Bulma smiled warmly at her very alien looking Sister-in-law. Tarble's wife, it turned out, was about two foot tall, completely hairless, and had a pale white face with only holes for a nose. Gure seemed to be a very sweet being, regardless, and Tarble had presented her like he was announcing his favorite celebrity. He was clearly very in love with his wife, and Bulma had to remind herself that she and Vegeta were also different species.
The banquet hall was busy, but they still had a sense of privacy. The closest group to theirs sat several seats down, and she could barely hear them over Tarble talking about the home they had lost.
"Nowei was really beautiful," he said around a mouthful of what looked like a seacreature. The excitable man definitely ate like a Saiyan. "It was very green there, and the trees were enormous. Gure was from there, actually. It's really a shame that Nowei is gone."
Vegeta tore a piece of meat with his teeth, acting like he hadn't heard him.
"Why did you have to leave it?" Bulma asked, carrying their side of the conversation on her back.
"Nowei was very, very old," Gure said in a high voice. "He finally died of old age, and his children had to find other places to live in the universe. The Ticriri have been very nice to us here."
Bulma blinked. "I thought Nowei was a planet?"
"He kind of was," Tarble nodded. "Nowei was an ancient turtle. Gure and her people lived on his back, and they allowed me to stay there after the station I was living on got to be too dangerous for me." He laughed nervously. "I don't do very well with fighting. I got into a bit of trouble. Gure is a great warrior, and she'd met me on the station before. When she found me I was a little bit… Gure saved my life, in more ways than one."
That got Vegeta's attention enough for him to raise his head. He regarded Gure a moment, clearly checking something Bulma couldn't see. He finally nodded. "Not a bad power-level for a non-warrior race." Then he said something that made Bulma stare at him. "Thank you."
Gure smiled, nodding at him once.
Tarble smiled wider, and Bulma saw his tail wag excitedly to hear Vegeta thank his wife for saving him. Vegeta seemed to notice this as well, but it made him frown.
"Tarble, wrap your damn tail. You're not a child."
"Oh. Sorry," Tarble said, pulling his tail back around his middle. "I forget."
Bulma cleared her throat. "So… do you guys have kids?"
"Gure's race doesn't have children," Tarble explained. "When one of them died Nowei would rearrange their atoms into a new child, and they'd grow again with their old memories." He looked a bit sad. "But since Nowei has died, his children are on their last lives. When Gure dies next time it will be for good."
Gure patted his hand. "I have lived many times, I do not fear going to join Nowei."
"Anyway, it means we get to grow old together," Tarble smiled. "We might think about adopting one day. Do you have children?"
"Yes, two," Bulma nodded. "Uh, well three, kind of, but two are the same person. And then Goten is kind of… but two for sure, it's a long story."
Tarble looked at Vegeta. "Are they Saiyan enough? Or are they… like me?"
Vegeta grunted. "They're fine. My son reached Super Saiyan status as a child."
Tarble's eyes went wide. "Super Saiyan? Like the legend?"
"Turns out it was more than a legend," Vegeta said. "I, and another Saiyan, have surpassed it, many times. Most of our children have as well."
"Wow," Tarble marveled with wide eyes. "I always figured you'd be a Super Saiyan one day Vegeta, if it was real at all. You were always the strongest."
She saw him wince, but she wasn't sure why. She decided to change the subject.
"You actually remind me a little of our oldest, Trunks."
Vegeta choked on his meat. "What?"
"He does," she said, hiding the top half of his face behind her hand. "Look, it's in the jaw. Must be a family resemblance thing."
Tarble beamed. "I'd love to meet more family some time. It's just been me and Gure for a long time. If I'm… allowed to come?" He glanced at Vegeta.
"Huh? Why wouldn't you be?" Bulma said, raising an eyebrow.
"Well, technically any planet on which the royal family lives is the new Vegetasei. I was banished from there. Am I allowed on your new planet, brother?"
"Of course you are," Bulma said immediately. "You can come to Earth any time you like. We have lots of room, you should visit. Right Vegeta?"
Vegeta had gone back to ignoring them, eating in silence.
Tarble set his ungloved hands on the table. "Hey, Vegeta?"
He didn't look up.
Tarble bravely pushed forward. "I just… I wanted to say… I know I'm not quite right. I'm not a proper Saiyan. I talk too much and I can't fight. But even if I can't be a good Saiyan… I'm still happy. I like being here with Gure, and I never have to train or be afraid. I was really sad when I thought you were dead, and now I'm really glad you're here. I missed you."
Vegeta scooted his chair back, tossing the remains of his dinner back onto the table. "I'm going to train."
Bulma stared after him, anger rising in her throat.
Their section of the table was silent for a moment, and then Bulma slapped the surface hard enough to rattle their dishes. "That ass . I am so sorry, Tarble. He's not usually like… okay, he's often a dick, but not usually to family. And not like this ." She fumed.
"It's okay, Bulma, I know my brother."
"It is not okay. You've been nothing but nice to him! He can't be civil just because you don't like Saiyan things? He has two half-human children!"
"It's okay, he just--"
"No. Does he… does he think this way about Trunks? He's not very Saiyan either, by Vegeta's standards. Will he just up and ditch him one day if he gives up fighting?"
Tarble blinked. "Is that why he told you he hates me?"
She looked at him sadly. "Oh, Tarble, I didn't say that."
Tarble shook his head. "No, you're right, I can't fight. But that's not why Vegeta hates me so much."
Bulma stared at him. "What isn't he telling me?"
"Still no answer," KT muttered, tossing the house phone onto the bed he was going to share with Mai. "We're finally here, and my parents are gone. They could be gone for months, what if they're not back before--"
"We have time," Mai said sleepily, already settled under the covers. "Now come enjoy these soft sheets with me. We're definitely taking a few sets home with us when we go back."
KT switched off the light, lying next to her with a worried frown. "You're not usually this tired so early in the night."
"I don't usually have the luxury of a soft bed and no work in the morning."
"Don't lie to me, it's a symptom."
She chuckled. "You make it sound like I've caught a horrible disease. Yes, pregnancy can make you tired. I just need to rest. That's why we came, isn't it?"
"But if they are still gone--"
"I'm only four months in. Worst case scenario, I'd have you and Raditz and your siblings, and we'd go to a hospital."
"Don't be afraid."
She laughed openly at that. "Me? You're the one who made us come three months ahead of schedule."
KT let his hand stray to her waist under the blankets. "If anything happened to you Mai… either of you…"
"We're safe, Trunks," she whispered. "All of us. You don't have to scramble to protect us every minute."
"Yes, I do," he said. "I lose people if I don't, Mai."
She fell asleep before she could answer.
The training facilities of Seihiri were not as rigorous as the Gravity Room Bulma had designed on Earth, but they tried to accommodate their more powerful guests. As Bulma entered their version of a gym she saw dozens of what she assumed were exercise machines scattered about. Heavy metal balls were hung on racks around the room, and deep pools of bubbling water held a few sore exercisers who looked ready to leave.
Several beings passed her on their way out, all looking nervous and shooting glances back over their shoulder. She headed towards the area they were retreating from, knowing she'd find him there.
Vegeta was alone in an antechamber, grunting loudly as he aggressively punched the object in front of him. Bulma could only call it a punching bag, although it was about thirty feet long and thicker than two oak trees put together, hanging down from the ceiling in front of him. It swung on its axis as he hit it, and she was fairly certain she wouldn't have been able to budge it on her own.
They had enough privacy; he'd scared everyone else away from the area. She leaned against the wall closest to him, and he didn't pause his assault.
"You don't care about how weak your brother is."
He didn't respond.
She continued. "Giving birth to Tarble killed your mother."
He paused, but not for long. He went back to exercising, not looking at her.
She took a breath. "I am sorry, Vegeta. I'm sorry you lost her, and so young. But you have to understand, it wasn't Tarble's fault. Here I've been thinking about him as if he were Trunks, worrying that maybe you don't love your son the way you could because he's got too much human in him, when this whole time he's been more like Bulla."
"What do you mean by that?" He asked lowly.
She took a step closer. "Vegeta, think about it. What if giving birth to Bulla had killed me? Would you want Trunks to blame her for it?"
He stopped punching the bag, letting it swing freely a moment. He didn't look at her. "Do you honestly think I hadn't considered that?"
She paused. "You…"
"Of course I thought of Tarble when you were pregnant a second time. I considered Trunks hating his sibling for taking you. I know Tarble is not to blame for our mother's early death."
"Oh," she blinked.
" I am."
She stared at him. "What?"
He gritted his teeth, and she saw his normal walls ascend between them. A crack formed. "Leika was a mighty warrior," he spat finally. "Born a second class but powerful enough to draw the eyes of the elites, including my father. And then I happened," his fists flexed. "I took every ounce of strength her body would allow me to. They told her, this child is killing you, but she refused to dispose of me. Even when she reached the point that most mothers would allow their fetuses to be removed and placed in a nursery pod she refused, saying I'd be stronger if she carried to term. She very nearly died at my birth, but despite my greed there was enough strength left over for her to survive. Tarble asked no more of her than a normal infant, but she didn't have it in her to sustain either of them adequately. Her death, and his defects, are both on my head. I've accepted it." He began to punch at the bag again. "That doesn't mean I want a constant reminder in my face."
She stared at him for a moment, then boldly stepped forward, wrapping her arms around him and burying her face against his chest.
"Let go of me."
"Don't 'woman' me, I'm hugging you, deal with it."
He didn't hug her back, but he didn't push her away either, and she counted that as a win. He finally spoke.
"If he was a real Saiyan, Tarble would hate me. Appropriately. But he doesn't function well enough to understand that."
"I'm not a Saiyan," she said carefully. "But I'm a mother, so you're going to listen to me, okay?"
He said nothing.
"Women make choices when they find out they're having a baby. If you fall in love with that baby, there's not a damn thing you won't do for it. If Trunks had been a difficult pregnancy, I wouldn't have done anything differently. You said yourself that she had options. You didn't take anything, she gave it. You had her for a few years before Tarble was born, did she ever say she was mad at you for making her weaker?"
"I don't care about other Saiyans, did your mother say she regretted having you?"
"My father said I needed to make up for the void I created."
"Again, I didn't ask about anyone else. Did your mother blame you?"
"No. She never voiced it," he glanced down at her. "Are you crying ? Why?"
"Because I kinda want to go and hug Trunks, and he's far away. Please, trust me Vegeta. It's not your fault. I don't know if anyone ever told you that, but it's not. She obviously loved you, and I'd bet she'd have loved Tarble too, 'defective' or not. Oh gods, and you've just been carrying this? Your father was wrong , Vegeta. The only thing I want for my kids is for them to be happy and safe. No amount of Saiyan bullshit will convince me she wanted different for you."
He sighed heavily. "Okay, that's enough, you can stop."
"I will not," she said, refusing to move when he tried to peel her off of him. "You're going to listen to me if have to--"
"I said I've heard enough," he said, but his tone wasn't threatening or hostile.
"You mean you believe me?"
"I would assume you would know more than I would about… women things. If you believe with certainty that I am not to blame for what happened to my mother, then I have to consider that possibility. Now let go of me, we're in public."
"I'm so proud of you."
"Get off me."
"You worked through a whole emotional issue, and it only took you twenty years of marriage."
"I will throw you out of the ship on the way home if you speak of this to anyone."
"Oh, I'm so scared," she muttered against his chest.
He rolled his eyes.