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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Chapter Two: Oasis

“Yamcha was fickle, so my mother got mad at him, and they broke up."--Mirai Trunks to Son Goku, episode 122


Returning to the desert was rougher than Yamcha expected. He had hoped that roving the dunes again on cool, breezy nights would be like meeting an old friend after many years. But the nights were long and dull, and prickly pears didn’t taste as sweet and juicy as he remembered.

Yamcha lay on his back in the rosy light of early dawn and watched the sky for any sign of condors. Bird flight paths led to water. Of course, Yamcha could scan for an oasis himself; since leaving the desert bandit life, Yamcha had learned to fly higher than any condor. But what else was there to occupy a mind that felt as blank as the sky? He’d brought capsules loaded with supplies, so there was no need to ambush travelers, scare them with a few fancy swishes of the old sword, and take their stuff.

There! Two huge wings silhouetted against the new sunlight. Yamcha’s spirits followed the condor’s lazy, drifting flight and finally sank with the great bird as it disappeared behind the horizon.

“Puar, I’m fucking bored out of my gourd.”

Next to Yamcha’s shoulder on the sandy blanket stirred a bluish-gray lump with a cat’s tail. It mewed a few noises in sleepy protest.

“Puar, I can’t do this anymore. There’s no adventure here. There’s… nothing.”

The little shape-shifter was asleep again. Unlike Yamcha, Puar had easily inverted the sleep-during-night routine of the modern world. In an hour or so, it would be too hot to even walk around, let alone train, but Yamcha was miserable about the idea of going to sleep in the day. Last night, under the desert moon, he had actually quit training and taken an unplanned four-hour nap. He hadn’t been sleepy, really, just uninspired to do anything else. Back in West City, he’d been a night prowler alright--only his adventures had taken place during double-headers in garishly lit baseball stadiums or under blinking neon beer ads in nightclubs.

Training in the desert darkness was getting him nowhere. Why had he come out here again?

Roshi had always advocated solitary wandering the world as the ultimate training for any marital artist. Something about getting in touch with your true self and fighting your inner demons and whatnot.

Yamcha didn’t think he had any inner demons. He had no antagonisms with anyone, none with himself, and he only liked to fight to see what his body could do. It was an athlete’s quest, one he had found well-satisfied in a baseball career. Maybe the detachment and loneliness of martial arts wasn’t really Yamcha’s thing. He was a team-player, and he’d come to enjoy the cheers and appreciation of an audience. And as for his “true self,” hadn’t he found that only when his shy outsider psyche had come into contact with other people? Goku had led him to Roshi, to West City, to friends and fans and to…

Yamcha shut his eyes and still saw the brightness of the desert sun through his eyelids. There was no denying it here. He missed Bulma.

And for the first time that he’d ever been away from West City, he wondered if she missed him.

Bulma was such an independent girl. Yamcha had lived off and on at Capsule Corporation for almost ten years now, but he had never truly felt like a touchstone in her life. Hell, half the time he wasn’t even sure he was her boyfriend. During the baseball off-season, whenever he really wanted to spend time with her, she was always getting mad at him for some reason or ignoring him for one of her “genius is burning” bouts of inventing.

Did she ever wake up alone and reach for him?

Yamcha pictured her sprawled asleep, covers kicked off. The woman sure took up a lot of space for such a tiny person. Some nights, when Yamcha was relegated to the narrowest far end of her bed, he would prop himself on one elbow and try to finagle his pillow back from her mess of blue hair. He never managed the deed (he was so afraid to wake her), but it became a game of sorts, petting her hair away, nudging her nude shoulder ever so softly. No one ever won a game against Bulma Briefs, but this way Yamcha won some moments for himself with a peaceful Bulma. He loved just to look at her.

Bulma was the most beautiful woman Yamcha had ever seen. He believed that the first time he saw her deep blue eyes reflecting the desert sky years ago, and he believed it now. There were other beautiful women in the world, ones with infinitely varied and attractive parts, but none so funny and sweet and spirited and accepting as Bulma. The other women, the dugout groupies and the product sponsor models and even the higher class women with bucks and brains who fancied ball players--well, they wanted to cram Yamcha into this or that society of folk, restrict his goings to this or that particular nightspot, mold him into someone he wasn’t. Besides, they were always freaked out by Puar. In the end, most women still made Yamcha nervous. Bulma had been his first love. No matter how much he and Bulma were or weren’t together, he felt comfortable with her.

Speaking of comfortable, sleeping on a blanket on the sand was the pits. Yamcha had deliberately not brought any capsules with shower stalls and fragrant shampoos, even though Mrs. Briefs had tried to stuff his backpack with them. He’d wanted to re-experience his old life, but what Yamcha wouldn’t give right now for a wide-screen on a sports channel and a long-neck beer. “Guess I’m just a city boy now,” he said softly, even though he knew Puar was sleeping soundly.

He would tell Puar that the training expedition was a bust, but that still wasn’t a good enough excuse to return to Capsule Corporation. Even if Yamcha hadn’t almost flattened himself that one night he sneaked into Vegeta’s gravity chamber, Puar and everyone else knew that Yamcha’s fighting ability wasn’t going to make much difference in the showdown with the androids. The star players in the android showdown were going to be Goku and Vegeta. Maybe Piccolo. Alien fighters with superhuman strength.

Yamcha was only human.

**

Vegeta never bothered to wipe the sweat from his eyes. Let it pour. Blood or tears or anything else that clouded his vision, it didn’t matter. Relying on eyesight was for the weak.

The androids would not have any life force to sense whatsoever, but like the bots the old man had built, perhaps they would have moving parts, snapping circuits, tiny clicking gears. Even now, the bots were whirring in a language perceptible only to his Saiyan ears, and Vegeta knew when they were going to strike. He even knew what attack formation they were coordinating as they hummed in communication with one another.

One hand up at a perfect right angle to his wrist…thumb tucked against the palm…one concentrated blue-white beam of light…BANG! Vegeta’s new attack was overkill in this situation, but he enjoyed sensing his precision sear one bot dead center in the globular metal gut. That bot then slammed, exploding, against another, and so on, until all six bots were melted together in one red-glowing clump.

He would have to tell the old man not to make them so loud next time.

Vegeta exhaled a heavy breath and tapped the control panel. The pleasure from destroying the bots had already evaporated. He hadn’t killed anyone in so long, but he knew that simple destruction would no longer excite him. Frieza was dead, cut into pieces and incinerated by that boy from the future, and the rage Vegeta had come to feel as much a part of himself as an arm or leg had no target. Gone--just like that. His life-long dream of killing Frieza robbed.

As pressure in the capsule plummeted to match the planet’s gravity, beads of perspiration flew off Vegeta’s body like upside-down rain and then splattered onto the floor. Vegeta didn’t feel free. There was everywhere to go and nowhere. Months ago, he had taken the space capsule and flown in search of Kakkarot, in search of anything to stoke that old rage. He had incinerated some old enemies, laid to waste a few encampments of Frieza’s rivals, even destroyed a small, inhabited asteroid in an outer arm of the galaxy for no reason at all.

He was powerful enough to be King of the Galaxy, but there was no kingdom worthy of a Saiyan’s rule. No other surviving Saiyans but Kakkarot. Why govern, as Frieza and Frieza’s father had, over so many filthy rocks circling so many dying stars in such a meaningless universe? Politics, the tedious machinations of trade and cold war--these were the pastimes of fools.

In space, all options had narrowed to one: fight Kakkarot.

And so Vegeta had returned to Earth, to wait for the baffling third-class gone Super Saiyan. To kill him or be killed--it almost didn’t matter which. Vegeta half-expected his own death in the battle with Kakkarot, half-expected to somehow fulfill his destiny and become the true Legendary in the heat of such a final combat.

But that battle was not to be. At least for another three years. What curious gifts had been handed him out in the plains when the purple-headed boy showed up: One, a real opponent--these android things that were supposed to kill him, the invincible Saiyan prince, in the near future. Two, an opportunity to focus his bloodlust, to train, to better his techniques so that (upon defeating the androids and making a mockery of future-boy’s dire prophecies) Vegeta could turn his true strength on Kakkarot. And surely win. Surely.

Vegeta pictured himself standing under a showerhead with his mouth open. He always felt thirst before he felt exhaustion or pain. He had been training for three days straight now. His dehydrated muscles twitched, felt sunken, demanded relief. He glanced at the fridge at the far end of the chamber and knew he didn’t have to open the door; the water jugs were all empty.

It was time to go to the human dwelling.

He had a room there, but he rarely used it. He often fell asleep on the floor in the gravity chamber, forgetting the cots in the capsule bins. Humans were incredible weaklings but the old man’s technology was unlike anything Vegeta had seen in the galaxy. The gravity chamber itself, let alone the capsules, were miraculous inventions. Kakkarot had trained in a room like this one. Here, Vegeta felt surrounded by purpose and an invisible, controlled power--gravity!--to match his own. Leaving the gravity chamber was always somewhat… uncomfortable?

Frieza was dead, but Vegeta didn’t feel free.

In the human dwelling awaited a bed, no shortage of fresh clothes and all the food and drink he could ask for. Vegeta had not been so well attended since he was a boy in his father’s palace.

So why did he hate going there?

Vegeta had never been planet-side, among people, for any length of time. Most of the worlds he’d visited were smoldering husks by the time he was done with them. He knew Frieza’s ship and its culture, and he had vague memories of palace life on Vegetasei but….

In the midst of anticipating what puzzling and frustrating, moronic and meaningless things the human women and the old man might say to him, a memory flashed. It was a visceral memory, one that hit him in all parts of his body as plainly as tiredness or pain. “How is this training?” sounded the blue-haired one’s voice, and her cool palms were against his chest. A bizarre sensation of swimming in coolness. Eyes wide and deep blue and without a trace of fear or malicious intent.

Vegeta felt a spasm in his calf-muscles. His body was screaming for water. His thumb smashed the button to drop the hatch to the outside world. He told himself: I am the Saiyan prince.

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