“Excuse me?” Garp asked, really hoping he was conveying just how much Sengoku’s brat better have been kidding.
Rocinante merely repeated himself, “Due to people investigating Dragon’s more recent actions more thoroughly, someone put two and two together and figured your other grandson Portgas D. Ace is likely the son of Gol. D. Roger as Portgas D. Rouge was known to be someone he was…you know, into, instead of Dragon’s son since no one could find any links between her and Dragon. Also the government is considering using Luffy as a hostage to make Dragon stop his current…shenanigans.”
“And why are you telling me?” Garp asked.
“Because no one else can hear if I tell you so it made sense to send me,” Rocinante said. “Sengoku said if you can get the kids somewhere safe before he has to submit this stuff in his monthly report, he’ll personally look the other way because, well, killing your very young grandkids is not on his to do list.”
“So by sending you he can deny telling me.”
“Your son’s got to have spies. Claim he did it and you have no idea what happened to the kids,” Rocinante suggested.
“Which would be a whole lot easier if I had any way to contact my son,” Garp said.
“Oh. Well, shit,” Rocinante said. “Got a plan B?”
“…You’re a spy.”
“Yes, though I’m currently not engaged in espionage since I’m helping out at the secret base in North Blue,” Rocinante said. “Not sure what good I can do you.”
“How does Marine HQ usually transmit messages to the Four Emperors if it’s an emergency and waiting for them to get the paper won’t work?” Garp asked. “Like that time we had to move fast to prevent Big Mom from declaring war on Loguetown?”
“Usually some of their favorite bartenders and vendors know how to reach them so we go threaten those guys into calling them for us.”
“Huh. That actually makes this easier. Tell Sengoku I’m going on vacation,” Garp said.
“Good luck,” Rocinante said. “I’d hate for something like this to ever happen to Law.”
“Don’t jinx yourself,” Garp warned.
“Shanks, answer the damn thing,” Benn groaned, pulling a pillow over his head.
“How are you more hung over than me?” Shanks asked.
“I just am. Now answer it to shut it up.”
“Fine, fine,” Shanks said, grabbing the snail. “Shanks here.”
“This is about Luffy,” were the first words out of the Den Den Mushi. “I’m his grandfather.”
“Money D. Garp, Vice Admiral,” Benn said, a warning in his voice as he instantly became more alert.
“So why are you calling us?” Shanks asked. To tell them to never go near Luffy again?
“Luffy is in danger. From the Marines.”
Shanks and Benn shared a look. Shanks frowned, “Luffy is all of seven, last I checked.”
“With a father who is causing a lot of problems,” Garp said. “Dragon the Revolutionary.”
“The most wanted man in the world with Gold Roger dead,” Shanks said. “Shit, that’s your kid? And Luffy’s dad?”
“So naturally the government want to hostage Luffy,” Benn concluded. “And they told you?”
“They don’t know I know, but that’s not actually the problem,” Garp said. “Shanks, you were one of the kids on Roger’s crew. You know what they did, looking for his kid after he died.”
“I know,” Shanks said darkly. He’d known several of those women who had died. Kind bartenders, fierce pirates, even a few farmers…all condemned for having met Roger and then being pregnant at the wrong time.
“Well they never found the brat because I hid him…except he’s with Luffy so now they have.”
“Roger’s got a son? An alive son?” Shanks asked sharply.
“Lives with Luffy. They and another kid say they’re brothers. They’re going to kill Ace and probably Luffy and the third one if they get them. You’re going to ‘kidnap’ all three so it doesn’t happen,” Garp said. “By the end of the week.”
“Or, I try to make a break for it with them myself and probably get caught,” Garp said. “You lot wander all over East Blue at random, no one will think twice about your ship showing up.”
“…This sounds like a trap,” Benn said.
“Shanks, I am begging you, you grandson stealing brat,” Garp said.
“We’ll be there,” Shanks said before hanging up.
“It still sounds like a trap,” Benn said.
“The man who captured my former captain wouldn’t beg a pirate as part of a lie,” Shanks said. “Besides, if he’s dumb enough to use my friendship with Luffy to try and get me arrested he’s too dumb to live. Go tell Sven to change course, we’re going to pick up some new cargo.”
The Red Force docked at Foosha Village a few days later.
“Doesn’t look like a trap,” Yasopp mused, peering around. “Not many places around here Marines could hide their ships.”
“All right, Yasopp, Benn, Lucky Roo, and Kincaid come with me,” Shanks decided. “Let’s see what’s going on and grab some kids.”
“Cannot believe we’re doing this,” Yasopp admitted. “It was, what, one year ago we were pointing out to Luffy why kids on a pirate ship was a bad plan?”
“Well when it’s the pirate ship or certain death I’ll allow the pirate ship,” Shanks said. “Besides, we know some chill people we could hide the kids with if things get, you know, too dicey to have them around for a bit.”
“Could let them hang out with your kid,” Kincaid said to Yasopp.
“Yeah, but what if whoever’s keeping an eye on him doesn’t like pirates?” Yasopp hedged. “I’d hate to have to drag him off Syrup cause I got him in trouble…”
“Oi, you’re Shanks, right?”
Shanks stopped and turned to see a large redheaded woman, “Yeah.”
“Dadan. Usually watch the boys for Garp,” she introduced herself. “Garp’s up the mountain with the boys, sent one of my men to nab him.”
“You know what’s going on?” Benn asked.
“Garp’s told me some. Would have to be pretty bad if he’s going with pirates as his plan,” she said. “…You know, I raised Ace. From a baby.”
Shanks assumed that meant Ace was either Roger’s son or the mysterious third kid.
“So let me make something real clear to you, Mr. Hotshot Pirate,” she said, leaning into Shanks’ face. “You hurt those boys, and I will never forget it.”
“Understood,” Shanks said. “Which way should we go from here?”
Dadan pointed them to the mountain, “Path’s behind the red house, start there and watch for traps and such. Garp should come meet you soon.”
“Traps?” Shanks asked as they wandered over. “Never knew Foosha to have traps up the mountains…”
“To be fair, only time we went near there was Luffy getting kidnapped,” Lucky Roo said.
“We do tend to stay close to the coast,” Benn agreed.
“Least the trail is fairly obvious,” Shanks said as they headed up the mountain.
After a decent amount of walking, Shanks spotted a tall Marine on the trail, “You Garp?”
“You’d better remember me, you little punk!” Garp yelled back. “Dealt with you and that other cabin boy enough to where you should!”
“You weren’t as gray then!” Shanks yelled.
Garp muttered under his breath until they got close, “Well, grandson-stealer, time to actually steal my grandsons.”
“So where are they?” Shanks asked.
“Since it’s the last I’ll see them, we went camping. Let the boys sleep in their ‘fort’. It’s in a tree,” Garp explained. “Why Dadan let them sleep there whenever they wanted…what was I paying that woman for?”
“Maybe she thought you meant the kids just needed to be alive?” Benn offered.
“She probably did,” Garp said. “Watch the ropes. Ace puts traps everywhere. Mostly just annoying but he’s been in a snit over something or other lately so I think some have snakes.”
So one of the kids was the cause of all the traps? Shanks could see a lot of ropes if he looked closely. Someone was a busy bee.
“Do you guys hear something?” Yasopp asked.
“Sounds like…ants, ants?” Lucky Roo asked.
“Nah,” Benn said, smirking as the sound came closer.
“Shanks, Shanks, Shanks, Shanks, Shanks!” Luffy cheered catapulting himself at Shanks.
“Anchor!” Shanks replied, catching Luffy before giving him a light head butt. “Look who it is!”
“Luffy get back here! Hey! You! Put him down!”
Shanks raised an eyebrow at the freckled boy who was glaring at him imperiously. Oh yeah. That was probably Roger’s alright… “I don’t think he wants me to. And you are?”
“Portgas D. Ace and he’s my little brother so give him back!” Ace said firmly as the blonde behind him pulled out a pipe in what Shanks assumed was meant to be a menacing manner.
“No, no, guys, it’s Shanks! He kept me from drowning!” Luffy said.
“Oh,” the blonde said. “…Guess I won’t hit him then.”
Benn chuckled, “Feisty bunch you’ve got here.”
“They’re my brothers now!” Luffy said proudly. “We’re going to be a pirate crew!”
“Great!” Shanks agreed.
“Wait a minute…why’s Gramps here with you…Gramps hates pirates…” Ace said slowly.
“Well, Gramps hates the idea of you three dead more than he hates pirates,” Garp said.
“What?” Luffy and the blonde yelled as Benn smacked the side of his head in what Shanks guessed was shock at Garp out and saying it. Hell, Shanks felt like doing it too, Luffy just occupied his only arm.
Ace, on the other hand, looked panicked, “Gramps…is…this isn’t cause of me?”
Oh shit, Roger’s kid and he knew people wanted him dead?
“Not entirely. Luffy’s good for nothing dad’s being an idiot and made him a target too,” Garp said. “Sabo, in a way, you’re lucky your parents merely sucked.”
Sabo, the blonde, did not look entirely convinced. “But…someone’s going to kill us over Luffy and Ace’s dads? Ace’s is dead!”
“I have a dad?” Luffy asked blankly.
“Everyone has a dad,” Ace muttered angrily. “Whether or not they want one…”
“Yeah, Luffy. Sorry my idiot son’s not keeping out of enough trouble so my idiot grandson can actually grow up safely,” Garp sighed.
“So, we going with a kidnapping story?” Benn asked.
“I think the lot of you taking me by surprise is conceivable enough,” Garp said. “Boys, go get your bags.”
“Wait, we’re leaving? That’s why you let us camp out?” Luffy asked. “That’s why Shanks is here? But Shanks said no kids on his ship!”
“When it’s my ship or death I make exceptions, Anchor,” Shanks said, setting him down. “Ah, go get your things so you can say goodbye, all right?”
The boys shared looks before running off.
“Sorry you’ve got to do this,” Benn offered to Garp.
“It’s killing me. But better that than killing them,” Garp said.
“I can’t believe you’d still want to be a Marine after this,” Shank said.
“Not most pirates are like you lawless lay-a-bouts,” Garp said. “Lots of them, good people need protecting from. That’s why I’m here.”
“And we’re apparently here for when good people need protecting from the Marines,” Shanks replied.
Garp shook his head, “Sad day when that happens, pirate.”
Luffy, Ace, and Sabo came back, toting bags, pipes, and hats.
“I’m not giving it back til after I’ve kicked your ass,” Luffy informed Shanks.
“You’d better not!” Shanks grinned, adjusting it on Luffy’s head. “Still drowning in it, though…”
“I think Sabo’s the only one whose hat fits!” Lucky Roo laughed.
Ace pushed his onto his back with a scowl, “So what? We can grow into them!”
Ooh, that one was grouchy. They’d have to work on that.
“They generally handle themselves, but Luffy can’t really control his rubber stuff much,” Garp said. “So make sure he doesn’t bounce off your ship, Red Hair.”
“Got it,” Shanks said.
“So…this is goodbye?” Luffy asked Garp.
All at once, Garp and the boys all burst into tears and the boys ran to hug him. Weirdly enough insulting him the whole time.
“You’re scary but I love you, Gramps!”
“I hate your guts but I’ll still miss you!”
“You’re all awful brats and you’d better not die and I’ll miss you so much!”
Shanks really hoped he wasn’t the only one feeling utterly awkward as he gestured for Lucky Roo to pick up the boys’ bags and pipes—were those supposed to be weapons? Eh, oh well, Clarke used a monkey after all…
“Now get lost! Goodbye Fist of Love!” Garp declared and to Shanks’ shock he punched each kid in the head.
“Fist of what?” Yasopp yelped.
“…Shanks I am suddenly very glad we are taking these children,” Benn muttered as the boys all rubbed their heads. “I don’t know if they’d survive even without the execution orders…”
“Yeah,” Shanks agreed. “Well…come on, kids, we need to set sail before dark.”
“You’d better make sure you stock up on food,” Garp said. “Ace eats like a horse and Luffy eats like ten.”
“Noted,” Shanks said, picking Luffy back up. The sad rubber boy curled against him.
After a moment of consideration, Sabo jumped at Benn who put him on his shoulders.
“You want a ride too?” Yasopp asked Ace.
“I can walk,” the boy said stubbornly.
“Suit yourself,” Shanks said. “Let’s go, kids.”
“I’d better hang back. Mess the place up, make the kidnapping story more plausible,” Garp said.
“Bye Gramps!” Luffy called as they started down the mountain. “I’ll become a really tough pirate! That way when we meet I can kick your ass and you won’t have to bring me in!”
“You’d better!” Garp yelled.
“So you’re going to be bunking here. Well get beds somewhere before the Calm Belt,” Shanks said.
Luffy and Sabo and perked up as soon as they’d gotten on the Red Force, but Ace was still sulky.
“So, rules,” Benn said. “We say hide, you run in here and lock the door got it? Being a pirate is dangerous, kids.”
“Okay,” Luffy and Sabo sighed. Ace shrugged.
“We need an okay,” Benn told him.
“…Okay,” Ace said.
“We’ll figure out some stuff for you to do around here soon enough,” Shanks said. “For now, unpack your stuff into that trunk if you want and try not to cause havoc before dinner.”
“…We’re pirates,” Luffy told Sabo excitedly as Shanks closed the door.
Shanks fought down a grin. He’d missed the kid, even if the circumstances weren’t great.
In the middle of the night, Benn was woken up by Shanks shaking him. “What, what?”
“Oh shit, oh shit, Benn. I just realized,” Shanks said, running his hand through his hair.
“Realized what?” Benn asked.
“I don’t know how to dad!”
“Shanks,” Benn sighed. “Dad is not a verb.”
“But I don’t know how! Benn, you have to teach me to dad.”
“…Why would I know?”
“You’re smart and you seem the type.”
“Yasopp’s actually a dad, ask him.”
“Yasopp’s a lousy dad, no way.”
“Shanks, please go to sleep.”
“Benn we are going to screw these kids up so bad, how do we not do that, oh man what do we do?”
“Shanks, go to sleep. We’ll handle it.”
“But what if we screw them up?”
“They are on our ship already in fear of their lives, they’re already sort of screwed up.”
“You will definitely screw them up if you are sleep deprived when interacting with them in the morning.”
“Good point, better get some rest.”
Benn resisted the urge to bash his head against the cabin wall.