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Carnival Adventure

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Roger sat reclined in a chair on the main deck of the Oro Jackson, an opened beer in his left hand, a half-eaten leg of meat in his right, and an uncharacteristically menacing frown etched across his face. He’d been grounded.

 

By the age of 45, one would think that you’d be too old to get grounded on your own goddamn ship, by your own goddamn pirate crew, which you just so happened to be the motherfucking captain of. But alas, if the situation that Roger currently found himself sitting in were any sort of indication, apparently that wasn’t the case. And the worst part about it was that, this time, he hadn’t even done what he was accused of.

 

There were a multitude of reasons why someone such as Gol D. Roger might ever be grounded to the Oro Jackson on any given day. This particular occasion was due to the mysterious disappearance of 3 whole barrels of their recently purchased rum supply, which Roger swears upon his own life that he had absolutely nothing to do with. Unfortunately, due to the raven haired man’s notorious reputation for sneaking into the alcohol cellar late at night and helping himself to a few barrels of booze on occasion, nobody believed him, and thus, Roger was forced to serve a sentence of 1 evening stuck babysitting Shanks and Buggy on the Oro Jackson, while the rest of the crew went to the nearest whorehouse, and wasted all their money on the local talent.

 

“Have a good evening, Captain” one of his crewmates shouted teasingly at his captain, which was followed by a chorus of laughter from those around him.

 

“Ya, try not to get into too much more trouble, or Rayleigh will have you babysitting the two brats all week” another shouts, laughing like a hyena at his own mediocre taunt.

 

“I hope you get your dick bitten off” Roger snaps at his crew, flipping them all the middle finger as they walk down the gangplank of the ship and begin heading into town, the chorus of laughter, cheering, and howling growing softer and softer until finally, Roger is the only one left on the main deck, with nothing but the sound of crickets to keep him company, as he finished off his beer and meat.

 

The sun is only just about to set, and Roger already wants to stab his eyes out with a fork, completely and utterly bored out of his skull with nothing to do but sit around and wish that he could be anywhere but here. The sound of a door opening catches the raven haired man’s attention, and he turns to the right just in time to see two small figures coming out onto the main deck, one slightly taller, with a mop of barely maintained red hair adjoining the top of his head, only just hidden by the too-large straw hat that he had once called his own. The other was smaller, and his most notable features were his red nose, the tousled strands of light blue hair, and the biggest pair of green eyes that Roger had ever seen in his entire life.

 

“Shanks! Buggy!” Roger called, motioning for the two boys to come to him once they finally noticed their captain, sitting off in the corner. They run over to him.

 

“Hi Captain” Shanks greets happily, followed closely behind by Buggy, who remains silent.

 

“What are you two trouble makers up to?” Roger asks casually, a small smile spreading across his face.

 

“Nothing” the redhead answers honestly with a shrug of his shoulders.

 

“Nothing?” Roger asks, feigning shock and disbelief. “Oh, I don’t think I believe that. You two are always up to something.”

 

Shanks laughs and curls in on himself when Roger reaches forward and pokes gently at the boy’s stomach.

 

“I mean it, honest. We don’t have anything to do because we finished everything we have to do.”

 

“Really? You finished everything?”

 

“Yup. We did all our chores, we completed all of our training, and we even finished all of the homework that Rayleigh gave us.” Roger narrows his eyes suspiciously.

 

“I see. And were you the one who finished all of your homework?” The raven haired man asks. Shanks stiffens slightly.

 

“Well…”

 

“I had to help him with the last sections of his math and reading, but it took a lot longer than it should have because he was fooling around and not listening to me like he should have been” Buggy finally chimes in, crossing his little arms and fixing the redhead a nasty glare, which even Roger would have found rather intimidating, had he not seen that look leveled at him one too many times over a plate of zucchini. Roger allows himself to laugh.

 

The Oro Jackson was quite possibly the farthest thing from a school house that any man-built structure could get, but some time ago, Rayleigh and Crocus had taken it upon themselves to give the two cabin boys at least some form of education, which lead to an incredibly unexpected discovery in terms of the two boys’ vastly differing strengths. While Shanks was most certainly the Roger Pirates’ golden boy when it came to physical strength and fighting capabilities, Buggy was, surprisingly, far superior than even most of the adults on the crew when it came to knowledge, intellect, and problem solving. Not only did the blue haired boy practically devour any and all forms of written text that he could get his grubby little fingers on, but he was also incredibly observant and analytical for a boy his age, learning and mastering new concepts and skills at such an alarming rate that Rayleigh and Crocus had a hard time coming up with new things to teach him at certain times, meanwhile Shanks, despite all his hard work, still struggled with basic reading comprehension, and barely knew his times tables.

 

Roger wasn’t sure if it was because Shanks felt more comfortable around Buggy, or if it was because the younger boy simply did a better job of teaching than Rayleigh and Crocus did, but recently Shanks had begun asking Buggy to help him with his homework, and although he hasn’t improved astronomically since receiving his younger companion’s help, there has been a noticeable improvement in Shanks’ overall understanding of the topics that Buggy has helped him with, though Roger has caught the young redhead trying to coerce Buggy into simply doing his homework for him. That little stunt did not go unpunished.

 

“Well, then I guess we’re all stuck with nothing to do while everybody else goes out and has fun, huh?” Roger says. Buggy frowns, scrunching his nose in the way he does whenever he gets pissed off about something.

 

“Ya, but I don’t see why everyone was so excited, I mean, what’s so great about going to a bar and talking to a bunch of ladies all night, anyways?” Buggy asks, to which Shanks nods, firmly in agreement. Roger bursts out laughing at the unintentionally innocent statement.

 

“I think they’re going to be doing a little more than just talking to them” the raven haired man says. Shanks and Buggy exchange confused glances with one another.

 

“Is it a sex thing?” He asks, looking back up at the older man with those big green eyes of his, and tilting his head to the side. Roger smiles fondly at the small boy, placing his half-empty beer bottle on the ground, before reaching forward and picking the small boy up, setting him on his thigh.

 

“Yes, little one, I would say that it is indeed, a sex thing” Roger affirms, chuckling as the boy’s face scrunches up in disgust.

 

“Ew. Gross.”

 

“Ya, that’s nasty, what would they want with a bunch of girls, anyways” Shanks chimes in, moving to crawl into the empty spot on Roger’s other leg, seating himself comfortably across from his friend. Roger rolls his eyes but smiles kindly at the two boys. His boys.

 

It was at times like these when Roger remembered just how young the two cabin boys were. Though they still looked and sounded childish, both Shanks and Buggy were years more capable and mature than any child their age usually was, though this was not something that occurred of their own choice or free will. Both boys had seen things that no adolescent should ever witness, heard things that no juvenile should ever have to process, done things that no minor should ever be forced to do in order to survive, and had more mental and physical scars than any defenseless and innocent child should ever have to carry the burdens of.

 

It was at times like these when Roger found himself happy that both boys had managed to hold on to what little of their childhood naivety and innocence they had left, despite what they went through prior to becoming permanent fixtures in Roger’s life. Although the brutal life of piracy forced Shanks and Buggy to act and be like adults in many ways, it was not lost on Roger the fact that both of his cabin boys were still very much that, boys. And while the raven haired man understood the necessity for both of them to be mature and responsible and capable of looking after themselves, the pirate captain would also gladly chop his head off if it meant that his boys could hold on to that little shred of innocence for just a little bit longer. Without hesitation.

 

“Hey Roger?”

 

“What is it, Shanks?”

 

“Will you take us to the fair before we leave this island?” The redhead asks, staring up at the older man with pleading eyes. Roger looks down at the boy in confusion.

 

“Fair? What fair?” Instead of gracing him with an answer, both Shanks and Buggy merely point out in the direction toward town. Roger follows the direction that their fingers point to, and although he has to squint his eyes to see it, in the distance, the raven haired man can just make out the faintest sight of multiple large metal structures. A Ferris wheel, a pendulum, and a rollercoaster.

 

“Huh, that’s funny” Roger comments, though more to himself than anyone else. “I don’t remember that being there when we docked a few days ago.”

 

“They were working on it when we docked and they finished it yesterday” Buggy informed him.

 

“Ya, and tonight’s the opening night. We really wanted to go and ride all the rides, but Rayleigh said we couldn’t unless someone took us, but none of the other adults wanted to take us, so we can’t go” Shanks continues, a disappointed frown spreading across his face.

 

“Ya, they’d all rather go and do gross stuff with a bunch of hussies” Buggy bites, crossing his arms over his chest in annoyance.

 

“Hey now, don’t call them that” Roger scolds lightly, gently tapping the boy on the nose. “Those girls work hard to earn a living, and the way they do it doesn’t make then any less deserving of the respect you’d give a shipwright or a doctor.”

 

The blue haired boy blinks, rubbing at his nose. “Oh. Sorry.”

 

Roger smiles to himself. He knows that Buggy didn’t mean it seriously. The raven haired man doubts that Buggy really even understands what that word, and other words similar to it, really mean. The boy probably heard it from one of the other crew members and started using it without realizing the meaning behind it, and while Roger wasn’t against allowing Shanks and Buggy to swear and curse like the pirates they were, he’d rather avoid teaching the two boys such disrespectful and derogatory insults.

 

“Well, I don’t know about you boys, but I find this fair you’re telling me about to be rather interesting. Why don’t we go check it out?” Roger asks. Shanks and Buggy exchange confused glances.

 

“But we can’t. Rayleigh said we had to have an adult go with us” Shanks points out.

 

“Ya, and you’re grounded to the ship, so if you take us, then we’ll all get in trouble” Buggy adds. Roger laughs, allowing his head to fall back against the chair. Once he’s finished, he fixes the two boys with a cocky smirk, leaning in close to them to whisper.

 

“Since when do we listen to Rayleigh?” Shanks and Buggy immediately light up, their eyes practically sparkling.

 

“So you’ll take us?” Shanks asks, bouncing up and down excitedly on Roger’s leg. The older man laughs again.

 

“Of course I will. I don’t give a damn what Rayleigh has to say. If I wanna take my boys to the fair, then I’m taking my boys to the fair. Now go put on a fresh pair of clothes and get your shoes on” Roger instructs. The two boys burst out in laughter and cheers as they clamber off Roger’s lap, sprinting below deck to their shared bunk. Roger chuckles lightly to himself as he retrieves his nearly forgotten beer from the floor, chugging it down with a final swig, before getting up from his chair and following the boys below deck.

 

Grabbing a washcloth from the bathroom, Roger runs the cloth under warm water, ringing it dry after turning off the faucet. From down the hall, Roger can hear the faint sound of Shanks and Buggy running around, bickering on about something, and by ‘faint sound’ I mean the thunderous pounding of their little feet against the wooden floors and the high-pitched shrieks that accompanied their game of tag.

 

“Shanks. Buggy” Roger calls, leaning against the sink with the damp washcloth concealed behind his back while the sound of footsteps grows louder and louder, until finally the two boys come stumbling into the bathroom, laughing as they push and shove each other out of the way.

 

“What is is?” Shanks asks, but the only response the boy receives is a firm grip to his shoulder, followed by a wet towel being shoved against his face, rubbing vigorously against the dirt and grime that caked the young boy’s skin.

 

“Hey” Shanks whines, trying, rather unsuccessfully, to shove Roger’s hand away.

 

“Stay still. This’ll be over a lot faster if you quit squirming around like a dying fish” Roger instructs, as he attempts to clean Shanks’ face a little bit. Although cleaning both boys up like this wasn’t entirely necessary to do whenever the Roger Pirates were stopped at port, but the sad reality was that kids like Shanks and Buggy went missing all the time on larger islands like this, snatched up by slave traders or pedophiles to be done with as their captors see fit, never to be seen ever again. As firm a believer as Roger was in the idea that a layer of dirt atop the skin never hurt anybody, he couldn’t deny the fact that young kids tended to be targeted a lot less when it looked like they had people looking after them. So as annoying as it was, Roger made sure that both Shanks and Buggy were at least moderately clean, before tossing the now filthy washcloth into a nearby laundry bin, and allowing the boys to dash back out onto the main deck and off the ship toward the fair, the raven haired man following closely behind them.

Chapter Text

The sun had just to dipped beneath the surface of the horizon when Shanks, Buggy, and Roger finally arrived at the main entrance to the fair. A large crowd of people were gathered outside, eagerly waiting for their chance to get in and enjoy all the rides and games the fair had to offer. Grabbing both boys by the collar and hurling them onto his shoulders, Roger pushes his way toward the front of the crowd, stopping once he finally reaches the front entrance, where an older woman sat inside a large, colorful booth. She smiles when she sees Shanks and Buggy sitting on Roger’s shoulders.

 

“Hello boys” the woman cheerfully greets with a smile as Roger gently sets them back on their feet. “What can I help you with tonight?”

 

“Well, we heard about the party you guys were throwing tonight, so we figured we’d stop by and check out what’s going on” Roger says, raising his voice so he can be heard over the noise of the crowd. The woman laughs joyfully.

 

“I see. Yes, this is quite the event we have going on. The carnival comes to this island at the same time every year, and yet no matter how many times it comes, it never loses its charm.”

 

“I’m sure. It looks pretty amazing. So what’s the deal? How do we get in?” Roger asks, looking around the booth for some kind of price board.

 

“Well, there are two ways you can go about paying your way in. The first way is through general admissions, meaning you pay 5 berri’s here, then head inside and find a ticket booth and pay for tickets in there. It’s 5 berri’s for 10 tickets, and 10 tickets per ride, and food can only be bought with tickets as well” the woman explains.

 

“Ok, that’ll probably add up fast. What about the second way?”

 

“The second way is to simply buy a wristband, like this” the woman says, holding up her left hand to show Roger the piece of purple paper that had been wrapped around her wrist and secured with some glue. “It’s a bit more expensive, costing 50 berri’s per wristband, but the upside to buying the wristband is that it gives you unlimited access to all the rides, games, and food in the entire carnival for the rest of the night. So you won’t have to worry about waiting in line to buy tickets if you run out before you’re ready to go home.”

 

Rogers hums to himself in consideration, while Shanks and Buggy exchange worried glances.

 

“I didn’t bring any money with me” Shanks admits. Buggy shakes his head.

 

“Me neither. But we could always run back to the ship and grab some so that we can at least buy some tickets and ride a few of the rides.”

 

“We’ll take the wristbands” Roger decides, smiling at the older woman.

 

“Very well, that’ll be 150 berri’s, please” the woman says kindly as Roger takes his wallet out of his back pocket and pulls a 100 and a 50 berri note out, handing the bills over to the older woman, who takes the money and proceeds to tear 3 wristbands from a large sheet of paper. Shanks and Buggy stare down at their captain in surprise and shock.

 

“Hey, hold on Roger, wait a second” Buggy stammers as he watches him hand over the money.

 

“Ya, we have our own money, you don’t have to pay for us” Shanks pleads. Roger throws his head back in laughter.

 

“Nonsense, that’s your hard earned money and you should save it for more important things. I said I’d take you to the fair and that means I’m paying” Roger says, patting both boys on the head, which seems to work well enough in silencing the boy’s concerns.

 

The older woman hands Roger his wristband before helping Shanks and Buggy put theirs on, and with a final count of the money Roger gave her, she smiles at the trio of boys.

 

“Alright, you’re all ready. Have fun tonight you guys.”

 

“Thank you, we will” Shanks says as he runs past the booth and enters the fair, followed closely behind by Buggy. Roger rolls his eyes but smiles as he follows after the two excited boys.

 

“Roger, hurry up” Buggy calls as he and Shanks dash between people and booths, heading straight for the area that housed the large and terrifying looking rides. The boys stop and stare up, in awe and mild fear, at the positively gargantuan towers that people are loading themselves into. The lights dance around, bouncing and reflecting of various other metal surfaces, and the music is happy and upbeat, giving the surrounding area a very exciting and jovial atmosphere. Shanks and Buggy are practically bouncing up and down in excitement by the time Roger finally catches up to them.

 

“Alright boys, what are you gonna do first?” The raven haired man asks, bending down to be on eye level with them. Shanks and Buggy look around the surrounding area for a moment before something catches Buggy’s eye.

 

“Oh oh oh oh, let’s ride that one” the blue haired boy says, jumping up and down in excitement as he points to what Roger can only describe as a cage, attached to rapidly spinning bar, attached to a rapidly spinning conveyer belt, attached to a rapidly spinning Ferris wheel.

 

“Wow that’s… a lot of spinning” Roger comments aloud. In fact, the more the raven haired man looked around the fair, the more he noticed how a lot of the rides were basically just variations of ‘metal contraption that hurls you around in a circle at ridiculously high velocities, that may or may not cause you to eject everything you’ve eaten today’.

 

“That looks awesome! Let's go check it out” Shanks says, immediately taking off after his friend toward the ride.

 

“Hold it right there you two” Roger booms, causing both boys to skid to a stop, looking back at their captain with confused expressions.

 

“What is it?” Buggy asks as he and Shanks walk back over to where they had left Roger. The raven haired man wraps a hand around each boy, pulling them in and lowering his voice.

 

“Alright, now I know you two boys can take care of yourselves, but this isn’t like a lot of the other islands where I can let you go wherever you want without supervision, I need to make sure I know where you are so that if something happens I can find you.” Shanks and Buggy exchange glances for a moment before nodding.

 

“Ok. But how do we find you?” Shanks asks.

 

“Well, I see a bar over with my name on it, so why don’t I go nab a table in there, and whenever you two want to move to a different section of the park, you run on over and let me know, ok?”

 

“Ok” Shanks and Buggy chorus together.

 

“Alright, now that that’s cleared up, go have some fun!”

 

“YAY!” Both boys shout excitedly, immediately running off toward the conveyor belt ride from earlier. Roger chuckles to himself as he watches his boys sprint off into the distance, pushing and shoving at each other along the way. He eventually gets up and makes his way to the pop-up bar that had been set up off to the side. The bar itself is enclosed within a red and white striped canopy that mimics the feeling of being inside, with various flaps for doors and windows that can be opened and pinned up when necessary. Roger enters through the front flaps and, taking a quick glance around the room, decides on a table toward the back front end of the bar that sits just underneath an opened window, that will allow Shanks and Buggy to see him easily if and when they come looking for him. The raven haired man shrugs off his jacket and drapes it over the back of his chair, claiming the table, before heading up to the bar, where a young female bartender is currently cleaning some empty jugs. She smiles as Roger approaches.

 

“Evenin’ love. There anythin’ I can get for ye?” The girl asks sweetly. Roger smiles as he leans against the wood of the bar.

 

“I don’t know, what’ve you got? Is this a standard operation, or have you got something special going on?”

 

“Well, we certainly have all yer standard liquors and ales for sale, but we do have a special on mixed drinks righ’ now. I’d be careful though, I’m no lightweigh’ meself, but its hard to know how much booze yer chuggin’ down when you mix it with all sorts of shit to mask the taste, and ye’ll be drunk sooner than you reckon if yer not careful” the bartender warns. Roger nods his head in understanding.

 

“Well in that case I think I’ll just stick with a beer, for now. I’m no stranger to alcohol, but I’m already gonna be in trouble for bringing my two boys here without permission. No need to fan the fires by getting wasted on top of all that.”

 

“Understood. I’ll have yer drink ready for you momentarily.”

 

“Much appreciated” Roger thanks, placing a 20 berri note on the bar before heading back to his table.

 

ROGER!

 

“That’s my name” the raven haired man replies as Shanks and Buggy come sprinting out of a nearby crowd toward the window Roger was seated next to. Both boys are red in the face, sweating, and out of breath.

 

THAT WAS AWESOME!” Buggy yells excitedly, his eyes practically the size of a dinner plate. Roger smiles in amusement.

 

“Was it now?”

 

“Ya, it was super crazy” Shanks says. “You get put in like these cages, and they have to lock you into them so you don’t fall out while the ride is going, and then they have to load everyone else in so you just have to hang there for a little while, which is really scare cuz the only thing stopping you from falling to the ground is the cage door, and then when the ride finally starts, it takes you up really slow, but then speeds up and goes really really fast, and then the cage your in just starts spinning uncontrollably, and you have to hold on to the bars so you don’t go flying around, but its going to fast and everything is a big blur but I managed to count how many times the cage flipped one time and we flipped 5 WHOLE TIMES.”

 

Roger bursts out laughing at the red heads run on explanation of how their first ride went.

 

“Really now, well that sounds very exciting.”

 

“It was. That was like the best thing ever” Buggy beamed, a wide smile spreading across his face when a thought crosses his mind. “Roger, you should come get on a ride with us.”

 

“Ya, ya, come do a ride with us, please” Shanks begs. Roger chuckles but shakes his head.

 

“I’d love to boys, but remember that I’m still technically grounded. It’s one thing for me to break the rules and bring you to the fair, but god forbid Rayleigh finds out I had fun while doing it.” Both boys deflate in disappointment.

 

“Hey now, what’s with the sour looks?” Roger asks. “You’ve got an entire carnival to explore and all the time in the world to explore it. Besides, you don’t need an old geezer like me holding you back. You boys run along and go ride some more rides, and if you get tired or want to go somewhere else, just come back here and I’ll be right where you left me.”

 

Shanks and Buggy perk up at that, nodding their heads in understanding and agreement.

 

“Ok, we’ll do that” Buggy says.

 

“Good. Now go make use of those wristbands and ride that spaceship lookin’ thing over there” Roger instructs, pointing to a large, enclosed ride that was currently rotating rapidly, a brightly colored sign that read “Alien Abduction” flickering just above it. Both boys gasp excitedly at the sight of it.

 

“Ya, let's go ride that one next. Come on Buggy, I’ll race you there” Shanks says, immediately taking off and sprinting toward the ride. Buggy takes off a second after him, yelling loudly at his friend.

 

“Shanks get back here, you started early and that’s not fair. I HAVE SHORT LEGS YOU KNOW.” Roger laughs loudly as he watches the boys disappear into another crowd.

 

His drink arrives a moment later, but with nothing else to do as of right now, Roger simply leans back in his chair, enjoys his drink, and turns his attention toward the davy back fight being broadcasted on the transponder snail monitor mounted above the bar.

Chapter Text

“Come on, just go around him.”

 

“Kick ‘im in the shins already.”

 

“My little sister roller skates better than that.”

 

“Yer gonna lose yer best player if you don’t stop piddlin’ around like that.”

 

Roger sits in his seat with an amused grin, greatly enjoying the yells and cheers of the other patrons seated around the bar, yelling at the davyback players on the monitor like they could hear them.

 

“This seat taken?” A deep voice asks, and Roger looks up to see a large man with long, dirty blonde hair tied up in a messy bun, holding a beer of his own in one hand, and pointing to the seat across from Roger with the other. The raven haired man takes his feet off the table.

 

“Not at all, go right on ahead” Roger says, watching as the man pulls the seat out and sits down, heaving a sigh as he gets comfortable.

 

“I don’t believe I’ve seen you around here? You come in on one of those pirate ships that docked at port the other day?” The man asks, a curious smirk spread across his face..

 

“And if I did?” Roger responds challengingly, with a confident grin of his own. The man shrugs his shoulders.

 

“Nothing I suppose. Just curious as to what a pirate such as yourself would be doing hanging around a pop up bar at a carnival, instead of out at a real bar, or better yet the brothel down the road.” Despite the slightly incriminating questions being asked of him, Roger didn’t sense any malice or ill-intent from the man sitting across from him, so he supposes he could indulge him for a while.

 

“Well you’d be right about me being a pirate, then again it wasn’t like I was trying to hide it or anything. As for what I’m doing here instead of at a brothel, I got grounded for the night, so I figured I’d bring my two boys to the fair and let them have some fun for once.”

 

“Grounded, huh? What’d you do to get that punishment?” The man asks.

 

“I was blamed for depleting the alcohol supply even though it wasn’t actually me… this time” Roger grumbles into his mug. The blonde haired man laughs at this.

 

“Oh man, what a shitty crime to be framed for. If you’re gonna get in trouble for something like that you might as well actually do it.”

 

“You’re not kidding” Roger says. “So what about you? What brings a sophisticated man like you to a place like this? I don’t think I even got your name.”

 

“Elias Stone. And I’m taking that last sentence as a compliment” the blonde haired man says, sticking his hand out with a wide grin on his face.

 

“Be my guest. Gol D. Roger, captain of the Roger Pirates” Roger says in return, taking Elias’ hand in a firm handshake.

 

“Oooooh, a pirate captain. Do I need to bow?” Roger laughs at this.

 

“No, no bowing necessary, although I must admit, the thought of people bowing as I walked down the street isn’t a terrible one.” Roger admits. “So Elias, what brings to here tonight? I’m assuming you’re an island local?”

 

“You assumed correctly, and I’m here for much the same reason you are. My little girl practically begged me to bring her tonight so she could ride some rides and play some games, so I took the night off work and brought her down” the blonde admits, taking a swig from his drink.

 

“What do you do?”

 

“Armory. I’m a blacksmith” Elias replies proudly, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

“Impressive” Roger replies. “And is there a Mrs. Stone waiting for you at home?”

 

Elias laughs at this. “No, no, I’m not married. Never was, and probably never will be.”

 

“Never was, huh? Was your daughter a midnight romp gone wrong, or did things not work out between you and her mother?” Roger asks, slightly curious. Elias sighs, not quite frowning, but the smile beginning to slip from his face slightly. He takes a big swig from his mug before answering.

 

“No, nothing like that. And if I’m being perfectly honest, she’s technically my niece.” Roger raises a questioning eyebrow, unsure of how to interpret that information. Thankfully Elias moves to clarify.

 

“My sister was married to this rich and pompous noble guy for a few years after our parents basically sold her off to him.”

 

“They sound like lovely people” Roger interjects, his voice laced with sarcasm.

 

“Oh ya, they were just the loveliest parents a kid could ask for” Elias says, mirroring Roger’s sarcastic tone. “Anyways the story it pretty self-explanatory from here on out, she goes off to live with him, they have a few kids, she gets tired of being beaten every other day, falls in love with a servant, has a romp with him, gets pregnant, tries to cover it up, fails, and dies in childbirth.”

 

“Ya, I’d say that’s pretty standard as far as tragic love stories go” Roger admits. Elias heaves a sigh, leaning back in his seat.

 

“So ya, with his wife now dead, her asshole of a husband was stuck with a child that was fathered with one of his own servants, I doubt things ended very well for that guy, but instead of killing her off like any other noble dickwad usually would, he decided to track me down, offers me a bunch of money to take the kid and keep my mouth shut about her, and basically do whatever I wanted with her.” A moment of silence passes between the two men.

 

“So what happened?” Roger questions.

 

“I blackmailed the asshole into tacking a few more zeros onto the end of the check he was giving me, took the girl, packed up all my shit, moved to the Grand Line, and raised her as my own.” Elias says, a cheeky smile spreading across his lips. Roger laughs.

 

“I see. Doesn’t seem like you had much trouble adjusting to being a parent, with how quickly to decided you were gonna keep her.”

 

“Oh trust me, it might not have been a hard decision to make, but I had plenty of trouble adjusting to being a parent, especially with how young I was when I got her” Elias assures.

 

“Oh ya, and how old was that?”

 

“Good question, how old am I?” Elias asks, though more to himself than anyone else.”Uuuuuuh…. 31, I’m 31, so I was 22 when I got her.”

 

“Wow, those are some Grade A math skills right there” Roger teases, chuckling to himself.

 

“Shut up, it’s been a long week” Elias snaps, taking one final swig from his glass before taking his wallet out of his back pocket, opening it, and handing it to Roger. The raven haired man takes it and immediately sees the picture that Elias was showing him, one of the blonde man in question, and a small girl who looks remarkably like Elias is seated on his shoulders, holding a soccer trophy triumphantly above her head.

 

“Her name’s Sam, and she’s my pride and joy” Elias says fondly. Roger smiles at the picture before handing the wallet back.

 

“You sure she’s just your niece? She looks a hell of a lot like you for a kid that’s supposedly your sister’s.”

 

“Well, considering that my sister and I were identical twins who people couldn’t tell apart until the age of 14, and that she took after her mother more than her father, I’d say that's probably the reason why Sam looks so much like me” Elias answers. Roger nods his head in understanding.

 

“I see. I suppose that does make a lot more sense.”

 

“So what about you? What are your boys like?” Elias asks curiously, and just as Roger is about to open his mouth to answer, he gets interrupted by the familiar sound of yelling and screaming, that grows ever louder as the two boys he was just about to start talking about, come sprinting their way.

 

“I think you’re about to find out first hand” Roger chuckles, turning his attention to Shanks and Buggy, who skid to a stop in front of the window of the pop-up bar. “You boys having fun?”

 

“Ya, this is awesome. We just got off a ride that you have to be strapped into a seat and it locks you in place, and it swings you back and forth before flipping you completely upside down” Shanks says, speaking rapidly.

 

“Ya, and the scariest part was when you’re upside down, it holds you there for a second, and your butt comes off the seat a little bit, before you go flying back down. Shanks almost lost his sandal” Buggy continues, pointing to his red headed companion, where Roger notices that one of the boy’s shoes is indeed not on his foot where it should be, but rather clutched in his left hand.

 

“Impressive” Roger says, causing Shanks to beam. Soon enough however, both boys take notice of the strange and unfamiliar man seated across from their captain. Shanks observes the blonde with curiosity, while Buggy regards him with a bit more of a guarded expression, curling in on himself slightly, but otherwise not moving from his spot between Shanks and the potential threat sitting before him.

 

“Shanks, Buggy, this is Elias Stone, my new drinking buggy for the evening” Roger says, introducing the two boys.

 

“Hello” Elias greets with a nod and a friendly smile.

 

“Hi” Shanks says, returning the greeting. Buggy remains silent, simply observing the man with a distrusting look. Whether or not Elias is aware of Buggy’s wariness of him, the man either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care, simply smiling kindly at the young boy.

 

“I don’t suppose either of you have seen a little girl with blonde hair, wearing a green shirt and some overalls running around the park somewhere have you?” Elias asks, moving to lean his head against his hand. Buggy seems surprised by the question while Shanks taps his thought.

 

“I don’t think so, no” the redhead answers, shaking his head. “Why?”

 

“Daddy!” A voice calls from somewhere behind Elias. Looking up, Roger can see a little girl, a bit taller than Shanks by the looks of it, with long blonde hair and short cut bangs along her forehead, wearing a green t-shirt and baggy overalls, running up to where Elias was sitting. The blonde smiles as his daughter approaches.

 

“Well well, speak of the devil and she shall arrive” Elias grins, opening his arms and allowing the girl to jump into them, laughing as he pulls her into his lap.

 

“Having fun, Sammy-girl?” Elias asks as Sam settles in his lap. The girl nods with a smile.

 

“Yup. Niki had to go home though cuz she ate a corn-dog before we got on the tilt-a-whirl and threw up in the trash cans after we got off.”

 

“Did she now? Oh who am I kidding, of course she did, that sounds exactly like something Niki would do.” Elias and Sam burst out laughing at a joke that Roger, Shanks, and Buggy don’t understand. Elias turns to the three boys in front of them.

 

“Sam, this is Roger, and his two boys Shanks and Buggy.”

 

“Hi” the girl greets with a small wave. Shanks and Buggy stare at the girl, unsure of what to say. Buggy stiffens when the older girl’s eyes focus on him, looking him up and down for a moment.

 

“I like your hair” Sam says “It’s all pretty and blue and I wanted to say something when I saw you standing in line for the tilt-a-whirl earlier but I didn’t want to be rude.”

 

Buggy’s eyes go wide and his jaw slackens for a moment, before a bright red blush makes its way across his face, and he lowers his gaze to the floor, sidestepping behind Shanks shyly, hiding his face behind his taller friend.

 

“Thanks… I guess” Buggy mutters softly. Roger laughs at the blue haired boy’s sudden shyness. He’d never been very good at taking compliments from other people, especially strangers. Despite how energetic and outgoing Buggy could be around Roger and the crew, the boy could be exceptionally awkward around strangers and people he’s not familiar with, and he had a tendency to clam up and shy away if he wasn’t sure how to respond to something, hence stepping behind Shanks.

 

“Sam, why don’t you go with Shanks and Buggy now that Niki’s gone home. Give them a grand tour of the fair while your at it and help them get the most out of those wrist bands” Elias suggests, which Sam agrees to with a nod of her head.

 

“Ok, sure” she says, hopping off her father’s lap and running outside to stand next to Shanks and Buggy. Shanks was of average size and height for a 7 year old boy, and yet despite the mere 2 year age difference between him and Sam, the older girl stood at least a half a head taller than him when they were standing next to each other, and then of course there was Buggy who, after years of starvation and malnourishment that severely stunted his growth, only reached to the girl’s collar bone. Needless to say both boys looked pretty surprised, and maybe even a little scared, when Sam came running up to them, craning their heads back to look up at the taller girl.

 

“Have you guys been to the Haunted House of Horrors yet?” Sam asks, a gentle smile on her face. Shanks and Buggy exchange looks on confusion for a moment before Shanks finally answers.

 

“Uh, no, we haven’t. We’ve only been to the section of the park with all the spinny rides.”

 

“Great! Then we’ll start there” Sam says excitedly, moving to take both Shanks and Buggy by the hand before running toward a different section of the carnival, dragging both boys behind her.

 

“Sam, you look after those boys, you hear me? Don’t go leaving them behind somewhere” Elias shouts after her.

 

“Ok” Sam replies, before finally all three kids disappear into another crowd of pedestrians. Roger bursts out laughing.

 

“Well we’re not gonna see them for a while” the raven haired man says.

 

“Nope” Elias agrees, taking a swig from his newly filled mug, before setting it down on the table, gently.”

 

“If you don’t mind me asking Roger, and pardon me for being frank, but how is it that a pirate captain came to acquire two young boys like that as members of your crew? I don’t suppose there’s a story behind that, is there?” Elias asks curiously, after a moment. Roger sighs, leaning back in his seat, his smile faltering slightly.

 

“I’ll be honest with you Elias, there is a story behind how I got Shanks and Buggy, but I’d be lying if I said either of them were particularly happy” Roger admits solemnly. Elias raises a questioning eyebrow, but says nothing.

 

“Shanks got off the easiest I’d say. He grew up an orphan, probably the son of a prostitute or something, and was stealing from everyday civilians in order to get by. Despite his shitty situation, he was loud, feisty, and had a lot of spunk and energy, so I decided to take him with us, simple as that really. He was an orphan, so he didn’t have any family who would miss him, and he seemed just as eager to get off that shitty little island as we were, so we brought him with us and made his a cabin boy” Roger explains. “And Buggy… he… well…”

 

“What is it?” Elias asks. Roger sighs again, lowering his head.

 

“Buggy was the sole survivor of a government raid.”

 

“A what?” Elias asks, his eyes widening in shock and horror. “You mean like a buster call?”

 

“No, not quite a buster call, after all the island was still there when we arrived, but all the buildings, all the people, and even most of the surrounding wildlife, they were all dead.” Roger said, his voice low.

 

“Good lord. Just when you think the world can’t get any worse” Elias breathes.

 

“Ya. Poor kid was skin and bone when we found him, and busted to shit too, broken leg, cracked ribs, fractured skull.”

 

“Oh god” Elias says, his face screwing up in discomfort.

 

“Crocus, our doctor, said that if we’d gotten their a day later, he’d probably have been dead by then. Needless to say Buggy had been through a lot, and he ran away screaming at the top of his lungs when he first saw us.”

 

“Probably thought you were more marines coming back to finish the job” Elias comments. Roger nods his head.

 

“Probably. But we couldn’t just leave him there, so we decided to bring him on board and we were gonna find a hospital to drop him off at a couple islands away, but then for some reason we just never did, and he’s been with us ever since.”

 

Elias nods his head in understanding. “That’s quite a lot for such young kids to have to go through.”

 

“You can say that again” Roger agrees. “But despite everything, those two are fighters, they always have been and they always will be. Life at sea might not be the most ideal situation for them, but it's sure as hell better than what they had before, and at the end of the day, at least they’re happy.”

 

“I suppose I can’t argue with that” Elias says with a shrug. A period of silence falls over the two men.

 

“So” Elias begins. “Now that we’ve both got all the depressing shit out of the way, I don’t suppose you’d be willing to impart a few pirate tales to a land-locked blacksmith would you?”

 

Roger throws his head back and laughs. “A few? Oh I have more than just a few stories to tell.”

 

For the rest of the evening, Roger and Elias pass the time by telling stories to one another. Some big, some little, some serious, others silly, and every so often they are interrupted by the sound of yelling and laughing, turning to look out the window and see Shanks, Buggy, and Sam all running around the park together, having a marvelous time if the size of their smiles was anything to go by. The kids eventually return to the bar and sit down at the table with Roger and Elias, convinced to take a break and eat something before they had to leave, and by midnight, the carnival had closed for the evening, and so Shanks, Buggy, and Roger were forced to say goodbye to their new friends for now, promising to meet up again before the Roger pirates set out for sea once again.

 

Despite being as hyper as 2 kids hyped up on adrenaline and carnival food could be, Shanks and Buggy didn’t last very long once they actually left the fair, and by the time Roger had returned to the Oro Jackson, and was walking up the gangplank, both boys were absolutely dead asleep in his arms, just as he predicted they would be.

 

“Have a nice evening?” A voice asks from somewhere off to Roger’s right. Looking over, Roger notices Rayleigh leaning against the side of the ship, looking very tired, drunk, and annoyed, probably about Roger breaking his grounding or something similar to that.

 

“I did actually” Roger replies with a smug grin. “Nice hickey.”

 

Rayleigh frowns and pulls his collar up further,m to hide the area of purple that had begun to blossom on the side of his neck, as he follows Roger below deck.

 

“Where were you?” Rayleigh demands.

 

“The carnival” Roger replies simply.

 

“Why did you leave the ship?”

 

“Because Buggy and Shanks asked me if I would take them to the carnival.”

 

“I figured that much, thank you, but what I meant was why did you break your grounding?”

 

“Because I wanted to take my boys to the fair.”

 

“Roger” Rayleigh snaps angrily.

 

“Oh piss off Rayleigh, it’s not like I did anything there that I wouldn’t have been able to do here. Besides, it’s not like you would have taken them, so why the hell are you even complaining?” Roger bites back.

 

“You broke your grounding” Rayleigh says firmly.

 

“Then fucking ground me again, see if I give a shit. You can try and guilt trip me into apologizing for breaking my stupid grounding but it’s not gonna work because a) I didn’t drink all the booze, so I shouldn’t have even been fucking grounded to begin with and b) I’ve done you and all the other drunk assholes on this ship a fucking favor, by wearing out those two so that you’ll actually get some fucking sleep tonight, so really, you should be thanking me” Roger says with a confident smirk, crossing his arms over his chest triumphantly as Rayleigh heaves a sigh and shakes his head, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration.

 

“I’m too drunk to deal with you right now, I’m going to bed” is all Rayleigh says before turning around and walking down the hall toward his own room. Roger chuckles to himself as he continues on down the hall, shifting the still-sleeping Buggy in his arms so that he can open one of the doors and enter the room.

 

Shanks and Buggy’s shared bunk is pretty standard as far as living accommodations go on most ships. Most of the rooms had 4 people to a room, but because Shanks and Buggy were so much younger than everyone else, it was unanimously decided that the little one’s would get a room to themselves. Toward the back of the room, two hammocks were strung up with heavy-duty rope, one over the other. Roger has to be careful not to trip as he walks toward the two hammocks, since the floor was practically covered with all of Buggy’s books, making it rather difficult to walk around without stepping on one.

 

In the two years since Buggy joined the Roger Pirates, the boy had accrued a rather impressive collection of all sorts of books. The blue-haired boy was hardly picky when it came to his reading material, but he was rather protective of them and only a very select few were actually allowed to touch any of them either, so instead of keeping them in the library with all the other books on the ship, Buggy insisted upon keeping his collection with him in his room. Although Shanks and Buggy were usually a bit more tidy than this, there were occasions where their room could be an absolute disaster, and apparently tonight was one of those nights.

 

Once Roger finally clears the sea of literature, he places the sleeping boys in their respective bunks, Buggy on top, and Shanks in the bottom. Despite the slight jostling, neither of them show even the slightest signs of waking up, and Roger chuckles as he gazes fondly at his two boys.

 

One would never be able to guess just from looking at their peaceful faces that these two boys had been through hell and back despite the rather short amount of time they’ve been around, fighting desperately with every ounce of strength their little bodies could muster to survive and live for just one more day, no matter what it took. Of all the people in the world, Shanks and Buggy should have been the last people to ever have to go through what they went through, but alas, no matter how much Roger would love to take away the pain and suffering, the terrors and fears, the hardships and burdens that each of his boys face, he can’t. It saddens the raven haired man to have to see them suffer in silence sometimes, as they try to fend of the demons of their past, some of which they don’t entirely recognize or understand because of how young they were, but continue to haunt them in their dreams nonetheless. It’s at times like these that make Roger realize just how amazing and strong his boys are, and how proud he is of them for how far they’ve both come since they each stepped onto the Oro Jackson, squeezing their little selves right into the middle of their little ragtag family, and subsequently, into Roger’s heart as well.

 

As the raven haired man finishes tucking the boys in and heads for the door, he takes a moment look back at the still forms of Shanks and Buggy, before smiling fondly and chuckling to himself, closing the door softly behind him.

 

As much as Roger dreads the real tongue lashing he’s going to get once Rayleigh sobers up in the morning, the raven haired man knows that he’d break his grounding a million times over, and do whatever else he needed to do, if it meant that Shanks and Buggy could smile and laugh and run around and play and be as happy as they were tonight, for the rest of their lives.

 

Roger might not be the most perfect father ever, but he loves his boys to the sun and back and is willing to do anything to make sure that they are safe and happy, and at the end of the day, that’s all Shanks or Buggy could ever want from him.