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Tanabata - Star Festival
A B/V holiday special
Disclaimer - Yep… I still don't own it *sigh*
The scarlet of a fearsome sunset burned like a halo over the city. It clung to the hills in the distance, moulding around the mist and danced its fading brilliance over the horizon. The dominance it reinforced, skewered through the vast star-dotted sky, sprinkling the clouds with the light emitted. There they stayed as reliable as always, twinkling against the impressive backdrop, ignorant to how well their celestial elegance complimented the dramatic tones of a Chikyu-jin summer sky.
The oppressive heat of the day had been tamed to a gentle simmer now, being replaced by a warm but refreshing breeze. It drifted over the domed buildings as the night claimed its position over Western Capital City. That night the world seemed at peace with itself. Even the sound of a police siren flew elegantly into hearing, keeping its peace with Mother Nature's grand plan. All creatures intruding on the scene seemed to be at one with the earth.
Except that is - for one.
Bulma Briefs stumbled clumsily out onto the balcony, trying to hike up the crotch of her black work trousers and failing miserably. Unbeknownst to her they had become caught under the heel of a black stiletto, which caused her to lope inelegantly through the glass door. Her shoulder met angrily with the sharp metal of the lock, tearing through the fabric of her jacket and very top layer of skin.
"Shit!" she swore, thankful that the graze wasn't deep enough to bleed. To be perfectly honest the pain was a welcome relief from other feelings. Her fingers flew through her purse, discarding scrunched up tissues, intermingled with till receipts and when the effort seemed too much she sighed, spreading the entire contents over the patio table. Hastily pocketed change spun away from the smoothed surface clattering loudly through the railings and onto the canvas awning beneath.
Sifting through the contents her fingers finally found the packet of cigarettes and lighter she sought. The flints sparked several times before the flame took control and she drew the smoke into her lungs. Leaning back and resting against the smooth wall she looked up, finally appreciating the magnificent scene she so rudely intruded on. After inhaling and recording it to memory she proceeded to block all vision to think uninterrupted.
At what point did her life change so much? Why couldn't she escape from this feeling of… of… monotony? The word was daunting but the only one that would fit the significance that was missing from her life. Half the time she was zipped into autopilot. This excursion was going to break it. Yamcha be damned, she was going to have a long relaxing smoke on the balcony, just the way she always did and fuck the consequences!
It wasn't that she wanted him back as a lover, but she missed the friend he had somehow inexplicably morphed into instead. She mourned the loss of comfortable evenings tucked up on the sofa with a bottle of wine and book, her feet stretched out snugly over Yamcha's lap, knowing that even though the Chinichi Dragons were playing; he wouldn't mind the intrusion of her feet. There was an undeniable rapport that had existed between them, which defied all normal boundaries but one. Unfortunately it was that line they had crossed within weeks of knowing each other and neither had ever quite known how to backtrack from it.
From sixteen to twenty-six she had mistaken that emotion. There was a time she had believed it was love and had she been completely devoted to the sensation she couldn't have been anymore blind! She didn't regret their relationship, only wished she could have found the fulfilment that it had promised so early on.
So here she was with her eyes firmly opened and completely at a loss as to how to get what she really wanted. Was it the loneliness the last few months without him inspired, which now played on her heartstrings and pushed her so much into uniformity? Everything felt so completely dissatisfying and empty. Still things weren't completely desperate. Tomorrow was Tanabata.
She sighed, dropping the burned out cigarette and crushing it under the ball of her foot. What an idiot she was? As if it was going to make the smallest amount of difference to how her life was planned out. Deep down she was a big believer in fate. Things that happened were meant to, but there was also a strong superstitious routine to her thinking, that was undoubtedly carved into her genetics from her mother's side.
Not many in the city celebrated Tanabata anymore, and a few weeks ago she had tried to dissuade her mother from constructing the annual bamboo framework, just as she tried to every year. What was the point? It was nothing more than a festival for kids now.
As may be expected though, where her mother thought herself to be in the right she was as stubborn as her daughter. Her gentle words reminded her of the true story behind the star festival, parrying away the pleas as she always did. Bulma was now glad that she had. As much as she protested the tradition, she needed the hope that it promised.
Again her attention was drawn to the sky. The roots of the festival were crafted up there and she traced the bountiful stars trying to find the right ones. "Where are you Veda and Altair?" she whispered. Finally her gaze met them and she smiled as she saw their converged position, but the effort was lack lustre. "I'm not sure even you guys can help me get what I really want this year."
Under the thought her eyes shifted position to the spherical gravity chamber, standing elegantly against the fading background. The light from the kitchen below her radiated around its smooth surface and set it aglow against the rest of the intermingled buildings. The picture it painted almost affirmed its importance to her.
When was it that he had become such a pivotal point of her attention? Was it really pity for his loneliness or was it because his desperation was now so frighteningly similar to her own? Whatever it was, it now seemed as though her obsession was coming to a figurative head. If truth were known then it was frightening the shit out of her.
Over the passed six months there had been something that had linked them. It was like a silent understanding of needs that had wound its ethereal spell through her. It had started as something very miniscule. She could never say that her and Vegeta had become friends. It was a concept that was completely impossible for him to grasp, but their general acquaintance had somehow metamorphosed from a stagnant business agreement to quiet acceptance.
She felt privileged to inspire this in him, as it appeared that she was the only being he deemed worthy enough to grace with it. Even through her mothers placid temperament he still had a nervousness, which chased at the edges of his composure, and the equal fear and scorn that he shared with her father always concerned and amused her in turn.
This tension - the edginess and suspicion that naturally converged on his mind never seemed to surface when she was near him. She couldn't even put an exact moment on when this had changed; she just knew that it had. She no longer feared his presence as she had done during his first visit. The sound of his boot-cushioned footsteps, as they padded softly on kitchen tiles was almost comforting in conjuncture with her normal morning routine. Alas it was only in the mornings that she spent any time with him. For the rest of the day he would be locked inside the gravity room, not answering to anyone or anything.
Occasionally he had been known to steal in early, only to stand pensively at the living room door, seeming to want the comfort the small family offered, but not sure about how to go about getting it. Bulma sighed, how horrible it must be for him to be so distrustful of everything? Just once she wished he would speak what was on his mind and not hide away training, so no one could help him.
The last of the light dipped behind the skyscrapers and the temperature dropped a couple of degrees. With a wave of determination Bulma picked up the contents of her handbag and hastily stuffed them back from where they had been so hastily removed. Her mind was made up. Unlike previous years she would offer her soul up to the stars. What did she have to lose? Who knew… maybe… just maybe...? Her eyes glinted as she retreated through the patio door and back to her room. Could Tanabata succeed where everything else had failed? Could she win his trust, would he open up to her? Perhaps only fate could tell, but she was sure as hell going to give him one gigantic shove in the right direction.
Vegeta was the first person Bulma saw the next morning, although it wasn't exactly how she would have wanted it. One minute she was wrapped up in the sheets of a sleepy make-believe the next she felt her limbs falling and the rough texture of the reed matted floor as her bottom grazed along it. This motion was inexorably accompanied by the dull ache on her forehead.
"Boo!" Vegeta's voice was as deep and rough as always, only made even darker with the tiniest amount of sarcasm that nipped its edges.
Bulma's eyes fluttered open to see that he was standing over her, his face millimetres away from her own. "Get up rich bitch!"
Her vision was still blurry and she used the right hand to gouge the sleep out of her eyes. "Fuck off! I'm still asleep!" she mumbled, crawling into a ball on the floor and trying to retain the vestiges of her dream.
"Not anymore!" he iterated, grabbing an arm and bending the wrist at a forceful, but not painful angle, "Listen!"
Bulma sighed rubbing her forehead and realized from her position that she must have fallen asleep at her desk, "I don't hear anything," she yawned, looking up to the clock.
"Precisely!" he growled, "Where the fuck is everyone?"
Bulma's eyes widened as she saw the digital display flick up a number, "Holy shit! I'm late for work!" she screamed standing up and completely ignoring Vegeta.
She wasn't destined to make it far. Her companion rose with her, his grip moving to the elbow and with not even the slightest pause she was hoisted over his head, hanging from one arm, and spitting insults at him like a cobra would venom.
His eyes narrowed, the anger at her invective, only just kept in check, "I asked you a question!" He punctuated every word, causing sobering malice to drip off each syllable.
She went limp in his grasp, "You're the one able to sense ki," she sighed, feeling completely humiliated, "You tell me."
"Onna this is not a game!"
"What's the matter? Can't the royal prince of all assholes figure out how to make his own breakfast?"
Vegeta's patience wore out and he threw her angrily onto the futon, "I've already eaten," he spat, "I didn't need anyone to cook for me before I came here, why should I now? When a warrior needs sustenance he provides for himself."
Bulma cricked her neck and rubbed her shoulder, "Then why are you bothering me?"
"Because, simpleton, there's no power to the gravity room. I've checked the generator."
"… And? If you're so self sufficient you can fix it yourself."
"I would if it was there."
She hiked up an eyebrow, "What do you mean 'if' it was there?"
His teeth were now gritted and Bulma could almost see the energy being withheld as it burnt under his skin. "Don't play the innocent! I know how you Chikyu-jins work!"
"Well don't look at me Vegeta!" she scrunched up her nose as though saying his name was bitter, "My dad probably borrowed it to power the lights and music for the festival tonight."
He snarled, the energy surrounding him clearly visible, "Idiot! I should have known the old goat was behind it. He's just signed his death warrant. No one fucks with my training!"
Bulma rolled her eyes, "Oh chill out! One day wont hurt!"
"Yes it will!"
"Oh for Kami's sake! You trained for twenty-seven years without it! Grow up. The festival's an important date in the Capsule Corporation calendar and you don't mess with tradition." Bulma let out a mental chuckle at her justification, when she thought of how she begged her mom to forego it this year. She wouldn't, however, let Vegeta know this. She enjoyed trying to manipulate him.
"Feh!" he admonished, "Your pathetic race celebrates the stupidest things! What is it this time?"
Vegeta didn't reply but the look he sent her portended immediate death if she didn't explain.
"Sit down," she patted the covers next to her as inducement. He complied but chose to sit at the end with his back facing her.
"Speak." He demanded, crossing his arms.
"Well where should I begin?" She looked out of the window, "Well it's almost fairytale like in its legend. On the eve of July seventh, Shokujo (the Weaver Princess Star) is supposed to meet Kengyu, (the Herd boy Star) on the bank of the River of Heaven, (The Milky Way) for their annual tryst.
Veda is the Princess Star and Altair is the Herd boy Star. The legend behind this meeting is that the celestial princess, daughter of the celestial king, (a most skilful weaver and the embodiment of industry,) while engaged in weaving cloth for the king's garments, fell in love with a handsome lad, a cow herder, and as a reward for her diligent industry the king allowed them to marry.
They were so much in love that the princess gradually neglected her weaving and the herder allowed his cows to stray. This exasperated the king and he finally separated the couple, forcing them to remain on opposite sides of the Milky Way.
They were only permitted to approach each other once a year. There was no bridge over the Milky Way and the princess, on her first visit, wept so bitterly at the impossibility of meeting her husband that she roused the sympathy of a Kasasagi (a magpie) who assured her that a bridge would be contrived for her.
This was done, and the magpies (with wings spread wide) formed a bridge on which the princess crossed."
Bulma looked up. Vegeta didn't look like he was listening. It didn't surprise her. What did he know or care about love?
She was somewhat surprised then, when he asked, "So what has this got to do with a festival?"
"Well… um…" She struggled for coherency to her thoughts. How was she supposed to explain it to him without sounding silly? "I guess the festival has grown apart from the legend a little. It's not as widely celebrated as it once was. Years ago it was custom all over Japan. At a certain age the girls of a family were introduced into society on Tanabata. They would leave writing hanging from bamboo branches in the hope that the joining stars would share some of the love and pass it on in the acquisition of a husband.
Although society has evolved since then the need for love is as strong and all single girls are allowed to participate in the festival. It isn't restricted to betrothed love either. It's celebrated as a time of great spiritual awareness and for all to gain knowledge and understanding in their hearts." She looked to the ground, "I suppose it is a little silly, but tradition is an important aspect to our culture. I'm sure you of all people would know how important it is to remember what it is that defines your species. Love is intrinsic to all Chikyu-jins so the ritual is still relevant."
Vegeta stood and faced her, his brow knotted in thought. There he stayed looking at her for longer than was necessary, before delivering a curt nod, "I will find alternative training methods for today," he replied hastily, and with nothing else to say, he turned on his heels and was gone.
After he left Bulma exhaled the breath she had held under his scrutiny. She wasn't quite sure what was in those eyes when he looked at her. She fell back against the plush covers, determined to decipher the meaning he put behind it. Reading Vegeta was hard. He didn't freely offer up emotions as others did, his looks had to be studied and untangled thoroughly, to be properly understood.
It wasn't scorn; of that much she could be certain. If he had wanted to insult the tradition then he would have done it openly and with no thought to the emotion it would create - he was never one to miss an opportunity to belittle her actions. Was it a simple, silent understanding, or was it something more tangible?
She sighed, pushing herself from the bed and to the desk. Paper was strewn across the top from her attempts to write her offering the previous night. It hadn't gone as well as she could have wished. Her creativity laid in a different direction, words were a lot harder to fathom than the internal workings of a combustion engine.
To categorize the fact, none of the paper was smooth. All the tiny scraps had been angrily balled up and discarded. One, however, had miraculously been saved. The creases had been carefully unfolded and smoothed. Bulma didn't remember doing it. That left only one other option. She put a hand to her mouth, "No! He didn't!" her cheeks crimsoned in embarrassment as she read the words written in her own hand.
These feelings crowd through my mind, making the air around me grow hot and thin when he is near. I am afraid. Afraid of what temptation portends… afraid of its power. My life is no longer my own. I could so easily put it under his spell, but would it be watched and dictated by his unwavering determination, or lay trampled and broken at his feet? I feel the appeal of safeguarding my own destiny the coward's way. I fear his touch and need it all the same time.
His gentle call pulls at every sense, daring me, showing me others that will not acknowledge it. I close my eyes, turning my back on the scorn, the imagery that true attachment isn't real. All these people pass me in the street, and I'm bored with their presumptions, their thin disguise. I know them for what they really are and I cling closer to his sadness. I imagine his hands circling me with warmth, desire, and passion. They want to flood along, over, and through every nerve and synapse of my being. I can see them integrated so perfectly that I'm no longer by myself. Is it just a feeling or the flutter of a heartbeat? Could he be my soul mate? Veda, Altair… I'm begging you to lend me your strength.
Her hands trembled as she read. Had Vegeta seen this? Could he possibly have realized that the words spoke of him? It was just too awful to consider.
It wasn't something she could dwell over though. She was already fifteen minutes late for work. Her thoughts would have to wait. Carefully she placed the note in her purse and walked to the shower, not ready, but ultimately having to face reality.
The rest of the day passed quietly enough. Work dragged with the promise the evening entertained, but Bulma was no longer a dizzy teenager. When she needed it her relative maturity could shine, and she suffered the morning paperwork and afternoon meetings with little if any impatience for her moment of release.
She had dressed with extra care as soon as she returned to the house, choosing a simple but elegant red dress that was fashioned in the traditional style, only the obligatory designer label setting it apart. Her hair was smoothed and pulled up high in a bun at the top. Just a few loose strands were allowed to hang down, grazing the edges of her face, framing it perfectly. She kept her makeup to a minimum, echoing the colour of the dress in a quick application of lips gloss and blush.
Now she stood in the centre of the Capsule Corporation grounds, ushering in and receiving her guests as the festivities wound up to a climax. The lawn looked amazing! White fairy lights were hung beautifully in the large palms that bordered the factories to the left, creating the illusion of weeping willows. The large fountain bubbled and reflected the light complimenting the atmosphere of calm. Gentle traditional melodies played enchantingly over the speakers and people were already pairing off to dance as the sound filled the air.
Bulma had to stifle the sadness in her heart as she watched them. She thought back to the previous years. Her and Yamcha were usually the first on the dance floor, setting the example for the participants in the festival. Her eyes wandered and she smiled apathetically in thanks when she realized that her parents had respectively taken her place. Tongues might wag but she'd passed the threshold of caring about mindless gossip.
Silently she wondered if Vegeta would make an appearance. She doubted he would. He tended to stay away from crowds, and would she really want him there any way? She could just think of the countless ways he would manage to fuck it up - accidentally or not. It was better for everyone concerned if he stayed away. At least that was what she told herself, feeling guilty for not having issued him with an invitation.
The elegant tune slowed and her father extricated himself from the bustle of the dance floor to greet her. "You look absolutely beautiful princess!" he exclaimed with pride, kissing her affectionately on the cheek, "What happened to my little girl?"
"I'm still your little girl daddy. No matter how old and worn I get." She smiled.
"Worn…? Nonsense my child! You look ten times more the beautiful woman than you were last year. Now enough with inflating your ego! You have to start the ceremony."
Blushing at her father's words Bulma nodded. She followed his awkward steps through the crowd and onto the makeshift stage at the centre. Dr Brief affectionately squeezed his daughter's hand and left her.
Her mouth had all but curved around the first word of her speech when she saw Vegeta. He stood well to the side, almost hidden from view as he leant casually back on the walls of the house. The shadows engulfed him, his torso only visible because of the white shirt he wore and the impression his hair threw over the contrastingly bright lawn. He looked thoroughly bored, his scowl emphasised by his hidden position. It appeared that he wasn't watching her and so attributing his presence to nothing but curiosity and a lack of anything else to do, she continued unperturbed.
"Welcome!" she smiled, the last trails of conversation being lost on the breeze. "Today is the eve of Tanabata and we are here to celebrate it as our first ancestors once did. The tradition is long standing and the Capsule Corporation gladly invites all those who wish to participate to join together on this spiritual day. We surrender our hearts and souls for the evening and offer them up to higher beings. Under their power we will be emboldened. We will all join together and share the Veda and Altair's love."
Her eyes moved back to where Vegeta was resting, only to find that his gaze was now fixed firmly on her face. Their penetration was just as intense and determined as always, making her stomach do somersaults.
"I…" her voice hitched a little, "I would like for all the ladies to form a queue behind me. We will each offer up our hearts to the stars, hanging our deepest wishes from the bamboo to ask for guidance."
There was a milling of bodies as her instructions were carried out and when enough time had passed to make a train around the lawn, Bulma walked forward. The same crumpled note that Vegeta had recovered that morning was now extracted and tied with red ribbon to the very end of the bamboo. Making sure it was securely tethered she bowed once respectfully and moved away.
The other women followed her example, and wanting to get away from the limelight to sulk in piece Bulma walked over to the bar to get a drink. The simple wine glass sat comfortably in her palm and she moved to where she had last seen Vegeta, curious to know why he had made an appearance. When she got there her heart sank. He was no longer anywhere to be seen.
Lonely amongst the crowd that had now gathered and having offered her worries to the stars, she no longer wanted anything to do with the party. Abandoning it altogether she walked dejectedly into the house. She threw her purse down on the kitchen table and walked into the living room. Normally she would have turned the television on for background noise, but the whisper of music and laughter lined the atmosphere well. Slumped onto the sofa with both legs rested over the cushions she reached for the book on the sideboard.
Villette was an old favourite and perfect for the mood she was in. It always managed to make her feel better. However things stood; Lucy Snow's tragic existence could always give her heart temperance. At least she still had a family who loved her, no matter how disastrous her love life was.
She flicked through the book and to where the bookmark rested.
Half an hour was lost as her whole thought process shifted from the Capsule Corporation to that of Madame Beck's school for girls. She was so totally engrossed in the book, that she missed the moment the cushions at the end of her feet dipped.
"Why aren't you still at the party?"
Bulma jumped at the voice and looked cautiously over the open pages. Vegeta sat on the arm of the couch, wearing the same dress shirt and trousers as before. His feet were bare now and one leg was pulled to his chest, the other laying on the cushions as he unbuttoned the shirt.
"I… I didn't feel much like celebrating." She stuttered, her eyes never leaving his chest as he threw the shirt nonchalantly onto the coffee table. It never failed to amaze her just how perfect it was, the murmurs of forgotten scars only adding to its fascinating form.
"Do you think your letter to the stars will work?" he inquired, tilting his head to display a lopsided smirk.
Bulma blushed and looked down at the print as though her life depended on it. She didn't think he would ask so direct a question. Was this the moment she was hoping for?
"I guess that answers that question," he continued, obviously enjoying turning the screw of embarrassment, "What a waste of effort! Do you honestly believe that one little ritual can change things so dramatically? You do know you will never get what you want?" The words were sardonic, "You're searching in the wrong place."
Somewhere in the confines of Bulma's chest her heart stopped beating.
"There's no need to look so distraught," he sneered, " the way you throw yourself so blindly into your beliefs is intriguing I'll give you that much, a pity really... considering the object."
Bulma looked at him with an eyebrow quirked in puzzlement, as she saw the look of abstraction in his eyes. It was obvious he was putting a lot of thought behind his words, choosing them carefully.
"Why waste so much time on someone so pathetic?"
She stared - incredulous. Something wasn't right. Since when did Vegeta call himself pathetic?
"Do you know what infuriates me the most?" he interrupted.
She shook her head.
"The fact that at times I don't understand what's going on in that head of yours. Most of the time I can read you as simply as I can your mother and father and at others… you're a complete mystery. Tell me why you are so desperate to get him back?"
Could it be possible he meant… "Yamcha…?"
"Yes Yamcha, or are you so laughably tragic with everyone you meet?"
"What do you care?"
A muscle twitched on his forehead, "I don't!" he thundered, "I'm just bored." His hand reached to the side of the sofa and distractedly played with a loose thread from the seam, "How long do you think this party will last?"
"Probably until all the alcohol is gone," she winked taking a sip from her glass, "and if you must know, the letter wasn't about Yamcha."
His eyebrows levelled in confusion, but he didn't say a word.
Bulma couldn't resist temptation, "Aren't you going to ask who it was about?"
He looked down; his lips set grimly together, "No." he spat, "Keep your rituals Chikyu-jin. They suit you just fine. I can see their appeal, but I do not understand or take comfort from them," his face darkened even more as he pushed off the couch and to the door, "Nor do I want to."
He walked angrily through the door and Bulma closed her eyes, the feeling pounding through her chest - painful. She thought over his words, studied them and doubted their meaning. Was there promise in them somewhere, woven in with the pain?
Tears threatened as she heard the chill of his words, "You do know you will never get what you want…you are searching in the wrong place." But hadn't they been said in reference to Yamcha?
Her head ached as she agonized over it. So much for him opening up! It only caused more pain and confusion. There was only one solution she could see that would drive all thoughts of him from her mind and that was to dissolve back into the world of make-believe. With determination driving her on Bulma's hand reached to pick up the book that had momentarily lain forgotten.
Her eyes skimmed gently over the last chapter trying to find the point she had stopped reading. She smiled finding it:
Adherent to his own religion (in him was not the stuff of which is made the facile apostate), he freely left me my pure faith. He did not tease nor tempt. He said:-
"Remain a Protestant. My little English Puritan, I love Protestantism in you. I own its severe charm. There is something in its ritual I cannot receive myself, but it is the ole creed for Lucy."
Bulma blinked in astonishment, turning the quote over and over in her mind! Why did it sound so familiar? She even read it aloud to try and decipher why the passage struck such a powerful chord. Closing her eyes her mind repeated it, until Vegeta's words overlapped. "Keep your rituals Chikyu-jin. They suit you just fine. I can see their appeal, but I do not understand or take comfort from them… nor do I want to." The resemblance of them was so striking! It was as if someone had planted the text there just to get her to understand his meaning. There it was again, that quiet acceptance, spoken through his words and confirmed in those of Monsieur Paul Emanuel. Only this time he had confirmed his recognition as being the result of respect to her.
All at once she lay the book down with her pulse racing and reaching for the controls, turned the lights off. The distant glow of celebrations flickered through the curtainless windows and defused elegantly around the now blackened room. The ceiling to floor glass gave her an uninterrupted view of the grounds and her attention was immediately drawn to a lone figure standing and looking up to the stars.
Her whole body stiffened as his head dropped and lapsed from the spell to look wistfully at the window she watched through. The flickering lights played beautifully over his bare chest as his gaze faltered once again, this time to the floor.
"Vegeta." She breathed, not knowing what to think, but mesmerized by his image.
It was obvious that he couldn't see she was watching him as the indecision and anger pounded with his blood. She wasn't surprised therefore when flashes of electricity flew intermittently from his skin, invoking his eyes to glint with the power as it surged.
Under normal circumstances the look contained within those orbs would have kept her firmly planted to the spot, not daring to move; but not now. Her body screamed for motivation. She couldn't just sit around like a trapped animal when every fibre of her being wanted to join him on the lonely patio.
She stood bolt upright and only stopping in the kitchen to retrieve her purse, practically ran outside.
Vegeta's attitude had changed as she walked softly behind him. The energy no longer spun off his torso, but instead had been controlled to form a tiny ball of ki, which he flicked distractedly through his fingers. He was concentrating on the activity as though it was an act of necessity; lost to the trails of light it left.
It was obvious as she neared that he was so caught up in his own thoughts he hadn't sensed her presence. There were so many things she wanted to say to him, but when she tried to put a sentence together to interrupt his reverie, the words stuck in her throat.
Deciding they weren't necessary she unzipped her purse and took out her cigarettes. Putting one to her lips and lighting the end.
Vegeta's head twitched in reaction to the sound, but he didn't look up, only dissipated the ki from his hands. "I didn't know you smoked those things."
Bulma giggled, "I don't." she replied, exhaling with the words. "Well at least not anymore. I gave up about five years ago."
"So I see."
"In fact you're now the only person who knows."
"Aren't I the lucky duck!" he snorted.
"Do you want one?" She held the packet out pensively for him.
He looked unsure for a moment. "Aren't they supposed to be bad for your heath?" He chided sarcastically, wagging an accusing finger in front of her face.
"Yes," she extracted one herself and lighting it on her own, passed it to him, "but I seriously doubt you're gonna drop dead from smoking one. You never know though. I don't think tobacco has been tested on a Saiyan before. It could be deadly."
He snatched the nicotine stick from her hand, as though he found a challenge in her words. He drew on it but kept the smoke in his cheeks before exhaling.
Bulma laughed, "You're supposed to inhale the smoke Vegeta, not store it in your cheeks like a hamster!"
He growled at her. "Then show me how it is supposed to be done!"
"Watch," she smiled putting the cigarette to her lips. She inhaled deeply, making sure to emphasize the second inhale that would take it to her lungs. "Like that!"
Vegeta had been watching closely and he copied her to the letter. Bulma observed with a sinister grin, expecting to see him double up in a train of wracking coughs. To her surprise he exhaled a plume of smoke unashamedly into her face, his features deadpan, "I don't see the fascination with it." He sneered, but took another drag all the same.
"People smoke for all kinds of reasons, but I do it mostly to relax."
"So do you feel relaxed now?" he inquired.
"Yes." She breathed the warm air and closed her eyes.
"Even though you are talking to me? Aren't you afraid that I might try to slit your throat while your eyes are closed and your neck is so nicely exposed?" He was so close now his breath tickled her face.
"I'm afraid of what you're capable of."
"But not me?"
"Liar! I can sense your fear! I can feel it flowing through you right now."
Bulma was rendered silent. How come he could pick up so easily on some things and not others? "It's not what you think Vegeta. Unlike other people its not physical pain I fear from you."
Vegeta's eyes widened a fraction, "Then what?" he demanded. Backing her up against the French windows.
She felt the tears threatening her cheeks; did she really have to spell it out for him? "Something that you wouldn't understand!"
"Try me." He growled.
Oh Kami the look in his eyes was so intense. It was up to her to end the monotony her life had slumped into. If she took that step back nothing would hurt her, but would she be satisfied with normalcy? Back was Yamcha, reliable, safe - boring. She wasn't good with that; it wasn't what she wanted!
"This!" she breathed discarding her cigarette and closing the gap between them to put her lips tentatively on his.
Vegeta didn't react to the kiss, but he didn't pull away from it either. His eyes fixed with hers as though searching for some sort of double motive to her actions. She pulled away.
"Do you understand now?" she asked.
He nodded, "I can see why you would fear it." He replied, "It's a very dangerous game to play."
"If I was just playing then I might not be so afraid." She smiled, hiding her embarrassment, "But I'm not, and so right now I'm scared shitless!"
He chuckled, letting smoke drift enigmatically from his lips, "So you are." He replied, his voice husky as he moved forward, his lips barely brushing hers, "but you see I don't care for your emotions." One of his hands trailed gently down her neck. "For me it would be a game."
"And how would you play it?" The breath caught in her throat as his hand lowered to flick over a nipple through the silk of her dress.
"I can't tell you that," he breathed against her lips as she responded so beautifully to his touch, "a well trained warrior never gives his strategy away to the enemy."
His head lowered and he trailed hot kisses down her neck, unbuttoning the front of her dress as he descended. Bulma shivered at the cold affection portrayed in them. Her spine tingled as the energy she saw stored like a hurricane under his skin, spilled onto her, demolishing all restraint.
Her fingers needed touch. They left her sides to trace the contours of his shoulder muscles. Vegeta devoured the skin no longer encumbered by her dress. Laughter drifted over them from the party, but Bulma was ignorant to it all as the Saiyan no Ouji released a firm breast from the confines of her bra.
His hot breath panted hungrily as he flicked his tongue over the hardened peek, earning a whimper of delight to fall from her lips. He chuckled carrying on with his attention to it, releasing its counterpart and pinching the nipple between his thumb and forefinger. "You like that?"
"Yes." she whispered, her voice unsteady.
"Say it louder!" he admonished, nipping with his teeth as inducement.
"Yes!" she complied, as the restrained force sent electricity through her flesh. She felt her face flushing.
"Lets see how much!"
With no more warning his free hand found its way under the elastic of her satin panties. Holy shit! Her mind screamed as she felt a finger enter her, and pull out just as quickly.
Vegeta clicked his tongue, "Good, but not nearly enough! I have ways of changing that though." Both his hands travelled around her waist pushing her hips up to his chest. A rush of air flew over them both and Bulma found her body pinned above the first floor window, only Vegeta's arms around her midriff stopping her from falling.
"Vegeta!" she gasped, "What the fuck are you doing? Anyone could see us up here."
"Precisely," his mouth was over her belly button and his lips brushed the skin as he spoke, "Life is all about taking risks. That's what makes it so interesting. If you didn't enjoy danger, you wouldn't be here with me."
Bulma sighed as his tongue dipped into her navel. She couldn't say anything else in protestation. He was a hundred percent right and she knew it. All she concentrated on now was the sensations he was creating as he licked and nipped at her sides, making all her stomach muscles contract in pleasure.
The sensations he elicited made her miss the moment her panties were ripped off, and even when she discovered they were gone she cared little for their demise. Vegeta's mouth had descended on her before she could even string a sentence together, rendering her speechless anyway.
His tongue worked wonders as his hands still held her firmly to the wall. She was totally at his mercy, unable to move from fear of falling, which strangely added to the excitement. She felt the heady mix of fear and pleasure grow in the pit of her stomach with every passing second, as her control on reality slipped. The sensations were made even more poignant as he surrendered her safety to one hand. The other moved down and he used it to rub and pinch at the clitoris as his tongue delved even deeper inside her.
She cried out. The sensations the hand created were so close to pain that it made the force of her orgasm twice as powerful. It ripped through her lower body, setting her skin on fire as its embrace flew over her. Her gasps faded gently on the breeze, curling to mingle unnoticed with the music from the festival.
Vegeta surrendered his position to lay a more secure hold on Bulma, claiming her mouth in a ferocious kiss. She eagerly returned it tasting herself on his lips. Automatically she reached down, finding the buttons of his fly and letting gravity undress him. To her astonishment he wasn't wearing anything underneath and his burning desire was evidently displayed.
She cocked an eyebrow, "Looks like someone else enjoyed that as much as I did?"
Was it her imagination or did his cheeks display the slightest hint of crimson? Whatever the initial reaction was it was easily put aside. "Hai," he agreed, "But not nearly as much as I need." He pushed up against her, sandwiching her to the wall and pressing his arousal against her sensitised clitoris.
Bulma tried to push her pelvis against him, wanting to cling onto the sensations her orgasm refused to let go. Her skin still tingled, but Vegeta growled and held onto her in such a way as to make it impossible.
"It seems," The words were woven with lust into her ear, "that you think you have some sort of control over this situation?" he admonished, "Poor disillusioned creature!"
His legs changed position, pushing her knees apart and spreading them wide. Bulma smiled as he elicited the tiniest growl of appreciation as he gazed on her, but her thoughts quickly changed to desire and urgency as the head of his penis pushed gently at her opening, "No going back, no second chances!" he growled, thrusting his whole length into her.
Both hissed in pleasure at the feeling, and they fell a few inches as Vegeta's concentration lapsed. He made no attempt to move inside her, just clung to her body for a moment to regain his equilibrium. Only when he felt his ki soothe their position did he set the pace.
Bulma's arms wrapped themselves firmly around Vegeta's waist. There was nothing stopping it from happening again, and she clung to him for both the security and satisfaction he offered. The feel of him moving inside her was unbelievable, almost as though she could feel a part of his power. They were positioned in such a way that the thick muscles of his abs moved like silk across her body, twitching and contracting as his rhythm turned up a notch.
Her nails clawed at his ribs as he thrust into her with so much power and purpose. He filled her mind and body completely, throwing her over the edge yet again, and she panted his name as the force knocked the breath from her lungs. His face beaded with sweat and he slowed his pace. Bulma could feel herself contracting violently along him and guessed the reason.
He retracted from her entirely and moving away from the wall for a second spun her around. He moved forward again and Bulma found the flats of her forearms, and calves replace the section her back had once rested against. Vegeta held her securely his legs splayed below to reinforce his balance, and dragging a finger over her womanhood for direction, pushed into her once again.
One of his strong arms curled reassuringly around her waist as the other delved lower to rub her as he moved deliciously in and out. The position change altered the angle of penetration. It was a lot deeper and both revelled in the feeling it built. The pleasure increased with each of Vegeta's thrusts. Bulma was completely lost. The sensations of both her climax's still held their spell over her body and now it was all one overflowing ride of pleasure, each new push brought its own heady release.
She could feel herself spasm uncontrollably, but even through all her own enjoyment she could hear Vegeta's breathing become erratic, his erection pulsing and growing to irretrievable proportions. He growled and forgetting about the wall he grabbed her hips, pulling at her skin in mid air. "Oh fuck!" he growled "Oh… fuck, fuck, fuck!" he repeated over and over as all his restraint was lost and he released himself into her, his whole body jerking violently with the orgasm.
There had been silence for the longest time after Vegeta's release, in which nothing but the regaining of breath could be heard. The gentle whisper of music from the festival, now floated over hearing but not obtrusively so. Vegeta still hovered by the side of the building, imbedded comfortably within Bulma. His position though had changed. He had flipped over; his legs now parallel to the ground as he sat in midair, cradling her in his lap.
He manoeuvred them in such a way so they could see the festivities over the building, but without fear of themselves being seen, as they were lost completely in shadow.
An arm draped over Bulma's shoulder, the hand of which distractedly brushed her breasts, "What are they doing now?" was the question that fell from his lips.
Bulma looked up to see that the impetus of the celebrations had switched from the dance floor. The guests were now walking over to the land next to the factories and the stream that ran haphazardly out from the woods behind.
Bulma smiled at his feigned interest, "At the end of the Tanabata festival, the decorated bamboo branches are thrown into a river to be carried away. It's supposed to dispel misfortune."
He grunted in response.
"Is that all you've got to say?"
"Don't push your luck Onna."
"Well if that's how you feel I'll be leaving your name out of my prayers tonight!" she chided.
"Good! Who needs the help of some peasant and his whore?"
Bulma frowned, but the sarcasm played so well on his face that it was hard to stay angry. "I wouldn't snide the festival so quickly Vegeta. After all I got what I wanted this Tanabata."
She could hear the sharp intake of breath even though he tried to cover it well.
"I told you it wasn't written for Yamcha!" she blushed.
Vegeta hissed deeply with obvious distaste. "You're a fool!"
Bulma's face fell.
"Do you honestly believe your emotions are under any better direction now?"
"H…How do you mean?" Her voice shook. The playfulness had deserted his features, making them just as dark and foreboding as usual. It truly scared her.
He lowered them both to the ground and extricated himself. "What makes you think that this would be a good idea for permanency?"
Bulma's heart pounded, "Who said I did?"
"Don't lie to me female. I read your offering! You spoke of soulmates, that is not an expression to be taken lightly."
The emotion swelled and tried to manifest itself into tears. "Oh for fucks sake! Don't try and grill me on the terminology I used in a scribbled note, written at 3'oclock in the morning! I have no idea what I want. I like what we just did, but there's no need to get your spandex in a twist I don't expect anything from you!"
He didn't rise to the anger, only bowed his head and closed his eyes. "Good!" he whispered, "No expectations; no pain."
He moved silently away, only stopping to scoop up his trousers before vanishing behind the walls.
Bulma could feel the tears rising she had repressed before. The more she tried to force her composure, the more droplets welled in her eyes and before long they were silently flowing down her cheeks.
She hung her head low looking to the floor, "Too late." She whispered as one of the droplets fell from her cheek, glistening in the dark and splashing dramatically to the floor.
It wouldn't be until several days later that she found the ki scorched remains of the palm tree Vegeta destroyed that night. Even more would have to pass and seasons would ultimately change before she found out why it perished.
High above the clamour of celebration, and on the other side of the Milky Way, two stars met. Two lonely souls, driven to the edge of their patience were reunited, the love they shared spilling out from the heavens. The celestial drops of emotion flew out into space, radiating so that everyone could take their share.
Perhaps one of these pearls fell to Capsule Corporation that night, shattering on impact, each shard piecing the souls of two of its inhabitants, because time and patience would reveal an understanding between them as volatile as it was beautiful. It would encapsulate the love which has existed from the very beginning of time - that of Veda and Altair, securing it forever.
A/N - This story is only based loosely on the Tanabata festival. I am not Japanese and only know what I have found relative to its origins on the net. So I apologise if it is not 100% accurate. That being said I hope you enjoyed it. Special thanks goes to my friends at momslovedbztoo, because this fan fiction would never have been written if it weren't for them.