Hello everyone, and welcome to the first Christmas special! This is something my Patrons have had for a long time now, so I decided that it was about time for you all to be able to have a look as well. This is an Omake of life for Nami after having a kid, just enough of a snippet for you to see how she has changed and how she is still the same stingy thief she's always been. Besides, I need a pick-me-up before my summer work starts in earnest tomorrow, so I'd love to see what you all think. If Ace seems a little too developed for his age, I promise I have an explanation for that, but that won't appear until the official sequel.
Until then, enjoy Little Ace being adorable!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! (or so it was when this was posted)
Ace's first 'Christmas'
Weatheria, as a sky island full of meteorologists whose understanding of the weather bordered on witchcraft and wizardry, had perfect control over its own climate. The rainy days on the island were scheduled for every other Wednesday, Mondays were sunny to counteract the end of the weekend blues, and the largest laboratory created a localized aurora borealis for Fridays, festivals, and whenever they really wanted to.
Because of this, Nami was surprised when she stepped out of the small house Harudas had given her to find the normally-green grass covered in almost an inch of pure-white snow. The cold hit her almost a second later, the new mother realizing that her thin shirt was not going to cut it after the change of artificial season.
Despite the cold, however, she did not immediately go back inside. Something grabbed her leg, the pirate looking down to see her son holding the fabric of her jeans with one hand, the other by his face as he sucked on his thumb. His eyes were wide and curious as he studied the unbroken white he'd never seen before.
Ace was a child unlike any other, and not just because he was the first and only child born on Weatheria to date. Despite being less than a year old, he was already big enough to walk - well, more like waddle - without any help. His black hair was wild and untamed like his father's, but his nose and eyes were the same ones Nami saw in the mirror every morning. At his current height, Ace's head reached her thigh, which made his ability to walk a dangerous game when his mother was in a hurry. Not only was he leagues above where other children would be in his physical development, but his intelligence was closer to a child in preschool, already knowing basic words and how to ask for information.
His first word had been, predictably, meat, only to then be followed by Mommy, Beri, and weather the day after. Had Nami gone to great lengths to ensure those words came next? Absolutely, but she felt no remorse in her influence. One Luffy was trouble enough; she didn't need their son turning out exactly like him even without his being there.
"White," Ace said, pointing at the snow while trying to snuggle into Nami's leg. "White cold."
Though the snow was frozen, Nami's heart melted, scooping her son into her arms while closing the door with her foot. Ace's arms instinctively wrapped around her neck, his body getting as close to her as he could.
"What white, Mommy?" Ace asked, pointing to the door. "What called?"
"That's snow, Ace," Nami answered, walking him over to a window so he could look out on said snow without getting chilly. "It's what happens when rain gets really, really cold before falling."
Nami gave a small, melancholic smile as she watched Ace try to understand the frozen phenomena, muttering related words like "ice" and "rain" without the proper understanding of how to put them together. It was a mystery thing, but a mystery he would understand at some point, just like his Mommy did.
Nami loved Ace with all her heart, even to the point where she spent almost an hour watching him sleep as she seriously considered quitting piracy just to keep him safe. She had tossed that idea aside, however, knowing how much the crew needed her and how much Luffy would miss the adventure. She knew he wouldn't leave her and Ace behind to keep sailing if she left, so bringing Ace along was the only option.
Be that as it may, Ace was a constant reminder of the crew's separation and of their promise to reunite a little over a year from then. Every morning, Nami would see more and more of Luffy in their son and wonder where the lovable idiot had ended up. Every morning and every night, she would open her baby den-den and let it ring, hoping that Weatheria would come close enough to another of her crew to get in contact, but every attempt had been in vain.
"Mommy?" Ace asked, breaking the navigator out of her thoughts. "White cold snow mean you no work?"
"No, Ace, Mommy still has to work," Nami responded with a soft smile. "It just means we need to put on more clothes to stay warm."
"More clothes, stay warm," Ace echoed, more to himself as if doing so would help him remember. For all Nami knew, it would. He certainly remembered a lot more than Luffy did, but Luffy wasn't nearly as attentive usually.
Carrying Ace back inside the house, Nami made her way into the room she had put together for him, having needed at least some privacy to herself once her son was able to walk by himself, and walked over to his clothes dresser. Most of his clothes were meant for warm, sunny weather, but Ace did have some heavier clothing for windy and rainy days. Considering Harudas hadn't warned her about the snow, such clothing was probably enough.
Or he had just forgotten to tell her in his old age. If that was the case, he would be paying for Ace's new clothes! Once Ace was bundled up and ready to go, Nami set him on a stool next to the window while she retreated to her own room to dress for colder weather.
Ace stared at the falling snow with awe, his mitten-clad hands pressed against the glass. Outside, various navigators and meteorologists walked through the snow. A half-dozen were recording measurements in different areas, one with a small cyclone and another using a machine to change the snow into rain and back before it reached the ground, shifting the resulting water from powder to hail and back. The world was full of such cool things, Ace reaffirmed, and he wanted to see it all! He couldn't wait to meet up with Daddy and all his aunts and uncles, because that was when Mommy said he'd get to see so many more cool things!
"Are you ready, Ace?" Nami's voice called, the young mother stepping out of her room with a woolen sweater on. Said sweater was green with the Beri symbol stitched into the front.
"Ready, Mommy!" Ace ran over to her, the woman scooping him into her arms with a small laugh. "What you're working now?"
"What are you working on now," Nami corrected gently, opening the door to step out into the cold. "I'm working on solid air. When the temperature of molecules drops, they slow down and condense, making the area denser than the hotter surroundings. If I can localize the effect, then I can make invisible walls out of air."
Ace blinked, a smile on his face despite the outright confusion in his eyes.
"...I'm making mystery air walls."
"Ohhhh!" Ace nodded. "Cool! Mommy makes the bestest fo... phe... pho-de-mi-a?"
"The what, Ace?"
"You make the sky do stuff! That big big word you and the old guys say! Fo-sommen."
"Yeah, that! Mommy's phenomas the bestest!"
Nami couldn't help herself, spinning in a tight circle as she and her son laughed. He was just like Luffy, always bringing a smile to her face.
"The Solstice Festival?" Nami questioned, Ace asleep against her collar as the pirate walked with Harudas after their section of the lab closed for the night. "That's why they decided to make it snow?"
"We do it every year," the old man nodded. "The snow marks twelve days before the day of the solstice. It's a mix of most other winter traditions since we have folks from all over the world here. If we're close to a winter island, we might stop there to join their fun, but usually it's just us."
"Well that answers why, but not exactly the what. I barely remember the holidays since I spent most of my childhood stealing to survive. What do you all do?"
"Oh, so much!" Harudas grinned, a twinkle coming to his eye. "We find ourselves a big evergreen and stand it up in the middle of the plaza, then everyone hangs an ornament on it somewhere showing what they worked on over the year. My last ornament had an entire wa-"
"I really don't care about that," Nami said, cutting him off. "Tell me about the traditions."
"Oh," the old man pouted. "Fine. We decorate the tree, which is something from Yuletide. We also sing winter songs - do stay away from Ursula's a cappella quartet. She's a real scrooge - and bake cookies. The young, attractive women dress in skimpy outfits-"
"I'm not doing that."
"I tried," Harudas shrugged. "Anyway, a few folks light a candle each day for seven days leading to the solstice, and on the day, we exchange gifts with each other. Why, just last year I remember getting Bergamot a brand new kaleidoscopic spec-" His words faded into the background as Nami's mind raced. This would be Ace's first big holiday and she needed to make it as special as possible, and have a visual snail on hand to capture the moments forever.
All the free stuff she might get from the old men didn't sour her mood either, though their gifts for Ace might allow her to let their wandering eyes go for a bit. She certainly wasn't going to pay for much. Or anything, really. She couldn't let her sneaky skills get rusty, could she?
"And that is why you shouldn't use wrapping paper with bullseyes," Harudas nodded sagely, finishing a story Nami had not been listening to in the slightest.
"I'm remember that," she lied. "Do you think I could convince them to stop at an inhabited island soon? There aren't exactly any toy stores on Weatheria."
"We usually need to," Harudas offered. "Not for toys, really, but there are some things we just don't have."
"Perfect," Nami grinned, stopping at the door to her house while the old man paused. "Thanks for the information, Harudas. I expect you and the other old guys to help me make Ace's first Solstice the best it could possibly be."
"No buts! Now go spread the word. Thanks!" She shut the door in his face, grinning to herself since she knew that he would do as she said. He always did in the end. Every single time.
The small, South Blue island of Totell was, as far as Nami could tell, about the same size as Loguetown. Snow fell softly from the clouds above, said clouds hiding the sky island of Weatheria. Nami, Ace, and a small group of Weatherians had taken a bubble boat down to the port and stashed it where none of the locals should find it, quickly blending into the crowd as best they could.
Well, Nami and Ace blended into the crowd. It was easy to tell the others apart because of their robes and pointy hats, which Nami still thought were stupid.
But, visiting Totell was not for pleasure for the group. They had come to gather parts and buy gifts the likes of which could not be found in the clouds.
"What a pretty day," Nami smiled, Ace held in her arms. The little boy's head was on a swivel, his eyes trying to see everything at once. The buildings were built close together and the streets were paved with something, a stark contrast to the sparse houses and dirt paths of Weatheria. Not only that, but children - actual children - played together in the streets.
"Mommy, wha's that?"
"That's a road."
"Road... Wha's that?"
"That's a store, where you can buy things."
"Store... Is that a store, too?"
"Sort of. That's a restaurant. It's like a store for food that you don't have to cook."
"Restant!" Ace's eyes lit up, the stars there a miniature copy of those Nami had seen in Luffy, Usopp, and Chopper's eyes whenever they found something new. "Mommy, hungry! Meat!"
"You are so much like your father," the young mother laughed, kissing the top of her son's head. "Come on. Let's get a little bit to eat before we go stea- I mean shopping."
"Shopping. In stores!"
"That's right, Ace. You're so smart."
Thankful that Ace seemed to have missed her little slip, Nami carried him to the restaurant in question. It was a smaller place, the name's red, cursive letters spelling out The Grill on the wood above the door. A bell chimed as Nami stepped inside, a wave of heat washing over the mother and child. Ace didn't know any better, but Nami felt the pressure change the differing air temperatures caused, slamming the door shut a little too hard for her taste.
"Welcome to The Grill and a Merry Christmas to you!" the person Nami assumed was the owner greeted from behind a counter. He was on the shorter side with balding gray hair and a small goatee. Blue eyes studied the pair as the mother took another step into the establishment. The room was split down the middle, the right side with the counter and a row of bar stools while the left had a row of booths. Less than ten customers were scattered throughout the place. "I don't think I've seen you two before. First time?"
"Mommy's teach me what is a restaunt!" Ace answered quickly. The old man laughed, gesturing to the bar. Nami took a seat.
"I hope you don't mind if I set my son on the counter," Nami said, careful not to mention his name. Memories of the War of the Best were still fresh for many people and she didn't want to provoke anyone.
"Go ahead," the owner waved off. "I really should invest in some baby seats at some point, but I don't get a lot of parents through here. Name's Charles, and I opened this place years ago. It ain't big, but it's a living."
"Seems boring," Ace blinked, the lack of tack a sign of his age, or possibly his genes. His eyes widened as a new thought came to him. "But... food! Food not boring!"
"Give us a couple specials, please," Nami ordered, pulling a pez-dispenser-like object from her pocket. She clicked the end, the device spitting out a tiny bubble that shone with rainbow colors. The bubble instantly stole Ace's attention, the boy reaching for it. Unlike others, the bubble did not break when he grabbed it. "You don't have to worry about making it child-sized. He'll eat it all."
"I guess you've come around to do some Christmas shopping?" Charles asked, trying not to stare at the impossible bubble as he prepared the order.
"Yeah. I wasn't keeping track of time and it kind of snuck up on me. This'll be my first Christmas without the rest of my family. They're out on... business trips."
Charles picked up on the hesitation but didn't ask any questions. It wasn't his job to ferret out who was lying or why. He ain't no narc. Rather, this woman clearly had information he could never get a hold of from any of the locals. The dream of his childhood - of adventure and mystery - rekindled like a tiny ember.
"Listen, little lady, I don't know what you do, but you don't talk like you're from around here. And I know that shine you've got in your eye. You've seen a lot, haven't you? Were you a marine, maybe? Have..." Charles swallowed, praying for an answer. His voice lowered. "Have you been to the Grand Line?"
"Information like that isn't cheap," Nami smirked. She knew this man's type, a person who played Pirates and Marines as a child and said he'd see the world, only for normal life to lock him down. The type that still dreams of what could have been.
"Your meals are free," Charles responded quickly. "You can have as much as you want, but I need to know, is it true? Is it true what they say about the Grand Line?"
"Oh, it's true alright," Nami nodded, the free food set before her and Ace. The smells of cooked meat stole Ace's attention, the boy grabbing a fork and stabbing it into the center of the meal as the bubble started to float away. Nami pulled out the device that had made it and sucked the bubble back in.
"Please, tell me about it," Charles all but begged, mystified by the show. "I don't care if you're a pirate, marine, or bounty hunter. What is it like out there on the sea?"
"It's amazing," Nami answered, her voice a whisper. "The things I have seen since I entered the Grand Line would take your breath away. I've dined with kings and sailed into the sky. I've partied with winged angels and scorched zombies with lightning. I have seen inanimate objects come to life and had my life threatened more times than I can count. I have seen powers that defy the laws of nature as you know them. Ever since I sailed into the Grand Line, my life has been a rollercoaster that I wouldn't trade for anything." Her gaze drifted to Ace, the boy sensing her eye and turning to his mother with a piece of meat flopping out of his mouth. "That adventure is the reason Ace exists and despite all the gold I've seen, he is my most precious treasure."
"A-Ace?" the man questioned. "A-As in..."
"Hm?" the boy blinked innocently.
"Yes, this is my son, Ace," Nami nodded before putting on an expression of faux concern. "Oh no, I've given myself away! Ace, can you tell this nice man where your name comes from?"
"Oh oh! I know! It's fwom Daddy's bwother!"
"What what's your Daddy's name?"
"Daddy's Luffy! Daddy's gonna be King of the Piwates! Giihihi!"
Nami looked up to see poor Charles backed against the opposite wall, his face pale as a sheet. She smirked, finding her food more delicious now that she knew that the reputation of Luffy and the Straw Hats had spread even to this random island in the South Blue.
"Mommy, why's nice food guy scared?" Ace asked, finishing the scraps on his plate.
"Y-You're one of them... They said you all died... You're the daughter-in-law of Dragon... And the kid..." Charles' voice was breathless, keeping their conversation private.
"I thought you said you didn't care if I was a pirate?"
"I didn't think you'd be the C-Cat-Burglar!"
"That's silly, food guy!" Ace laughed. "Mommy's notta cat!"
"Oh that never gets old," Nami sighed, passing off her leftovers to Ace. She leaned forward, resting her chin on her hand. "You can relax. I'm just here to give Ace the best holiday I can. Now, can you direct me to where I'd find the toy stores?"
"Two streets over! Please don't hurt me!"
"Mommy don't hurt people," Ace laughed. "Not till they walk inna bathwoom when she's there. Mommy don't like that."
"No, I'd guess not," Charles gulped. Nami smirked, scooping Ace into her arms while making her way toward the door. She pushed the door open, ringing the bell above it and letting in a rush of cold air, only to pause.
"Now Ace, what do we say to the nice man?"
Ace gave a big grin. "Thanks, mister! It was tasty!"
"Yeah..." Charles breathed, only relaxing when the door was completely shut.
Outside Nami let her grin widen, Ace yawning in her arms as his full belly made him tired. The young mother rested him against her shoulder, letting him doze off as she followed Charles' directions and the flow of people to the shopping district.
It didn't take the pirate long to find what she was looking for, an entire street of stores crammed together like a strip mall just a couple blocks over. People were everywhere, some pushing and shoving each other out of the way as they tried to get everything they came for. Nami picked out more than a few pointy hats as Weatherians entered and exited hardware and parts shops down the way.
Nami's gaze, however, landed on a rather large toy store three doors down. Its door and windows were trimmed with green and golden designs were all but carved into the woodwork. The name of the store was Noel's Novelties, a fitting and somewhat ironic name for the current season. Slipping through the crowd like a phantom, Nami made her way to and into the store.
The inside was far more colorful than the outside, stacks of toys and novelties resting precariously on tables around the shop. A dozen parents and a handful of kids walked around the shore, inspecting products. As Nami took it all in, a woman with blond hair down to her back and bright blue eyes stepped over to her. The woman wore a blue apron, a pocket in the front filled with screwdrivers, hammers, and other tools of that ilk. Her nametag showed her to be Jenni.
"Hello and welcome to Noel's Novelties! What can I do for you today? Oh, who is this cutie? A brother or nephew?"
"My son, actually," the pirate answered, Jenni's eyes widening. "This will be his first Christmas and I was putting off my shopping until today. Do you have any figurines?"
"At the back-right corner," Jenni nodded, still apparently surprised since Nami didn't quite look old enough to be a mother for a child as big as the one in her arms. Nami gave her a wave as she moved deeper into the store, passing other customers as she made her way back. Her eyes keeping track of each person's line-of-sight, Nami snagged a toy train that she could hide in her purse, though she passed on the slingshot. Maybe she could convince Usopp to give up his first one when they got back together? As for the train, she'll hang onto it as a backup in case she can't find anything else.
Just like Jenni had said there would be, the back corner boasted characters and figurines of various media that Nami could not name. She recognized figures of Sora and Germa villains from the Marine comic The Adventures of Sora, and another collection were titled Navy Heroes and had renditions of Garp, Sengoku, and other famous marines alongside battleships and other sorts of Marine ships. Nami glanced around before, once no one was watching, pocketing the Garp one. She was sure he wouldn't mind.
Now knowing that models were created for real people, Nami wondered if there were images of pirates as well, though she would not be surprised if such things were illegal. Seeking an answer to her question, the young mother flagged down another attendant, this one male with a nametag reading Mark.
"Excuse me," Nami began. "I noticed there are marines, but are their pirate figures, too? Maybe like the Worst Generation? You know, so the Marines have someone to battle. They make that sort of thing, right?"
"I mean, yeah," Mark muttered, nervous. He was a young man whose face colored as he came closer at her beckoning. "They didn't sell all that well when we tried save for a few, like the ones for Jewelry Bonney. Are you looking for any in particular?"
"I've heard about these, what were they called, Straw-somethings?"
"The Straw Hat Pirates?" Mark offered. Nami gave a nod, said nod covering Ace's unconscious reaction in his sleep.
"That's them. A friend told me they were the strongest crew and had the most handsome captain."
"I don't know how accurate that is." Mark rubbed the back of his neck. "There are models for most of the crew as far as we know. The most popular ones of that collection were the Pirate Hunter, the Cat Burglar, the Demon Child, the Weightless Woman, and the Tri-Horn."
"I'd like to see them, if that's possible," Nami requested.
"O-Oh, sure," Mark nodded. "Follow me."
He led the young mother to the other side of the store, stopping her at a door reading EMPLOYEES ONLY. Mark ducked through the door, returning only a minute later with several models in a box. It was modeled like a briefcase so they could be offered as a set, the inside filled with foam the characters were set in.
'Well, at least they got our faces right,' Nami thought to herself, though she was a little miffed that the Navy was trying to make money off of them. 'I'm not that surprised that they're trying to raise funds. We've caused plenty of destruction, so I guess it doesn't matter that much.'
Shaking the thoughts away, Nami reached out and picked up the figure that had attracted her attention. The figurine was about as big as her hand, the arms stretched past the normal proportions as if punching and a wide smile painted for the lips. The eyes weren't quite right, though. The eyebrows made the smile look sinister, though Nami suspected that's how it looked to marines everywhere. Her heart squeezed.
Her own visage didn't quite match her new appearance, thankfully. It was a copy of what she looked like after Enies Lobby - in actual clothes rather than a swimsuit - and the Clima-Tact in her hand had clouds forming at her feet. Her smile was more of a cocky smirk.
There was even a little copy of Merry with a big ball of plastic rope like a maul, which was sort of cute, though there was no ship to go with the figures like the model Marine battleships she'd seen with the Marine figures on the other side of the store.
The set itself was not complete, though Nami couldn't fault them for that. Both Brook and Billy were unknown to the government as members of the Straw Hats, but there were figures for everyone else. Actually, both Coby and Chopper had two figures. Coby's had his human and hybrid forms while Chopper's were his Brain Point and Heavy Point.
"I'll take them," Nami said, "with a 90% discount."
"N-Ninety percent?" Mark balked, too stunned to say anything as the woman replaced the Straw Hat figure and took the box. "I-I can't do that!"
"You weren't going to sell them anyway," the woman noted. "They were just going to gather dust in the back room. I'm doing you a service and you're spurning my charity? 93% discount, take it or leave it."
"W-What kind of price is that? I haven't even named a price. I..." He flinched, Nami tossing a small amount of coin at him.
"You're lucky you're getting anything," Nami winked, sticking out her tongue. "I shouldn't have to buy something with my own face on it."
"Your face? What...?"
"Bye, Mark. Thanks for the toys. I'm sure Ace will love them." Leaving the store attendant behind, Nami carried the box of copies to the door.
"I hope you found everything you needed?" Jenni asked as Nami passed, the other woman noting the box the customer had.
"Yes, I was quite surprised." Nami agreed, putting on a false look of innocence. "I didn't know they made figures of real people. That was quite the surprise. I've met Vice-Admiral Garp before and his was so accurate! I wonder if they have to get permission from those people."
"They do," Jenni answered with a smile. "There are no figures of Vice-Admiral Strawberry because he asked them not to. The same with Commander Kong."
"I see. Thank you." Nami stepped out into the cold, watching through the window as Mark grew a pair and tried to chase her. She blended into the crowd once more as the sun started to touch the horizon. The falling sun meant the temperature was also dropping, a shiver waking Ace from his food sleep. Again, Nami was struck by how similar to Luffy their son was.
"Ne, Mommy," Ace began, blinking himself awake as he shifted, only to notice that he was in a different place and that his mother had new luggage. "What's in square?"
"It's a box, Sweetie."
"What's in box?"
Glancing around, Nami ducked into an alley lest workers from Noel's Novelties come looking for her. There was one more stop she had in mind before returning to the dock for their scheduled departure.
"It's a surprise," Nami answered, stepping into the adjacent street. "Old Man Harudas told me that there's a special day coming up when people give each other gifts, so you'll see when that day comes."
"Gifs? What's that?"
"It's when you give someone something, but it's hidden until they open it. It's a... It's giving someone a mystery thing."
"Cool! Mysry things!"
"Yeah, speaking of mystery things, Mommy needs to go find something else, but you aren't allowed to see it yet."
"Now now, Ace. Listen to Mommy." Ace's eyes narrowed, his lower lip pushing forward into a pout. Nami giggled at the cute expression. Luckily for her, a familiar pointy-hat-wearing man stepped out of a store within her line of sight. "Oh! Harudas!"
"Ah, Nami," the old man blinked, carrying the bag he held toward the mother and son. "Are you finding everything you need?"
"Almost," the pirate answered. "Are you heading back toward the docks?"
"I am. I just finished my shopping."
"Great! Take Ace for me, would you?" Nami pushed Ace into Harudas' arms, the man staggering. "I still need to find something, but I can't do it with Ace with me. I'll meet you at the dock. Bye!"
"Ah, wait-!" Harudas' call fell on deaf ears, Nami already gone into the crowd of shoppers. "Drat, she's already gone."
"Mommy's so fast," Ace muttered, unwillingly awed despite her insistence that he not come with her. "Ne, Old Man Haru! Mommy said sommin 'bout a spectal day with gifs?"
"That would be the Winter Solstice coming up," Harudas responded. "I'd guess she's out buying you a gift and doesn't want you to see it until the Solstice."
"Mommy's getting me sommin," Ace muttered, eyes widening. "I gotta get Mommy sommin, too! Old Man Haru! Help!"
"Well," Harudas began. "I know that she's been performing experiments on drastic temperature decrease in relation to atmospheric pressurization, so she's been trying to get her hands on an oscillating temperature spectrometer and..." He trailed off, Ace's eyes staring at him with no comprehension whatsoever. Not only that, but Ace wouldn't have the money for anything like that even if he knew what the old scholar was talking about. "You know what, how about you draw her a picture of you and her and your father and their crew?"
"Oh, oh! I can do that! I'll do that!"
"Ok, good." Harudas breathed a sigh of relief. Neither he nor any of the other inhabitants of Weatheria were good with children, a side effect of none living on the island until Ace was born. Since then, Harudas had begrudgingly become something of a grandfather figure, much to his own detriment. If his hair wasn't already gray, then how nervous he got whenever talking to Ace would have given him gray hairs. Not because of Ace himself, but because of his fear of Nami should be say something wrong and have to answer to her. "Come on, Ace. Let's go wait for your mom by the dock. Ok?"
Harudas set Ace on the ground, the boy grabbing the hem of his robe. As they walked to the dock, Harudas checked on the boy every few feet, the boy holding an adorable look of concentration as he tried to picture the drawing he would make later. Harudas had no frame of reference, but Ace's face mimicked Luffy's, eyes narrowed and tongue just barely poking out.
The two arrived at the dock at the same time as another group of Weatherians, their pointy hats separating from the crowd and gathering beside their mirage-hidden ship. The adults milled around, talking to each other and offering advice on parts as Ace sat on a post away from them, still focusing on the future. He was going to draw that picture! And it would be perfect!
Nami arrived several minutes later, the box from Noel's Novelties in one hand and a small bag in the other.
"Ace~!" she called, catching her son's attention. His face brightened, the boy hopping off the post and running to her on his little legs. Nami bent down to meet him, accepting his hug. "We're you good for Old Man Harudas?"
"Yeah!" Ace nodded. "Old Man Haru told me 'bout the Solst thingy and you getting gifs! So imma get you sommin, too!"
"Oh really?" Nami asked. "And what would that be?"
"It's a-!" Ace cut himself off, turning away. His lips pouted, pointing out to the side as he refused to meet his mother's eyes. "I can't tell you."
"I can't tell you!"
"Ok ok," Nami laughed. "You can't tell me. It looks like everyone is ready to go. Come on, Ace."
As Nami shut the door, Ace breathed a sigh of relief. This was his chance! He had finally convinced his mother to leave him alone at home while she went to work, which meant he could now work on her present. It had been tough trying to hide everything so she wouldn't know what he was up to, but he'd managed!
Knowing he needed to retrieve his tools before he could get started, the young boy hurried to the living room drawers, bending down to retrieve the crayons he'd hidden beneath it. There were all the colors: red, orange, dark and light blue, black, yellow, green, and purple. Once he had them, he tossed the wax tools onto the table and moved toward his bedroom. There, tucked away under the bed, was a blank sheet of paper from his mother's maproom. She wouldn't miss one sheet. Not for something like this! She threw out plenty, anyway, always complaining about perfection.
He needed to do it today. Tomorrow was the Solstice! That was the day, so he couldn't wait! And Mommy would be back at lunch, so he had even less time.
Consolidating all of his tools on the table, Ace quickly took hold of the chair's leg and pulled, dragging the chair out until he was able to fully see the seat. From there, he placed his arms on the seat and hauled himself up.
Or, he tried to. He wasn't quite fast enough to do it all in one movement, gravity trying to pull him back down. Ace would have none of that! Gritting his teeth with effort, the boy kicked his feet against the air, his body swinging precariously as he tried to finish his climb.
Though this seemed like a hurdle for the child, any observer would be unable to think of anything but how cute it was.
After several seconds that felt like an hour to the boy, Ace finally managed to get a knee up onto the seat, using that leverage to roll up onto the chair. Not too far, though! He didn't want to roll off the other side.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Ace stood, now able to look down on the table and his materials. Could he have made Mommy's gift on the hardwood floor? Maybe, but that floor had lines and stuff that his crayons could get caught in. They had ruined pictures before, but not this one! That's why he needed the table.
Crayons? Check. Table? Check. Paper? Check. Pic-
"No!" Ace whined, only then realizing his reference photo was still on the counter. But that would not stop him! Doing what he had seen his mom do, the boy looked around the room and thought.
And so, Ace had an idea.
Jumping down from the chair (from a high place, just like Daddy could!), Ace landed and hurried over to the second chair on the other side of the table. Like he had done before, the boy grabbed the leg and pulled. The chair made a long SCREEEE as it rattled and moved over the floor, Ace breathing hard as he reached the counter.
Now with experience, Ace jumped, shimmying onto the chair faster than he had the first time. Now able to see the top of the counter, the boy found what he needed. Sitting in a simple picture frame was a photo of all his aunts and uncles. Mommy had said the photo was taken shortly after she got Billy, the big bird on the left side, because they did that sort of thing when they could. She was lucky to have had it when she ended up here, even though Ace didn't understand why they weren't together.
But they would be! They would, and that was the important part!
Quickly grabbing the picture, Ace hopped down from the chair and moved back to the table. Stretching up as much as he could, he pushed the photo onto the table, lest he need to hold it while climbing. It did not fall, thankfully, allowing Ace to get back up onto the first chair without any worries.
Now he had everything he needed!
Taking the black crayon into his chubby little baby hands, Ace got to work, eyes narrowing and tongue sticking out as he began copying the picture verbatim.
Well, as much as a child with crayons could. He took some artistic license, spreading out the people so he could draw them side-by-side rather than bunched together. And he was there! Holding hands and Mommy and Daddy in the middle. And Auntie Amy had to be floating above them because the paper wasn't wide enough, but that was ok. She could do that, Mommy said. And Grandpa Brook needed a violin. Ace didn't actually know what a violin looked like, but he was pretty sure the blue thing he drew looked like one. Oh oh! And Mommy had to wear Daddy's hat. Very important. Very very important. And Mommy said Uncle Franky had this pose with his arms together, so he needed to draw that. And Billy has lightning... And Uncle Gin also has lightning... And Uncle Zoro likes his juice, and juice comes in boxes, right?
Drawing the picture took longer than Ace thought it would, but only because it had to be absolutely, positively perfect. Mommy would be back soon because Old Man Haru said they weren't working as long today.
A whole hour and a half later, Ace was finally done, breathing hard like he just finished a race and with a small headache from thinking for too long, but he finished! Now he needed to hide it before Mommy got back.
Carefully rolling the perfect picture like a map, Ace pushed all the crayons onto the floor and hopped off the chair, stowing the drawing under the living room drawers where the crayons had been. The crayons had to go next, the boy putting them in the tub where they belong so they don't melt if something goes wrong and it gets hot.
There! Perfectly hidden! And not a moment too soon as Ace felt himself yawn. Well, he had worked really, really hard, so he deserved a nap. Climbing into the couch, Ace curled up, thoughts of his Mommy's smiling face when he gave her the picture in his head as he drifted off to sleep.
"Ace, I'm home!" Nami called as she stepped into her little house. Ace didn't come running to her like she thought he would, but there could be any number of reasons why. Even so, parental worry bloomed in Nami's gut, the young mother closing the door before pulling out her Perfect Clima-tact. "Ace?"
The house was quiet, the pirate glancing around the room. From the doorway, she could see the kitchen, the chairs dragged away from the table. The picture of her crew rested on the table, not where it had been when she left. Panicking, Nami moved to the bedrooms, finding both empty and still. Now at her wits end, Nami searched the house, only to come up short once she reached the living room.
There she found Ace, her son curled up on the couch where she could not have seen him when she entered. He was resting on his side, his legs bent to conserve warmth and a thumb between his lips. His chest rose and fell with a steady rhythms, the child unharmed in any way.
Nami let out a hard, relieved breath, all the tension and worry draining away. She smiled, walking over to the couch where she lifted Ace's head only to sit down where it had been. His head lowered to her lap, the woman running her fingers through his hair. Instinctively, though still asleep, the boy wiggled deeper into the embrace.
"You scared me, Ace," Nami whispered, a small yawn escaping her. She had had a hard, though not necessarily long, day at the lab, her tenacity rewarded with a breakthrough. As a result, all the wariness caught up to her as she gazed upon her sleeping son. Her eyes moved, studying the kitchen which was in such disarray now as opposed to when she left for work. Ace must have been up to something, but whatever it was, she was sure she could deal with it when the time came. Smiling, Nami allowed herself to drift into the land of dreams, Ace curled up on her lap.
The day of the Winter Solstice came with the ringing of bells and the off-key singing of various small groups. As Harudas had mentioned, a large evergreen was raised in the center of the island, every person adding their own ornament to its branches. Nami and Ace were also invited to join the festivities with their own ornaments, Nami having helped Ace make his, to the extent that he would let her.
The young mother's ornament was on the larger side, a miniature tornado and lightning storm roaring inside. Ace's was considerably less impressive to the critical eye, a simple red sphere with a lopsided straw hat painted on it. He was so proud, having painted it himself (with only a little help setting up and cleaning up).
The two of them partied with the Weatherians late into the afternoon, various locals offering gifts to Nami and Ace. Unsurprisingly, most of the gifts for Ace came from the old women - though Harudas gave him a small copy of Nami's original Clima-tact capable of only making clouds and static - and most of the gifts for Nami were from the old men. She accepted them with a smile, only to discard most of the outfits later.
Once the sun started to fall and both mother and son had eaten their fill, it was Ace that insisted they head home, citing a present he had yet to give. Taking the chance, Nami excused the both of them, letting Ace drag her toward the house they lived in.
"Ok, Mommy, wait here," Ace told her, pushing her into the couch. "Cover your eyes, too! I don't want you seeing my super-duper secret binding spot."
"Ok~" Nami chuckled, covering her eyes for the boy's sake, even though she had a pretty good idea of where his "super-duper secret hiding spot" was. He wasn't very quiet as he moved to the drawers, pulling out something with the rustling of paper. Nami felt it come to rest on her legs a moment later.
"Ok, Mommy. Open your eyes!"
Nami did so, looking down to see what had Ace smiling his million-watt smile. On her lap was a rolled-up sheet of cartography paper. Taking it into her hands, the young woman unrolled it to see the crayon drawing within.
The characters were stick figures for the most part, though the three in the middle were more distinct. One figure looked like it was flying above the others and another had incredibly thick forearms. The centerpoint of the picture, however, were the three in the middle, two taller forms holding hands with a smaller one between them. Every figure had a wide smile.
"Oh, Ace," Nami cooed, her heart touched by the admittedly-poor drawing, but he was far to young to say anything about that. "Is this a picture of the crew?"
"Yep, I made it!" her son boasted. "All by myself."
"Oh, I love it." Taking another long look at the drawing, Nami set it aside on the couch. "Actually, Ace, I have some presents for you, too. Let me go get them."
"Ok!" Ace visibly vibrated with excitement and his mother stood and made her way to her room. She was only gone for a moment before she returned, two boxes wrapped in paper adorned with the skull-and-crossbones associated with pirates, but in red and green, one box smaller than the other. Nami set them on the ground by Ace, the boy instantly reaching for the smaller box. He turned it over in his hands, confused.
"You tear the paper off," Nami explained. "It hides what's inside."
"Seems silly, Mommy." Even so, Ace examined the box until he found one of the points where the paper was taped together. Sliding two fingers into the crease, the boy pulled until part of the wrapping gave way. Now understanding how it worked, Ace tore into the coverings until he was holding a cube of glass with something inside. His eyes widened, barely noticing a flash of light indicating that his mother had taken a picture.
Within the cube was a small ship about the size of his hands put together. It was mostly brown with accents of red, white, and yellow, a cat of some sort on the front. Or maybe it was a sunflower?
"It's a boat!"
"It's more than that, Ace," Nami explained. "That is what our boat looks like, the one that's waiting for us. Do you remember her name?"
"That's right, Ace! The Thousand Sunny. We're going to take her and see so many cool things with your Daddy and all your aunts and uncles when Mommy's done here. Why don't you open your other gift?"
"Ok!" Setting aside the replica, Ace reached for the bigger present, tearing its wrappings away far faster. Inside was the box he'd seen Nami carrying back on the island. Noticing his confusion, Nami reached forward and flicked the clasp it had open, revealing what was inside.
"Daddy!" The little boy pointed at the first figurine that caught his eye, the one with the hat and a stretched punch. His eyes quickly studied the other figures in the box, widening in recognition. "Choppy! And, uh... Uncle Coby? And Uncle F...? Yeah, Uncle Franky has big, big arms. Ne, this you, Mommy?"
"Yeah, Ace," Nami laughed, watching the boy pull the figure of her out of the bunch. "That's what Mommy looked like before you were born."
"Your hair was short!"
"Yes, it was," Nami chuckled. "So, Ace, do you like your presents?"
"I love them!" Putting the figure back on the foam innards of the box, the boy jumped to his feet and ran to his mother, giving her the biggest hug he could. Though her next words were muffled, Nami still heard them clearly. "Love you, Mommy."
"I love you, too," Nami smiled. "Why don't you play with your new toys?"
Nami leaned back against the couch, her smile calm as Ace started letting his imagination run wild, envisioning the stories Nami had told him of their adventures before and all the cool things the crew could do even if he had never seen them before. The train and Garp figure Nami had stolen were tucked away in one of the drawers, probably to come out for a birthday or something. No need to spoil Ace too much when he's already this smart. Maybe she should see if any of the members of Luffy's family have information about that?
Well, that was a question for another time. As it was now, Nami let herself live in the moment, celebrating Ace's first Winter Solstice.
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