The White Haired Man
The sound of a baby crying was drowned out by the rest of the world – the sounds of police sirens, men and women fighting and laughing, music booming, people walking and dancing, cars racing through the streets, TV's in homes and so on and so forth.
A soft voice began to make shushing sounds, rocking the wailing infant back and forth in his own small arms. The infant slowly stopped its crying when the youth began to hum a soft song. It cooed, reaching its small, pudgy hands up to the boy. The boy gave a soft smile and let the baby grab his fingers.
"Ace," The boy holding the baby looked to his side, where another figure leaned on him. He was much smaller than him, around five years old. Like the baby and the boy named Ace, he was covered in dirt and grime. "Why's he crying?"
"I dunno, Sabo, but he seems okay now," Ace replied, looking down at the infant poorly wrapped in blankets. The baby was snuggling up into his chest as best as it could, making small sounds of complaint until Ace changed his position. The baby gave a sound of contentment and cooed, making a small smile cross the boy's face.
Ace tensed when he heard approaching footsteps, holding the baby closer as Sabo clenched his arm. He looked up, eyes scanning the dark surroundings for any sign of danger. They were currently under a bridge, in the heart of the city, with cars constantly moving above them.
Ace moved slowly, handing the baby to Sabo and adjusting his arms so he held it right. He whispered, telling him to stay there and stay quiet, which Sabo willingly did. Ace then grabbed one of the two pipes on the ground and held it up defensively, slowly walking in the direction of the footsteps. He could see a man approaching in the distance, tall and strong.
It seemed like a very short time before the man stood near him. He was, indeed, tall and strong, but he couldn't make out much else. The man stopped in front of him, and Ace couldn't tell what he was looking at. He kept his stance, his pipe held up in front of him, should the man make any sudden moves.
From the man's side, he was slightly shocked. He was a policeman, and he had been called down to check on suspicious noises. He had expected many things – a fight, a drug deal, a murder, maybe even people fucking under the bridge. He had not thought he would see three kids, all appearing homeless and very wary of him, under the bridge, especially since this city was known for having very few homeless people.
The man knelt down, getting to the boy with the pipe's level. The boy tensed, glowering, but he just stared back.
"It's kind of cold out tonight, isn't it," He stated, trying to ease the boy's apprehension. He could see how underdressed the two boys were, the elder didn't even have on a shirt, despite the fact that cold rain was falling on them. He saw the boy ease up, even if it was just a very small amount. "Would you boys like to come back with me? I can help you, if you'd like," He softly said. He wasn't really going to give them a choice – there was no way in hell he would leave these kids out here to starve or freeze to death – but he wanted them to feel more comfortable with him if they decided they would go.
The boy with the pipe eased even more. He glanced behind him at the other boy, who was noticeably shivering, then at the bundle moving in his arms. He turned back to the man and lowered his stance, nodding slowly.
"My name is Logan, what's your name?" The police officer said, holding out his hand for the boy. The boy approached slowly and cautiously gave him his hand.
Seven hours later, in the early hours of the morning as the moon began to descend from it's peak, the man named Logan was holding a young baby with one arm while holding a young child's hand with the other. The oldest child stood at his side, arms crossed and acting very upset. Logan groaned internally, just wanting to return home and sleep.
He had been asked to watch over the kids for a little while, until everything was sorted out. And it wasn't like he hadn't dealt with this before.
"Smoker-ya, why do you have kids with you?" Logan – otherwise known as Smoker – sighed heavily with annoyance. He stared at the couch in the walk-in living room, where his insomniac nephew sat in his black and yellow pajamas on his laptop.
"They're going to be living here for a little while. And how many times do I have to tell you to stay in your room after eleven?" Smoker scolded, only getting a middle finger in the process. Smoker groaned as he walked forward into the three-bedroom apartment that was on the eleventh floor of the building. He walked into their rather large bathroom and straight over to the bathtub. He turned, motioning for Ace to come closer. The boy reluctantly complied and was handed the baby.
"Hold him for a minute," Smoker said as he turned on the water, testing the spray to see if it was a comfortable temperature. He grabbed a bottle and a bar of soap and turned to the two boys. "You two need to shower. You put some of the stuff in this bottle in your hand and rub it into your hair. You use this bar of soap to clean the rest of your body. I need to go wash the baby, but call me if you need me." And with that, Smoker carefully picked up the infant and left the room, leaving the two boys to their shower.
"C'mon, Sabo. Take off your clothes and let's get in," Ace ordered once he was sure the man was gone. He quickly undressed himself and then, once Sabo was done, he hurriedly got the boy in. The younger boy blinked at the change, smiling.
"It's kinda like rain, Ace," He said, clapping his hands together in the spray and giggling when it made a small splash. Ace gave a grin as he got his hair wet. He could already see the dirt rolling off of them in streams and washing down the drain.
"Get your hair wet, Sabo," Ace said. He turned and grabbed the bottle, putting some into his hand and rubbing it into his own hair. Sabo grabbed the bottle after and did the same, but panicked when it overflowed. He blinked, unsure what to do, but just put it all in his hair anyway. He placed the bottle down as he tried to rub it in.
"Ace, it stings my eyes!" Sabo whined, rubbing at the sensitive area. Ace sighed as he finished washing it out of his hair, recalling the action from years ago.
"Splash some water into them," He said as he grabbed the bar of soap and began to clean himself off. Sabo grumbled before doing as Ace said, allowing the sticky and bubbly liquid to roll out of his hair and down his body.
Ace felt very clean for the first time in a long time as all of the dirt and grime was washed off of his body. He reveled in the feeling and the fact that he could see the color of his own skin. He stood there for long minutes, watching the streams of brown water roll off of him as he scrubbed slowly, taking his time, enjoying the fact that he was able to bathe again. Still, he knew he couldn't stand there forever, as someone else who probably never remembered taking a bath was there with him, clueless as to what he was doing. He turned to Sabo and saw the boy was still dirty. He took the bar of soap and began washing his back slowly. The younger boy jumped a little, startled, but allowed Ace to continue until the elder deemed his back clean and decided Sabo could finish cleaning himself.
"Sabo, finish cleaning yourself off," Ace said, handing him the soap as he carefully got himself out of the shower. Ace grabbed one of the towels that he saw hanging on the rack and immediately wrapped himself in it. It was warm, soft, and fluffy. He buried his face into the fabric with a contented sigh.
"Ace, how do I turn it off?" Ace turned and saw Sabo was trying to climb over the edge of the tub. Ace helped him over and quickly wrapped him in a towel before moving, turning the nozzle until the shower water stopped its flow. There was a knock on the door, dragging both of the boy's attention to it.
"May I come in?" It was that teenager Ace had seen. Law, was it?
"Yeah," The raven haired boy replied. The teen walked in holding some clean, large white shirts. He stared down at the two boys wrapped in towels before handing them the clothing.
"They're big t-shirts, but they'll do for now. When you're done, come on out to the kitchen." And with that, the teenager named Law left the room. Ace stared after him before turning and drying Sabo's curly hair. He could actually tell what color hair they younger had now – he was blond. He had always thought it was brown. He was also tanner than Ace, but the boy didn't care much because Sabo was still Sabo – smart, kind, funny, his little brother.
Then, for the first time in years, Ace turned and looked at himself in the mirror.
He really had changed over the years. He was tanner than he remembered and now the freckles that dotted his cheeks were greater in number. He was thin, like Sabo, from lack of food. His ribs were visible and his limbs were like sticks despite the odd plumpness of his face. He looked at his black hair and his dark eyes and was slightly startled – he didn't remember ever having such dark locks or irises.
"Ace," The boy was startled out of his silent shock by the blond next to him. The boy was already wearing one of the shirts. It fit him like a dress, dragging on the floor behind him. He looked at Ace with questioning eyes, but the boy merely pat him on the head with a smile. Ace then pulled on the other shirt. It reached a little above his knees and covered his starved frame.
He walked out of the bathroom and made his way into the kitchen, standing in the doorway in front of Sabo. Despite having gone with the man, he was still incredibly wary of the tall, strong, chain-smoking man who introduced himself as Logan. But Ace realized that everyone they had met that night called him Smoker.
He decided he would call him Smoker, when the time arose.
Currently, the white-haired man was carefully drying off the baby whose name was still a mystery. The baby – now that he was clean – had naturally tanned skin. He had black hair tufts of hair atop of his small head and appeared no older than a week or two.
Law made a coughing noise in his throat as he prepared some sandwiches – on Smoker's orders – for the two younger boys. The man turned around and saw the two boys standing in the doorway to the kitchen. He motioned for them to enter as he finished drying off the baby before swaddling him with a blanket as one of the women back at the station had showed him. He sat down in a chair as Law put the plates of food at the table before taking a seat himself with a large mug of black coffee set in front of him.
"You two can eat," Smoker said. Instantly, the two boys ran to the table and scrambled onto the chairs, devouring the sandwiches within two minutes or less. The baby had already been fed at the station and there was more formula if he did get hungry again later.
Once the boy's had finished their food, Smoker handed the baby to Law and began his questions. He would've done it at the station, but there, the two boys were tense and anxious. They had refused to speak. Hopefully, they wouldn't now.
"Ace and Sabo, right?" Smoker asked, receiving only a nod from the raven haired child. "Have you two been living on the streets like that for a long time?" Again, the boy nodded. "How long."
Ace was silent for a few moments. He knew they were going to be questioned about this eventually, and he was relieved it wasn't at that police station. But still, concerning how he became homeless, he didn't want the questions to venture into that territory. Reluctantly, he replied, "Six years for me, three for Sabo."
Smoker nodded and looked over at the infant in Law's arms. "What's his name?"
Ace looked over at the baby, his eyes softening slightly. "Luffy," Ace replied as the baby began to snooze in the young teens arms.
"What happened to his parents?"
Ace shrugged. "Don't know. We found him in an alley a few weeks ago."
Smoker's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "How did you keep an infant alive?"
Ace's eyes widened slightly before he looked down at the table, boring holes into its surface. Sabo sat next to him, not speaking because he learned to do as Ace did. If Ace didn't speak, he wouldn't speak.
Smoker sighed when he realized that neither were going to say anything. He looked up at the clock and noted it was nearing three in the morning.
"It's getting late. We should get to bed," The man said as Law handed the baby over to him. "Come, I'll show you where you'll sleep."
Ace and Sabo got out of their chairs and the two thin boys followed the broad-shouldered man down the hall. Law walked behind them, stifling a yawn as they walked. Smoker stopped at the second and last door on the right, next to the bathroom. He opened the door and stepped in, allowing the two children to enter.
It wasn't much since it was normally used as a guest room. There was a queen-sized mattress in the middle with white sheets and blue covers, just a few shades darker than the blue walls. There were two night stands on either side, both with plain lamps and one with an alarm clock. Against the wall the door resided on was a bureau of the same wood of the head and footboard of the bed.
"You two can sleep in here for the night."
"Luffy too," Ace immediately demanded, glowering up at the man just for the mere suggestion of separating the three of them. Smoker gave a heavy, rough sigh.
"If that's what you want," He said, causing Sabo's pout to become a toothy smile and for Ace to nod in approval. The two kids then moved over to the bed and climbed on. A large grin came over Sabo's face as he buried his face into the pillows. Ace looked up at Smoker expectantly. The man walked over and handed the infant to the boy. He carefully took the sleeping infant in his arms and smiled down at him before putting him in the middle of the bed on a pillow, right between himself and Sabo.
"If you need anything, I'm in the room right across from you," Smoker said as he moved to the doorway. Ace only nodded to show he heard and the man then silently shut the door.
He saw Law waiting in his bedroom door, staring at him with knowing eyes.
"Taking in strays again, Smoker?"
The gray haired man gave a glare to the teen. "You're not exactly a stray, Law."
"Maybe not, but, I believe I fit in well enough into that category. Don't you?"
Smoker scoffed, moving to go to his own room, when Law spoke again, this time seriously instead of playfully.
"Are they going to stay here?"
Smoker looked over at him blankly for a few moments, stuck in thought.
"Don't know," He said as he entered his room, closing the door behind him. Law just stared at the closed door and gave a soft sigh.
"That probably means yes," He whispered to himself as he entered his room to try and get some sleep.