Hey everyone! I'm finally back! These past few weeks have been insanely busy (I took a train for three days to Ottawa, spent some time there, four hours by train to Toronto, stayed at a friend's house there then finally trained back to my city, while trying not to succumb to a cold for a LOT of the time), but I've managed to get the first chapter ready.
So, if you haven't read the first story which this is prequel to, I highly recommend that you do. It's called Opposites Attract. And, I'll stop blathering.
Here it is, the first chapter of... Care.
Bulma sat in her favorite café with Trunks, waiting for their lunch to be served.
Her son just had his eighth birthday a few days ago, and now that all the hectic celebrations were over Bulma needed to wind down. It had started with her parents throwing them an overly lavish party, inviting all their upper-class friends so that they could show off their grandson. Normally, Bulma would have hid in her lab if that group of snobs was coming over, but she had to be there, on account of being Trunks's mother. Then Bulma and Trunks went over for supper at the Son's place. Bulma had a nice visit with Chi-Chi, while Goten and Trunks ran around together like the best friends they were. Gohan went from one group to the other, sometimes sharing funny stories about the adventures they'd had with the two mothers, sometimes pulling the kids apart when they got too rough.
Through all this, Vegeta had apparently vanished off the face of the Earth. Not that Bulma really had expected anything from him, but it would have been nice if he'd at least wished his son a happy birthday. Of course, he disliked her parents' friends even more than her, if that was possible, and he positively loathed going over to Chi-Chi's house. After Goku died, he'd been a bit less harsh towards them, but he was still far from willingly becoming friends with them.
Years ago, after the battle with Cell, Bulma and Vegeta had gotten married. But that was only because Bulma's mom wouldn't shut up about it. She had actually gone as far as to threaten to kick Vegeta out of the house if he didn't, which had embarrassed Bulma nearly to death. So Vegeta agreed, reluctantly, and Bulma managed to persuade her mother to not have a big wedding. Or any wedding, really. They had just signed a marriage document in front of a priest and a few witnesses. It was a far cry from the dream marriage Bulma had fantasized about as a little kid, but for some reason that didn't bother her at all. Her tastes had changed greatly since then, and she couldn't picture walking down the aisle in a wedding dress with Vegeta at the end. Plus, there was that whole "You may now kiss the bride" thing, and... well, let's just say they weren't quite there yet. Maybe they never would be. But Bulma didn't mind.
Although Bulma would never have admitted it to herself, she had missed him these past few days. Sometimes they'd talk about things, nothing important, just small talk. If they had an actual conversation it almost always turned into an argument. But afterwards Bulma never felt guilty or angry at him, in a weird way she kind of enjoyed them fighting. It kept her wits sharp. It was better than him completely ignoring her, like he had when he first starting staying here. Occasionally they would play chess or some other type of game, which was always fun. Vegeta clearly excelled at strategy, he forced her to fight without holding anything back.
Bulma knew not to say anything about their relationship to him, that would only set them back. She just quietly enjoyed his company. Vegeta wasn't good for much else. He wasn't reliable and he never showed any affection for her. But she thought that she could change that. Bulma had seen some difference in him since he first got here, maybe not a whole lot but he definitely was less cruel. He was still grumpy and arrogant, but Bulma didn't see anything really bad coming from him.
A waiter came up to their table with a plate of small sandwiches. He set it down in front of them, and Bulma thanked him.
"So, what's it like being eight?" she asked Trunks, who was already grabbing a sandwich. Bulma also took one and nibbled on it.
"Awesome!" he enthused, stuffing it into his mouth. For a little kid, he was really smart and fun to talk to. "Except I haven't seen dad yet," Bulma sighed. Trunks really looked up to Vegeta, who was surprisingly nice to him. Well, by his standards. He had more patience with his son than he did with most humans, but he didn't show him any love, just tolerance. Maybe basic respect on a good day.
"Yes, he doesn't like being around too many people. If I see him, I'll tell him to talk to you," Trunks stared past her shoulder, a smile growing on his face. Bulma turned to see what he was looking at, and saw that Vegeta had come and was walking towards them. So he did show up after all.
"Dad!" Trunks shouted, waving at him from his chair.
"Hey Vegeta," she said. He nodded at both of them and sped to the empty chair next to her. Instead of sitting down, he merely rested his forearms on the back, casually leaning forward. "What's up?" Bulma chose to ignore the fact that he'd not wished Trunks a happy birthday, or even seen him.
"Since Trunks has recently turned eight years old," he said, "I think that it's time he learned to fight. I'm going to start training him in the gravity room,"
"Oh, okay," she said. She turned to Trunks. "Do you want to learn martial arts?" his little face lit up.
"What?!" he asked as if he couldn't believe it, "Will you?" Bulma hadn't really told him anything about Vegeta's power, just that he was very strong. Vegeta had hardly done anything with their son since he had been born, just hung around enough for Trunks to know that he had a father in the first place. Bulma had ended up being the one to answer all of his questions about the Saiyan. That was okay, though. Bulma liked talking with her son and she knew that Vegeta didn't really feel comfortable being a parent. He was slowly easing into the role, however, and he had been the one to tell Trunks that he wasn't human. Vegeta had occasionally told Trunks stories about the planet Vegeta and its people. Bulma loved hearing about his race, and Vegeta didn't seem to mind her being there too, so whenever she could Bulma listened in.
Vegeta looked mildly surprised. Bulma smirked, thinking she knew what this was about.
"What is it?" she asked him casually.
"I was expecting you to disagree with me," he said. She tried to stifle her laughter. Yep, that was it.
"I don't argue with every single thing you say," she said. "Plus, no great threat to the world has showed up recently. That means that something's going to happen, and I think we need all the fighters we can get," she paused. "And you didn't exactly ask me. Do I have a choice?" he chuckled.
"No, I suppose not. Thank you for giving your permission, though," he said. "Come on Trunks, I'm going to take you to a room you haven't been in yet," Trunks beamed and Bulma smiled to herself. He was really looking forward to this.
"See you later, mom," he said, climbing off his chair. Trunks jumped up and down from excitement, ready to go. Bulma was pretty sure that he was already strong for his age.
"Have a nice time," she said, grinning at both of them.
"Bye!" Trunks replied. Vegeta, in the space of a second, put an arm around her shoulders and she felt the warm press of his lips to her forehead. Then he was walking out of the room, Trunks following him. At the doorway, Vegeta turned and looked at her. When he saw her shocked expression, he smirked. Then they both disappeared.
Bulma sat there, her heart pounding frantically. What was that? He hadn't touched her since That Night. Could it be...?
Then she remembered how he looked back to see her reaction. He was just testing her. He wanted to see how that had affected her. Bulma put a hand to her forehead in relief. That was close. If he'd actually meant that, along with him thanking her for letting him train Trunks, she would be questioning if it was really him. Bulma realized that she actually kind of liked him doing that to her. Not the kissing, well, that too, but the teasing. It was fun.
Two can play at that game, Bulma thought deviously to herself, already plotting how she could get him back.
After eating a few sandwiches, Bulma sneaked a generous tip under her cup for the waiter to find. Her father payed him and the chef a salary to live there and cook for them, but Bulma thought that they could use the extra money for all their hard work.
She leisurely stood up from her seat, grabbed the sandwich plate, and strolled out of the restaurant. It was nice to go at her own pace nowadays. Yes, she did tire sooner than her younger self, but she had also learned to take pleasure in going more slowly and noticing the little things, as opposed to thundering to her next activity and not paying attention to anything along the way. So, right away, she noticed the distant crash. Barely two seconds later, her pocket started beeping.
Bulma pulled out her small computer that kept tabs on all the registered machinery in the building. The beeping signalled that something was broken. She flicked through a few menus on the screen, and saw that the malfunctioning equipment was where the gravity room was. Bulma sighed in exasperation.
"What have they done," she muttered to herself, starting off towards the training room. Although she was a bit frustrated, she also felt amused. If anything, there should be an interesting story waiting for her. Unless Trunks had gotten hurt. Then there would be trouble and someone would end up on the bad end of her temper. Probably Vegeta.
And, speaking of the Saiyan Prince, Bulma ran into him as she rounded a corner. Well, she would have, but he jumped out of the way at the last second.
"Okay, where is he?" Bulma snapped, looking for her son. But Trunks wasn't with Vegeta. "Is- is he safe?" Bulma asked, she couldn't help being worried. But judging by the expression on Vegeta's face, Trunks was probably fine. Bulma was sure that even he would show some sort of emotion if Trunks was hurt. Vegeta just looked slightly annoyed.
"Oh, hello," he said, ignoring her question. "I was just looking for you," She crossed her arms and glared at him. He sighed. "Trunks is fine," Bulma immediately relaxed. "But the gravity machine isn't. You have to fix it, it's broken," he started walking back the way he came and Bulma followed him.
"What happened?" Bulma asked. Interestingly enough, Vegeta almost seemed faintly embarrassed. "Blushing suits you. You should do it more," he gave her a cold stare. Bulma giggled. "Okay, sorry about that. Sandwich?" she asked, holding out the plate as a peace offering. "They're really good," wordlessly, he snatched one.
"It wasn't I who did it," he told her between bites. "I was trying to assess his battle strength, and fine, I may have provoked him," Bulma rolled her eyes. Seeing her reaction, he jumped to his own defence. "I though that since the half-breed's chilevel rose whenever he was angry, it might be the same with Trunks," Bulma could see where this was going.
"And so, he broke the gravity simulator?" she asked, a bit disbelieving. Her little boy?
"Yes. The fool doesn't know how to control his power yet," Bulma frowned.
"Wait, were you putting any gravity on? He's just a kid, his skeleton can't handle it," Vegeta shook his head.
"No. At least, not yet. I just chose that room because of its sturdy walls," Bulma sighed in relief as they got to the door. It was partially open, so she nudged it the rest of the way with her foot. Trunks was sitting on the floor, looking gloomy. As she stepped inside, he eyed her nervously.
"Mom," he said, getting up, "I didn't mean to break the gravity thing, I just- and I'm really sorry and-" he stuttered, looking close to tears.
"It's fine, sweetie," Bulma said, ruffling his hair, "Just try to be a bit more careful next time, okay?" she leaned closer to him and whispered, "You know how much this room means to him," Vegeta jerked his head up.
"What are you babbling about?" he demanded. Bulma winked at Trunks, who smiled back knowingly. "Oh, nothing. I was just severely scolding Trunks. I'm sure that I've scared him into complete submission for the rest of his life," Trunks howled with laughter, and once again Bulma marvelled at how smart he was for his age. Nothing got past him. Vegeta crossed his arms and glanced in the other direction.
"Doesn't seem that way," he grumbled, which just made Trunks laugh harder. Bulma joined in his almost nonsensical but extremely contagious laughter. Vegeta huffed. "Just fix the blasted machine, woman!" Bulma, her cheeks a bit sore, wiped a tear from her eye.
"Yes, your majesty," she said sarcastically, but went over to the computer anyways. She examined it. The only thing that really seemed wrong was that the monitor was cracked, but when Bulma tried to type in any commands it was unresponsive. "Hmm," she mused to herself, absentmindedly pulling a capsule out of her pocket and activating it. A screwdriver appeared in her hands and she detached the screen, without looking at what she was doing. Fixing things had become a second nature to her, and she was able to do the minor things on auto-pilot. She peered at the jumble of multicoloured wires that were the inner workings of the computer, rubbing her chin thoughtfully. "The wires themselves seem okay," she said aloud, "But they've gotten knocked out of alignment," she got another capsule and turned it into a pair of pliers. She also pulled a bobby pin out of her hair and used that to push some of the wires aside while she fiddled with the rest of them.
The lights flickered overhead and Bulma looked up in alarm, but that was all that happened. She realized how careful she'd have to be. After all, this room had the potential to go up to 300 Gs. Maybe Vegeta could handle it, but it would be more than enough to kill both her and Trunks.
Bulma noticed that Vegeta was leaning against a wall, arms still crossed, and Trunks was sitting on the floor, looking bored. She smiled to herself, struck by this simple tableau.
"What is it?" Vegeta muttered, seeing that she wasn't working. "Is there something wrong?" Bulma shook her head.
"No, it's just... well, if I didn't know any better, I'd say that we sort of look like a family," Vegeta snorted.
"Ha! You may think that if you wish, but keep working. I haven't finished with Trunks yet," Bulma internally debated with herself over telling him, but her cautious side soon won out.
"Okay. But the wires I'm playing around with are hooked up to some very powerful gravity controls. If I move them even a centimetre the wrong way, it could activate the gravity. Can you make sure that if that happens, Trunks and I are out of the room?" Vegeta just shrugged carelessly, but Bulma knew that was his way of saying yes. She smirked. "Not that I'd make that mistake, of course, but it never hurts to be careful," and she went back to her work. Just when everything was in the right place, Trunks wandered over to her.
"Mom?" he asked, nudging her arm a centimetre the wrong way. "Can I have a sand-" the air around them thickened and Bulma's heart sank. Oh no. It was already getting hard to move.
"Vegeta-!" she cried out, and the words had barely passed her lips when she felt an arm wrap around her.
"On it," a voice whispered in her ear, and an instant later she was standing out in the hallway with Trunks, Vegeta was already going back into the room. Hoo-ee. He was fast. Trunks blinked, startled by the sudden change of scenery.
"What... what just happened?" he asked. Bulma pulled him close to her, her heart still pounding. That was close.
"I think dad just saved our lives," she said quietly. He pushed her away, an indignant look on his face.
"Aw, mom! I'm too old for this!" he said. Bulma smiled. Yes, he had never been one for hugs or cuddles. As soon as he could walk, he had started trying to do things on his own, trying to be independent.
Vegeta turned to them, looking tired.
"You can come back in," he said. "It only increased slightly. I estimate it's at two Gs. Three, max. Even your weak body should be able to handle it," Bulma sighed, not missing the fact that he used the word "body" singularly. So now, according to him, an eight year old was stronger than her.
A bit offended, Bulma walked back in the room. The gravity was stronger than what she was used to, but it was indeed manageable. She trudged to the computer again, feeling heavy, and picked up her pliers. She moved one wire back into place and the weight immediately eased up. She replaced the screen and turned to face the other two.
"Okay, I've fixed the internal damage so it'll work, at least," she explained, "But it's gonna need a new LCD screen. This one's too cracked to use. Until I can get another one, you'll just have to do without seeing the numbers. Any questions?" Trunks pointed at the plate of sandwiches.
"Now can I have one?" he asked innocently. Bulma laughed.
"Sure," she said. Turning to leave, she paused. "Oh, and Vegeta?" he looked up at her impatiently.
"What?" he snapped. She snuck her arm around his waist.
"Thanks for saving me," she whispered in his ear, her tone of voice abnormally low and seductive. "I knew I could count on you," she tried as hard as she could to reign in the side-splitting laughter as she felt his entire body tense up next to her. She stepped away from him and sauntered out the door, then looked back, needing to see his reaction.
He was frozen solid, staring at her with wide eyes, a shocked expression on his face. Unable to resist, she smiled and gave him a cheeky wink, before slipping away.
She had barely made it five paces before she was doubled over, her body wracked with thankfully silent laughter. His face!
"That- was- priceless!" she gasped. A warm feeling spread through her and seemed to reach to all the tips of her body. She wondered what it was. It reminded her of happiness, but more like a specific type. Even though she didn't know what it was, she liked it immensely and found herself craving more of it.
She ran back to her lab, grinning ear to ear. So, she thought to herself, A different sort of happiness, eh? It's very addictive, it makes you feel good about yourself, and the physical symptoms include a fluttery stomach, different from the nervous kind, and an elevated mood. She went into her lab, for some reason floods of ideas for inventions and new things to try out were rushing through her head. Conclusion: I have yet to identify the cause, but it's probably related to Vegeta...
And there you have it, chapter 1! Please leave a favourite or follow if you liked, reviews are always welcome (yes, even the negative ones...) and if you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask! Next chapter should be up sometime next Tuesday! Until then...