This story is based on the assumption
that in the first few weeks of Vegeta's training at Capsule Corp, he lived
outside the compound in a small apartment of his own. It was only after
the following events took place that he abruptly moved to Bulma's place
to "train" full time. ;)
It is well documented that one fine summer day, on the planet Earth, Bulma Briefs held a barbeque at her house for the Dragonball senshi. The valiant warriors had battled the evil Frieza not long ago, ultimately defeating him, his father, and the dread Ginyu Force. In the course of the fighting, many of them had died, including Vegeta. He had eventually been wished back to life with the others, and was now training to become a Super Saiyan. To this end, he had Bulma's permission to train at Capsule Corp everyday, and he was often there until late at night. Primarily for this reason, he was invited to the barbeque along with Goku, Gohan, Chi Chi, Krillen, Piccolo, Master Roshi, Chao Zu and assorted other friends of Bulma.
Vegeta was, at the moment, sitting alone at one of the picnic tables, wolfing down a pile of hamburgers and refusing to talk to anyone. Piccolo and Gohan had also isolated themselves, preferring to meditate (or, in Gohan's case, nap) under a convenient shade tree. The others were playing a friendly game of poker, and belching constantly. Bulma, intent on being the perfect hostess, was running around filling cups and flipping burgers. After the barbeque was in full swing and Bulma was reasonably sure that everyone had been fed, she turned her attention to the emotional welfare of her guests. She cast a disapproving glance at the raucous poker game, but accepted it with a sigh. The pile of beer cans collecting beneath the table was still fairly small, and she supposed she wouldn't have to worry about it for another hour or so. Dismissing the poker game, she turned her gaze to Piccolo and Gohan. Piccolo was peacefully floating several feet above the ground, his back not quite touching the trunk of the large tree. Gohan was sleeping on the ground, directly beneath Piccolo. Bulma reminded herself to warn Piccolo that Gohan was under him--later. Satisfied that these two guests were also happy, Bulma looked over at Vegeta.
Alas, Vegeta was alone, with nobody nearby. Worse, he was almost done with his last burger. Bulma's eyes narrowed and her jaw set in determination. _No one_ would be bored at one of her parties! Timing it perfectly, Bulma sat down across from Vegeta just as he was licking his fingers from his last burger. He looked up, rather startled and perhaps threatened by Bulma's presence. Bulma searched for something to say.
"Did you enjoy your lunch?" He had eaten fourteen burgers.
"Well, yes. They were---very good. The best I've had," Vegeta said in scarcely more than a mutter.
Bulma allowed herself to blush. "You must not eat too well if those are the best you've had." She was aware of her limitations as a cook, especially since everyone was always reminding her.
Vegeta dared to look up, and decided that he was probably expected to reply. Damn humans! What else was he supposed to say? "Really. I don't exactly eat well, that's true---but I can tell that your cooking is...special." There. He hadn't lied. He looked down again, hoping that Bulma would accept the rare compliment and leave.
Instead of leaving, she said, "That's terrible! Don't you know how to cook?"
"NO!" Vegeta half-shouted, by now extremely annoyed. "I mean, uh---I don't really have time to cook. I usually buy something and heat it up." Why wouldn't she leave?
"That's not good. I'm convinced that Goku wouldn't be able to train so much without Chi Chi's cooking. You should be eating good food, too, with the training schedule you've set for yourself."
Now Vegeta was thoroughly annoyed--where did she get off, mentioning Kakkarot? Ever since Kakkarot had achieved Super Saiyan status (before him!) he was hard pressed to even hear that name without growling. He wouldn't have even come to this silly party, except for the promise of food. (He _was_ a Saiyan, after all.)
Vegeta's annoyance and chastised herself for mentioning Goku. How could
she make it up to her guest, and steer the
conversation to something else?
"Hey!" she exclaimed. "Why don't I give you a lesson? I can't cook anything--except spaghetti. I'm great with spaghetti. I could come over to your house and--" Bulma suddenly realized what she had said and her words broke off.
Vegeta, meanwhile, was openly gaping at Bulma. "You--?" he managed to say.
Bulma had started it, and now she had to go on. "Well, sure. Why not? I can come over when you have a free day." She paused, wondering if she had taken leave of her senses. After a moment of silent consideration, she inwardly shrugged. Vegeta would never let her come over to his house anyway, so there was really nothing to---
"Well, okay. Let me dig out my calender," Vegeta said. Hmm, he thought privately. Spaghetti.
Bulma waited breathlessly as he flipped through his datebook. "Uh, leseee.....I'm fine for next Wednesday," he finally said. "Are you free then?"
Bulma knew that all she had to do was say "no." Then everything would be normal again. She opened her mouth, inhaled, and spoke:
"Yes, I'm free then. Sounds great!"
The damage was done. From this point, what more could be said?
"So," said Bulma, "I've heard about the battle with Frieza from almost everyone but you. I heard that you fought very bravely." Bulma assumed that Vegeta, like all the other fighters she knew, loved to brag about his exploits.
Instead of bragging, however, he hung his head and scowled in anger at the memory of the battle. When he looked up at Bulma, his eyes were hollow. "I didn't fight bravely. I died at Frieza's hands and I was laid in my grave by Kakkarot. I died--and fought-- shamefully." He looked down again, expecting Bulma to leave.
Instead of leaving, she looked down. Gathering her courage, she looked up and started to speak in a low voice that was meant only for Vegeta's ears. "Let me tell you what I heard. I heard about a brave man who saved the lives of two of my friends, Krillen and Gohan. He fought against the Ginyu Force, almost dying in the attempt, and when Goku and the others took Frieza's Palace he helped supply them with food and clothes. He died, fighting against a force he knew was much stronger than him." Her voice started to break, but she went on: "He died, fighting on the side of good. He--he sacrificed his life. I don't see any shame in what you did, Vegeta, and I'm glad that we wished you back."
She finally broke off. Vegeta was still staring at her in disbelief when she quietly started to cry. She had been forced to think about the awful fight with Frieza again, and all her sorrow at the deaths of her friends had suddenly come back.
Vegeta felt an odd panic seeing Bulma cry like that, and he wasn't sure of what to do. Before he thought, he reached out to brush away one of her tears. "Come on. Pull yourself--uh, I mean, don't cry. Please?"
As soon as his hand touched her face, he froze in an even deeper sense of uncertainty. Bulma, who had been in the act of pulling a tissue from her pocket, froze as well. They stared at each other.
Meanwhile, Goku had left the poker game to go over to the grill. He was in the act of shoving a hotdog into his mouth whole when his eyes happened to light on Vegeta and Bulma. He froze as he took in the sight of Vegeta's hand touching Bulma's face, and stood there with the hotdog sticking half out of his mouh and a full beer can clenched in his hand.
The moment passed, and Vegeta pulled his hand away. Bulma jerked back and buried her face in the tissue, and both of them avoided each other's gaze. After Vegeta had recovered enough to speak, he muttered "Oh!Lookatthetimegottagotrainseeyalater," and fled.
Bulma managed to croak, "Bye," and then grabbed Vegeta's drink and slammed it down. Goku sucked the rest of the hotdog into his mouth and mechanically walked back to the poker game. No one else had noticed anything peculiar, and the rest of the barbeque proceeded without incident.
Vegeta had fled to Bulma's gravity room, thankfully a good distance from the spacious backyard. Once there, he slammed the door and allowed himslf to breathe again. What in the name of God had just happened? Maybe if he immersed himself in his training, it would all just go away.
From that day until the next Tuesday he spent his time in mindless physical exercise. He managed to avoid Bulma the whole time, showing up as early as possible and leaving even later than usual. Because of this he lost a lot of sleep. It was not surprising, then, that he slept until 4PM on Wednesday. He woke up slowly, but as soon as his mind registered the numbers on the alarm clock he jumped straight out of bed. Bulma would be at his house in two hours! Screaming Saiyan obscenities, he hurled himself into the shower. After a few minutes there he jumped out and threw on the only clean set of clothes in the closet. Then he rushed around the tiny apartment, whipping clothes and take-out cartons off of the furniure. At 5:30 his mind froze: was he expected to do anything other than clean the house? He wasn't sure about anything where females were concerned.
In a state
of grim resignation, he dialed Goku's number. Thankfully, Goku was home--
and not sleeping or eating. When Vegeta
haltingly asked him if he knew what to do when a young lady of the opposite sex came over to one's apartment, Goku considerately laughed for a mere three minutes before replying. He suggested that Vegeta comb his hair and find some roses and candles for supper.
"Comb my hair, indeed!" Vegeta growled as he slammed down the phone and rushed to the corner market. He returned to the apartment just in time to stash the bouquet in the refrigerator and put the candles in a drawer. He had decided that the candle-lit dinner would be a surprise.
Just as he was nervously running his fingers through his hair and checking for pimples, he was startled by a knock on the door. He quashed the unconscious desire to summon his chi and went to answer it.
Vegeta!" Bulma said cheerfully. He stood aside and took her basket, noting
all the odd boxes and cans it contained. His brow
wrinkled as he tried to divine their purpose. Bulma saw the gingerly way in which he handled the products necessary to make the spaghetti, and she prepared herself for the monumental task ahead.
where to set the basket, Vegeta took it over to the coffee table. He noticed
that Bulma was still standing, and asked her to
"Thank you," Bulma said, and sat on the beat-up couch (the only item of furniture she trusted). Vegeta, after a silent debate, collapsed onto the couch next to her. Once there, he searched for an appopriate thing to say.
"So--did you have any trouble finding this place?"
"Oh, no. The instructions you gave over the phone were easy to follow. Do you like garlic bread?"
Vegeta's forehead creased. "I don't know," he admitted. "I've ever had any."
Bulma nodded. "Good, because I forgot to get any. I did see some French bread at the corner market on your street, though, so I got a loaf."
"Oh, that's good." Vegeta became worried. Had she seen him there, getting the flowers? He looked over at her, and became satisfied that she hadn't.
Bulma evaluated the situation and decided that it was probably time to start cooking. Perhaps conversation would come more easily in the kitchen.
"Well come on! Let's get started," Bulma said, jumping up from the couch and grabbing Vegeta's arm. Since the apartment was so small, she had no problem finding the kitchen, and she dragged him into it.
Vegeta was once again uncomfortably aware of her touch (or rather her grasp). This time she had touched him, true, but the feeling of panic was the same as before. He was vexed at this apparant weakness in his proud Saiyan nature. Bulma, oblivious to his inner struggle, relinquished his arm and tied a "Kiss the Cook" apron around her waist.
"All right," she said, and Vegeta noted the new, authoritative note in her voice. "First, we boil the water." She looked up at Vegeta, who was hovering over her left shoulder.
After putting the water on the stove to boil, Bulma led Vegeta over to the counter and told him to dice tomatoes. Fortunately, he was good with weapons, so it wasn't very hard for him. He even began to tell Bulma of a similar way he had killed a man back on Planet Vegeta, but he stopped as soon as he noticed Bulma's face growing pale.
As the cooking lesson drew to a close, Vegeta became confident that if he was ever locked alone in a room with the stuff Bulma had brought over, he might be able to create a passable semblence of a meal, and thus ensure his survival. When the cooking was done, he felt strangely fulfilled. He was also glad to realize that a lot of his nervousness around Bulma had worn off--maybe it was the constant contact in the small kitchen.
While Bulma was in the bathroom "freshening up," Vegeta took the opportunty to light a couple of candles and put them on the tiny dining room table. Then he went to check on the bread, which was warming up in the oven. When Bulma suddenly tapped him on the shoulder, he almost jumped out of his skin.
"Oh Vegeta, the candles were a beautiful idea!" Bulma gulped.
"Well, it wasn't really my--" Vegeta was about to credit Goku for the idea, but decided against it. "It's not much," he finished.
"Nonsense," Bulma said. "I don't know how long it's been since anyone's thought to have a candle-lit dinner with me. Yamcha never used to--" She broke off, embarassed that she had mentioned her ex. Vegeta looked down.
"Is he still your--uh, I mean..."
"Oh. Can I ask--what happened?"
"He didn't exactly dump me, but I knew after awhile that I wasn't important to him anymore. He used to leave as soon as it got dark and stay out all night, partying." Bulma would have gone on, because it felt good to tell someone about the recent pain she had gone through with Yamcha. She stopped, however, as soon as she noticed that Vegeta was beginning to redden visibly.
"Vegeta, are you okay?" she asked with some concern. He looked like he wanted to kill someone and dance on the still-warm body.
He cleared his throat several times, and when he was able to speak, asked: "So, where did you say this 'Yamcha' lives?"
"Oh, look! The spaghetti's done!" Bulma cried desperately, dashing into the kitchen and returning moments later with supper. This appeared to mollify Vegeta somewhat, and he helped by carrying in the bread. They set the food down on the table and Vegeta, remembering his manners, helped Bulma into her chair. As he crossed to his side of the table, he wondered why he had allowed himself to become so enraged at the thought of how Yamcha had hurt Bulma. Then his Saiyan senses embraced the aroma of the spaghetti and he promptly forgot about everything but supper.
In the meantime, Bulma had noticed the roses Vegeta had set by her plate. "Are these for--me?" she asked in a small voice.
Vegeta blinked as he sat down. "Huh? Oh. Yes. I wanted to thank you for coming over and...and everything." He noticed that Bulma was smiling. As he watched, she wiped her right eye.
"They're so beautiful. Thank you," she said. Vegeta was alarmed by the thought that she was going to cry again, and half-rose from the table, bumping his knees painfully.
"Ouch-damn!" he swore under his breath. Satisfied that she was _not_ going to cry after all, he sat down again and proceeded to attack his food. Perhaps swallowing some spaghetti would remove the lump that was growing in his throat. He tasted it, cautiously at first. He decided he liked it, even though the noodles were somewhat crunchy.
"Good," he grunted, in between gulps, then fell into a rhythmic chomping pattern. Bulma watched in awe as three full plates of spaghetti and half a loaf of French bread disappeared. She blushed at this silent yet profound compliment, and concentrated on her own plate.
When supper was over he helped her clear the table and wash the dishes. After this, though, they both realized that there was nothing left to do, and that it was either time for Bulma to leave--or for them to talk. Vegeta wasn't sure which of these options he preferred, but was content to leave it up to his guest. He looked at her expectantly. Bulma looked back at him, and Vegeta realized that she was still wearing that ridiculous "Kiss the Cook" apron. Her eyes followed his, and she blushed as she realized what he was thinking. She fervently hoped it was dark enough that Vegeta couldn't see her embarassment.
When she glanced up again, she noticed that Vegeta had advanced toward her, and was now less than a foot away.
Summoning all his courage, he took the final step that brought him within an inch of her face. He reached for her, and she met his embrace.
Vegeta never did learn to cook very
well, since in the years to come Bulma would fix most of his meals. He
did, however, learn to smile as he chewed crunchy noodles and rubbery steaks.