When the Straw Hat Pirates bring Enies Lobby to its knees with all the terrible fury of a family wronged, Garp laughs and laughs and laughs at the expression on Sengoku's face. (Garp is terrified.)
“Garp,” says Sengoku eventually, although Garp's pretty much not sure if it's because he's annoyed (probable), horribly stressed (probable), or has noticed the edge of hysteria in Garp's voice (also probable, although a bit less so).
Garp stops laughing, mostly, but only to shove some rice crackers in his mouth, not because Sengoku said to.
“C'mon, Senny,” he argues, when he's halfway through his mouthful of crackers and still suppressing giggles. “You've gotta admit it was hilarious!”
Sengoku raises an eyebrow with so much skepticism Garp can almost see that horrible taxidermied seagull he has glued on his hat raise one too. “You think that disaster was hilarious.”
“CP-9 got their asses handed to them,” says Garp in counterpoint, gesturing to emphasize his point. He knocks one of his stacks of rice crackers off Sengoku’s desk, but manages to nab most of them before they hit the floor or Sengoku’s goat can eat them. When he looks up from shoving them hastily in his mouth, Sengoku is still staring at him with that raised eyebrow.
Someday, Garp will succeed in removing the stick from that man's ass.
“A Buster Call was executed on the Judicial Island,” says Sengoku, his tone the kind of tight that Garp associates with dealing with that brat Sakazuki. Well, considering it's Spandam he's dealing with, Garp doesn't blame him. Mostly.
He grins, even though he knows it stresses Sengoku out more. “Senny, Rob Lucci and his Dark Justice bullshit got the tar beaten out of him by my adorable little grandson!” Seriously, can't a grandfather be proud these days? (Can't a grandfather pretend to not be terrified?)
Alabasta with Crocodile in charge is less dry than Sengoku's voice. “Your 'adorable grandson,’” he makes air-quotes, “declared war on the World Government.”
As though Garp doesn’t know that. As though Garp isn’t equal parts terrified and angry. (As though he isn’t a little bit proud, too.)
“And kicked Rob Lucci’s ass while doing it,” he says after a moment, trying to sound smug.
“Garp,” sighs Sengoku, all the flat stress of him finally melting away to something that just sounds tired, and maybe concerned. “You promised me that he would become a Marine.”
“You know how much promises count for these days,” says Garp, bitterly. When Sengoku looks at him like he just personally disappointed the entire Navy, he adds, “I tried and you know it. I succeeded, too,” he decides. “He’s gonna get himself killed, doing it like this, but he’s been fighting the enemies we can’t since he left Dawn Island and everyone knows it.”
“They’re going to skyrocket his bounty for this stunt,” warns Sengoku, completely ignoring everything Garp just said, because Sengoku is an asshole.
“Don’t I know it,” mutters Garp, voice and accompanying grin back to bitter. (Or maybe brittle would be a better word, because the terror is back, too, if it ever left.) “He’ll probably be proud of it too, the little shit. Roger always was.”
Oh, shit, I said too much, he realizes when he sees Sengoku’s face twist. Roger is always a sore topic with Sengoku. With Garp, too, but for entirely different reasons. Sengoku is bitter about the past twenty years, for all his tentative mutual respect with Whitebeard. Garp is just afraid.
Sengoku waves a hand, like he’s dismissing the topic of the Pirate King so that they don’t come to blows over it and destroy Marine HQ around them in the process.
Then he takes a deep breath, looks around to make sure nobody but Garp is watching, and puts his face in his hands. “Garp, I hope you know I hate your family.”
“I know,” Garp says. The admission hurts somewhere in his chest. “But I don’t.”
“I can’t, Senny. You know how family is… Just cause you got lucky with your kid growing up to be a Marine—”
“Rocinante’s dead, Garp.” There’s something bitter, jagged, almost hysterical in Sengoku’s voice, the same as Garp recognizes from when he was forced to appoint Donquixote Doflammingo to the Warlords and Garp had had to hold him down to stop him trying to murder the Elder Stars then and there. “He’s dead, and you’re calling me lucky?”
“I know,” says Garp, but he doesn’t apologize. “You’re expecting me to hate my family. My family.”
“I’m just letting you know that I do,” fires back Sengoku, “not telling you to do anything.” He always argues semantics when he’s stressed.
“It’d make your life easier if I did hate them, though.”
Sengoku doesn’t deny that one. Garp doesn’t blame him; it’d make his life easier too.
“They’re all just following their own sense of justice,” insists Garp after a tight silence, not even sure what he’s arguing against anymore. At this point he might as well be trying to fight the tide. He shuts his eyes. “Even Dragon. Especially Dragon. I would know, I raised him that way.”
“Some justice,” mutters Sengoku. Garp doesn’t try to guess what he’s thinking, because it could be any one of a dozen-and-ten things.
Instead, because he’s never known when to stop, he asks, “Was what happened to Ohara justice?”
Garp feels Sengoku’s wince in his Observation haki, rippling outwards to be much more obvious that it would have been with his eyes open.
“...shut up,” says Sengoku instead of answering.
Garp opens his eyes, looks at Sengoku all overworked and overstressed and overtired at his desk, and profusely thanks his past self for refusing all those promotions.
“Look, Senny,” he says, changing the topic to sort of say sorry and taking a deep breath. “I will do my duty, and I will love my family, and you can’t stop me from doing either of those things. You can’t.”
“I know,” says Sengoku, and Garp wonders if he feels as terrible admitting it as Garp had earlier.
“Good,” says Garp, ending the conversation. Sengoku’s goat comes up and tries to eat his coat until Garp starts absently scratching the little menace around the horns.
Then it clambers onto his lap and he has to deal with too many pounds of affectionate goat squirming to get comfortable and hitting him with its hooves.
“You’re her favorite,” remarks Sengoku, a milder, friendlier annoyance peeking out from beneath his tired irritation. “You both like destroying things.”
“You’ve said,” says Garp. He scratches the hoofed menace some more and wonders how Sengoku manages to keep that stick up his ass when he has a paperwork-eating goat to keep him company.
The silence that settles around them is a little lighter than before, a little bit less terrible. The goat gives Garp an offended look when he starts bouncing his leg. Garp gives the goat an offended look right back.
“Garp,” says Sengoku eventually, and his voice is back to that horrible flat emotionlessness like Alabasta’s deserts. “I want you to go to Water 7 and capture Straw Hat Luffy.”
“No,” says Garp.
“Garp,” Sengoku says again, and Garp does everything he can to resist the urge to punch his best friend and superior officer in the face. “It’s an order.”
Garp stares at Sengoku, trying to get past the weary Fleet Admiral front, and just comes away with a quiet sort of desperation.
“Fine,” he caves.
At least Sengoku wasn’t sending that brat Sakazuki. At least he was sending Garp, who, who—
(Garp, at least, could act on his terror, and let his own justice guide him.)
He stands, sending the goat protesting off his lap, and walks to the door.
“Thanks, Senny,” he acknowledges, not turning around. Then he leaves to make preparations for meeting his grandson.