Title: All Good Things
Characters: Bulma, Vegeta, Yamcha.
Summary: Bulma yearns for her old place as an active member of the Z-team, but even a three-year gap may not be long enough to produce the sort of honed fighting machine she needs to do her part against the androids. A considered attempt at the pre-android gap, dealing with the decline of the old Z team and Bulma's relationship with Yamcha.
ALL GOOD THINGS
By Obsidian Blade
West City burbled with the voices of pedestrians thronging the narrow pavements and the Friday rush hour traffic blocked in nose to tail along the streets. There was an undeniable exhaustion in the crowds. Drivers slouched behind their steering wheels, dreaming of home, while those on foot nattered with the worn enthusiasm of people assured of dinner and a place to sit in the next hour.
Through the relative peace, Bulma Briefs marched with her nose in the air, her perm bobbing behind her like a separate entity. The coffee-brown lenses of her sunglasses failed to hide the fire in her eyes.
'I'll have you know, Yamcha,' she shot caustically over her shoulder, 'that I was ready ten minutes ago! But as you've only bothered to join me now, I guess I'll just have to be ready again, won't I?'
If it was possible to snipe words right out of the air, she would have. She lowered her head, scowling at the rickety wooden fence beside her to avoid looking at her boyfriend, who she knew hurried along a few paces behind her, picnic hamper over his arm. She had wanted to smile when she saw him. Really, she had, but ten minutes late? To their first date this week? He could hardly blame her for her temper over that indiscretion. No one would.
She came to a gap in the fence, where a tree sprouted up between cracked paving slabs. A paper sign had been tacked to the last plank: 'Demolition site. Keep out.' She ignored it. With a bitter grunt, she forced her way through. Waist-high grass threaded with wildflowers grasped at her legs as she staggered out into the open, brushing strips of tree bark from the folds of her shirt. The place was exactly as she remembered: a square of land closed off from the rest of the world by the fence and the ivy-clad walls of an elderly tower block.
Seven storeys high, it was dwarfed by the tall, slim, modern structures the city had sprouted all around it. Plastic tape and red and white posters encircled its grimy walls like a hangman's noose. Yes, it was ugly. As she adjusted her sunglasses and tilted back her head to look, she could even agree with the papers – it was a blight on the face of West City. But then the sunlight glanced off its mirrored windows, gilding the leaves of the grasping vines, and the abandoned land lit up like a meadow in summertime. The grunt of traffic was somehow muffled here.
'Same old secret garden,' said Yamcha. He landed beside her, shielding his eyes against the gleam as he looked up at the doomed flats. 'Gonna miss it?'
Bulma glanced sidelong at him. His expression was warm, one brow raised, his mouth tilted in that roguish half-smile. He looked as though he had shaken off her stupid barb like it was nothing, and she knew how much effort that must have taken. The pinpricks of pain in her temples began to fade.
They were going to be fine. The notion crept around inside her skull as they flattened a place to sit in the grass, a bower of green curving up over their heads on all sides. This was how easy love could be: trading jokes in the sunlight where no-one else could reach them. Side by side, their shoulders grazing, they undid the linen ties on the picnic basket.
'Ham salad baguette and a glass of red, please, waiter,' Bulma said, grinning.
One hand holding the basket shut, Yamcha gave her an apologetic look. 'Well, I would, but I think we're all out.'
She felt herself begin to frown. 'Yamcha, what-'
He cut her off by darting forward with that uncanny speed of his and snatching the hamper from the ground. Kneeling, he balanced it on one knee and opened it toward her. Bulma stared. It was full to the brim with shiny red fruit.
Yamcha's arrogant grin set her heart racing as he said grandly, if a little nervously, 'But how about a lifetime supply of strawberries?'
In all the world, he was the only one who would remember that silly first wish, the one she'd cast aside before the dragon radar was complete. She remembered the day she told him. They had lounged in the conservatory after escaping Pilaf's palace, his hair still desert-bandit long, with cloudy glasses of her mother's lemonade clutched in their hands. She was nervous and excited all at once; she couldn't get her mouth to shut up. Her first gulp of lemonade was the first chance he'd had to speak in hours.
'World domination and riches, though,' said Yamcha, stretching back against floral print cushions. 'Man, I guess when you can wish for anything you just fall back on the same over-used goals. What was it you were going to wish for, anyway?'
Bulma flushed pink across her cheeks, peering up at him through her lashes. 'Well, I wanted a super-cute boyfriend, so I didn't exactly miss out.' But, oh god, was that too much? Too soppy, too needy, too lame? 'Lifetime supply of strawberries!' she blurted, gaze dipping to the ground. 'Originally I was going to wish for a... lifetime supply... of strawberries...'
Her first romantic comment and she'd ruined it. Utterly ruined. Blue in the face, her jaw so tense it hurt, she chanced a look up at him, the look of pity she knew he'd be wearing already etched in her mind's eye.
But Yamcha was blushing, his gaze aimed awkwardly over her left shoulder.
'Well, huh,' he mumbled, 'y'know, I'm, I'm the one who, uh.'
She felt her confidence returning, and with it her familiar cocky smirk. She leant toward him, head tilted to the side.
'Come on Yamcha, if you have something to say, say it.'
Abashed, Yamcha ran a hand through his hair, grinning nervously. Bulma's veins sang with a sudden shot of adrenaline. She sat further forward and nudged him in the arm.
'Come o-o-on, you can tell sweet lil me-e-e.'
He met her gaze awkwardly, his blush reaching right up to his hairline. 'Got someone super-cute.'
They had been goofy teens with cheesy lines, but even with a decade between then and now she felt the same warmth in her chest as she recalled those words. That was romance as she knew it should be: sweet compliments and silliness. An easy afternoon spent without distraction, just each other's company. And here they were again, sharing an in-joke years old and relaxing in the sunshine. She would never find this sort of rapport with anyone else. She could never amass this sort of history.
'Two wishes in one. That makes you better than Shenron,' she said, and leant in to kiss him.
They were going to be fine.