Twice Upon a Time

Summary- All Vegeta wants to do is fall asleep and wake up to see his dead wife, Bulma, in the Otherworld. Instead, Vegeta wakes up rejuvenated over thirty years in the past to find that he's been given a second chance.

Disclaimer- Dragon Ball Z is owned by Akira Toriyama and Toei Animation

Chapter 51 -

Bulma flipped through an issue of Satan City Fab, the sun beating down on her slick body covered in sun screen. It was a serene atmosphere, not a hint that somewhere a mad man was preparing for revenge. Nearby her plastic lawn chair, Vegeta punched at the air, did squats, and some occasional gymnastic moves. Truth was, Bulma's main attention was on the sweat covered muscles that flexed across her husband's arms, bare chest, and tight abs. He grunted a bit, very masculine and sexy, unlike the embarrassing noises she made when working out, especially when using the gravity machine.

When he stopped, she sighed in disappointment, not realizing that it had been a couple hours. His back glistened and she watched his backside as he bent to retrieve a towel from an empty chair.

"Vegeta, hun, could you go fetch me a lemonade?"

He gave her a scowl. "I am not your servant."

She took off her sunglasses. "Of course not, you are my husband. Who doesn't work, might I add. The least you can do is go get your lovely wife a cold beverage."

"No," he said.

"No?" Her painted nails dug into the magazine. She rose forward on the chair.

"Your hearing is fine." He turned to leave.

Bulma tossed the magazine at his head, but he dodged to the side, missing it. "Grrr, you don't do anything for me. I miss the Rocky Road ice cream days."

He eyed her oddly. She blinked and asked, "What?"

Vegeta sat down on the edge of the chair and snatched her wrist. "Why are you wearing it?"

Lips parted, she eyed the white bracelet. Trying to lighten the mood, she said, "What, it isn't a pretty accessory to my swimsuit?" There was nothing special about the appearance of the band, as it was simple; all the complexity and beauty inside.

His grip tightened, so much that it made her wince. "Take it off," he demanded.

Defiantly, she stared back.

"Now!" he snapped.

"You aren't my boss."

"Kami, Bulma, why are you even wearing it? The thing is dangerous."

Her husband unfastened the bracelet forcibly from her skin, but she didn't protest much. She'd brought the bracelet for a few reasons. First off, she liked the backup idea of transport in case the time machine malfunctioned. Second, she wanted to tinker some more on it to find out how it was programed. Secretly she was a little thrilled that Vegeta caught her mischief as it showed how much he cared. Kinda cute.

He frowned as he dangled the device, unsure what to do with it. "Oh, give it here," she said and took it. "I'll take it to the lab so Future Bulma and I can mess with it some more." She gazed into his dark eyes. "I won't activate it without your permission, I promise." She pecked him on the cheek.

Just then, the screen door opened and Future Bulma stepped out onto the deck. She wore a tank top and shorts. She set a stack of scientific books on the round outside table, mumbling something about overwork and coffee.

"Hey, catch!" Bulma shouted. She threw the bracelet at her counterpart.

The doppelganger clumsily caught the device with two hands. Her eyes grew wide.

Vegeta abruptly stood. He pointed at Bulma, eye twitching. "You- You are extremely careless and foolish!"

"Lighten up, Vegeta."

"Lighten up? Get yourself any lighter and you will float to the moon."

Out of nowhere came clapping. Bulma searched the area and found Future Vegeta, who jumped down from the domed roof. He settled gently on the deck's railing. "Congratulations, the prize for the one with the dumber woman goes to you." With audacity, he did a bow.

She saw the debate rage within Vegeta, but he settled on letting the gibe slide. He walked towards the entrance, most likely for water.

"Don't forget my lemonade," Bulma called.

He paused but kept moving. Future Vegeta cackled. Vegeta prepared a fist to toss him over the side of railing but his counterpart saw it coming and floated up out of the way.

It was then that the air changed. Both men raised their heads and Bulma shielded her eyes, following their gaze. Through the glare of the sun, she spotted a flowing cape and green. Piccolo touch-downed, antennae alert.

The previous banter dissipated, replaced by serious readiness. Piccolo's face spoke volumes. Something was going on.

Future Bulma's hand lingered on her stomach as she greeted Piccolo.

His heavy eyes ran over the group. Bulma came closer, curious.

"Speak up, green bean," Future Vegeta stated.

Piccolo glared but ignored the comment. "Dende contacted me. Someone is collecting the dragon balls."

Everyone must have thought the same thing, hoping that it was some regular person and not a new villain, or worse, Hedoro. Bulma wished it was Pilaf.

"We should gather the others," Future Bulma said. "I'll get the dragon ball radar."

"How many do they have?" Vegeta questioned, his voice dark.

"Four so far," Piccolo answered flatly.

The screen door thrust open. Future Trunks came out, hair unkempt and falling in his eyes. "Gohan has the four-star ball."

Bulma's hand slightly reached out. There was pain in her son's words. He worried. She remembered the story about his master's death; the brutal fatality of the only male figure around. She let her hand drop as Future Bulma stepped closer to him.

"Trunks, we'll go warn him after Tien, Krillin, and Yamcha get here."

Future Trunks' palm slammed down on the deck's wood. "That might be too late!"

"Don't be rash, boy!" Future Vegeta cautioned.

"We need to come up with a plan," Bulma added.

But none of this seemed to matter to Trunks. He sped off into the air, much faster than usual.

"Or not . . .," Bulma said.

"Foolish, impulsive teenager," Future Vegeta muttered.

"We have to go after him," Future Bulma said.

Vegeta moved but was blocked by his future self. The two engaged in a glaring match, Future Vegeta truly the victor.

"Remember my words. I will take care of what is mine."

For a moment no one responded, but finally Vegeta nodded. The other lifted, venturing off towards his estranged son. Bulma closed her eyes for a few seconds, grateful that her own son was safe and sound at home. So was Gohan. Still, she tasted bile rise in her throat and swallowed it down. Silent, Future Bulma's fingers splayed across her middle, eyes still set towards the heavens.

"Go after them," Bulma stated to Vegeta, even though she didn't want to let him out of her sight.

He crossed his arms and leaned back against the deck. "The other me is fully capable."

"But . . ."

"I know him. He needs this," Vegeta clarified.

They went inside and the women changed clothes. Then, Future Bulma found the dragon ball radar. Piccolo went off to recruit the other fighters. When all together in one of the Capsule Corp's living rooms, Future Bulma turned over the radar. She collapsed in an oversized chair, tired.

"I want to go," Bulma declared.

"No," Vegeta said sternly.

Her eyes flared.

"No means no."

"I can fight now. I can-," she protested.

"No!" He shoved her down in the matching chair to Future Bulma's. "Stay here and keep yourself company."

"I'll stay too," Yamcha said. "In case Hedoro comes to do something Hedoro-like."

"Maybe I should stay too then," Tien offered.

Vegeta nodded, and Bulma caught something akin to gratitude in his eyes for a split-second. He was about to leave without a backward glance, but she caught his gaze. Wordlessly, she begged him to keep safe.

And that was that. The two Bulmas were left alone with Yamcha and Tien as body-guards. Bulma grabbed one of the science manuals and pretended to keep busy. Future Bulma didn't even try, her expressive pensive, very contemplative. How useless she felt. Halfway through only one page, Bulma gave up. She reached over and took the bracelet off the side table. At least messing with that would keep her distracted. Future Bulma blinked, coming out of her daze. She followed Bulma down to the lab, but bothered to fetch two ice-cold glasses of lemonade first.