It takes about a week before the first call; he’s on his way back to Alabasta sitting behind his desk talking to Daz when the call comes.
He answers it maybe a touch too quickly, Daz just gives a knowing look and moves to leave but stops when they hear the sound of hissed and muffled words on the other end.
“No way it’s your fault you”
“Like hell you do it”
Crocodile caught Daz’s own confused look before answering “boys?”
A sudden silence falls over the other end before Sabo replies “Hey dad” he says with far to much forced cheer and drawling out the last word, a tone Crocodile is sadly very familiar with.
“What did you do?” he says firmly and watches the Den Den Mushi’s smile falter and it sweat nervously.
“I well…” there’s a far too long a pause before Sabo continues “ ok so hypothetically”
He closes his eyes forces a deep breath and braces himself.
It cannot be that bad.
“What would happen if we…kind of sort of accidently…lostluffy”
Never mind it is.
“Hypothetically” Sabo adds sheepishly.
Crocodile stares dumbly at the Den Den Mushi for a beat before reaching in to his pocket pulling out the Vivre cards, he lets himself relax just slightly at the assurance that Luffy’s is still whole.
In absence of his response he hears Vivi in the background.
“For the record I had absolutely nothing to do with this they'd lost him before they even got to me” her voice called out ignoring Sabo’s frantic screech of hypothetically.
He takes another calming breath before speaking firmly cutting thought the panicked voices on the other end “explain”
The Den Den Mushi explains as Ace takes it off of Sabo “ ok so..you know how we had all those barrels?”
Seeing where this going Crocodile puts his head in his hand.
“Well…we kind of hit some rough waters and then…suddenly we were down one barrel…and one brother” the snail cringes.
He takes another glance at the Vivire card in his hand, still whole and moving in the direction of the East Blue.
“so yeah…we don’t really know what to do or how to find him or well” Ace trails off awkwardly.
“Other than that we're doing great though” Sabo adds.
“Use the card” he says as calmly as he can, which is incredibly calm given the situation thank you very much.
“Card?” he hears the boys ask in tandem before he hears the excited sounds of realisation and then rummaging through pockets before “YES HE’S STILL ALIVE!”
“THANKS DAD DON’T WORRY WE’LL FIND HIM CALL YOU SOON TO LET YOU KNOW WE’RE NOT DEAD LOVE YOU BYE”
The call ends, and Crocodile doesn’t think anyone can blame him when he hits his head on the desk.
He hears Daz move back to the desk.
“Do you think that counts as an accidental munity?” his second in command asks “because if so I owe Gem beli”
The second call comes about 5 days later.
5 days of repeatedly looking at the kids Vivrie cards, a lot of pacing and way too much internal panic.
He answers the call on the first ring and almost falls back into his chair in pure relief when on the other end is Luffy’s overly happy voice “HEY DAD”
“ see not dead” Ace pipes up sounding very proud.
“…sorry about before dad” Sabo says embarrassment clear.
“Hey boys” he answers finally relaxing for the first time since the last call “it’s fine don’t worry, your all ok?”
“We beat up a Marine Captain” Luffy declares happily.
Crocodile raises an eyebrow at that, not that it's unexpected but he thought it may take at least another week or so.
“Well Luffy did we only showed up at the end” Ace says and Crocodile can hear the smirk “he totally had it handled”
“the marines are actually being quite calm about it haven’t arrested us yet” Sabo adds "it's kind of bizarre"
“How big of an asshole do you have to be for the marines not to even care?” Ace asks curiously.
“It’s really not all that uncommon” Crocodile answers smiling lightly he’s missed this.
“Oh Dad we got out first crew member” Luffy adds and the den den mushi is practically bouncing “He used to be a bounty hunter and he uses 3 swords” Crocodile tilts is head, he’s not too sure how you’d use 3 swords at once but it’s far from anywhere near the strangest thing he’s heard of.
“Yeah he seems alright” Ace concedes reluctantly.
Luffy continues “I also met this other kid Coby but he wants to be a marine so I don’t think he’s coming with us”
He hears a happy gasp in the background and approaching footsteps “Is that uncle?” he hears Vivi’s voice getting louder "you guys said you were going to wait to call, Hi uncle!"
Crocodile leans back and enjoys talking with his kids, especially now he’s not worried one of them is going to end up at the bottom of the ocean.
Ok so maybe only a little less worried.
“We finally got a ship” The next proper call starts and the Den Den Mushi is nearly vibrating smile so large it looks like it’s going to split its face in half.
“One we can actually all fit in” Ace adds helpfully “Also we beat up some pirates and their captain…Kuro or something”
Crocodile raises an eyebrow “huh I thought he was dead”
“Well…he may be now Luffy punched him really hard” Sabo chimes in “we also got a sniper from the island to”
“And a navigator” Vivi added the Den den Mushi getting a love struck expression to match her tone “she’s amazing she’s so smart and her hair is beautiful and she’s so smart she tricked an entire pirate crew and then almost blew up their own ship with their canon and robbed them blind” the den den mushi let out a love struck sigh, before changing into a look of utter distain as Ace snatched it back.
“This has been the last week of our lives dad make her stop please!” his son cries out “she won’t stop pining and giving her heart eyes it’s ridiculous”
“She’s perfect hot head and you know it”
“You have really weird taste”
“I HAVE WERID TASTE?”
Crocodile muffled his own laughter, though just barely, this seems like an argument that isn't going to end anytime soon.
“Yeah she’s shifty”
“Fuck you Portgas she’s perfect”
“She stole our ship” Ace starts the next call with no preamble.
“We only had it for a few days” Sabo bemoans.
“…we got a chef though” Luffy adds, ever the optimist “he’s really good”
“She stole out fucking ship” Ace repeats “I would like to just say that I called it”
“Fuck you” Vivi’s voice rings out from down the den den mushi “She must have had a reason”
“Yeah she stole our ship because SHE WANTED TO STEAL THE GOD DAMN SHIP” Ace yells back, and he can almost hear and feel his sons flames through the den den mushi.
“She must have had a reason” Vivi insists voice sharpen with that steel edge that indicates she is not backing down.
“Dad” Ace hisses out “can you please tell Vivi to stop thinking with her god damn”
“Ace” Crocodile says in warning, cutting off an insult he knows is going to send the pair into a fight with will have no end in sight, and honestly he doesn’t put it past Vivi to push Ace into the ocean.
He waits for them all to fall silent before he continues “so she stole your ship” he hears the affirmative noises and cuts off the protest he can hear building in Vivi’s throat “and you’re going to go get it back right?”
“It is our ship….and a gift from Kaya” Sabo speaks up “we need to get it back”
“So” he continues nodding “what is your plan when you see her again”
Ace and Vivi both start to speak but Luffy cuts them off.
“she’s our Nakama” he says “we’re getting her back”
The reactions this declaration draws from Vivi and Ace is instantaneous.
Crocodile just closes his eyes and shakes his head smiling.
He doesn’t know what he was expecting.
The next call comes in the middle of the meeting, he moves to answer the den den mushi giving a hand motion to dismiss everyone but as soon as he answers the call.
“SHE WAS NOT FUCKING EVIL I KNEW IT!!!” Vivi’s very excited loud voice rings out and Crocodile almost drops the receiver.
The members of the Baroque Works all almost trip over themselves startled by the loud cry.
“Hello Vivi” He responds calmly but can’t get anything more out before Vivi continues.
“She was forced to by this dick Arlong, he was blackmailing her with her village she was trying to get enough money to buy it off of him so she could safe everyone, she’s so selfless” Vivi says with a love struck sigh.
“She also really likes beli” Ace’s voice calls out “also dad please help, she’s gotten even worse please do something ANYTHING!!” there’s a note of utter desperation in his voice.
“She was so brave and amazing and I don’t know how anyone can be that strong god I think I love her she’s just so wonderful and beautiful and just so so I don’t know” Vivi rambles on uncaringly.
“I beat up the fish guy” Luffy calls out clearly trying and failing to grab the phone “he was a giant jerk so I punch him really hard also we got the going merry back”
“Dad is the silence silence fruit a thing?” Sabo’s desperate please come from the den den mushi “because if you find out it’s a thing I would really like it so I do not throw one of these two overboard”
Crocodile just sighs smiling and shaking his head in fond exasperation.
“WAIT” multiple voices yell and when Crocodile looks up, Bentham and Mikita are either side of him leaning towards the den den mushi grinning.
“Is our little princess in love?” Mikita asks teasingly smiling far to wide.
The other side of the line is suddenly silent, other than Ace and Sabo’s muffled laughter.
“oh no” Vivi whispers horrified and Crocodile can almost feel the embarrassment radiating off of the den den mushi “Uncle are you in a…why didn’t you say anything?”
“I didn’t exactly get a chance” he answers noncommittally and lets the pair snatch the receiver out of his hand.
“Details” Bentham asks grinning widely twirling around “now come on Vivi tell us all about her what’s she like?”
“Right right come on tell us everything” Mikita insists “how far have you gotten?” resulting in a sound of mortification from the other end and the full blown laughter of the boys “remember safe sane and consensual”
“And I’m out” Galdino says standing up and walking very quickly out of the meeting room.
“Wait they lost the ship?” Marianne asks “when? who won the betting pool?”
“Does she know you’re a princess yet? Have you kissed? How did you meet?” Bon Clay asked.
“Come on Vivi we want to know how she’s just so so” Mikiate continued mimicking Vivi.
“Kill me now” Vivi groaned and even the den den mushi was blushing at this point.
“Oh my god I think this actually makes everything worth it” Ace laughed almost hysterically.
“Just wait Ace” Bentham said teasingly “You may have all this yet to come”
Crocodile sighed shaking his head at the utter chaos around him, sometimes it was impossible to remember that this was meant to be a professional criminal organisation…he’s not too sure what happened.
But it’s probably the kids doing.
When it get to the end of the fourth week with no contact Crocodile is only a little on edge.
He’s not yet sent Miss Friday and Mr.13 to find them, because they’re adults, they’re pirates they can handle themselves.
He trusts them.
But that doesn’t mean he’s not starting to get worried.
The last message he got was from Luffy that they were approaching a snow covered island…that was 4 weeks ago and nothing.
It’s the longest he’s gone without at least a check in from his kids, even when he was setting up Baroque Works he still talked to the kids at least once a week.
He knows the kids are fine.
He’s seen the Vivire cards; they’re all still fully intact.
And they can’t have been captured by the Marines, Garp and Tsuru would have told him.
So he doesn’t know what happened.
Unless… they’ve finally managed to break the den den mushi, which is becoming more and more of a possibility with each day with no contact.
But the den den mushi managed to survive Ace, Luffy and Sabo as kids, it survived being dropped from trees, in the ocean, thrown at Garp’s head and repeatedly set on fire…so he’s doesn’t know what they could have done to have finally broken it.
He signs leaning back in his chair eyes flickering to the Bananawani’s all staring at him with looks of concern.
He shook his head looked away back at reports from strange activity around some areas of Alabasta that some of the agents found, he tries to focus on them.
Sudden splashing noises catch his attention and he looks up to see the Bannanawani’s wagging their tails happily looking behind him, he turns around and feels his mouth drop open.
Running though the halls of the casino above are a number of figures, a girl with short hair, a tall blonde man, a man with 3 swords, a man with a long nose, a…reindeer? All being chased by a marine he recognises Smoker.
But what catches his attention most is the figure running in front, straw hat around his neck.
He releases a breath, worry and anxiety fading away leaving only confusion.
Because he was not excepting his kids to turn up in Alabasta, because if Luffy’s here there is no way Ace, Sabo and Vivi aren’t.
He watches him through the monitors as he rounds one corner and….activates the pitfall.
This is far from the first time Luffy has actually done this he managed to always forget about the traps, even after being shown repeatedly and when he was little Crocodile nearly always followed behind to use hook or sand to prevent him from falling.
This time he isn’t able to, instead he stands moving off to the side to watch as his son, what he assumes is his crew, they do all matches the descriptions the kids have given him…expect the reindeer…that’s new and he doubts the angry marine is a member of the crew…though he doesn’t actually put it past Luffy honestly.
He watches as they all fall in a crumpled heap.
“I told you they’d be traps” the girl chides his son angrily.
“Oh yeah always forgot about that one” Luffy says gaining confused looks from the others and oh!
Wait…do they not.
A smirk creeps across his face as he moves into the shadows, because this could be very entertaining.
Smoker curses, the sea prism stone affecting him, though he still looks ready to lunge at his son…if he tries it Crocodile will make sure he’s going to be a dried up corpse before he can even reach him.
“I can’t believe you just ran in here” the girl continues throwing her arms up in exasperation.
“We’re trapped” the loan nosed boy whispers looking terrified “we’re going to dieeeeee”
The little reindeer lets out a terrified cry.
“Usopp shut up” the man with 3 swords hissed out standing between smoker and his son glaring at the marine.
“But we’re going to due by a crazy evil warlord” he cries out overly dramatically.
Crocodile raises an eyebrow, that's definitely something he's going to want an explanation for.
“No we’re not” Luffy says as a matter of fact as he pulls himself up to a sitting position.
“Luffy we’ve been captured” The blonde man hisses out “ we need a way out of this before this warlord shows up”
“but we’re not going to get hurt” Luffy says titling his head looking at the others blankly.
The rest of his crew look ready to throttle him and Crocodile can’t stop the chuckle that escapes him.
Everyone in the cage freezes paling…well all except one Luffy spins around beaming widely as Crocodile walks out of the shadows.
He doesn’t even look at the others fearful gazes and angry glares instead he looks directly at his youngest son who is grinning widely.
“Hey dad!” he says happily and doesn’t even seem to notice when the others all drop their weapons as their jaws collectively hit the floor and their eyes widen to comical levels.
Crocodile just smiles back “hello son”