He’s finally bringing the boys with him to Alabasta, once Sabo’s burns had mostly healed and he’s spent the first day on the ship not taking his eyes off the 3 of them. All three seem to have reached a new level of excitement leaving Foosha and travelling on a really pirate ship, he had only been able to start getting work done once the three had passed out.
It had taken a while to catch up on reports after that and it’s the early hours of the morning when he moves to head to bed, quickly looking on the boys room just to check.
He feels himself freeze when he only see’s Ace and Sabo.
The next few minutes are filled with silent panic and running around the ship looking for any trace of his youngest.
He catches sight of the tell tale straw hat when he reaches the top deck…as his son is currently sitting on the figurehead of his ship.
His devil fruit wielding son.
He quickly moves his sand under the figurehead just in case, as he walks up to him.
“you know your meant to be in bed right?” he says calmly when he’s right behind him.
Luffy makes a noise of shock and he has he use his hook to grab the back of his shirt to stop his falling into the sea.
It only takes his son a moment to recover and is suddenly beaming up at him “oh hi dad”
Crocodile shakes his head and sits down behind him, he’s about to ask his question again when his son states.
“When I’m a captain this is going to be where I sit on my own ship”
Amusement takes over Crocodile features “really”
Nodding Luffy just looks up “yeah it’s the best spot you can see everything from here”
He glances over his sons head at the sprawling sea reflecting the last few glittering stars holding on as the first light of dawn raises from over the horizon.
“You’re right” he admits.
The duo sit in silence for few minutes before Luffy suddenly speaks up again “I’m going to be the pirate king”
It’s far from the first time his son has made this declaration, always said with the confidence of someone who knows that it is going to happen but something about this tone is different.
He looks down into his sons eyes and see’s that spark of pure determination but also oh...
He smiles softly understanding, the crown it had been his own dream for so long but now.
He presses his forehead against Luffy’s for a moment before moving back and pulling the large straw hat over his sons head earning a small shriek of childish outrage that morphs into a giggle.
“I know you are” he answers back smiling as he looks back at the raising sun.
It was his dream but now.
He wants to see his son with that crown.
"You know I’m more than happy to get you an actual ship” he says calmly and watches as his sons all simultaneously leap into the air with shocked shrieks, he’s very happy that he can still sneak up on them even after all this time.
He is totally succeeding as a dad.
“Dad” Ace says smiling widely “hi”
“Hi” he replies smirking in amusement as he approaches them glancing back down at the small ‘ship’ the 3 have filled with supplies looking up with a crocked eyebrow Sabo and Ace cringe but Luffy seems unaffected “when I said it was ok for you to head out I didn’t mean it was now or never”
“We know” Sabo says sheepishly “ we’ve been planning for this for months dad don’t worry we’ve got everything we need”
He slowly and purposefully looks back down at the small boat.
“…we’re going to get a bigger ship later” Sabo adds quickly.
“I could get you one now” he offers again but is not surprised when.
“Nope” Luffy interrupts “that wouldn’t be as fun getting a ship ourselves is all part of being a pirate” he says grinning madly.
He rolls his eyes just a little “yes but having a ship your crew can all fit in is also part of being a pirate”
The boys all look back down at the ship.
“…we can all fit” Luffy says after a moment that was far to quick.
“Yeah and if not I mean Sabo can swim” Ace suggests with a shrug and quickly sidesteps his brothers elbow.
“Also” Sabo says while still glaring at Ace “A big ship would get more attention it’ll be easier to slip through like this”
“Don’t worry dad” Luffy assures smiling up at him “we know what we’re doing”
He locks eyes with his son and already knows there’s no way he’s going to get him to change his mind, it’s been 15 years and he learnt very early on that getting his son to change his mind once he’s decided on something is completely impossible.
“Fine” he sighs but not before giving the tiny thing a glare just in the hopes he might be able to set in fire from will power alone “But on two conditions”
The boys look at each other in confusion.
Crocodile just reached into his coat pulling out the first of two items he’d had prepared for a long time, he handed the den den mushi to Sabo before looking at all of his sons “that you keep in contact and if anything happens you can’t handle you call me” he said firmly “I trust you and your skills but that doesn’t mean you may not run into to something unexpected, it doesn’t have to be help even just advice don’t worry I’m not going to barge into your fights unless you ask me to” he assured before smiling “also you better let me know that your all doing ok”
The boys were silent for a long minute before hugging him tightly.
He hugged back smiling, they’d be ok, he knew they would.
He wasn’t going to control what they did.
But he was going to be there to help if they ever needed it.
The boys moved away after a moment you blinking rapidly.
“so” Ace began clearing his throat “what’s the second condition?”
Reaching in to his coat again he pulled out the second item handing each one of the boys a small envelope.
They open them pulling out the small plain white cards inside each of them in confusion.
“Vivre cards” he answers the question he knows they’re going to ask “I had some made for each of you, so now you’ll all know if ones in trouble” he paused before leaning back “oh and I have a copy to so I’ll know if you’ve done anything to stupid” he noticed the glances Ace and Sabo shot Luffy but didn’t say anything instead he just handed the forth envelope to Ace who stares down at it in bafflement.
“that’s for Vivi” he said and watched in great amusement as his sons expressions slipped into shock “I’m guessing you’ve already set up a meeting spot in the east blue right?”
He gets back a chorus of utterly unconvincing denials.
“say hello to her for me” he just says and doesn’t hesitate before pulling the three back into a hug “you’re going to do amazing” he whispers quietly.
He watches their small ship sail off until he can’t see it anymore.
In that time Luffy was waving so much he almost feel off the ship, Ace tried to pull him back but instead got pulled off to, Sabo had to fish them out and they almost hit a sea king who Luffy punched so hard once he was back on the ship that it hit the side of the island, the force of punch made him stager back a step and knock Sabo into the water.
He shakes his head smiling and walks back to town and into the bar.
“you ok?” Paula asks from where her and Makino are sitting, Daz also looks up concerned.
He just smiles “yeah” he says and is happy none of them comment on his eyes which are most definitely not red rimmed at all.
He’s fine and so are his sons.
They’re going to be amazing.
“so” Paula says after a long moment “what are the bets on how long until they mutiny ?”
“Paula!” Makino says in offence, though she can’t quite keep the humor out of her voice.
“ok fine” the blue haired woman sighs “…how long until they lose the ship?”
Crocodile just shakes his head.
They shouldn’t do anything to stupid.