|Sunset at Port Gold
Author: Rio Grande PM
When the Straw Hat crew docks at a sketchy port, Luffy and Nami find themselves caught up in an adventure with a crime boss that might shake the foundations of their friendship, and help it grow into something more. LN.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Adventure - Chapters: 4 - Words: 31,356 - Reviews: 93 - Favs: 83 - Follows: 18 - Updated: 07-24-05 - Published: 07-03-05 - id: 2467550
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Sunset At Port Gold
By Rio Grande
Chapter One: Poison, Candy and Garbage
Often when the motley Straw Hat crew docked in any port they were bound to stick out like a sore thumb, being that they were a wildly dangerous and somewhat well known band of pirates out for treasure, and normal people tended to have a healthy fear of people calling themselves pirates. For most of the crew, this was sort of a perk of the job. Instant notoriety - people feared you before they'd even laid eyes on you, and you were automatically the center of attention.
So, when the crew docked at Port Gold one fine morning, they were all surprised and partly resentful over the fact that they received little to no attention at all. Their large, obnoxious flag of a skull and crossbones with a straw hat that Usopp had painstakingly created generated not one raised brow, not one scream of fear. When Zoro unceremoniously leapt off the side of the boat and onto the dock with all three of his bulky swords resting at his hip, his customary angry scowl firmly in place, nobody milling around the port even glanced his way. And when Robin grew an extra pair of arms to hold Sanji back from kicking Luffy into the water after the boy said something outrageously dumb, there wasn't even the usual house call from the local authorities.
"All right Nami, where have you taken us now? What's up with this place?" Zoro growled, frowning into the mass of people bustling around the outdoor market a few yards away from the ship.
"I told you guys, Port Gold is one of the most dangerous, shady places you'll ever find... it's basically a safe haven for criminals and people running away from their pasts," the small red head said as the crew grimly regarded the port in front of them. "But we've been at sea with no chance to get supplies for weeks, and Port Gold is pretty well stocked. We'll be able to get all of our shopping done, provided no one gets all their money stolen,"
"Oh, I think we can handle ourselves," Sanji said smirkingly. He took a final drag of his cigarette before flicking it into the dirty harbor water where it immediately disappeared into the murky liquid. "Besides, you're right, we're too short on supplies to pass this opportunity up. I'll take care of the food shopping,"
"Okay, who wants to cover inventory? I got it last time, so it can't be me," Nami declared, hands on hips. "I can't do everything for this ship, you know."
"I'll do it Nami!" Luffy volunteered, raising his hand up high and shaking it vigorously. Their fearless leader was in good spirits today; it was still early morning and he had already succeeded in ticking of Zoro, Sanji and Nami.
"Uh... any OTHER volunteers?" Nami asked of the crew, beseechingly.
"What? Why can't I do it? I'm the captain!" Luffy protested, looking mildly offended.
"Because last time I let you restock supplies for the ship we got tomato paste to brush our teeth with and coconuts for cannon balls!"
"Oh... yeah, hahaha."
"I'll do it Nami," Usopp said, resigned. "I've never had to before so I guess it's my turn,"
"Thank you Usopp," Nami said primly, pulling an impressive list out of her pocket and handing it over to Usopp. "We'll need all of this by tonight then."
"WHAT! I can't get all of these supplies by tonight," Usopp whined, looking over the heinously long piece of parchment Nami had handed him. "Give me some more time,"
"Okay then, what time do we all want to meet up?" Nami asked the crew.
"Let's say tomorrow night, same place!" Luffy offered. Everyone nodded their heads in approval, mumbling about the various chores they had to accomplish.
"That'll give me enough time, and I've got to send a letter to Kaya. It's been months and she's probably worried about me!" Usopp said, hurrying off. Usopp had been plagued by this father's lack of communication with him after he went out to sea with Shank's crew, so the young man had become a bit obsessive about writing to his hometown sweetheart on a regular basis. The crew had taken note of this, and had teased him mercilessly about it accordingly.
"I'll keep watch over the ship today if I can go around town tomorrow," Chopper offered.
"All right, I'll stay behind tomorrow," Robin agreed quietly before heading off into the thick throng of people with no further adieu.
"Everyone be careful!" Nami called after her. "If we split up we won't be able to help anyone if they get into trouble..."
"You worry too much," Zoro teased, patting Nami on the head as he passed by.
"Yeah Nami, we're pirates! We can handle anything!" Luffy agreed with a wide grin that threatened to crack his rubber face.
"Oh stuff it," Nami said sharply. "And where are you going, Zoro?"
"Somewhere I can train in peace," the swordsman said cryptically before turning a corner.
"Figures," Luffy laughed gaily.
"I'll see you at the ship tonight guys," Sanji called as he too headed out in search of the freshest food the port had to offer. "I figure we'll all be coming back if we don't want to sleep on the streets." Nami watched Sanji go and then made as to move herself.
"Where are ya goin' Nami?" Luffy asked as he watched his navigator begin to leave. Nami turned around and realized that Luffy was the only crew member still hanging around. Chopper had already gone back inside.
"Oh, I was thinking of just shopping around town, maybe checking out some of the bookstores and seeing what maps they had to offer. Rumor has it this place has some pretty rare, old maps lying around if you know where to look," she explained.
"Sounds cool! Can I come with you?" Luffy wanted to know. Nami smiled at her captain, realizing that he was probably asking because he honestly had nothing else to do. Whenever the crew docked at a port and stayed for any elongated period of time, everyone usually had stuff to occupy themselves with. People to write, things to prepare for, but Luffy had nothing. His life was his ship and his crew and when those things weren't around he was usually left bored and alone. Nami took pity on him and quickly nodded her head.
"Of course, you can be my bodyguard and make sure no one pickpockets me!"
"Like you would let anyone steal YOUR money, Nami," Luffy joked.
"Haha, right," Nami agreed, shaking her head and then starting off with Luffy at her side. But the joke about her possessiveness of money was somewhat melancholy for the eighteen ear old, now that everyone knew why she used to be so obsessed with getting gold. It made the notion seem less funny, and more sad.
Pushing those sort of thoughts aside, thoughts she hardly ever dwelled upon because they made her heart hurt and her eyes sting for some reason, Nami focused on the positive things happening to her just then. She had an entire day on land ahead of her, there were supposedly some good maps in her future if the rumors were true at all, and she got to spend some time with Luffy, alone! Nami probably would never admit it, but she thoroughly enjoyed all of the time she spent with Luffy.
More then receiving Sanji's excessive praises of her beauty, more then sharing harsh witticisms with Zoro, or listening to Robin recount fascinating historical facts, she just loved talking to Luffy. True, Usopp was fast becoming one of her best friends, and Chopper was just interesting unto himself, but there was something about Luffy that kept Nami smiling. Smiling earnestly, that is, and not her fake smile she used on most other people. In truth, it took someone of great caliber to make Nami's real grin shine through and she had long ago dubbed Luffy one of those people. Of course, he had saved her life and home, and believed in her when literally no one else in the world had... so he had that going for him, as well.
"Do you know where we're going Nami?" Luffy asked as the duo skirted their way around the crowds, edging by gigantic men with more tattoos than teeth, busty women wearing outfits so scandalous Nami had to avert her gaze and children whose eyes looked far harsher than they were meant to.
"Sort of, I have a map," Nami said, grinning. Luffy laughed at that as well.
"Figures," he chuckled. "Do you mind if we eat first? I'm staarviiing."
"Sure. Look, there's a bar right there. Let's see if they have food," Nami said, pointing to a dingy looking pub with a decrepit sign hanging in the front that read 'The Sandy Merman.' It didn't look as though it was going to get extra brownie points from the health inspector, but Nami knew for a fact there was a dearth of respectable restaurants at Port Gold. Besides, this was Luffy. You could basically arrange three wooden crates in an alley, and so long as there was a healthy supply of meat at the table he'd see it as a bonafide eatery.
Nami and Luffy entered the bar and no one looked up. Starting to get used to the lack of attention they were receiving, they both took a seat at the bar. There was a sparse collection of customers at the Sandy Merman that day, mostly old crusty men smoking cigars and hacking up phlegm. The gentleman behind the bar looked to be elderly as well, although there was something about his face that seemed odd. He was listlessly cleaning a glass and staring into the distance when Nami and Luffy sat down right in front of him.
"Hey, got anything to eat?" Luffy asked, not beating around the bush. The bartender regarded Luffy for a second before replying in a low, raspy voice.
"We've got some sandwiches..." he admitted. "But they're not very good,"
"That's no way to sell your product," Nami mumbled.
"Do they have meat in them?" Luffy pressed urgently.
"Well, yeah," the bartender conceded.
"Then I'll take ten!"
"Actually, make it eleven," Nami added sweetly. "One for me."
Minutes later the two were digging into their lunch, Luffy throwing back whole sandwiches in the time it took Nami to swallow a bite. Both had a pint of ale in front of them as well, and the bartender was watching Luffy eat with mild fascination. Nami smiled to herself; the bartender's reaction was all too common.
"You should see him with a leg of lamb," she whispered suggestively. The bartender nodded weakly and then got back to his cleaning, the lines around his mouth and forehead thickly drawn. Nami shrugged and was about to get back to her own sandwich when she noticed someone watching her and her rubber captain. Squinting, she spotted a young boy, perhaps a bit younger than she and Luffy, watching her closely from a table in the corner of the bar. He had bright blue eyes and was staring intently at her... or was it Luffy? Nami was about to arch an eyebrow at him in a silent question when Luffy noticed her peculiar actions.
"What's wrong? Don't like your food?" Luffy asked, his hand inching towards the skinny girl's sandwich.
"No, it's that boy in the corner. He's been staring at us," Nami replied, slapping Luffy's hand away easily. Luffy turned to see what she was talking about, but the boy had already looked away again and was now staring furiously into his glass of water. Luffy regarded him grimly for a moment before letting a smile back onto his boyish face.
"Aw, he's just a kid Nami. Don't be paranoid. Zoro was right – you worry to much!" Luffy laughed, stuffing another chicken sandwich down his throat.
"Worry too much, do I? Fine, I won't ever worry about you again," Nami huffed while folding her arms across her chest indolently.
A half hour later Luffy was done with his meal, and was fishing around in his pocket for cash. By the time he paid Nami was already outside, regarding her map. Her eyebrows were drawn together and Luffy knew better then to bother her when she got like this, because when Nami got into a map, not even he could make her attention waver.
"I think I know where we're supposed to be going..." Nami admitted after a minute. She rolled up the map and stuck it back into the bag she was wearing before pointing North, into the heart of the port. "It's a ways that way. You ready?"
"Yep!" Luffy replied, excited at the prospect of going farther into the sketchy port. Luffy was like a car that ran on the prospect of danger, and a decent fight every once and a while.
It soon became apparent to Nami that port Gold didn't really have any streets, like the map had said, but back allies. Just a whole lot of back allies. With signs that called them streets. But really, when you were walking down a road just big enough to fit one person at a time, and squished in between two old apartments that smelled like week old garbage, what else were you supposed to call it?
"I think it's just a few more blocks," Nami was saying when she spotted someone waiting for her at the end of an ally she and Luffy were sneaking through, single file. It was the boy from the bar, and he was standing between her and the exit to the ally with his fists clenched at his sides, the light from the behind him throwing his auburn hair and face into shadow.
"What's wrong Nami, why did ya stop?'" Luffy wanted to know, peeking around Nami's shoulder.
"It's the boy from the bar, Luffy," Nami whispered as the young man began to rapidly approach her. "I TOLD you there was something weird about him."
The boy reached into his pocket and pulled out a flask of something, uncorking it as he drew nearer. Nami's heart rate increased, and she tried to back up, only to bump into Luffy's chest. This didn't look good.
"Hey, you! What do you think you're doing?" she cried, unnerved by the boy's odd actions. But the boy said nothing, merely continued rushing forward with the uncorked flask in his hand. When he got close enough, he chucked the flask forward so that a dark liquid from inside it came rushing towards Nami. Nami squeaked in fear and covered her face, waiting to be drenched with whatever it was the boy was throwing at her. There was a loud splashing sound, and then Nami realized she was still completely dry.
"Hu?" the young navigator said, looking up. At first it seemed as though she was surrounded by a thin red tent, before she realized it was just Luffy shielding her form with his expansive rubber body. "Luffy!" she gasped, realizing he had taken the hit for her.
Returning to his normal shape, Luffy inspected his now drenched face and torso. He was covered in a dark purple liquid that was quickly drying into his skin.
"What is this stuff?" he asked of the boy, who was currently standing a few feet away from he and Nami. Now that his face was no longer shadowed, both pirates could see that the expression he was wearing was not one of satisfaction, but trepidation and perhaps fear.
"I-it's poison!" the boy declared loudly, his voice wavering only slightly. Nami and Luffy's eyes got big.
"POISON?" they chorused, horrified.
"Yeah, and it enters through your skin so ... so now you're infected, you rubber man!"
"Wow, that sucks," Luffy commented lowly. Next to him, Nami's face was turning ten shades of red and her left eye was twitching dangerously.
"What did you poison Luffy for, you brat? What do you want, and who are you anyway?" she yelled angrily, approaching the young man with calculated steps, her hand going to her folded up staff she kept at her hip.
"Stay away!" the boy ordered nervously as he watched Nami get increasingly angry. "Don't touch me or I'll never give you the antidote! My name is Jon Jon and I have a mission for you!"
"A mission?" Luffy echoed, tipping his head thoughtfully.
"We don't CARE what mission you have for us! Just give us the antidote now!" Nami insisted threateningly.
"N-no!" Jon Jon said firmly, as though trying to find the nerve to stand up to the temperamental red head. "Listen, you've gotta steal back a painting called Port Gold in Spring from Hardcandy Sweet by tomorrow night or else there won't be any antidote for your captain!"
"Hey, you know who I am," Luffy said with a large grin, pointing to himself proudly.
"Of course I do," Jon Jon affirmed. "Why else would I chose you for this mission? You have to be able to get this painting for me, okay! Now hurry, before the poison starts to take effect and you don't have the energy for it! I'll meet you by the docks tomorrow night!" With that Jon Jon spun on his heal and made to leave the ally.
"Oh no you don't!" Nami cried, giving chase. She tailed Jon Jon out of the cramped walkway, and then stopped abruptly when she reached a larger street on the other side. Her caramel eyes darted every which way as she tried to catch a glimpse of the boy's shaggy head or the dark green shirt he was sporting. But there were people cluttered everywhere now, and too many possible allies the boy could have turned down in the thirty seconds Nami lost sight of him.
"Luffy," she called back to her captain. "We've got to catch that brat! Why don't you get a bird's eye view - stretch your neck out!"
"Why?" Luffy asked, shrugging his shoulders. "You heard him, as long as we get that painting from Hardcandy Sweet by tomorrow night we'll have the antidote anyway."
"Why?" Nami repeated, dumbstruck. "Because we're pirates and we don't let people manipulate us like that!" However, at this proclamation Luffy only smiled wider.
"I think it could be kinda fun. Like an adventure!"
"Yeah, with your life on the line!" Nami cried, frustrated. Why couldn't Luffy see? Why couldn't he see that his life was too important to he- to everyone for him to just blow off like this?
"Hey, if it looks like it's getting too hard to find this painting we'll find Jon Jon and get the antidote ourselves. But let's play along until then," Luffy said, his face completely serious. Nami stood staring at him with her mouth agape for a minute, before finally sighing and shaking her head. When it came right down to it, she couldn't get Jon Jon back without Luffy's help anyway so she really had no choice but to go along with whatever the rubber man wanted.
"All right, if that's the way you want it. But you have to promise that if things start to look bad..."
"Aalll riiight!" Luffy cheered, throwing his head back and letting out a hearty laugh. "Now we've got a treasure to find! This is gonna be GREAT!"
"Yeah, really awesome..."
It seemed pretty apparent to the two of the three founding members of the Straw Hat crew that in order to start their quest, they were going to have to figure out just who Hardcandy Sweet was.
"I've never heard of this person before," Nami admitted as she and Luffy found a nice, crowded market place to start their investigation. "In fact, all we know about them is that they have this painting in their possession. We're just going to have to hope they're a relatively well known sort of person, and that the good people of Port Gold will have some information about them,"
"Let's start with him!" Luffy said, pointing to a large man with blotchy, pockmarked skin. He was standing at a booth wearing a blood spattered apron and was selling, of course, meat.
"The butcher?" Nami said, raising an eyebrow. "Well, if you want..."
The obese butcher looked up from his cutting board, momentarily putting aside his work on the rather large rack of ribs in front of him in favor of regarding the peculiar duo that had sauntered up to his booth. There was a pretty red head whose eyes were focused a little too intensely on his face, and a very odd looking teenage boy was hanging over his pork chops, drooling.
"Can I help you," the butcher asked in a scratchy baritone.
"Actually, yes," Nami said in her most professional I-mean-business voice, while simultaneously pulling Luffy away from a whole chicken as he made a mad grab for it. "My friend and I here were wondering if you had any information for us,"
"What sort of information?" the butcher wanted to know, his untamed, bushy eyebrows lowering ominously.
"Information about a certain person – Hardcandy Sweet. You ever heard of them?" Nami asked. Luffy momentarily stopped gazing adoringly at the cutlets in front of him in favor of watching the butcher's reactions. Immediately the butcher's face turned ashen, and he averted his beady black eyes, as though checking to see if anyone was listening in on his conversation.
"N-no... I've never heard of her before..." he mumbled softly.
"Her? So it's a she? Then you have heard of Hardcandy Sweet!" Luffy said triumphantly.
"No! No that's not what I meant! I've never heard of that person before! And don't say their name so loud!"
"Listen mister, we may not look so tough but we're part of the Straw Hat pirate crew. In fact, Luffy here is the captain. So if you don't tell us what we want to know we could make your life pretty difficult, if you know what I mean," Nami said, surprised by her own gall. She hardly every threatened people with the pirate card, she felt it was below her, and she wasn't sure why she was doing so now.
'Because you need to get Luffy that antidote, above all else,' a little voice whispered in her ear, and Nami's eyes hardened once more.
"The Straw Hat crew? For real?" the butcher asked in disbelief. "I always thught you guys would look a bit more... beefy. And intimidating."
"Hey, I'm plenty strong!" Luffy argued, flexing his arm muscles. "Watch this! Gum Gum Punch!" And with that Luffy's arm stretched back impossibly far before snapping forward and slamming through a pig carcass that had been hanging by the butcher's head. Innards went flying everywhere, covering all three people in bloody connective tissue and guts.
"Ewww... Luffy!" Nami whined, pulling a string of meat from her hair.
"Oops," Luffy said, licking his face guiltily. The butcher looked worried.
"All right, all right I believe you already," he sighed, waving his hands in front of him in a defensive motion. "You really must be the infamous rubber man, but I still don't know if that's going to make you any match for Hardcandy Sweet."
"Who exactly is she? What does she do? She must be someone pretty powerful to have you all stressed out like this," Nami said pointedly.
"She runs this town, basically. She's a crime lord and I've never seen her personally, but I heard she can make things explode just by looking at them..."
"Does that mean she's eaten a cursed fruit?" Luffy wanted to know.
"I don't think so, but this is all just hearsay. If you want more information about her, you better ask Old Man Toros. He lives above the blacksmith on 8th street, and he's been here longer than anyone else I know. He'd probably be able to tell you about her in more detail,"
So Luffy and Nami thanked the butcher for their time and headed over to the geriatric Toro's house. He lived in a dusty old apartment with a collection of birdcages hanging from the ceilings and rolling around in corners, some with actual birds still living in them. He was reclining in a comfortable looking leather chair when the two pirates began questioning him about the crime boss Hardcandy.
"She's got the eyes of a devil, and lives in the center of port gold. No one's ever betrayed her and lived to tell the tale. And whenever someone does cross her path, you can be plenty sure the next day that their house will be a pile of ashes. She can make things explode with the snap of a finger! But if you want some real information on her go see Ms. Coral who works at the bakery on 17th. Her husband used to do errands for Hardcandy before he had a heart attack from the sheer stress of it, and she might be able to tell you more,"
A half hour later they had made it to the bakery, and after picking up a bag of fresh cookies they asked Ms. Coral was SHE knew about Hardcandy.
"She's the cruelest woman there ever was. I have no idea why you'd want to find her. I don't think anyone even knows her actual place of residence, but they say you can find her most often hanging around the Cursed Pearl pub on 25th with those fearsome body guards of hers. Be careful though, if you let her so much as touch you - you'll blow up from the inside out before you have time to scream!"
When Luffy and Nami arrived at the Cursed Pearl, a slightly more upscale looking bar then the Sandy Merman, they spoke to the owner about Hardcandy Sweet. He, like everyone else in town, seemed extremely hesitant to say anything about the mysterious woman. He was balding and had large, yellowed eyes from excessive smoking.
"Hardcandy Sweet? Yeah, she comes around here sometimes, we are the best bar in town after all," he said with no small amount of pride. "I really shouldn't be telling you this, but she comes in here at exactly five P.M on most Tuesdays..." he whispered, leaning in close so that no one in the bar could read his puffy lips. Nami and Luffy traded worried glances.
"But that's tomorrow night!" Nami said, distressed. "That's cutting it pretty close..."
"Well, it's the best I can offer because you're never going to find her hideout," the man said flatly. "No one ever has,"
"At least we've got something Nami," Luffy said optimistically as they left the bar. It was late afternoon so the sun was starting to set in the sky and and Nami had to shield her eyes from its orange glare. "If we don't find her before tomorrow we'll just stop back here and finish things off,"
"But you heard what Jon Jon said. That potion is going to start to make you really weak – what if you're in no condition to fight her by that time?" Nami asked.
"I'll be fine!" Luffy assured her confidently.
"I'm sure Jon Jon wanted me to be the one who was poisoned, and for you to be the one to go out and get the painting, using me as an incentive to do so," Nami deduced. "I'm a pretty good thief, true, but you're way more efficient when it comes to convincing crime lords to listen you,"
"Well I couldn't have let anything happen to you Nami," Luffy explained, keeping his expression neutral. "It's better that I'm the one who got poisoned, anyway," Nami felt a rather prominent blush spread over her cheeks at Luffy's unthinkingly touching words.
"Luffy..." she breathed, abashed. "That's not true... you are..."
"You probably would have panicked like crazy and then we really never would have gotten anything done!"
"You JERK!" Nami growled, kicking Luffy in the shin and then marching past him. "Why do you always have to ruin things with that big mouth of yours?"
"What did I say?" Luffy wanted to know, hopping around on one foot with an angry scowl on his face.
"You're so confusing, Nami." The two were about to head back into the cluttered town in search of Hardcandy once more, Nami moving like a cat on the prowl, a purpose to her step and a swing to her hips, while Luffy moved much like a man who had thrown back one too many vodka shots, as was his natural gait. At the suggestion of their latest informant, they were heading to the fish market to speak with an old harbor master who, supposedly, had more information about Hardcandy.
Nami was beginning to think that Hardcandy was less of an actual person and more of a terrifying concept too abstract to be human, when real physical evidence of the woman's existence nearly hit her straight between the eyes.
"What the-!" Nami squawked indignantly, watching with part fascination and part horror as an arrow came zooming at her. Before the deadly weapon made any connection, however, Nami was yanked forcibly aside.
"Whoaa..." Luffy commented, holding Nami to him with a strong grip.
"Who the hell just did that?" Nami wanted to know, bracing herself against Luffy's hard chest and realizing she rather liked the feeling, choosing to stay by his side instead of moving away. Bad things seemed to happen to her when she moved away, in any case.
"We heard a couple of newbies were asking questions about Hardcandy Sweet..." a low, raspy voice said from the shadows. Swiftly, two men sashayed out of a small doorway and in front of Luffy and Nami. They were peculiar characters, and could have passed for twin brothers with their matching, slanted green eyes and slicked back hair. They also had similar twisted grins and two piece suits, although the first man's suit was bright pink while the other's was a flamboyant purple.
"Oh boy... these must be some of Hardcandy's lackeys," Nami whispered to Luffy, who said nothing, merely stared intensely at the two new men with a grim frown on his face. "I should have known if we poked around enough something like this would have happened,"
One of the men had a crossbow strapped to his arm with another arrow that resembled a red and white striped candy cane ready to be fired, and the other had a ball and chain, the ball taking on the appearance of a bubble gum ball. Nami nearly rolled her eyes, pirates and their themes...
"I'm Licorice, and this is Twizzler," the man in the purple said. "And we don't appreciate you asking around about Hardcandy. We think it would be better if you would just mind your own business,"
"But we need to speak to Hardcandy!" Luffy insisted, stepping forward with an earnest expression on his tanned face. "Tell her it's very important,"
"We will do no such thing," Twizzler hissed contemptuously. "Hardcandy doesn't have meetings with losers like you. She's a real classy lady,"
"Yeah, cuz lots of classy ladies I know send thugs out to go rough up people who ask questions about them," Nami interjected sarcastically. Twizzler shot her a cold look and fingered his crossbow.
"I missed last time, missy," he said threateningly. "But I've got pretty accurate aim, and who knows how lucky you'll be second time around," Nami colored and clenched her fists.
"Are you threatening me?"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa..." Luffy said, stepping in between the two before things got any hotter. "Listen, just tell your boss that two members of the Straw Hat Crew would really like to speak to her, all right? We'll set up a time and place and everything will be great!" he insisted.
"I don't think so. Orders are, if you don't cooperate, we take you out," Licorice drawled, reaching for his chain. "And since you seem to be doing the opposite of cooperating..."
Abruptly Licorice's chain whipped out and rapped around Luffy's stomach, knocking the air out of him as the heavy pink gum ball hit him in the gut. Luckily he was able to stretch his body back in time so there was minimal damage.
"What the..." Licorice said, staring at Luffy's stretchy body.
"Oh, did I forget to mention?" Luffy asked innocently, drawing his fist back. "I'm a rubber man!" With that he let his arm stretch out far enough to sock Licorice clear across the face, watching in satisfaction as the henchman reeled backwards before collapsing.
"Damn!" Twizzler cursed, watching his comrade skid across the filthy cobblestone ground. "No one said you'd eaten a cursed fruit! You're gonna pay for that! Boys, get them!"
"Boys?" Luffy and Nami echoed. Before either teen had time to react, there was a large rattling sound from above them and they both lifted up their heads with trepidation to see where the sound had come from.
On the roof above them some colorfully dressed men were heaving an object over the side of the building, directly over Luffy and Nami. The pirates barely had time to scream before they were both covered in a thick layer of trash from the dumpster that had been tipped over the three story building.
"Nami!" Luffy yelled, trying to cover the smaller girl with his body before she got hit with any oncoming trash. As soon as their forms disappeared in the falling debris, Hardcandy's henchman quickly fled the scene, smirking to themselves.
"That'll show ya!" Licorice called over his shoulder, even as he wiped a line of blood off of his split lip.
All of the reply he got was a pointed silence from the unmoving pile of garbage now sitting in the middle of the street.
"YAHHHH!" Luffy crowed, breaking free of the heavy, dank trash weighing him down a few minutes later. Miscellaneous pieces of garbage went flying every which way and actually attracted a few stares as he stepped out of the garbage and then lent a hand to Nami. Although Nami was in far better shape than Luffy, who was covered head to toe in disgusting slime, dirt and food, she didn't look her best either. There were pieces of paper in her hair, an unpleasant brown stain on her shirt, and an unidentified string of goo hanging off of her leg.
"Ew, ew, ew, ew..." she was murmuring to herself, like a lone survivor of a terrible crash. "This is so gross!"
"Well, at least they didn't make us explode," Luffy pointed out. "I thought Hardcandy was supposed to be dangerous, but all we got was garbage poured on us,"
"Maybe it's because that wasn't Hardcandy, just her little badly dressed acolytes," Nami pointed out while brushing dirt off of her soiled mini skirt. "God, this is so embarrassing, I hope we don't run into any of the crew before we get cleaned off,"
"Yeah, but where are we gonna get cleaned off?" Luffy asked, sniffing himself delicately and then recoiling in violent disgust.
"I think it's time we asked our good friend Jon-Jon for a favor," Nami answered simply. "He owes us for this, and maybe he can give us some more clues about Hardcandy. Or maybe we can just beat the antidote out of him and forget about this stupid adventure,"
"I'm kinda interested in it now," Luffy admitted, rubbing his head awkwardly. "I want to meet Hardcandy Sweet and see if she's as bad as the rumors say!"
"Only you Luffy," Nami sighed, shaking her head. "All right then, let's go. Maybe if we go back to the Sandy Merman we'll find Jon Jon again, and we can use his shower or something."
"I don't know, I kind of like you with garbage in your hair. You look exotic!"
"Oh shut up."
Hardcandy Sweet. I really like that name. I wish my parents had been a bit more creative and given me a kick ass name like that. I hope this story didn't bore you to death, I know the plot isn't extremely interesting yet but I'm having fun with it and I can't wait to get to all of the hardcore Nami/Luffy fluff. Admittedly there won't be that much screen time for the rest of the crew, although I do have them in the next chapter. Please review and look out for chapter two!