While this story is a part of the Wish For The Past universe, readers do not have to be familiar with any of my other stories to enjoy this fic. For any who are curious, this story takes place five years before WFTP, and is referred to in chapter 68 of that story.

Warning: This story is rated PG13 for violence and child abuse. If you're uncomfortable with that, please do not continue reading.

Disclaimer: Once upon a time, there was a world called DBZ, and it was not owned by Burenda. And it lived happily ever after. The End.

A Father's Pride

In the quiet of his study, a man sporting a goatee and upswept, brownish hair shaped like a dancing flame sat at a desk, poring over one of what looked to be thousands of papers stacked all over the place. He wore a set of white armor with one black shoulder guard and one red one, white gloves, and a black cloak pinned in place on either side of his neck with large golden clasps. Around his neck hung a large blue stone amulet suspended from a heavy gold chain, perhaps a symbol of office. The man had the look of a fighter, one who had spent many years honing his body to perfection, and he carried a sense of presence that instantly commanded respect. At the moment, his dark eyebrows were drawn together in a fierce scowl, obviously not happy with whatever was written on the paper in his hands.

So it was quite understandable why the knocking at the study door sounded rather timid, as though the person knocking was half hoping that the man inside would not hear him. Unfortunately, he would have had to have been knocking a lot more quietly if he wanted the sound to escape the sensitive ears of a Saiyan.

"What is it?" the regal looking Saiyan snapped impatiently, lowering the report so he could glare at whoever had the poor sense to walk through the door. When a tall, gangling Saiyan with an untidy mop of hair stepped into the room, the king immediately felt like groaning. Not again... That boy will be the death of me yet! Keeping his scowl firmly in place, he grated out, "What do you want, Nappa?"

"I'm sorry to disturb you, your majesty," Nappa apologized, looking extremely anxious. "But I... ah... found the prince."

"What do you mean, 'found'?" King Vegeta rumbled dangerously. His eyes narrowed suspiciously, which had the effect of making the hapless man in front of him squirm. "I wasn't aware that he had been lost in the first place."

The young guard and erstwhile baby-sitter for the Prince of all Saiyans winced. "Not like that, sire," he hastily assured his liege. "He just... er... snuck away from me this morning. You know how he is, my lord," he chuckled nervously.

Indeed, King Vegeta knew all too well what his son was like, and he had a bad feeling he knew exactly where this conversation was going. "I'm a busy man, Nappa. Get on with it!" he growled. "Obviously, this isn't just a case of Vegeta slipping through your fingers, again, only to be found eating or training or some other innocent activity, or else you wouldn't be here bothering me!"

Knowing better than to keep the king waiting, Nappa gave a resigned sigh and pulled the study doors open wide enough to reveal a small child sitting on the floor outside with his knees tucked under his chin. The boy's dark hair stood away from his head in much the same style as the king's and he was wearing a sleeveless blue training gi with white gloves and boots. His head jerked up when the door opened and he quickly scrambled to his feet, hands flying as he tried to brush the dust off his clothes.

Wait a second... That wasn't dust. That was....

"VEGETA!!!" King Vegeta roared. Slamming the report down on his desk, the king rose out of his chair so swiftly that he nearly knocked it over. He stormed his way around the desk and to the entrance of his study, where he reached out, grabbed the child by his arm, and yanked him into the room. The little boy flinched, but made no effort to pull away or resist the strong hands that dug into his tender flesh. King Vegeta raked his fingers through the prince's hair, ignoring Vegeta's wince as he ripped through a few tangles in the spiky locks. When he removed his hand from his son's hair, it was covered in gray and black speckled powder with a faint aroma that made the king's nose itch. Pezora spice. Prince Vegeta was covered in pezora spice. His grip on the chibi's arm tightened painfully, eliciting an involuntary gasp from the boy. Speaking in a low and menacing tone of voice, King Vegeta glared into the wide eyes of his only child. "What is the meaning of this, boy?"

Vegeta seemed to take a deep breath, as though trying to steady himself, then made a face. "Nappa wanted me t'take a bath!" he complained. "I ran away so I wouldn't hafta."

"And you hid inside a shipment of pezora spice," King Vegeta finished for him, the expression in his eyes darkening considerably. Face turning an ominous shade of red, he gritted out, "Do you have any idea how much money that spice was worth? Do you even know how badly our people need that money? Frieza already owns our service; do you want him to own our very lives now?! Idiot brat!" He punctuated his words with a harsh blow to the child's head. Vegeta stumbled and would have fallen, if not for the king's iron grip on his arm, but he didn't cry out.

Nappa took an involuntary step forward. "Sire, I-"

"Nappa, out!"

"But I-"

"I SAID OUT!!!" the flame-haired king thundered, effectively sending Nappa scurrying out of the study. As the young guard was closing the doors, he paused just long enough to give Vegeta an apologetic look before shutting the doors the rest of the way. Silence reigned for a moment, the lack of noise almost deafening, then King Vegeta abruptly hurled his son to the floor. "So," he said coldly, looming over the fallen chibi. "What do you have to say for yourself, boy?"

Picking himself up off the floor, Vegeta sneezed as some of the pezora spice that clung to him got in his nose. He rubbed his nose and, almost defiantly, said, "I thought it was dirt, 'tousan."

WHACK!

King Vegeta's fist connected solidly with the five year old's head, sending him tumbling to the hardwood floor for the second time. He lowered his fist, literally trembling with fury. "That 'dirt', as you call it, would have sold for enough money so we wouldn't need to continue sending infants on planet clearing missions! Do you realize how hard it is to grow and harvest pezora spice?! Get up, Vegeta!"

Obediently, albeit somewhat unsteadily, Vegeta climbed to his feet again, only to double over as his father buried his fist in the little boy's stomach. The breath was expelled violently from his lungs by the force of the blow, accompanied by a few flecks of spit and blood, and Vegeta couldn't help but release a small groan of pain. "T-tousan..."

"Don't you 'tousan' me, Vegeta!" the king snarled. Pulling his fist back, he allowed the prince a moment to clutch his abused stomach, then brought the edge of his hand down in a swift chop to the boy's back. Once again, Vegeta crumbled to the floor, but this time he wasn't given the chance to get up before King Vegeta ruthlessly kicked the downed child in his already bruised gut. Vegeta choked back a cry of pain, which, again, his father ignored. "You know very well what happens when you pull stunts like this! Can't you go one week - just one week! - without getting into trouble?! Get up!"

It took Vegeta a lot longer to pull himself up off the floor for the third time - he even had to uncurl his tail from his waist to help him maintain his balance - but eventually he stood and looked up at his father. "I... I'm sorry, fa-" He was cut off by a backhanded slap to his face, causing him to stagger back a few steps... but this time he managed not to fall.

King Vegeta didn't know if his son had been apologizing for the spice or for his mischief making in general, but, frankly, he didn't care. "'Sorry' will not make that spice any more usable!" he shouted, lashing out with several open-handed blows. "Nor will it repair the walls in the diplomats' quarters! Or clear the toxins from the first class fighters' digestive systems! Or fix the countless other pranks you've played! Why do you keep doing these things, Vegeta?!"

There was no answer. Breathing heavily, the king looked down and was almost surprised to find his son lying in a crumpled heap on the floor. King Vegeta sighed, his anger spent, and knelt down next to his only child. He rested one hand on Vegeta's shoulder and was rewarded when the boy's eyes fluttered open. "You're the Prince of all Saiyans, son," the elder royal said sternly. "I expect better from you. Do you understand?"

The small prince nodded weakly. "Y-yes, father."

A rare smile flickered across the king's face. However much trouble his son caused, King Vegeta couldn't help but be proud of Vegeta. The boy had stayed strong and not cried once during the entire beating. Not only that, but the child was growing more and more resilient every day. He hadn't even blacked out this time! If he keeps up at this rate, someday he may very well surpass me in strength, he thought fondly, carefully scooping the five year old up. "Come on, Vegeta," he said gruffly. "Let's get you into a regen tank."

Cradling his son in his arms, King Vegeta walked out of the study and headed toward the nearest med lab. If he had glanced down at Vegeta's face, he would have seen a look of contentment as the boy snuggled ever-so-slightly against his father's chest. But he didn't, and so he never did realize why it was that Vegeta was constantly getting himself into trouble. He didn't realize that, to Vegeta, even the harshest beating was worth it if he knew he could earn his father's pride.

~The End~