A contribution to the One Piece fandom, and a salute to Portgas D. Rouge. Let's spice up her story, because there are so few of them in the fandom.
"There was a single blue line of crayon drawn across every wall in the house. What does it mean? I asked. A pirate needs the sight of the sea, he said and then he pulled his eye patch down and turned and sailed away."
― Brian Andreas, Story People: Selected Stories & Drawings of Brian Andreas
The sea-green waves noisily slapped the sides of the small boat, rocking it gently, like a mother cradling her newborn child like it was the holy grail. The movement was slow and kind and soft––enough to lull the old couple across from her to a peaceful nap, but to Rouge it was as if she were standing on a huge circus ball covered in grease.
Her throat squeezed shut and she choked out a quiet cough, forcing her meal down back to her stomach, where it belonged. The world, in her eyes, tipped from side to side to side to side to side, giving the golden-haired woman no choice but to hold on tightly to the boat's rusted railings. She was almost certain that the hooded man two seats from hers was laughing at her predicament (or most likely her green face), but she couldn't be too sure. Assuming without enough information was a habit sharply taught out of her since she was very young, and she would hate to disappoint her mother.
It didn't matter though, she thought as she took in a deep breath, regretting it soon after the smell of sea and salt hit her nose. The meal stubbornly rose again, and yet again she forced it down, just as stubbornly. She would not do something as unseemly as vomiting in the public's eye.
All she wanted was to get her feet off the boat and onto land––oh, blessed land. Was it too much to ask for?
To further worsen matters (not that they weren't the worst already), she had the most terrible misfortune to be seated next to the most ill-mannered, pompous, pig-headed imbecile in the whole of the Grand Line! The drunken man hadn't the decency to shut his foul mouth––in words and smell–– for the past thirty minutes of the short ride to the neighboring island!
The boat swayed dangerously, as if to remind her of her situation, and Rouge's grip on the rail tightened until her knuckles turned a ghastly shade of white. She would've been spilling her sandwich out already, if it wouldn't cause such a ruckus in the small vessel. The man two seats away from her didn't need any more entertainment anyway. Her mere discomfort was enough for him, judging by his shaking shoulders. She feared his reaction if she would actually regurgitate her meal.
The sudden weight of a hand resting on her thigh jolted the young woman out of her reverie. Head snapping up, Rouge tensed, vaguely hearing the man beside her chuckle underneath his intoxicated breath. An unpleasantly low purr left his throat, and Rouge had never felt the powerful urge to throttle someone until now. She was not a woman of violence, but the perverted douchebag beside her was seriously testing her patience.
Tersely, she raised her forearm and elbowed the man's ribs, hoping he would get the message and stop. He choked, but instead of pulling away, the fingers casually rested on her legs started to pet her, drawing small circles against the fabric that tore Rouge apart with disgust. She shivered in repulsion, something the man seemed to take the wrong way because he had the nerve to smirk at her.
She bared her teeth at him hatefully, "Excuse me, sir." She started loudly, voice clipped and seething. Her hands had left the rail, and now were fisted and clenching her skirts tightly. Around her, all conversation stopped. "But please, remove your hand from my thigh before I do it for you." She spat.
The impudent fool grinned at her, ignoring the accusing glares he was now receiving from the other passengers, "Fiery, hauh? I lahk tha' in mah woma–"
Whatever filth he was going to spew out was interrupted when a massive fist smashed into his cheek, ripping him out of his seat despite the seatbelt and knocking teeth and blood and spit out of his mouth. His back painfully crashed into an empty row of wooden seats on the far back of the boat, and much to Rouge's disbelief (and amazement), those seats collapsed under him from the force of the blow. Smoke erupted from the collission, and under other circumstances she would've been horrified by the display.
This time, however, was an exception. The drunkard was hogtied in record speed and slung over the small ship's roof––there he would undoubtedly suffer the noontime sun's heat, and perhaps he would wake up sober.
The other passengers, on the otherhand, burst out into roaring applause. Wolf whistles, and flowers were even tossed to her savior's feet. People asked after her well-being, and Rouge tried her best to pacify worried minds. It was thoughtful for them, she thought faintly, taken aback by the sudden turn of things.
"Are you alright, miss?" Her savior asked, voice gruff and deep, oddly reminding Rouge of storms and thunder and the sudden flash of lightning in the dark skies, a striking contrast that was all in all masculine and powerful, despite the rather handsome grin he sent her. It elicited fear and awe and respect, but she fought down the urge to flinch away. She had been raised with manners, manners that she would put into good use.
All around them, the conversation hushed again, but into a comfortable lull. For some strange reason that stirred embarrassment in her gut, the people started sending the two of them knowing glances. More than three had hidden their smiles behind their hands, and some had looked away politely.
Her heart skipped a beat, and the man only continued to stare at her expectantly, his bright grin never faltering.
He was a scoundrel-of the good kind.
Oh! She hadn't answered yet, Rouge realized belatedly. Flushing, she jolted up into the proper posture before incling her head, "I'm-I'm very alright, thank you for asking. I'm grateful for your assistance. Thank you, sir." She uttered stiffly, the red creeping down her neck.
He tilted his head to the side in acknowledgment, "I'm glad to be of service. It was the right thing to do." He replied lowly, rubbing the back of his head. He was a dark-haired man in his prime, Rouge noted offhandedly, with a growing moustache and stubble. His cheekbones were chiseled and he had a strong jaw, no doubt this one had quite the appetite.
"I was already planning to switch seats with you anyway, relieving you of that bastard's presence was just icing to the cake." Rouge let out a confused noise, and the stranger smiled again, easy-going and not uncomfortable at all––the exact opposite of our blond maiden. "I noticed your discomfort since the beginning of the journey. Sitting in the center of the boat would've been a better choice. Less rocking." He told her with a shrug of his wide shoulders, gesturing to where he sat.
Two seats away from her. Dark brown eyes flew over to look at his hood and cloak, and Rouge let out a high-pitched squeak, one hand flying to cover her gaping mouth. "You're-You were that man who was laughing at me!" She accused unintentionally, the previous light shade of red that dusted her cheeks turning completely crimson.
The corners of his lips fell, but his eyes were dancing––with no small amount of mortification, she realized that he was eye-laughing at her! Oh, how humiliating this was!
She pressed her palms against her cheeks and ducked her head down, fuming and feeling like she wanted to throw herself off the boat and into the ocean. Oh, how she wanted to disappear! His gaze was cutting and intense (like he could see right through her) and she really really wanted to just sink down her seat and disappear.
"I'm sorry if I offended you-" Offended was a far too lenient term to what she was currently feeling, but she would be mortified if she corrected him, "-miss, I didn't mean to."
"I know." She stammered out, avoiding his eyes intently, "H-However, the ride is not much for longer, and-and I can perfectly handle the remaining minutes sitting here, sir." She said primly, forcing a polite smile into her face.
As if to prove her wrong, the boat rocked from side to side. Rouge bit back a whimper and merely stared up at the ceiling, ignoring the bile that rose to her throat. She sorely wanted to haul herself up and take his offer, but then her native Dubian pride prevented her from doing so.
The man skeptically raised an eyebrow.
"Oh fine!" She relented after three beats of quiet, removing her seatbelt in record time. She thought that she was acting too eager, so she slowed down purposely and tried not to crumble against the eye-laughing the man was sending her again. Her father would never let her live this situation down, should he find out. Rouge planned for him never to. "Please, I would really appreciate it, kind sir." She murmured demurely.
He flashed her the flutter-enducing grin again and courteously helped her cross the short distance, not that she needed the assistance. She was, however, too polite to point out his going to extremes to give her a comfortable ride, so she kept quiet and merely thanked him, as she was raised to do.
Thankfully, the small ship docked to port soon enough, and Rouge hurried to leave the discomfort of the vessel first. The moment the sole of her sandals touched the asphalt concrete she could've sworn she was ready to cry, but then a voice from the back of her head that suspiciously sounded like her mother scolded her. She straightened up and waited for the big man to come down—and had the pleasure to watch her assaulter fall off the roof and into the ocean with a mighty splash—preparing a speech of gratitude.
When he did come down, however, her mouth ran dry because under the heat of the sun, he looked even, well, pardon her vulgarity, hotter, so she spent three seconds gaping at him before he finally spoke.
"Um, miss?" He began.
"I'm inviting you to lunch." She squeaked out, a wave of red flooding her cheeks yet again. A beat later, she realized how forward she sounded, so she cleared her throat primly and restated her words. "Oh, forgive me, ah, sir, I am extending an invitation to lunch for you." At his unreadable look, she saw the need to elaborate, "In my home." That sounded wrong. "With my parents present. As thank you." So now she was speaking in chopped sentences. Her eloquence had failed her; her language mentors would be so displeased.
She resisted the urge to face palm (that would be so unsightly) and sighed. "What I'm trying to say is," She said, slipping into informality, "Come to lunch with me. It's my treat."
He crossed his huge arms against his chest, "There's no need, madame-"
She shook her head and folded her hands in front of her lap. "I insist, sir." She said firmly, narrowing her eyes. "I will cook you a feast as thanks, and you will attend. No one likes to reject free food."
Upon the mention of the word, he brightened up and finally relented. "Thanks, miss." He grumbled gruffly, seeing her nod in approval. With a regal tilt of her head, Rouge suddenly felt more in control, like the lady she was bred to be. No doubt rumors would spread about her invitation to a stranger, but she would like to offer him her gratitude, and perhaps, her friendship, should he need it.
She turned around and flicked her wrist, "Follow me. The Dubian isles pride themselves for a maze-like appearance, everything looks the same unless you've lived here your whole life. The least I could do is help you get around."
He tipped his head, "Thanks again, miss."
Rouge glanced at him from the corner of her eyes and allowed herself to relax. "My name is Portgas Rouge, sir. Thank you again for saving me from that scoundrel."
He chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck, "The name's Gol D. Roger, Miss Rouge." Why was the name familiar? "Who uses 'scoundrel' nowadays?" He blurted out.
She gave him an unimpressed stare and raised an eyebrow, "I do, apparently."
They shared a short look and broke into into titters.
And now let it sink that these two adorable people will die.
I depress myself. This is unhealthy. Oh well.