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 Three: Conversation is an Alien Concept

“The ignorant should keep quiet.” Vegeta to Yamcha, episode 119


Both women jumped when Vegeta shoved open the screen door to the kitchen.

He hadn’t even tried to make his entrance dramatic. He knew well of the human custom of knocking or ringing bells before entering a room, but he thought it a silly one--surely even their weak ears could detect a presence behind one of their fragile doors? But no, there they were, hands at their throats, eyes and mouths wide open.

And in the next moment, their faces relaxed into expressions Vegeta was still not used to seeing: the women looked unmistakably glad to see him.

The yellow-haired one started blabbering right away, but Vegeta wasn’t listening to her. He was looking at the other. The blue hair was different. Last he had seen it, her hair stuck straight up almost like his own. There had been something assertive and almost challenging about that style. Wild curls everywhere. He had wondered what the look was meant to signal--intellectual prestige on her planet? Sexual readiness? Now it hung down, the way it had when he had seen her on Namek--groomed so that blue strands fell evenly across her forehead. Cool symmetry, not a stray hair anywhere. He found it… intriguing how the bottom edge of hair skimmed her shoulders like the blade of a sharp knife. And yet he imagined the blue hair must be soft.

“Tell the old man to fix my training bots,” he said to the blue-haired one.

She had been watching the blabbering one. She turned and met his gaze, and he looked away.

“Dr. Briefs is in his office.” Her tone was airy, not demanding. “Please call us by our proper names, Vegeta. We call you by yours.”

He walked to the fridge, opened it, and downed a carton of something very sweet-tasting. He wasn’t going to bother to remind her that she never called him Prince Vegeta.

“Oh my poor Vegeta-chan! Why didn’t you let us know on the intercom that you were out of supplies! My heavens, just a few days ago I stocked the space capsule with enough food for a month.”

“You’re forgetting how much these Saiyans eat, Mama. I think this one eats almost as much as Kakkarot does.”

Something about the way she said the name made Vegeta pause, mid-gulp at his second carton.

“Who’s Kakkarot?” asked the yellow-haired one.

A laugh. A free-sounding, throaty laugh. “You know, World’s Martial Arts Champion? Orange uniform?” She was standing right behind him now, reaching past him to pull a large foil-covered platter off a fridge shelf. Her arm was hued pink and beige, a flesh color Vegeta had seen on no other sentients in the galaxy but Saiyans and humans. Not quite transparent skin. Fine blue veins at the wrist. “Vegeta calls Son by a Saiyan name, Kakkarot.” She grabbed a second plate with the other arm. “Excuse me, Vegeta.”

He turned to watch the blue-haired woman set the plates on a table. She pulled off foil to reveal rows and rows of those curious little meat pies called egg rolls. The yellow-haired, birdy one was rifling through drawers. “I’m going to give you extra grocery capsules for your little spaceship this time! We just have the basics here today, I’m afraid. Bread, cold cuts, cupcakes. Is there anything you really liked the taste of so I can order you some extra?”

A syrupy aroma of over-ripe fruit, the bitter smell of that coffee concoction humans drank so much--what scent was it that was triggering the memory? As a child, Vegeta had sometimes visited the kitchen of the royal chef. Late evenings, long after most of the staff was gone, the aging chef (was he a Saiyan hybrid? That would explain his odd orange coloring and solicitous, womanish behavior) cooked soups for the prince. Sometimes with game Vegeta had scored on hunting trips with his guard Nappa. Sometimes with leftover bone meat from palace banquets.

“These pizzas should do! And lots of juice. I can see you like apple juice.” The woman was clutching a few small pouches of grocery capsules. “You take care of him, Bulma-chan. (Was that a wink or did the yellow-haired woman have a perpetual eye twitch?) I’m off to restock the fridge where our Vegeta trains so very very hard.” And as the yellow-haired one was dashing out the door, the blue-haired one sat down and opened a jar of red-colored sauce.

“These are your egg rolls, Vegeta. Mama ordered two platters for you last night because she was hoping you’d come to dinner. She knows how much you like them.”

Vegeta was trying to remember the name of the royal chef--how many years had it been since he’d thought of him?

“Sit!” she said in that bossy voice of hers. “I’m going to excuse you this time for not taking a shower first, because you’re probably starving, right?”

Vegeta sat and started to eat. The woman ate too. When red sauce smeared a corner of her lips, a tiny pink tongue emerged with languorous deliberation from her mouth to lick the spot clean.

“I have to hand it to you,” she said, chewing delicately on the edge of an egg roll. “You’re a lot neater when you eat than Son-kun. Must be the whole Saiyan prince thing, huh?”

Vegeta met her gaze dead on this time. He knew when he was being baited.

“I need new bots by morning. Call the old man.”

“Dr. Briefs.”

“Call him now.” Vegeta was feeling a rush of energy from the food. He would sleep a little, and train after that.

“Hold your horses, Vegeta. We’re eating. I’ll call him in a bit.” The woman was chewing so slowly. When had Vegeta last seen anyone eat with such leisure? Meals on Frieza’s ship were efficient and fast. Soldiers awakening in pods would shoot back vials of bio-support deep in their throats so that the piss-taste wouldn’t touch a single taste-bud. Then there was scavenging for game after purging missions….

“How long do Saiyans need to sleep? You never seem to. When Son was a little boy, he would sleep every night, just like the rest of us. Maybe it’s just whatever you get used to, huh?”

He didn’t trust her. He had not trusted anyone with any personal information since the death of his father. Why was she suddenly talking so much about Kakkarot?

“Don’t look at me like that. I’m not going to sell the information to the tabloids, Vegeta.”

She was intelligent. She was up to something--

“I just wanted to know if you’re going to be sleeping in your room this afternoon. So Mama can tell the servants to leave you alone there.”

She was gorgeous. Whatever finer characteristics existed in this lowly species that mocked Saiyan appearances, she had them all to a pedigreed degree. Pride, nerve, a lively curiosity and such blue, blue eyes. Had anyone ever looked him in the face the way she did? She was actually smiling, as if she were his best friend.

Vegeta broke the gaze, looked down at his plate of food. She wasn’t so sharp as to have been reading his small lapse into admiration for her, was she?

“You knew Kakkarot as a boy. Did you harass him with questions as well?”

She beamed. She lay down the egg roll and leaned across the table so that her chest almost knocked over the jar of red sauce. “We didn’t know he was an alien when he was a boy! I mean, he had the tail, and he was incredibly strong. But he’s human in just about every other way, it seems. Why would anyone have to ask him about his Saiyan ways?” Her eyes, reflecting bright kitchen lights, actually sparkled. “Besides, he’s an open book, not a mystery like you.”

An open book? Vegeta saved the phrase in his memory to verify later. It seemed to mean the opposite of mystery. So, Kakkarot was an opponent who lacked the skill of subterfuge?

There was a long pause while Vegeta ate the last of the second platter of egg rolls. Bulma hadn’t resumed eating her one roll. “I would have to guess,” she said, “that polite conversation wasn’t a priority among your people? I can understand how Frieza’s jolly ship of space pirates may have been lacking in civilized interaction, but how about the royal court of your--

“You would understand nothing.” Vegeta pushed the platter away with more force than he intended. It slid across the small table and would’ve fallen off, but Bulma caught the edge of the large ceramic oval with both hands.

“Damn! You’re strung tight, aren’t you, Prince?” She was startled but seemed have her good mood intact. “Look, just go take a shower and chill out, will you?”

Vegeta got up, determined to shut out anything else the woman might say, but she kept talking. “Sometimes I think it’s just men for whom conversation is an alien concept!” she said. Her voice was not so shrill as her mother’s, but why did it seem to be chasing him like some sort of predator? When he reached the threshold to the hallway, she said one more thing that seemed to catch in his nervous system like a fang: “You and Son-kun are like night and day, though. I’ve never known a more relaxed guy than Son, but you--”

Vegeta spun around, and something in his look must’ve frightened her because she seemed to swallow a gasp.

“Surely you understand,” Vegeta said, “that I am going to kill him someday.” His voice was quiet, not at all bellicose. “Kakkarot. Your childhood friend. I’m going to kill him.”

Her face fell. There, he had slaughtered her ridiculous good cheer. Vegeta turned again and headed for the shower.

**

Dr. Briefs was tossing vitamin pellets about in the dinosaur atrium when his com-link buzzed. A small iguanodon cocked its head at the sound. Dr. Briefs unclipped the gadget from his belt, and the mild-eyed beast walked towards him, sniffing the air. “There, there, Bonzo. This device is not for eating. Hello, Briefs here.”

Bonzo was purring at the doctor’s shoulder. Briefs was especially fond of this CC resident. It had been rescued almost right out of the egg ten years ago, never developed proper herd skills with the other injured, neglected, ailing dinosaurs in the sanctuary, and was never released back to the wild.

“No dear, not busy at all. Just taking lunch in the east atrium.” He chuckled. “You know, if I bring supplemental feed for Bonzo, he ignores my sandwich long enough for me to eat it. It’s a spectacular day in our climate-controlled little rainforest, sweetheart. You should join me.”

He had to pull his face away from the receiver because Bulma’s voice escalated without warning. That girl of his! So volatile! “No dear, listen, it’s no trouble at all. I’ll gladly leave the office this afternoon to look after Vegeta’s bots. I’ve been wanting to reconfigure them anyway. I was just waiting for him to destroy them again. OK? I don’t mind at all, sweetheart. Meet me in the lab. There are some acyclic default graphs I want you to look at.”

Briefs threw out the last handful of feed from the bag at his side. Bonzo was the only dinosaur in the atrium that greeted the doctor at the door for the pellets. The sanctuary housed, at any given time, ten to twenty more dinosaurs that liked to keep a fair distance from humans--each one a testament to the Briefs’ hospitality. Each one, not unlike the Saiyan Prince, a being that could power up and flee the confines of such a cordial place but--for whatever reason known only to wild beings--did not.

Dr. Briefs understood wild things. Once upon a time he’d had his daughter’s indefatigable passion for challenge, but if time had taught him anything, it was that patience and persistence yielded more scientific information and made more friends of wild things than jostling the creatures. Briefs pushed the glasses slipping down his nose back up and noticed that the message button on his com-link was flashing.

“A Gobi Desert outpost location, Bonzo! This could be important!”

He clicked to retrieve the message, and an earnest young voice sounded in the atrium stillness:

“Hey Doc, how’s it going? I just wanted to let you and the Mrs. know that I’ll be back in my old room before long. The training mission was a total bust. Maybe that genius mind of yours can cook up something for me to train against like that gravity chamber you built Vegeta. I know that gravity stuff is not my speed, but maybe--oh well. See you soon. Don’t tell Bulma I’m coming. I want to surprise her!”

“Oh my,” said Briefs. He petted Bonzo’s smooth reptilian head and, for a few seconds, considered confessing his concerns to the gentle dinosaur. Yamcha’s coming back again would only put Bulma in a tizzy, that’s for sure. But Briefs decided to keep quiet. He pulled out a half-eaten sandwich from his pocket and allowed the iguanodon to slurp it out of his hand.

Best to just stand back and let nature follow its course.

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