This is meant to cover snapshots in B/V's relationship, but like I said in the summary, while the story will pretty closely follow the DB plot, there will be some things happening in the fic which didn't happen in canon, especially in the early years when B/V didn't interact as much.
Basically, I'm adapting the narrative through a B/V lens.
Ideally I will finish this with 20 chapters, one chapter for each year, but my fanfic writing isn't very dependable.
Written for C/P's shipping week, Day 1, prompt: Fly
The lab is the kind of almost-quiet where Bulma's genius thrives. No music. No voices. No real voices. Only the background babbling of an unseen television, the ubiquitous murmurs of machinery piled over every square inch of the industrial grade flooring. These sounds are occasionally punctuated by the heavy clunk of metal on metal as she pounds and bangs and screws with whatever fine piece has caught her interest (and best not to dwell on whether that's a metaphor for her life, she thinks with a laugh).
It's how she works best, somewhere in that detente between peace and progress. So when a wall monitor suddenly blinks to life and a screech of an alarm goes off, Bulma lifts her head and frowns, more annoyed than frightened, before realization dawns and the hairs on her neck begin to rise.
A sensor's been triggered. Bulma's eyes widen as they trace the bright red blip-blip flying across the screen.
Her wrench clatters to the floor with a single thought:
They're not supposed to be on Chikyuu. They're not supposed to land on Chikyuu until next month. Her friends are not supposed to face the monsters from the stars for another month, another thirty days of training and preparing and not dying.
And they're not supposed to be coming for her.
But her sensors don't lie. That blazing red trail imposed over a map of West City is headed straight for Capsule Corp. Every single one of Bulma's plans and "supposed tos" and expectations for a long and happy life dry up like so many droplets on a radiator, vaporized into nothing but mist and air, and all because of the Dragon Radar sitting pretty in the second right hand drawer of her desk, the one she planned on safeguarding in another location just next week because – one more month.
Bulma sucks in a long breath. No more months. No more days. No time, no time, she needs to be ready now.
Run to the desk. Lock the drawer with the Dragon Radar. Initiate defense shields. Punch in codes to activate and arm the anti-aircraft missiles that sleep like deadly beasts beneath the domed rooftops of Capsule Corp.
The lab roars to life. "Defensive perimeter activated," calls a female voice calibrated to soothe, but which does nothing to ease her galloping pulse.
Alarms continue to wail into every corner of the compound. The room vibrates as great gears grind from above and a field of missile launchers deploy. Her staggering breaths are lost in the clamor. What else? What else? Gun. Ammo. This isn't the weapon's lab, where she could pluck a top of the line rifle encased in row after row of Hoi Poi Capsules. This is her personal lab, where she prefers the illusion of innovation over commerce.
But there might be something here. A relic left over from her adventuring days, tossed in a junk drawer somewhere. She moves from cabinet to cabinet and doesn't think about her mother and father, the damn cat, Cheryl from reception who orders her lunch everyday, those who are dead and those who are still alive enough to be running scared. Finally she fishes out a decade old semi-auto. It's heavy in her hands, all the weight of memory and nostalgia. Once upon a time she was naive enough to think these flimsy human weapons stood a chance against a Saiyan.
She slams a loaded magazine into the grip. She's no longer naive, just desperate.
Bulma flicks her head to the wall. Screams outside. The guttural booming of rapid fire explosions. The high-pitch blasts that's she's learned to associated with organic-based fire power. Defense protocol has shuttered the windows with meters-thick steel, the kind of stuff that should repel armies. Her visibility is at zero, and it helps her nerves that she can't see the horror bearing down on them. But she's not immune to the deep tremors rippling through the room, the dust and debris shaken from the ceiling, snowing down on her bare shoulders and hair.
She aims her gun. Her hands are quaking. She won't be able to hit anything, let alone a moving target, but damn if she won't try.
The cacophony grows closer, louder, closer.
Don't close your eyes.
Then silence. The kind of absolute silence that's worse than any noise.
Bulma lowers the gun. Her face is wet. When did she start crying?
"Is it over?"
The wall explodes at her in a rush of heat and air and shrapnel. Bulma covers her face as her body blows backwards and she collides with the floor.
Smoke in her eyes, smoke down her throat. Her ears are ringing. Everything hurts, inside and out. She hacks into her arm and tries to sit up. She squints at the vehicle-sized hole which now exists in her impenetrable steel wall, and through the blur of tears and dissipating smoke, she sees him.
"Bulma Briefs, yes?"
His accent is strange. Alien. Nothing like Goku in these odd inflections and cruel tone. But he was all Goku in looks: the same olive skin and striking black hair, angular, almost feral features. Human-but-not. "I've heard rumors you're not a complete waste of brain matter, so I'll be brief. I think you know what it is I want." He holds out a white-gloved hand. "Hand it over."
He hovers in the air, halfway between the ceiling and the floor, moving towards her, staring down at her. The ash and pain – never been in such pain – has reduced her voice to a gravelly whisper. "Sorry, pal. Rumors or not, I never kiss on a first date." Most sensible people default to flight or fight, but leave it to Bulma's instinct to choose "flirt" as the best survival option.
But the stranger doesn't seem to understand the implication of her statement. His smile slackens to puzzlement, then to an unmistakable sneer that Bulma thinks might be the last thing she ever sees in this realm.
"The Dragon Radar. Now."
Bulma coughs. Something wet dribbles down her eyebrow, down her cheek. She swipes it idly, a smear of red on her hand, then bunches her shirt and wipes the tears and snot away.
She hobbles to a stand. Her legs sway like river reeds, but she's proud of the way her dainty little chin juts out, her hair singed and looking a fright. "I don't have it."
He crosses his arms over his chest, then smiles like he's already killed her. But instead of killing her, he slowly lowers himself to the ground. His boots kiss the floor and he walks towards her in long, soundless steps.
"It seems I was misinformed. Since you obviously share in this planet's penchant for stupidity, I'm going to explain to you, very simply, how this is going to work." Every word, every movement of his is over-exaggerated, as if he were living in a stage play. The only thing real about him is his eyes, dark and cold, a burnt out star. "You have something that I want, and I will kill you if I don't get it. Understand?"
And yet within the black ice of his iris sparks a fleeting glimmer, a rare fire she knows she shouldn't play with.
"Kill me, and you'll never get that precious radar." She blows him a kiss. "Good luck searching the planet."
He chuckles. "So, you're one of those?" He waves a careless hand through the air, gestures to the smoke and despair he's wrought. "Not my first decimation, you know. Not even my best – you should see all cretins I left running around with all their limbs intact. I have a lot of experience in this field, and I know, that you know, that I know how to make you give me what I want." His smile returns. "Don't your father and mother live here?"
"I told you, I don't have it! Do you really think we'd be stupid enough to leave it here, right where you'd expect it, and only me guarding it?" She waves her arms in the air. "Me, a puny human? I mean, look at me!"
He shrugs. "I never put humans down as a smart species."
She rests her hands on her hips, arms akimbo. "And yet here you are, asking a dumb human for tech you don't have."
He cocks his head. "Funny."
In a blink his hands are around her throat. "Do you think I'm playing a game? Do you think I've come here to trade insults with you, a weak and useless bag of meat?" He throws his head back and laughs for what seems forever. Bulma scratches and kicks, but nothing stops the air and breath and life slowly spiraling out of her by his vibrating energy, that bubbling, contained strength, like a pot about to boil over. "I've eaten stronger beings than you for dinner," he says, "and the only reason I'm not snapping your pathetic head right off your neck is because I need information." There is nothing elusive in his eyes anymore. There is nothing at all except every kind of madness. "If you don't have the Dragon Radar, then tell me where it is!"
Her vision spots. She squeezes out one word: "Goku."
"Kakkarot is dead."
He smiles. "Then let's give him a reason to hurry up."
No more days. No more minutes. No more seconds.
Bulma closes her eyes, because even though she may be dying, she won't let this sick bastard's smile be the last thing she ever sees.
But the blow never comes. Neither does permanent darkness. Instead the pressure around her throat loosens. Her body slumps back to the floor. She peeps one eye out and sees a figure fly out through the hole in the wall, diminishing, evaporating back into the wind.
Goku wins. The Saiyans are defeated. The fight is over.
Bulma slams her fist into Roshi's table. "This isn't over!"
The whole room gawks at her. "What do you mean?" Oolong asks from the safety of the couch.
That doesn't stop her from pouncing on him, shaking him back and forth as she yells. "Can't you idiots see? He's won! He's killed everyone, robbed us of our Dragon Balls – the only way to bring everyone back to life, in case you hadn't noticed." She drops Ooloing to the floor and pulls at her hair. "The only way to bring back Yamcha. That bastard's won, and I can't leave it like that! I can't let him win!"
She touches her neck. The muscles are swollen and tender, the skin a sick purple. She can't breathe without feeling like she's inside a noose. But her resolve isn't about revenge. The tears that prick her eyes are not born from hate. It's worse than hate.
And Bulma refuses to be afraid of anyone.
"I'm not going to let him win."
On the television screen, they watch his space pod jettison into the sky, higher and higher, up to the stars and beyond.
"There's Dragon Balls on Namek," she whispers. "There has to be." She turns to the others. "We have go to Namek. That's the only way to make things right."
"How else." Bulma smiles and lifts up her arms. "We'll fly!"