Dragon Ball/Z/GT Fan Fiction ❯ The Night After ❯ Chapter 1

[ A - All Readers ]

-I don't own DBZ-
The Night After.
When he entered the bathroom Vegeta looked into the mirror to his left. He placed his hands on the counter and hunched down as he took in his appearance. He did not look much different than he had previous to his death and consequent resurrection. He was the same, despite the battle wounds and ripped fighting suit. He looked into his dark eyes; fathomless and intense as they always were. It bothered him to see that his physical self had not changed when so much had happened to shatter all that he had been within. He shook his head as if to shake away such pointless nonsense. Swiftly, he peeled off his ruined suit and stepped into the shower. When the water hit his skin he groaned in relief, savoring the sensation of the steaming water. It streamed down his battered body, swirling in the familiar mix of blood and grime as it trickled down the drain. The heat provided bittersweet relief for his sore muscles and he relaxed under the flow. His shoulders lowered and he let go of the strain that he had felt all day. It was a strange thing to be ending this day with a hot shower on Earth when it had begun in the afterworld.
He had to admit that he was not unhappy to be back. He had never thought he would be able to spar with Trunks again or feel Bulma in his arms once more. They were all he had been lacking in the afterworld. His teeth clenched in an involuntary and predictable reaction to the swell of emotions he was experiencing. Vegeta was adept at fooling himself into believing he did not have such feelings. It was hard for him to admit such truths to himself, despite his recent revelations about his life. It felt so unnatural, yet it was something he could deny no longer. The dark, cold hearted Prince within would always be a part of him. That Prince was in the past now, but he did not leave Vegeta unscathed. His existence was like a scar; he left a mark that would last forever. Learning how to live with such a burden was the difficult part, as it never allowed him to forget the man he used to be.
When he had landed on this excessively watery planet there was no way he could have foreseen exactly how much it would change his life. There were so many different courses his life could have followed. He could have died at the hands of Frieza at any time. A baby Kakarrot could have been sent to some different weakling planet, to a planet full of insectoids and not Saiyan-like creatures with blue hair. Radditz could have forgotten all about his brother and never thought to seek him out. They might have remembered not to wish him back to life on Namek. So many different paths and yet this was the one the mighty Saiyan Prince had wound up following. A life of relative peace and quiet in a lavish compound with a mate and a son who actually enjoyed his company. Their companionship was something he had never expected to experience in his life. Warriors such as he were seldom given that chance. He had never longed for a family, but now that he had one, he knew he could never give it up, despite his best efforts. He wondered at how perfectly it all worked out, almost as if it were fated.
Vegeta sighed and placed his forearm on the tiled wall. He closed his eyes and rested his weary head in the crook of his elbow. He was not sure he deserved this life, but at the same time he simply did not care whether he did, for it was his life regardless. He was never one for regrets for deeds that have long been dead in the murky sands of time, no matter how dark. He had always been looking forward, ever focused on how to achieve his goals. He had been so focused on strength and power and pride that the most important part of his life had happened almost without his notice.
What had started off as a lustful dalliance evolved into something all together different, and one day it sunk in that he had a family. He entered into such an existence hoping it would make him stronger. He had thought that was perhaps the secret to Kakarrot's success. Never did he expect to enjoy it, to savor it, or find happiness within it. It would be shameful for a fighter of Vegeta's caliber to feel such things. He had been the perfect warrior. His strength was his all; his love. It surrounded and protected him. It was his saving grace and the one piece of his miserable existence upon which he could depend. It was the only tangible scrap of hope he would ever have. In a lifetime full of loss, strength was the single constant in his life and it fueled his fiery pride. Power was all that he cared about, until they took its place in the heart he thought he didn't have.
He still was not sure just how his little minx had done it. All he knew was that somehow he had managed to become ensnared by her without even realizing it or wishing for it. It was as though an independent force had acted on its own, bringing two of the most stubborn people in the universe together in wonderful discord. They were like clashing galaxies in the darkness of space; the more they fought each other the closer they became until one day they would merge completely and become a massive twinkling formation in the night sky; a super galaxy. Him and his little human female, so weak, yet so strong at the same time.
And then he felt her. Two pale arms snaked their way around his torso and he could feel the naked press of her body against his back. He was surprised that she had managed to sneak into the shower without his notice, but then again, he had let his guard down, a fact that Vegeta noted with faint curiosity. Bulma pushed herself against Vegeta's back and drew him close to her in an embrace that she never wanted to end. Her arms wrapped around his chest and Vegeta covered her hands with his own. The pair stood in their coil for a long spell, listening to the rush of the water falling around them. Together they relished what they had come so close to losing.
“What happened to you, Vegeta?,” Bulma asked into his strong back, breaking the silence. The water sluiced over his shoulder and fell gently onto her face. It was the question Vegeta had been dreading, for he knew it was bound to be asked, and he did not know how to answer without hurting her.
Vegeta turned so that he could face his “wife”, a human word he was certain he would never grow accustomed to, and he wrapped his arms around her body, enveloping her protectively beneath them. He relished the feel of her. The warmth of her soft skin and the ardor with which she clung to him were far more soothing than the hot water.
“How much do you know?”Vegeta responded in an attempt to gauge how she felt about all that had happened, even though his mind could likely discern it already.
“Not much,” she said looking up at him with wide eyes, “I know that you were apparently brainwashed or controlled by that wizard who released Buu and I know that you killed yourself in an attempt to slay Buu and-.”
Bulma's face hardened as she stopped abruptly. Her brows narrowed into a expression that Vegeta recognized all too well. She drew away from his touch and folded her arms in an attempt to cover her breasts. He felt her absence harshly as his skin prickled despite the steam in the air. She backed away from him into the corner of the shower so that she was out of the flow of water. She looked him straight in the eye as she continued. “And that's where I get confused, Vegeta, because if you were really being controlled by some stupid wizard, just why would you fight his precious creation and how exactly did it come to be that he wanted you to fight Goku of all people. I mean it's just so convenient that you were ordered to fight your one and only nemesis,” she barked. “Too convenient, Vegeta. ”
Bulma pinned him down with an icy, penetrating stare that sent a chill up his spine. Vegeta was genuinely worried; Bulma had never looked at him that way before. It was a suspicious gaze that used anger to mask a deeper pain. They were the same eyes that Vegeta often saw when he looked in the mirror. He should have known she would put the pieces together so efficiently. For all she bragged about being a genius, he was still often thrown by her more than keen intellect. It was one of the traits he most respected in her. He sighed deeply. There was no avoiding it any longer. The truth would hurt her, but she deserved no less.
“Mark my words, Bulma, I allowed the wizard Babadi to enter my mind.”
Her eyes widened as her suspicions were confirmed. Such moments were rare, but sometimes, Bulma really did hate being right about everything.
“But why, Vegeta? Why would you ever do that? I never would have imagined that you of all people could allow some pathetic alien peon to violate you in such a way.”
“I wanted him to reawaken the evil in my heart.” He replied quickly. Vegeta ignored Bulma's look of shock and continued.
“I wanted to be the warrior I once was, Bulma. Everything that happened...everything I did under his spell I did of my own accord. He merely provided me with a means to an end by increasing my strength. I allowed my dark side to take control and...” he paused and looked her square in the eyes, “I enjoyed it.”
Bulma shuddered and rubbed her shoulders with her hands. His tone left no doubt in her mind: he had enjoyed it. She did not know what to say. She thought that Vegeta had conquered his demons. Bulma had assumed this was only about defeating Goku, but it was far, far worse.
“What made you want to be that way again, Vegeta?”she asked with trepidation. She was not at all sure if she really wanted to hear the answer.
“Being here with you and Trunks....I was feeling things, Bulma. Things that I had never felt before. Emotions that I saw as foolish and the source of my failings. I was appalled. How had I, the perfect warrior, been reduced to a doting father and husband?! I was a fighter who took pleasure in the screams of the weak. I enjoyed killing, and torturing, and hurting those who were too helpless to defend themselves.”
“I don't understand, Vegeta...why would you... I-I thought...”she trailed off with uncharacteristic insecurity.
Bulma thought that Vegeta had grown to love her and Trunks in his own way, even if he couldn't ever say it. She believed that he was happy with them. She never knew that he missed his old life and if he did, what did that mean? Was she really so naïve as to let a monster into her bed and her into heart? To believe that such a man could ever truly change and that he could be happy with her? Was Vegeta really such a terrible evil? Everything she had known to be true about him and their relationship up to that point shattered around her. She was surrounded by millions of broken pieces that retained no semblance of the shining treasure they once had been. Its affect on her was tangible. She could feel the numbing sensations of shock and denial brew in the pit of her stomach and worm their way throughout her body.
Vegeta could see the gears turning in her head, working relentlessly to make sense of what he was telling her. He couldn't stand the pain and confusion behind her eyes. It made him angry and he hated himself for being its source. How could he explain it to her? His anger, his shame, his only source of regret...?
“Bulma, you have to understand that this was all that I knew before I came here,”Vegeta said passionately, wanting to reach out to her, but afraid that she would pull away from him in disgust. He had tried so hard to shield the worst of his past from her, but the time had finally come for him to divulge everything. If she despised him after this he would not blame her.
“My life was immersed in a world of hedonistic violence where power determined EVERYTHING. If you weren't strong enough to fight for your life then you simply were not worth living My strength was my armor. Without it I would have been nothing. My world....it would have been meaningless if I did not have my strength. I took pride in it. There was nothing else within me worth prizing.”
“All my life I had treasured the knowledge that one day I would be the Legendary. I would be the strongest fighter in the universe and I would destroy my enemies and take my rightful place as ruler. And then Kakarrot-,”Vegeta cut himself off in agitation. He made a low snarling sound as the still raw resentment washed over him. “He is the catalyst in all of this, Bulma,”Vegeta said gruffly. “He rendered my pride to shreds and it remained broken for years, unable to rebuild itself with the knowledge that such a half wit low-class buffoon had surpassed me, the Prince of all Saiyans. He stole from me all that I had pushed myself to become, and I was obsessed with reclaiming my title as the strongest. It was my only reason for living. I had no planet. I had no Freeza to overthrow. I had only my honor to restore and that meant surpassing Kakarrot, because I was nothing without it.”
Vegeta paused and looked to Bulma, waiting for her to say something, anything, but she looked at him with frozen eyes.
Bulma began to fully comprehend her husband's past in a way she never had before. He had never been so open and honest with her about the inner workings of his mind. She had guessed at some of what he was now revealing to her, but her imaginings were nothing compared to the vast scope of the truth.
Vegeta began to pace from side to side in the expansive Capsule Corporation shower. As he walked in and out of the falling water his hair flattened and sprung quickly back to life. His hands were balled into fists. Vegeta could feel a tingle in the muscles that once supported his tail as they contracted and stretched in an orchestra of kinetic energy that would have once sent his tail flexing to and fro in agitation. Vegeta longed to stop his narrative. He wanted nothing more than to take his mate into his arms and to have her kiss him and flash him a smile that would tell him that she still loved him as much as she had before. But he had come too far to stop now. He had resolved to tell her everything and he gritted his teeth as he prepared to say the words which would cut her the most. The words that he feared would cost him everything he had only just come to treasure.
“I woke up one day to realize that I didn't mind my life here and that I had come to find the Earth a nice place to live. I was suddenly bogged down by a family that I neither asked for nor wanted! Taking the boy to the park, being home in time for dinner, taking you shopping...this was not the life I had envisioned for myself! I had become a domesticated warrior and, what's worse, I had grown accustomed to such an existence.”
Slowly, tears flowed from Bulma's eyes. She cried in silence, but was barely able to register the sensation on her face.
Vegeta could not bare to see what the pain was doing to her beautiful features this time, so without looking at her, Vegeta continued quickly before she could interrupt him.
“All that I have ever known has told me that to live in such a way is shameful, disgusting, and weak. Over the years, these thoughts kept building up within the recesses of my mind, and when Babadi tried to take me over, I let him do it. I wanted him to do it. I wanted to forget about you and the Boy. I embraced his cold grip on my mind and allowed myself to sink into demonic bliss once again. I had wanted so much to not care about the two of you anymore! You are the only beings in this universe that mean anything to me and I wanted to rip you out of my soul and erase you from my memory completely! I blamed my weakness on you and I thought that if I could be returned to the way I was I could defeat that clown, leave and never look back. I told myself that was what I wanted.”
He turned to her he saw that she was crying. How he despised it when she cried! She was loud, obnoxious, and petulant, but she seldom cried.
Suddenly, Bulma's head grew faint and she found it difficult to stand. She allowed herself to slide down the shower wall. She drew her knees to her chest and stuck her elbows between them and her ribs. She covered her mouth with one hand and began to sob in earnest. This time she could definitely feel it. Bulma had endured too much. Her husband had died. She was forced to allow her only son to fight the very monstrosity that had slain her husband. She was eaten and killed by that beast. She was plunged into the afterworld for the first time and then she was resurrected to discover that her dead husband was fighting Buu again, with the knowledge that he would cease to exist if he died again. And now said husband was telling her that he saw her and their son as a weakness that he resented so much that he had allowed an evil alien wizard to reawaken the monster he was when she met him, so that he could leave them forever without a moment's hesitation. That son of a bitch.
Vegeta was disturbed by her behavior. Was she all right? Did she need some sort of medical attention? He had never seen her so vulnerable before and it terrified him. He knelt down to her level and tentatively reached one hand out towards her.
“Get away from me, you fucking bastard,” she said coldly as she violently pushed his hand away. Vegeta's features were thrown into a map of anguish. He stood up and looked down at her with an expression full of sadness and regret. Seeing such emotion so blatantly plastered on his usually stony face stirred something within her and Bulma snapped.
“YOU FUCKING BASTARD”she screamed. She lunged herself at Vegeta and began pummeling his chest with her fists. She ignored the pain that coursed through her arms as her hands made contact with his hard skin.
At first Vegeta was too shocked by her actions to do anything. Her blows did not hurt, of course, but the fury behind them was unsettling, to say the least. He was relieved, however; this was far better than her sobbing in the corner. Gently, Vegeta grabbed both of her hands.
Bulma struggled ferociously against his iron grip, even though she knew it was pointless to try.
“Let go of me!”She shrieked into his face.
Despite the situation, Vegeta found it difficult not to smile. This fighting spirit was what he loved about her, after all.
“Don't punch me anymore, Woman. You know it's ineffective.”
Daggers flew from Bulma's eyes. Vegeta lowered her arms and finally released her hands. She took a step back from him and slapped him in the face with all of the strength she could muster.
Vegeta had to admit, he hadn't seen that one coming. He was alarmed to feel a small twinge of pain where her hand had struck. Gods. She was really furious.
“GOD DAMN IT,” she wailed as her hand recoiled from his face. She cradled it close to her body and watched as her entire hand blossomed into a deep shade of red. She knew she would have a painful bruise the next day, while Vegeta's face would bear no mark of her attack. The entire situation was too infuriating to bear.
Vegeta was immediately concerned and moved closer to her. Begrudgingly, she permitted his advances. He carefully examined her hand, slowly, but gently bending each of her fingers and swirling her wrist, checking to see that everything was still in working order. When he was satisfied that she was largely unharmed, Vegeta flattened her palm and caressed it tenderly. Bulma could not deny that it was soothing. God, he was always so worried whenever she injured herself. Treating her like she was a porcelain doll or something. He was forever telling her to be more careful, always hyper -aware of her movements, so that he could catch her if should fall.
An unwelcome and familiar feeling of warmth began to flutter inside of her chest as she regarded him.
Vegeta captured her eyes with his own.
“I'm baffled by my constant ability to lie to myself, Bulma.”he said, still stroking her hand.
“I was given the opportunity to carve you and Trunks out of myself, but I couldn't do it. Kakarrot saw right through it, you should know. When we were fighting he called the bluff that I didn't even know I had made. I will never understand how such an idiot can be so insightful.”
Bulma regarded him curiously, peering up at him from lowered lashes. That warm feeling was growing stronger.
He chuckled to himself, “I should have known it when I couldn't bring myself to blast you in the stadium”
“I knew you were screwing with me when you did that Vegeta, I just knew it!”
Vegeta smirked at her, “You know how I like to ' keep you on your toes ' as you humans say it.”
Bulma looked at him blankly. Sure, he had often enticed his own wicked sense of humor by teasing her, especially when they had first begun their tumultuous romance. It was not uncommon for Vegeta to phase in front of Bulma suddenly, and scare the wits out of her, or for him to creep up with predatory stealth and pounce on her so that she screamed in terror, but he had never gone so far as to ALMOST KILL HER. Still, he had just admitted that he couldn't do it. That he had never truly wanted anything but his life with her. It just took him a little while to figure that out.
“You know, Vegeta, when most guys have a midlife crisis they buy a motorcycle or get a new hobby or something. They don't go on a rampage and try to denounce everything tangible in their lives,” Bulma said. The guilty look on his face was more than she could handle. She was not at all used to this new expressive version of her husband. Suddenly, Bulma burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
Vegeta did not take kindly to being the brunt of her personal joke.
“Bulma, stop that at once,” he commanded. He stepped back into the water and his hair flattened immediately. This served to merely incite more giggles from his infernal mate. Highly affronted, Vegeta crossed his arms and glared at her like a petulant child.
Sometimes Bulma forgot what a spoiled Prince she had on her hands. Earlier today she thought she had lost him for eternity. Her face glowed with a joyous smile and Bulma threw herself at Vegeta. She hugged him tightly and he returned her embrace immediately. They stood wet and flushed in the steamy shower, holding one another in a lover's tangle.
Relief flooded Vegeta's senses as he held his mate in his arms once again. He should have known their bond was strong enough to endure his idiocy. Vegeta had not lost everything after all. He found it hard to remember a moment when he was happier. It was a strange feeling for him.
“I could feel it, Vegeta,” Bulma said, suddenly, interrupting his happy musings. “I-I could feel it in my heart when you died.”
“What do you mean by that?” He asked her gently as he rested his chin on top of her blue head, unsure of what she was trying to say.
Bulma buried her face in his chest and continued. She could already feel the tears yearning for release behind her eyes.
“Before Goku told everyone the news that you were...,”she gulped and tried to swallow down a sob so that she could speak the words that she despised so much, “- were d-dead.”
She paused as a new wave of sorrow flowed from her eyes.
“I felt it,”she continued, hiccuping, “In the cop-*hic*-ter. I knew in my heart you were g-*hic*-one and I tried to dismiss it -*hic*-.” Her features grew resolute as she remembered. Her brows narrowed and her voice became harder. She spoke quickly and the cadence of her voice rose with emotion, “I tried to tell myself that you were fine and that I couldn't possibly feel such a thing, but I knew, Vegeta.” Her fist hit his chest, punctuating her anger as she recalled her foolish denial. “I pushed it away into the recesses of my mind, forcing myself to think logically. Using that logic as a shield against what I already knew to be true in the most illogical way.”
Her voice grew softer and saturated with anguish, “When he told me that you were gone my carefully placed shield was dashed to pieces. I had to face the reality that I had been denying for hours.”She unknowingly clutched him even tighter as she finished on a whisper, “No words can describe it, Vegeta.”
Vegeta's heart skipped a beat. His mind was in a whirl and he could not find the words to express what he felt. He had murdered millions, died twice, and reached a pinnacle of physical and mental strength that was nearly unrivaled. He was the mighty Prince of the Saiyan race and he was floored by this woman. Rendered speechless and thrown into unfamiliar territory in the landscape of his soul, all he could do was hold her closer to him.
“Oh Vegeta,” she said, raising her head to meet his eyes. “I was so afraid that I would never get to see you again. At that moment, I didn't care that you had murdered all of those people at the tournament. I would have killed them a thousand times over myself if it meant I could be with you again, and here we are.”
Bulma's eyes were wide and clear as she looked at him, speaking volumes more than anything she could say.
Vegeta looked down at her and felt something tingle and crawl up his throat, almost choking him with its force as it tried to break through his clenched jaws. He didn't understand it, but for once he didn't want to fight it, either. It felt strange and alien to him, but he knew that he could not keep it at bay any longer. He embraced it.
“Bulma, I-I,” he tried to say, but found the words were hard to form and even harder to say. “I did it for you,” he said in a strained whisper. “You and Trunks.”Vegeta found that the more he spoke, the easier the words began to flow. “ I never would have done that to myself if it weren't for you two.”
Bulma's eyes brimmed with fresh tears as she listened to her Prince, somewhat shocked by this admission. He had never been one to talk about those types of feelings. Despite what a harrowing experience it all had been, maybe everything that had happened with Buu was exactly what Vegeta needed to see clearly. And for that, Bulma was grateful for every last horrible moment.
“Everyone else on this stupid planet could have died and I would not have cared in the slightest,” Vegeta continued, much to Bulma's surprise. He brought his hand under her chin and traced his thumb over her quivering lower lip. Vegeta had only cried once in his life when he was on the brink of death. He was alarmed to feel the unfamiliar sting behind his eyes for a second time as he looked into the face of the woman for whom he had willingly become a martyr by his own hands.
“Curse you, Woman, look what you've done to me,” he said, with a slight smirk, echoing the harsh words he had once screamed at her in fury years ago.* Millennia away it seemed to him now, at a time when he was incapable of understanding the powerful emotions he felt when he was with his family. Now he repeated those words with a chuckle, turning their former harshness into something of a joke that existed just between them.
A reluctant smile crept its way onto Bulma's features as she swiftly understood the reference to their tumultuous past. She playfully smacked his chest, giggling as she said, “You can be such an incredible asshole sometimes, Vegeta.”
Vegeta grinned wickedly. He looked down at her as he brought her closer to his face. He growled proudly and said, “I know,” before devouring her lips with his own. Vegeta may have accepted his feelings for the Woman at long last, but he was ever a man of action and of few words. He poured his love into that kiss. It was long and passionate and soon he and Bulma found that they had fumbled out of the shower only to collapse, entwined onto their bed. The water on their bodies soaked into the sheets, but neither of them cared.
The End.
*: reference to a scene from the 3-years fic that I'm currently writing. If you liked this story, be on the lookout for when I post the 3-years fic!
A/N: This is my first time posting a story. I was inspired to write this one night, very unexpectedly, and I've really put a lot of time, thought, and effort into it. Please, respect that when you leave reviews. I really tried my utmost to portray our favorite couple accurately and to capture their personalities as they are presented to us in the show/manga. That being said, I was very surprised by how emotional Vegeta ended up being. I did not expect to write him this way when I began, but I feel, given the recent events in his life, that he is both emotionally and mentally in an uncharacteristically vulnerable state and that this marks a turning point in his life. I really hope you guys enjoyed my one-shot! Reviews would be very welcome and encouraging!