A/N: One day I was struck by the thought "You know what would be hilarious and adorable? Sticking a baby with a bunch of pirates." And somehow that became "Whitebeard raises Luffy!" This is the first part of what will become a series, because Marco and Thatch have somehow graduated from "fearsome pirates" to "mom and dad of hyperactive ball of sunshine" in my head. The series title is from the African proverb "It takes a village to raise a child."
Also, shout out to Haurvatat for letting me use a piece of her Thatch in this fic - namely how many siblings he has. If you haven't read her One Piece stories right now, you should go check them out, especially the fantastic "100 Days of Ace Being a Buttwipe" that I pulled Thatch's siblings from!
I would love it if you left a review on your way out =)
Disclaimer: I DO NOT OWN ONE PIECE. Nope. Not mine.
"Are you sure this is a good idea, yoi?" Marco asked from his position beside his captain at the helm of the ship. They were closing in on the meeting point Dragon had suggested, and the whole crew was getting antsy; Thatch had been fidgeting with his swords for the last ten minutes, getting snapped at by an equally frazzled Izou for five of those while the rest of the division commanders tried their hardest to ignore them.
"Of course," Whitebeard said, grinning down at his first mate. "Dragon would only ask for a meeting like this for something interesting; you must be as curious as I am as to what Garp's rebel son wants with one of his father's oldest enemies."
"Maybe Dragon is just as crazy as his old man," Thatch muttered, leaning forward to look for a boat. He winced when Vista elbowed him hard in the side, efficiently shutting him up.
"I see him, Oyaji, yoi," Marco said, pointing to a small sailboat heading their way quickly. He could see a tall hooded figure standing near the mast that must have been Dragon, as there was no one else on the boat. Whitebeard nodded, waving his hand to signal the crew to quiet down as the division commanders all stood at attention.
"Hello, Newgate," Dragon called. "Permission to come aboard?"
"Permission granted, brat," Whitebeard replied. He waited until Dragon had carefully jumped onto the deck before continuing. "What is it that the increasingly wanted leader of the Revolutionaries wants with me?"
Dragon was silent for a moment before he moved the edge of his cloak aside to reveal a bundled-up, sleeping baby being held carefully against his chest. "This is my son, Luffy," he said. "I have come to ask you to care for him in my stead."
There was a moment of silence as the crew processed this before every jaw but Whitebeard's dropped with an almost audible sound. "WHAT?" Thatch shouted, lowering his voice dramatically when the baby squirmed and Dragon shot him a glare that promised death if he woke the sleeping child. "This is your kid? Seriously?" The fourth division commander tilted his head to the side as he gave the baby another look. "But he's so cute." Vista and Jozu simultaneously reached over to slap him upside the head, and he shut up with a pout.
Whitebeard ignored his commanders, instead turning a sharp gaze on Dragon. "You would rather leave your son with infamous pirates than raise him yourself? What are you thinking, brat?"
"The midst of a revolution is no place for a child to grow up," Dragon said. "His mother died in childbirth, and I cannot raise him and do the work I have dedicated my life to. I can't give him what he needs, Newgate."
Whitebeard snorted. "So why not give him to your father? Garp may be, well, himself, but I'm sure he would welcome the chance to raise his grandson." He knew there had to be more to this. Dragon was cradling the boy with obvious affection; this could not have been an easy decision to make.
"As you said before, I am an increasingly wanted man, and it is no secret that Garp is my father in the upper echelons of the Marines. I don't want my son to be judged solely for sharing my blood," Dragon said, looking down at the bundle in his arms. "My father won't be able to keep a secret like this from his friends, including Sengoku, so I cannot ask him to take care of Luffy. There are many in the Marines who will think him a threat solely because he is related to me. Besides, I have no wish for my father to force his own career on my son the way he tried to force it on me. So I have come to you, to ask you to care for him. My father respects you, and he is a shockingly good judge of character; if he trusts you then so can I."
Whitebeard laughed, though he kept it quiet in deference to the sleeping baby. "Gurarara! You make a compelling argument; must get it from your mother, since you certainly can't get it from Garp. You realize that he is no safer with me and mine than he would be with you and your upstart organization, or even with your father?"
"He may not be safer, but he will be much better hidden," Dragon said. "The world is a dangerous place - there is nowhere he would be truly safe. No one would think to look for a child of mine with the Whitebeard pirates, though. And everyone knows how protective you are of your crew, your family; I can think of no better place for Luffy to grow up."
Newgate sat back in his chair, thinking it over until he was interrupted by a baby's soft cry. He looked back to see the child, Luffy, blinking sleepily at his surroundings with a gurgle. The fearsome pirate crew of a Yonkou was frozen under the child's curious eyes.
"Good morning, Luffy," Dragon said, tapping the baby on the nose gently to bring his attention over. Luffy made a happy noise and latched onto his father's finger, dragging it into his mouth and gumming at it. "Yes, yes, you're hungry. I'm aware of just how constant a state that is with you, don't worry." Dragon carefully drew his hand out of Luffy's mouth, reaching into his cloak and coming back out with a large bottle that Luffy immediately reached for.
"Healthy appetite for such a little guy," Thatch muttered as he watched the bottle rapidly empty. He was already figuring out what they would need to add to their stock to take care of an infant, and had tripled his size estimates by the time the kid was done with his meal.
Dragon smiled (a genuine smile - the pirates were all a little bit weirded out at the sight of it) as he replaced the bottle within the folds of his cloak. "A great deal of your funds will be going to feeding him if you take him in. He's certainly inherited my father's prodigious appetite."
Luffy had taken to looking everywhere with wide, curious eyes, taking in the ship and all the people standing around him. Thatch wiggled his fingers at the kid and pulled a face, easily falling back into the baby habits he'd formed as the oldest of nine kids. The kid giggled adorably, smiling as wide as one can smile without teeth. "You sure this is actually your son? He's too smiley to be related to you," Thatch said absently as he continued pulling faces at the baby.
"Yes, I am sure," Dragon said with a dull glare Thatch's direction before he decided the commander wasn't worth his attention and turned back to Whitebeard. "What is your answer, Newgate?"
Whitebeard nodded. "If you're sure this is what you want, then Luffy is welcome on my crew." One thing was for sure - life would be much more interesting with this child around, especially if he carried the Will of D as Whitebeard suspected he did. "What is his full name?"
Dragon grinned in a way that made him look frighteningly like his father. "Monkey D. Luffy."
Thatch stepped up to Whitebeard's side, arms out to take the baby. "What?" he snapped when the rest of the crew looked at him with varying degrees of shock. "Do any of you guys know how to hold a baby? I practically raised 4 of my siblings, I know what I'm doing."
Dragon looked Thatch up and down, as if judging whether he was allowed to hold his son. Eventually he nodded to himself and shifted his hold on Luffy, looking down. "Time to go, Luffy. This is your new family; they'll keep you safe and let you be free." He pressed a kiss to the top of Luffy's head, murmuring something quietly, then passed him over to Thatch.
"Hey, kiddo," Thatch said quietly once he had Luffy comfortably settled. "I'm Thatch. I'm your new big brother, I guess." Luffy looked up at him with wide eyes, making indistinct cooing noises and wiggling his arms. "Welcome to the family, Luffy," Thatch continued with a grin that the baby returned.
Whitebeard focused on Dragon a moment longer. "What do you want us to tell him about you? I won't hide the fact that his father isn't a member of the crew if he asks - my children will be his brothers and sisters, not his parents."
Dragon shrugged minutely, eyes still locked on his child in Thatch's arms. "Tell him the truth, if he asks. He will find out eventually no matter what; his parentage isn't a secret that can be kept forever. Eventually there will be a leak somewhere; I told my father about his status as a soon-to-be-grandparent, after all, and the man probably immediately bragged about it to Sengoku. So tell him, if he ever wants to know." His smiled, a genuine smile that made him look like any other proud father instead of the most wanted man in the world. "We'll meet on the high seas eventually either way."
Whitebeard nodded, turning to look at where a large group of his children had gathered around Thatch and Luffy to introduce themselves. When he turned back, Dragon was gone, a large box in his place with a note on top. Whitebeard walked over and picked the note up, laughing as he finished.
Here are some basic supplies - formula and diapers. You'll be needing lots of both. Ask for donations from your territories, perhaps. - Dragon
Whitebeard put the note back on the box, heading over to where Thatch was rocking a yawning Luffy and quietly giving lessons on how to hold a baby. He crouched down, rubbing a finger carefully through Luffy's soft hair. "Welcome aboard, Monkey D. Luffy. Welcome to the family."