A/N: It's been asked how Whitebeard and Roger know Dragon, since this was before the revolution really got a foothold, but come on guys. Dragon is Garp's son! Can't you just imagine the marine in all his madness dragging a Chibi!Dragon behind him as he chased pirates and calling it 'training'?
All OCs that appear in this fic are either because I needed a placeholder person or because I wanted to throw in a joke. Therefore, a lot of them will be rather quirky (for example, Gary from chapter one).
As most infants were wont to do, Luffy wailed and cried when he was hungry. And, as a D, he was nearly always hungry.
Luffy took every opportunity to be loud, and he could be very, very loud when he wanted to be. It resulted in a few close calls when his cries reached the earshot of those not 'in the know.' So Luffy's room was soundproofed in an attempt to combat this problem.
Unfortunately, this created a new problem. No one could hear him when he cried for food if they were outside his room. Which meant someone had to be in his room at all times to watch him. So they set up a rotation schedule to make sure Luffy always had someone with him.
And of course, this created another new problem. The seven of them (including Dragon but not Ivankov or Kuma, since the two were away on missions for the time being) were the most important revolutionaries there were, right at the top of the game. Which meant that obviously people are going to start noticing when they start disappearing for intervals at recurring times of day. And they are definitely going to pick up on something when Dragon stops sleeping in his own room (it had been unanimously decided that, as the father, he should bear the full weight of lost sleep) all of a sudden. So they switched up the schedule times to be more irregular.
However, Luffy had gotten used to the old schedule by that point, and the switch disturbed him and put him into discontent, meaning he cried more than ever. And louder. They hadn't thought someone so small could produce such a loud noise as to go right through soundproof walls, but then again, they hadn't met a baby D before, had they?
And lo, each solution they thought up created an even worse problem that needed an even more complex solution. One problem being that Luffy was going stir crazy, sitting cooped up in one room all the time when he wanted to explore the entire base — the terrible, terrible solution to which involved taking Luffy outside for a walk every few days.
And like all of their so-called solutions, it caused more problems than it solved.
At a little over half a year old, Luffy loved to babble. He was a constant stream of noise, none of which made much sense. He was, as they learned, a little too thickheaded to learn actual words just yet. He could crawl just fine, and had even started taking wobbly steps, too. He was definitely more of an active baby than a cerebral one.
It was left up to whoever had Luffy-duty on a given day to try (and fail) to teach him.
"Ya can do it, kiddo," the revolutionary on Luffy-duty said, trying to teach the boy his name, "Billy-Bob. C'mon, tha's easy peasy, isn' it?"
"No, hang on!" Billy-Bob's twin brother, Bob-Billy, interrupted. "I'm Billy-Bob, you're Bob-Billy. You got it mixed up again."
"Stop doin' tha', Bob-Billy. Ya know tha' I'm Billy-Bob."
"No, Bob-Billy, you're just confused. You do this all the time."
"You ah the confused 'un!"
Luffy squirmed in Billy-Bob's — or was it Bob-Billy's? — grip in a futile attempt to get to the floor. It was one of those days where he was taken to the Not-Room, which was what he called any place that wasn't his room, and he wanted to go see what the Not-Room had for him this time.
The Not-Room was always something different. Sometimes it had walls, like when it had a large table in it surrounded by nine chairs. Whenever the Not-Room looked like that, the tall people who took care of him — including the warm one who called himself Papa and was always with him in the nights — would sit in the chairs, leaving two empty, and talk about things he didn't understand while he sat in Papa's lap.
Talking was what the tall people called making noises in patterns to tell other tall people things. He was pretty sure they were trying to teach him to Talk, too, but he really didn't get it. He didn't think he'd ever be able to learn Talking, but that was okay, because he could tell the tall people things already by doing something the tall people called 'being a snotty, whiny bastard child' so he didn't really need to learn.
Sometimes the Not-Room didn't have walls. It just had a lot of blue, endless blue that he would stare at unblinkingly and try to find where it stopped. A lot of the time, the Big Blue Thing had little fluffy white things swirling around in it, and always, always, there was an even prettier Big Blue Thing right underneath it.
Today, he was out in the Not-Room with the Big Blues. He had seen a lot less of the Big Blue Not-Room than he had of the Talking Table Not-Room, and he would really rather take off and explore the Big Blue than sit still and learn Talking.
"Ya see tha'?" Billy-Bob — Bob-Billy? One of them — held him up towards the Big Blues. He pointed at the Big Blue Thing that was below the other Big Blue Thing. "Tha's the ocean. Can ya say ocean?"
"Oshie…" His eyes glittered at the name of the Big Blue Thing. "Oshie, oshie, oshie-oshie! Oshie!"
"Well," the twin not holding him said resignedly, "he can say one and a half words now."
"One an' a half?" the other asked. "Wha's the firs' 'un?"
"Well, Billy-Bob, the first one would be 'Papa'."
"Hold on jus' a secun' there!" he exploded. "You know I'm nah Billy-Bob!"
The disagreement quickly escalated, and Luffy was placed on the floor to keep him out of the line of fire. They only stopped when they noticed a certain ship pulling up to dock — and then they realised, somewhere along the way, Luffy had wandered out of their sight.
Not even an hour later, Dragon was already pushing Roger back to his ship with annoyance.
"I said no."
"Oh, come one!" Roger protested. "I thought you would be all over something like this!"
"You thought wrong."
"But — But it's Garp! Your father, for goodness sake!"
Someone cleared their throat. "Excuse me, Dragon?"
Roger huffed, crossed his arms, and pouted in a rather accurate imitation of a displeased child as Dragon turned away from him to the well-spoken twin. "I'm afraid I'm dealing with Roger right now, so unless this is an emergency then—"
"It is an emergency, sir," the twin who was currently calling himself Bob-Billy said solemnly. "We had to play rock-paper-knives to see who would have to tell you."
Bob-Billy (possibly) leaned forward and whispered something into Dragon's ear, something that made the usually stoic man go white.
"I see," Dragon muttered softly. "I… shall handle that in a moment. Please feel free to search by yourselves in the mean time."
Bob-Billy nodded hesitantly and tried to walk away as quickly as he could while still remaining dignified. Dragon didn't bother to watch him go, concentrating on how he could get away from Roger without drawing suspicion.
Roger cleared his throat in what he hoped was a professional manner. "Now that that's done with, let's get back to business—"
"Business?" Dragon interrupted. "You want me to help you pull a prank! You call that business?"
"Indeed I do," Roger said proudly (and pointedly missing the point).
Dragon would have made a stealthily sarcastic jab back at him then, but the other twin (who was also currently calling himself Bob-Billy) approached and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Suh? I, um, I think ya need ta see this, suh." Bob-Billy (maybe) hid the way he was pointing in the palm of his hand. Dragon followed the path of his forefinger and saw—
That boy really needed to learn his boundaries.
"Roger," Dragon began, hoping the man was still as oblivious as he had always been, "There's– well, there appears to be a child on your ship."
Roger paled. "O– Oh, really?"
"Yes. So if you would just let me take him, I'll make sure he gets back to his parents–"
"Oh no," Roger said. "You don't have to trouble yourself; he probably just crawled on at a port town! We'll drop him off where he needs to go after we leave here–"
"What if he crawled on from this port? Revolutionaries can have families, you know." Not to mention exactly who did. "And either way, we have ships here to take him home anyhow."
"Well, I'll go find the kid and ask," said Roger.
"And I'll come with you."
"No, no," he argued, "my ship, my responsibility."
Dragon scoffed. "Since when have you been responsible?"
Dragon was growing suspicious. In the five minutes he'd been on board the Oro Jackson, Roger had stopped no less that eight of his crew members to whisper at them frantically. Each time, the person had paled dramatically and rushed off below decks.
Currently, Roger was leaning on a barrel in a fakely nonchalant manner. "Sooooo, Dragon… How well did you see the kid you say you saw?"
"Well…" Dragon trailed off, raising an eyebrow at Roger's anxious smile. "It was a boy with black hair…"
Roger nodded nervously.
"…And he looked about six months old."
Roger's mouth dropped open. "S-s-six months?!"
"Yes, six months. Is something wrong…?"
"How did a six month old get on my ship?!"
"I assume he crawled," Dragon said dryly. "Perhaps he swam."
Roger opened his mouth to say something, but was cut off as they heard a yell.
A redheaded young man rushed onto the decks, a lump of something in his arms. "I-I found…"
He presented the something. Roger gaped and Dragon unconsciously began to sweat as it turned out to be a black-haired boy, almost exactly six months old. Roger looked around the young man, seeing his own Ace peaking onto the deck at them in wonder — specifically, at the infant.
A thought struck him suddenly. Had Ace ever interacted with anyone even close to his own age?
Dragon plucked the boy out of the young man's grip. "I recognise this boy," said Dragon. "He's the son of one of my revolutionaries. I'll take him back."
Roger nodded dumbly.
Dragon turned, somewhat awkwardly, and stalked back to Baltigo with a trilling Luffy in his arms. Watching him go, Roger and everyone else on deck breathed a sigh of relief. A minute later, at their captain's order, they began preparing the Oro Jackson to sail away.
In their relief, none of them noticed little Ace following Dragon to port curiously.
A/N: Well. Long time no read, huh? You know, I was tempted to wait until the twenty-third of February, so that I could legitimately say a year had passed between this update and the last, but I figured, what the hell. Remember, this story is my very last priority!
PS: From now on, I'm planning on having every chapter encompass a year of the boys' lives.