debbiechan fanfiction

Always A First Time

by debbiechan

Disclaimer: I can make no claim to owning DBZ, yet I have a masochistic compulsion to tell this damn story.

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A/N: Dr. Briefs’ little black cat is called Tama in episode 118 of Dragonball. Thanks Orchideater!


Chapter Eighteen: Dr. Briefs’ Surprise

“Hello. That Vegeta’s trying to do the impossible.”--Dr. Briefs, episode 124

The Mrs. had said that Bulma probably wouldn’t want a big birthday bash this year, but Dr. Briefs wasn’t buying that idea. When did his daughter not want the opportunity to get dressed up?

And when did Bulma not love surprises?

Oh yes, yes, Dr. Briefs imagined that he could indeed pull off a surprise party this year. Tell the women that the immediate family was going out to spectacularly formal restaurant and then stun them with a Capsule Corporation soiree the likes of which had not been seen since Bulma’s Sweet Sixteen!

That particular birthday Dr. Briefs had surprised his daughter with the anti-matter tracking technology that helped her invent the dragon radar. Oh the scientist in him had had such fun brainstorming plans for that gift! But Dr. Briefs was getting older, was not as swift with the new discoveries, and this year he would have to buy a scientific patent from a rival company to please his hard-to-please daughter.

The good doctor snuffed out his cigarette in one of the twelve ceramic ashtrays crowding his office desk. Yes, yes, good idea all these ashtrays. The Mrs. didn’t like replacing the desktop after Dr. Briefs burned so many holes in the last one.

“Let’s see,” he mumbled, picking up his notepad. “Catering--check. Invitations to all Capsule Corporation employees--check. Bulma’s friends? Ah, need to talk to Yamcha about flying the invitations over to Roshi’s Island. Maybe the boy will be over his funk soon. Poor fellow. Can’t say that I blame him for being so devastated. Lost the best girlfriend in the world, he did.”

Dr. Briefs smiled. His little girl was all grown up now. She most certainly deserved a fancy party and a chance to wear something beautiful and slinky before that tummy of hers got too big for such things. Oh, and the fat feet! The Mrs. got such fat feet when she was carrying Bulma. Bulma would most definitely need dancing at the party.

Dr. Briefs pressed a button on his intercom. “Miaka dear? I neglected to put a dance band on the list. Will you--?”

“Never you fear,” sang a youthful, bell-like voice from the speakers. “I already took the liberty of hiring your daughter’s favorite swing band.”

“Excellent! Bulma loves instrumentals from that period. What would I do without you!”

“Dr. Briefs? Your two-o-clock is here a half-hour early. Shall I send him in? He seems a bit nervous. He’s poking around in the litterbox with a fountain pen.”

“Ah yes! That would be Wolfgang. Please send him in.”

The small young man who walked into the office was wearing Dr. Briefs’ cat atop his curly head. The cat seemed rather content.

“Is Capsule Corporation exploring cybergenetics now, Dr. Briefs?”

“Oh no. That’s your area of expertise, Dr. Schroedinger. Normal cat there. Her name’s Tama.”

“Ah!” The young doctor sat down in a swivel chair, and Tama leapt gracefully from his head onto Dr. Briefs’ desk. “I don’t recall seeing a litterbox in your waiting room last time I was here, Doctor.”

Tama was weaving through the maze of ashtrays towards Dr. Briefs. “Oh, the Mrs. insisted. Dear kitty had the run of CC and not enough litterboxes. Could say that Tama has issues with litterboxes the way I do with ashtrays!” Dr. Briefs chuckled, and the cat climbed onto her human companion’s shoulder.

“Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?” The younger doctor pulled a jewel-encrusted lighter from his shirt pocket and lit a cigarette. “You want my magnetic neuro-communicator sketches, and I want your graviton theory.”

Dr. Briefs frowned and scratched his black cat under the chin. “You know about the gravity chamber?”

“Oh yes.” Wolfgang Schroedinger exhaled a series of smoke o’s into the air. “Your spaceship communications with Son Goku were intercepted all over the world. Son Goku’s daily log was more popular with intelligence operatives than even rumored missives from Dr. Gero. I’m surprised that you’re surprised. Haven’t you been approached by any governments for the patent?”

“No, Capsule Corporation reports on a bi-annual basis to the United Nations. We have nothing to hide. My graviton theory hasn’t even been published yet, so I didn’t expect scholars such as you to know about it.”

“Well, I could ask you the same thing. My theoretical work in cybernetic prostheses is very hush hush, and goodness knows your daughter writes me all the time trying to pick my brains. Oh Wolfie this and Please Wolfie that! I’ve never succumbed to her indefatigable flirting.”

Dr. Briefs beamed at the mention of Bulma. “You must have told her something, Wolfgang. She wants your magnetic neuro-communicator.”

“And so does Doctor Gero.” Wolfgang inhaled a deep drag and let his words linger without additional comment.

Dr. Briefs reached for his pack on the desk and lit his own cigarette. “Are you saying that you know where Dr. Gero’s laboratory is located?”

“I said no such thing, Dr. Briefs. I have no doubt, however, that if I so much as wave one page from my notebook in the air, the Red Ribbon Army will materialize like maggots on a hot summer’s day. And you so want my sketches for your daughter’s birthday--am I right?”

Dr. Briefs chuckled softly. “Oh anything for my Bulma. She’s moving into the biological sciences now. Cybergenetics is her new fascination.”

Wolfgang Schroedinger affected a weary look. “My father’s company has been pioneering in the field for twenty years. And Gero made his first cyborgs twenty years before us. I would’ve expected Bulma Briefs to branch into something, I don’t know, neater and more abstract--like particle physics, wormhole navigation, that sort of thing. Especially after her adventures in space. Why the sudden interest in building sentient robots?”

“Beats me,” said Dr. Briefs. He got up, walked to the window and opened it. “Ah that’s better. Tama is used to the smoke but we could use a little fresh air.” He flicked his ashes over the unscreened ledge. “Now, Wolfgang, you’re a good and decent boy. I knew your father well, and you were very close to him. Don’t try to tell me that you’d sell your work to the very organization suspected in having a hand in Schroedinger Senior’s death?”

“Perhaps I would, Dr. Briefs. Perhaps I would welcome any involvement with the Red Ribbon Army as a means to discovering Dr. Gero’s secret location.”

“Ah yes. I see how it is. You’re young yet and have a taste for adventure. I will leave that sort of intrigue and traipsing about to you and Bulma. My daughter has been obsessed with locating Gero’s laboratory for some months now. Perhaps the two of you are collaborating your findings?”

“Don’t change the subject, Dr. Briefs. My offer is the patent for my latest android technology in exchange for your graviton theory.”

“Dear Wolfgang, I’d gladly share. But the theory is currently in, um, peculiar applications--”

A whooshing noise at the window interrupted him. Tama jumped off Dr. Briefs’ shoulder and scurried across the desktop, knocking a full ashtray onto Dr. Schroedinger’s lap. Both scientists looked up to see an exasperated Saiyan standing on the window ledge.

“Vegeta!” Dr. Briefs was so pleased to see him that he instantly forgot Dr. Schroedinger. “The women have been wondering when you would finally leave Capsule 3! Worried as heck about you training so hard. But you look fit as a fiddle, I see.”

Vegeta’s bare chest was heaving. His black training shorts were frayed on one leg with what appeared to be blast burn. The toes of his athletic shoes were split and the socks showed.

“IT’S NOT WORKING!” Vegeta roared. “The gravity setting is 400 and that’s as high as it will go!”

“The surge shields probably don’t allow for more,” Dr. Briefs said. “It’s a safety issue, Vegeta. Not for your Saiyan physique of course, but I doubt Capsule 3 can take any more.”

“Are we talking 400 pounds per square inch?” Dr. Schroedinger was leaning, alarmed, far against the backrest of his chair. His white knuckles clutched the seat, but the cigarette was still dangling from his mouth. “What’s a Saiyan physique?”

Vegeta shot a glance at the younger man then turned his attention back to Dr. Briefs. “You have to upgrade the machine.” His voice was quieter but still menacing. “I’m not progressing. I should be Super Saiyan by now!”

“I’ll see what I can do, Vegeta, but it’s going to have to wait until after Bulma’s birthday party.”

“Bulma’s…?” Vegeta crossed his arms. Dr. Briefs could tell that the prince’s social self-consciousness had set in.

“A birthday party,” Dr. Briefs continued. “A celebration to commemorate the day my baby girl came into the world. Lots of food. We do hope to see you there.” He raised his eyebrows at Vegeta and smiled a slight, thin-lipped smile. “You haven’t talked to Bulma recently, have you?”

Vegeta glared.

“I take it you haven’t.” Dr. Briefs hesitated a moment before he spoke again. “She’s got some exciting news for you, son. May take your mind of the training for a bit.”

“All I want to know, old man, is when you can upgrade the machine.”

“Bulma’s party is tomorrow, Vegeta. Busy busy ’til then!” He scooped up the black cat and re-positioned her on his shoulder. “When you talk to Bulma, please don’t let the cat out of the bag--oh, um, let’s see, you don’t always understand our metaphors. Please don’t tell her about the birthday party. It’s supposed to be a surprise.”

Vegeta’s frown deepened. He turned his gaze to the other man in the room, and Dr. Schroedinger visibly startled.

“Mr. Vegeta is it?” The younger scientist composed himself and managed to incline his head slightly in greeting. “Wolfgang A. Schroedinger the Third, Head of Research, Schroedinger Technologies. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

Vegeta only stared.

“I take it you’re not from these parts, are you, Mr. Vegeta?”

Vegeta turned his back to the man then leapt off the ledge and flew away.

“Oh very definitely not from these parts,” Dr. Schroedinger breathed softly.

Dr. Briefs laughed at that. “As I was saying earlier, Wolfgang, my graviton theory is in the midst of some usual test applications at the moment. That machine I designed is one whereby exceptionally strong extraterrestrials such as Goku and that young man you just saw can train under extreme pressure.”

“Are there more of his kind?” Dr. Schroedinger was still looking out the window in amazement.

“Not from what I understand. Home world destroyed, something like that. Rough life for the boy. Bulma says he was a space pirate of some sort. Ah well, he’s her project. Cataloguing data on extraterrestrials isn’t my thing.”

Dr. Briefs opened a desk drawer and started rifling through it. “Another reason you should collaborate with my daughter with your android inventions is that she’s looking to enlist Vegeta in a… take-over, if you will, of Dr. Gero’s operations.” Dr. Briefs pulled out a manila folder. “Ah here it is.”

“Take-over?”

Dr. Briefs handed the folder to Dr. Schroedinger. “Just some essential formulas I devised for the graviton. Haven’t written most of them down yet. You’re welcome to look at them, and then after Bulma’s party, I’ll walk you through the machinery on Capsule 3. Oh, you must come to the party! Bulma will be delighted to see you. And she’ll be even more delighted with the patent to your neuro-communicator.”

Dr. Schroedinger was greedily flipping through graph papers. “Amazing, Dr. Briefs.”

“Schroedinger Industries needs to come up with its own applications worthy of patent. Bulma owns the one to the gravity machine.”

Dr. Schroedinger stood up and brushed cigarette ashes off his lap. “Yes, yes. I look forward to meeting with Bulma and discussing her interests in Gero’s operations.”

“Then we’ll see you at the party?”

“Most definitely.” Dr. Schroedinger did not raise his eyes from the papers in his hand. “A quantum loop! Of course! This particle function matches the previous acceleration!”

“It’s dress-up, Wolfgang. Wear a tie.” Dr. Briefs buzzed his receptionist. “Miaka dear, make sure that Dr. Schroedinger gets an invitation to Bulma’s party on his way out.”

**

Vegeta needed rest and sleep. He could wait for the old man until after this “party.”

He flew to the family compound and deliberately avoided Bulma’s room. He walked into the bath of his own bedroom and turned on the shower. The burn on his right thigh stung, but it was healing quickly. Water washed away blood in his hair.

It had been a grueling session in Capsule 3. He had been losing speed and judgement. The training bots had zapped past his defenses again and again.

I should be Super Saiyan by now.

Kakkarot was training without the benefit of a gravity machine, somewhere in the sticks with his son and the Namek. Months were melting away, closer to the date the Boy from the Future had said the killer androids would appear.

“She’s got some exciting news for you, son. May take your mind of the training for a bit.”

Probably some nonsense having to do with the party. Humans and their tedious rituals. The social cadences of their everyday lives were numbing him.

A true warrior has nothing to do with peace.

Kakkarot had not achieved Super Saiyan under training conditions. He had reached that pinnacle in battle against Frieza.

My birthright. Vegeta clenched his fists.

Dodoria, who stayed on Frieza’s ship or took diplomatic missions at fueling bases, had grown fatter and weaker the less he saw real combat. He had cultivated court politics and had won Frieza’s favor, but his warrior senses had dimmed--how else could Vegeta have taken the pink blob so easily on Namek?

I have to leave this planet.

The decision was made by the time Vegeta lay down in his bed. He yanked off the bathtowel around his neck, rolled it into a ball and pitched it across the room.

The gravity machine was strengthening his body but not his mind. He needed a real opponent. Short of Kakkarot, there was no one here to challenge him. The prince of a warrior race was suffocating here, in luxuries and softness….

Bulma.

The name itself conjured an image of her wrapped around his waist. Blue strands of hair falling across her forehead and closed eyes. Mouth parted. He would take that image to space. He didn’t even need to see her today. Or ever again.

Females are a distraction.

His palm was already sweeping across his chest, in dull imitation of the woman’s caresses, when Vegeta realized that the image he was sensing was stronger than a mere memory.

She’s here.

He could sense her standing outside his bedroom door.

Vegeta leapt out of bed, grabbed a bathrobe (he didn’t want her to see his full arousal) and swung open the door.

“Great Kami, Vegeta!” The woman practically leapt out of her own skin. “I was just about to knock. Papa called to say you’d left Capsule 3.”

“And what of it?”

“What of it? You had the com screen and audio turned off. We didn’t know if you were injured in there or if you needed anything. You were in there for five days straight, Vegeta.”

Her hair was pulled back with shiny pins, and she was wearing those earrings, the ones like clear drops of water. It was a “done up” look. She had not been in the lab today.

“You’re going somewhere,” he said.

“I’ve got an appointment uptown. I just wanted to check on you before I left.” Her face looked flushed. There was something strange about it--a sort of agitation he hadn’t seen there before. “Look, I’m already running late, but I have to see you when I get back. I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me now.”

“You don’t understand. This is the sort of thing that requires a conversation.” She looked too excited about something. Nervous but… happy? “Just don’t disappear within the next few hours, ok?”

He was mildly curious now. “Does this have something to do with your birthday party?”

The surprise on her face made him remember that the old man had asked him not to tell.

“No! I told Mama I didn’t want one this year!” Now she looked distressed, and Vegeta had no clue as to why. “Who told you there’s going to be a birthday party? Who’s giving me a birthday party?”

Vegeta didn’t have the patience for this conversation.

“Ask your father,” he said and closed the door on her.

When he fell against the mattress and shut his own eyes, he could still see her wide blue eyes--the anticipation there. Beyond the agitation and even her offended look when he had cut her off, she had still looked happy somehow.

I don’t care about her news, whatever it is.

Usually he could kill random, useless images in his head before sleep overcame him, but exhaustion was interfering with his thought processes. He needed to sleep. He needed to escape this planet. He needed to surpass Kakkarot. To return to Earth only to destroy the androids, then Kakkarot.

Sparkling blue eyes. She is happy about something.

He needed to stop thinking.

And just before he lost himself to unconsciousness, an envy arose in him that surprised him--what sort of thing could be bringing her such delight?

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