Interludiums

Written for im ur misconception

Prompt: Audaciousness
Fandom: One Piece/Inuyasha
Pairing: Marco/Kagome


i.

She didn't wear a feather in her hair like the others who called Foodvalten home. To Marco it seemed a small act of unnecessary defiance from the tiny woman. The world was large and vast and connected in so many ways; if she truly wished to not live on that island, then she could leave and find a better home. But she didn't, hadn't for the past five years when she mysteriously appeared, if local gossip was to be believed.

And perhaps it was. He hoped it was.

Gossip was their whole reason for even taking over the place. Unless someone asked, then he and Whitebeard had no fucking clue as to what any of the gossip was or why they would be interested. No one needed to know that they were actually there for a tiny slip of a woman said to wield all three haki with the ease of someone much more trained, much older, and a healing touch that could only be the work of a devil fruit. So they traveled two hours on foot to the edge of the island, to a private beach and dock and well with only one simple, modest house. That was home to a simple, modest, unnerving woman.

"Whitebeard, ne?"

She didn't even bother to look at them; she simply sat by (what he would later find out was) an empty well with her back to them, facing the ocean.

"And you must be who they call Kagome," Whitebeard replied. It was then that she turned her head to look at them, and Marco caught his first glimpse of her. Long black hair, wavy, with a heart-shaped face off-set by blue eyes too knowing and too innocent to be true.

"Bet you always got stuck sitting in the middle," Marco said. He couldn't resist, only hoped she knew he was talking about the game.

It earned him a smile, something far more worthy than the dumb joke he said. "Well," she said, "it's either that or be a demon. So it's hard not to prefer the former."

Whitebeard put an arm around his shoulder, pulling him in close with the sort of fatherly affection he learned to love over the last ten years. "This here is my 'son', Marco."

Kagome finally stood and moved closer to them. "It's a pleasure to meet you both. I don't get many visitors, but since it looks like you've quelled all the fighting here, maybe that'll change."

Marco snorted. "It's not like you make it easy for anyone to find you, yoi."

But she only shrugged. "Maybe it's nice being away from everyone. Maybe it's nice to be selfish in small ways."

Whitebeard squeezed his shoulder; a warning. "Ah, we didn't come here to argue about such things!"

"No," she agreed with a smile that knew too much for Marco's liking. "You want to know about the rumors, don't you?"

Whitebeard laughed. "Nothing can get past a trained Kenbunshoku Haki user!"

"Of course." She smiled, wanly, if his eyes didn't deceive him. While he may not wield haki in the ways she was rumored to, he was (in his opinion) a better fighter, and his instincts had yet to steer him wrong. Right now, they said that that simple sentence caused her nothing but strain. It was almost like she hated what people said about her, about what people wanted from her. As if she knew something they didn't.

Which was most likely true. As, he hated to admit it, they knew next to nothing about her. For all he knew, she would bury a knife in their hearts the first chance she got.

But again, instincts, he had a feeling she wouldn't do that. Not unless they tried it first.

She turned from them and gestured toward her home. "Let's…discuss everything inside. OK?"

Another squeeze to Marco's shoulder kept him from saying anything before Whitebeard agreed and went to walk alongside the young woman. He followed behind, taking note of everything about her. Even as they sat inside at a traditional low table (he could barely remember the last time he had been at one) and drank tea as they discussed treatment and illnesses, he watched her. Even as she administered a quick treatment there at the table.

She was too open, too revealing, too naïve to be anything other than sincere. If she wasn't, he was positive he would have noticed. And he said as much to Pops when they left near nightfall. But even still, he felt like she was lying about something; there was something he couldn't name that didn't fit with what they knew.


ii.

"You lied," Marco said. Perhaps he had been too quiet before, spoke too suddenly, or they had just become that used to each other's presence, because she started and spilled her tea all over her front.

She glared, holding her shirt away from her skin. "Excuse me?" she practically hissed, which didn't surprise him with how she was clenching her jaw.

He didn't look away, but neither could he meet her eyes. He was a man, after all, and so not his fault that she was shapely and with her shirt pulled away—right, not the time.

"The devil fruit, yoi. You lied."

She huffed. "No, I didn't. You assumed. I just…didn't correct you."

"It's still lying."

"Not correcting an assumption isn't lying."

He smirked; these arguments of theirs as Whitebeard recovered from treatments in the other room were too amusing for him to pass up. "Omitting is a form of lying, yoi."

She huffed again, and stuck out her tongue. "Stop splitting hairs. It's annoying." And then she was gone, likely to replace her shirt. And he took another drink of tea.

It had taken him only two years to finally figure out what she was keeping to herself, but he did. Everyone assumed she was a devil fruit user with how she was able to heal others both physically and emotionally, and she never said anything to the contrary. But she never said she did either. The last two years had taken the Whitebeard Pirates further into the New World with each new expedition, and they had come across more and more haki users. And not just kenbunshoku haki users, but haoshoku haki users as well. The ways in which she wielded haki while trying to heal Pops were very similar to the ways in which others wielded it in battle as well. She was just using it in such an original, unthought-of way. And he knew for a fact that very few were devil fruit users as well, and if they were, they used it independently from it.

They were fearsome warriors and pirates, even he and Whitebeard had issues standing against them at times. It gave him a new appreciation for how strong and deadly she could be, even though he had yet to see her use any of her abilities in an offensive way. He wondered if she even knew how to, or if the bow and arrows mounted on her wall were just for show.

She sat down in front of him with yet another huff, a new shirt on her person. "Look, you guys never asked if I was. No one ever asks. They just assume. So why would I bother with trying to correct it when no one would really understand?"

He shrugged. "I'm not accusing you of anything, Kagome. I'm not even mad. I just wanted you to know that I know, yoi. Pops probably knows, too."

With the look she slanted in his direction that was not quite a glare or a raised eyebrow, he had a feeling they had had a conversation similar to this one already. It wouldn't surprise him; Pops was smarter than he let on. He had to be to command so many men, have so many allies, and be a Yonko.

"Just don't spread it around. People leave me alone here because they think I'm a devil fruit user."

He smirked. "You know, devil fruit users get killed a lot, yoi." His smirk only grew when he saw how she stilled, her fresh cup of tea paused halfway to her lips. "By others wanting to steal their devil fruit." She glared at him, and he was starting to come to the realization that he enjoyed making her mad at him probably too much for it to be normal. "So, a young woman living alone, it would be an easy hit, yoi. It's why you should just come with us."

She set down her cup with force enough for his smirk to fade. In the last two years, they had stopped by only six times, and on the second trip he started his suggestions that she come along with them. At first it was because it seemed like Pops would undue all her healing every time they were gone. But now…

Now he didn't know.

And like all the times before, her lips pursed into a thin line as she stared out the window toward that unremarkable dry well. "I can't. I'm…waiting," she said, as she always did. As he thought she always would.

He didn't like pensive Kagome, and this always made her turn into that person. Yet he found himself always offering, always having the hope that one time that answer would change, even though he never asked what she was waiting for. He learned a while ago to not ask questions that he wouldn't like the answer to, and he had a feeling that would be one of those questions.

"Oi." So, for now, for this time as they're more friends than anything else at this point, he grabbed her hand and her attention. "So, this time, Pops dragged us off to…"

And instead, he fell back onto their routine. He told her tales of their adventures in the New World, what new islands they sailed to and took over, all in the hopes of getting her to smile again. All in the hopes of getting her to argue with him about something absurd and how it just couldn't possibly happen. He had yet to fail.

Marco never realized that Whitebeard was awake and listening in on his conversation then. And all the following ones for the next three years. It was only as they left her modest little house after three more years of treatment that Whitebeard slung an arm around his shoulders and pulled him in close. Marco knew better though; outside of battle, his health was getting worse and he needed some support now.

"Kagome's a rare woman, you know," Whitebeard said. "And if you can make a woman laugh as she wants to wring your neck, you've got a keeper."

Marco glanced at the older man out of the corner of his eyes, wondering what he was up to. "I never thought I'd see the day you'd like such a younger woman, yoi."

In response, he squeezed his shoulder and guffawed. "She's the kind of woman any man would be proud to have as a daughter." And then the weight was gone. Pops walked ahead, giving him the quiet space to think over all that he meant with such a simple sentence.

Marco paused, not following after his captain just yet. He would have to be stupid not to understand the old man was trying to play matchmaker. Just as he would be stupid not to admit he wasn't interested, hadn't thought about it. But—

'I'm waiting.'

For five years, they had been coming to her in the hopes of restoring some health back to Whitebeard. For five years, he sat with her at her low table and drank tea with her and told her stories of the adventures of the Whitebeard Pirates. For five years, he had asked her to sail away with them, join the crew. And for five years, she refused. He knew it was because her heart was still waiting on something that had to do with why she was always sitting by a dry well, continuously releasing haoshoku haki into it. Something that meant she had no room in her heart for his.

He looked back behind him at her home, not realizing then he wouldn't see her again for three years. And, in those three years, he knew it was far too late for him. His thoughts always found their way back to her. He didn't know if it was the same for her; it likely wasn't.


iii.

"Pops!"

Marco heard her voice before they turned the last bend to her house and above the noise of Whitebeard's oxygen tank. He had heard her yell, scream, cry, strained, and trying her best to sound monotonous, but he had never heard her panicked before.

Even still, the look on Whitebeard's face that was so full of pride and longing that had tears just about forming in his eyes (like he did whenever a new crewman first called him that) had him wondering how he could be proud of causing her such panic. With her haki mastery, he knew she had to feel just how sick the captain was now after three years without treatment from her.

Ace, on the other hand, didn't know what to think. No woman ever called Whitebeard 'Pops' that he knew of. It was enough for Marco to finally agree that keeping Ace in the dark was worth it for that look.

So it was him who caught Kagome around her waist as she came speeding toward them, seemingly intent on tackling the sick man who skipped out on three years of treatments. He dug in his heels when he realized that she was stronger than he thought she would be.

"Pops," she said, this time breathier. He looked down at her just as she glanced up at him, and he caught the look of unshed tears in her eyes. "Marco…" Then she glared at him, even as a couple of tears spilled, and he realized then that he had just put himself in her path.

She wiggled and turned until she faced him. Then she poked him in the chest. And again. "You! Both of you!" And instead of poking him, she made a fist and lightly hit him instead. "You can't just leave like that!" She brought up her other fist to hit him as well, and he endured it. Not only because it didn't hurt and she didn't mean it, but because they both deserved it. "Three years! And not a word! I thought—I thought! Don't do that again! I couldn't…"

He grabbed her hands when it seemed like the urge to hit him subsided. "Kagome," he said, tilting her head up and brushing away her tears. "Thanks, yoi."

Whitebeard put his arms around them and hugged them tightly. "My son! My daughter! I've never had one before. This is a great moment!"

Yet Marco couldn't help but feel like it had just been ruined. Because when Pops released them, Kagome pulled away with a blush and wouldn't look at him. Instead she went over to Whitebeard and supported him. "You shouldn't have been gone so long, Whitebeard!" she scolded; her worry gone enough for her to slip back to calling him by his name.

He didn't need to see Pops' face to know he was pouting. "What happened to 'Pops', Kagome?"

"So…" Ace stood beside him, watching the two disappear into her house.

Marco smirked, slung an arm around Ace's shoulders and led him into the house. While Kagome and Whitebeard were in the other room doing his treatment, Marco made the tea (as he usually did when it was just Kagome and him) and told Ace about the woman they knew only as Kagome.

When she finally joined them, Marco didn't like the look on her face. It was too sad, too worried for everything to be all right, and he knew it wasn't. But he didn't say anything about that, instead he introduced Kagome to his new 'brother', Ace.

Between the two of them, they told her of their adventures of the last year, of all the escape attempts Ace tried to make before accepting the inevitable. Arguments broke out between the three of them over what happened, how it could happen, and why it just wasn't possible. Yet she still couldn't look at him, wouldn't look at him. Had he overstepped some boundary he didn't know was there? He knew it was possible from all the other women he had encountered through the years, but none bothered him as much as it did with Kagome.

Pops seemed to know something as he used Ace as leverage for leaving the house, leaving Marco to linger behind with her. He raised his hand in a careless goodbye as he turned to leave, as he had in years past, but, this time—

"Marco," she said, her hand fisted into the back of his jacket.

He stopped and looked behind him at her; she still didn't look at him. "Yeah, yoi?"

"You didn't ask me this time," she said. His gaze softened and he turned to face her, her hand falling from his jacket.

"You're safest here, at the moment." But that was a lie, with them was the safest. The truth was he didn't think he could bear to hear her say that she was still waiting on something or for someone again. Especially since he had been waiting for eight years, and would wait however long she needed. He wasn't that romantic of a man, but she brought it out in him.

"I'm used to danger though." She finally looked up at him, her words as soft as her eyes.

He wanted to kiss her so badly right then, she looked ready to be kissed then. But he didn't. Because he didn't think she was actually ready for all that would entail, just as he didn't think she was as ready as she thought to leave Foodvalten and her well behind. And because he knew he wouldn't be able to let her go if she changed her mind.

He put his hands on her shoulders and stepped back. "I only got it in me to ask one more time, yoi. And when I do, it'll be for real, Kagome."

She smiled. "I understand." Then whatever brazen courage she had seized fled her and she looked away. "I guess… I'll see you soon. Or I better."

He smirked. "Of course, yoi."


iv.

It was strange to follow the winding and twisting path to her house without anyone by his side. He had never made the trip alone in the ten years they had been visiting her. Five years it was just Pops and him, then three years without, and the last two years it was a trip Pops, Ace and he made. And now…

Kagome stood in the doorway to her house, arms crossed and worry creasing her brow. Like normal, her haki was everywhere in the valley leading up to her home and all around it. No doubt she sensed him long ago and couldn't figure it out. Even now, as he knew she saw only him, she looked around trying to find the other two who would normally accompany him.

He hadn't seen worry or panic on her face or heard it in her voice ever since the day they returned from being gone for three years. But now, he could see the beginnings of it. And he could feel his composure beginning to slip again.

"Kagome," he said. It was all he could say at the moment as words escaped him.

"Marco," she replied, still looking around as if it would make Pops or Ace appear out of thin air. "Where's… Ace? Is…Is Pops…?" Panic was starting to make itself known in her voice.

In an uncharacteristic display, he pulled her into a hug because she needed it, because he needed it. He held her head to his shoulder and felt her grip the back of his jacket. "Sorry, yoi."

He heard the first sob before he felt the second. Surprisingly, his own eyes were dry as he recounted the war that took the life of Whitebeard and Ace, of the betrayal, of everything. Perhaps he had cried enough, or (as he liked to think) he knew he needed to be that one point of stability for her. Ten years was longer than most people had with pirates, and ten years was too short a time to have known a man who seemed like he could never die.

Even after he finished telling her, he held her and ran his fingers through her hair as she cried. It was not how either of them were supposed to die. "It's not how I wanted to ask, yoi," he said after she had calmed down, "but come with me. It won't be the same without Pops, but—"

"Yes." She cut him off, unhesitant.

He looked down at her looking up at him. "Are you sure, yoi? Because we won't be coming back to Foodvalten for a while. It's a miracle we managed to beat Teach and his crew here, yoi."

"I'm sure," she said, this time with a tear-stained smile. "I've been sure for two years, Marco. I want to go with you."

He pulled her in again to a tight embrace. If only… "Pops should be happy."

She laughed, watery and sharp. "He only hinted at it for nine years." And he knew then that his hunch all those years ago was right, he had been talking and hinting at things to her long before he did to him.

"Come on, yoi," he said, pulling away from her. "We don't have much time before they get here and claim the place. Grab what you can and we'll have to go." As much as he hated to admit it, what remained of the Whitebeard Pirates couldn't make a stand against Blackbeard and his crew at the moment. Not this soon. Not on this island.

She nodded and took a step away, before she thought better of it and turned back to him. She raised herself up on her tiptoes and kissed him, sure and soft and hesitant against his mouth. And just as quickly as she made that decision she walked off to gather what she was going to take with her.

He watched her with a smirk, and knew then that she had done this before. She grabbed only her bow and arrows, and a ratty yellow backpack that she filled with clothes and herbs and money. She was too efficient at it and knew what basics to take for her not to have done this before. Perhaps she hadn't been lying when she said she was used to danger and travel all those years ago.

With everything she wanted in hand, she stood in front of him, smiling. "Well, are we going?"

"Yeah, yoi." He grabbed her arm and pulled her close, bending over to slant his mouth over hers for a longer kiss. The kind he had waited years to give her. When he released her, she tried to follow him, eyes still closed, before she snapped out of her daze. "Now, let's go."

Marco didn't know how the future was going to go, if he and the Whitebeard Pirates would live through seeing their revenge fulfilled, if he could find a way to always return to the ship and Kagome, but his present was good enough. And, for a pirate, the present was all they were guaranteed, all that they needed to enjoy.


While this was written for a specific person for being such an amazing reviewer, I do hope anyone else who stumbled across this enjoys reading it as well!