"Shanks! Take me out to sea with you!"
All the men in the bar laughed at the little boy's exclamation.
"You're still too young and weak Luffy!" The red haired man laughed as he slapped his knee. "Maybe ask me again in 10 years or so!"
"I'm not young and weak!" The boy shouted back, face beginning to turn red. "I want to be a pirate like you!"
At this statement, the laughter in the bar got louder than before.
"Stop laughing at me! I'm serious! I bet I can beat you Shanks!"
"Oh?" Shanks turned to him on his swivel chair with a big grin on his face. "Try me."
Luffy lunged towards Shanks only to meet a face full of Shanks outstretched foot, pushing him back onto the floor with a loud thud. The whole bar exploded into laughter again.
"Dahahaha! Train some more Luffy, and maybe you can match up to me!" Shanks roared in laughter.
Luffy rubbed his nose with tears in his eyes, sniffling at his failed attempt to prove his strength to the pirate captain. He jumped back on his feet and pointed a finger at Shanks with his chest puffed out in indignation.
"I will! And when I become stronger than you, you're going to regret not inviting me to your crew!"
"Dahahahaha! I'll be waiting for that day Luffy!"Shanks burst out laughing again.
The sudden loud bang of the bar's door being kicked open immediately silenced the bar as everyone turned to look at the newcomers. A tall, thin man walked in with an ugly smirk on his face, carefully regarding the seated pirates in the bar. On his right hip hung a menacing sabre that his right hand rested on lazily.
"Arara? So these are pirates? They don't seem like much to me." He spat as he walked into the bar with his men, not even sparing a glance at the seated pirates. He approached the bar where the bar owner, Makino, was standing, slamming a palm on the counter top.
"I'm not looking for trouble, just give us 10 barrels of sake and we'll be on our way."
Makino held her hands up in front of her in a placating gesture, "I'm really sorry, but we're all out of sake now…"
The man huffed and turned to the seated pirates, squinting his eyes at them as though regarding them for the first time. "All taken by these bunch of useless pirates huh?"
"Ara, I'm really sorry about that," Shanks turned to the man, his hand holding up a bottle of wine. "Here, this bottle is still new, you can have it as an apology from us."
The thin man swiped his right hand in an arc, smashing the bottle into Shanks. The whole bar held its breath as the broken pieces of glass clattered onto the floor.
"Don't make me laugh pirate," the man spat, pulling out a wanted poster from within his cloak. "I'm a wanted bandit in this town worth eight million berries, a bottle of wine won't be enough for me."
Shanks however, was looking at the spilled wine on the ground, not paying attention to the bandit.
"Aww, now the floor is wet…" He crouched down on the floor and began picking pieces of the glass with his hands. "Hey, Makino, you have a mop?"
"Ah! It's alright, I'll do it!" Makino waved frantically to Shanks.
The bandit spat at Shanks one more time before taking out his sword to slash at the bar, sending the plates and bottles crashing on to the floor.
"You like to clean so much, you can clean all this up as well." The bandit turned his back and sheathed his sword, heading out to the door. "Come on guys, let's find somewhere else to go, forget about these chickens."
The whole bar was silent as the bandits exited the bar.
Shanks let out a breath and all the pirates started laughing.
"That sure got you captain!"
"Dahahaha, yep, they sure did!" Shanks scratched his head in embarrassment.
"WHY ARE ALL OF YOU LAUGHING?" Luffy screamed at them. "You should have fought back! What kind of pirates are you to let them walk all over you?"
"Luffy," Shanks waved his hand in an attempt to placate the boy, "It's alright… it's really no big deal. Really."
"You talk to me about being strong and everything! And yet you seem so weak! I don't want to see you anymore!" Luffy ran out of the bar, tears streaming pass his cheeks.
"Luffy! Wait!" Makino called out to the boy but he already ran out of the bar.
"Just let him go, Makino… He's still too young for all this." Shanks sighed.
It was a few days later before Makino barged into the Mayor's house.
"Mayor! Luffy's in big trouble!"
"What? What did he do this time?" The mayor sighed in exasperation.
Near the docks
"Get your foot off of me you filthy bandit!" Luffy screamed, trying without avail to push the bandit's foot off him.
"That's what you get for insulting us you little twerp. Don't think just because you're a kid I'll let you get away with what you do!" The bandit leader spat at the ground near Luffy.
"Wait! Please!" The mayor ran towards the bandits and knelt on the ground. "I don't know what Luffy did but please spare him! He's just a kid! We're willing to pay!"
"Huh," the bandit turned to regard the kneeling mayor. "Too late old man, this kid managed to piss me off too much." He slowly unsheathed his sword, bringing it down near Luffy in a slow arc. "And I won't be satisfied until I kill this kid."
"Hey you," a voice called out from behind the bandits. Shanks stood impassively with his crew, staring down the bandits. "That's my friend you got your foot on over there, mind if you let him go?"
The bandits laughed, "and here's the little pirate captain. Had fun cleaning up the town? Why don't you run along now before you get hurt again?"
Shanks remained motionless as he stared down the bandit.
"Tch, who do you think you are, telling us what to do?" A bandit walked haughtily towards Shanks, his pistol drawn. He stopped within a few steps of him and pointed the pistol towards Shanks's head. "Our boss told you to back off."
"I warned you guys, do as you wish then." Shanks closed his eyes and sighed.
The bandit didn't even have time to ask what Shanks was talking about before Lucky Roo shot the bandit in the head, all the while still munching on a piece of meat.
The bandit hit the floor with a soft thump as the other bandits watched with open-mouthed shock.
"You bastards!" The bandit leader gritted his teeth, still not letting Luffy go. "Get them guys!"
The bandits yelled and charged the pirates in unison. Beckman stepped out beside his captain, rifle in hand. "Let me take care of these punks."
Within a blink of an eye, the charging group of bandits were on the ground, unconscious.
The bandit leader widened his eyes in fear as the pirates advanced on him.
"I don't care what you do to me, bandit," Shanks stepped closer to the bandit. "You can spit on me, laugh at me, and even ridicule me. But if you hurt my friends, I'll make you pay."
"Tch, don't mess with me!" The bandit screamed as he flung a smoke bomb at his feet, dragging Luffy with him as he made his escape.
"Luffy!" Shanks shouted as the smoke dispersed, revealing an empty street.
"Damnit! We got careless! LUFFY!"
"Calm down boss!" Beckman held his captain's shoulder reassuringly. "Let's spread out to find him."
On a boat near the town
"Ha… Ha… They'll never think a mountain bandit will escape to the sea! Hahaha!" The bandit leader laughed maniacally.
"Shut up you stupid bandit! I'll kick your butt!" Luffy lunged at the bandit before being backhanded back onto the boat.
"Shut it you brat! You're just a stupid kid! I'll kill you right here!" The bandit took out his pistol and pointed it at Luffy, who stared back at him with wide fearful eyes.
The bandit smirked at him as he cocked his pistol, until he realized Luffy was staring at something behind him, not at him.
The bandit turned as the Lord of the Coast rose out of the water and regarded the bandit with a single unblinking eye. The bandit panicked and shot the pistol at the monster which spurred Luffy to jump out of the boat and began frantically paddling his way back to shore despite his inability to swim.
The pistol bullet ricocheted harmlessly off the monster's hide and the bandit couldn't do anything as he met his end in the monster's jaws.
Meanwhile, Luffy was having trouble staying afloat while paddling for his life at the same time. The monster regarded the panicking Luffy and somehow decided that he was an insult to him and began swimming towards Luffy, jaws wide open.
As Luffy screamed at the impending horror, Shanks leapt out in front of him and dragged him away from the snapping of the monster's jaws.
"Scram!" Shanks yelled and the monster retreated obediently.
"Shanks!" Luffy cried, holding on to Shanks tightly.
"Hey now, Luffy, I thought you were a grown man, you shouldn't be crying like this."
"Shanks… No… Your arm!" Luffy cried harder, snot dribbling pass his nose.
Shanks paid no mind as he brought Luffy to shore, "It's only an arm, kid… Nothing to cry about."
"It's all my fault!" Luffy cried, tightening his grip on Shanks.
"It's not your fault, Luffy. Things like this happens all the time with criminals like that bandit. If you want to prevent things like this from happening, you just need to be stronger than them."
Luffy nodded silently, still sniffling.
"So you're really leaving?" Luffy asked, tears threatening to spill out anytime soon.
"Yeah… we stayed here for far too long, it's time for us to move on." Shanks knelt down in front of the boy, ruffling his hair.
As he turned to leave, Luffy gathered up his courage and shouted, "I'm going to be an Admiral when I grow up! And I'll arrest all those criminals like that bandit!"
Shanks turned back to him, smiling, "what, not planning to be a pirate anymore?"
Luffy shook his head, "I want to protect everyone, and becoming a marine would let me do that. I'll become a great marine and capture any criminal that threaten the innocent!"
Shanks smiled at the boy's resolution, "What about us? We're pirates, we're technically criminals."
Luffy tilted his head in honest confusion, "Well… you guys are good guys. So you're not criminals to me!"
The crew laughed at Luffy's honest naivety, only to incite a "STOP LAUGHING AT ME!" from Luffy.
Shanks took off his hat and placed it on the boy's head, "In that case, I'll leave my treasured hat in your care Luffy. So follow your dreams and give that back to me when you're finally an admiral."
Luffy beamed at him, punching his hands in the air in a victory pose, "Yeah! Just watch me Shanks! I'm going to be the best marine ever!"