Disclaimer: I do not own DBZ, or the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story. But if I did own DBZ...more Tien!
Warnings: Cussing. Foul mouthed sailor that I am.
A/N: I'm not dead yet! Not that life hasn't tried throwing some crap my way--I will always come back to finish this story up. Slowly but surely guys. Thank you to anyone who has read from the beginning, or found this story today. Seriously--I love you all. Your reviews and likes mean the world to me. Also, this chapter is partially unbetaed, so take it easy on the grammatical errors. Those are all me.
Lilpumpkingirl, thank you for making this chapter easier to swallow, I love you and your advice.
Finally, last time I forgot to give a shout out to theanyanka. I can't believe I forgot you and your support. Hope you enjoy the chapter!
Chapter Thirty-Eight: From Silent Bear to Hell Hath No Fury
He was strong. Always had been. Since the day he had been born with the name Pi'colo, meaning silent bear among his Abenaki people, the tribal family had praised his parents for breeding such a stout and hearty, yet stoic, baby. The praise only grew to ravenous awe the day he had had his first tussle. It was no small deed thrashing three kids four years older than he was. The tribe praised him for using only his knuckles, for walking away with a bloody lip, while the three older boys had had to drink sleeping potion for three days straight so they could not feel their injuries.
His strength went beyond his ability to fight though--when Piccolo had heard about the three boys needing the sleeping potion he had gone into the forest himself to bring the boys' families the essential herbs for the potent medicine. He had bowed his head as he had presented them, giving his apologies in the old tongue of his tribe, eschewing the popular (and necessary to trade) French to show how truly sorry he was. He had told the families it would be his honor to sit with all three boys until they felt better, tending to their wounds, and caring for them. If there was one thing Piccolo had understood from a very young age it was that while his tribe was built upon individual strong warriors like his father, the true strength of his people came from their community and how much they all cared for one another.
Piccolo's strength of character had been greeted with surprise from the tribe. It was expected for Piccolo to be physically strong. He had been born of superior stock, from the seed of the strongest warrior in a tribe of renowned warriors. The oldest son, he had been raised to fight since he could make a fist. But the week Piccolo had sat with those injured boys, fetching them food and water, Piccolo had shown the whole tribe that his strength was not something he was going to use to be a tyrant--he was going to use it for the good of his people. He would not only fight, but fight for what was right. To do what was best for his people.
That was the week that Piccolo's uncle, the elderly tribe chief Kami, had picked him to be his personal protŽgŽ. Piccolo, through both blood and his known moral character and physical prowess, had been groomed to be the next tribe chief. So Piccolo had trained with the best, had meditated with the leaders, and had sat in on the many meetings Kami sat through. He sat through grievances from other tribe members hearing how his uncle settled small disputes such as what family could grow crops where, when the harvest festival should be held, what deities should be worshipped that week, to larger meetings between all of the tribes on how to proceed with those from Europe--every meeting a chief might have to go through, Piccolo was there. He learned what it meant to be a true leader, to give personal sacrifice, and to live an austere life-style, like his uncle, so that the tribe could prosper. He learned it was important for a man to be skilled and courageous in battle, but wise and fair while listening to others.
When he was still a child, Kami would ask for Piccolo's opinion's on disputes between tribe members, and would always listen to exactly what Piccolo had to say, a faint gleam in his eyes the only approval that was ever shown. Piccolo knew that Kami had trusted him...but still. There always came a time in meetings where Piccolo was asked to leave, when he was dismissed with a nod. Even as Kami's obvious successor, Piccolo had not been trusted with everything. Piccolo had found no offense in this--he knew that trust, like respect, was something that took hard work to earn, and was not just something that was freely given out.
It did not bother him, truly it did not--but his father, Piccolo Sr. on the other hand, had been displeased at this. Piccolo Sr. had never been invited to tribe meetings though he was the strongest warrior the tribe had, as he was known as a man who craved power amongst all things. Many had feared Piccolo would be just like his father, as a family full of strong men could tip the precarious balance in their tribes collective style of living. The Abenaki were a people that survived because they all worked together, they shared their crops, they fought together, and they shared goods and services. Everyone was a family member, not just a tribesman or neighbor--yet Piccolo Sr. had always bristled against this. He thought since he was the strongest he deserved more.
And he was going to use his son to get that 'deserved' more, many feared.
Piccolo had been allowed, once a week, to leave Kami's side, to return home to share a meal with his father, his brothers and his mother. This was the one time a week Piccolo did not have to act like the future chief, and for a twelve year old boy it had been a much needed relief. He could play with his younger brothers, still a boy, and spar for fun--not being watching and judged at all times. But the older that Piccolo had gotten, the...well, odder, dinners had grown. Piccolo was not a fool, and he knew that his father lusted for more power than he was given--and Piccolo was afraid he was using Piccolo as some sort of unwilling and unknowing spy to gain this power.
The family dinners would begin in a loving way, and right when everyone had been laughing about something, some story of Piccolo Sr. and Kami as children, his father would quite abruptly changed topics, looking at his namesake and oldest with an intensity in his eyes that betrayed the forced ease in his voice. "So what does my dear brother think of the latest treaty the French are extending to us?"
Piccolo felt that odd uneasiness that always built inside of him at moments like this. He always felt like he was betraying his father if he did not answer, and he felt like he was betraying the tribe if he did. Kami had brought him into these meetings in confidence, but Kami had always taught him to respect his elders. Piccolo wondered, not for the first time, what happened when those two wishes were in opposition with each other, and which he was supposed to choose.
Piccolo thankfully did not have an answer to his father's probing on the new treaty, his whole body relaxing as he answered honestly, "I know not, father. I was asked to leave before they spoke of it."
Piccolo's father had frozen, the whole room seeming to freeze with him. Piccolo's mother had moved with a speed that only came with familiarity of the situation, standing and ushering Piccolo's younger brothers out of the room, leaving the two oldest males alone. Even then Piccolo Sr. had not spoken for a few moments, instead leveling his eyes at his son, the future tribe leader, as his arms had crossed. His voice was as chilled as the icy grasp of death itself as he spoke, Piccolo's inside clenching in fear, though he showed not an ounce of it on his young face, "My brother dares insults my family by asking you to sit with him, and not to trust you with any of his secrets?"
Piccolo foolishly tried to answer back, "Father, uncle trusts me as much as he should--"
But his father rolled over him as if he had never spoken, "Does he know how much we sacrifice as a family to have you as his protŽgŽ, rather than here, helping your own family? Does he know how much harder I work than anyone else in this village?! How much our family has sacrificed for my goody two shoes brother to be the chief in this village?! How dare he!"
Piccolo felt ashamed, ashamed of what his father was complaining about, and then ashamed of himself for even daring to feel shame for his elder, his father. Piccolo reminded himself, as his father often did, how hard it must have been for Piccolo Sr., to see his older twin brother be chosen from a very young age to be the village leader, while he was dismissed as the fighter of the pair because of his 'temper.'
Piccolo had tried his whole life to keep the balance between respect owed to his father and respect owed to his whole tribe level, but finally, after a night of too much questioning, of shame felt upon his father's words of not caring enough about the family, Piccolo had caved to his father's wishes. He had come to Kami the morning after the family dinner, and when his uncle had asked him how dinner had been, Piccolo had worked up his courage and asked, "Uncle, if I am to be the future leader of this tribe, why do you not allow me to sit in on all meetings?"
Kami had frozen, much like his twin brother had the night before--but the coldness was not there, the ice numbing fear that Piccolo Sr. could project replaced by...was that sadness? Kami's voice had been soft as usual when it came out, but there was a pitying note there as he dismissed his serving man, "Leave us, Mr. Popo." The serving man had bowed obediently, only giving Piccolo a passing look as he left. When he was gone, Kami had turned his eyes on Piccolo, and the two had been in a staring stalemate for a few moments before Kami softly asked, "Why do you ask to sit in on all of the meetings?"
Piccolo was flabbergasted by the question--he had no answer for the chief, and Kami could read it on his face. Kami sighed and folded his hands on his staff as he surveyed his nephew. Kami pressed harder when he asked his next question, "Do you ask for your father?"
Piccolo considered lying, but then he realized this went against everything Kami taught him, and he would not insult his master in such a way. So instead he simply nodded, feeling that shame, again, for betraying his father.
Kami sighed, shaking his head as he turned away, staring out of the tent flap, "Oh Piccolo, I had hoped we would never have to have this conversation, that we would never have to speak like this, but I see that my hope was foolish." He turned back to Piccolo, "I honestly wished you would have been a horrible pupil from the beginning, so that I could dismiss you right away. Instead my very fears were realized when I saw the greatness within you, the greatness to be a great leader"
Piccolo felt a small dusting of anger sweep through him at this moment, the compliment not heard as he took in the insult, but his face, his whole being, betrayed nothing as usual.
Still, Kami--as always--noticed, and he shook his head with an amused look on his face. "Do not misunderstand me. It was for your sake that I hoped this, Piccolo."
There was a silence, a long one, Kami looking at Piccolo expectantly, as if that last sentence had explained everything to Piccolo. It had not. "I...I don't understand."
Kami's amusement turned sad again, his hands grasping his staff a little tighter as he shook his head, "I should not expect you to. Not yet." Kami waved Piccolo closer, and he obeyed, Kami placing his hand on Piccolo's shoulder as he said, "Your father, my brother...he is a good man. But he does not have the spiritual center that former elders saw in me, that I see in you--he does not understand the need of the many over the one. You do, I know you do. I have seen the choices you have made, have seen how quickly you learn. This is a great gift Piccolo, and one that your father is jealous of. He has always been jealous that I have the gift, and I saw that same jealousy in his eyes when he saw what a formidable character you had."
Piccolo felt ignominy, once again, as understanding dawned on him. All of his father's snide remarks to his own twin brother, to Piccolo, especially once he had started training, came back to him. All of the times his father had complained about sharing the family's food with villagers who had not had as lucky of as a crop as their family, all of those time Piccolo's father had chosen to stay home and sleep rather than attend the village ceremonies, or took advantage of being the chiefs brother to 'negotiate' (or bully) into better prices for their family. Piccolo felt embarrassment on his father's behalf, and as usual felt shame for feeling this way towards his father.
Kami regarded him with kind eyes as his hand squeezed Piccolo's shoulder again. "Boy you have a hard future ahead of you, but I would not have picked you, or continued to train you if I had not felt like you could handle it." Still Kami's eyes drew far-off, his hand clenching further as he said, "There will come a time when your father will demand that you respect him above the tribe, that you put his needs above everyone else's...and that is a choice I do not envy."
Piccolo had yearned for more information, yearning to ask the question of who came first, the goods of the many or the good of the elders--but he stayed silent, hoping that the point never came where he would have to choose.
But life had decided that it was to be his fate to have to choose, and he remembered Kami's face as Piccolo and his father had left their village, as Piccolo had chosen his father, the elder, over the village.
Piccolo had thought about that conversation almost every day since he had left the village, and now, he hoped, he prayed, that when he got back Kami would take him back, bring him back under his wing. Piccolo was tired, both physically and mentally, and at the point where he was ready to throw in the towel and head back to Canada. Piccolo wanted to go back. Even if it meant...well, his tribe had not banished him. They had banished his father, and Piccolo was weary of waiting for his increasingly more alcohol soaked father to direct him in what to do next.
Especially as it had been over a week since he had presented his father with the information on where Goku was, a week since his father had looked him in the eyes and went, "Good. Now you wait for my mark in the next few days, and we attack him. He will pay." A few days had come and gone, and when Piccolo had confronted his father again, asking when, his father had been bleary eyed and shaking as he told him in a whisper of the voice he used to have, "Just a few days more. The timing needs to be just perfect...."
Piccolo had waited for his father to elaborate, for Piccolo Sr. to finally reveal the plan to him or tell him why the timing had to be perfect, as he had always been quite vague on what exactly their revenge would be--but nothing had been forthcoming. Instead his father had done what he had done increasingly of late, reaching for a half filled bottle that sat at his nightstand, and drinking it with such alacrity, Piccolo's own stomach had turned. The shaking hands had stilled as the alcohol had rinsed through his system, and Piccolo had had to leave the room, anger and shame warring within him. The shakes had scared Piccolo when they had first occurred in his father, but he had paid for a doctor to come see his father when they had first happened, and the man had scoffed, taking all of Piccolo's pay as he had told him, "He's an alcoholic, boy. Tell the old fool to stop drinking if he wants the shaking to cease and to not drink himself into an early grave--but then, men like him often don't." The doctor had seen Piccolo's face, and his tone became softer as he had sighed, "If he will not stop drinking then keep a steady supply of alcohol on hand for him and the tremors will abide in the very least."
Piccolo had been waiting for his father to rise from his gin and rum induced stupor for what felt like years now, asking almost daily for what the plan would be--and nothing. Well Piccolo was tired, and he was done waiting. They had traveled halfway around the globe, they had been kicked out of their tribe, and they had bided their time in this city for almost half a year. Piccolo found himself, more and more increasingly, longing for the solitude of the forests of Canada, the counsel of his wise uncle, for the comfort of the rest of their tribe. He would beg on his father's behalf, call on the bond of family, and he would get his father help. Because whatever his father's plan was not worth waiting for this long....
But he had not acted on these desires, not yet. Out of deference to the respect he owed his father. He was the man who had raised him, the man who had given him his very life. So no matter how tired and weary Piccolo grew with their English life, he knew he would continue waiting. But that tenuous string called respect that he felt he still owed his father was growing more and more drawn out, more frayed, and Piccolo honestly did not know how much longer he had it in him to continue to bide his time and wait. He had turned his back on the whole of his village, for all of the responsibilities he had shouldered as Kami had grown older, and he was finding it harder day in and day out to tell himself that had been the right move.
Piccolo sighed as he finally finished the walk from the docks to where he lived now, as he drew up to the blue building, where they had been renting rooms, he fought the urge he had to head to Jackson's. He knew that Vegeta would not be there for a fight, but Piccolo, despite his weariness, always thought (and felt) better when he worked on his fighting form and physical movements. Perhaps some Tai Chi would do him good? Stretch his tired muscles out, and allow his brain to function at more than the half speed he felt like it had been operating at of late? Maybe then he could find a way to get his father away from that foul drink, so they could finally accomplish what they had set out to do when they had found out Goku was coming to England. Piccolo wondered if they should have taken the chance when they had been tailing Goku in New York State, but the opportunity had never really presented itself.
Piccolo heaved another weary sigh as he faced the door that led up to their rooms, his hand on it, ready to push--when something in his back tensed, alerting him to the fact that he was not alone. He was not sure what it was--call it fighting instincts, call it intuition, but something sparked in his tired brain, putting all of his senses on alert. He did not have to turn around to know someone was behind him--he could sense his or her very presence.
Piccolo slowly lowered his hand, his whole body ready to fight as he surreptitiously turned his neck to look over his shoulder. His eyes grew wide as he recognized the men standing behind him, Piccolo's mind going into overdrive at what they were doing here.
A refined, polished voice cordially caught his attention, "Piccolo."
Piccolo felt his heart stop beating for a moment, before going into double time, adrenaline coursing through his veins as he saw Vegetasei standing behind him with that large goon of his right next to him, both of them wearing malicious smirks as he turned to face them. Those smirks, more so than how they were standing, or anything else about their physical presence, alerted him to the fact that they were not here for a friendly visit. Piccolo cursed himself, cursed his father for waiting so long--he should have known the Duke would figure out what Piccolo's true purpose in England was. "How did you find me?"
Vegetasei cocked his head to the side, studying the man, "Does it matter?"
Piccolo thought about it, knowing that he had not been particularly stealthy, what with having to work a normal job to support his father and himself, and he shook his head, "No, I guess it does not." Piccolo took a deep breath, deciding to tempt fate, to see if he was worrying himself for no reason. "Are you here because I have not been going to Jackson's?"
Vegetasei snorted, the goon behind him letting out a bark of a laugh that drew some stares of those on the street. Piccolo's head swiveled, taking in all of the innocents (witnesses) who were watching the Duke and Nappa with curiosity, realizing how out in the open they were. Piccolo frowned, but his forehead cleared when Vegeta spoke, his voice low and threatening as he explained, "You know why I am here. Did you think I would not find out?"
Piccolo felt his worst fears confirmed, the world crashing down around him as he realized he had waited too long. He should have known that Vegeta, the smart fighter that he was, would have realized that Piccolo was using him, and that the man he innocently sparred with twice a week was a threat to his family. Piccolo, for the first time in memory, cursed his father without shame, knowing that it was his fault hey had waited too long. Why had his father not told him the plan? Why had they not avenged his brothers and mother--and left this place months ago? Piccolo, was not given much time to think past that, though, as Nappa had come up, wrapping his hand around Piccolo's forearm, steering (or dragging) him away from his door, and into the darkened alley by the building.
Piccolo felt relief course through him--his father was safe. He worried less about himself--he had taken a lot of pain, trained his body to withstand as much as it physically could--but his father was feeble, and vulnerable right now, and Piccolo needed to protect him. No matter how angry he was with him. Nappa waited until they were hidden by some shadows, away from the prying eyes of the street, before turning Piccolo so his back was to the brute's front, Nappa's large arms wrapping under his arms, locking him, holding him as Vegetasei slowly followed them into the alley.
Piccolo watched with interest, already priming his body for the hurt that was about to come to him, as Vegetasei stripped his jacked off, undoing his cuffs, rolling his sleeves up before catching Piccolo's eyes, "Now I have some questions to ask, and you are going to answer them."
Piccolo felt his pride swell up, his mind whirring into overtime as he tried to figure out how to get out of this situation, at the same time as he detached himself from his body, knowing that the Duke would not go easy on him, now that he knew the truth. "I will tell you nothing."
The Duke gave him a cold stare, before a chilling smile spread across his face as he softly said, "Oh good. I was hoping you would be difficult."
Bulma was angry. She was angry, and sad, and scared, and a million other emotions. And was she allowed to act on any of these emotions? No! She had been escorted to Vegeta's secret office, and here she sat, her arms wrapped around the curve of her stomach, as if cradling the child within, waiting like a Kami-damned damsel in fucking distress. Bulma was no fucking damsel in fucking distress. That was for fucking sure. And yet....
She had not run after Vegeta, she had not even tried to trail him as he left her in the secret office--something in his face, in his curt goodbye, where his eyes lingered on her far longer than they ever had before had stopped her and her millions of plans to go with him. His last words echoed in her head, even as her thoughts traveled a million miles in each direction, Be safe Bulma. Take care of our child. I will always...the time we had together...I must leave. And that had been it. He had been gone.
But those strained silences where he tried to think of the words to say--they had been telling to Bulma. Vegeta was not someone who said his feelings--you had to watch him, and read his actions. The fact that he was trying to tell her something before he left, well, it did not bode well.
Oh Vegeta, just what have you gotten yourself into?
He was all she could think about as her eyes swiveled about the articles, pictures, and other curios Vegeta had pinned up to the large board that dominated her view. She searched every bit of information in front of her, every bit of knowledge she had gleaned in her time as a spy (and a spy's wife) willing herself to think, to just use that large brain of hers to figure out what was going on. She knew she needed to figure out a way she could help, to figure out a way to stop what she feared what her husband saw as the inevitable. But she could not. All she could do was sit in Vegeta's chair, smelling Vegeta with every inhalation of breath, his last words echoing to her in her head, pushing all rational thought out of her head as she sat there, anger warring within her as she realized how...how...useless she felt. She knew she was pregnant and she knew the health of the child came before even her--but still.
Bulma was a doer, and this damsel in distress stuff was not working for her. Being told to sit and wait--it was the equivalent of being thrown in prison for her. Speaking of prison....She could swear the walls were closing in on her as she sat here, not working, not moving, so she forced herself to focus, focus on the wall in front of her, willing it to divulge all of its secrets to her. She was surprised that Vegeta had not actually locked her in here earlier. She took that as a sign that he actually cared--or that he knew her well enough to know she would not risk their child's health to chase after him. Bastard!
Bulma felt rage sweep through her again, bubbling up, pushing on her chest, constricting her breathing, but she bit it down, forcing herself to think. Come on Bulma...use that giant brain of yours!
But it would have been easier at that moment to will herself to China than to clear her muddled thoughts.
Bulma moved for the first time in what felt like decades (but was surely only minutes) as she heard the Ducal office's door open, Goku's voice drawing her in as he spoke in the outer office, "Bulma, Bulma, where are you? Are you in here?"
Bulma forgot she was in a secret office, uncaring of how she gave away its secret as she flung the inner office door open, all but leaping into her brother's arms as she called his name. Goku, being the world's best brother, opened his arms to her, allowing her a moment to sink into him and his familiar warmth. Goodness she did not realize how much she needed him until his arms closed around her, giving her a moment to abandon all thoughts to the comfort of being squeezed in Goku's strong arms. But all too quickly reality hit home, and she pulled back, grabbing her brothers arms and shaking him (well trying to at least). "What do you know? Where is he? Kami-dammit Goku! What is happening?" Not for the first time did Bulma wish she had at least been taller than Goku--she used to be able to intimidate him with just her height. Hah! Long gone were those days, to say the least....
Goku shook his head confirming that he was just as lost as she was, holding his arms open in honest supplication. "I don't know, Bulma. I mean, I know Vegeta is gone... I wish I knew where but...." Goku took a deep breath, his arms crossing in front of him, his eyes burning with determination she recognized as what she called 'Goku is serious as shit' face. "Bulma, what is going on with Vegeta, with you? All I got was a letter from Vegeta saying it was his time, and that he needed me to watch you, to take care of you, to protect you. What is it time for? Do you know Bulma?"
Bulma was not quite done ranting and raving, and since her brother was the only human in area (the dowager was there, but Bulma was now completely sure that woman was not at all human) she wanted to keep ranting and raving at him. But now was not the time--even in her most emotional of states, Bulma knew when to hold a good temper tantrum in. So Bulma switched to scientist mode, all business as she asked him, "How much do you know about Vegeta's job with the government?"
Goku cocked his head to one side, looking confused and slightly like a puppy dog the 'Goku is serious as shit' face gone as quickly as it had come. "Vegeta has a job with the government?"
Bulma sighed, running her hands through her hair, realizing this was a welcome distraction from her constantly shifting thoughts as she muttered, "Sit down, I have some explaining to do...."
As Bulma explained to Goku everything about Vegeta as a spy, telling him how she had found out, how she had even helped him, how she had really broken her ankle--she gave her brother credit. He did not ask stupid questions, just letting her speak, his face growing more and more serious as she explained to him everything about Frieza and Zhelonie and Russia that she knew. He waited until she took a breath before he finally spoke, "So you think this has something to do with Frieza finally making his move? That Vegeta thinks he might have figured something about Zhelonie or Frieza's plan out?"
Bulma nodded, watching her brother process all of the information she had just told him. People mistook Goku's genial nature for stupidity, and often commented he had never inherited the Briefs' brains--but they had never seen this side of Goku. If he had been more vicious, he would have been an amazingly tactile and strong general--battle was where he belonged, and this kind of thinking was what he did best. He turned to pace the room, Bulma knowing that Goku was like a shark who needed to keep moving lest he die, seeing the wheels crank in his head as he thought about the situation in front of them.
Some thought, some bubble Bulma had been trying to ignore, but could not, especially as she laid everything out to Goku, pushed out at the moment Goku turned for the fifth time and she admitted to himself (and herself as well), "I am not worried that this is Frieza finally attacking. I mean I am worried as he's a bloodthirsty tyrant, it's just that...it's that." She forced herself to stop for a second, taking a deep breath, closing her eyes as she blew out a long breath, before she opened them, continuing, "...Goku, I don't think Vegeta intends to live." There had been a split second where she had almost said she thought Vegeta was going to die--but saying that word out loud gave it to much power. So she had chickened out.
Goku's looked at her fascinated, his eyes widening as he prompted, "Are you sure Bulma?"
Bulma frowned, the words rushing out of her as she put into language what she could not think, "It just...it explains so much about Vegeta. I mean think about it--that's why he had to come to America to get you, why he spends so much time making sure you are ready to take over for him. Why would he do that unless he needed to ensure that he had a successor? It was not just his pride. He is young enough that even if he had not met me he could have married someone and fathered a child--but not if he did not think he had the time left. He knew something big was brewing with Frieza, and I know Vegeta feels more than just a nation-type hate towards the man. It is personal, and I think it all comes down to whatever happened with Tarble in Russia, and Tarble dying."
Goku frowned, his eyebrows shooting up as he blew out a low whistle, "Seriously?"
Bulma tried to speak to say more, but hearing everything out loud--it made it too real. She suddenly found a lump forming in her throat, so she only nodded.
Goku started to pace again, turning to look at her as he reached the far side of the room, "Tell me more about Tarble, and what happened to him. What do you really know about that?"
Bulma sighed, throwing her hands up, frustrated, as she admitted, "Not much." She moved so that she was closer to Goku, her hand resting protectively on her stomach as she explained to him how aggravating her husband could be when it came to telling her the whole truth, "Vegeta has been less than forthcoming, and all I know was what the dowager basically yelled at me when I went to pump her for information." She ran her hands through her hair as she told him, "I know Tarble was killed in the service, and it was in Russia during the war. But I think there is more to Tarble's death than just a simple death...well, death on the battlefield. It would explain why Vegeta does not talk about it, and why he felt the need to lie to me about when Tarble died. I think Tarble's death might explain why Vegeta is heading into this like he is going to die."
Goku, being more attuned to how Vegeta thought as a warrior, perhaps, or maybe just as a fresh set of eyes to this whole situation spoke slowly, his words careful as he said, "Perhaps Tarble's death has given Vegeta a death vendetta he feels the need to carry out. Like he needs to avenge his brother's life, and he knows it will cost him his own life. Especially if he goes after someone as bloodthirsty, ruthless, and important as the crown prince of Russia. It would also explain...." Goku looked up for a second, getting that guilty look he used to get when she caught him sneaking to the kitchen, before he looked away, "Never mind."
Bulma turned to look at Goku, her heart in her throat as she realized he was hiding something. "Goku? What?" He shook his head, his eyes drawing past her as he stared out the window, before Bulma grabbed his arm, shaking it, "What is it? Tell me, please."
Goku swallowed heavily, still not looking at her as he admitted, "I never told you this, but when...well, when we were in Scotland and Vegeta and I were outside...uhm...,"
"Fighting," Bulma supplied for him, willing him to talk faster, wanting to know what he was afraid to tell her.
Goku looked at her, surprised that she could have deduced her husband and brother had fought (as if the bruises and cuts both had been nursing that next morning had not been a huge fucking giveaway), but he continued, "Uh, yeah. Fighting. Well, after we had finished fighting and Vegeta agreed to marry you--well, he made me promise to take care of you."
Bulma was confused as what this had to with what she had been saying, and she could not keep the exasperation out of her voice as she prompted, "So?" She would have assumed that any man would ask that of her brother if they--hold on. Her voice was frantic as she said, "Goku, what else did he say?"
Goku looked right past her again, his cheeks reddening as he admitted, "He told me he would be making you a widow sooner rather than later. That there were some dangerous situations he was going to be putting himself in, and that he would not be making it out of these dangerous situations, well, alive."
Bulma could not help it--she collapsed back into the couch she had been standing in front of. It was one think to posit and hypothesize about her husband, the man she loved, going out on missions that would get him killed, or hell, carrying out some sort of revenge vengeance that would get him killed--but to hear it from Vegeta's own mouth. To know that her husband was indeed planning on dying soon, before their child was even born, to know that her short time with him was about to get cut even shorter--well it knocked it all out of her.
It all began to fall into place, the whole Kami-damned reason Vegeta even came to America in the first place. He thought he was going to die, and soon. Why else would Vegeta act as he had, making it known how important it was that Goku be there to inherit the dukedom from Vegeta, as well as why he had made sure to marry Bulma, in case his heir was not Goku, but his son...a son he might not ever get the chance to see.
Bulma felt anger well in her again as she realized just how crazy the man she married actually was--could he have picked a bigger, homicidal, sociopathic or nastier person to have a personal vendetta against?! What bigger target could he pick but the crown prince of another country?! Especially a man as bloodthirsty as Frieza? Even if Vegeta were able to get close enough to Frieza, and beat him somehow--how would he ever get past the fact that he had killed a monarch of another country? If Vegeta managed to make it out of his suicide mission alive, his head would have a price on it from Russia. Kami Vegeta, was there seriously no one more dangerous on Earth to have a grudge against? Was Satan too difficult?
That was it. If he made it out of this alive--she was going to kill him himself. Mother fucking suicidal bastard. If he wanted to die so badly she would gladly relieve him of his life herself. In fact she had to stop her hands from clenching around Goku's neck as a substitute as she turned up to face him. Goku, seeing that fire in her eyes took a step back, his hands up, supplicating. "Easy Bulma."
Goku's words grounded her, bringing her back from the anger that threatened to choke her, and she took a step back as well, covering her eyes with the palms of her hands, pressing as she sighed. Still, she could herself from hissing out through clenched too, "That stupid asshole. That mother fucking stupid asshole. I will kill him for not telling me the truth."
Goku let out a nervous chuckle, but, wisely, let her words fall without picking them up and prodding Bulma with the terminology she had just so venomously spit out at him.
Bulma was gearing up for another attack on her husbands sanity, intelligence, manhood, hell, whatever she could think of when something miraculous happened. For the first time in her pregnancy, Bulma felt a little telltale kick against her upper ribs, a kick that brought Bulma back from the scary place her anger was bringing her. Bulma immediately dropped her hands back to her stomach, looking down at the swell and at the life that she was currently carrying, tears instantly springing into her eyes. The kick made her real pregnancy, well, even realer somehow. She had a child inside of her--and she liked to think they were as angry with their father as she currently was. She saw that kick as a kick of solidarity with Bulma, agreeing that their father was being just plain stupid.
Well it was a good thing Bulma was a genius then--because the time for pouting was over. Vegeta thought he could get away with killing himself with Bulma 'genius extraordinaire' Briefs as his wife? Hah! She would show him--she would save his life, and then she would nag him for the rest of his natural born life, to remind him that no one got away with trying to die on Bulma's watch! Killing him would be too easy of an out. He deserved her on his back for the rest of all time for the pain he was putting her through. Bulma rubbed her stomach as she thought she felt another flutter of movement, as if the baby was agreeing with her.
Okay then. The time for anger was over. It was time for action.
When she looked back up, Goku was eyeing her speculatively, "Are you all right?"
Bulma, despite herself, smiled as she admitted, "The baby just kicked. For the first time. They are as mad at their father as I am. Which is why that rat bastard is not allowed to die." She took another deep breath before she said, " Goku, we are going to save that rat bastard."
Goku recognized that spark in her eyes, and smiled. "Good, because I've been thinking--."
There was a knock on the door at that exact moment, and Bulma bounded over Goku to open the door, hoping it was her husband, but knowing he would never knock. She threw the door open, trying to appear as if nothing was wrong as she smiled at Jeffries as he stood there, holding out a missive for Bulma, "This came for the Duke, your Grace. Can you see that he gets it upon his return?"
Bulma took the note, trying to arrange her face in something that looked like a normal smile (though she was sure it was more of a grimace) as she nodded, "Of course," waiting until Jeffries left to close the door and look at it.
Her mouth went dry as she saw the name on the outside of the letter, and she must have lost all color in her face because Goku simply asked, "Bulma--what is it?"
Bulma took a deep swallow before looking back up, her eyes large as she told him, "It's from Basil." Why would Basil be writing Vegeta, when Vegeta was already out doing his duty? Maybe he had not sent a note to Basil, and Basil had had a similar breakthrough? Bulma tried to move her hands to open it, but suddenly found that her hands were immobile, her mouth dry, and her heart racing again.
Goku saw Bulma's reaction and kindly took the note from her, opening it, but frowned, almost immediately handing it back to her. "I can't make heads or tails of the code Bulma, what does it say?"
Bulma took the note back, translating it as she quickly read the words about flowers and gardening schedules, before grabbing her throat, looking back up at Goku, "It says that it is time. That Frieza launched his attack, and that he needs him at the palace, right now." She took another deep breath before she admitted, "I'm not...I'm not exactly sure, but I think it says that King William is being held hostage."
Goku's eyes grew large again, but Bulma was not done, "Goku, I think Vegeta went to the wrong place this morning. I think he thinks' he had finally discovered who Zhelonie is, but it is all moot because we know where Frieza is. Goku, we need to find him. We need to find Vegeta, and we need to get him this note. He would never forgive himself if he is not there to carry out his revenge."
Goku's mouth opened slightly, before closing again, confusion clearly written on his features, "Wait, did you not just say we were going to save him?"
Bulma stopped for a moment, thinking. It was true, if she led Vegeta to where Frieza was, there was a good chance that Vegeta would not live. But...she loved the man and she knew him well enough to know that if returned, and found out that she had hid this information from him, he would never forgive her. But that did not mean she was going to let him die. Still, she needed Goku to understand since he was such an integral part of her plan.
"Brother, think about it. What if I, or Chi-Chi, or mom or dad, ever stopped you from fighting a fight that would mean finding vindication for losing your brother or me or whoever? I need to let him fight. I need to let him attempt his revenge--but this time, we are making sure he is not alone." She sighed, before looking into his eyes, making sure hers were as large and as pleading as she could make them, "Because you are going to go help him, and make sure he does not die today."
Bulma gave a satisfied nod, and began heading towards the door, ready to run out to find Vegeta with Goku in tow before going to the palace together, but Goku grabbed her arm, shaking his head, "Bulma, whoa, hold up. I promised Vegeta I would wait here with you, wait for you, and protect you. Not him."
Bulma set her mouth then, determined, "Goku, what better way to protect me then to ensure my husband makes it home safely? What better way to know that I will be safe, then to know that my mind will be at ease with you there to help Vegeta fight, to protect him, and to stop him from making any ridiculously stupid moves?" Bulma knew her brother, knew how to get him on her side, her eyes large, her lower lip quivering as she said, "Goku, please. Please go out there and save my husband. I need you to find him."
She could see some sort of internal struggle going on with Goku and his inner thoughts, but she knew she won out when he closed his eyes, blowing a large breath out through his nose. Plus, she knew he would never resist a large fight--he was not one to sit here, and if he tried, she would poke and prod him until he felt forced to go out there and fight to blow some steam off. "Fine, where is he? I will go get him. I will watch his back, but Bulma, he will not like it."
Bulma knew that, but if it came between having a dead husband, or an alive one who was pissed at her for not following his orders, she knew which one she would prefer. She threw her arms around Goku, hugging him tightly, "Oh Goku. Thank you so much." She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, before she let him go, seeing the red on his cheeks, before she admitted, "I don't, uhm, exactly...I don't exactly know where he is at the moment."
Goku's mouth sagged open again, and he turned his back to her, his muscles visibly tightening in his back as he muttered. Something to do with two people deserving each other's crazy asses. Bulma did not need to guess who he was muttering about. When he turned back to her, Bulma was glad to see his ready to fight someone face was on--Goku was on his primal (Saiyan?) instincts, and that meant something would get done. "Okay, Bulma, this is what we are going to do. You are going to call every able bodied servant you have, and we are going to look for Vegeta."
Bulma jumped up, ready to go, needing to find her husband, needing to help him. "Okay, let me just go get my co--."
Goku cut her off, his face and tone letting her know he was not to be argued with. "You are going nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. You are going to march back into that secret room you just popped out of, and you are not going to leave it until Vegeta or I return. I may be breaking my promise to Vegeta to protect you, but I am sure as hell not bringing you to a warzone." Goku's eyes narrowed, "Bulma, you want me to go protect...fight with Vegeta, fine. I will--but this is my price. You are not to follow me, you are not to leave this very room. I will be posting two of the footmen in front of the outer office to ensure that you will be safe, and you will not move until Vegeta, myself...or hopefully both of us, say so."
She was about to protest, but Goku's eyes softened as he admitted, "Bulma, you're my sister. One of the people I love more in life than anyone else, and I cannot run out of here without ensuring that you will be safe. Vegeta is going to be pissed enough that it is that I am with him and not you--he would straight up kill me if he knew that you were out on the streets of London. He needs to know that you are here and safe. Please, promise me."
Bulma saw the steely resolve in her brother's eyes, reminding her of the way Vegeta had looked at her earlier when he had drawn almost the same exact promise from her, and she frowned, but walked to the bell pull, calling Jeffries in, informing him to gather up any and all of the servants that were here today. They did not waste their time with explanations for the staff, just letting them know that Vegeta needed to be found, and immediately. When he was found, they were to report back to the Viscount, who would be waiting for them at a pub in central London. Goku asked for any servants who had experience with guns, and took two of them, arming them, and posting them in front of the outer office, letting them know that no one but Goku or Vegeta would be entering this office. The servants, Kami bless them, did not even blink, dispersing with alacrity, following orders without a second thought.
Goku waited until they were all gone, ensuring that the two men who were there to protect her were properly at their posts, before turning back to Bulma, grim, "Okay Bulma. I will go find him, and I will save your husband." Bulma nodded, but Goku was not done, raising an arm, pointing to the secret office, "You know what you promised, though."
Bulma frowned at him as adrenaline pumped through her veins, singing out at her to do something other than sit there, but she let out a loud sigh as her final protest as she walked back to the secret doorway, pulling on Pride and Prejudice. She waited until the door sprung open, then she turned back to him, her mouth set, her arms crossed, "Bring him back to me Goku. Please, just bring him back to me. And don't die on me either. Chi-Chi would never forgive me."
Goku nodded once, before striding over to her, pulling her in to him for one last hug, "Bulma, I promise to try and bring him home safe. I promise."
Bulma nodded, before resigning herself to her fate as she pulled back from him, and sat back in the chair in the secret office she felt she had just vacated, Vegeta's scent overwhelming her as she leant back. She heard the door click close as Goku left, Bulma's eyes and thoughts all went heavenward as she prayed to every deity she could think of, willing a safe return for both her husband and her brother. Or Kami help her--she would have her own vendetta against the Russian crown that she would have no problem following through on.
No one messed with her family and lived to tell the tale.
A/N: Not going to lie--when I first wrote this, I had Bulma so much more anguished and crying. But on second reading, I realized Bulma was wayyyy more likely to be pissed at Vegeta than sad. So hopefully this is believable.... Thanks for reading guys, and feel free, at all times, to poke and prod me to update. Getting those reminders from fanfiction.net let me know you guys want to know how this ends as much as I want to write it. Love to all!