AN:sigh: A parent songfic. I've done two Mommy fics, so it's the Dads' turn! That's right, folks. A tribute to three of our favorite fathers, and their daughters. This is total interpretation-mucho speculation, but I think it works. I'm writing about all three of the daddy-daughter relationships in one fic. Hope everyone enjoys it.
Oh yes, and I have a big important announcement thing: THIS IS MY HUNDREDTH FIC ON ! I FINALLY MADE IT TO THE BIG ONE-ZERO-ZERO! Thank you very much. :bows: Okay, I'm done. I think I've earned the tiniest bit of bragging rights. But I'm finished now.
I'd like to send a huuuuuuuuuge shout out to my pal Tori for introducing me to this song. I'm not kidding when I say that the first time I heard it, I bawled. And I don't usually cry over songs. Thanks, Tori-chan! Oh yeah, and thanks to Gary Allan for singing this beautiful piece of work.
Do I own DBZ? Nooooooo… Do I own this song? Nooooooo… Damn it? Yeeeeees…
Tough Little Boys
He didn't move. He didn't allow anything to reveal itself on his face.
If he gave anything away, it would be taken as a weakness. And any sign of even the smallest weakness would be severely punished. It was much easier to just take what was coming, be strong, and nurse wounds later.
The blow fell, and though he braced himself against it at the last moment, Vegeta was thrown backwards to the floor, pain stabbing through his face. He could feel a trickle of blood already running down the corner of his mouth, warm and sticky. Just a few more red splotches on armor that was already stained with so much of the red life-fluid.
The young Prince of the Saiyan race bit back a growl. It had been like this for quite some time, since he had been told of the unfortunate death of his father, and an equally terrible misfortune, the total destruction of the ancestral home of his people. The planet he had been destined to rule over.
Annihilation was more like it. There were a mere handful of Saiyans left alive that he knew of.
He had suspicions about that, the alleged accident that had destroyed the place had loosely called home. There had been rumors, little things whispered here and there, conversations that would stop as he walked past. But he never let it slip that he suspected anything. To suggest could be suicide. And he had no defense. Not against the likes of Frieza. Not yet, anyway.
Someday, he would fulfill all that his father had told him. He would survive, become the very embodiment of a legend itself. The Super Saiyan. A being with the power to destroy Frieza, and not even bat an eye. With Super Saiyan would come the power to avenge.
Someday, he would gain vengeance, both for himself and his people.
But he brushed those thoughts away with a practiced hand. There was something else to worry about at the moment. Namely, his 'trainer.' Zarbon loomed over him, smirking on something that bordered on giddiness. He delighted in these 'training' sessions, which most times ended up with a semi-comatose Vegeta being dragged down the corridor to the regeneration tank to be healed for yet another session.
All on Frieza's orders, of course.
With a glare worthy of a Saiyan Prince, Vegeta climbed back to his feet and waited for the next punch to come, and the next bruise to form. But such was life. And he didn't back down. That would be weakness. Never back down.
The waiting room was very…white. Sterile white. Boring white. Very boring.
Especially boring when one was waiting for one's woman. And it was the middle of the night, to boot. Not factors that would encourage one to be particularly cheerful.
Vegeta ground his teeth together unconsciously. The woman had woken him up in the middle of the night in a panic. It was time, she said. The baby was coming. And then something about 'get me to a hospital, you idiot.' He didn't think he'd ever woken up that fast in his life.
When she had told him she was going to have another brat, he had received the news quietly, unsure as to whether he should be happy or disgusted. But he'd gone along with it, grudgingly helping out when Bulma asked him, though more often than not he let Trunks do it. And he made sure to absent himself quickly whenever the other female members of the Z group would come over and start squealing over the prospect of the new baby.
And through the whole nine months before the birth, he couldn't decide if he was even remotely happy about the prospect. Mostly, he simply kept a wary, if discreet, eye on Bulma, and waited for the day when he would get to meet his second child.
And now, he was sitting in the waiting room, while his mate gave birth to that child.
In addition to being in a bad mood in general, he was surprisingly nervous.
So when the doors opened and a woman in scrubs stepped in and said his name, he jumped up and nearly bowled the poor woman over in his rush to get to Bulma's side. She held out her hands in a warding gesture, but otherwise didn't look too terribly alarmed, as if she was accustomed to anxious fathers-to-be nearly ripping her head off as soon as she stepped out of those swinging double doors.
But she must have sensed that this particular father was especially dangerous if angered, because she was very quick to tell him where to go, and breathed the smallest sigh of relief when he took off down the hallway as fast as was permissible in public. He found the room in record time, and nearly broke the door from its hinges by the force of his passing.
Bulma lifted her gaze from the small form she was so carefully cradling against her breast. "Vegeta," she said softly, "you have a daughter." She looked exhausted, but utterly, utterly satisfied. She carefully held out the swaddled figure to him, and he took it with surprisingly equal gentleness.
He looked down at the small bundle in his arms. Wisps of cerulean hair already decorated the small head, and her cheek was resting against his chest. She was sound asleep.
"Did you name her?" he asked, trying to appear as disinterested as possible, but failing dismally.
"Bra. Her name is Bra."
"Bra?" he managed a snort. "Leave it to you to pick such a ridiculous name. I pity the brat."
Bulma raised an eyebrow, but she could see right through him, and said nothing. She simply sat back and watched him hold his new daughter. And she could have sworn she saw him melting.
If she had asked, he would have scoffed at the idea, but in reality, his heart had just been snapped away from him, by someone who couldn't even open her eyes yet.
And strangely enough, he liked it.
The little girl's brow was furrowed in concentration as she moved her hand slowly across the paper; the crayon she held left a bright green line in its wake. When she reached the edge of the paper, she moved her hand back and began coloring in the area she had just outlined.
Vegeta watched over her shoulder with feigned disinterest, though it was doubtful that Frieza's resurrection could have taken his attention away from the small child beside him, and the art she was working so diligently to produce.
Once the green area was filled in, Bra dropped the emerald crayon and selected a different color, this one a dark blue shade. She began outlining a relatively human-like shape on the paper on top of the expanse of green she had already colored.
He had never actually believed that such a mundane thing-plopped on the floor in one of Capsule Corporations many sitting rooms, watching his young daughter color-could actually be enjoyable. But to his amazement, it was actually quite peaceful. He was fairly certain that he could have just sat there all day, watching his daughter churn out as many amateur artworks as her young attention span would allow.
They were childish scribbles, amateur by even the most generous of standards, but if anyone had pointed them out as such, he would have personally killed that person. Bra was inordinately proud of her coloring, and Vegeta carefully safeguarded that happiness.
It was so strange. He was once one of the most feared men in the universe. Even now, he was among the strongest fighters alive. The blood of Saiyan royalty flowed through his veins. His people had been feared across the galaxy.
And what was he doing? Spending an afternoon, babysitting the younger brat-er, his daughter.
She was not a brat. Never a brat. He never could even bring himself to think of her as a halfling.
The blue crayon fell from her hand, and she grabbed a black one before resuming her drawing. And Vegeta simply watched, in a sort of awe he only experienced when this little girl was around. She didn't look up at him once; her entire attention was focused on her artwork. After a moment of using that, she chose her red crayon and continued.
This was the most peaceful he had ever felt in his tumultuous life. While he was here, he didn't need to fight, train, or worry about being better than the accursed Kakarott. It was simply enough to just be.
"Papa!" Bra picked up the paper and held it out to him. "For you!"
Though it was a child's artwork, done in messy crayon, Vegeta managed to decipher that the green was grass, and the dark blue person-shape with the black scribble on top was him. There was a red blob on his hand that he assumed was supposed to be a ki attack. It was almost insulting, that anyone would dare to portray the Prince of the Saiyan race in such a manner.
He should have been infuriated. Had it been anyone else's work, he would have been enraged.
But he took the paper in one gloved hand, careful not to wrinkle it, and studied it; he felt a smile begin to tug at the corners of his mouth, and he fought it, with little success. His free hand reached out and ruffled the little mane of blue hair. "Thanks."
He stared in amazement at the strange, spiky-haired boy in front of him.
What is he? Krillen wondered in amazement. How could anyone possibly be that fast?
At first, he had thought the odd child was making an excuse, blaming his lack of speed on his shoes. But then they had given him new shoes, and…well, the results spoke for themselves. This boy, this Son Goku, had breezed on by, without even breaking a sweat.
And he realized that this whole training thing, under Master Roshi, the Turtle Hermit, was going to be much more difficult than he had ever imagined.
This epiphany was driven home a short time later, when Goku moved the rock.
Well, maybe 'rock' wasn't exactly the best word. 'Small mountain' was probably a little more fitting. Either way, it wasn't something any normal person should be able to do. But sure enough, this strange little boy with the gravity-defying hair did it with little to no effort, once he got some momentum going. He stopped after going a pretty good distance, and turned to look expectantly at his teacher and fellow student.
Both of whom were staring at the odd child with unhinged jaws and wide-eyed, blank stares of pure, unadulterated disbelief.
"Uh…Krillen would like everyone to know that he's speechless," Krillen managed to stammer. Roshi hadn't quite regained his powers of speech at that time.
That was how it went, on through their training. Swimming laps in a shark-infested lake, being tied to a tree beneath a hive of infuriated bees, delivering milk, tilling fields…everything. The only thing Krillen really had an edge on Goku in was schoolwork. But somehow, it wasn't enough. They were just too uneven, no matter how hard Krillen tried.
Goku was faster, stronger, had more stamina than Krillen. It just wasn't possible! It was like he wasn't human or something…and yet it all balanced with that innocence, that cheerful nature and naiveté that made him almost impossible to hate.
Krillen's legs felt like they were going to fall off. How long had they been running now? But he bit his lip and pushed onwards, doing his best to ignore the fierce burning. His muscles seemed to be in revolution against him, but he forced them to bend to his will. He managed to maneuver his rebellious limbs the way he wanted them to go.
Mind over body, he reminded himself. Mind over body, mind over body…
Then again, passing out was starting to sound very appealing…
NO. Giving up was NOT an option.
And so he pressed on.
The doors flew open, and the short man rushed in.
"I got here as soon as I could!" Krillen gasped breathlessly, panting heavily from exertion. Those already there and waiting could only guess that he had all but teleported himself there.
Krillen had been out on an errand when Number Eighteen, just shy of her due date, had gone into labor. He hadn't been gone even ten minutes when her water broke, and the contractions started. The other residents of Kame House-Master Roshi and the animals-hadn't been much help, so she had taken things into her own hands and called Bulma.
By the time she had arranged for a ride, she was as close to panicked as anyone had ever seen her, and in a world of pain, even too much to fly. Bulma came through, and got there in record time. They left a message behind for Krillen, and got her to the nearest hospital. They were ready and waiting for her, and wheeled her right in. Bulma had then set about alerting everyone else, and waiting for Krillen.
The minute he had gotten the message, the former monk had shot off towards the hospital. He had made only a single stop on the way there, a two-minute stop to pick up something that was now clutched possessively in his hot little hands.
"Thank Kami!" Bulma sighed. "The nurse just left. You can go right in."
Krillen didn't need to be told twice. He breezed past the blue-haired genius and towards the room. He knew it was hers, somehow, instinctively. And he could sense the tiniest shred of ki, an energy that was barely there; it pulsed softly, brightening and dimming in a rhythm and feel that was so like his own…
He burst in, then remembered that he probably shouldn't make a ton of noise, and forced himself to calm down as much as he could. Either way, the occupants of the room didn't seem to mind.
Number Eighteen was laid out in the bed, cradling the newborn. She looked completely exhausted. Krillen had never before seen his wife in such a state. She looked tired, but blessedly happy—again, not an emotion she was known to oft show. However, given the occasion, it was most definitely not unfounded.
"Hey," he said.
"Hey," she replied. "Come here."
He was already on his way over. Once at her bedside, he held out the present he had made the two-minute stop for. "Something for you." A bouquet of red roses in a small blue vase. Just a little something, an impulse. He set them on the table.
Eighteen smiled. He was so thoughtful. It was sweet—in a ridiculous kind of way, she thought. But it was definitely endearing at moments like this. "Here. Someone for you to meet." She passed him the tiny figure, wrapped up in a warm pink blanket.
Krillen looked down at the child, dozing peacefully in his arms. His daughter. His first child.
A brand-new life, curled up against his chest.
She was beautiful, just like her mother, he decided.
And it was love at first sight, all over again.
Thunder rolled across the sky, like an eighteen wheeler rumbling over the clouds. Krillen looked up at the charcoal colored sky and sighed. It was just a dreary day. There would be rain soon, he was sure.
Turning away from the window, he started towards the stairs—
—but paused when he heard the softest of whimpers coming from the closet beside the stairs. He listened. Yes, there it was again. The tiny murmuring of a frightened child. Given that they were currently residing in the Kame House, there was really only one child it could be.
He tapped on the door, and then opened. Sure enough, curled up behind a few coats was an adorable little girl. Her blonde pigtails were quivering slightly with her movements as she looked up at her father with wide eyes.
"Whatcha doing, squirt?" Krillen asked, kneeling down to her eye-level. He knew she wasn't too keen on dark places, but he also knew that her fear of storms far outweighed her fear of the dark.
"Hiding," she whispered back, covering her eyes with her hands. If she couldn't see the storm, then the storm couldn't see her, and it couldn't come get her. Right? Right.
"From the storm?" he asked, and she nodded. See, Daddy knew! Daddy understood! It was one of those powers that Daddies had. Okay, so maybe it wasn't quite as strong as Mommy Power—Mommy Power meant knowing everything, and being able to strike fear into anything that moved and some things that didn't. But right now, he was definitely showing his Daddy Power.
"I don't want the thunder monsters to get me!" Marron whimpered a little.
"Scoot over a little," Krillen said. She obeyed, and he sat down beside her and pulled the closet door shut again, leaving it open just a crack. "I'll hide with you. I won't let those mean ol' storm monsters get you. They have to go through me first!"
Marron threw her arms around him. "Yay, Daddy!"
He patted her head. "Hey, do you want to know a trick? Let's listen."
She nodded, tilted her head to one side and listened carefully, not quite sure what she was supposed to be listening for. But when she saw the flicker of lightning beyond the door, she squealed, and dove against her father.
"It's okay. Now we count," he whispered. They counted until they heard thunder, and again she inched closer to Daddy and the safety she knew he would provide. "Three seconds. That means the storm is three miles away, sweetie."
"Really?" she asked.
"You're so smart, Daddy!" Marron giggled. The laughter was short-lived, though, as another crash of thunder rocked the little house, and she actually screamed. She flung herself at her father and crawled into his lap. "Scary!"
"Hey, it's okay," Krillen rocked her a little. "There's nothing to be scared of." She didn't seem to buy that, though, so he thought for a moment, then asked, "How about if I tell you some stories?"
That idea was incredibly well received. Already knowing that she adored those particular tales, Krillen began to recount his own childhood—most prevalently, the days of training with Goku and Master Roshi on this very island. The World Martial Arts Tournaments. The stupid things he and Goku had done together in the many years they had known each other.
All this while huddled in the relative darkness of a little closet by the stairs. The storm passed, and neither of them even realized it. Father was engaged in his own interesting past, and daughter was enraptured by the stories of times long since past.
It was only a voice calling for them that brought them out of their little revery, back to the real world and the few beams of light that now penetrated their little haven. Before either of them could react to the summons, the door opened, spilling far more than a few beams of light into the room.
"There you are," Number Eighteen sighed. "I thought I heard voices in here. I've been looking all over for you two." She stooped down and picked up Marron, who clapped her hands in delight.
"Daddy was telling me funny stories and keeping the storm monsters away!" the little girl proclaimed proudly. Her little radar sensors were picking up that there might be trouble, and she was determined to protect her father.
To everyone's surprise, Eighteen actually laughed a little at that. "Krillen, you're such a pushover when it comes to Marron."
He felt himself blush, but it was a charge he just couldn't deny.
The fire sparked and crackled noisily, casting shadows over the cave walls.
Outside, the storm raged with a ferocity equal to any fighter in tournament. Rain pounded the Earth; lightning flared, and thunder crashed, like a blacksmith's hammer coming down on a piece of metal to be shaped and molded. The wind howled like the cry of a dying thing.
But the small indentation in the stone provided shelter, and the fire provided warmth and light.
By that light, a stick scratched out algebra equations in the dirt. Considering that the child who was writing such things was all of five years old, that was quite impressive.
Son Gohan sighed miserably. Another night in what he had appropriately deemed The Middle of Nowhere, alone, huddled against the elements. But tonight was one of the better nights, even though it was so miserable out there. He had shelter, in the form of his little cave, and beside him was a small pile of fruit-the remnants of his dinner. So he had a place to sleep and a full stomach.
In this place, that was an exquisite end to another long day.
He finally set the stick down and folded his arms, resting his chin comfortably on them. He'd gotten used to being out here, away from his mother. And his father…well, he didn't quite know what was happening with Dad.
Eventually, the big green guy named Piccolo would come back for him, and then what?
Fight the aliens, save the Earth. And then what? What would come after that?
Gohan didn't know, and he was too worn to care.
He would hang in there, and take things as they came. That was all he could do.
"Don't worry, Mr. Son, your wife is doing beautifully," the doctor assured him.
Gohan looked down at the dark-haired woman, clinging to his arm hard enough to cut off the circulation; if she applied a little more pressure, and pulled a little harder, she would probably prove capable of ripping the appendage clean off. To be blunt, Videl looked like she was going to die, and she would probably lash out at anyone with the misfortune to be anywhere near her. Woe to that person.
"And now I'm sorry, Mr. Son, but you're going to have to leave," the doctor continued. His voice and face were kind as he ushered the young father-to-be out of the hospital room. This was the man who had been monitoring both Videl and the baby since day one; they were well acquainted with the doctor who now was going to help bring their child into the world.
Acquiescing, Gohan scuffled out into the waiting room. The moment he stepped through the swinging doors into the waiting room, he was tackled by his grandchild-crazed mother and worried father-in-law. Son ChiChi and Satan Hercule were absolutely frantic.
"Is Videl okay?"
"What did the doctor say?"
"Can we go in?"
"What's the word?"
Gohan held up his hands in a warding gesture, taking a step back to put a little more distance between himself and his crazed relatives. "Hey, hey, calm down! They just kicked me out. I think they're getting ready to deliver, so just have a little patience, okay, guys?"
Unfortunately, patience was a trait not common to either the Son or the Satan families. Gohan was a rarity in both bloodlines because he was blessed with the virtue of patience. ChiChi, who wanted her grandchildren, and Hercule, whose daughter was the one giving birth, were not quite as fortunate. They paced and wrung their hands and worried and fretted.
After about ten minutes of this, Gohan was fully ready to do them both bodily harm.
Goku was cheerfully oblivious, as he had a tendency to be, and was content to simply sit and chat with Goten (who was fidgeting like crazy) as he waited for the arrival of his granddaughter. Goten was excited about the prospect of being an uncle, but he was tired of sitting around doing nothing.
Gohan, however, managed to sit relatively still. His wife--the love of his life--was in there, about to give birth to their daughter. He was still having trouble actually wrapping his mind around the notion, just as he'd had so much difficulty comprehending the full implications when Videl had told him that she was going to have a baby.
For the eternities (or so it seemed) that he sat there, he let his thoughts wander in that direction. But finally, the door opened. "Mr. Son?" the doctor asked pleasantly, but Gohan was already right up in the poor man's face.
"Well?" Gohan asked in a rare display of blatant impatience; he was actually hopping from foot to foot, like a child anxiously waiting for a surprise gift they can't have just yet. It was actually quite amusing.
"You can go in."
The minute those words were out of the doctor's mouth, Gohan was gone. And for once in his life, he threw the rules about using ki in public quite merrily to the four winds, and surged off, a mere blur to the human eye. His parents, brother, and father-in-law were left to follow behind him at a more natural pace.
Videl was sitting up in bed, the tiny bundle resting carefully against her breast. She seemed to be waiting for him, and, though she was pale with exhaustion, her blue eyes lit up when he entered. She was still glowing, that aura that all pregnant women seemed to carry. Giving birth hadn't diminished it a whit.
He walked quickly to her bedside. "Hey, beautiful," he teased a little, kissing her. "I hear there's someone you want me to meet?" He was nearly beside himself with joy and excitement, and Videl could tell; she was laughing at him.
She passed him the bundle with a tired smile and leaned back against her pillows, eyes half open to watch father and daughter's first meeting. After all, this was likely the only quiet moment they would get before ChiChi and Hercule descended on the newborn with all the ferocity and love of excited, first-time grandparents. The media would follow, then: after all, the World Champion's first grandchild? That was a front-page story, easy. So best to enjoy this moment of peace before the chaos began.
The little girl in his arms squirmed a tiny bit before she seemed to nod off again.
Gohan stared in awe.
He was holding a new life in his hands. A brand new existence. One that he had helped to create, an exact contrast to the many he had helped to destroy in his lifetime. It was a sort of paradox that almost no one else would have seen or understood.
At a complete loss, he smiled, and said, "Hi there, cutie." It sounded silly to his own ears.
For all his brilliance, his genius, he was having so much difficulty wrapping his mind around the idea that this was his daughter. His flesh and blood. He and Videl would have to raise her, teach her, try to help her become the best person possible. There was an entire future here.
Gohan was so enthralled at the beautiful child in his arms that he didn't even hear his mother and father-in-law explode into the hospital room behind him, demanding to see the little girl.
The little girl threw a surprisingly perfect punch. Her fist connected soundly, meeting Gohan's palm with a fairly decent smack. It didn't hurt at all, but he had to brace against it.
Pan rocked back on her toes, then attacked with her other hand. The same thing: a good, solid punch. For such a smile child, she was already showing enormous potential as a fighter and martial artist. She'd already learned to fly, courtesy of her grandfather. Her grandMOTHER, unfortunately, had yet to forgive him for that.
It was true, though. Pan was turning out more like her two grandfathers moreso than either of her parents. But, being the dutiful parents they were, they just encouraged her in whatever she decided to do, and worried in private. But finally, caving in under his father's jibes and his daughter's begging, Gohan had agreed to give her some training.
So here they were, out in the front yard (in full view of his parents' home, he thought wryly). She was just throwing punches, one right after the other, landing each right in the palm of his hand.
Though he didn't necessarily like to admit it—he did worry an awful lot about Pan's obsession with fighting, an oft-unfortunate trait of Saiyan blood—he enjoyed these times. It was simple, father and daughter sharing an afternoon together.
They didn't fight all the time during these little sessions. Sometimes they would break and go off for a picnic, or Pan would climb a tree and jump down from a branch, blindly certain that Daddy would catch her. They had explored the woods around the home. Gohan had known it all since childhood, but everything was so new and exciting to Pan, and it was infectious. They discovered all the hidden areas of the area together (even though Gohan had known of them all for years).
His mind wandered to some of those times, those more recent memories. He was starting to understand more and more why his mother had been the way she was. Wanting the very best for your child, being afraid that something might befall them—he felt it, too. But he'd also come to understand, through his own experiences, that some things just had to be experienced. If Pan was hurt, he hurt with her, but such was life. There had to be pain if the better times were to be appreciated to the fullest.
He understood that now.
Unfortunately, Pan was still a very young child. She had a young child's attention span. And Gohan's mind had wandered. As such, he was a prime target when his daughter decided to change tactics.
Namely, she pushed up onto her tiptoes, whirled around, and nailed a perfect roundhouse kick to the side of Daddy's head. It wasn't a terribly hard impact, and it didn't hurt a great deal, but it was enough to surprise him and knock him over. He ended up on his back, while Pan giggled.
"Daddy, pay attention!" she admonished. "Come on, more!"
"Okay, okay…" he groaned, getting back to his feet. See? The small bruise now forming on his foreehead was a testament to the idea that people sometimes learned through pain. He had learned not to let his mind wander while working with his daughter on martial arts.
For a little while longer, he let the punches fall, cushioned by his palm. But after a while, an idea began wiggling around in the back of his mind. He didn't dare drop his guard again, for it seemed that Pan had a sixth sense about such things. But he decided that he had an age-old saying on his side in this case.
Turn-about is fair play.
Without giving any warning at all, he caught her hand as she punched, pulled her forward as he leaned forward, and scooped her up onto his shoulder, spinning around as he did so.
She laughed out loud. "Daddy, put me doooooown!"
Soon, another sound joined them. More laughter—distinctly feminine laughter. Gohan stopped turning and looked sheepishly at his wife. Videl looked right back, one dark eyebrow arched quizzically. "I thought you two were sparring?"
"We were, and I beat Daddy!" Pan declared from her perch on Gohan's shoulder.
Videl's eyebrow jumped a little higher; much further, and it would probably make a permanent home in her hairline. "Oh, aren't you Mister Tough Guy?" she teased, and Pan giggled.
He blushed, but didn't dare refute.
Why argue with the truth?