"Mommy, where's daddy?"

A four year old Luffy watched as horror lit up his mother's face from his words. She looked at her son with tears in her eyes. She knew that Luffy was going to ask. Dragon had been gone since the day he was born. He had never been there for Luffy, but as a child, he would see other children growing up with both a mother and a father. Luffy only had her but for how long did she even have left? Her health was declining. She knew this so she called on the only person she knew who would come – Garp. The marine captain was on the other side of the Grand Line so it would take a while to get her message to him. Someone had to watch over Luffy when she was gone, after all. She made arrangements that the barmaid Makino would take care of him until Garp arrived but she didn't have much time left. It was a struggle every day to fight the illness that was slowly seeping the life out of her.

"Honey, you see… Daddy is-"

"Daddy… He's not coming home… Is he?" Luffy asked.

A pause came. His mother bowed her head with sorrow on her face. Her heart was heavy in her chest as she lowered her head, knowing that Luffy had figured out the ugly truth – that his father, her husband – had left them. He had left no explanation, no reasoning, no note, and no goodbye. He was there one day and gone the next. He treated it as if it were no big deal, despite how many times that his wife had written him, begging him to come home, to reconsider, to try to have a family again. Her letters never made it to him. He had gotten a different Den Den Moshi. He wanted nothing to do with them anymore. They were yesterday's news, cast aside like a piece of trash or a tool that had broken, therefore losing its value. Dragon had been so good to her in the past. He had made her feel like she was the only woman in the world. He had treated her as if she were the most precious treasure of the sea. Now she was barely enough to be considered the scum underneath his shoes. They were running out of money. The mayor knew of her problems and tried to help. But there was only so much charity could do.

"No, Luffy," his mother answered. "He's…he's never coming back."

There was yet another pause that filled the air with a corporeal sadness that could perhaps be cut with a knife. As his mother raised her head to look at her son, she actually started crying. The young boy had both hands clenched into tight fists at his sides. He was chewing his lip as if he were trying not to sob in front of her. His eyes were concealed beneath his bangs but she had seen the single tear trickling down his cheek. He didn't want to cry in front of her but there really was nothing he could do. He knew how much this hurt her but it hurt him too because he would never get to meet his father. It hurt him to know he was different from other little kids because he had only one parent. His mother pulled Luffy into her lap, pushing aside the clothes she had been sewing. Her heart felt like it would rip in two. Sad and angry tears escaped her eyes as she held her little boy close. She never hated someone so much in her life until that point in time. Even as she cried she gently ran her hands through Luffy's hair comfortingly.

"We'll get through this, Luffy," his mother whispered tearfully.

"I hate him…" Luffy responded, "I hate him! I hate him!"

He hid his face in her shoulder so that he didn't have to face her, so that she couldn't look at him. She just held him tighter than before, allowing him to rid himself of his anguish. He was surprised but quickly found how warm and comfortable the woman was, so he let it be. His head was on her shoulders, his hands between them, cradling his heart. He knew she was hurting just as much as he was. He looked like a vulnerable child in her caring arms. She didn't mind that he clung to her because she needed him in her arms as much as he needed her to hold him in her arms. Her arms grew tighter around him, pulling him closer to her chest. With a slow, child-like want, the man turned to face her and held her as tight as he could. The two sat in the middle of the floor, sobbing, cursing the man who had walked out of their lives without a second thought. Because really? What sort of man walked out on his wife and child?