There’s a small bundle in his arms. A tiny, so tiny, little baby that is now his responsibility. He can’t look down, can’t look at the face of his Grandson, not yet. His eyes are settled on the form of the son he hasn’t seen in more years than he dares to count if he wishes to protect his heart. Dragons eyes are dark like the stormy seas and his expression as tight as it was, when he left for good. If Garp looks down now he’ll lose the stoniness he’s barely keeping in his eyes, he’ll lose the words that need to be said.
“This,” he begins, his voice strong and stable where his heart wavers. “Is the worst crime you have ever committed.”
Dragons frown grows deeper, morphs into the expression reserved for those parts of the world that took his son from him. “You’d call your own grandson a crim-”
“You’ve doomed him.” Garp doesn’t raise his voice, it booms through the room none the less. “You can’t have a child; you don’t even want one-” Something cracks inside of him and he struggles to not look at his grandson. It would break him. “But you had one. And you’ve doomed him.”
His son wavers. Dragons eyes dart down to the baby and back up so fast Garp would’ve missed it had he not been looking so attentively. Of course, he catches himself immediately. He has to, as the most wanted man in the world. Garp’s stare becomes colder. Maybe this is all the pain that has been storing up in him for the last three years. The pain that grows every day since that faithful conversation when Roger asked him for one last favor in his cell. Ever since he held Ace’s body, Ace who was just as small as his Grandson is now-
He can’t look at him. He can’t even think about him.
“ So, you think he was a mistake?”
The words hurt just like they were intended to. Because Dragon knows him, was raised by him, knows how important this is to him. Because, he thinks numbly, his son wants it to hurt.
“Dragon.” The name rings in the air between them, from the way his son looks at him he knows Dragon expects anger. Because even though the dark-haired man has a penchant for unreadable expressions, Garp could always read them like an open book. The anger doesn’t come. “This is not about you or me. Or about the world. Even if you want it to be.”
“This is about your son. Who’ll grow up in a world that wants to kill him just because you’re his father.”
Something almost victorious glints in in Dragons eyes in that moment.
“So, you agree that they’re wrong.”
There was never a moment in which he hated his son, not when he left, or when he rose to notoriety. Not when he built an army, or when he started destroying the justice Garp believed in. But when that sentence leaves Dragons mouth, that’s when Garp comes closest to feeling something like hate for him.
But even then, that feeling is a double-edged sword. He can’t truly hate him. Because he knows what brought him here. Remembers the years of trying to squash Dragons ambitions, of denying the injustice around them. Remembers years upon years of mistakes that’ll haunt him for the rest of his life.
Dragon might have made bad choices, but Garp will always remember how he pushed him towards them.
“This is not about the world.” He repeats himself, his voice tight. Dragons eyes narrow and he looks at him with eyes that speak of bitter resentment. “I wasn’t a good father. But that doesn’t give you the right to ruin the life of your own child.”
It would have been easier to tell this to Roger, he thinks. But at the same time, Garp knows that’s why it has to be Dragon. It can’t be easy. He can’t put himself onto the high horse and play the morally good part when that’s not who he is.
The silence that follows is tense. Garp can feel it with every second that he doesn’t take his eyes away from Dragon.
Finally, after what feels like an eternity, his son turns away.
“His name is Monkey D. Luffy.”
They’re the last words he hears from him in a very long time.
Garp stands alone on the deck of his ship. His men are all out of sight in order to give him the space they think he needs. (Maybe he does.) The only other person here, is in his arms.
Luffy is so terribly small.
So much smaller than the world. So much smaller than the life his father has thrust him into. Garp’s vision blurs as he stares at his grandson's tiny face and slowly, ever so slowly, tears start to roll down his face.
In a few moments he’ll have to make choices. Choices that will decide where Luffy’s life will lead him from now one. But right now, he wants to be selfish. Wants to cradle the small bundle against his chest and pretend that it’ll be all right. That the world wouldn’t kill Luffy for the name he carries and that he will be able to live a good life.
The sentiment rings hollow.