.

Still, she could hardly stand anymore. She was so thirsty.

Vegeta stuck his head out. "Down a notch? What if Hedero visits again? Will he take it down a notch?"

She staggered back and leaned heavily against the wall. Oh, the coolness felt good on her shoulder.

"Okay, I get it. I died. You don't want it to happen again. But, I can't do it all in one day. You have to go easy on me. I may be made of iron, but I'm not made of whatever your alien suit is constructed of. I'm a human female. A prissy girl. Now, give me a break."

Vegeta seemed to wage an inward battle. He looked ready to give in one second but then his jaw twitched. His arms tightened in their cross.

"You may be a woman but I expected more out of my woman than this!"

That was it. She was done for the day. Bulma did something she'd never done before. She took complete autonomy of his gravity room.

"Computer, shut all mechanisms down until further notice," Bulma commanded.

The dim light flickered and brightened. The humming quieted. All that was left was the heavy breathing of one human female and the intense growl of her prince.

"How dare you!" He turned back to the command panel. Nothing happened, as she knew it would, for she built it that way. When he faced her again, she was taken aback by the veins popping in his head. "Turn it back on!"

Bulma moved away from the wall. "No. We are done for the day."

"Grrr, Bulma. . . We are done when I say we are done!"

"Sorry, Vegeta, but I'm taking command here as its creator. I need a bubble bath to sooth these aching muscles." She prepared to exit the chamber.

Something sparked in the air. The blast came out of nowhere, but somehow she dodged well out of the way in a reflex. The energy bounced off the wall (as she'd built it upon request) and headed back toward Vegeta. He was so shocked that the energy hit him in the chest and he fell back. It wasn't strong, but he did not get up for over a minute. Bulma herself was shaken, and overtaken in the fact that she'd been able to avoid such an attack. I guess the training paid off, she thought. Yet, she had trouble coming to terms with what just happened. Vegeta, in the same boat, stood, and stared down at his palm as if it no longer belonged to him.

When she stepped out to him, ready to take him in, he bolted.

Alone in the silent compartment, it took her awhile to sort her mind. Vegeta shot an energy ball in her direction. Never before had something like that happened. By the expression in his eyes afterward, the horrified surprise, he hadn't meant to do it. Or if he did, he truly regretted it.

The man who approached her on Namek was volatile, a ticking time bomb of mania. That seemed far away and distant ever since this new Vegeta arose after the gravity machine explosion. But, this incident told her the truth. Vegeta was still a product of a homicidal maniac, who turned a little boy into a bloodthirsty weapon. He'd changed, yes, but that conditioning ran deep.

Vegeta hadn't meant to shoot the blast, she decided. It was an automatic move in response to anger. Still, she couldn't help but admit that she was a tad traumatized. And, if she hadn't learned to dodge so well, she would have been a bit scared too.

AN- I looked up power levels and found inconsistencies in reports. So, I had to just pick a set. Oh, and sorry for not updating as often as I used to. I'm taking summer classes and my internship is going stronger than ever.