Because I adore the idea of father/son interactions between Dragon and Luffy, and sadly I haven't come across many in the fandom, so I decided to write my own. And thus, the plotbunnies devised a series of one-shots in the life of the D family and friends; complete with cavity-inducing sweetness, tummy-tickling humor, and of course, a good deal of drama to go around (because AU or not, this is Oda's material I'm working with here). I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: Well, I've been thinking of conspiring with Doflamingo to puppeteer Oda into writing the series as I will it. Knowing Doffy, though, I would probably be double-crossed; meaning, no, I still do not own.
Life is like sailing. You can use any wind to go in any direction.
It was Family Day at the Sunny Go Childcare Center; a small, independently-owned afterschool playgroup run by a kindly gentleman named Brook. In addition to being a beloved caregiver, he was also a bestselling artist/music teacher/street performer/whatever tickled his fancy. His multiple and varied careers had nothing to do with income or glory, for he was content so long as he could inspire and bring joy to people with his music.
Eighteen-year-old Nico Robin, a brilliant history student at Ohara University, was another caretaker at Sunny Go. Despite her inexperience in handling children, she was very fond of their young charges, often reading stories or helping them with their homework.
Lastly, there was Franky, an aspiring architect and friend of Robin's, whom she knew from her time in foster care. At the age of twenty-four, he was already a remarkable carpenter, and what he lacked in a conventional education he made up for with raw talent and determination. He volunteered at Sunny Go, too, simply for the fact that he loved entertaining and had a soft spot for kids.
Their playgroup currently had a total of five, and thus, the eight of them altogether were somewhat of a close-knit family by themselves. However, that was not to say the children didn't have any family outside of the playgroup, which was really what this whole event was all about: bringing the different families together in one place so that they could meet, greet and socialize.
In that respect, the evening had been a success so far. The adults were conversing in a circle while the kids scampered around the main room, playing pirates and marines. The event wasn't mandatory, yet in between their busy schedules, most of the family members had found time to attend: Sanji's father, Zeff; Nami's mother, Bellemere; Usopp's parents, Yasopp and Banchina; and Zoro's uncle, Mihawk.
Only one child was without a representative guardian, and that child was too engrossed in his pretend piracy to notice the absence, giggling at the top of his lungs as he fled from the "marines." It seemed strange for such a cheerful child to have nobody there for him, but the more they contemplated it, the more the adults present realized how little they actually knew about the boy's family situation.
"Doesn't he have a grandfather he lives with?" questioned Bellemere, cupping her chin in thought.
"He has a grandfather, though I don't believe he lives with him," Banchina offered, appearing mindful. "But he was in his grandfather's custody for some time."
"Then isn't there that foster father of his? Duvan or something?"
"I am almost positive that it's his foster mother."
"He has two brothers not related by blood," Yasopp added his two cents. "I've seen them at Makino's once or twice when I go there with Shanks and the guys."
"What about his biological parents?"
"His mother has been dead nearly as long as he's been alive," Mihawk illuminated, astonishing everyone with his knowledge on the subject; the bail bondsman wasn't known to socialize enough to hear such information through the grapevine. In response to their disbelief, he clarified, "I heard from Shanks who was told by Makino who learned it from his grandfather."
Yasopp nodded. That made sense, at least. As the discussion continued, he stared straight ahead, not looking at anything in particularly. Coincidentally, though, he happened to be the only one facing the door at the exact moment it opened, and was thus the first to catch sight of the man who emerged from it, gasping when he recognized who it was.
"Holy shit on a sandwich," he choked out, inciting a comical expression from his wife. Before she could scold him for his language, he whispered, "Look who just walked in."
Simultaneously, the five of them turned towards the door. A collective wave of comprehension immediately washed over them because the man they were staring at was very well-known and impossible to miss. Tall, ebony-haired with a presence that demanded attention – it could be nobody but –
"Monkey D. Dragon," Zeff murmured, voicing the name on the tip of everyone's tongue.
Once the shock of the revelation ebbed, the stupor subsiding, they at least made the effort to look as though they were not eavesdropping on the new arrival or watching his every move from the corner of their eyes.
"Dragon-san, so glad you could make it," greeted Robin, smiling. "May I take your coat?"
"I'm fine, thank you," he replied graciously. "Unfortunately, I won't be able to stay long."
Robin nodded. "I understand. Please, allow me to introduce you to the rest of our guests."
She led him to their group before politely excusing herself, as her assistance was required elsewhere. Once she left, some of the guardians were at a loss as to how they should approach the newcomer, but Bellemere had no such qualms, ever the willful woman. She stepped right up to Dragon and extended her hand. "It's an honor to meet you, sir," she said respectfully, and it was clear that she truly meant it.
"Likewise," rejoined Dragon, shaking the proffered hand. "And there's no need to be so formal, miss...?"
"Bellemere," she answered. "I just want you to know your efforts to improve this city are appreciated by a lot of people, this gal included. After all, there's not many politicians with the balls to attack corruption head on, or the decency to do so."
"Bellemere-san!" Banchina sighed at her friend's crudeness.
"Thank you, really," said Dragon, sounding bemused. "But I'm not quite the bold rebel you paint me to be. Just a man trying to make a change."
Next came Zeff, who shook the other man's hand firmly, and would've shared his name had the other man not beaten him to it. "Zeff, isn't it? We've never met face-to-face; however, I've had plenty of business dinners at the Baratie to know your name."
Admittedly, hearing that made chef quite proud of his restaurant's infamy. "Ever had any complaints?" he queried.
"Not about the restaurant," quipped Dragon, causing the group to chuckle.
"So, what brings you here this evening?" asked Yasopp after the laughter died down. Now that the ice had been broken, he was comfortable enough to sate the curiosity nagging at all of them. "Are you a friend of Robin-chan's?"
The dark-haired man's brow furrowed slightly. "I am well-acquainted with her, although that isn't the reason I came. Forgive me for not introducing myself properly. I'm–"
He didn't have a chance to finish before Luffy, spotting him, abandoned his game and charged over, practically leaping into the man's arms. Dragon caught him with ease, apparently accustomed to such antics, and let the boy cling to him a fair few minutes, all the while ruffling his unruly hair. There was a soft, fond smile on his face that left no doubt he was indeed the child's parent.
"I missed you!" Luffy babbled in excitement, words flying from his mouth like spitfire. "When did you get back? You were supposed to be home this morning!"
"My flight was delayed. I'm sorry," Dragon apologized, setting his son back on the ground. "But you had fun staying with Ace and Sabo, I bet."
Luffy hummed in agreement. "We tried building a trap for our treehouse but Dadan stepped in the hole we dug and fell and when she yelled at us Ace asked why it was our fault if she was too stupid to see an obvious pitfall covered with grass and leaves for camouflage."
Dragon shook his head in amusement. "Poor woman," he huffed under his breath, unable to suppress a small amount of pity for Dadan, who dealt with such incidents on a regular basis. "Anyway, you can tell me all about it at home, that way you can play with your friends a little longer. We have to leave soon, though, I'm afraid."
"Okay," Luffy acquiesced, without argument or whining. Yet instead of returning to his game at the first chance, he lingered. "...Can I take you to meet them first?"
His father blinked, surprised, apparently having assumed that his son would prefer his friends' company over his in this instance. "If you want," he agreed, after only a second of hesitation. "Of course."
The other parents and guardians were watching the scene unfold with attempted inconspicuousness – oh, who were they kidding? They were gawking outright! – and feeling rather foolish. Reevaluating their previous misconceptions, maybe Luffy's earlier bliss hadn't been due to ignorance. Maybe it had been due to the fact that he knew, without a doubt, someone would be there for him, trusting that person enough to wait with patience.
And if that wasn't the definition of family, what was?