"It's just a little further, just over that crest," she wheezed to herself for morale. Nightfall was less than an hour away, but she was just too close to stop and make camp for the night. Progress aside, she had spent too many nights alone since she started on her trek, and if she had anything to say about it, tonight would be her last. A small smile graced her lips when she remembered what she was doing this for.
Bulma squeezed the straps of her backpack and shook them a few times, ensuring they were ready for what she hoped was the final ascent. Her breath was ragged and her gauze was in desperate need of changing, but if what she was told was right, hope was waiting on the other side of the summit.
Tiny pieces of wayward gravel forced her down onto her hands, but she continued on, gripping at rock and obsidian with determined fingers. The smell of precipitation sat heavy on the horizon, teasing what was left of her fragile patience. Geological engineering wasn't her M.O., but she knew inclement weather and loose ground was a dangerous enough cocktail to set her back more than she could afford.
She shook all the negative thoughts from her head and forced herself to keep moving.
Jagged shards gnawed at her swollen ankles and whistling insects buzzed in her ears. It was surprising how many bugs could survive at such high altitudes, but she reasoned the air really only felt thinner to her human body. She forgot that the rest of the animal kingdom adapted to their environment while humans expected their environment to cater to them. Her mind started wandering to differences between species in the animal kingdom, wondering how all animals were mostly carbon based, yet could exhibit such opposing attributes.
Bulma stopped to shake out the gravel impressed into her hands and spared a glance behind her. During her internal entomology dialogue, she'd covered much more ground than she thought. With perspective being skewed at such heights, she guessed she'd already gone a mile, with possibly one more to go. With renewed vigor she stood as upright as she could and carefully waded through the craggy earth.
When she finally reached the peak, she pulled herself over the sharp ridge and laid flat on her stomach, ignoring the aching in her abdomen. Her hamstrings and quadriceps felt like heated columns of over-fatigued metal. They had been used well past their breaking point, but she couldn't celebrate, not yet. And apparently, no time soon either.
Her eyes followed an intricately wrought column of equally intricate stone at least fifty feet in the air. It was white and cream, alabaster and other pastel hues. She squinted at the top but could only make out what looked like a flattened half sphere. It paled in comparison to the size of the mountain she climbed, but with its slick shaft and no means of upward conveyance, all hope was sucked out of her. She stood up but fell right back to her knees in defeat.
"Just fucking great!" Bulma slammed her hands on the ground and screamed into the dust it created. Her back rounded like the mountain she conquered and for the first time in three nights, Bulma let her frustrations roll down her cheeks, leaving moist circles on the ground.
A sudden flash of light forced her back onto her haunches, sniffling with a mixture of fright and awe at sight in front of her.
An almost cartoon-like creature with full, red lips and odd looking skin, like that of a sea-lion sat on a levitating carpet in front of her.
She opened her mouth to speak, but no sound would come out. A few months earlier, Bulma would surely have peed herself in fright or pinched her arm raw attempting to wake up, but all she could do was try to place all of her questions into a neat, tidy order.
"A..Are you a genie?" She asked slowly with a grimace, not knowing if she was fully prepared to hear the answer. Worried her puffy, red eyes would somehow send a threatening message, she wiped her face and choked back another sob. "I mean, can you grant wishes? You have a turban and a magic carpet, so you must be able to right? I know you don't all look like that but-"
Bulma froze when he stepped off the carpet and slowly walked towards her. She was still on her knees but as he approached, his height remained largely unchanged.
"Please.." she clasped her hands together, religiously, for the first time since she was a child. "I need help."
A rotund hand with a soft, padded palm reached out gently placed one finger on her forehead.
Bulma's bleary eyes focused in agonizingly slow on a pair of pointed, cloth like shoes. A blanket had been thrown over her body, but her cheek had red creases where the tiles joined together. She placed her hand on her forehead and moaned weakly, slowly rising up to meet an elderly green humanoid type creature standing over her.
"Hello my child. I trust you were welcomed adequately?"
Bulma's stomach lurched at the site before her and copious amounts of green and yellow bile swirled around in methodical patters on the hard tile. With no resolve left, she let her hand slip in her own mess and accepted a second defeat, face-down in vomit.
Something salty in her mouth mixed with the permeant metallic taste she'd been sucking on the past few days. Her body autonomously swallowed, but what felt like a large pill stuck to the sides of her parched throat. She jolted upright and pounded her fist against her chest until she was sure air could make its way through again.
The animated creature from earlier swiped a heavy, rust-colored curtain aside and granted himself access to the small room she was taking residence in. One hand carried a serving tray with a small cup, the other was tucked neatly behind his back.
"I see you're awake. I hope I did not frighten you earlier. And no, to answer your question. I cannot grant wishes." He bowed in front of her and placed the tray on the table beside the bed.
Without asking, Bulma grabbed the cup off the table and began chugging vehemently, dislodging any remnants of the pill. She drank until the only liquid was from the small ring of condensation it collected on the tray. A strange, tingling sensation washed over her when she was done. Her vision was still weary and her head was heavy, but there was no more pain in her side or ankle.
"How did you...?"
"It's called a Senzu bean. Kami wanted to make sure you were feeling better before you took your leave."
"No, you didn't frighten me." She smiled gingerly and brought her knees up to her chest. "Truthfully I had no idea what to expect. It's just been a long journey. And what's a Kami?"
"This way please." As quickly as he entered the room, he left the same way.
Bulma jumped up and quickly plodded after him. They stopped in a what looked like a lush, indoor garden with blooming newlings and thriving foliage.
The green creature she passed out before earlier was sitting at a dainty, round table alcoved near the garden, sipping out of a tiny cup. He stood when they approached and he gently took her hand in his and guided her to a chair across from him. His flesh was cool and taut, but eerily similar to human skin otherwise. Bulma accepted the beverage he offered and picked it up for a drink when he was done pouring.
"What is it that you seek, my dear?"
The cup in her hand chattered nervously against the saucer when he spoke. She sat it down in frustration and laid her hands into her lap. What was she going to say without sounding crazy. She looked between the two of them and decided looking crazy should be the last thing she was worried about. She was already crazy for being there. "I've come a very long way to help a ...friend."
"It's a noble gesture to help others, yes. Please continue."
Bulma nodded and inhaled a cleansing breath. "His time is coming soon, but you see," Bulma partially laughed and partially cried at her explanation, "he's in a very obscure predicament; not really of this world even, but I would do anything to help him. I haven't even used my last wish because I thought I could use it on him, but apparently the rules are so convoluted, I can't do anything." Bulma knew everything that was coming out of her mouth would be lost on anyone who hadn't lived her life the better part of the last year. "Damn it, I"m sorry," she slowed down. "I know, I sound crazy. I think I need to start from the beginn-"
"Well, Mr. Popo, it seems Vegeta has moved on after all. And he's done much better this time around. Such a lovely woman to risk her life for him."
"Yes, Kami, as expected. It has been almost five hundred years. Almost poignant, wouldn't you say?" He tilted his head up with a smile and placed his fists behind his back. "Would you care for some more tea?"
"Yes, that would be most appreciated. Would you care for some more tea, my dear?"
Bulma's beautiful face gnarled at the words exchanged between the two creatures in front of her. She struggled to reshape her vision from the tunnel it was in, but she was just so utterly lost. Thirty years and she had never been at a loss for words. Never not knew what to say, how to retaliate, but for the second time in less than the full rotation of a clock, she was rendered speechless.
Kami gestured Mr. Popo off with a nod of his head and pushed himself away from the table. "Come with me child." He reached for her hand again, this time taking it without waiting for permission.
Bulma sulked along behind him as they walked back out to the overlook. Kami continued walking until he reached the precipice, his staff tapping at a metal edging that circumvented the base of the tower. "You must be very confused by all of this." He turned his head behind him, waiting to see if she would join him.
"I don't understand." She slowly walked closer to the edge, stopping when she stood perfectly parallel to him.
They both peered down into the emptiness below them. It was well past dusk and not the tiniest speck of light reached the hardened earth below them.
"I can imagine not. Seeking answers only to find more questions can be frustrating."
"Just...Just please tell me everything you know," she begged, "I don't think I have the time to ask you all the questions I have."
"My dear, not a lot happens that I don't know about. You definitely don't have enough time to ask, nor for me to answer everything I know," he chuckled lightly. "It would fall on deaf ears long before-"
"Stop," she admonished. "Please. You know I mean about Vegeta. What do you know about him? And what did you mean by he finally 'moved on'?"
"If time really is of the essence as you say, then I shall not spend it excessively. You came here to see if I could break Vegeta of his obligation and reverse his sentence. But I'm afraid, I am not the one to help you."
"What?" Bulma's face fell and Kami could see a deep pain in her eyes.
"I understand the trouble you've gone through to get here and the time it has taken you, but Yemma is the one you seek." His voice was ripe with empathy, but it did little to comfort her.
"Fine, whatever. Can you call him here, please?" Her voice cracked as the last threads of patience were being plucked to nil.
"Waste not your time, child. Yemma's work cannot be retrofitted if you will. Vegeta's fate was written long ago. He knew the consequences."
"So he knew he was going to die and still went through with it anyway?! That's bull shit if I ever heard it," she yelled, unconcerned with the ramifications of yelling at the deity before her. "He was obviously tricked into it. If he knew then what he does now, he-
"You misunderstand Bulma. Vegeta knew exactly how long his subjugation would be. Whether or not he carefully calculated the finite outcome of his decision, we... well, we can never take that from him. If there was enough time left in his human body, then he would be free to live the remainder of his days. Never have I bear-witnessed to a half-millennium old human though. Alternately, after 500 years, don't you think he might be tired?"
"I'm sure he's exponentially tired!" She roared. "I'm positive he's had his fill of living on borrowed time while being forced to watch everyone around him age and die while he lives another year only to serve someone else lucky enough to stumble upon him." Salty liquid trailed from her nose, stinging her cracked lips.
"I don't care what he did, he doesn't deserve that," she whimpered solemnly.
"Are you unaware of the conditions that met him such fate? Why he was subject to serve for so long?" Kami stepped away from the edge slowly wandered about with no direction. "And I think serve is a bit of a misnomer. I can think of far worse fates than the human condition.
"And what happens when his time is up?" she demanded, ignoring his question. "Where does he go? Heaven, hell? Where?"
"He will be gone from this world. That's all I can answer."
Bulma threw her hands up in defeat and screamed until all the air was expelled out of her lungs, collapsing to her knees. Kami knelt beside her and placed a hand on her back. "Now is not the time to exhaust your self, Bulma, you still have a long road ahead of you."
Are you guys sufficiently confused yet? It'll all come together, promise. XD
A word of caution though. I usually try to sleep on my writing for a bit before I post, but I'm taking a chance here and posting as is. This may mean that I'll go back and revise this first chapter a few chapters in, and in the event I do, I'll notate it in the foreword of the next chapter. Nothing fundamental though, mostly just small details.
Chapter 2: I wish it was blue
Guys, I'm such a loser. I think it took me longer to write this preface than it did the actual story XD Mostly I was worried about stepping on people's toes, but I really wanted to cut this off at the head, so here goes:
I'm asking my amazing readers to keep an open mind with this story. A few of them may be OOC some of the time, but fundamentally they'll be the same. I'm basing their personalities a little more on actual human attributes and essentially, putting a more realistic spin on a not-so realistic story (good luck, right?) They might be selfish, sexually inappropriate, inconsiderate, bad friends etc.. I really don't know yet, but I don't want to limit their capacity for emotion because it doesn't go with their fictional character. Mostly, you might just see them doing things they most likely wouldn't do if they were kept in character with the show.
I've really only had this be an issue with one story I wrote by only one commenter, so I'm not too concerned, but I know of a few other writers that have gotten flack for it, which to me, is just plain crazy. I've read soon many stories where they were definitely OOC, but that was what made it great! Anywhosit, I just wanted to forewarn you guys so you can head back now if you want.
Onto the next chapter. A little uneventful here, but will set us up.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Woo hoo!! Over here!" Bulma pulled up her shirt and shimmied wildly at a grinning employee behind the bar. A collective cheer emanated from the small crowd as Bulma threw her hand up and caught the beaded necklaces he tossed her direction, reveling in the on-looker attention.
"I cannot believe you just did that." Chi-chi buried her face in her hands and slunk into the booth, peaking one eye between two fingers. "Have you not even an ounce of modesty?" she asked in a lowered voice, "It's the after work crowd. What if someone you know is here?"
"Don't be such a prude Chi," she laughed, "It was just my bra. I'm not the exhibitionist here, remember?" Bulma plunked back down and gestured with her thumb to another blue-haired woman dancing provocatively in a circle of slack-tyed business men. "It's not exactly like a bunch of lab geeks hang out here anway. You just need to chill out and let loose! It's the last time you're going to be doing this as an untethered woman." She picked up a shot glass and quickly downed its contents, daring her friend to get another round by dangling the glass in front of her.
"Mmmm... Maybe just one more. I'm not so sure Maron wouldn't start taking donations right here on the floor if we got her drunk enough."Chi-Chi rolled her eyes in disgust at the bikini clad woman, wiggling and jiggling before them. "And quit saying tethered. Just because you're still whoring it up doesn't mean I don't enjoy going home to the same person every night.
Bulma clutched her chest and feigned hurt. "Et tu, Brute?"
"You know what I meant," Chi-Chi smirked. "Now give me one of those."
Bulma shrugged, unfazed, and laced a necklace around herself, before handing one off to her repulsed friend. "Well Maron does have that '18 and confused' look, so nothing would surprise me at this point, but I still don't see why you asked me to invite her if you don't really like her."
"Goku asked me to." Chi-Chi admitted cooly. "Don't say anything, but apparently Krillin has been talking about asking her to move in with him. Lord knows what he sees in her, other than her fake-ass tits, but what do I know, right?"
"Wow, that serious huh?" Bulma stuck out her bottom lip comically and nodded at the fresh information. "I guess he wants us to make the slut feel welcomed then?"
"Yeup." Chi-Chi begrudged with an embellished pop at the end. She held her hand high in the air until a milky-faced waitress made her way through the impeding crowd and took their final drink order.
"You know..," Bulma started, mesmerized by the impossible undulating of Maron's rhythmic body, "it's really a shame Launch had to leave early. When you get her riled up, she has just the way of making you feel welcomed."
"That she does," ChiChi agreed, "That she does. I guess we'll just have to all go out again soon before he pops the second biggest question of his life." The two women shared a sinful laugh and tapped the rims of their freshly replaced glasses together before beckoning over their third wheel for one last shot.
"To not getting pregnant on your wedding night!" they toasted, earning whistles and cat-calls from other patrons before heading out well before last call. Thanks to some smooth talking and empty promises on Bulma's part, the trio left the bar with a complimentarily paid tab and headed out for more antics.
"I'M GETTING FUCKING HITCHED!!! AGGGHHHHHH!!!" Half of Chi-chi's exposed torso flailed haphazardly through the sunroof as the limo sped down the tight corridor of the inner city. Her Captain and Coke hit the floor mat with a splash as Bulma grabbed for her legs and attempted to still her. "Be careful Chi! You're gonna fal-....Oh my god... do you use baby oil on your legs?" she asked, rubbing her cheek against her friend's surprisingly soft calves.
"Chi-Chi spread her unruly arms wide, giggling at the sensation of Bulma's face against her skin. "I'm queen of the world!!" The wind whipped against her face, her tangled tresses splaying behind her. "Come hither, be my second in command!"
Bulma grabbed Chi-Chi's feet and secured them on the bench's padded seat before stepping on it herself and carefully slipping half her body through the tempered glass opening.
"Isn't this great!?" ChiChi yelled with enthusiasm Bulma wasn't sure she'd seen her exude before."I promise I'm not even that drunk anymore, but I feel so alive up here! It almost feels wrong!"
"We're only like 6 feet from the ground," Bulma mused, headlights and businesses flying by them. "but it's fun to see you like this. I'm glad you're enjoying yourself."
"I really am! Isn't the city so much prettier on a calm night?" The remains of her voice not buffeted by the rushing air carried across the segmented glass of tautly placed buildings.
Bulma's hungry eyes drunk all the beauty of the muted city at her friend's request. It was certainly captivating enough to risk having your neck snapped by a low-flying bird she decided. The two carried on, via the sunroof, with goofy antics, waving futilely at the few passersby who were undoubtedly working late and blowing kisses to all the little people that made their night possible.
Being preemptive, both women had taken the next day off of work, but they decided to stop for quick bite to abate any lingering effects of alcohol anyway; hangovers were for the inexperienced crowd.
"Don't eat that whole tray Chi. We still have that couples massage tomorrow and I don't want us to look all bloated and shit." Bulma crammed a hushpuppy in her mouth hypocritically.
"Quit worrying, one jr. tray isn't going to fill up three women. Speaking of, where's Maron? I got this corndog for her and I want to see how she eats it."
"Oh yeah, I forgot about her. I think she's with the limo driver... I hear she gives passable road head."
"Figures." Chi-Chi blew her bangs upward with a hot breath. "Should we kill her then?"
"Nah, let her be," she said casually. "I'll make sure Krillin finds some irrefutable evidence of her infidelity before he grows some balls and asks her. Besides, I'm sure I'll get a steep discount for whatever she's doing." Bulma put her straw in her mouth and slowly slid her lips down the shaft until they reached the lid, repeating the up and down motion until Chi-Chi couldn't stand it anymore.
She snorted with maniacal laughter, choking on her large tea, before pulling her friend into a death grip.
"Hey, if I did't say it earlier, thank you so, so much for this. All of this I mean. I know it was a little low key, but I don't think I could've dealt with all the cliche pink sashes, princess crowns and those stupid necklaces adorned with micro penises. No one knows me like you do."
"That's what best friend are for, Chi. I know how much you despise surprises. Besides, I'd rather reap the deals of half price sushi and Thursday night drink specials over seeing that played out 'male revue' downtown one more time," Bulma smiled jovially.
ChiChi crinkled her nose, "Those men are all so sweaty and greasy. I'd much rather just watch Goku strip and....well you know."
A light dust of pink spread across ChiChi's cheeks and Bulma could see the sickly sweet romance in her eyes. She pinched her arm and hopped off the picnic table, heading towards the car. "Well let's get a move on then, babe. If Maron hasn't sucked him dry by now, the driver should be able to get you back safely in your precious Goku's arms before ten." Bulma enunciated the last part with a cutesy, saccharin voice she knew ChiChi hated.
"Wait up a second." Chichi slung her purse around to her front and pulled out a small box, then proceeded to get down on one knee. Bulma mock gasped at her friend and covered her mouth with one hand while ChiChi took the other.
"Bulma.. I've wanted to do this for a long time....Well, like three months anyway." ChiChi managed out without giggling.
"Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!" Bulma exclaimed, bouncing on her toes.
"I just wasn't sure when the right time was. But seeing you tonight, standing beside me through the sunroof while bugs slapped us in the face.." ChiChi pretended to sniffle. "Well now I know. Bulma, will you...."
Bulma pursed her lips, her face swollen with suppressed laughter.
"Will you accept this maid of honor gift?" The box lid was popped off, revealing a small, glass orb with a delicate chain looped through a tiny hoop on top.
Bulma's eyes widened at the beauty of it and the impending urge to laugh was relinquished. She pulled it out of the box and nested it in her palm, scrutinizing it carefully.
It was not quite something she'd pick out herself, but it definitely had an air of obscurity. Almost mystical even. Upon closer inspection, the orb itself was a translucent red with a gold filigree type symbol suspended in the middle. Not any kind of mark she recognized, it almost looked like a 'V', but with another arrow coming out of the middle of it. Underneath the 'V' shape were three small stacked lines and both sections were sitting on top of something something that resembled a wide 'U' shape with points at each end.
"I hope you like it," ChiChi stood up and rubbed her arm nervously, hoping she didn't somehow offend Bulma with a bad gift. "Goku helped me pick it out. We got it a few months back at that trade show that came through town. I know the colors are wrong, but I also know how much you like jewelry, so I thought maybe you could look past it.."
Bulma's eyes fixated on the minuscule jewel, red and gold speckles she missed the first time twinkled in an avant formation from the Cookout sign. "It's absolutely gorgeous ChiChi, thank you. You didn't have to. But thank you."
She smiled proudly at her friend, elated that she knew her so well as to pick out something so intensely beautiful and unique. "And what do you mean the color's are wrong? I love it the way it is."
ChiChi's face dropped and she stared blankly at Bulma. "Don't do that. You know exactly what I'm talking about, so just go ahead and say it."
"Say what? I don't know what you're talking about, I swear," she half-laughed, guilt evident on her face.
"Say it." ChiChi demanded.
"Say what?!" Bulma pulled out her best acting skills and held her shoulders high in a shrug.
"Bulma, I swear, I will march over to that limo right now and tell Maron you want her to stay over for the rest of the week if yo-"
"I wish it was blue!" Bulma admitted, turning her nose up at ChiChi for making her prove just how human she really was.
The impatient honking of a car horn broke them from the smirking contest they ended up in and Bulma gently laid the necklace back in the box. "I love it, Chi. Really."
They shared a warm smile and walked back to the limo only to have the horn laid on again. Bulma was sure she heard ChiChi mumble something under her breath about setting Maron on fire in her sleep as they walked back, arm in arm.
"Maybe put that away?" ChiChi suggested. "If Maron gets ahold to it, there's infinite places she could hide it..."
When they got back, Maron was somehow already waiting for them in the back seat. They tapped the glass partition, separating them from the driver, and yelled for him to start back at the third address that was on the itinerary.
When they reached the other blue-hair's house, they wished her good night in a syrupy sweet voice, and told her to give Krillin their best.
"She's such a god damn bitch," Bulma sneered the instant the door was closed. "Why would she rub and grind all over those guys at the bar and do whatever else with limo dude when we're right here?! And why was she wearing a bathing suit? Ugh."
"Yeah, she's a bitch.." ChiChi trailed off with disinterest. "But listen, Bulma..," she bit her lip and wrestled it between her teeth, no longer interested in bashing an easy target, "I didn't get a chance to say it earlier, but thank you."
"You did already tell me that," she raised her eyebrow, but with little concern. "Man, Goku must be fucking your brains and your memory out. Where can I get me a guy like that?"
ChiChi merely rolled her eyes and shook her head at her crude words. "I mean thank you for Goku. I know I fucked up the whole girl code thing.."
"ChiChi..." Bulma closed her eyes and half smiled. " I told you, we were nothing more than friends with benefits. There were hardly any romantic feelings involved, and definitely not on his part. If he'd met you first, none of this would even be a thing. It's fine, really."
"I know...but mmmm-" Bulma placed her hand over her shamed friend's mouth.
"I wouldn't have set you two up if I thought I couldn't handle it. Besides, that was like six years ago. Do you know how many guys I've fucked since then?" Bulma grinned wickedly before screaming when ChiChi scooped some remnants of the ice bucket out and dripped it down her shirt.
"Sheesh..and I thought Maron was the slut." She crossed her arms and beamed in victory as Bulma picked tiny icicles from her bra. "Well unfortunately, I live within puking distance of moron... I mean Maron, so here's my stop."
ChiChi squeezed Bulma in a warm embrace, promising her a kick-ass party when it's her turn. Bulma returned the kind words by pushing her out of the car and slapping her ass as hard as her palm could manage.
"Nothing but love for ya, B!" ChiChi called back as she rubbed her rear and strolled down the pavers to her house. The porch light flicked and Bulma smiled poignantly when Goku welcomed her inside with a soft, lingering kiss.
The ride home was infinitesimally quiet. The glass partition ensured such excessive privacy, she was almost coerced to ride shotgun. She ultimately opted out, deciding she needed to prepare herself for the quiet, lonesome night ahead. And she was pretty sure the driver had no interest in listening to her gossip or talk about her problems.
Bulma tipped the driver and wished him a safe ride home when she made it back, only concerning herself anymore with a warm bath.
She kicked her heels off and slowly sauntered down the hall, stopping to check the glowing thermostat opposite the bathroom. A cold chill found her spine when she first set foot into the apartment; which she found to be odd, knowing she always set it to her optimal temperature. Deciding to live on the wild side, she cranked it up two degrees and headed for her bedroom.
By sheer memory, she navigated her room without turning on the light and dropped her gift box off on the nightstand. She flicked the secondary light on in her bathroom to avoid harsh lights, and rifled through her dresser for a nightshirt. With little light, she had to go with function instead of fashion.
Once a soft, button up shirt was secured, one dainty hand unzipped her skirt from behind and she started to tug at the fabric on each hip, wiggling it down to the floor. She reached for the bottom of her shirt and pulled it just passed her navel before something in the mirror caught her eye.
All the color drained from her face and her stomach knotted to the point of shriveling up and blowing away.
"I would've stopped you," a sinister, almost playful voice assured. "I'm pretty sure it would be a breach in my contract."
Hmm... which playfully sexy creature could that be? Anyone, anyone? And what would you guys do if you were in her situation?
Chapter 3: Shock and awe
Guys, y'all have no idea how warm the feeling in my stomach gets when I see familiar names leaving kudos or comments on my works. I'm beyond flattered that I have repeat readers, so I want to give a big shout out to all of you personally. Apologies way in advance if I have some long time ones that I missed! These are just ones that I recognized from a while back. I swear, I adore each and every one of you guys.
HannaBellLecter (check out her new work, it's freaking amazing, Kami love her), Warshade, wistfulemuse, Bella_Kuran, Gilbec7796, Elianni, Byssheplz, you guys seriously rock!!
Special shoutout to a newer one that followed and was exceedingly helpful in getting my shit together for TWEW (which should be updated soon). Thanks mucho @ ni21. A writer is lucky to have feedback like yours.
You guys really do reign supreme.
Anyways, keep an open mind and dive in!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Dead air fizzled and crackled around her, the sound of blood rushing through her ears. Time slowed to a crawl and for a suspended moment, Bulma lived outside of her body.
She knew she was saying something, but to her plugged ears, it sounded like snow on a dying television. All the breath felt like it had been sucked out of her; words were dry and clumsy, fumbling out, blinding her to the imminent danger laying on her bed.
Air met lung when the bedframe groaned, and in the pump of a single heartbeat, Bulma jolted back to reality, facing the tanned skin and sharp angles of her undoing. She choked on her own dry spit, unceremonious snivels and mewls warming her vocal chords, but it wasn't a scream she wielded to face her own mortality, it was a bargain.
"Whatever you want, you can have it, just leave me alone," she heard herself saying. Her nostrils flared in rapid succession, as if speaking in semaphore to tell her eyes not to show fear. Wells of placid water perched on the cusps of her lower lids, threatening to mourn for all the obligations she would never fulfill.
"Whatever I want?," he countered, his tone laced with weak irritation. In a less contrite scenario, she might have even said she liked the sound of his voice.
"We both know that's not why I'm here." Her bed released him with a creak and Bulma's stomach felt like a weight was dropped in it.
If only she could hear her parents' voices one last time; just a quick phone call to thank them for the unconditional love and support for the more than thirty years they had together. Never seeing their faces again was enough to break her resolve, tears dividing her face into quarters.
"Then why are you here?" She choked out, placing both hands on the dresser behind her. Partially to palm anything hard she could weaponize against him in a final attempt at her life, partially for support. Her knees felt like they'd been sold off for scrap and she was sinking into the soft, pliable earth with every step he took closer. She felt something solid under her hand and she shifted her eyes briefly to try to gauge its potency for protection, but instead of identifying the stick of deodorant under her hand, something else caught her eye. A square photo tucked into the bezel of her mirror. As if by design, a small stream of light lit up the picture and ChiChi's eyes bid farewell to Bulma in a bittersweet sendoff.
Her delicate lips turned down, gnarling into a woeful grimace at her beautiful friend. Steady streams from her tear ducts and nostrils pooled at their confluence in the soft divot just above her lip.
"Please," she sniffed, "what do you want from me?"
"I want to get this over with." To her, his voice sounded a razor's edge away from taking action and she felt it slicing methodically through her skin.
Thus far, all attempts at compliance yielded futile results, but she just couldn't bring herself to do any physical damage control as he advanced on her.
"Stop!" she begged, letting go of the canister and holding up her hands as non-threatening as possible. "Just tell me what you want and if it's within my power I'll do it, just don't-"
"Okay, enough," his orotund voice boomed. He eyed her partially illuminated body carefully, drinking in the full vision before him in such a way that made her feel unclean. At her request, he stopped advancing and shifted back onto his heel.
"Oh, I get it," The confused look on his face grew into a malevolent grin, wide with ostentatious satisfaction. "You want to do that weird role reversal thing, correct? Is that why you're taking my lines?"
"W..Wha..Lines?" Bulma swallowed hard, no semblance of moisture left in her mouth. "I don't know what you're talking about," she confessed, leavening a beguiled look on his face.
He crossed his arm and strummed his fingers against his bicep. "Is that so?"
She wasn't out of the thick of it yet, but there was a good six feet between them she surmised. Maybe if she kept him in a verbal engagement, it would distract him enough to grab her phone and bolt for the bathroom? Or maybe she could trick him into reducing her plant to just one step?
"Please..." a defeated voice whispered. "Can I just call my parents? I just want to tell them I love them."
"After 500 years, you would think I've seen it all, but getting parents involved is even a new kink even for me," he mumbled. "And why are you crying?"
His arms crossed his chest and one eyebrow arched high on his forehead.
Is he really expecting an answer she pieced together in her mind, the effect of swallowing tears taking its toll on her throat.
Rather than waiting any longer for an answer, he nonchalantly strolled over and flipped the light switch on. "Because I would never come across as that timid. And I definitely don't take my clothes off." A charmingly boyish smirk grew across his face. "But now that you know I'm here, feel free to continue."
Bulma's half functioning brain managed to draw two conclusions: someone had swapped her feet out for concrete blocks and maybe, just maybe, she wasn't going to die tonight.
Of its own volition, Bulma's breath continued to hitch while she tried to communicate as best she could. "You're not going to kill me then?" Tears continued to drip from her chin, a few landing on her feet.
"Kill you?" He repeated. Vegeta had seen many things, many times and in many different iterations, but never anyone as good at acting as she was. Either she was bound for the red carpet or ... "You think I'm here to kill you?"
His smug expression subsided and a genuinely surprised one replaced it. Bulma couldn't understand what he didn't understand. Why would she think otherwise? He was the one that broke into her apartment and stalked her in the dark until she was distracted enough to be shot? Stabbed? Strangled?
The more grounded she became, the more her senses came back to her. There was no sign of forced entry that she could see, he didn't have any visible weapons on him and he made no attempt to conceal his identity. Something just wasn't adding up. "Fine then, what were you looking for? I don't have much jewelry and I don't keep cash her-"
"I'm not here to steal from you, idiot woman. I'm here to grant your damn wishes."
The ridiculous confession hung in the air until Bulma couldn't take it standing up anymore. Her legs were past the point of giving out, and her head was spinning off its axis, but she was still reluctant to make any sudden movements around him. She plopped down of the floor right in front of her dresser and stared like nothing short of a madwoman.
Her lips moved a couple of times, forming different words, but they all sounded too offensive in her head. Certainly he could've escaped from a mental institution, but reminding him of that by asking might not have been in her best interest. Still, no other plausible questions were surfacing, and from the looks of it, he was just as mute.
The flame-haired intruder leaned against the wall and a staring contest ensued. More like a glaring contest on the one end, but what else was there to say?
"What the actual fuck is happening?" Bulma asked sternly, deciding that if it was her time, she would just have to be ready, but this debacle had to end.
"I'm not sure myself." The sterness in his voice mirrored hers but with an added touch of vex. "You really don't know why I'm here?"
She shook her head solemnly at him, almost in shame. His eyes scanned the room at her response, landing on her nightstand. He gestured with a tilt of his chin at the box sitting atop it. "Where did you get that?"
Bulma quickly followed his line of sight and creased her blue-dusted brows. "T..The necklace?"
"ChiCh....A friend. A friend gave it to me tonight."
"Why?" He snapped, his tone reverting to a more exasperated one.
"I..It was a present. She's getting married and it's a maid-of-honor gift."
"You're telling me someone else had that in their possession and they just gave it to you?"
The incredulousness in his tone had Bulma wondering if something else was at play here. She liked..maybe even loved the necklace, but if it held as much value as he was making it out to...maybe she could offer it in exchange. "Look, I don't know what all this is about, but my friend gave it to me as a present earlier tonight. She said she got it at some sort of trade show thing? I don't really remember. Just take it if you want it." She could feel tears starting to heat up behind her lids again.
"This is almost pitiful to watch." His voice rang cooly. "So you really have no idea why I'm here?"
"NO! How many times do I need to say that?! Are you not listening?" she yelled. So much tension had been building in the air, the levee of self-preservation wasn't enough to hold her frustrations any longer. "I have no idea why you're here. Do you think I'd be standing in a puddle of liquid fright if I did?" The tears were dissipating slowly, agitation replacing them.
"Well I'm certainly not here to kill you, though I don't know how you've managed to survive this long with such an offensive shriek." He pulled his hands away from his ears and simply stared in bewilderment at the situation. "Pfft...And just when I thought I'd seen it all.."
Bulma's teeth ground together at his words. He kept mumbling abstract sentences but still didn't offer any explanation as to why he was in her room. Once the dust settled somewhat, she felt brave enough to stand, her disrobed lower half painfully exposed between them. Thus far, she was still intact and still held possession of all the blood pumping through her veins, encouraging her to make a request.
"Can you turn around, please?"
"Don't flatter yourself. You're hardly the first compromising position I've been summoned into." His words were icy, but he made a moot point by smirking at her glowing cheeks and sizing her up before obliging.
Her sock and underwear drawer was ripped from its track and a pair of boxers were worked quickly over her legs. With his attention still focused on the wall in front of him, Bulma reached for her phone, hoping to discreetly call the police. When she pressed the 9 button, an audible beep could be heard and he turned around.
"Really?" His voice was full of disinterest, but she was still frightened enough to drop the phone. He rolled his eyes at her reaction, thinking they'd moved past that by now.
"I'll make this very easy for you....um..." He walked over to the nightstand and picked up sealed envelope addressed to her. "....Bulma. That necklace your friend gave you has quite lucrative properties. I'm assuming you have no idea how this happened, but regardless, you summoned me and I'm here to grant you three wishes. Simple enough?"
With her mouth agape, Bulma's eyes shifted between him and the door, until the only plausible answer finally revealed itself. "That pot we smoked was laced with something, wasn't it?" she asked with relief. "I knew I shouldn't have trusted that kid!"
A weight felt like it was lifted off her and she breathed easy again. "Oh my god, I'm so stupid! You're not really even here are you? It was probably laced with LSD or something!" A heartfelt laugh bellowed deep from her gut and she walked towards him, knowing that when she reached out, nothing physical would be there and all would be right with the world again.
She laid one flat palm on his chest, warm and impassable. Her fingers scrunched up a wad of his shirt, repeating the motion until all the air had been let out of her theory.
The smile dropped from her face one side at a time, and she shook her head dejectedly. "I don't understand..."
"Really? I hadn't noticed," he sneered sarcastically. Gloom and confusion fought for rights of expression on her face, but short of reversing time and preventing all of this from ever transpiring, he was wasn't sure what to do himself. Historically, going with his gut didn't serve him well, but there were no options left.
"I'm not going to hurt you so stop crying."
Bulma tightened both her lips into a fine line and slowly sank onto her bed. If she wasn't poised to believe otherwise, she might accept it as the truth.
Up to this point though, he hadn't done anything contradictory. She was still alive and unharmed. But did he really expect her to believe the asinine psychobabble he tried to unload onto her? Hardly
"If you don't want anything here, you need to leave," she said in a finite tone, not wanting to leave room for opposition. Bulma's disdain for cowardice was beginning to show through, but her phone was only a few feet away and she could sprint for the bathroom if things got heated.
"Hmmph...Never in my life." He smirked at her and shook his head comically. "But hey, they're your wishes, squander them if you so choose."
His fingers lightly brushed the box the necklace was in as he walked towards her dresser. Strangely, he picked up her phone and started typing onto screen. "If and when you do change your mind, do me a solid and just call me." He shook the phone in front of her for a second. "This whole "summoning" thing is a bit primeval and quite inconvenient for me more often than not."
He tossed the phone in her direction, landing it with a soft thump on the square of blanket beside her, and headed out her bedroom door.
The front door opened and closed a second later, leaving Bulma in a dire state of shock and awe on her plush, carefree bed.
There was a foot-shaped ware pattern forming in her carpet and her thumb fielded contact after contact in her phone, trying to find out who he was, what alias he might be under. Name after name didn't ring any bells. She was beginning to lose hope when there were no more T's left. I certainly don't know anybody who's name starts with 'U' or even 'V' for that ma-
"Vegeta?' His name on her lips was the first word she could hear herself utter normally since her episode. Her perception of reality had finally come back and at last, her voice sounded like her voice.
"Vegeta..." she repeated. That had to be it! Most of the other names she didn't recognize did have some semblance of familiarity.. but Vegeta? Hell, she wasn't even sure she was pronouncing it correctly. Now that she had a name, maybe she could... could... what? Call him? Tell ChiChi a guy named Vegeta was waiting for her when she got home? Have Goku beat him up?
It crossed her mind more than one time to phone for the police, but what would her emergency be? A dark and mysterious stranger who looked to be roughly her age gained access to her apartment -without breaking in-, refused to steal anything, left her completely unharmed, and was nice enough to twist the lock on the door handle before he left?
More than likely they would probably file charges of a false report or obstruction of justice, thinking she had some 'victim' fetish that got a little too intense. Great . Bulma rubbed her tired eyes, thinking maybe she should just pack it in and regroup tomorrow, but bars of light shining forming on the adjacent wall, told her she'd stayed up far too long and missed the opportunity for sleep. She peeled a slat down on the blind and quickly jerked her hand away as if it burned her. The sun was so perfectly orange and wavy; yuck.
And now she was tasked with breaking the bad news to her friend.
As much as she needed her upcoming appointment, there was just no way she was going to lay naked on a table while someone in a small room with a closed door touched her. Reluctantly, Bulma informed her dearest friend of the latest development.
~ Please, please, please don't kill me, but I've been up all night. I don't think I'm going to be able to make it today. Can you get a replacement #WorstFriendEver (insert anxious face emoji)~
Bulma waited with bated breath for her phone to vibrate with a response.
~Not surprised this happened, but no worries, love. I hope you get to feeling better, but for future reference, we are never doing (insert pot leaf emoji) again #ChiChiKnowsBest (insert kiss face heart emoji)~
~You're the greatest! Love you, text you later :)~
She yawned fervently and went for a pair of yoga pants and a long t-shirt, deciding the least she was owed was a morning pick-me-up. All of her window locks were checked tediously and she tested the efficacy of the deadbolt three times before heading out the door and down the street to her second favorite coffee shop.
"Just a coconut milk macchiato please, light ice." The clerk offered a quick smile and once her card was removed, handed her the receipt and hurried up on her order. She chose a cozy corner seat, and pulled out her phone once again.
Her shoulder length ponytail twisted upon itself by the time she made up her mind about what to do. Sure, she didn't techincally enlist the buddy system, but she was by no means alone. The before work crowd was bustling in and at least she was in a public place.
That feeling of being out of touch with reality slowly set in again, so she slowed her breathing and took control of her emotions. Of all the take-aways from last night, the one that calmed her the most was the vision that flashed in front of her eyes.
Though it was brief, a lifetime's worth of past indiscretions, milestone memories, renewed friendships and repeat mistakes flew past her in a grand flash when she first noticed the other presence in the room. So many things had happened in her seemingly short life, good, bad, in between and it reminded her how lucky she was to be human. How many emotions she had the capacity to feel. Her natural reactions to stimuli. Though she didn't want to die, it was humbling to know how fragile the human life can be.
Essentially, she looked death in the face and lived to tell about it. What was one more walk on the wild side?
Besides, she was no clairvoyant, but she just couldn't picture herself going belly up in a coffee shop.
She took one last look at her surroundings, making sure to note both exits and the impending rush of patrons, before letting her fingers do the walking.
~Can you meet now? -Bulma, from the apartment you faux burglarized.~
She strummed the table top nervously, struggling to remember what he looked like. Definitely around her height, maybe slightly taller, supremely black hair, dark eyes, perfect teeth....
"Ugh..What am I saying?" Bulma physically shook the unwelcome thought from her head and jerked when the table magnified the vibration from her phone. Part of her was hesitant to turn it over, but she facilitated this, so there was no going back now.
~Now as in right now?~
"What the fuck?" she mumbled bitingly. "Like you have anything better to do." For all she knew, he did, she just wouldn't take be second on his priority list after scaring at least ten years off her life.
~Yes, right now! I'm at the coffee shop at Park and Church street, the one with the giant coffee mug outside. I'm in the back corner.~
A long moment of silence had Bulma's toes furling and unfurling in her slip-ons, beginning to rethink her decision. She mentally repeated the mantra about confrontation producing closure, but was cut off when her phone lit up.
~ Fine, give me twenty minutes. But don't say I never did anything for you.~
She snuffed out a small laugh at his response, chocking it up to her fright addled mind looking for humor anywhere it could get it.
Her blue eyes anxiously scanned every suit and skirt that shuffled in and out. The monotony of their rehearsed patterns forcing her to bite even harder on her fingernails that threatened to peel themselves from the cuticle to avoid the treachery of her maw any longer.
Like a siren's call, she noticed the weak sound of the bell ringing above the door for the first time since she'd gotten there and spit out an inconspicuous bit of keratin. Bulma, along with time and place, froze at the familiar site that had already managed to lock deep eyes on her and headed in her direction.
Gonna be real guys, I was a beer in when I wrote most of this so let's see how I feel about it tomorrow... and yes, I know, I'm a lightweight XD Perks of getting older I guess. My husband doesn't mind a cheap date though.
Enough about that though, let's have some confrontation!! What do you think guys? Where does it go from here? Maybe he'll throw her on the table and make his own whipped topping? We can hope, but probably too soon... ;)