A Life: Part Two
He came back on a perfect Saturday.
Bulma was bent over her worktable, furiously sketching a new design that had popped into her head the night before and refused to let her get some much needed rest. The new baby had been turning circles in her rounded belly for the last few days and she got two hours of sleep or more before she was woken up. Dismayed, she wondered if this was how it was going to be when the baby was born except noisier…
Her pencil dropped to the ground. Vegeta could see her shoulders immediately tense up. She did not turn around and he had not expected more from her than that. He was surprised that she hadn’t set up a security system to keep him out.
“What are you doing back here?” she asked, her voice dangerously low. Even in their worst fights, he’d never heard her sound like that before. Crossing his arms, he glared at the back of her head.
“You are carrying my child,” he informed her as if she hadn’t been hauling around extra weight for the past two months.
Bulma turned her head slightly so that he could see her profile. Her blue eyes were icy as she gazed at him with a detachment she had learned from him.
“Don’t worry, Vegeta. I expect nothing from you for this child. What can you offer it anyway? A scowl? Your old boots? You’re a prince without a planet and I’m fully capable of caring for our children on my own. If that was the only reason you came back, then you can just go back to where you had been staying for the past two months.”
Bulma turned back to her sketches, but found the paper to be blurred as she refused to let her tears fall. She did not hear him leave but then again she had not heard him come in.
“That’s not the only reason I came back,” he said gruffly.
The paper underneath her hands made a crinkling sound, the only sound in the room, as she clenched her fists. She gave in to her rioting emotions and whirled on him, throwing the scissors she had grabbed in his direction. He merely moved his head as it sailed past his air but as he looked at her enraged face, he wished he had let it hit him if not to give her just a little satisfaction.
“You bastard! You arrogant son of a bitch!” she yelled, tears streaming down her face. “You think you can just walk back into our lives after leaving without a word? Do you know what this has done to Trunks?? He thinks you hate him, that you hate us, and he’s been crying himself to sleep every night since you left. I couldn’t very well tell him that you didn’t hate us because I didn’t want to lie to him, I didn’t want to give him hope when there was none. That was the only reason why you would leave and that was the only one that made sense. What doesn’t make sense is why you bothered to come back. Did you forget something?”
“That’s not the reason why I left,” Vegeta said simply, his chin tilted up higher than usual and his gaze imperious. The coolness of his demeanor belied the weight of this words. “I do not hate you or the boy.”
“He has a name!”
“Trunks is my son. I do not hate him. You are my woman. I do not hate you.”
She glared venomously at him. “Yeah, right. I wish I could believe you. If I wasn’t pregnant, would you have come back?”
“I did not know you were pregnant until now,” he said.
The wind taken out of her sails, Bulma sank down onto the seat she had jumped out of. If there was one thing she could count on him on, it was the truth. She suddenly looked old to him and very tired. He wanted to go to her, to touch her, but he stayed his ground. Something must have showed in his face because she frowned, puzzled. Vegeta uncrossed his arms and went to stand closer to where she sat. He stared down at her and she could see it, could see the regret in every inch of his proud face. It was enough to put her off guard and she was glad to be sitting. In all the time she had known him, she had never seen him to show such naked emotion.
“Why? Just tell me…why?” she asked hoarsely.
“I had to,” he said. “Or we would have destroyed each other.”
“Destroyed each other? We’re not Saiyajins, Vegeta, at least not me and Trunks. We fight, but families do that—ours more than others, but it’s not strange. Just because we argue does not mean…”
He let out a frustrated breath. “Not physically, Bulma. I…I was not happy for a long time.”
“Really,” she said, sarcasm dripping from the single word.
He glared at her. “I was content, in the beginning, but time went on and I began to want more. I am a warrior and it is not as easy for me as it was for Kakarot to just settle down and raise a family.”
“In case you didn’t notice, Goku isn’t exactly going to get the prize for World’s Best Familyman.” She glared at him. “And neither are you, you selfish bastard.”
Vegeta hung on tightly to his temper but then he realized that she was listening to him and the pain on her face that had been like a knife in his gut was dampened. If he wanted to make his case, he now had the chance to do it.
“I needed to find my way. I needed to see if I still had it inside me to be a warrior, to be the Saiyajin my own father raised me to be so that I can pass that on to Trunks...” His dark eyes fell on Bulma’s round belly. “…to my children. If I had not gone, I would have been twisted by my own bitterness and doubts about my role in this life. I would have started to resent you and eventually, you would have grown to hate me instead of the other way around. I could not have that, I could not let that happen.”
“Who says I don’t hate you now?”
He rubbed his face, not relishing laying his heart at the feet of this weakling Earthling woman…but he needed her to understand.
“I learned a lot when I was alone. I learned that I needed you and that I needed the boy. It took long for me to realize that but it is the truth.”
He knelt at her feet. She was moved by his words, he could see that, but she was not fully convinced. It had taken him days to come up with a plan to win her and the boy back, and as far as he was concerned, it was full-proof.
“Woman…Bulma…you are going to marry me.”
Bulma gaped. “W-what?”
“It’s a stupid Earthling custom because you are mine no matter what some idiot man in black robes says, but if it is needed so that the rest of the world knows, then so be it.”
Her hands flew to her mouth and tears filled her eyes once again. But they were happy tears.
When she threw her arms around him, Vegeta knew he made the right choice. He did not hesitate to draw her closer, pulling her from her chair to his lap. She buried her face in his neck as he breathed in the familiar scent of her, as he thought that this round building was not home—she was.
“I love you,” she whispered.
“I love you,” he said the words foreign to his lips but not to his thoughts. “And I’m sorry.”
She froze and pulled away to stare at him. He dared her to say something but she could not seem to find the right words to say. So she kissed him.
“We have one more problem to deal with,” she said when she pulled away.
“I might be willing to marry you, but you’re going to have to ask our son for my hand in marriage. I won’t do it unless he says so.”
At that Vegeta’s temper exploded. He stood, pulling her to her feet so that he could yell down at her. Bulma did not seem to be too affected by it, but then she never really was.
“He is my son and what I say goes!” he exclaimed. “I will not ask him if I want to marry my woman because I will do as I please without his bidding!”
“He’s a little boy who thinks his father abandoned him. You owe it to him,” was all she said. “I will not do it without his approval.”
Vegeta made a sound that was akin to a growl and before she could say anything more, he left her alone in the work room, loose papers flying his wake. She wanted to follow him but stilled her feet.
This was a matter that had to be between father and son.
Trunks listlessly tossed the blue rubber ball at the floor at an angle that had it hitting the wall and coming back to him on the bed. The rhythmic thump of the ball making contact with the flat surfaces was annoying even him, but he did not stop, needed something to distract him from the gaping emptiness that made him feel hollow inside. Goten had wanted to spar that day but he was not in the mood. He rarely was. Despite the lack of practice, his skills had not dampened and he lost his grip on the ball when a familiar energy signature neared his room.
When Vegeta opened the door without knocking, he was blown backwards into the corridor by a well-aimed blast to his midsection. It did not so much as scratch him but it got his attention.
“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!” Trunks yelled at the top of his lungs.
“You forget who you’re talking to, boy,” Vegeta said.
Swiftly, he flew at Trunks and swept the boy up with one arm, his grip like iron so that Trunks could only squirm. Vegeta flew them out of the house as Trunks protested loudly in his ear but he ignored his son even though his ears were beginning to ring. He went to the beach where he had sat only two months earlier and he sat down in the sand, keeping Trunks firmly at his side.
“What do you want?” Trunks said, still trying to break free from his father’s hold.
“Your mother says we have to talk.”
“So talk, you deserter.”
Vegeta bared his teeth at the angry little boy, but in Trunks’ face he saw the pain that he had seen on Bulma’s and it affected him. Guilt, powerful and alien, settled like one of Bulma’s experimental meals in his gut. It had been unheard of in his father’s house that the king would ever stoop to apologizing to his son despite the many unjust actions Vegeta had had to live through. But they were no longer in his father’s house and this was not the planet where he had grown up. He was an honorable man above all else and he was going to set his family to rights.
“I explained to your mother why I left and she has forgiven me,” Vegeta said.
“So? That’s her, not me. I’ll never forgive you.”
“Big words for a small man.”
Trunks did not bother trying to hold his tears back. He was too raw and too young to rein in his feelings, especially when it came to his father. The father who belittled him yet still fascinated him at the same time. The man he wanted to be when he grew up. He had felt small and unwanted when Vegeta had left and it had wounded the pride his father had instilled in him without really meaning to. Vegeta understood too well how that felt and cursed himself to putting his own son through it, for making the same mistakes his own father made.
“I’m not leaving again,” he said, having more difficulty talking to his little boy than he did a grown woman.
“Yeah, right,” Trunks snorted, echoing his mother’s words. “I didn’t think you were gonna leave in the first place so why should I believe you now?”
“Because I mean it. I needed to…”
“Don’t tell me you had to train cause that’s a lie. You made mom lie to me and you hurt her by leaving. I want to go home now.”
“You’re not going home until you hear what I have to say.”
Trunks was about to shoot up into the sky, but Vegeta wrapped a quick hand around his ankle before he could. He yanked Trunks down hard.
“My purpose was not to hurt you when I left. I had some things I had to take care of.”
“You know who we are. We are Saiyajin. We are warriors.”
His son’s dismissive tone irritated Vegeta.
“You should proud of your culture because it is who you are. You’re powerful because of the blood running through your veins, Saiyajin blood, my blood.”
“I’ve heard this before.”
“But you don’t listen.”
Trunks swiped angrily at his tears. “Because you don’t bother explaining what it means! How am I supposed to know what being a Saiyajin is if you just throw out lines like that and expect me to just agree with it? No matter how hard I try, I’ll never be a pure Saiyajin and I’ll never be good enough for you. That’s why you left, isn’t it? Goten and I saw a mongrel puppy sitting by the side of the road and it was left there because it wasn’t a purebred. That’s what I am, a mongrel, and you left me because you hate me. Well, I don’t care because I hate you too!”
Trunks was crying so hard that he could hardly breathe, could hardly see the water lapping at his feet. His father’s shock was palpable but he did not regret a single word he said. He wanted to hurt Vegeta as much as Vegeta had hurt him and he only hoped he had succeeded.
Then, with gentle hands, Vegeta lifted his son and set him down on his lap. He hadn’t held Trunks like this since he had been a baby, but Vegeta had not forgotten how to and he doubted he ever would. Trunks looked up at his father with his mother’s blue eyes, wonderment in them. Vegeta studied the boy’s round face, the baby fat that did not look as if it would burn off any time soon, but in that face he saw his own. Trunks may have his mother’s coloring but he had his father’s face. Vegeta saw it for the first time with new eyes that did not judge, a slight smile curving his stern lips.
“You could not be more wrong,” he said to his boy and meaning every word though the truth hurt. “You’re stronger than I was at your age and you’re only going to get stronger. A half-Saiyajin is superior to the race that bore it.” And he repeated the words that he said to the boy’s mother. “I don’t hate you, Trunks. I’m proud of you because you’re my son.”
Trunks would not have been more surprised if Vegeta had sprouted a second head right then and there. He gaped at his father, his small hands clutching at the material of Vegeta’s black body suit. Without a word, he put his arms around his father’s neck and hugged him. Vegeta put a hand on his boy’s back, patting it awkwardly.
“I left because if I had not, I would have turned into a man that I did not want to be, a man who did not deserve to be your father. You’re too young to understand that…but one day you will. Then you can ask me where I went.”
Trunks’ only response was a sniffle.
Vegeta settled the boy back and reached into his boot. He pulled out a slim dagger with a sheath that was engraved with intricate patterns. Trunks stared at it, rubbing his eyes.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“It’s the dagger that brought the Vegeta family to the throne of the planet,” Vegeta answered. “It has been in our family for a millennia. I want you to have it.”
Trunks took it reverently, slowly pulling the dagger out. It winked in the moonlight, as sharp and perfect as the day it had been forged. Vegeta then told him about how one of their ancestors had crept into the palace, the dynasty’s name lost to history, and led a coup that won him the throne. He had plunged this very blade into the heart of the king. Bulma would have disapproved of the story, but Trunks listened, all ears for the bloodthirsty tale. He looked at the dagger as if it was the most precious thing in the world and for him it was. Vegeta put a hand on his head, gave him a nod. Trunks returned it with one of his own. They were at an understanding.
Trunks then slid from Vegeta’s lap, embarrassed that a kid his age had been in that position, and mimicked his father’s posture as he settled back into the sand. Like all children, he bounced back quickly from hurts and Vegeta knew then that his son would forgive him anything. He made a silent vow to make sure that he would never take advantage of that fact. He watched as Trunks pocketed the dagger carefully, patting his pants a moment after to make sure it was still there. Despite himself, he smiled.
“I’m going to marry your mother,” he said.
Trunks sat back, blinked, Vegeta’s gift momentarily forgotten. “You’re not married?”
Vegeta winced. “No.”
“I’m a bastard just like you,” Trunks muttered.
Vegeta had to still his hand, which had automatically come up to smack the back of Trunks’ head. “Don’t use language like that.”
“Mom calls you that all the time.”
“Only she can, not you.”
“Fine. So when’s the wedding?”
Vegeta cleared his throat. “Your mother wants your permission,” he asked stiffly.
“To do what?” Trunks asked, puzzled.
“For her to marry me.”
Trunks blinked then laughed uproariously. Vegeta gave him a shove that sent him down into the sand, but he did not stop.
“Well?” he said.
“I do,” Trunks chortled.
Vegeta took Trunk’s arm in his hand and flew upwards.
“I can fly myself home,” Trunks said haughtily.
Vegeta let him go and he fell a few feet before catching himself. To Vegeta’s pride—and consternation—he kept up easily. They reached Capsule Corp. with their relationship mended. Bulma was waiting for them, a serene smile on her beautiful face. Trunks ran to her, put his arms around her thickening waist and resting his head against her belly.
“Dad’s back,” he said, smiling at Vegeta.
Vegeta looked at them, thought of the coming child and the words that had set him on this path came back to him.
A warrior does not settle for satisfaction. He settles for everything.
Looking at his family, he realized that it was true.
In this life, he had everything.
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