Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Just my Husband, laptop, my 3 dogs and a very overactive imagination… Dragon Ball Z and any songs mentioned in this fic DO NOT belong to me. I'm just borrowing them for my own twisted amusement.

Just a few authors' notes… First off, I'm sorry it's been forever. I was laid off the first week of April due to all this Covid madness, so I should have an influx of time for the next 90 days. Please stay safe and healthy out there and don't stress (easier said than done, I know!)- We're all in the same boat.

Second, a huge THANK YOU to whoever nominated my two stories Glorious: Book 1 and Undisclosed Desires for the Prince and the Heiress Annual Awards on Tumbler! They both took second place in their categories, so thanks so much to those who nominated and voted! Huge congrats to the other nominees as well! :D

Here's the new chapter… Sorry it's been a stretch between updates again- life has been busy and chaotic (before all this), but I will warn- I'm at the end of my stored material for a little while… I have no idea when the next update will be because it's not yet been written and is still more in a draft state. The next bunch of stuff I have written is for quite a while down the road from where we are right now… Tho I promise, the next bit will be a lot more light-hearted and things will be looking up for everyone from this point on! No more tragedy! To those complaining about the storyline being so dark- I get it and I apologize, but there are no quick remedies to things like this and I have wanted to skip through and get on with it, but felt that to do so would be to minimize the whole point of Bulma's story arc and then what would the point have been in going there in the first place? I feel this needs to be handled delicately and carefully and that's also the reason why it's taken me so long. To the few who have lamented and expressed concern about there being no possible positive outcome or happy ending to this story- I am thankful that I am writing it then. I already know how this story will end and I've actually already written the majority of it. However there's a few other scenarios I've thought up as well that allow for a happy ending, so it's really not as dire as you are assuming. Have faith! ;) After all this heartache, I won't do that to you guys and give you a bad ending- I promise!

If you're looking for something much fluffier and less angst ridden with a touch of comedy, check out my newest fic The Popstar. The first 9 chapters are posted. It's my attempt at channeling my love of 90's romantic comedies. Also, the first two chapters of Glorious: Book 2 are up.

Another HUGE shout out to the amazing Dragonbabezee for beta-ing this chapter as well like forever ago!

Warning in this chapter for graphic and disturbing subject matter.

Without further delay, here's the new chapter!

Butterflies and Hurricanes

Chapter 53

Bulma gasped in horror as she saw Trunks hobble in through the front door in the middle of the afternoon.

"What happened?!" she exclaimed, going to him immediately.

"Had a discussion with father," he replied between grit teeth and her eyes widened in concern, suspecting that his jaw was broken.

"Your father did not do this to you!" she exclaimed in disbelief.

Trunks chuckled painfully, clutching his ribs. "Wanna bet?"

"Why?" she asked, bordering on hysterics, pulling a chair out for him. "Why would he do this? Never mind that, I told you to leave him alone! Why did you go seek him out?"

"Because you were upset!" he shouted in reply, despite his jaw throbbing excruciatingly. "I wanted him to come back, but he refused and so... yea."

Bulma pursed her lips, unsure of what to say. Was it her fault Vegeta had possibly lost his mind and taken it out on Trunks? She poured him a glass of water and handed it to him.

"He's stronger," he mumbled before taking a sip.

Bulma nodded, not knowing what that had to do with anything. Strong or not, angry or not, beating your son to a pulp was not acceptable under any circumstances. "Did he say when he's coming back?"

"No," he said as he stood up and began limping towards the stairs. "Just for me to leave him alone."

She frowned in concern as she watched him slowly make his way up the stairs. Immediately a wave of fear washed through her. If Vegeta had done that to Trunks, what kind of frame of mind was he in? Was he that angry at her? Should she be worried for her own physical wellbeing when he returned?

A knock at the door interrupted her morbid thoughts. She rushed to answer the door and was surprised to see Raditz and Tarble.

"What happened to Trunks?" Tarble asked in concern.

"He… Vegeta isn't okay at the moment," she admitted, trying to keep her voice even. "He needs his space. Trunks thought going to talk to him would be a good idea and…"

"He got his ass kicked," Raditz finished with a snort, clearly not surprised. "He okay?"

"I don't know," she admitted. "He's in pretty bad shape."

"Can I go see him?" Tarble asked.

"Of course," she nodded, letting him in.

Tarble gave her a brief hug before hurrying up the stairs to check on Trunks.

"Everything okay?" Raditz asked Bulma awkwardly as they both stood there alone.

Bulma shook her head and waved him in. "No," she answered finally. "I told him."

"Told him what?" Raditz asked with a frown. Bulma shot him a dirty look in response. "Oh," he replied awkwardly, looking at the floor.

"Yea."

"I knew something was up with him," he admitted. "We could sense it, but figured it best to… give him his space."

"Yea, well Trunks didn't feel the same way," she sighed. "I told him to leave him be, but he had to go try and talk to him. He knows I told Vegeta. Now I'm worried Vegeta is so angry with me, he took it out on Trunks."

"No," Raditz shook his head. "Sometimes there's nothing like a good brawl to get it out of your system. I'm sure that's all that was, but we should all just give him his space for a while. Even I know that… I could tell he was in an especially bad mood."

"Well now you know why." She shrugged. "I just hope he comes back soon,"

"He will," Raditz said confidently. "It might take him a few days to sort through it, but he'll be back. Don't you worry."

He declined a drink and only stayed a few more minutes before leaving. Bulma went upstairs to check on Trunks who was in fairly rough shape, but doing alright, all things considered. Letting him rest was the best thing at the moment; according to both boys.

Tarble stayed long enough to help Bulma make a meal. They visited briefly and it felt good to see him. Apparently he missed Bulma, but liked living with Asia and Raditz. She encouraged him, telling him that it was alright and not to feel guilty for wanting to be close to his biological mother and get to know her better.

He left after helping her cleanup and Bulma checked on Trunks before hopping into bed.

-0-0-0-

As Vegeta floated in the lake and slowly felt himself being pulled into a much needed sleep, he heard a coughing noise from nearby.

He cracked open an eye; he hadn't sensed anyone coming, nor could he sense anyone now. Not noticing anyone, he closed his eye so he could hopefully fall back into the relaxing state he'd almost been in.

"Ahem," he heard a moment later and immediately he bolted upright, standing in the waist-deep lake. Before him, standing at the edge of the lake, was a tall, unusual, more or less humanoid-looking individual. It had pale blue skin, white hair, lavender eyes and rather effeminate features, making Vegeta unsure whether it was male or female; asexual perhaps? The individual wore what looked to be a maroon robe beneath a black tunic with pointed shoulder guards, similar to his old-style Saiyan armor. Around its neck was what could be best described as a light blue halo and in its right hand, they carried a long scepter with a white gem floating above it.

"Who are you?" Vegeta asked suspiciously. Was this a deity of some sort? If it was, he was not familiar with this particular one.

"Hmm," it hummed good-naturedly; it's voice somewhere in between masculine and feminine. "That is a rather loaded and complicated question that I don't have time to get into at the moment. You do not know me from this universe, but I know you, very well in fact, from anther universe and timeline altogether."

Upon hearing it speak, Vegeta decided it was indeed male. He narrowed his eyes at him, unsure of how to proceed. This individual did not seem threatening in appearance, however he could not get a read on his strength or energy level.

The being levitated into the air and floated above the surface of the water towards Vegeta; a rather serene expression on his face. Was he an assassin sent by King Cold? "Are you here to kill me?" Vegeta asked in dismay. He was physically spent still from the fight with Trunks. He was not ready or in any shape to defend himself for any length of time against anything or anyone.

The being chuckled and looked down at him, "Oh, no, of course not," he replied as though it was a stupid question. "I was sent here to help you,"

"Help me?" Vegeta repeated. "Who sent you?"

"Well that, I'm afraid, is rather complicated," he replied. "I suppose one could say that it was you who sent me,"

"That does not make any sense," he snorted in irritation. "Quit speaking in riddles and tell me who you are and why you are here."

"Oh my, how rude of me! My name is Whis. I guess you could say that I am the humble attendant of Lord Beerus, God of Destruction of Universe Seven," he told him.

Vegeta's right eye twitched in confusion. God of Destruction of Universe Seven? That didn't sound good. What the fuck was a God of Destruction? He could very vaguely remember his father possibly mentioning something about gods of destruction and being mindful of not angering them. Some were benevolent, despite the menacing title, but others were very temperamental and easily angered. That he had somehow caught the attention of such a deity was alarming to say the least and fear crept down his spine. "You are not a god of destruction?"

"Oh, my, heavens, no!" he chuckled. "I simply serve and attend to and sometimes manage Lord Beerus. We have made some rather… interesting Saiyan friends recently. They can be quite demanding. Fortunately for you, I have grown rather quite fond of them and the delicious assortment of culinary goodies on their planet enough to seek you out at their request."

Vegeta frowned at him, not following what he was indicating. Nevertheless, he decided to get out of the water and try to figure this out. His instincts were telling him to be very careful. Whis floated behind him, silently following him to the shore line where he put back on his torn flight suit.

"Were you out here training?" he asked.

"You could say that," he grunted.

"Always the hard worker," Whis commended him and while the tone of familiarity did not escape Vegeta's notice, it did nothing to calm his suspicions. "I am glad to find you well, I had a very difficult time tracking you down. I had been told you were on a much different planet than here, or I would have been here sooner. My understanding was that you were in quite the predicament until recently. How is Bulma? She is well I take it?"

Vegeta turned and looked at him. "What do you know of Bulma?"

"Well, I do not know your Bulma specifically, but the Bulma from the other universe I am very well acquainted with. It is because of her, actually, that I even cultivated a friendship with the Saiyans in the other universe. That woman is as smart as they come and knows how to keep and maintain friends in high places, but I do not understand why in any timeline where she exists, she has a blatant gross disrespect for the laws behind time travel. It seems in any universe in which she is a part of, she has broken this law. She should be punished, however I find it quite fascinating and amusing, so I will let it slide."

What the fuck is going on?! Vegeta asked himself as he looked dumbly at this being called Whis. Had he hit his head especially bad at some point when he'd been fighting Trunks? Or could it be that he was still in the regeneration tank on Cold's base and that their escape and his recovery and this was just another, more elaborate hallucination?

"Do not be alarmed," Whis said gently, picking up on his confusion. "Your Bulma, from this universe, created a time machine and spoke to the Vegeta in my timeline."

Vegeta frowned. He knew about the time machine and that she'd travelled back, however he didn't know this person from his past. "I am aware she made a trip, however you wouldn't be in that timeline,"

"Oh goodness, no!" he exclaimed. "She got lost or something on the way back to this timeline and somehow crossed into a completely different universe, well, my universe I guess you could say. The Vegeta from that universe was very concerned about her and so he asked me to look in on you all to make sure everything was resolved. She shook him up pretty good with your predicament too, I might add. He has been very distracted in his training since then,"

"I see," he said, frowning. She hadn't mentioned anything to him about getting lost. "Well, as you can see, we are fine,"

"Indeed, it appears that way," Whis nodded politely. "In which case, I was also to invite you to come train under me. Of course Vegeta and Goku from the other universe will be there. It should be rather interesting. You're not quite as strong as the other you, but you are close; in your base form at least. It won't take you long to catch up,"

"I am stronger in another universe?" Vegeta asked in awe. He was stronger than ever before, how was that possible?

"Indeed," he nodded once. "You are a Super Saiyan God,"

"A god?" he asked dumbfounded. How could this be?

"Well, that's what Lord Beerus called it. He woke up from a thirty nine year slumber, having dreamed of having the ultimate battle with what he insisted was a Super Saiyan God," he explained. "We searched the universe high and low for this supposed Super Saiyan God, only to be disappointed to learn that the Planet Vegeta-sei had been destroyed and the Saiyan race is all but extinct, but for two Saiyans living on a little, unremarkable planet called Earth. There we met Son Goku and Prince Vegeta. Of course, neither of them were any match for Lord Beerus, but the battle brought about a new transformation in the two Saiyans, one which they have now named Super Saiyan God. Goku achieved it first with the help of his friends. Vegeta, however attained it all on his own a little while later when I agreed to take him on as my pupil; for which he has his lovely wife, Bulma to thank."

"Huh," he exclaimed. Interesting. He was certain Earth was where Bulma had told him she was originally from and he had certainly never heard of this Super Saiyan God thing. Was that what had happened to him today, he wondered. Furthermore, Vegeta wondered who the other Saiyan was in the other universe who had beaten him to God-hood. Son Goku was a very odd name for a Saiyan. Regardless, he was intrigued. "What do I need to do to attain this power? Must I leave with you to train?"

"Well, yes," he answered, surprised that any version of Vegeta would hesitate at the offer to train and improve. "You aren't interested?"

"No, I am," Vegeta answered immediately. "It's just… the timing is not ideal as of now."

"Ohh, I see!" Whis exclaimed in joy. "Is Bulma pregnant? Is that what is holding you here? How far along is she? If she's nearly ready, I can take care of that quite easily you know-"

"No," he shook his head. "It is nothing like that,"

"Oh," he commented, his tone deflating. "Well then why ever not? The Vegeta I know wouldn't pass up any kind of training opportunity for any reason other than that."

"You are right," Vegeta nodded. "Normally I would not, however Bulma is not pregnant, but she needs me right now. Things happened when we were in captivity that she is struggling to put behind her. I cannot abandon her at this time for anything, not even to attain the level of a god."

"Hmmn," Whis nodded in understanding. "That is admirable, however why don't you discuss it with her? The Bulma I know would not resent you for leaving. I'll tell you what, I will return in twenty four hours to give you time to think it over, discuss it with her and decide together. Does that sound fair?"

Vegeta thought for a moment. That was fair. He could talk to Bulma and make sure she was comfortable with being left on her own. While it wasn't like she would be completely alone, she still had her parents and the boys, but would she resent him for this? A part of him told him she wouldn't, but he did not want to make that assumption and further damage things between them. The timing on this opportunity could not have been worse. Despite himself, he nodded. "It is. I will return here in twenty four hours and give you my final decision."

"Excellent!" Whis smiled. "I will look forward to hearing your decision. I will be here twenty four hours from now. Please be sure to give Bulma my warmest regards."

Before Vegeta could comment further, the being named Whis vanished.

Vegeta stood there, dumbfounded a moment. Had that just happened, he wondered. What was he supposed to do? He did not want to leave Bulma alone for any length of time, but he also did not want to pass up the opportunity to become a Super Saiyan God. If he could attain that, then maybe it would be possible to return to King Cold's base and wipe the bastard out for good.

He wondered if this offer was for him only, or if this Whis character could be persuaded to let him bring Trunks with him as well. If so, would it not be beneficial for all of them to train and achieve this ability? They could possibly be unstoppable if there was a team of them. However it all depended on Bulma and if Whis was open to training more than just him. If there were other Saiyans there though with this ability, why couldn't they train with all of them? Even if all they managed was getting Asia, Raditz and Tarble to attain Super Saiyan, it would be a huge advantage.

Vegeta remained there for some time, thinking it through before he finished washing up and decided it was time to return to Bulma. He wasn't sure what kind of reception he would get from her, but it was time for him to go back to her and to Trunks and figure out what to do with this new opportunity that had just been presented to him.

It was not until late into the wee hours of the early morning before he made it back to their home. Vegeta quietly crept upstairs, checked on Trunks briefly, who was asleep, but appeared to be just fine. Next he went to his and Bulma's room, shutting the door and quietly removing his clothing and put nothing more than a loose pair of pants on.

He carefully crawled into bed next to her and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her close to him; his nose buried in the nape of her neck. He'd missed her, he silently admitted to himself as he took in her familiar scent, taking comfort in it. In his own inability to even know how to begin fixing things and his own self misery of knowing that she was damaged on the inside. He had more than likely just made things even worse between them, he thought in shame. He wanted to speak with her at least before he left, if she was alright with him leaving in the first place. He would not leave her if it would upset her.

"Hey," she sighed sleepily.

"I did not mean to wake you," he said, quickly unwrapping his arms from around her waist, not wanting to make her uncomfortable.

"It's okay," she said quietly, putting a hand on his that was still on her, stopping him from moving away from her.

Vegeta froze a moment before wrapping his arms around her and pulling her in close again, the need to have her close to him nearly overwhelming.

"I missed you," she murmured quietly, settling herself into his warm embrace.

"Hmmn," he grunted in agreement.

"I'm sorry, Vegeta," she said a little louder. He felt her take a deep breath. "If you can't find it in your heart to forgive me, I understand."

"There is nothing to forgive," he answered softly, nuzzling his nose into her hair.

He felt her breath hitch before she nodded. "I know. I never meant to hurt you, for that I am sorry. I'll start moving my things to my parents place in the morning."

His heart sank as he realized that she thought he meant to set her aside. That she thought that he would be that cruel and callous towards her after everything she had been through hurt him more deeply than anything; even if it was entirely his fault that she felt that way. He raised himself up on his elbow and turned her so he could see her face. "When I said that there was nothing to forgive, what I meant was that I am not angry with you," he said looking down at her intensely. "You did what you did as a strategic move and out of self-preservation. You did not seek him out willingly as a means to replace me, you did not betray me. He manipulated and used you in the worst way imaginable."

"I know, but I still feel like I betrayed you, like I was unfaithful. I hate myself for it," she said, struggling to keep her voice even. The tidal wave of emotion she was holding back would destroy her ability to speak if she let it. "I understand if you can't-"

"Stop," he said quietly. "Quit apologizing for something that is not your fault."

"But Vegeta-"

"No," he insisted gently, settling them both in again. "We will work through it together, woman."

She smiled to herself, her heart warmed by the thought that he was not so angry with her that he could not look at her or would hurt her, as she had feared.

"How is the boy?" he asked.

"He was pretty upset with you," she admitted. "I told him to leave you be, that you needed your space and I don't know what happened between the two of you, but you both need to set things right. I can't deal with your constant fighting and you cannot ever do something like that to him ever again, Vegeta."

"I may have been a bit harder on the boy than he deserved," he admitted, not proud of his conduct. "However I did tell him to leave me alone and he would not leave. I was not in the right frame of mind to have a rational discussion with anyone."

"He said you lobbed a ki ball at him," she said.

"Because I wanted to be left the hell alone," he replied unapologetically. "He threw one at me too."

Bulma sighed, knowing there was no sense bickering about it with him and truthfully, she was just happy he was back; hopefully everything would fall into place the way it should now. She snuggled in closer to him before falling asleep again.

It did not take long for exhaustion to claim Vegeta as well.

-0-0-0-

Bulma was up early the next morning. Despite her relief that Vegeta was back, she still could not sleep in that morning. She decided to make herself busy and make them all a decent breakfast before Vegeta and Trunks woke up. She was nervous for what the day would bring. She and Vegeta still had plenty to discuss and she wasn't sure how Trunks would react to his father's return after their last interaction.

If there was anything she'd learned from her mother, it was that there wasn't any problem that could not be fixed over a delicious, hearty meal; or at the very least, it was a start in the right direction.

She made eggs, pancakes, bacon and hash browns. As she was buttering the toast, Vegeta came down into the kitchen.

"Your cooking woke me up," he said.

"I couldn't sleep," she confessed. "Do you want coffee?"

"Sure," he said, grabbing a plate and serving himself.

Vegeta sat down and began eating; he had worked up quite an appetite the last few days and it only dawned on him now that he had not eaten since he'd left their home.

"There is something I need to discuss with you," he said after she sat down with her breakfast.

"What is it?" she asked as her stomach dropped and with that went her appetite. She was still convinced that he was angry with her and would leave her over everything once he'd had the chance to rationally think over everything.

"Shortly after Trunks left, a rather strange individual, claiming to belong to another universe sought me out. He claims he was sent by another version of me, one of which you supposedly met while on your time travel mission," he started.

Bulma blinked at him a few times. No, she had not told him about when she'd gotten lost on her way back; she'd never saw reason to. She thought about that other universe as little as possible because it reminded of everything that would not ever be possible for them. "Right," she nodded. "I got lost on my way back to our timeline, I guess you'd call it, and ended up in another universe somehow. It was strange because it was like the complete opposite situation had happened, where it was your planet that had destroyed and somehow you'd ended up on Earth. The funny thing about it was, we were together living at Capsule Corporation. Trunks was a teenager."

"Hmmn," he grunted. It didn't bother him too much that she hadn't told him about it. Now that she had opened up to him about the worst of what had happened, he hoped that she would eventually tell him everything; even the not so bad experiences she'd had. "Well this individual claims to be an assistant to a very dangerous deity the Saiyans of that world have somehow befriended; that makes no sense to me, as from what I know, Gods of Destruction are not friends with anyone, however this individual indicated that a friendship has been formed. He also claims that the version of me in that universe was very concerned about you and our situation and sent this person to come to our aid."

Bulma's eyes lit up and she felt her stomach flip and her face grow warm. How sweet of him, she thought to herself, remembering how determined he had been to return with her and how disappointed he had been when she'd refused his help. "He did, did he?" she commented with a small smile.

"Apparently,"

"Well, you, or I guess he, was pretty shaken up when he learned that we weren't in a good situation. Before I left, he was insistent on coming back with me to my time with me to help us, but I forbade it on the off chance that I didn't make it back to Gero's lab or that he somehow got lost on his way back to his own timeline. I think I offended him a little," she told him. "I didn't feel right letting him accompany me on a mission I had no idea if he could help or risk forever getting him lost from returning to where he belongs. I couldn't do that to the other version of… us."

Vegeta nodded as she filled in the blanks, somehow not surprised that another version of him would want to help her. "Did he tell you what he was capable of?" he asked out of curiosity.

"No," she shook her head. "What do you mean? The other version of me had indicated that he was shook up still from another universe where I'd been murdered in the future. That was why he was so insistent about wanting to help me."

"Apparently I am what is called a Super Saiyan God in that universe," he informed her proudly with a sly look.

"What?" she exclaimed in surprise. "You didn't look like a god. You looked good, more mature. I'd say we were both in our mid-forties in that timeline, but you didn't look like a god, nor did you mention anything like that, though you seemed pretty certain you could handle anything while I was trying talk you, or him- sorry, out of coming,"

"Hmmn," he grunted. "In any case, this Whis individual claimed that I sent him to make sure we were alright and I have been summoned to go to train with him in his universe so that I can learn this Super Saiyan God transformation. I apparently learned it from him."

Bulma nodded and was silent a moment. So his intent was to leave her, she thought in despair; she'd known this would happen. "I see," was all she managed to say. Outwardly she was calm, inside however, she was panicking. He couldn't leave her, could he? She'd always feared that he would if he learned the truth, but she had been hoping so badly that he wouldn't, that she had been blowing everything out of proportion. "So you're leaving me,"

Vegeta put his fork down and turned his full attention to her. "No, I am not leaving you," he said firmly, taking her hand and willing her to look at him. "Not permanently, and not because of anything that happened; this has nothing to do with you telling me your experience. I realize how it must look from your point of view, but please know that the timing is off on this offer, that is all."

Bulma looked at him, unsure of his true intent. His eyes seemed sincere, but she wasn't sure.

"If I had no intention of staying with you or no regard to what it is you are going through, I would have departed with him then and there without running this by you first, as that had been his intention. I informed him that the timing is not great, that I needed to discuss this with you before accepting. He offered me twenty four hours to decide and he will return later on tonight to hear my decision," he told her, hoping with every fibre of his being that she would be alright with this. "I do not know how long I will be gone for, but I can assure you, I will return to you. Learning to attain this level of power will allow me to finish off Cold and repay him for everything he has done to us."

She still didn't say anything as she thought about it some more. If she was truly honest with herself, she knew he would eventually have revenge on his mind. Just like last time; it would only be so long before the desire for destroying King Cold and everything connected to him would be the only thing on his mind and this life of peace and anything good they'd made here wouldn't be enough for him. She'd also already wondered and had begun to worry how long it would be before Trunks adopted that same mind set.

Vegeta didn't say anything further, letting her mull it over. She didn't look pleased, but she also didn't look upset or angry and he wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. He needed to have her made the choice for him on her own without him pushing her.

"You can go," she finally said, though there was no joy in her tone. If this was what he needed to do, she wouldn't hold him back from a possible once in a lifetime opportunity. Now that he knew something way beyond anything he thought possible was within his reach, he would not rest until he attained it anyway. She knew that, and she didn't want to be the one responsible for his not being able to go after it. "You can go on one condition though,"

"Anything," he replied immediately, over the moon that she had agreed. "Just name it,"

"You take Trunks with you," she said.

"Funny you should mention that," he smirked. "If you said it was alright, I was going to ask you and this Whis person if I could bring Trunks and the others, but Trunks at the very least."

Bulma nodded. "Alright then,"

"Woman, you have no idea what this means to me," he said, squeezing her hand. "I know the timing on to this could not be worse if I tried, but I do not think this is something I can take a rain check on and do in a few months from now. I will do everything I can to make it up to you when I return,"

"I understand," she nodded in agreement. Maybe a break from each other would be a good thing too, she reasoned. She wasn't feeling any better since she'd told him and there was so much she hadn't worked through. She almost felt as though she couldn't with him around because he noticed everything where she was concerned; not that that was a bad thing, she reasoned, but she always felt like she needed to be putting up a front for not only him, but for Trunks as well. It was exhausting. Maybe some time on her own for a little while would help her heal.

"Are you certain?" he asked. "If you would rather me stay here, I will and do not think I would resent you for that. You need-"

"I'll be fine," she interrupted him. "A break might be good for me to de stress and put things behind me without interruption. I do need you, but… I also need to help myself as well; only I can do that, and I won't hold you back from something I know you want. If it weren't for my issues, I would have no qualms with you going."

His love for his woman was nearly overwhelming and it crushed him that he could not express it by taking her in his arms and celebrating his love for her and their union the best way he knew. She was once again, setting her own issues to the side for him and he knew he would never be able to repay her in this lifetime for her selflessness.

Bulma knew how much this meant to him and felt that he was still somewhat torn about this and she didn't want him to be; it would only distract him from his training and she did not want that. She also did not want him to leave without her at least attempting to make things right with him. As it stood, she had made no effort in reinstating their physical relationship and she felt very guilty about that. Would he return if she didn't put forth the effort in that regard?

Bulma took his hand and led him back upstairs to their bedroom, closed the door behind them and locked it so they would not be disturbed before heading into the bathroom and into their stand up shower. She turned the water on, twisting the tap to as far as it could go to warm the water up and leaned in and kissed him; carefully and chastely at first before brushing her tongue lightly on his top lip. She wasn't sure if she was ready for this, but she wanted to be and she could not let him leave without at least trying; that much she was sure of.

He placed his hands on her hips gently, pulling her close to him, opening his mouth to her, letting her take the initiative and set the pace.

As the room began fog up from the steam, she slowly began removing her clothes.

Vegeta frowned at her as he noticed a deep scar across the length of her abdomen. She quickly closed the distance between them, crashing her lips against his, wanting to distract him from noticing the unsightly scars that now decorated her previously flawless body. The reason she had chosen to do this here and now and like this was so he would hopefully not notice her every flaw if the room was steamed up. She wasn't ready to address and discuss everything and she hoped he would be alright with that, but she was ready to open up a little bit and start slowly.

She began helping him to undress and grabbed his hand, leading him into the shower.

He noticed the four deep scar lines on her shoulder again; they went farther down her back than he'd thought and noted how painful that had to have been. They were clearly from nails or claws. He scowled deeply as he noticed a few other scars on her body. None quite as bad as her shoulder and abdomen. They consisted of a few criss cross or crescent-shaped scars on her back and sides that he had never seen before. He realized then that it had been years since he had seen her without clothes on. He hadn't seen her naked since he had left Vegeta-sei and they had spent the day and night together on his island.

He wasn't sure if he should comment or not so he didn't, though it disturbed him greatly and he wanted to know every detail of who had done this to her, how and why.

Bulma turned around and kissed him, quickly pressing her body up against his, not wanting him to get a good look at her front and not missing the questioning look in his eyes. She didn't want to discuss it with him. She couldn't. Not yet. At the moment all she wanted was to reinstate their union before he left and feel him against her and inside of her and erase the horrible memories that were plaguing her. I am not ready to talk about it all just yet, she said. I will. Just not now. Right now I just need you.

Vegeta kissed her back in response, all thought of everything else put on hold for the moment. He placed his hands on her hips and backed her up against the wall of the shower, the steam from the hot water so heavy he couldn't see her that well, and it was nearly suffocating to him, but he didn't care. She was finally opening herself up to him. He would not step back and question her about things she was not ready to discuss.

She needed him now, at this exact moment before she over thought it and lost her nerve, she thought as she urgently wrapped her legs around his waist and focused on the nice, cool tile against her back, rather than the anxiety that was beginning to creep up on her. It's just sex, she reminded herself as she began to second guess her decision now that she was here and he had her pinned against the wall; something that would have never bothered her before. She needed to replace the horrible memories from everything and begin making new ones. She didn't necessarily feel she was emotionally ready for this step, but she would worry about that later. For now she just needed to drown in him and feel something other than misery, guilt and self-loathing. She also wanted him to know and see how hard she was trying and wanted to reinstate their physical union before he left. Despite his reassurance that this training opportunity had nothing to do with her finally coming clean, her deep insecurities that he would decide not to return to her at all once he'd achieved his goal was the main driving force behind her current actions.

Realizing and comprehending her sense of urgency, Vegeta slid himself into her slowly and gently, ever mindful that it had been a long time for her body. He moaned in ecstasy to himself as he joined himself to her completely. It had been so long! She felt even more amazing than he had remembered. He remained still for a long moment, just taking it all in, re familiarizing himself with the feeling of having her wrapped around him and not wanting to rush her either. He hadn't realized how much he missed this with her until this very moment.

He kissed her deeply for a long moment before resting his head against her forehead, looking at her intensely before slowly moving out of her and then easing his way back into her again carefully. She sighed and whimpered a little as she felt him move through her.

"Am I hurting you?" he asked, halting his movements and looking at her with concern, worried that she was possibly not only emotionally unready for him but physically unprepared; they had after all skipped the foreplay entirely. He did not want to rush her.

"No," she said, tightening her legs around his lower torso trying to encourage him to continue on, even though feelings of anxiety rather than pleasure began to take over her senses. Instead of telling him, however, she closed that part of her off and kissed him. She needed this to be okay. She hoped with everything within her that the first time together after so much trauma would change, almost undo everything; that she could then begin forgetting everything that had happened.

Vegeta continued to move into her, placing one hand on her bottom to support her and the other wrapping his arm around her so his hand was splayed on her back.

She wrapped her arms around his neck as he continued to thrust into her at a gentle pace. One hand she buried into his hair on the back of his head, the other clutched his back and shoulder, her nails digging into his skin. She clung to him for dear life and refused to look away or close her eyes to savor the moment or to even let herself go to enjoy herself and the reinstatement of their union, for fear that when she opened them again it wouldn't be him with her.

He gasped and grunted as he came, pulling out of her quickly, not wanting to risk pregnancy. It had taken a sudden hold of him and had happened much quicker than he'd wanted, but it had been so long since he had done this, he should have expected that and paced himself better, he thought in shame as he let his seed spill to the tiled floor to be washed away.

Bulma was going to tell him he didn't have to worry about getting her pregnant, but instead leaned in and kissed him, still not wanting to talk about it and she didn't want him to look at her body; she was already regretting doing this, she wasn't ready. She should have shut the lights off at least. He kissed her back longingly, wanting to prolong their intimacy as he brought a hand down between them and began stroking her, wanting her to get some satisfaction from their coupling.

"It's fine," she said, removing it. She needed to get out of there; she was beginning to feel trapped and claustrophobic. He gave her an odd look before stepping away and reaching for some soap and began lathering his hands. Maybe she'd let him wash her and he could please her that way?

She was about to exit the shower but he was able to quickly grab her hand and pull her back towards him. Before she had a chance to object he silenced her, his mouth covering hers. I am not put off by anything you may have suffered, he told her soothingly. "Look at me," he said out loud, taking a small step back under where the hot water was beating down on him. He shrugged his arms out somewhat before turning completely around, unashamed at showing off his body to her which showcased all of his many scars and disfigurements both new and old. "If anyone will understand, it is me," he said with an imploring look, his features open and honest, not closed off and guarded as she was used to. She nearly lost herself in a tidal wave of emotion as he looked at her with such open care and concern that it almost made her heart hurt. The only thing keeping her from crying, was how silly he looked with his hair flat down behind him from the water, rather than it being straight up like it always was.

"It's not the scars," she admitted quietly, trying to keep her voice even. "I mean, it's not just the scars."

"What is it you are so afraid of telling me?" he asked, cautiously reaching to lightly touch her side with his lathered hand. "We cannot change that it happened, but we can lean on each other and work through this together. You did that for me. Let me do that for you."

Bulma nodded in agreement, but didn't say anything. She knew he was right and that she needed to open up to him. It was probably the only way she would ever be able to work through this. Not to mention he was trying so hard with her. She may have unwisely rushed things between them just now, but she didn't know how else to meet him there half way besides opening up to him physically.

He gently put his hands on her, washing her gently and thoroughly. It felt so good to her, so relaxing to have his large, reassuring hands on her and she knew his intent was to be soothing and comforting, not sexual. Feeling somewhat more comfortable talking with him, she took one of his hands and guided it to the thin crescent-shaped scar on her left breast. "This one was Jeyice," she admitted to him quietly. "He bit me one time… while…" She couldn't finish the thought; that whole encounter was the worst experience of her life and she realized again that this was going to be a lot harder than she thought.

Vegeta turned her around somewhat so he could see her. He ever so carefully rubbed his hand over it with soap, washing the scarred skin. Even though it was long since healed, he handled her as gently and carefully over each one of them as though they were still fresh wounds that were tender to the touch. Once he washed and rinsed the skin he would kneel down and inspect it before licking and kissing it and then moving on. Some of them she couldn't remember their origin; accidents in the lab. Others she recalled as though they had just happened.

He turned her around in his arms so her back was leaning against him and lightly traced his fingers across the four lines in her shoulder before brushing his lips on the raised flesh, silently asking the question of its origin. It bothered him immensely and he desperately wanted to know who and why they would do such a thing to her.

Bulma swallowed hard in alarm and fought back a wave of nausea. She didn't mind too much telling him about the others now that she'd started, but that one she was not ready to discuss. She wasn't sure why she was still so afraid to tell him about his father, but she was.

Instead of answering his silent inquiry, she took his other hand and placed it on the scar across the length of her abdomen. She swallowed hard again as she felt his lips graze the back of her neck and his nose nuzzle her damp hair.

"Jeyice," she whispered so quietly he barely heard her over the running water. "It happened the last time he-" she couldn't finish the sentence.

Vegeta clenched his teeth in rage but kept it to himself. The majority of these had been from Jeyice, barring a few lab accidents. What he wouldn't give to have been the one to destroy the disgusting little weasel himself for repeatedly marking up his mate. Duplicate and carve each one of the afflictions that marred his mate's body all over him before tearing him up limb for limb.

"It happened when I killed him," she said quietly, picking up on his thoughts.

"Hence incurring this one the last time he assaulted you?" he asked in a joking tone, though he was proud of her that she had killed him. Hearing that gave him more satisfaction than if he had avenged upon Jeyice the wrongs he had committed towards Bulma himself. He felt his pride in her swell within him despite the empty feeling from her, and he was reminded that she was so different from him. "What happened?" he asked.

"Dende healed the wound. I'd lost a lot of blood by that point so I had to go into a regeneration tank."

He didn't say anything, just held her a little tighter. He had very nearly lost her and would have been completely oblivious to it. The notion hit him hard.

"You don't remember…"

"Remember what?" he asked, his mind racing trying to conjure up anything he could.

"When I was in the regeneration tank, we spoke and met up through the bond. We…" she told him quietly, feeling dumb even mentioning it again since he didn't remember. She wasn't sure why that bothered her, but it did. It was just a reminder of how desperate she had been back then. "Never mind."

"No, what?" he pushed gently. He didn't remember meeting her while he was put out, but he was interested in hearing what she had to say and why this particular experience was so important to her.

"You spoke to me and told me that you heard me every day even though I could not hear you," she told him. "We were on your island back on Vegeta-sei and then to my old home on my planet and then back to Vegeta-sei before I came to again. I asked for your guidance on what I needed to do and you helped me."

He didn't say anything, only listened to her tell her story.

"I can't believe it didn't happen," she sighed, trying to not get emotional over it and feeling stupid because she was. "That incident was what got me through the rest of that whole ordeal. I clung to it like a lifeline."

"Just because I cannot remember it, does not mean it did not happen," he said encouragingly. "If it was real to you, then it was real; and if it helped you to endure, then that is all that matters."

"I guess. Everything was better after that," she admitted. "He was the one who caused me most of the grief. Once he was gone, I was left alone."

"How did you kill him?" he asked.

"I stabbed him in the neck," she replied tonelessly. "While he was, you know... I was ready for it."

"Then how were you hurt?" he asked.

"I had planned on killing him that evening because I couldn't go on with the arrangement anymore. I seduced him that night, stabbed him and then I couldn't get him off of me, so I didn't get away fast enough and he didn't die as quick as I thought," she said slowly and tonelessly as though she was reliving it. "He managed to pull the knife out of his neck and took a swipe at me before the blood loss got to him. He got me really good though. Thank god Dende was near. He had heard the whole thing and was able to seal the wound before I bled to death next to that pig."

"I am proud of you," he said quietly, wanting to give her some reassurance. "I know that to do something like that is so far out of your nature, and this is not something you want to hear, but I am proud of you for it."

She nodded in agreement, not saying anything and he knew then how negatively having taken a life, even when fully justified, had affected her.

His heart broke for her. He truly had no clue the extent of what she had endured all the time she had spent with Cold in Gero's lab. Since she had gotten him out, all he had done was feel sorry for himself for everything that had happened to him, blamed and berated himself that Bulma and Trunks had gotten caught in it at all, even punished himself by allowing her to distance herself from him and he only realized now how wrong he'd been to allow her to do that.

Trunks was right, he thought in shame. He'd had the easy way out all of these years. He had been kept completely oblivious of what was happening to his family. It had been blissful. He'd had no idea until he had been so abruptly awakened by her; clad in only underwear, crashing into her onto the cold floor. That was all he'd known.

Once he'd realized that, still he had withdrawn into himself and had selfishly dwelled on the facts of everything that had happened to him. His mistakes. His inability to have been able to protect his family. His inability to walk or do anything for himself. He had turned all of this about him when really he should have been focused on her the entire time… Or at least once he had recovered.

It was her who had lived it all this time, not him. He had been in a drug induced coma almost the entire time. What did he have to be bitter about aside from the fact that he'd been unable to do anything to help her? But that was out of his control so there was no sense in punishing himself over it any longer. The person who really needed help was her.

How could he have missed that? How could he have been so blind? She had put her own devastating predicament behind her and had unselfishly helped him before addressing her own issues. How could he have allowed that?

You didn't know, she told him, not a single trace of resent or bitterness behind her thoughts.

"How could I have not seen it?" he asked out loud. It was so obvious!

"Because you keep blaming yourself for things that you had no control over," she said. He still had one hand lightly placed on her abdomen, and she covered it with her own. "I don't hold you responsible. I don't want you to blame yourself, which is why I haven't disclosed any of these things to you. If I tell you, then you'll sink into a pit of self-loathing over things that you could not have prevented and I don't want that; you've been through enough. I don't want to weigh you down further by telling you things that will only upset you. There's no point in it."

Vegeta stepped away from her and shut the water off. Here, in this setting was not the place to have this conversation. He needed to look at her and see her, not have her turned away from him and hiding herself from him.

He dried himself off with his ki before taking her into his arms and drying her off as well and carrying her to their bed. He laid her down, pulling the covers over the both of them and lay next to her on his side, facing her.

Vegeta reached for her, tenderly stroking the side of her cheek as though she were breakable. He looked at her closely, really looked at her. She had been through so much and yet he still saw her as strong and beautiful in every way. If anything, he had even more respect and admiration for her than he did before. That she had been able to set aside something so atrocious and keep her focus on him and his recovery was something truly remarkable; never in his existence had he met anyone as selfless and resilient as her, and he would make certain he'd never take advantage of that quality of hers again.

She reached for him as well, touching his face, mirroring his actions and smiled lightly at him.

"I agree that it is pointless for me to agonize over the things that were done to you, but you are letting them eat you alive, Bulma," he finally said to her. "I am better now. I know I cannot change the things that happened to you and to Trunks. I realize that you are trying to protect me from myself and my nature, but you are letting what happened affect you in a very negative way. I cannot help you to cope unless I understand what it is exactly that happened to you. Yes, I will shoulder the blame for it, but let me handle that. I will find a way to come to terms with it in my own time."

Bulma nodded at him, looking down between them, not wanting to meet his eyes. She knew she was hurting him and she didn't want to hurt him, but she just couldn't bring herself to talk about everything. She felt better having told him of the origins of almost all of her scars. There was just one that she hadn't told him about and she wondered how long he would let her keep it from him.

"I'll tell you the rest in time," she said. "I just don't want to live through it again right now."

He nodded before waiting a moment and leaned in to kiss her. He wanted to take his time with her, show her how much he still desired her even after everything she had been put through. While he was elated that she had opened up to him in the shower, it had not been what he'd envisioned their first union would have been like after everything. It had felt rushed and like she had not been sure. He wanted to take his time with her and begin helping her erase Jeyice from her mind completely, he wanted her to receive as much pleasure in their lovemaking as he did.

Bulma kissed him back, loving how deliciously gentle and patient he was being with her. How could she have ever thought he would reject her? She threaded her fingers in the thickness of his hair on the back of his head as she tried to relax and forget everything. He leaned down over her, kissing her deeply as he let his hand trail down, cupping her between her legs.

He stroked her gently and carefully, waiting for her to respond to him positively or push him away. When she rocked her hips against his hand, he took that as permission to proceed and slowly dipped a finger inside her. This time would be for her. I am sorry he hurt you, he said, his mouth not leaving hers as he kissed her slowly and so deeply, she thought her head would spin. Let me make it better. Let me make you forget it ever happened. I still want you, I will never stop wanting you; I need you.

I need you too, Vegeta. She said as she arched herself into him. Her heart pounding with a conflicting mixture of desire and anxiety as he worshipped her body almost reverently. She wanted this feeling to go away. She knew he would not hurt her or exploit her or her body, but the anxiety that was ripping through her as he touched her so intimately was almost nauseating. She hated it. She hated that Jeyice had done this to her. She hated that she was repulsed by her mate's touch for something that had not been his fault, for something that he had not done to her. They may have had their arguments and they may have fought and said unkind things to one another, but when it came to this, he was always caring and sensitive to her. It was the one thing they were both equals in and could give in freely and completely, forgetting any other trials or traumas that were haunting them at the moment. Nothing else existed but them when they were together intimately and now that was ruined for her.

She began to shake as her mind began to take her back to that ugly pit of horribleness as the only thing she could think about was the feel of him holding her down, biting her or taking her when she wasn't even close to ready. Or the way he'd scrape his teeth across her shoulder or collarbone; it had not been appealing. The time he had nearly strangled her in a blind rage for uttering Vegeta's name accidentally because she'd been thinking of him while they'd been together triggered a whole different wave of anxiety that Vegeta would be angry that she was thinking of Jeyice now while with him. No, she told herself. He wouldn't do that, it's Vegeta, not Jeyice. She wanted to move on and forget about it. She wanted to be touched and loved and cherished by Vegeta, but at the moment she could not give him any part of herself. Not like that, but how did she tell him that now without hurting him?

It is alright, he said comfortingly to her, slowing things down, not wanting to rush her as he continued to kiss her slowly and longingly. I am not him and I am in no hurry. He said, withdrawing his fingers. She was not ready for this, he realized and he felt ashamed now for even attempting to move things along with her, or for even letting her take the initiative in the shower earlier. He should have known better.

She kissed him back, trying to hold back a wave of emotion, but failed. It's just sex, she kept hearing his obnoxious, accented voice telling her in a nonchalant tone. It wasn't though. It was never just sex with Vegeta. It was always so much more than just sex. It was mental and emotional. It was a celebration between two people who loved and cherished each other equally. She was so spent emotionally and mentally, she could not hold back any longer. "I'm sorry," she cried. "I'm a mess. I can't do this right now, Vegeta. I want to, I do, but I can't."

"It is alright," he said soothingly, cradling her close to him.

"No, it isn't!" she cried angrily. "I can't get him out of my head and every time I think I'm ready to move on and put it behind me, it all comes back, crashing down around me like a ton of bricks again. It's not fair!"

"You need to stop blaming yourself," he said. "You have nothing to feel guilty over."

"It's not just that," she shook her head at him, struggling to tell him how she felt because she herself couldn't put words to it. "It's the feeling of him. You touching me like you are, all I feel is him and that's not fair to you…"

He didn't say anything, just letting her take her time.

"He just…" she started again. "He touched me and did things to my body that you… never have or would. Some of the things he did… I wasn't comfortable with, but I…"

"You liked it?" He asked.

"I wouldn't say I consciously liked it, but my body reacted to it so…" she trailed off in shame as she cried and took a moment to compose herself. "I never came with him, but for one time and that was really bad; I don't like to think about it because it makes me sick, but the rest of the time, sometimes he would put in the effort to try and make me enjoy it and I wouldn't finish, but I was aroused, so it made the act itself sometimes less unpleasant, physically anyway, and if he hadn't always finished before me, I probably would have."

So that was what she meant when she'd said it wasn't always all bad, when she'd finally told him, he thought guiltily. Of course he had assumed something different and had not given her the chance to elaborate. He understood now exactly what she meant, but he wasn't sure what words to say to her to make her feel not guilty. "Just because your body reacted naturally to something being done to you, does not mean you enjoyed it," he said awkwardly. Apparently it was his turn to open up about things he did not discuss with anyone, not even her. "Frieza was good at… getting a physical reaction out of someone all for the purpose of making you feel degraded and to further remind you that he owned you and controlled every aspect of your life.

"He would do things to not only arouse me but make me finish and I had no control over it. No amount of mental resolve or conditioning could keep it from happening. I never once enjoyed myself, however being that the body will react naturally and being a male there was clear… evidence of it, he thoroughly enjoyed fucking with my head, trying to convince me that I must have enjoyed it. That I did things to deliberately piss him off because I wanted the attention."

Bulma frowned and nodded. She didn't want him to dwell on his own experience, she knew how much it had haunted him. "I know, I'm sorry for bringing it up. I know you don't like to think about that,"

"No, but you need to appreciate that I understand," he said firmly. "I do not judge you, nor do I feel betrayed."

She shook her head. "Why does that make me feel worse?" She asked. "I don't want for you to be angry, but that you aren't makes me feel worse about it."

"Because he fucked with your head and despite the fact that he's gone, you're still allowing him to live there," he reasoned. "Throw away the guilt and self-hatred. I know that is not an easy thing to do. It will take time, but you can free yourself of it."

"I just feel so… damaged on the inside," she said. "Still…"

"That will take time," he said, though he felt dumb saying it. "I will remain here," he said after a long pause. She was not okay to be left alone; not right now and he wondered if he would ask for another rain check on this training opportunity if Whis would be alright with that. What difference would it make anyway whether he trained immediately or six months or a year from now? No matter which way he looked at it, it was not fair to Bulma to leave right now, no matter how badly he wanted to take advantage of this opportunity.

"No, I think you should go," she said, shaking her head. "You'll regret it forever if you don't,"

"But you need support," he insisted. "Abandoning you right now is not wise."

"You're not abandoning me,"

"I might as well be," he snorted.

"I don't see it that way," she shook her head. "I need time to figure this out-"

"You've done nothing but take time since I got better. That has been months now," he pointed out. "I do not see how you are any closer to resolving this than you were before."

"I know, but that's with having you and Trunks around. I didn't want you to know so I buried it all, I also didn't want Trunks to worry, so I hid all of that. If you're gone, I can focus on all of it, I'll feel like it's okay to have a bad day and a meltdown; and when you come back, we can start fresh again."

Vegeta sighed, unsure if he agreed with her or not.

"I won't keep you blocked out," she said. "I'll keep in touch through the bond."

"Hmmn," he grunted, raising an eyebrow at her. "You will let me know at any moment if you change your mind then; I will arrange to return immediately."

"I will," she nodded. "I also think this will be a really good opportunity for you and Trunks to bond and get to know one another properly. I know he wants to know you, I just think for some reason he's afraid to."

"I want him to accompany me as well," he agreed. "If they can manage it, I'd like to ask the others to come too,"

Bulma nodded, resting her head on his chest. "We'll be okay," she sighed.

"We will," he agreed, holding her close and they both fell asleep for a few hours before waking up to inform the others of this new, possibly once in a lifetime opportunity.

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