“I’m not a witch!”
The blue haired stranger shrieked loud enough to make his ears ring. “I’m a girl!”
A girl? So that’s what they look like…
Goku scratched his head and grinned sheepishly. “Oh really? I’ve never met a girl before…my grandpa said to be very nice to them!”
“Your grandpa has the right idea!” The girl exclaimed. Her blue eyes sparkled like jewels as she winked at him and extended an open hand. “My name is Bulma. What’s yours?”
Goku stared at the open palm, confuses by the gesture. Grandpa had taught him high fives, but…what was this, a low five?
“I’m Goku,” he replied, clapping his hand against hers, “Nice to meet ya!”
“Ow!” Bulma shrieked as she jumped back. “That hurt! You little jerk!”
Bulma always warned that life was passing him by.
She would glare at him with those electric blue eyes, hands on her hips and a new hairstyle every time he came to visit.
“What did you break this time?! You’re only here when you want something.”
“That’s not true!” Goku would say sheepishly, hands running through his wild hair. Dealing with Bulma was worse than Chi-Chi, who at least gave him some benefit of understanding. Bulma, however, took no shit. In hindsight, it made sense that someone as hardened as her wrangled in someone like Vegeta.
“While you’re off in some other dimension, letting my husband bash your head in,” Bulma exclaimed, “Life goes on! Your sons are growing up, and your wife is getting older without you! When are you going to stop living in arrested youth?”
If only he had listened.
He sat riverside, deep in the retreats of Mt. Paozu where he met her, the first human being to cross his path. What started as a freak accident, a chance meeting and an unlikely partnership, quickly became the beginning of an incredible adventure.
After all, where would he be had they never met? Would he have fallen in love with Chi-Chi? Would he have his sons? Or would he still be out in the wilderness, ignorant to the complex world he grew to love and protect.
He stared into the running stream as it revived images of his friend. He stared into the currents, as if he were looking for some kind of answer. Perhaps her reflection would appear and she would be standing behind him, scolding him about missing another get together.
Although, Goku would have good reason this time. He patiently waited for her, ready to give her that same ridiculous grin and naïveté she had grown to expect from him. “Sorry, Bulma!”
I’m just not ready to say goodbye.
“There you are.” An acrid voice greeted him from behind.
“Ditching the memorial of a dear friend to go play in the woods? Typical behavior of a low class Saiyan.”
He wore a three piece suit, one that Bulma must have bought for him. Vegeta was his greatest rival, who in a stroke of irony was swept up by his best friend and given a chance at a peaceful life. They were an unlikely pair who had inadvertently saved the world through bearing a child.
And somehow, in the unbridled chaos that was Bulma and Vegeta, they found love.
Goku saw Vegeta’s image in the stream, giving the same repugnant stare that haunted him since their first battle.
Goku, voice somber, said, “I’m sorry.”
Vegeta scoffed. “For what? For the reality of life? You cannot control everything, Kakarot. How are you just now learning this.”
“Slow learner, I guess.” Goku countered with a dry chuckle.
“Hn. You were spoiled by those dragon balls,” Vegeta said, “Have you ever lost someone you couldn’t revive?”
In a flash, Goku jumped to his feet, spun and swung his fist at Vegeta, who effortlessly stopped his assault with an open palm. The force from the attack swept the two up on a sonic wave. Their eyes met, Goku’s fiery anger matching Vegeta’s darkness, and his hair flew wildly in the wind.
Vegeta said not one word.
Goku, like a dagger in his heart, and he lost all control of his muscles, dropping to his knees. He slammed his fist against the grass, forging a small crater with each blow. His lungs filled with fire and his throat closed up. And when his mind finally freed him from his denial, his eyes burning, Goku gave in to the earth.
Bulma is dead.
He suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder, and glanced up at Vegeta. His coal black eyes carried the Goku’s pain. The walls that the prince had so intricately built slowly began to open.
“Out of the ashes of a fallen legacy, you and I rose to the heavens,” Vegeta said as he stood back up, walking to the edge of the ravine. He looked up into the sky, allowing the peaceful quiet to settle their chaos.
“We became legendary. We became gods,” Vegeta let out a harsh chuckle, turning his head, “And yet, we are still bound to the ties of fate. How meaningless.”
Goku slammed his fist into the ground again.
Vegeta, reading him like a book, shook his head and chuckled. “When you died, I did the same as you. I retreated into myself. I lost my entire reason for living — for how could I be the greatest warrior if I could no longer test it against you? Do you realize the gravity of what I am saying, Kakarot? I hated you, and yet I mourned you.”
Goku looked at him, taken aback. “And now?”
“In another time, sure. I would be doing the same, hiding in some kind of dark abyss. I would do worse than you, and destroy everything until I was left. I would probably even destroy myself.
“But,” Vegeta mused aloud, looking into the river, “I can no longer do those things. I have a young son, who doesn’t understand the finality of death. I have an infant daughter, who will grow up bearing the striking resemblance of —“ he froze for a brief moment, cleared his throat and continued, “I’ve known from the beginning that my life with Bulma was on borrowed time. And yet…”
Goku watched the man before him slowly lowered his guard. He stared out into the nothing, up towards the blue sky searching for something that was not there. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, and Goku knew his composure would soon falter. As he moved to place a hand on his shoulder, Vegeta’s eyes snapped back open and he smacked it away.
“Ow!” Goku exclaimed as he retreated, rubbing his sore wrist.
“I already mourned with my children, don’t expect me to sob like an idiot in front of you, Kakarot.”
“Heh,” Goku countered, “I was just gonna say…it never feels like enough time.”
Vegeta gave a slight shrug. Goku pulled at his shoulders, forcing the prince to face him. “Hey. You will see her again. You’ve earned that.”
“Hopefully,” Vegeta laughed dryly.
“Definitely,” Goku said, “If she were looking down at us right now…”
“…She would be infuriated that we were missing her funeral.” Vegeta then slipped his jacket off, and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt.
“I never did tell you about Saiyan culture,” Vegeta said, unbuttoning his dress shirt, “Our gatherings were far less…teary. The widowed spouse would challenge a close friend or relative…and fight them to the death.”
“Uh…what are you doing?”
“I’m honoring my wife the only way a true Saiyan can.” Vegeta said, and then immediately crashed his fist against Goku’s face.
Goku flew into the thicket of the forest, catching himself before slamming into a tree. The iron taste of blood in his mouth awakened something primal in him, as if the pent up grief was rechanneled into battle lust.
You were right about us. Bulma.
“And don’t you dare go easy on me, you bastard!”
“Oh, I won’t,” Goku said with a wolfish grin. A wave of blue surrounded him, the aura as brilliant as the angel who now watched over them, and he charged his opponent.