The heavy hand clamped on Rosinante’s shoulder, pushing him up the dock, was accompanied by a cheerful guffaw that was distinctly Garp’s. It was that same hand quickly gripping the collar of his shirt that kept him from falling forward and faceplanting on the wooden planks. At his height, it was difficult to make Rosinante feel like a doll, but it’s hard not to feel helpless when Garp is dragging him backwards up the path by his shirt collar.
When the grip was suddenly gone, Rosinante easily tripped over himself and fell onto his back. A cloud of dust blew up from the road, which he accidentally breathed in and sneezed.
“Are you okay, mister?”
Rosinante turned his head and saw a little girl, who couldn’t have been more than ten years old, standing next to his shoulder. Her face showed more curiosity than concern. Stifling a groan, he smiled sheepishly, pushed himself up to sit cross legged, and rested his forearms on his thighs.
“I’m used to it.” The tiny villager skipped around his knee so that she stood in front of him. Folding her hands behind her, she rocked back and forth on her heels. Rosinante shyly avoided the intent stare in favor of looking around. It was obviously a peaceful area, full of grassy fields and tall windmills, but he couldn’t figure out what he was doing there.
When Rosinante’s adoptive father, Sengoku, had given Garp permission to take his son, they had been under the impression it was for special training. It had seemed strange when they hopped on a ship and sailed to the East Blue, but it had honestly never occurred to Rosinante to question Garp about it.
The urge to smoke hit hard, but when his fingers twitched towards the empty pocket of his uniform, he let loose a weary sigh. Sengoku had confiscated his last pack before they left. He’d recently been trying to break the blonde of the nasty habit, not because of his health, but because Rosinante tended to set himself on fire.
While he scoped out his surroundings, he noticed something was missing. Or rather, someone. Feeling a stone drop in his stomach, he turned back and dropped his gaze to the little girl who started brushing dust off her dress. Even sitting he towered over the young girl. “Do you know where the man I was with went? Black and gray hair with a scar around his eye?” Rosinante asked, rubbing a hand through his shaggy blond hair.
She giggled. “Mr. Garp has already left.”
“H-he what?” the young Marine choked out, staring at her in wide eyed disbelief. Smiling innocently, she raised a hand and pointed behind him. In the distance, he could see a dense forest and wondered what was so important that Garp was already out of sight.
“He said he needed to go up the mountain,” she explained before adding with a laugh, “He ran off the moment you tripped.”
Rosinante sighed and offered her a strained smile. There was no point in trying to be surprised. It was Garp after all. “Do you have a name, kid?”
“Of course,” she teased, giggling into her hands before reaching one out to him. “My name is Makino!”
“Rosinante.” Due to the massive size difference, he lightly grabbed her hand with the tips of his fingers, but got a surprise when she tightly grasped his index and middle fingers. Grinning, he complimented indulgently, “That’s a strong grip.”
“Mr. Garp says a limp handshake is the sign of a weak will.”
Nonplussed, Rosinante chuckled awkwardly and idly replied, more to himself, “Does he now?”
Makino tugged on his hand, signaling him to get up and follow her. “Come on, Mr. Rosi. Mr. Garp will be gone for awhile, so you can come wait at the bar!” Rosinante’s face flushed at the affectionate nickname and allowed himself to be pulled along to a nearby wooden building with a sign reading Partys Bar, a sign he became intimately familiar with when he didn’t duck fast enough and smashed his forehead into it.
It was a miracle he didn’t fall, but he’d credit that to the cheerful girl that refused to let go of his hand until they came to a stop at the bar counter. Knowing there wasn’t much else he could do since Garp had disappeared, Rosinante chose a stool and expected Makino to sit next to him. Much to his surprise, she instead skipped around to the other side of the wooden counter where she tied an off-white apron around her waist and covered her dark green hair with a yellow bandana.
A mug of beer he didn’t order was placed in front of him. It wasn’t a preferred drink of his, but the wide, dark eyes staring expectantly at him had him taking a polite sip anyway. He held the cold glass to his reddening forehead for a moment. Well used to the consequences of his chronic clumsiness, he knew the ache wouldn’t last long.
“So,” the word was extended in a mischievous tone while Makino climbed up onto what must have been a stepstool behind the counter so that she could lean her elbows on the wooden surface, “you work with Mr. Garp, right?”
Not wanting to get into detail about the complex infrastructure explaining that, while yes they were both employed by the Marines, they were in different divisions and didn’t go on missions together, Rosinante gave a single, confirming nod. It seemed to pacify her well enough, though she immediately launched into questions about his job, wanting to hear exciting stories about life on the seas. He’d never been much of a story teller, so he mostly gave brief summaries about situations he’d been in and was content to simply answer her questions.
What got her the most excited - he honestly thought she’d vibrate off the counter - was when he told her about the mission where he’d earned his current rank of Lieutenant, as it was also when he’d discovered his Devil Fruit. Unsurprisingly, she had never heard of the mystical fruits before and was eager to learn about them.
“You can do magic?” she asked in awe. “Can you show me? Pretty please?!” Unable to refuse the hopeful sparkle in her eyes, Rosinante reached over and laid his hand on top of her head.
“Calm,” he muttered, invoking his power, before sitting back and waiting.
Makino looked around expectantly, scanning the space around her then down her body for any differences. Her lips fell into a disappointed frown, but when she tried to speak only to hear nothing, her face lit up with delight. Holding back an amused chuckle, Rosinante watched as the young girl kept trying to talk, obviously attempting to go louder and louder until she would’ve been screaming only for silence to reign.
Her shoulders shook from noiseless merriment until he released the cancellation and set free her childish peals of laughter. While she was still catching her breath, he snapped his fingers and called out, “Silent,” and an invisible dome surrounded them, small enough that they were the only ones affected.
It took Makino a moment to realize what had happened, but since she’d already figured out the theme of his power, it wasn’t difficult to notice the absence of chatting bar patrons and clinking glasses. Seeing her amazement was a welcome change, as a lot of other Marines he’d shown off his Devil Fruit to were less than impressed with its lack of offensive capabilities.
For several minutes, far longer than it should have been amusing, Rosinante watched Makino play around with the abilities of his Nagi Nagi no Mi. She shouted at some of the other people in the bar, and then she’d hop off her stool and slowly back away until she could hear everything again. When she did that, Rosinante would say something to her, partially to prove that sound didn’t travel from inside of the dome either and partially because she’d run back inside the Fruit’s proximity only for him to play dumb and leave her guessing.
Still in awe, Makino giggled and said, “You know what?” and, at Rosinante’s curious hum, continued, “I bet you could have the best night’s sleep with this!”
The innocent suggestion warmed his heart, and he smiled back. “You’re right!”
Eventually, he had to cancel out his Nagi Nagi no Mi after an older woman, presumably the bar owner, appeared and scolded Makino for not paying attention and tending bar. When Makino called her “mom,” Rosinante finally understood why a little girl was working in a bar in the first place. Other than a few times where she had to go serve drinks, the two were free to continue talking. Makino was curious about life at sea, and Rosinante was always comforted listening to kids talk about pleasant childhoods.
Hours flew by while he slowly sipped the gifted beer, eventually ordering food to go with it when Garp still showed no signs of returning. He still couldn’t figure out his purpose for being brought to Dawn Island in the first place. Mentioning to Makino in passing that it was supposed to have been for training and that maybe he was supposed to have followed Garp into the forest, the normally cheerful girl frowned and quickly shook her head.
“You really shouldn’t. It’s dangerous there,” she told him, insisting that only Mr. Garp could handle all of the wild beasts and bandits that made their homes in the mountains. Rosinante felt the unintentional insult pierce him like a gunshot. Regardless of his clumsiness, he had earned his rank, but when he opened his mouth to reassure the girl, he took in her open concern and instead offered a smile and patted her head, thanking her for the warning.
The night continued smoothly from that point. With no interest in returning to sleep on the ship, Rosinante remained in his seat at the bar until his head eventually fell to his crossed arms.
He woke to a sharp punch to his head and a hearty, “Rise and shine, boy!” that made him squeeze his eyes shut, hoping it would make the annoyingly cheerful elder Marine disappear. Rosinante groaned and sat up, rubbing the already swelling bump. Garp was grinning down at him and an involuntary shudder ran along his spine. “It’s time to go.”
“Go? Go where?”
“Back to HQ.”
In his haste to get up off the stool, Rosinante’s foot caught on his own ankle, and he tripped over himself, earning an exasperated sigh from his superior, who easily lifted the nine foot man to his feet by the back of his shirt. Feeling like a kitten held by the scruff, he blurted out, “But we just got here yesterday,” adding on a quick, “Sir.”
Garp offered an amused, “Finished what I needed to do,” in way of explanation. Rosinante attempted to sputter out a complaint at being dragged away by his collar but was cut off by the front of his shirt choking him.
They made it to the door when they heard a shout come from the kitchen. Thankfully, Garp released Rosinante and allowed the blonde to steady himself. Makino appeared from behind the bar and ran up to him to hold out her hand. “It’s six hundred berries for the beer.”
Rosinante gaped in disbelief at the gall of this child to demand he pay for a drink he never ordered, but he reached into his pocket for the cash to the sound of Garp’s laughter. The Vice-Admiral shared a conspiratorial look with Makino, and Rosinante couldn’t help but think that this was a trick he’d taught her. Snickering to herself the green haired girl followed them outside and walked them to the ship they arrived on.
Before stepping off the dock, Garp knelt down and held his palm out towards Makino. Neither exchanged a word, leading Rosinante to believe that this was something of a tradition, and he watched as the young girl adjusted her stance, pulled her arm back, and threw her fist into the large, calloused palm.
“Good form. Try to put a little more force behind it,” he instructed, waiting in a strange show of patience while Makino readjusted her feet and double checked her fist before trying again. The hit made a small thud, and though Garp barely felt it, he proudly exclaimed, “That’s my girl!” and patted her head.
Her beaming grin drew a smile from Rosinante.
“I’ll keep practicing until you come back,” she promised, and Garp gave an accepting nod before leaning forward to whisper something in her ear. Her eyes flitted over to Rosinante. Garp stood up and stepped aside as Makino approached the large blonde and held out her hand.
Returning her innocent smile, Rosinante crouched down for the handshake only to feel himself being pulled down. He hit the ground, and a small body jumped on his back and bent his arm. Shocked into silence, and not wanting to accidentally hurt the child putting him in an arm lock, he could do nothing but listen while Garp corrected the angle his elbow was in. Makino, who was apparently a very dutiful student, did as instructed until Rosinante felt the strain on his shoulder and tapped his free hand against the dock.
It was an embarrassing relief when the ten year old released his arm and hopped off his back. Rosinante clambered to his feet and couldn’t hold back his glare at a guffawing Garp, however one look at the pride shining across Makino’s face made him exhale and give her a resigned smile.
“Good job, kid,” he said, fist pumping the young girl.
The two Marines said their final goodbyes, earning an exuberant, “Goodbye, Mr. Garp! Goodbye, Mr. Rosi!” from Makino who stayed on the dock long after they set sail.
Long after they left, Rosinante finally decided to ask Garp about the so-called training that Sengoku thought they were doing. The laughter wasn’t encouraging.
“We already finished it,” the Vice-Admiral replied, his tone indicating that he thought it was obvious. At Rosinante’s confused expression, Garp fondly added, “Little Makino is really coming along. She’d make a fine Marine.”
The blond blanched when he realized the trick that got pulled on him as well as Sengoku. Too tired to continue talking with Garp, Rosinante moved away from the ship’s railing. No reason to risk tripping over into the sea. Again.