Dragon Ball Z: Pride Before A Fall

Chapter 6

It happened again. He didn't see it coming, it'd been so long – so many months since these terrors had visited him. But it happened all the same: the nightmares. Vegeta found himself sprinting through an endless abyss, chasing after a golden light. It blazed and burned just out of reaching, mocking him.

"No!" Vegeta screamed, "You will be mine! You will be mine!"

Suddenly, the golden light rushed at him, and he thought it would at last be his! But instead, it washed over him, burning his flesh and torturing him. Vegeta grabbed his head and screamed at the top of his lungs, fighting against this inescapable pain. But then he felt something on his face. Something that felt like...

"Come on! Come on!" Bulma cried, sitting on Vegeta's chest and slapping his face back and forth with all her might, "Vegeta, just snap out of it! Wake up, you idiot, just wake up!"

Bulma gasped as Vegeta's hands seized her wrists, his eyes snapping open. He breathed heavily for a moment and glared. "I'm awake, woman, calm yourself."

"Calm myself?" she glared, still straddling his waist, "Take a closer look at my face why don't you?" Vegeta blinked, his vision clearing a bit. It was then he saw it – her nose was bleeding. "Yeah, you did that, Vegeta. In your sleep. Thrashing around like that. You could have killed me!"

Vegeta growled a sigh and released her wrists. "Don't be ridiculous, no Saiyan's ever killed in their sleep."

"Well I'm not about to be the first victim either." She watched him sit up and touch a hand to his head. "I haven't seen you have nightmares since before our first night together. What happened, Vegeta?"

"Nothing," he snarled, "It was nothing."

She folded her arms. "Pigheaded, I just want to help. I don't even blame you for hitting me, but I'm gonna start to if you don't explain things to me."

"I don't have to explain a damn thing to you," he snapped, throwing the covers off himself and sitting on the edge of the bed.

Bulma scowled at his back and was about to scold him further when she noticed his tiny bare stub of a tail he retained, sticking out just above his boxers. Bulma's brow lowered, reaching out and pinching the stub between her knuckles and twisting hard.

Vegeta's eyes bulged. "Ga-ha!" he cried out, his head jerking around and his hands swatting as if trying to ward off an invisible foe.

Bulma let out a dark laugh. "Oh so that does still affect you a little bit."

"What?!" he cried. He twisted around, his face turning to rage when he saw her hand on his stub. "Ah! How dare you?!"

"You cracked my nose!" she shouted back, not letting go as she pointed at the blood, "I know you won't apologize, so you better tell me what's going on!"

"I don't answer to you, now unhand my…just unhand it!"

"What a whiny baby," Bulma mocked, "This doesn't hurt! Not that bad. I saw what real tail grabbing did to Goku—"

That did it. Mentioning his missing tail and Kakarot in one sentence was more than enough. He snapped. "RRRRR, SHUT UP!" He slammed his fist down on the bed.

It snapped in half.

Bulma screamed in terror as the bed fell out from under her, pillows and blankets soaring through the air and landing on top of her. Vegeta landed on his rear with a grunt, having been too blinded by rage to consider that he'd been sitting on the bed too. Bulma dug herself out of the broken heap, her face gone completely red and her brow twitching.

"Veeegeeetaaaa...!" she seethed. Vegeta's hair was blown back as she let loose on him, screaming, howling, and ranting right in his face. Vegeta just took it, not moving a muscle as she continued to blow a torrent of hot air, calling him all kinds of names and insults. She kept at it until she was out of breath and just glaring, her brow still twitching. His lips tightened, glaring back, before grabbing her shoulder and tossing her off the heap.

Bulma cried out in surprise, her arms snapping downward once she landed. "What the hell was that?!" she demanded, but then froze. Grunting angrily, Vegeta flipped the bed over, picking up the two halves of the broken bed-frame and bringing them together. Bulma blinked as he pointed a finger at it, shooting out a beam that welded the frame into one piece. He grunted again, flipping the bed back over, leaving it in a mess as he marched off to get changed.

Bulma stared at it, watching the still hot metal drip onto the floor. "You...you fixed it...well sort of." She poked a finger at it, yelping a bit as she nearly burnt herself. "I mean, it's a horrid job, I'm still gonna have to replace it, but you actually tried to fix something!" Vegeta pulled his blue training shirt over his head, not speaking. Bulma smiled and folded her arms. "I guess I'll take that as an apol—" He shut the door on her. Bulma blinked. "Vegeta…"

Bulma remained motionless, blinking with worry and confusion at the floor. Maybe she'd been too harsh with him. After all, when it came down to it, all she really wanted was to help him, not yell at him. Something was clearly wrong and he refused to tell her what. She hugged her knees and rested her chin against them, grabbing a tissue to clean up her nose. Of course, Vegeta wasn't the best communicator. She'd been 'married' to him for several months now and still didn't know much about him. But maybe she didn't need to know what was troubling him exactly.

No, what mattered was that Vegeta needed her. He needed her far more than he knew, far more than he'd ever admit. Fine, he didn't have to admit it. She knew he did, that was enough.

And what's more, she knew exactly what she needed to do. Steeling her resolve, Bulma quickly got dressed and headed out after the Saiyan.

Vegeta blotted out all thoughts as he entered the Capsule Corp ship, his jaw and brow tight. He didn't need to think to train nor did he want to right now. Far too much in his damn head. The door hissed as it closed behind him. Vegeta lowered his brow slightly, glaring across the ship before walking to the control panel, entering in his training regimen. Bulma had improved the system by transcribing it into levels of difficulty rather than mere gravitational pull. He kicked it up a few extra levels.

Just as he pressed the start up button, he heard the door to the ship open. He spun around, crying out as he saw Bulma enter. His arm stretched out, a desperate reflexive attempt to stop her. But it was too late. The system activated, the gravity multiplied, and Bulma was crushed mercilessly against the floor.

"BULMA!" he screamed, his eyes wide with horror. He immediately slammed the shut off switch, leaping through the air and grabbing her. "Bulma, you idiot, what have you done?!" Her eyes were dazed and a little blood ran out of her mouth. "Damn it, woman, say something!" he shouted, shaking her.

Bulma groaned softly and blinked, her eyes coming to focus on him. "Vegeta…"

Vegeta's face trembled, clenching his teeth. "Look what you've made me do! How could you be so stupid?!"

"I…I guess I need to…fix that door," she stated helplessly. She closed her eyes.

Vegeta hissed, his grip on her tightening. A second later he flew out the door, flying with her into the house. He slammed his fist against the entry hall wall, causing the whole house to shake. "Get over here, you damn fools, somebody help me!"

They came fumbling into the hall, but they weren't fast enough for his demands. He flew down the hall past them, kicking up air and knocking over furniture, his feet touching ground once more as they arrived in his old room. He laid her on the bed, his blood vessels bulging as his heart raced, ripping open the nearby drawer. The others at last caught up with him, Dr. Brief, Yamcha, and Puar rushing in.

"Bulma!" Dr. Brief cried, the eyes of his shoulder cat bulging as well.

"Oh no, Bulma!" Puar squealed.

"What did you do to her?!" Yamcha demanded, holding up a fist.

Vegeta snarled back at them, curled protectively over Bulma, his face shuddering. "Don't just stand there, get over here and help me!"

No questions asked, Dr. Brief and Yamcha immediately got to work, Dr. Brief inserting an IV with the reconstructive medicine into her arm and Yamcha getting the oxygen going. Vegeta remained hunched over her, as if to guard her from some oncoming foe. Puar joined in, doing her best to help find any injuries and wrap them up.

Several anxious moments later, Dr. Brief pulled back, nervously dabbing sweat from his forehead. "It's all right…I think she'll be fine now…what happened?"

Vegeta ground his teeth as he held her hand. "The ship. She followed me into the damn ship…damn it!"

"So…it was an accident," Yamcha softened. He gave a long pause, looking down at the bandaged Bulma. "Well…I wouldn't worry too much. Bulma's a tough girl…I'm sure she'll be all right."

"She will," Dr. Brief assured, plucking at his mustache, "That medicine is Saiyan strength stuff. I expect she'll be back on her feet by tomorrow."

"Are you sure?" Vegeta demanded, still holding her hand between his.

Dr. Brief patted his shoulder. "Positive. She gave us all quite a scare, but it looks like you got her in here quick enough to prevent the worst of it."

Vegeta's brow lowered, seeming unconvinced. He sat down on the side of the bed. "Stupid woman…" he hissed.

"Vegeta…?"

"Ha," he abruptly breathed, his grip on her hand tightening as her eyes opened.

Bulma gave a weak smile. "I shouldn't have yelled at you…I know you're stressed…I was hoping…maybe I could spend a little time with you. Help you relax." Her eyes blinked half closed.

He stared at her for a long moment. And then his expression did something it never did. It turned gentler. "I…yes, I think I could spare a few hours."

"Oh…good. I'm glad. I didn't think you'd say yes but I had to try." Her eyes closed. "Stupid of me to barge in like that."

"It was more than stupid," Vegeta snapped, his brow lowering again, "It was careless and clumsy! If you die on my watch don't you think I'm going to blame myself cause I won't!"

Dr. Brief drifted back to the doorway, explaining the situation to a very confused Mrs. Brief in a hushed voice. Puar landed on Yamcha's shoulder as the scarred human warrior watched Vegeta hold vigil over his wife's side.

Maybe he does care about her… he considered. He shut his eyes, grimacing. Even if so…doesn't make it right.

"It's okay," Bulma spoke up, drawing their attention, "I'm alright. Don't worry about me, I'm just gonna rest. Besides…" She patted Vegeta's hand. "I got my very own Saiyan Prince to watch over me." Vegeta glared and grunted a little.

"All right…just don't scare us like that again, Bulma," Yamcha tried to smile, "For a second there, we thought you might be a goner!"

Bulma laughed. "Me? A goner? In your dreams. It's gonna take a little more than falling on my face to bring me down."

Yamcha chuckled. "Good to hear it, Bulma."

Bulma closed her eyes and smiled to herself. She wasn't planning on getting hurt like this. But now that it had happened, she almost wished she had. She squeezed Vegeta's hand, unbelievably happy to have him so close to her. This would be the perfect excuse to work her magic and get his mind off whatever was troubling him. She promised herself she'd have him smiling by the end of the day.

Yamcha remained awkwardly in the background for a long moment. He wanted to stay and take care of her, but with Vegeta there he felt like he'd just be in the way. So eventually he excused himself and left. Vegeta remained sitting on the edge of the bed, staying with the intention of assuring himself she'd survive. Once he had that assurance, he'd of course return to training. To his relief, after a few hours of rest, her condition seemed to have greatly improved.

That's when Bulma's plan went into action.

"Hey Vegeta."

Vegeta paused in the middle of finger push-ups on the floor. "Yes, what?"

Bulma sat up, taking the oxygen mask off. "I got a great idea. Let's get out of here for a bit."

Vegeta got up on one knee, his brow lowered. "You're in no fit condition to go anywhere."

"Oh," she fayed a faint, "But I need some fresh air! I'm feeling smothered in here!" He looked at her. "If only there was a nice, quiet, secluded park nearby where a big, strong man could fly me!" He continued to look at her. She glared. "Vegeta!"

"Oh all right!" he growled, getting up, "Earthling women…"

Bulma shushed him as he carried her out, not wanting them to be caught and stopped. They made it without resistance, Vegeta cold and silent as he flew her to the city park as requested. It wasn't the nicest section of the park, but that was the point. In the months since their marriage, Bulma had figured out what Vegeta wouldn't admit – he was actually pretty shy. Crowds made him glower or sputter in frustration. So if she wanted him to relax, he needed to be someplace where they could be alone. Bulma had him carry her around the place, his expression completely ambivalent at first. But combined with a little ego stroking, Bulma saw the first hints of a smile from him.

Just when he was ready to take her back, she declared she was hungry.

"You can't be serious," he stated, eying at her.

"I am!" she insisted, "I don't think I've eaten all day!" Which was actually true.

Vegeta growled softly. "And you can't eat the food at the homestead why?"

"Dull old food, I want something exciting!" she piped, holding onto his neck as he carried her, "Besides, it's so far, I want to eat now!"

He grunted. "Whatever."

So she got away with taking him to a restaurant. She picked a quiet little cafe on the edge of town with a large menu – after all, she knew how Saiyans loved to eat big portions! The owner was shocked to see a bandaged girl carried in, but served them without a question. Vegeta seemed to enjoy the idea of having waiters he could freely order around. Her chest swelled as she saw his smile grow a little more.

"You know what I really need? A good movie," she stated as he carried her out of the cafe.

Vegeta's brow rose. "A what? I've never heard of such a thing."

Bulma gasped. "What? No! The great Prince Vegeta's never seen a movie? Surely not! Why, all the greatest warriors have seen at least a hundred!"

"Now you're just talking nonsense," he accused.

"Yeah, I guess you're right...I just thought, you know, cause Goku and I used to watch movies together all the time—"

"Ooooh fine," he snapped, "Just get this over with and tell me where you want to go."

Bulma grinned victoriously, directing him to the video store. She picked out something violent, figuring that would be the sort of movie he'd go for. Drawn by carefully implanted curiosity, Vegeta watched the film with her. He didn't show quite the enthusiasm she was hoping the movie would provoke – more often he scoffed at and mocked the fighters in it – and when the credits rolled he declared movies a worthless venture. All the same, the next time he smiled, she caught the glimmer of teeth.

At long last, Bulma brought out her secret weapon: booze.

"You sure you can handle it?" she teased, waving the beer can before his nose, "Alcohol is pretty strong stuff."

Vegeta grunted and took the can. "Of course I can handle a mere earth beverage, I'm a Saiyan."

"Oh I don't know..." she stated skeptically, laying on her bed, "Even the greatest of Earth's fighters can be knocked out by a few drinks." She smiled secretly at her fib and then cocked back her head. "I, though, have pretty high tolerance for the stuff! Course, I'm tougher than most. Come to think of it, maybe this isn't such a good idea for you…"

"If you think you can handle something I can't, you're either out of your mind or a complete moron," he shot back.

Her brow lowered. "Prove it."

His lowered in return and he defiantly popped the can's tab.

That was how Bulma learned that even Saiyans could get tanked. It was extremely easy to goad the prince into downing several beers, by the end of which she'd accomplished her mission of completely improving his mood.

Even more so than she'd hoped.

Vegeta's roaring laughter echoed through the room, his woman under one arm and an open beer in hand. Both of them had beer blushes, though Bulma had to believe Vegeta's was worse than hers. "And he just stood there!" Vegeta cackled, "Arm broken and about hanging off." Bulma giggled. "So I say 'you run home now and maybe I'll let you keep your other limbs!' And he says…HAHAHAHAHA…and he says…!" He tipped back the beer and downed the rest of it, crushing the can as he finished. "So I blew a hole right in his forehead!"

"Vegeta!" Bulma cried, "That's horrible!"

"No, no!" he waved, crawling over her, "The good part is this guy had uh…he could heal and…well he lived but the hole was so deep he….HAHAHAHA!" He traced a circle on his forehead.

Bulma's jaw dropped. "Oh my God, it stayed?!"

"YES!" He busted up laughing and this time Bulma laughed with him. "So from then on, that stupid Timoran had a hole right between the eyes!"

Bulma hugged him as she laughed, grabbing another beer. "You're right—hehehe—Vegeta, that is pretty funny!"

"Yes!" he declared, he grabbed her, shoving his grinning face into hers, "It is! I'm hilarious!" He poked her several times in the chest. "And the Prince of All Saiyans."

She held up her drink in a toast. "The best Prince of All Saiyans."

"Yes!" he agreed, "Give me another drink, woman."

"Oooh, I don't know," Bulma smiled, touching his chin, "It's pretty late, we should probably be getting to bed."

"Bed?" he poked her again, "I don't need any damn sleep, woman! I'm good right here!"

She chuckled. "Well that's great, but don't even Saiyans sleep at night?"

"Saiyans sleep whenever we want!" he declared, standing up and throwing an arm up at the ceiling, "Besides, I don't sleep during the day!"

"That's what I'm trying to say!" Bulma laughed and pulled back a curtain, "It's nighttime, Vegeta!"

Vegeta's face suddenly fell into tenuous horror and disbelief. "What? It can't be!"

"No, it is—hey!" she cried as he shoved her out of the way, planting his hands against the window.

"No! It can't be…!"

"Vegeta?" she blinked, sitting down her drink, "Wha…what's wrong?"

"No! It was just morning and…and…what?!" His hands clenched against the glass, struggling against the alcohol to compose a sentence to explain his horror. "I have to… Kakarot…" He slammed his fists against the window and it shattered, throwing back his head and letting lose a howl of rage, a storm of white-ish blue energy exploding around him.

Bulma screamed, throwing up her arms to shield herself from the glass, blinking through her own intoxication to try to understand. "Vegeta, what are you—!"

He turned and grabbed her shoulders hard enough to cause pain. "What have you done to me?!" he demanded, his eyes actually looking frightened, "This isn't how it was supposed to…I must defeat him!"

"Vegeta, stop it, you're hurting me!" she cried out.

Vegeta stumbled back, holding his head, his eyes wide. "No…no…I must…why can't I do it?!" He pointed a finger at her. "You! You were supposed to…what have you done?!"

Bulma rubbed her sore shoulders and stared at him. "Vegeta…I don't understand…"

"You were supposed to help me!" he screamed at her. He stumbled back again, pulling at his hair. "No…this can't be right…you are the answer, you have to be!"

"Vegeta, tell me what's wrong!" she shouted.

"I have to be a Super Saiyan, I must!" He pointed at her again. "You were supposed… why the hell do you think I married you?!"

The air fell silent and after a long moment Bulma sighed heavily, folding her arms. "Well, I never thought you'd actually admit that." She watched him tremble. "What? You didn't think I'd figure it out? I'm not…I'm smart." She tried to rub away her beer blush. "I am trying to help you. I am. Really."

Vegeta's teeth clenched. "You…I must train…!"

"There's more to training than hitting things! And doing…crunches or whatever." She tossed her blue hair back. "Can't you see that's what I've been trying to show you?"

"Sh…shut up…!"

"No! You shut up!" She jabbed a finger back at him, putting her hands on her hips to shoot a glare before sighing again. She ripped the bandages off her arms and walked over to him, taking his face in her hands. "I love you, Vegeta. I love you." Her brow narrowed. "Do you understand what that means? It means…" She rubbed at her beer blush again briefly. "I don't care what you think…or that you keep breaking my windows." Vegeta's jaw hung open slightly. "I'll find a way to make you a Super Saiyan. I promise." She smiled and winked.

Vegeta stared back into her eyes for a long moment. And for that moment, it seemed she had finally calmed him. But then his teeth clenched again and he grabbed her by the wrists. "No!" He threw her onto the bed, his face darkening as he stood over her, his finger pointed menacingly down. "No…you…" He slapped himself across the face and growled, attempting to concentrate. "You've mixed me up! You just…LEAVE ME ALONE!"

Bulma gaped as he took off the ground and flew out the window, breaking it even further. "Vegeta!" she shouted after him.

But he had disappeared into the black sky.

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