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: This chapter and the next were in my head before I began this story. They’ve been the hardest to write so far. Thanks to LisaB, not only for being a great beta but also for being the sounding board for my visions of Vegeta. dchan 5.31.05

Chapter Twenty: The Presence of Absence

“He’s insane about fighting.” Bulma about Vegeta, episode 125

Bulma was pulling off her pantyhose. “What? You came to the party with a date? Why didn’t you tell me that earlier, Wolfie?”

The moistness from a light summer rain had muddied the Capsule Corporation lawn, and it was more comfortable for Bulma to go barefoot. She tossed the hose in a ball across the evening blackness. Let the gardeners get rid of it in the morning.

“Ah, well, I don’t exactly know Miaka at all. I thought I might need someone to show me how to dance for this thing, so when she handed me the invitation, I asked her out on a whim.”

“Papa’s receptionist? Boy, you work fast.” Bulma felt chilled. That’s what I get for going outside in my underwear. Her dress blouse was still somewhere on the dance floor. “Miaka’s a pretty girl. She’s the one who should’ve showed you how to sugarfoot. Ugh, and our being out here is really rude. You’ve left your date stranded at the party!”

Dr. Schroedinger began to pull off his own socks. “Oh, this feels better.” He put the muddy socks into his trouser pocket. “Miaka drove her own aircar here. She’ll be fine.”

“You moron.” Bulma punched his arm. “Now if your luck really holds, Vegeta will be training and won’t let us in. Then you can go back to your date. She’s a very nice girl, Wolfie. Life isn’t all business and inventing, you know. Sometimes you need a warm--”

Bulma swallowed air. She had been feeling dizzy ever since the party began, but now she felt like the ground beneath her was shifting.

Capsule 3 was gone.

Bulma grabbed onto Dr. Schroedinger’s arm for support.

“I should’ve seen this coming.” Her voice sounded like someone else’s.

Dr. Schroedinger put his arm around Bulma to steady her, but he was looking at the ground in front of them. Dim security lamplight showed that the grass was scorched from a recent rocket blast-off.

“I take it that Mr. Vegeta doesn’t take the spaceship out for a ride very often?”

Bulma felt herself sliding against Wolfgang and saw spots like bright stars before her eyes. She slid to her knees onto the wet grass. Wolfgang dropped with her, still holding his arm around her shoulder.

“You’re ill, Bulma. Can I help? Is there someone I should call?”

“I’m not ill.” Bulma felt herself returning to Earth. “I’m pregnant.”

I’m pregnant and Vegeta may never, ever know….

**

The spaceship that Dr. Briefs had built from the model of a Saiyan spacepod was the largest, fastest, most efficient Vegeta had ever operated. He had to hand it to the old man. His inventions would be at a premium anywhere in the galaxy….

What a stroke of good fortune it had been to come across the gravity machine and this ship! Earth was otherwise a useless wet rock; why would anyone want to stay on that tiny blue world?

Was there anywhere to go except away from Earth?

Vegeta had set coordinates for a heavily populated asteroid belt within a neighboring star system. He could not go far. He had to allow himself time to return for Earth’s date with the androids.

Days passed into an awareness of no days passing; there was only the interior of Capsule 3. The biorhythms of Earth evaporated. The constraints of planet-side society lifted as though Vegeta’s muscles were ridding themselves of a terrible exhaustion. No night, no day. Images from Earth dwindled to the size of specks--Bulma and Kakkarot, two people who had preoccupied him so much before, seemed no bigger, no more important than all the white stars in the viewshield.

Then, before long, Vegeta remembered how in space it always seemed like there was no “present.”

Time did odd things during space travel. Even though Capsule 3 did not require Vegeta to undergo the disorienting process of sleep stasis, being awake inside a spaceship hurtling through all galactic dimensions was like being awake in someone else’s dream.

It seemed to Vegeta that the future was clearer. Distractions fell away like debris. His people’s stories of the Legendary no longer invoked some misty apparition, a power beyond imagining. There will come a Legendary Warrior…. Vegeta could see himself as the Super Saiyan to surpass Kakkarot, could see Vegeta as the fulfillment of a royal destiny. There was nothing else.

No night, no day. Space travel as always but with a difference--no subservience to Frieza. Vegeta ate, trained, showered, and imagined himself as the Legendary.

And then, as blearily as a fever, the past would arise to crowd out the future.

Vegeta tried to fight the past at first, but a heavy workout in maximum gravity diverted the past for only so long.

On the narrow pull-out cot that reminded him of his bunk on Frieza’s ship, Vegeta began to dream of the time before coming to Earth: twenty years of army life, every other year spent in blind stasis, the rest spattered with blood and bathed with fire. Small triumphs, giant humiliations…. He had not dreamed so much or so vividly of his past before… had he? On Earth, the dreams seem to have been buried, to have been assuaged in the pleasures of Bulma’s bed.

Vegeta didn’t like dreaming. Dreams were hard to control. He concluded--at some point in the haze of time awake on the ship--that it might be better to confront his past with his full consciousness.

And that’s when the living nightmares started.

**

Bulma lay in her bed with her puffy feet elevated on a pillow. Dr. Tsuki has said her blood pressure was a little high but that the pregnancy was otherwise very normal. Papa had already begun designing the new ultrasound machine. Bulma wondered idly if it would show a tail.

She pressed a button on the remote control, and her bedroom television ran a security scan of the family compound interior. It had been many months since she used to run it to trace Vegeta’s whereabouts. After she and Vegeta had “started up,” Bulma had stopped looking for him on the premises; she had just known where he was most of the time.

Bulma knew where Capsule 3 was because of Papa’s tracking system. But where Vegeta was, emotionally or otherwise--Bulma had no clue. Was he finished with her?

Communications from Earth to the spaceship had been turned off but not disabled. In the hopes that Vegeta might retrieve the messages one day, Dr. Briefs continued to send Capsule 3 random reminders about many of the ships functions, pointers about fueling operations, notes about how everyone on Earth was fine and well and anticipating his return.

Bulma didn’t dare send a single message to Vegeta.

Despite all of Yamcha’s gloating over Vegeta having left without so much as a goodbye, Bulma didn’t really want Vegeta to know about the baby anymore.

She wasn’t angry; she was trying to understand, and every day Bulma tried to rationalize away Vegeta’s leaving her. He was an alien, and, obviously, Bulma had been a distraction to his whole purpose on Earth. He had to leave.

Vegeta needs to become Super Saiyan. He needs to help destroy the androids. To save the world so that…our baby can grow up in it.

Vegeta needs to concentrate on his training so that Vegeta himself will not die. The Boy from the Future said that EVERYONE would die.

My relationship with Vegeta was special, it was great, but no matter--it is no more. At least for the time being. When Vegeta comes back . . ..

And when Bulma’s rationalizations faltered, her determination to defeat the androids arose. It was maddening that someone like Dr. Gero could wipe out her future just because of an insane grudge against Goku. And who knew what bitterness Gero, as a former CC scientist, held against her own family? Wolfie understood. Wolfie was going to help her fight for the future.

And Wolfie was coming by today to discuss the neuro-communicator. Bulma felt like crap (nauseous, headachy, swollen-footed), but the thought of collaborating with another genius cheered her a little. She had a hunch that she could program the magnetic neuro-communicator to sense the presence of Gero’s more advanced androids. If only she understood more about cybergenetics. If only she could build something even vaguely androidish that would seek out other androids. If only she could find the location of Gero’s laboratory…

If she could, then Wolfie had promised that he would enter the lab and kill Dr. Gero himself.

**

Long snakey shadows fell across the spaceship floor, even though there was no apparent light source for such shadows.

Nothing in the known universe could frighten Vegeta. He told himself that he had withstood the worst humiliations and horrors in Life and in Hell.

The hallucinations of worms were a bit much, though. Every time the snakey shadows turned into three-dimensional, pale-colored worms flailing across the floor, Vegeta felt a strong disgust unto nausea.

He knew that they were common hallucinations of the sensory deprived. Crawling flesh, patches of black in one’s peripheral vision, a heightened sensitivity to the tiniest sounds. Vegeta knew what was happening to him. But he had not been in space that long, maybe one month, not much longer than Kakkarot en route to Namek. Sleep stasis would only deprive Vegeta of the time to train….

Did Kakkarot see ghosts? Did they push him into becoming stronger?

It was hard to imagine the lump-headed Third Class wrestling imaginary snakes and worms in his training.

Vegeta punched both fists against the space capsule floor. The hallucinations writhed away.

I can take you, he told the emptiness and silence. I can defeat you, whatever you are.

The visions did not return. Vegeta knelt, palms on his thighs, a strange taste rising in the back of his throat.

No night, no day. No future, no past. I am in the spaceship, looking at the floor. Vegeta willed a strong sense of the present into the spaceship. There was nothing to fight, not even gravity. The gravity machine was set to Earth’s standard.

And just when he felt he had a recovered a stable presence of mind, he looked up and saw Frieza standing there.

“Look at who we have here. The Brutal Prince of the Eastern Spiral Purges.”

There was no shock, no hatred, no bitterness or fear. The apparition was obviously just that. Frieza was dead.

It occurred to Vegeta at that moment that he had not seen Frieza in Hell. There had been no torment of the Frieza sort there. Vegeta had last seen Frieza in the flesh when the Boy from the Future had sliced the lizard bastard to ribbons, but Vegeta was used to dreaming about his old boss. This vision was nothing new. It seemed to run on an endless loop.

“Look at who we have here. The Brutal Prince of the Eastern Spiral Purges. It’s been—what? Five galactic standard years, my dear Vegeta. You’ve made quite a name for yourself with your little army of two. I did not expect you to return from such a mission. Dodoria, give our prodigal soldier a seat at the officer’s table tonight. He has secured more planets for King Cold than even Zarbon at this age.”

And the apparition waved its hand--that scaly wrinkled hand with the cold, clawed fingers--and disappeared.

Nothing. Vegeta told himself that there was nothing to fear. The presence of absence was like a boon; memories could take shape, but what damage could they do? What was there to run from? He would kneel here on the spaceship floor and face it. He would not go train himself into exhaustion. He would not sleep and fall into incessant dreams as exhausting as training.

What was the worst of it? That the lizard had taken him like a woman when he was only a boy? That was nothing. That hours after the king had boarded Frieza’s ship and turned over the prince and his two useless royal guards, the lizard lord had summoned Vegeta to his private quarters and raped him until the blood ran down Vegeta’s legs in gummy ribbons and made his toes stick together? Not the worst of it at all.

The worst of it was not the Eastern Spiral Purges, having to watch the humiliation of world after world as it fell to Frieza the way Vegetasei had fallen, the way the prince himself had fallen. The worst of it was not having to compare his own weakness to that of so many simpering, sniveling cowardly races.

Vegeta heard a voice. It was not a hallucination. It was only a memory. He could will it away. He chose not to.

“So? Pain is nothing, is it? Perhaps you are right, my dear Vegeta. Pain is not suffering. Suffering is the story of pain we tell ourselves. Your kind never struck me as ones to bemoan their fates, erect monuments to their miseries. Vegetasei is gone, and with it all the proud Saiyans. Except their prince, of course. And their prince does not suffer? Am I right, Vegeta? You tell yourself no story about your pain?”

It was not the worst of it when, after the Eastern Spiral Purges, Vegeta returned in triumph, commanding awe and terror the moment he stepped onboard Frieza’s ship--only to be disgraced again by the lizard lord.

The clawed hand running through his hair. “See? It doesn’t hurt anymore. Or is that you are enjoying the pain, my precious boy? I know that you are telling yourself that pain is nothing. But it is a privilege, boy. It is a privilege.”

On the floor of Capsule 3, Vegeta felt the burning pleasure rise deep in his abdomen.

Even that was not the worst of it. That he had once enjoyed the lizard’s touch was not the worst of it.

There was a way to escape the worst of it. He got up, took off his clothes, and began to remember Bulma. Those were her hands against the inside of his thighs. Her face rubbing tenderly against his groin.

Bulma.

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