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...there would have been less powering up episodes. Seriously, now as an adult, I find it so hard to sit through a three-episode stint where someone is powering up for the ultimate attack...Which usually failed.
A/N: I would seriously like to thank everyone who keeps reviewing this story, and to let you know that IÕm still alive and here! Just getting settled into a new life, and youÕd be surprised how fast time flies when youÕre settling into a new job, making new friends, trying to learn a new language...but never fear! I am still working on the story, and IÕve really excited for the bit we are getting into now. Love you all!
Lilpumpkingirl thanks for being the best beta out there!!
Chapter Twenty-Seven: IÕm All Alone... (Except for Me)
Bulma knew that today should be one of the happiest days of her life. She should be ecstatic. She should be beyond ecstatic! She should be jumping out of her skin, hugging everyone in sight, happy at what she had accomplished today dammit! She should be so happy that she should have slipped into one of her usual diatribes about how amazing she was to anyone who had ears to listen. Instead, here she was, hiding at the back of the Vegetasei property, holding onto a tree she had climbed as if it was the only thing keeping her afloat right now.
She knew she should not be out here, hiding from every one, and she should especially not be climbing any damn trees, what with her ankle only having just healed and all. The same doctor who had cleared her for the French Soiree had revealed to everyone two days ago that the cane was really unnecessary at this point, really taking away Bulma's excuse for not getting her own tea and crumpets...but that was besides the point right now. Even if the cane was unnecessary, her ankle was only newly healed, and climbing trees was not something that went hand in hand with keeping limbs unbroken.
But she had needed it, this absolute solitude, no matter what she had accomplished today. And she had accomplished a lot. She had not only succeeded in outfitting one of the Duke of Vegetasei's ships, the Saiyan Monarch (a slightly smaller version of the Saiyan Lady) with her larger prototype of the steam engine she had been working on over these last few weeks (months? She had lost all track of time recently it seemed, ever since Vegeta had swept into their lives), but she had succeeded in her first real test run.
The captain of the Saiyan Monarch had been less than pleased when Bulma had shown up on his ship with a note from the Duke of Vegetasei himself to let her do whatever she wanted with it. He had grown even less pleased when she had informed him that this would take at least a month (though she had finished way before schedule), and he had turned downright unpleasant when she had taken over the largest room below deck for the side-lever engine she had invented, turning it into an engine room.
She did not want to think about how he had reacted when he had come to see her one day and seen that the deck of the ship had been ripped up so that two large pipes now stuck out of the middle of his ship, so that the steam would have a place to vent--but it had not been something one could easily forgot, she found.
Bulma was instructing two of her workers to clear up all of the left over plank from where they had torn the deck up, when she had started to hear an aggravated howling from the sounds of the docks. Though everyone else on the ship stopped working to turn and look at the (presumably) dying person, Bulma kept staring at her checklist with a single-minded intensity that would have made her father proud. Truly, she did not have to turn around to know what she would find as the sounds of the approaching tempest got closer and closer to where she stood on the bow of the Saiyan Monarch.
As the wailing became sharper and clearer, the nearer it got, Bulma finally gave up on trying to work, instead trying to decide what the wailing reminded her of.
"MY DECK! MY SHIP! MY...MY SHIP! MY WOOD! MY BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL SHIP! IT'S RUINED!! RUINED I TELL YOU!!"
Well now that it was speaking, you would presume that it would sound closest to an aggravated human (for that was what it was) but, she had thought, you would presume wrong. Perhaps it was like that howler monkey she had once seen in the zoo at central park? Or maybe that unholy sound her mother only seemed to make whenever a mouse was present? Or the one Goku only made in front of her when needles were present?
"MISS BRIEFS!! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY SHIP?!"
Hmm, maybe it was even more like Goku when the needle indeed had to prick his skin. She had never heard anything as unnatural sounding as she had the first time they had needed to inoculate him--until this moment that was.
"MISS BRIEFS!! I DEMAND YOU ANSWER ME AT ONCE!!"
Bulma, knowing it would do her no good to continue to ignore him, calmly turned and faced the captain, certain to keep her face neutral as she nodded at him amiably. "Good afternoon, Captain. How are you today?"
The older man, whose head had been swiveling around, taking in everything that was going on around him (as the workers had all started moving the second they got over the fact that a grown man could make that noise), and the newest addition to his ship (two extremely large and heavy steel exhaust pipes, that Bulma had calculated to the nearest ounce so she knew how buoyant to make the ship), turned back to her, mouth gaping like a fish, his eyes large as he repeated, still at howler monkey levels, "MY SHIP?!"
Bulma rubbed her eyes before crossing her arms as she faced him. "Technically, it's my ship. Has been since the Duke himself sent you that note."
The Captain's face had gone a spectacular shade of red, and then, like the exhaust pipes that he was so worked up about, the man had simply exploded, blowing up at her as he realized just what she had done to his ship.
Bulma had only thanked heaven that he could not see that there was now a giant spin wheel behind the ship that would propel it forward, or she was sure the lecture she had received about proper ship maintenance and streamlining the hull and blah, blah, blah would have been a whole lot longer than it was.
The Captain's attitude was quite different today, when she had finally asked him to help her take the new engine on a test run. She had warned him that it could be a disaster, but even she, in her less observant state than usual, could not miss the way his eyes had lit up, glowing as he realized that she was telling him to try out her newest invention. It did not matter how old they were--you give a boy a new toy, and they would turn back into a...well...boy.
They had not gone far out in open ocean, and with Bulma splitting her time below deck, showing the men how to operate the engine, and above deck, instructing the captain on how to use it properly, she had had to be informed later by the stunned captain that it had been the fastest run of a ship the captain had ever seen in his years and years of being a crusty old sea captain. Well, granted, he had not called himself a crusty old sea captain, but with his long grizzly beard and hair, hulking stature, peg leg and eye patch (she could not make this up)--what else could he be? Well, currently, he was as happy as a clam (or as happy as Bulma should have been) but that was a (sea) horse of a different color.
When she had returned to the Thames dock, she had been besieged with questions and offers from other shipping companies who had seen (or heard) about her steam engine, and just what it could do for their ships and companies. She had informed them that she had already sent her design to the patent office, and that once it was approved, they would have to pay her a pretty penny to outfit their ships--until then, her model was exclusively owned by Capsule Corp, and the Vegetasei trust. Most of the men, seeing how fast the Saiyan Monarch had moved, were more than willing to pay whatever she was asking, trying to bribe her away from her own families companies. If that did not indicate success, she did not know what did....
Bulma's family had also been waiting for her as they had docked, and Goku had about crushed her to him, shouting to all of the docks that Bulma Briefs, his sister, was the smartest, most genius, and most inventoriest inventor ever! When she was not being crushed to Goku's chest, she had seen that her mom had been crying and her father was beaming at her, their pride as obvious as it always was. Bulma should have felt high on the fumes of success, buoyed by everyone's reaction--really, she could not have planned or predicted their reactions better herself. But one person had been conspicuously missing, and due to this, Bulma felt her spirits sinking as quickly as her model ship, the Heiress, had on the Thames.... It came down to one simple factor--how could she be happy when she realized that he was not there?
It had been a tumultuous couple of weeks since the night of the French Soiree when Vegeta had breezed back into her life (well breezed was too easy going of a word, maybe thundered?)...but she had been expecting him to be there today of all days. Hopefully to congratulate her on a job well done, or at the very least to see that the ship he had entrusted her with did not explode. But no--not a single sign of him on the ship, by the docks, he was not even lurking somewhere dark and nefarious like everyone else expected him to be.
And because of this, she had grown even more depressed.
Ever since the night of the soiree Vegeta had ignored her. Not even giving her the cold shoulder ignored her, but straight up pretended she did not exist ignored her. He had not tried to talk to her, or look at her, or, hell, even argue with her. It was as if the night of the French party those three weeks ago had been a fluke--like he had realized he was showing emotion to her, and had realized the only way not to show emotion around Bulma was to just not even be around Bulma. He avoided being home at all costs, and Bulma could honestly say she had not seen him for more than a few milliseconds at a time in the last few weeks. Every time she would catch a glimpse of him, it would be long enough to see him walking in the opposite direction, or into a room that would then click locked, or out the front or back door so that he was not even in the house with her.
She found herself growing more and more depressed (and angry at him, very, very irrationally angry), throwing herself into her work, as she often did when she found herself wanting to avoid her unpleasant emotions. She had surprised even herself with how much work she had accomplished in her current sorry state though. It was supposed to take her at least a month to finish up her prototype of the side-lever steam engine she had invented, even longer to start construction on it on the ship...but she had done it all in three weeks. It was funny what boundless energy and money could do for getting what you wanted.
She found crews that were willing to work long hours, and provide her with men to even work at night to help her with the strenuous construction on the ship (making sure they all got paid more than they usually did in a whole year helped). The money helped finding workers who were even willing to listen to a woman, though Goku made sure she was never alone with them. Goku, who seemed to notice some sort of change in her since Vegeta's return (hell, he had probably noticed when Vegeta had been conspicuously absent as well), had re-entered her life as her best friend and younger brother with a vengeance. He accompanied her to the stock yards, to the mills, to the balls, the musicales, to the shops, to Gnter's ice's, to the library--wherever she had to go, he was there, hardly letting her out of his sights when they were not at home. It was like he could tell something was wrong with her, but he could not tell what it was. So he had decided to solve it by never leaving her side.
But thanks to his presence, the workers never questioned her, never grumbled about working under a woman. Well, not after Goku gave one a black eye after he overheard him say something.... Bulma was not sure what he had said, as Goku refused to repeat it, but she was sure it was bad, the way his ears got so red whenever he thought about it. After that though, the workers had given her no gruff, and construction had gone off without a hitch. Due to the workers diligence in constructing the ship, her drive, and Goku's presence, she had found herself today, taking the mainly completed Saiyan Monarch for a simple test run that she was sure would change the way people traveled for years and years to come.
As she said, she should have been overjoyed the second they made it back to dock with nary a fire or a capsizing to show for it, happy that life had worked out for her, proof that her genius was beyond compare (as everyone who met her on the docks reminded her)...and yet she was not. She was more dejected than she had ever been in her life.
Not just because of Vegeta, though that certainly had something to do with it...well it all came back to him, did it not? Why did he have to sail into their lives and shake everything up as badly as he did?! It was bad enough he was taking her brother away from her, trying to turn him into something he was not, but now...now she could admit that he had come into her perfect little bubble and shaken that up so badly that nothing would ever be the same for her again.
Bulma was late.
And not late, as in 'oh, tea started ten minutes ago, I'm running late,' late.
No--she had missed her last three menses.
She had not her courses for close to three months now, and since she was supposed to get them a week after that first encounter at the Vegetasei ball, she had missed three courses. She could put it off to stress, she knew other women missed them when they were stressed--but Bulma had been more stressed because of work than this, and she had always had her menses on time. Four weeks between, ever since she had first reached that lovely stage of womanhood when she had been thirteen.
She had never, ever been late.
Bulma was too in control of everything around her, including her most base bodily functions, to allow her body to be late, or erratic with her period. But here she was, close to four months after having met Vegeta, and she was late--he just had to screw up another part of her life, did he not? Taking her brother, making her an emotional mess--it was not enough for someone as destructive or tainted as him. He had to seduce her, then tell her he basically hated her right before she found out she was pregnant, didn't he?
Her! Bulma Briefs! Unmarried, unwanted, and pregnant! Oh Kami...what the hell was she going to do?!
A strangled laugh escaped her lips, making her sound deranged, as she thought about how stupid and ugly she felt in that moment, pregnant and alone. It seemed that her genius did not extend to her personal life, or to matters of the heart, and that her beauty and money could do little for her now. She could only imagine the glee those who had hated and envied her their whole lives (for example, just about everyone she had ever met) would gain from knowing where she was now. An unmarried pregnant woman--that was just about the worst they could wish on her, was it not? Sitting where she was, Bulma twisted her skirt in her hands, fighting back tears, as she thought about what very limited options were available to her, as a pregnant, unmarried woman, not liking them very much.
Going to Vegeta was beyond out of the question--he had made his feelings clear to her these last few weeks, and she did not want to even imagine what his reaction would be like if she tried to tell him she was pregnant. He did not even seem aware of the fact that she had been a virgin, but he had not offered for her after he had taken her that first time. That did not inspire much confidence in her that he would offer for her when she had his child. He would probably put all of the blame on her somehow--not that she could even get to him to tell him. His avoidance tactics and disappearing acts made it beyond impossible for her to find the time to tell him she was pregnant, let alone tell him she missed him...because fool that she was, she missed him. Even if she desperately hated him and wanted to do nothing more than make him burn in a fiery pit in hell for what he had done to her. No man treated Bulma Briefs like he was!
But she was not going to dwell on her conflicting emotions for Vegeta, as she knew whether she despised or desired him, it did not matter. He was not an option. She needed to keep thinking, trying to find a path out of the predicament she had put herself into. She could go to her parents and ask for help, but that thought left her even bleaker than the original one of going to Vegeta had. Her parents had always given her the freedom and education she craved, but this...this was taking things too far. An unmarried pregnant daughter was a bigger stain on the family's honor and reputation (both in the business world and the private world) than if Bulma had murdered someone. At least if she had murdered someone, they could pretend she was crazy.
Even her easygoing parents were not going to take the news of Bulma's pregnancy in stride, and she could only imagine their reactions. Her mother would be disappointed that her dreams of snagging her daughter a rich husband were gone, right out the window, while her father...Bulma had only ever seen her father mad one time in her life--and it was not something she ever wanted repeated. The anger had not even been directed at her, but at a teenaged boy who had taken to calling her and Goku not-so-nice names when they had been younger, and it had been spectacular in that it had made her blood run cold. The youth had been forced to run, crying for his parents, who had only apologized at their son's incredibly bad manners. A cross Dr. Briefs was not someone you tried to argue with. She could not imagine what she would do if that anger was directed at her, especially as she had always been daddy's little girl.
Well, no longer a little girl, it seemed.
Her hand strayed to her still flat abdomen, her eyes growing large as she realized what she was thinking. Her body was currently housing not only herself, but also some unknown, little, defenseless baby that she was going to be bringing into the world. She was no longer responsible for just herself, but for the life that was going to be growing inside of her. She was going to be a mother. She was going to have a child. A baby. Her and Vegeta's baby.
It did not matter if she were ready for it, or if her life was in order, it seemed, as her body was already playing incubator to a new life...one she had created with Vegeta. Something about that thought gave her an odd sense of complacency as she realized the babe she was growing would always be her little part of Vegeta, that she would have forever. Even if she hated the man himself, she could not hate what she created with him. The thought made the ache in her heart lessen at the same time it made the bottom of her stomach drop out. She was going to be a mother. A mother to a child...that was not going to grow up knowing its own father's love....
That thought burst those small hopeful feelings she was allowing herself to feel, like a balloon being popped, reminding Bulma that not only was she alone, broken-hearted, unwanted--but she was pregnant.
Before she could stop herself, she burst into big, gut wracking tears, feeling more hopeless than she could ever remember feeling before. Bulma could not name a time when she felt more alone, more desperate, or more confused about what she was going to do. She could always think of plan--that was what she did. She was a thinker, a genius...but now, she saw no way out of this.
Oh Kami--what was she going to do?
She wondered, fatalistically, how long she had before she would begin to show, before she would have to admit the truth, even as the tears ran down her face, blurring her vision. She would have to tell her family in a couple of months when she began to show--was there any way she would be back in America by then? If she were, at least it would be easier to hide her pregnancy from everyone, perhaps go off for a visit to one of the families other properties where she could give birth in peace and quiet...but then what? Hide her own child from her family for the rest of their lives? Have someone else raise her...their child? No way in hell!
What hurt the most, what ached the most, was how very desperately alone Bulma felt in that moment as she tried to think about her future. Who would stand by her side now?
She had no one.
She was alone.
Once she gave birth, there was no way any other man would ever want her, and it was just going to be her and this child for the rest of her life. That started another great sobbing gush of tears that streamed down Bulma's face, and she buried her face in her hands, wanting to do nothing more than to be anywhere but here. She wanted to rewind the clock, going back to that time of happiness, before Vegeta had appeared and ruined her life. Though the thought of never meeting him also had desperation clawing at her, she realized, and that was not a good thing.
"Bulma? Bulma, where are you?"
Bulma's head shot up, and she felt her spirits sink as she recognized the voice, that of her brother, as he walked below her, looking for her. Could he not leave her alone?! Even when she was at home?! Damn! She had thought she would have a few hours to sulk up here by herself before she had to face her family at supper! But her damn infernal brother--he could not even let her sulk in peace, could he?!
Her brother--oh, her poor, baby brother. Bulma's heart dropped even further, wondering what Goku would think of this whole situation, wondering what would happen to that perpetual smile as she told him about her mistake. She could not imagine his reaction--he, who had always been one of her staunchest supporters, and greatest defenders--what would he say to those who tried to taunt her for being pregnant?
She was not ready for that yet--she was not yet ready to see his face drop, or to see disappointment in his eyes, and so she tried to hold herself in, to stop even breathing as he looked for her below. Her brother had always had keen hearing, and she knew that he was a great tracker--but the last thing she currently wanted was to be found by him....
Still, she had to breathe, and so she let out a soft, low breath trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. She was unable to stop the hiccup that followed it, unfortunately, and even that small sound had Goku's head swiveling towards her, pinning her in his sights as he found her, hidden in the tree. His face split into its usual wide grin, which had her heart sinking even further. "There you are! We need to celebrate how smart you are after the success of your engine-steam!"
He moved so fast that she only had time to scoot over on the branch she was sitting on before he was next to her. Goku had always had the climbing skills of a monkey, and she knew it would be futile to try and run or hide from him. As he made it to the thick branch she currently inhabited, he turned to face her, letting go of the trunk he had just shimmied up, giving her another wide grin. But as he saw her, the smile vanished, concern and confusion etched on his face as he saw the tears she could not hide from him.
"Hey--what's this? Are you crying? What's the matter?"
Bulma tried to hold herself together, tried to hold herself erect, alone like she was used to--but she was too weak, too exhausted, too emotional, and before she knew it, she was leaning into his shoulder, sobbing her heart out unable to answer his question as she was having trouble breathing.
Goku, who was usually awkward around crying women, immediately wrapped his arms around her, holding her closer to him, patting her back, and whispering, "Shhh, whatever it is, it will be all right," over and over, comforting her with his general warmth and trite platitudes.
Bulma held herself to him, crying, trying not to remember the last time she had been in a man's arms, and wishing that it was Vegeta who was holding her to him, not her brother. Goku was too bulky, his hands too broad, his smell completely different than that of the one she craved.... But still, it felt good just to have someone hold her for now, their arms wrapped around her, comforting her. Even if it was the completely wrong person.
When she could finally control herself better, when she could stop the heaving sobs long enough to take some calming breaths, Bulma pulled back, wiping her tears with the hanky he had drawn from his pocket, giving her nose a much needed and good blow. When she thoughtlessly handed it back, it almost made her start crying again when Goku took it back without a word, without a thought, folding it and tucking it away.
She gave a sob, but stopped the tears, frowning at her brother at his unconsciously kind gesture. "Why do you have to be so nice?!"
Goku cocked his head, giving her a small smile at the question, "How can I not be so nice? Life has been good to me."
Bulma frowned, feeling confrontational, and irked at Goku's easygoing smile. She knew she had not told him, but could he not tell that Bulma's life was in shambles--and he was just sitting here, smiling, as if nothing was different?! With her anger in hand, Bulma could not stop the cutting way she spoke to him. "Oh yeah--life has been fantastic to you. Just look at what has happened! Your parents and brother died in a ship crash--"
Goku interrupted, brushing some hair out of her face, "Bringing me to my Grandpa Gohan, who taught me how to be loving, caring person, while still teaching me to fight...."
Bulma barreled on, angrily shaking her head so her hair fell back to where it was originally, "Who then died in some freak accident, leaving you alone for a year!"
Goku was not deterred. "Which introduced me to you and your family--where I get the pleasure of calling you my sister every day." He did not even say that sarcastically, which only made her angrier!
Bulma frowned in the face of his unwavering optimism, shaking her finger at him, "Only to have some Duke swoop into your life, threatening to take you from us forever, since you are his blood, apparently! Where's the happiness in that, Goku?!"
Goku smiled at her, taking the hand she was shaking at him, holding it in his larger one as they sat on the tree. "Bulma, I don't know about that one yet, but everything happens for a reason. If Kami, or whoever, wanted me to be in England so I could meet Ch...people, then I'm sure it will all work out."
Bulma tried to tug her hand from Goku, but he just tightened his grasp on her hand, giving her an earnest look. "Now do you want to stop trying to change the subject and tell me why you're up here, all by yourself, crying? When we should be celebrating how amazing you are?"
A guttural noise escaped her lips at that point, and Bulma had to fight back the urge to cry, instead turning away from him to look back over the extensive Vegetasei gardens. "But I'm not. I'm not amazing."
Goku's voice was cajoling when he spoke next, "Sure you are! You've just invented something that will change the face of travel forever! You should be touting how smart you are, not hiding!"
Bulma turned back to him, and Goku had to fight to keep the smile on his face as he saw the depth of his sister's sadness shining out at him in those azure depths he knew so well. A sadness that only seemed to have amplified since Vegeta had returned the night of the French Party (when he had been so sure that Bulma would have been happy to see Vegeta!). She had been unhappy before that as well, and so Goku had hardly left her side, trying to get that sadness that shone from her blue depths that took the breath from him. Goku did not like to see anyone he cared for to feel so unhappy, and he had made it his mission these past few weeks to make sure Bulma would go back to her old, happy self.
A lot of people took her hard outer shell for granted, thinking that Bulma could handle it all, but Goku knew that she was only human, and needed people to prop her up, even if she did not like to admit it. So because of this, he had made it one of his life's missions to make sure Bulma would always know she could depend on him, that he could always make her smile, no matter how bad things got. Especially in light of his conversation with his father not so long ago, when he had promised to always protect his sister from the hurt of others.
It seemed he was failing, as he slung an arm around her, pulling her so she was resting on his shoulder, even though he could tell she was trying to put distance between them. Well, she could not get rid of him that easily, and he was not leaving here until she clued him in on what was making her so un-Bulma-like. "Bulma, tell me what's wrong. Tell me how I can help. I can't stand seeing you like this. You know I would do anything for you. You're my sister and I love you."
Bulma leaned into Goku's shoulder, almost wishing she could just disappear inside of his smooth, easy confidence for a while, but knowing that she would eventually have to surface, back to her current position of being unwed and pregnant. And she could no longer distract Goku with anger or absurdity--he was being as tenacious and persistent as he ever was, and she had to tell him. She had to tell everyone eventually, did she not? Who better to start with then her brother? If she told Goku, he could help her hide her condition, or help her figure out a plan. Bulma desperately felt the need to share her burden with someone then, and she knew that Goku would be her best option. Her brother might be mad, or angry with her, but Goku cared for her, and would not judge her too harshly...she hoped.
"Goku...I...I...oh Kami." Bulma stopped, closing her eyes, taking a deep breath before speaking again, "You have to promise you won't be mad at me?"
Goku pulled her back a little, staring down at her, searching her face. He gave her a smile though, trying to make her understand. "Bulma I could never be mad at you. We've been through so much together, haven't we?"
Bulma gave him a weak smile, but sighed, sitting up straight as she pushed her hair out of her face. She could not stop the way her stomach was rollicking, no matter how kind (and true) Goku's words were. "I guess...but just promise."
Goku sighed, putting his hands up in defeat. "Okay, okay. I promise."
Bulma took a deep breath, ignoring the hiccup that escaped when she let it go, twisting her hands back in the fold of her gown as she looked down at the creases she was creating, probably irreparably hurting the gown. "Okay." She took another deep breath, as if that would help her say what she had to say, before she forced her spine to straighten, and to look Goku square in the eyes as she said, "Goku I'm pregnant."
As soon as the words left her mouth, Bulma felt an odd sense of detachment from herself, from the words themselves--then a rushing sense of acceptance. It was no longer a niggling fear in the back of her mind, or a concern she constantly had to talk herself out of. It was the truth, she was more certain of this than she ever had been of anything else in her life, whether or not she had a doctor's confirmation of her condition. Bulma was going to be having a baby, and she was going to be a mother to some defenseless little child. She was pregnant.
A weight lifted from her shoulders, the fear of telling someone gone as soon as the words were out, and she closed her eyes for a brief second after she finished saying them to revel in the sense of how it was all going to be all right. She had gotten over the hard part--had she not? Telling someone, accepting the truth? Now she could dedicate herself to figuring out a solution to her problem. When she opened her eyes again, she was mollified to see that Goku's first reaction to her bombshell was pure shock. His mouth was wide open, his eyes bulging as he looked unseeingly over the grounds, and if she was not mistaken, he had had to catch himself from falling out of the tree as both of his hands were now grasping the branch they were sitting on.
Goku turned back towards her, his mouth slowly closing, though his eyes still seemed unable to go any less bulging then they currently were. "You're...you're going to be a mother?!"
Bulma nodded, still nervous about what was going to come after shock with Goku. Whatever she had been expecting though, she was not expecting him to catch her to his chest, laughing, "Why Bulma! That's great! You're going to be the world's best mom! Look at how well you raised me!"
Bulma's mouth was the one that slacked open this time, and she pulled back, pushing away from his tight hug, looking at him incredulous as she scrambled away from him. "So...so you're not mad?"
Goku only snaked his hand around hers, intertwining their fingers as he gave the hand a squeeze. "Why on Earth would I be mad? Is Vegeta mad?"
Bulma was thrown off by her brother's easy way of accepting this, his words throwing her into a whole other state of confusion. "Why would Vegeta...wait." Realization dawned on her then and she could not keep the shriek out of her voice when she spoke next, "You knew?!"
Goku gave her hand another squeeze, giving her a tilt of his head, and a smile. "I'm not as blind as everyone thinks Bulma, you know that. I see the way he watches you, the way you act around him." Goku frowned then, his fingers unconsciously wrapping around hers, harder, when he looked back to the house, "Wait, did Vegeta not react well when you told him? Is that why you're up here?"
Bulma's lower lip caught, and the weight she had felt lifting at telling Goku sunk right back to her chest, pressing there, hard, right against her ribcage. Bulma looked away from him, her voice low when she answered him. "No... I did not even tell him, Goku. And I'm not going to."
There was a silence, and she could almost feel Goku's eyes boring into her downturned head. His voice was low when he spoke next, catching her attention. "Did something happen? I mean, I know you were fighting the night of the French party...." His words trailed off, willing Bulma to fill in the blanks.
Bulma just shrugged, refusing to look at him, wishing she were not on a tree, so she could pace away, but she was not, so she could not. She was almost proud of herself, the even way she spoke as she answered him. "Vegeta has made it very clear to me that whatever we might have had, it's over. He has no feelings for me...Goku, where are you going?"
Goku had let go of her hand, and was already on his way to climbing back down the tree, and he glared up at her from where he was turned, facing her. She blinked, backing away from the familiar fiery rage she saw there--she had just never seen it on Goku's face before that moment. It was a look that was pure Vegeta--that pure anger, pure hatred. "You're my sister, Bulma, and I'm going to go teach that bastard a lesson he needs to learn, good and well. No one disrespects my big sister like that! No one's title gives them the right to treat anyone as less than a human being!" With that, he let go of the branch they had been sitting on, and let himself climb down the rest of the tree.
Bulma scrambled after him before he even reached ground, her sore ankle protesting as she reached land, trying to keep up with him. Damn her brother for being in such spectacular shape! "No! Goku! Wait!"
Goku, who had a good head start on her, froze, his fists clenched at his side, his face set in grim determination as he turned back to look at her. "Bulma, I have to go defend your honor. That man cannot treat you like this, or make you feel like he has the right to do so! No one should make you feel like this! He needs to see what he is doing is wrong!"
Bulma walked closer, her palms up in an appeasing gesture, her voice stern when she spoke. "Goku--no. I don't want that! I don't want him to know! I can't have you telling him, or cluing him into the fact that I'm...you know." Bulma shiftily looked around them, even though she knew they were still far enough from the mansion that they were not likely to be overheard. But Vegeta was a spy, and she would not be surprised to learn that he had ears everywhere.
Goku frowned, but he stopped, stepping closer to her, his voice lowering as well as he picked up on her nervousness of being overheard. "You don't want him to know? At all?"
Bulma shook her head, emphatic in her desire for Vegeta not to know. "No. I just want to make it back to America before I show, and to find a life there. I don't want him to even have a clue that he did something like this to me--what if he tries to take the child away from me?" It was a fear Bulma had had when she had realized that there was no way in hell that Vegeta was going to offer for her. What if he rejected her, but kept the child--his illegitimate heir? He would have the right--the law would give a Duke a child over the child's own mother...and she knew she did not want that. This was her child dammit. She would give it the love Vegeta never could or would. "This is my child, Goku, and I want to give it a good life. A life it won't find here as the bastard son of some Duke who won't truly ever care for it."
Goku's frown deepened, but he looked down, taking some deep breaths, forcing himself to breathe, to calm down. He clenched and unclenched his fists, over and over again, and Bulma knew he was trying to tamp down the fight reaction he always had (Goku would never flight from a problem, that was for sure). She could hear him muttering under his breath, but she had no clue what he was saying, and Bulma felt herself grow uneasy at Goku's uncharacteristic frozenness. She started to creep towards him, softly saying his name, wondering if he had finally snapped from always being so happy. When Goku's head shot back up, she started, stopping a few feet from him. When she saw the gleam in his eyes as he looked back at her, smiling, she simultaneously felt thrilled and frightened. She knew that look. She knew what it meant--it meant that Goku had an idea.
"I'm coming with you then."
Bulma felt her breath hitch at his declaration though she would love to do nothing more than to take him up on his offer. To have Goku at her side--it would make everything easier. But this was not his mess to clean up, it was hers, and so she reached for his shoulder, shaking it as if she could shake some sense back into him. "You can't do that Goku, you can't just leave England and come back with me. You're a viscount now!"
Goku shook her hand from his shoulder, smiling at her as he caught both of her hands with his own, giving them a reassuring squeeze as he spoke, "I can be a viscount from America. Because I'm going with you."
Bulma sighed, shaking her head smiling sadly as she calmly told him, "Goku, you coming with me won't change much of anything. I will still be reviled as an unwed pregnant woman, and I will still have a child who is a bastard."
Goku gave her hands another squeeze as he lowered his head so their eyes were even as he gave her another one of those broad grins, "Not if you're married they won't."
Bulma's whole body froze at that, trying to piece together what he was saying. When it hit her, what he was offering her, what he was implying her breath stopped and the next time she spoke it was hardly a whisper, "...What?"
Goku moved closer to her, dropping one of her hands, and instead cradling the left one in both of his hands as he rubbed his thumb along the back of her left ring finger. "Bulma, you and I both know that unmarried women who have babies will have no opportunities open to them. Your brains and dad's money will do you no good, and no matter how hard mom and dad try to protect you, you will be leaving yourself, and this child, open to the harsh gossip of everyone you have ever met. Imagine how much scrutiny you are always under, and times it by a hundred. Do you really want to leave your child open to that kind of life?"
Bulma's eyes met his at that moment, though she did not see him--she saw her childhood, before he had come. She saw lonely she had been, and how alone she would always feel, no matter if the other children included her or not (they often did not). Could she really condemn her unborn child to that kind of existence? "No...I can't do that to a child, Goku."
Goku's smile softened as he saw the pain of her childhood in her eyes, heard the way her voice hitched as she answered him. His own voice was soft enough to match hers when he answered her. "So let me help you, like you have always helped me Bulma. Marry me, and I will raise this child as my own. No one will ever have to know that I'm not the father, and they won't be able to hurt you or the child in that way. As far as I'm concerned, and as far as anyone else will be concerned, you and I will be married, and I will be the father of that child."
Bulma did not know if she was horrified or intrigued by his offer, though she could see how much easier life would be if she were married when she had this child. She would incur some gossip if they knew that she was only married after having given birth, but if she returned to America already married and pregnant, they would never have to know the exact date of the wedding. But this was madness! This was Goku who was asking her to marry him, not some nameless, faceless man. Could she really do this to him? Shackle him to a life of being her husband, a father to a child he had no part of making? "But...but...you're my brother. I could never be a real wife to you Goku, I could never give you the happiness you deserve from a real woman who loves you like that."
Goku slashed his hand as if batting her objections away. His face was set when he spoke, his voice sure, "I love you, and you love me. We marry each other because we respect and care for each other, Bulma. That's a whole lot more than I can ask for from these daughters of peers that I am now expected to marry. With you, we know each other. I'm not expecting you to become the mother of my children, or a real wife to me. But if you marry me, we can go back to being best friends, go back to America, back to how things were before they were complicated by the arrival of some stuffy Duke. Only this time we have a child that we can teach how to play pranks, and climb trees, and fight, and invent stuff...Bulma, we would have the best child of all time. You just have to let me help you. Let me pay you back for all that you've done for me over the years."
Maybe it was her grief at finding out she was pregnant, or her happiness at realizing she would not have to do this herself, would not have to be alone, but Bulma found herself slowly nodding, slowly warming to the idea, especially as he spoke so warmly, painted such a pretty picture of the future they would have together. He was surprisingly persuasive, and it made all those cold feelings Bulma was feeling before she had told Goku go away. She could see the life they would have together, and while it would not be as explosively passionate as what she had had with Vegeta, it would be nice. It would be simple. It would be happy.
Bulma's voice was almost optimistic when she spoke next, "We can go back to how things were?"
Goku nodded, giving her a smile as he started to walk back towards the mansion, her hand still clutched in his. "Yes. We can pretend England never happened."
Bulma's eyes met his as they walked, and she felt the burden on her shoulders lighten, almost as if she could see it resting on his shoulders as well now. "Okay. But...but I need to warn you now. I'm already over three months pregnant Goku."
Goku gave a nod, turning to face her as they stopped near the house. "That's okay. No one in America will ever have to know when we got married Bulma. Like I said, as far as I'm concerned, this is my child now. You should know as well as I do that blood does not mean family."
Bulma felt the burn at the back of her eyes that usually heralded tears, but she knew these were different. These were not the desperate sobs she had had earlier today, but happy ones. Maybe it would all work out. Maybe it could all work out. She gave him a watery smile. "You're right Goku."
He gave her another smile before he pulled her into a tight hug. "Good, Bulma. Now go get a bag. We have to do this quickly, before anyone can figure out that we're gone. I have a feeling both the Duke and the dowager would not be happy with us marrying, and the last thing we need is their interference."
Bulma disagreed with the Duke caring if they married, except to protect his stupid bloodline, but Bulma also knew that the dowager would not react kindly to such news that the Viscount was marrying the un-titled American. And that was putting it mildly. Full on catastrophic melt down might be a better way to put it. She had no compunctions about how the dowager felt about it...and she could just see that bitch coming for Bulma's head. Bulma gulped as she imagined losing her head to the Valkyrie dowager (why a Valkyrie? Not a clue) and she nodded, "You're right."
He gave her hands one last squeeze before he dropped them. "Okay. Meet me in the stables in thirty minutes, I'm going to go rent a carriage. We leave for Scotland now. We can be married in Gretna Green by the morning, on a ship back to America by the end of the week."
Back on a ship to America by the end of the week? Even with the hellish boat trip ahead of her, her spirits lifted at that thought. She could be home, be back where things were normal? Back to where life was okay? Her smile must have reassured Goku because he turned, going to leave, but Bulma called him, stopping him, needing to say something. "Goku."
He turned back, that odd light of determination still there in his eyes, reassuring her that he was not running from her, not going to go tell her parents about her predicament. "Yeah Bulma?"
She smiled at him, placing her hands on her still flat abdomen unconsciously. Her voice shone with her appreciation of him, and with her love for her brother as she spoke, "Thank you. You're going to be a great father."
He laughed, before walking back up to her, grabbing her in a bear hug and twirling in a circle with her until she too let out a laugh. When he placed her back on the ground, he dropped a kiss on the top of her head, before pulling away, smiling at her. "We're going to be a great family."
And with that he walked away, leaving her for a few moments to blink after him, wondering if he knew how much of a hero he was being to her right now. Could he have any clue how much this all meant to her? How this was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for her? Bulma smiled after him, her hand still on her belly, before she took a deep breath, and entered the house, knowing that if they were leaving for America from Scotland she had a lot of packing to do.
Not clothes, mind you. Those could be bought anywhere. No--she needed to pack her plans and blueprints of a steam engine up. They might not be able to save her on this upcoming journey, but she swore to change the way people traveled, and by Kami, she was going to stick with that.
Nappa was working in the stables, brushing Vegeta's horse, frowning at nothing in particular as he thought about nothing in particular, when he heard a flurry of activity that attracted his attention near the stable doors. The sound of someone rushing into the stables, slamming open and closed doors of stalls, looking for someone, and a loud sigh of relief when whoever the person was looking for was found all made him stop mindless brushing and to take notice.
He peeked over the stable wall he was currently sitting behind, frowning as he saw the bald midget and the Viscount standing there, talking, and looking extremely serious. Nappa moved closer to where they stood, observing them both, his mouth set in a line of grim determination on discovering what the American's were up to. Something about seeing them both so serious caught his attention. He never saw them serious, not even when they sparred with each other, him or the Duke. They both were easy to smile...the fact that they both looked so intense alerted him that something was amiss.
Kakarrot's face was set in determination, his voice as serious as Nappa had ever heard it as Kakarrot said, "Krillin, I need your help."
Krillin nodded at him, his own face set. "Sure Goku, anything." Krillin frowned before pulling his face straight again, unable to mask the worry in his voice as he asked, "Is everything all right?"
Kakarrot fidgeted, before he began pacing, his hands twisting in knots as he started to talk. "It's something...I need you to go rent me a carriage that will take me to Gretna Green, tonight."
Nappa was glad that he was standing over some hay, as the brush he had just been holding had just dropped from his hands at Kakarrot's command, his mouth wide open at the Viscount's words.
"Scotland?! What the hell are you going to Scotland for?"
Nappa was glad to realize that it was not his voice that had asked that question, though he would surely have liked to. In fact, it was taking everything in him to not expose his hiding spot and to go slap the Viscount across the face for talking so much crazy.
"Bulma and I are getting married."
Nappa would have dropped the brush he had already dropped all over again, but he had to settle for his eyes bugging out, his mouth getting even wider at that. Forget slapping some sense into the Viscount. He would have to beat it into him if Kakarrot seriously thought he could marry the American heiress. Nappa was well aware of the Duke's own claims on the woman (how could he not be when he had been with the Duke since he had been only a child?), and he knew that this was not something Vegeta was going to accept with quiet complacency.
Nappa was saved from speaking (or being seen) again, though, when Krillin once again burst out exactly what Nappa was thinking, "YOU'RE GETTING MARRIED?!"
Kakarrot shushed him, looking around, causing Nappa to duck back behind the low wall of the stall, only able to listen to the American's conversation. He could not risk being seen--he needed to make sure he got all the information to Vegeta as he knew that Kakarrot was stronger than him. If Nappa tried to stop them by himself it was likely that he would end up bound and gagged somewhere so that the Duke could not be warned. Kakarrot's voice was lower when he spoke next, "Krillin, I need you to keep this quiet. We need to leave before...well, before we get stopped. We're going to get married, and then we're going to find a way back to America. We're leaving as soon as you get back. I need you to rent me a carriage--can you do that for me?"
Krillin's voice was loud and clear as he agreed. "Of course Goku." There was a hesitation before he heard Krillin clap Kakarrot's back. "Never thought that you would get married before me, Goku....Congratulations?"
Kakarrot let out a long sigh, before he clapped Krillin's back as well. "Yeah, thanks Krillin. I need one other favor from you though."
Nappa felt his mouth go dry, knowing he needed to warn Vegeta that the Viscount was planning on running away. Oh, and getting married to the Duke's gel. He could only imagine what the Duke's reaction was going to be, and Nappa did not relish the idea of being the bearer of bad news. Vegeta was volatile to begin with, but especially of late he had been downright openly hostile to everyone and anyone around him. This sure as hell was not going to help his already mercurial mood swings of late.
Nappa knew time was of the essence here, but he also knew he could not leave until Krillin and Goku did without alerting them to his presence, so he only kept listening, wondering what other bombshell's the Viscount was going to drop would be. "Okay, okay. What's the other favor you need?"
"I need you to wait a few hours, then I need you tell my parents where we went. I don't want them to know until we are well out of the city, so they can't stop us."
A hesitation, then Kakarrot spoke again, "Oh, and Krillin....Can you tell Chi-Chi in the kitchens for me? I don't want her to find out from anyone else...and tell her I will miss her cooking...and that I'm sorry things were not different." Well that was an odd bit of news, but in comparison to the other bombshells Nappa had overheard, it was not one he was worried about.
"Of course man. I'll leave now...have a safe journey."
There was a clapping sound, one that Nappa took for a man-hug, and he sighed when he heard the footsteps walk away. He waited a few more minutes than stood, heading towards the war offices, hoping that Vegeta would be there. Every minute he would have to spend trying to find the Duke would be wasted in what he was sure was going to be a spectacular chase up to Gretna Green this evening.
A/N: So many of you guessed about BulmaÕs condition months ago (or chapters ago, I should say), but consider the need to have some suspense that I waited until the most inopportune time for Bulma to find out about it herself. Her and Goku, running up to Gretna Green together?! And this chapter is extra long, because I did not want you guys to think that Vegeta would be left completely out of the loop of this newest development. I want you to still have hope that he will know about what is going on...question is, will he be fast enough to stop them?
Dun, dun, duhhhhh!
Okay, IÕm going to go back to writing now (and stop writing stupid authorÕs notes)--let me know what you thought as usual!!