Disclaimer: I don't own DBZ or the characters.
I decided to update again today and I'm dedicating this chapter to my father. I just found out last night that he was killed in a car crash, and we hadn't left things on the best terms. It makes this story hit home a little more, all things considered. Even though this chapter was written weeks ago, I feel very emotional about it. I didn't even proofread it. I'm feeling really numb right now, like I don't know what to do. As is said later in this chapter, life really is too short, and the unexpected always happens. I hope I can figure out a way to resolve all the characters' grief, because I'm really going to have to be there for my little brother. I might take a break from updating this story for a while, but I haven't decided because I have up to chapter 16 and part of 17 written. I just hope you guys enjoy the chapter and understand if I take a break from updating. Your constant support has meant a lot to me.
Elianni: Thank you, and I won't forget about you guys :) I already have up to chapter 17 written up and I plan to write more chapters during the month of May to upkeep with my every two week updates. If I see the timing becoming a problem, I'll make sure to at least update once a month. I have no idea what grad school is going to be like, so idk yet XD I am trying to adopt the "no making plans" philosophy.
LVR4Trunks-n-Vegeta: You will find out next chapter why Rodney is how he is, and it will explain a great deal of everything going on. And thanks, we need all the luck and help we can get XD
Miikodesu: I miss it too, trust me. It was getting harder and harder to think of stuff that involved her not talking. But trust me, it's coming. I finally wrote the chapter where it happens, and I'm so happy with it, but it'll be a little while. Please bear with me, as to me this is all very important stuff.
Daughter Of Vegeta: Thanks for the review. Believe me; I'm not rushing.
Nappa remained at the firehouse until the last of the day interns and volunteers had left. The night shift was pretty much just getting in and not paying attention to anything going on around them, just talking and catching up on the day's events of their peers. Nappa took the turnover as the opportunity to have it out with his boss.
He entered the office and was not surprised to see Rodney waiting in there for him. This was a long overdue talk after all of the jabs Rodney had sent his way and he had either retorted or kept quiet. Nappa refused to be pulled down to Rodney's level, but now things had gotten out of hand and he needed to stop interfering with everyone's lives.
"You wanted to talk," Nappa said curtly, "so talk."
Rodney sighed and then took out a photo album Nappa had seen before. Vegeta's wife had put it together for them, an album of all of their fun events, picnics, and everything. Nappa remembered watching the woman work on it, even having little Vegeta help her with some of it. "You don't know what you're doing with the boy," Rodney interrupted his happy thoughts with more garbage he was spewing. "I would have known how to convince him against this work."
"Why would you ever want to do that?" Nappa replied with genuine curiosity. "You know he's the best guy we have. Isn't that what you'd want as our boss?"
"I'm more than a boss to him, but you wouldn't know that because Vegeta and I kept quiet. He wanted his work to speak for himself, and not let the idea of favoritism enter the precinct."
Nappa was confused; his eyes told Rodney to start explaining. "It was around the time his parents died. You remember that time, I'm sure. I know full well what was going on with him. The drinking and everything, I was glad there was someone his age to help him through that."
"Since when did you know about that?" Nappa snapped. "We didn't work here in high school."
Rodney chuckled. "Like I said, we kept quiet because he didn't want it to seem like I was picking favorites. His father was a close friend of mine, a scientist who had wanted his son to go into the field. They had had many arguments about it before his parents passed away. I'm sure you heard of those fights." Nappa nodded. "Well, one of those fights took place before the accident, and I know that's why Vegeta took to drinking. He was angry with himself for how he handled that.
"I tried to convince him to consider college, but I knew the subject was a sore one for him since that had been the last moment they had ever been together. He told me what I had always known, that he wanted to be a firefighter. At the time, I was fine with it. I knew he could handle it, and I knew that he didn't want to go to school because of his parents' death. That is the only reason I didn't press the issue. I regret it, though, because I look at his son and I see so much potential in him. He was creative as a boy, and he did enjoy science. I didn't want him to be exactly like his father. He's already walking on the same path."
"You don't think I know that?" Nappa remarked. "I've watched that boy grow up without his parents. Yes, it took me a little longer to realize the signs, but I did notice there was a problem. I've been dealing with it, and I don't know if you know but he was very content these last few days. I don't know what changed, if it was our talk or something else, but I'd rather see Vegeta happy than force him to do things he didn't want to do." Rodney opened his mouth, but Nappa quickly shut him up. "No, you got to talk, and now it's my turn.
"I don't care if you were Vegeta's guardian. Actually, it makes a lot of sense and I understand why you try to discuss things with Vegeta. Here's the thing, though. The situations are very different. Vegeta always wanted to be a firefighter like his father, and his father was always okay with that. Sure, Vegeta liked science, and maybe my friend thought he'd change his mind as he got older, but he didn't. I know why there was never a fight about careers. Vegeta told me himself that he never wanted what he went through to ever happen between him and little Vegeta. So, in that sense, you should just drop it. He wanted to be a firefighter and now he's here and he's great at it. We both have to accept that. I'm his guardian, not his parole officer.
"In addition to that, the drinking…he's aware it's a problem, but I don't think it's as out of hand as Vegeta's was. It's something occasional he's done because he never had closure with their deaths. Now, I think we started on a path to it. I took him to see them, and told him about their relationship and his mother's parents and even that his father had been where he was, and he responded well to that. If I had known that was what he needed before I would have done it, but every time I offered, he said he didn't want to think about it. I let him have that because that was what he needed at the time. Now he needs reminders of who his parents were and what they wanted for him. They wanted him to be happy, do what he wanted, and love who he wanted. They didn't want him dealing with anyone trying to control his actions, including you and me. I will continue to watch him and be there for him and, if you want, I'll talk to him about you because technically you did for his father what I'm doing for him. In a weird way, we're all family.
"Aside from all of this, what you did with Kakarot's and Raditz's father was not okay. He too has tried to control them and they wanted to be away from him. I don't know why he wanted to see them now, but his desires for the boys have not changed and now they have to deal with that. You should have stuck with protocol on that and not given him their address. Still, I'll overlook it if you can give me a legitimate reason on why you did what you did."
Rodney was a little beside himself from Nappa tangent, but he did realize he was right and then frowned in embarrassment. "I only hoped that they could work things out. The boys already lost one parent, and I didn't want them to lose the other. He wanted to find them, but I didn't know that he hadn't tried to contact them. He told me he had, but he could never get an answer from them. The truth is I don't know when that was. I was just hoping the three of them could work it out, because if something ever happened to their father and they were fighting with him, just like that night with Vegeta, it would have destroyed them."
Nappa nodded in understanding, finally getting what Rodney had been trying to do. "I get it, Rod," he said. "I really do, but that wasn't your place, and as you can see that guy had been lying to you. Raditz and Kakarot needed to stay away from him for all of these years because of private family business we can only guess at or piece together from what they tell us. I meant what I said; you can't play God with everyone's lives. I know you had the best of intentions, but you…me…we can't fix everything. We just have to be there in case it all falls apart. You were there for Vegeta; I'm there for his son. You knew what my friend needed; and I know what his boy needs. You just have to accept that. We were both prepared for different circumstances. You can still be there for Vegeta, by accepting his choices and accepting him."
Rodney knew Nappa was right. He was glad he decided that the two of them should discuss what they both felt and why Rodney had cared so much about everything Vegeta did. It made sense to Nappa now that his boss tried to force some type of familial bond between him and Vegeta. He didn't understand why his friend hadn't told them that their boss was his guardian, but it was for the best anyway because back then, a lot of the members had been jealous of his skill, and favoritism would have definitely been the term they applied.
"So…" Rodney said awkwardly, "what is the real story between Vegeta and this girl?"
Nappa smiled slightly and decided to indulge him. "I don't really know for sure," he said, "but I know he felt responsible for not being able to get them all out. Now, though, I think she's the best thing that ever happened to him."
Rodney smiled as he listened to Nappa telling of the few times he had met Bulma and seen the two of them interact with each other. They talked about the press conference where Vegeta had defended Bulma in hopes of shutting up the idiotic press and businessmen that thought she couldn't handle the responsibility. They even talked about his change in mood from the day Nappa had taken him to the cemetery and what may have caused his change. For now, they could only speculate on what was going on.
"What are you doing here?" Kakarot asked when they were all being moved to a larger table.
"Eating," Vegeta replied gruffly, "or would have been if we weren't playing musical chairs."
Bulma once again had to cover her mouth. Sometimes Vegeta's dry humor got to her, mostly because she knew he had really wanted her to eat something since she hadn't all day. "I suggested this place," Bulma wrote. "I thought it would be good to bring him to our families' favorite place."
"Yeah, I was the one who suggested it to Kakarot," Chi Chi admitted. "Our date kind of got cancelled last night, and Raditz's was kind of cut short, so we decided to double."
Kakarot grinned and said, "Well, now it's tripled. Three times the fun."
Vegeta blushed slightly but simply elbowed Kakarot in the ribs. "Shut up," was all he said, neither accepting the idea of triple dating or rejecting the fact that he had been on a somewhat date with Bulma.
"Why were the dates cancelled or cut short?" Bulma asked causing a slight mood shift.
Raditz sighed, but Katie who sat across from him stood and placed her hand on his shoulder. He decided to enlighten the girl to his family drama. "Our father showed up after almost four years demanding we come home so that he could set us up with random girls to marry that we didn't know or love. He didn't want us to be attached to whomever we were with."
Bulma frowned and looked quite irritated before rushing to scribble something on the board. "I hate people like that. My dad's parents were the same, but he married my mom anyways. Marriage should always be about love, not money, background, or anything else."
"I concur," Vegeta said lifting his glass of water dramatically. He decided that now was as good a time as any to open up. "I recently found out some stuff about my parents and theirs. My mother's were against her marrying a firefighter and interfered with their marriage more than once. It doesn't matter, though. At least my parents were happy."
"Yeah," Kakarot said with a smile. "But that's the weird thing. Our dad was happy too. Raditz and I talked more about this. Even though their marriage was arranged, they fell in love with each other, and our dad was always happy, but then mom died and it wrecked him. We get he doesn't want us to feel the same way, but we'd rather love who we're with than avoid the chances of even feeling that happiness."
"Life's too short," Chi Chi interjected. "Maybe, you guys should say that to your dad. I mean, does he really want to lose you?"
Raditz scoffed, laughing bitterly. "Who knows? Maybe he does. Then he wouldn't have to deal with it later."
The waiter came back in that moment and saw the sullen expressions on everyone's face. "Well, this is certainly a different group than what came in," he tried to joke. "What happened?"
"You know, discussing life…"
"Ah," the waiter replied. "Always the mood killer. In that case, what I can do is offer you guys a nice bottle of wine on the house. I'll bring six glasses."
Both Raditz and Bulma, alerted, looked over to Vegeta who had his eyes closed as he was internally debating on whether to accept the offer. Part of him wanted it, but that was it. He just wanted it; he didn't need it. He opened his eyes and grabbed the waiter's arm before he left the table. "Five glasses will be fine. I'm good with water." The waiter accepted this and took his leave.
Raditz let out a breath he hadn't eve realized he'd been holding and then tried to start up another topic of conversation, a more light-hearted one regarding a carnival that would be coming to the area that summer, a few months away. Bulma gave Vegeta one of the brightest smiles he had ever remembered seeing and returned her smile. Neither of them tried to jump into the conversation, and the remaining three at the table, though engaged in the new topic, were all wondering what had just happened, though Kakarot had had some idea. Something major had just occurred over the group, and only some of the members had been privy to what that had meant.
Later, Bulma and Vegeta returned home, being dropped off by Chi Chi and Kakarot while Raditz and Katie decided to spend the night at her place. They all said and waved their goodbyes before Vegeta and Bulma got into the apartment.
Bulma grabbed Vegeta's arm as he started to head to his room. He heard her struggling to write on the board using one arm and hand and turned to hold her board for her. She smiled appreciatively at him and wrote down what she had wanted to say to him. "I was really impressed with you tonight," she praised. "I know that must have been hard for you to do."
Vegeta hadn't realized how much Bulma had noticed. The only moment he recalled her seeing his habit was the night after she had mentioned his parents and had seen the basket of cans for recycling. He knew Bulma was smart and could put two and two together and, seeing how he had become aware of the problem, it wasn't surprising that she had seen it as well.
"It wasn't that hard," he told her. "I didn't need it. I haven't 'needed' it for a while now."
Bulma's expression became pensive for the moment as she had erased what she wrote with her hand and scribbled more on the board. "That's good to hear, but what changed between then and now?"
Vegeta smirked slightly, taking the board and pen away from her and placing the objects on the small table next to them. She looked at him questioningly as he took her in his arms. "I don't know. Maybe it's because of you," he whispered making her jump slightly. "I haven't needed it, because I have you. I don't know what it is about you, but whatever it is makes me feel…happy."
There were so many things Bulma wanted to say in that moment, but couldn't. She was so happy that she had her appointment the following week to see how much progress she had made. She wanted to convey to him that she felt the same with him. She would have fallen apart many times over if Vegeta hadn't been in her life. She would have never been able to take on the press, deal with the service, or even manage the company to her fullest capacities if she hadn't had him to lean on.
Moving her hands up his chest to his hold his face, Bulma pressed her lips against his for a soft kiss, but Vegeta took her by surprise as he deepened it, pulling her closer to him. He broke the kiss, pressing his lips to her forehead. "The guys were right," he mumbled against her head. "You are the best thing that could have ever happened to me."
Bulma responded by wrapping her arms around her shoulders and entwined her fingers in his hair comfortingly scratching his scalp casing him to release a contented sigh.
Me too, Bulma though hoping that Vegeta could at least sense she was feeling the same way. When he kissed her again right then, Bulma felt that maybe he had heard her though even though things like that were impossible. "Let's go to bed," he said quietly, his voice heavy yet relaxed. Bulma nodded, the two of them somehow managing to get to his room without letting go of each other.
Vegeta felt so relaxed as the two of them slipped into his bed and held each other. He knew that the two of them were still not in the best place, yet this simple gesture of lying with her and sleeping in the same bed as her evoked so much passion inside of him. He didn't want to let her go; he didn't think he'd ever be able to. At least right now he didn't need to worry about such pointless thoughts. For now, he could just surrender to happiness, the happiness that that night all of his friends and even Bulma's friend had wanted. Maybe his years of avoiding feeling anything had been pointless as well.