The thunderously loud bellow has Rosinante flinching, scuttling to hide behind Sengoku's chair. In the boy's defence, it is the first time he'll be exposed to all of the boisterous riot that is Monkey D. Garp.
If he could get away with it, Sengoku would quite like to run and hide too.
The Vice Admiral barges his way into Sengoku's office as per usual; smashing straight through the paper wall as if it weren't even there. Yes, the paper wall. One can only go so long with rebuilding the usual sturdy walls, can only go so long with Garp continuously forcing his way through it, before one throws in the towel and switches to paper. Easier to 'rebuild' and cheaper too.
"Sengoku, Sengoku, look! This here's my little girl!"
And without further ado, a tiny human is thrust right up into Sengoku's face. And she is a tiny thing, perhaps three years old.
She hangs from between Garp's large hands with no protest, what is undoubtedly Garp's old Marine cap thrown over her head and far too big. It tilts to a side, visor exposing only one half of her upper face as it slips to the left.
It's not enough to cover the little licks of what has to be a birthmark running down the left side of her face, halting at the hollow of her cheek. It seems like a big mark, from what little Sengoku can see of it.
Her features are soft, nothing like the hard edge Garp has and that has to come from the man's wife.
That beaming grin is all Garp though.
"Hi! I'm gonna be a marine!"
Head cocking back, the girl stares at Garp as if checking she'd spouted the right thing.
Garp... Garp looks like all his birthdays have come at once.
"She's so cute and adorable and she's gonna be a marine! Just like me!"
Good lord, Sengoku hopes not. One Garp is already too much.
Dressed in knee length shorts (the white material stained green by the hems that indicate the girl has spent more than her fair share of time kneeling or skidding along in the grass) and a thin sleeveless shirt (the navy blue colour doing nothing to hide the stains of food that hint at an appetite to rival Garp's) the girl waves her hands happily in greeting.
Sengoku can all but feel Rosinante's incredulous stare. He feels quite the same.
"Well," Sengoku begins, scrambling for the words that'll get Garp and his spawn out of his office as fast as humanly possible. "She's certainly cuter than the last one." And that isn't even a lie.
He'd first met Monkey D. Dragon when the boy was three nearing four years old, oddly solemn for a child of Garp's. Right up until that creepy ass grin stretched his lips wide and bared pearly white teeth. For a just out of toddlerhood child, that expression had been as threatening as bloody Gol D. Roger and his manic grin.
The comparison doesn't bode well for Garp's brat, but like hell if Sengoku's gonna point out the similarities between the Vice Admiral's oldest and the World Government's biggest headache.
Speaking of potential headaches...
"And her name?"
Garp opens his mouth, but he's cut off by the brat he's still presenting to them both.
"I'm Monkey D. Kitsune! Remember it, 'cause I'm gonna change the world!"
Oh dear Lord.
Monkey D. Dragon stares at the little infant clutches in his mother's arms, mind still wrapping around the facts. His mother's stomach had swollen with a child, and now that child is out in the open, all wrinkly and pink and screaming. She's dreadful, he thinks with a grin.
Rising to his tiptoes, the dark haired boy stares into the baby's little face, at those flushed cheeks that seem more mush then flesh, at the watery, hazy eyes that are still baby blue. His mother insists they'll darken as time passes, much how his own did. Dragon cannot remember looking into a mirror and not seeing coal black eyes, but he'll take her word for it.
"What's her name, Garp?" Mother looks to father, her honey eyes wide and warm, her lips tilted in a smile.
His father is not a small man.
It always seems strange, looking upon his parents as they stand side by side. Mother only comes halfway up father's chest, short and slender. She's like a flower, and all that long Golden hair doesn't help towards making her appear stronger. She's fragile and delicate and must be protected.
Perhaps that is why she married father, father who is muscle upon muscle, strength showcased in his every movement.
Dragon may not agree with a lot of things father does, certainly doesn't agree with the idea of such a strong man taking orders from those Celestial Dragons who are just so much weaker (who are just so wrong, everything about them is wrong and why can nobody else see it?) but his strength is undeniable.
Dragon hopes his future physique favours Father's, as much as he hopes this baby (his dear little sister, his only one) will favour their mother. He will be a good big brother, Dragon decides. He will protect his sister from all those that threaten her, even if he must split the continent in two, even if he must overthrown the world.
She is his to protect now.
"Kitsune. Monkey D. Kitsune."
Dragon sounds the name out in his head, staring at the little infant who's name seems far too big for her tiny form. The shameful connection between their names (mythical beings, how grand) is noted and stored away for later consultation. Now is not the time.
"My little princess to spoil," Father continues, cooing rather ridiculously at the infant. It's a miracle he's managed to get the time off work as things are.
The pirates on the Grand Line are a rowdy, rambunctious bunch and father seems more than happy to spend his time pitching cannonballs at them in efforts to skin their ships. More than once he's returned home, grumbling all the way about Gol D. Roger, his main target who always seems to effortlessly slide out of reach just as Father thinks he's got him.
He'll never say it aloud, but Dragon rather looks up to Gol D. Roger, a man who does what he wants and damn what the rest of the world thinks of it. Or how they suffer for it. Dragon doesn't understand why the Marines get so upset about it; is his attitude not exactly the same as that of the World Nobles' attitudes? Why does blood, why does birth parents dictate a right to be morally excluded from what is just and what is inequitable? These are questions that spin about in Dragon's head, that linger and persist; he just cannot ignore them. He thinks on them constantly and perhaps that is the reason it is rare to find a smile upon his face.
Thinking about these kind of things, it leaves him very little to smile about.
He gives up leaning over the side of the bed and instead climbs right onto it, ignoring the way Father frowns at him.
This is his little sister, his only one, and he will not be stopped from presenting himself before her.
"Here, Dragon. Hold her."
And Mother is pressing the tiny human towards him, swaddled in blankets as she is.
She's so small, so fragile and delicate in his arms. Is he suppose to feel the little flutters of her ribs so clearly? Hear the tiny wisps of her breathing, sense the palpitations of the little heart beating so furiously? Blurry blue eyes flutter open, failing to true focus on anything at all.
It doesn't stop Dragon from smiling down at her, doing his best to not expose his teeth. Everyone says his grin is a bit crazed (he may or may not have brought the neighbour's baby to tears last year after smiling at him), even Mother has pointed it out to him. Dragon's smiled into the mirror before, and though his face does look a little unsettling, he wouldn't say it's manic.
Very carefully, he balances the baby in one arm, lifting the other so he can dance his fingers before her sightless eyes. How much can a baby see? Dragon doesn't know, it's not information he's ever needed before.
Kitsune doesn't respond to the motion of his fingers, so Dragon settles for stroking one long line down the side of her cheek instead. She has a birthmark, a large thing that begins above her exceptionally fair eyebrow and stretches halfway down her face, thickest in the middle where her eye rests. It looks like a loose flame, a wisp.
At least if she's stuck with a birthmark, it's not an ugly one. It's just there, present on her face.
"Don't you want to talk to her, Dragon?"
"What is there to say?" Kitsune won't comprehend what he says to her. She's a baby, she doesn't understand the language they speak, words are a forgiven concept to her. It would be a waste of his time to speak because Kitsune can say nothing back, won't be capable of saying anything for a fair amount of time now.
He says as much to his mother, while Father nods sagely in the background.
"Men," Mother grumbles beneath her breath, accepting Kitsune back into her arms. Dragon's little sister is fast asleep now, though her eyelids twitch occasionally.
"How else do you think she'll get used to your voices? You'll be strangers if you don't talk to her."
It makes sense. Kitsune may not be able to comprehend what he's saying, but she will come to recognise his voice. Understandable.
"Hello, Kitsune. I am Monkey D. Dragon and you are my little sister."
She doesn't respond, doesn't even twitch, but Dragon can feel himself grinning.
This is his little sister. His. She is his to look after, behind Mother he was the next to hold her, she is his.
And he will protect her.
After a week, Father returns to work.
Dragon stands upon the deck, Kitsune strapped to his chest in a sling and he watches the Marine ship catch the waves, watches it disappear from sight. The sun sits high in the sky, spring steadily reappearing in the world, washing winter away with its showers of rain.
His little sister naps against his chest, one tiny hand wrapped up in the thin cotton of his jumper. Her fingers are no longer as red and wrinkly as they had once been, though they are still so very feeble looking. It would not take much effort for them to be snapped.
The very thought has Dragon watching everything, cataloguing all possible threats, from the travellers he doesn't recognise to the birds that could peck their beaks at his delicate little sister's face.
There is so much to defend her from, Dragon realised. It is a good thing indeed that Father's strength lingers in his own limbs, coiled and ready.
Unlike Father though, Dragon does not yet know what he wishes to do with his strength. The core principles behind the Marines, the concept of upholding justice, does not sit right with the ten year old.
Who decides what constitutes as justice? Who gets the final say upon what is right and what is wrong? Why is it that the World Nobles, these Tenryūbito, hold so much power over every other being in the world? They so rarely interact with the world at large, and Dragon has never once heard of them performing what most would consider a good deed. All he has heard of them is of their rights to have whatever it is they desire, even if it ruins others, even if it tears others apart until they are considered less than human, nothing more than property.
Dragon does not understand.
He's not quite sure he wants to.
Dawn Island may be segregated from the vast majority of the world, but that does not mean Dragon cannot look out there and witness what is occurring.
It is a tentative idea, but he wonders what would happen if someone were to bring about change, if someone stood up and said enough was enough.
Pirates, pirates do whatever it is they please, but they are selfish in their actions. They only have regard for what they want, for what benefits them and theirs.
It is only small, not even a spark, more like a bundle of kindling with a piece of flint close by. It's there, but it's not burning, there is no reaction.
When Monkey D. Dragon is ten years old, he is a big brother and he is a boy with questions. He is a boy with a skeleton of an idea, a newly built 'what-if' that sits in the back of his head, lingering but never pushing for realisation, for substantial existence.
Monkey D. Dragon is ten years old and he does not know what he will do with his life.
Then, Monkey D. Dragon is three months older and he is motherless.
Her corpse is still warm, lying in her sickbed, lying in the town hall where all those who are ill have been moved to, quarantined so as to stem the spread of disease. There are no doctors, though the village had two.
Three weeks ago, a Celestial Dragon had been sailing by. Three weeks ago, a call was made for all doctors upon the surrounding island to leave and head for this World Noble's impressive boat. Three weeks ago, the village doctor and his apprentice left.
Two weeks ago, disease had hit Dawn Island, and it had hit it hard. Dragon's mother had been one of the first to contract it, though not the first to breathe her last as a result of the disease.
Had the doctor been here, had his apprentice been here, then maybe Dragon's mother still would be.
Dragon is sat on the porch of their house (his house now, his house for Father is never home and now Mother never will be) and the world around him feels numb.
He is ten years old, he is five months off of eleven. He is without a mother now. Her pale pink lips will never twist up in a gentle smile again, her honey eyes will never gaze upon his face again. He will never hear her voice, never again be told to set the table, to try and keep his trousers clean as he goes off into the forest and wrestles bears to increase his already impressive strength.
She will never again tell him to speak to Kitsune, that she must know the voice of her big brother. Now she will never know the voice of her mother.
For their mother is dead, and Dragon is not incompetent, he knows who is to blame.
Five days later, he will learn all of the doctors were summoned to deal with a man's simple head cold.
As things stand, Dragon recalls he is not the only one who has lost a mother today, he is not the only one who has had a parent ripped away by the cold clutches of a death spurred on by the World Nobles.
Though he feels no desire to, he rises to his feet, stumbling into the home that will soon be devoid of his mother's soft scent, of her gentle voice and warm presence.
When he finds Kitsune, she is right where he left her, lying upon the plush rug on the floor. Unlike before, her eyelashes are not dusting her cheeks, she is wide awake and stares up at him with steadily darkening blue eyes.
He feels weak as he lies beside her, this tiny being that is so much smaller than he. She has thrown one of her pudgy arms up, placing pressure upon one cheek flushed with the heat of summer, her fat lips smushed together. She looks at him now, an improvement from those hazy glances when she was a newborn. More aware, though Dragon wishes that wasn't the case.
"Mother is dead," he says. Just like that, it seems unquestionable, void of all emotion and nothing more than a simple fact.
The sky is blue. The ocean wet. Mother is dead.
Mother is dead, and with Father never home, Dragon must look after Kitsune who cannot yet look after herself. She is fragile, helpless, completely dependent upon him. Mother would never forgive him if he were to allow her to just fade.
"You will need feeding," Dragon realises, recalling the formula that Mother had taken to using whenever she was 'sore'. Dragon didn't pay too much attention when Mother was feeding Kitsune, it'd been too strange a sight, but he has fed her before with the formula stuff, even prepared it. He knows all about sterilisation, about germs and ensuring Kitsune and her weak immune system is not exposed to such things. He's ten but that is no excuse for idiocy.
Preparing the formula, utilising milk kept cool in the fridge and then warming it by use of the bottle sitting in a sink full of warm water, it's familiar. Not as easy as breathing, but after these past few weeks he can recall the steps without checking the instructions the neighbours left him.
Kitsune latches into the rubbery nipple of the bottle as soon as he presents it to her, one small hand on the side of the bottle, the other grasping at his own. Formula milk is not as good as a mother's milk, the neighbour had warned him. Dragon has no other option now though, mother is no longer here and there are no other women in the village who can supply a mother's milk for Kitsune. The body cannot produce on demand, only if set conditions are made. And Kitsune is the youngest child in the village by two years.
Dragon will make do with what he has, and pray that it is enough to keep his little sister alive.
It is days, days of settling into a routine that centres around keeping Kitsune alive, before he allows himself to consider what he has lost.
Monkey D. Dragon is ten years old when he learns of rage, when he learns of a fury that burns white hot, that licks at the kindling of an idea within his head and ignites it.
Monkey D. Dragon is ten years old when the flames of revolution first burn in him.
It is a blaze that shall never go out.
The village has no way of contacting his Father- of contacting Garp, Dragon corrects himself. Perhaps if the man was a little less dedicated to the job, and a little more concerned with his family, he would have been here sooner.
Perhaps he wouldn't have arrived when Dragon is eleven years old and the only familiar figure in Kitsune's life.
Kitsune who is now nine months old, crawling and babbling incoherently. She follows him everywhere, she stay silent when he speaks and watches him with eyes that are now as dark as his own.
Despite the occasional visit from the neighbours to ensure they are still alive, Dragon is all that Kitsune has, just as Kitsune has become all that Dragon has. Only her... and the roaring flames of an idea, a burning determination that has only grown stronger as the months have passed.
He is sitting on the living room floor when Garp returns, Kitsune in his lap as he reads to her. The newspaper isn't exactly a children's book, but the infant in his arms, his little sister, pays him all of the attention she can. Her gaze is unnervingly focused for a baby, though her grin bright and warm.
It reminds him of Mother (Mother who is dead and buried now, a tombstone to mark her final place on this earth though her spirit has long since disappeared) but at the same time, Dragon can also see his own grin in her.
Because it is not gentle like mother's, instead filled with a boisterous kind of laughter, a dazzling appreciation for all that is housed within life itself. Kitsune smiles as if all is right in the world, as if her whole life is complete.
As if just Dragon is enough for her.
She does not yet know, the casual cruelty, the selfishness of the World Nobles that ruin so many lives. The corrupt government that their own father (brash and bull-headed but with good intentions) works for. She is ignorant and Dragon will see to it that she remains that way just that little bit longer. Things will not change while she is an infant (there is no one to start this change, no one there to be the wind that first buffers a wave and leads it to crest upon the shore. There is no harbinger of this storm. Not yet) but Dragon will protect that childish wonder as long as he can. His own eyes are open wide. Though he will never wish them closed, he misses the ignorance rose tinted glasses once brought.
When Garp stands at the entrance, it is clear that he has already been informed of all that has occurred. His shoulders are slumped and devastation moulds the features of his face.
For all of his faults, it is clear he loved Mother, loved his wife. For all that love is grand though, not even that can conqueror all, no matter what the tales say.
He looks upon them with heavy eyes, with sadness an ocean he's swept adrift in, and Dragon discards the thought of detachment. Monkey D. Garp may never agree with what curls like smoke and thunder in the edges of Dragon's mind, but the man shall always be his father.
So despite his anger, despite the bitter fury that boils within his stomach, Dragon allows Father to hide his smaller frame with his massive arms, just as he himself shelters Kitsune within his own embrace. There will be time to discuss and injure each other's pride later.
Right now, they just share their grief, with even Kitsune silent and sorrowful as she clings tight to his arms.
Father sends them to living with a middle aged woman, moves them to a village that, while still being on Dawn Island, is a world away from what Dragon knows. It is unfamiliar, with people he doesn't trust, people he doesn't know, and he holds a great dislike for it all.
Kitsune, standing upon shaking legs and clinging tightly to his hand, stares from around her fist at the people of Foosha Village, thumb firmly docked in mouth. Dragon does not trust the other children, does not trust the other adults, and begrudgingly puts up with the woman in charge of their care. Even then, it is only because Father's money goes to her now, no longer just arriving at the house as it did when Mother died.
Dragon could care for both himself and Kitsune on his own, has been doing so with no real problems. Neither of them are dead yet, so it is not as if he's incapable.
It takes him a moment to realise Kitsune has removed her thumb from her mouth, staring up at him.
She is trying to pronounce brother.
The grin that spreads across Dragon's face in that moment successfully scares away every other child in the village. Every child but his little sister, who giggles with delight and tangles the fingers of her free hand (thumb still damp from its stop within her mouth) into the material of his shorts.
"Yes, little sister," Dragon agrees, scooping the girl up into his arms to stare challengingly at the woman Father had entrusted their care with. He does not know her relation to them, her association with Garp, nor does he care.
The look he graces that woman with is not a challenge so much as a declaration.
We do not need you.
We can get by just fine on our own, and we shall continue to do just that.
It is a statement, that he is Kitsune's brother, he is her protector. He will shelter her until she can stand upon her own two feet without his aid, and then he shall bring a storm down upon the world.
Monkey D. Dragon is eleven years old.
He is a big brother.
And he knows what he will do with his life.
Monkey D. Kitsune is one year old and she doesn't have a clue what is going on.
The first six months had been spent in a terrifying haze of sleep, eat and sleep some more. All of her senses betrayed her, all but her hearing.
The voice of a boy (and he is a boy, his tone soft and without the edge adulthood holds) a constant echo in her ear, speaking of corruption, of right and wrong and what could possibly be classed as justice.
For those first six months, all Kitsune knows is that the boy is Brother and he knows her as Kitsune. So confused and disoriented, it is Kitsune she becomes.
By her sixth month here, she has come to accept things, though she questions why Brother (whom is actually younger than his words and rhetorical questions had hinted at) is the one looking after her.
Kitsune is nine months old when Father returns and realisation strikes her like a lightning bolt.
It is one thing to fail to recognise the thirty or so years younger Monkey D. dragon when he is missing his most distinctive marking (that tattoo), his impressive height and intimidating figure. It would truly be shame on her to look upon Monkey D. Garp and not have an epiphany moment.
Monkey D. Kitsune is twelve months old, is one year old, and she is nowhere near the story line she knows.
For all that is holy, there hasn't even been a Pirate King yet; Garp had still been muttering about catching Roger as he'd left them here in this village, in a Foosha Village she doesn't recognise beyond its sparse collection of windmills.
Dragon (Monkey D. Dragon, the Revolutionist, the most wanted man in the world and her eleven year old brother) had carried her down to the docks to see him off, his hand clasped in hers. It is a warm, strong hand, a familiar one. Kitsune knows it, for it has been the one to protect and nurture her for so many months.
Dragon is familiar, she has heard him speak of all that is wrong in the world (and wow did his crusade start out early) weaving tales of what he would like to see in the world's future as if they are nothing more than bedtime stories.
To be so entangled within a world where slavery exists, where there is no set safety unless you are born into the most powerful family in the world; it is a terrifying thing.
To realise life as you know it could be ripped from beneath your feet, stolen away on the whims of some being that has power only because they were born to it…
Kitsune clutches tighter to Dragon's hand, far too much of an adult in mind to permit fear to cross her features.
Her brother shall become a Revolutionary, that much is evident.
It burns bright in his dark eyes, eternal fire, fuelled by all that he sees, all that he hears and thinks upon.
Dragon will change the world, Kitsune realises, or he shall die trying. He has made that explicitly clear. And she…
What more can she do to repay her brother, but then to help him?
There is little she can do now, little she can help with as nothing more than a one year old.
But she can start laying the foundations, she can wiggle her way into things simply because others will not expect her to understand, to recall and remember.
Watching Garp's ship disappear into the horizon, Kitsune realises what she will do.
The Revolutionaries will stand against the World Government, will refuse to bow to the might of the Marines' Forces. To fight a war though, one needs to know what they are up against.
It is painfully obvious where Kitsune can best situate herself to be helpful.
She will become a Marine.