Tell it to the Marines
"And why would you cover his bill?"
Red Leg Zeff watches the woman who sits reclined in her seat, evidentially at ease in the madhouse that is his restaurant.
How the others miss her is beyond him, those features are after all, not something easily overlooked.
The hair is enough of an indicator, a brilliant garnet that no doubt lights up something magnificently in the sunlight, framing a heart shaped face just one pleasant feature aware from being declared beautiful. She'd be quite pretty, were it not for the eyes.
A painfully defining feature, the unnerving gaze draws attention and locks it in, making it incredibly difficult to look away.
Her nose button cute and straight? Her lips pale and shapely, if just a bit thin? Sharp cheekbones rising from the slight blush of her cheeks?
All that means nothing in the face of her eyes.
The fact they are yellow is awkward enough, would have always drawn attention simply because it is the most easily noticed colour. The shape, the set and the intense dark ring that sits within the middle of her irises make them highly unpleasant to meet though, thus creating this awkward atmosphere.
They are her defining feature; there's no avoiding them.
Head cocking to a side, the half of hair not peeled back into a lazy ponytail glides across her shoulders and collarbone as a thick red curtain, obscuring half her jawline.
"Zaa, I'm always late with my birthday gifts. I'm sure Anchor will understand."
He'd never really expected his clashes with Red Hair to lead to this.
It is the 13th of March, a leap year, and the summer island which his sister has chosen to inhabits is within the throes of spring. The Grand Line scoffs at the idea of collective islands having the same weather patterns, to the point where winter and summer islands can be found within a two hour boat ride of one another.
As things stand though, his dear sister has decided upon an island as far out of the way as possible, leaving him a treacherous two week journey navigating the fierce waters of the Grand Line, coming dangerously close to the Calm Belt. And that is the last place he wishes to be.
Of course, Dracule Mihawk will agree that the natural defences surrounding this particular island are exceptional, which is no doubt why his younger sibling singled the land out as the place to settle down upon. He had not had a problem with her choice in the past, not until it came to actually making his way to the place.
Regardless, his boat is docked, the locals greeting him with a cheery wave. They are a small community, close knit, and Mihawk's eyes make it painfully obvious just who he is related to.
For despite the fact they share few features, Raowl and Mihawk's eyes have always been mirror images of one another.
The cottage which his little sister has chosen to call home sits sensibly apart from the town. Situated at the top of the nearby hill, the position is perfectly defendable, giving an overview of all those who approach from each and every sides, and thus, ample time to prepare defensive manoeuvres. Not that there should ever be anyone looking to wish violence upon Raowl; few know of her existence when it comes to Mihawk's fame, and the handful that do, the newly minted World's Greatest Swordsman begrudgingly trusts.
Like Red Hair, whom still refuses to actually try for his title; Mihawk's not entirely sure he'd manage to hang onto it should the man actually throw his all into it.
As things stand though, the former cabin boy of the Pirate King has been focused far too much on the other Dracule in his acquaintance, much to Mohawk's bubbling fury.
Oh, if he had known of this sooner, he'd have done something. Perhaps a good decapitation- no, because then he'd lose his only able sparring partner.
Certainly though, Red Hair Shanks wouldn't have gotten away unscratched. He still won't, not when Mihawk catches up to him.
But right now, he has bigger things to focus on.
Raowl does not greet him at the threshold as usual, instead Mihawk finds himself informed the large wooden door is already open; clearly the woman has seen his approach from one of her many windows.
The thick, heady scent of stew lingers in the air, enticing Mihawk forwards towards the kitchen. Not before he kicks off his shoes though, leaving the boots besides the far slimmer, smaller pair that reside by the door. The floorboards are warm beneath his feet, smooth to the touch and clean in a way that indicates they've been recently washed with a mop and bucket. Perhaps within the last twenty four hours, going by the faint whiff of lemon that rises lazily from the wood.
A tiny little whimper draws Mihawk's attention and he twists on his heels, striding forwards towards the living room.
Within, his dear sister is lying upon the couch, long legs half folded over the arm so that she can rest upon the two-seater comfortably. The red fabric cushions seem unnaturally bold against the pale parlour of her skin, unhindered by the simply lilac dress she wears.
It has been near a year since he last set eyes upon his sister, too busy chasing down the final few swordsmen he needed to defeat in order to clinch his title. Little has changed since then; her long waves of black hair fall perhaps a few inches longer, though they still frame the soft features she inherited from their father, as opposed to the strong lines he carries from their mother.
As always, when her eyes meet, he understands just why he has gained the epithet 'Hawk Eyes'; they are as unsettlingly intense as he pictures his own gaze to be.
The baby is new though.
The tiny little infant is curled up, face snuggling into his little sister's collarbones with the vast majority of the baby's body hidden beneath a thick fleece wrap. The fabric is not enough to distract from the topping of wispy red hair though.
"Brother," Raowl murmurs, face carefully devoid of all emotion, her free arm rising to also coil around the tiny infant.
My, it is a tiny little thing. Are all babies this small?
Mihawk is aware they are all just as fragile, but attempting to cast his mind back to when Raowl was once so small, his memories falter, unreliable. The images are hazy, the proportions out given Mihawk's own young body during that time.
Mayhap they were both small children, though that is not to say such a thing has remained true. Mihawk is certainly taller than the average male, though Raowl has reminded upon the shorter side of the female height spectrum.
"Sister," Mihawk returns, offering a nod of his head in greeting and depositing himself into the armchair right beside the sofa. It leaves him closer to Raowl's feet than her head, but given that it allows him to see her face, to observe her every reaction, it is a fair trade off.
Especially when she sits up and adjusts the small human within her arms, allowing Mihawk to get a good glimpse of its face.
It looks nothing like them.
Nothing like Raowl, nothing like Mihawk, nothing like the child's father either.
There's a struggle to even really pick out the features, but that is just how babies are. The nose is a tiny little button thing, without the strong bridge that will perhaps someday rise from that fleshy face. The eyes are closed, lacking any defined eyelashes, and the eyebrows are pretty much nonexistent. This infant seems to be all cheeks and hair, rosy pink flesh and brilliant red hair.
That is all the indication Mihawk needs, a clear as day sign of just who the father is.
He'll hunt him down after this.
The World's Greatest Swordsman is not stupid; he's well aware that whatever occurred between his sister and Red Hair was very likely to be a temporary thing. While Mihawk is not the type to chase the man down and force him to make an honest woman of Raowl, he will ensure the man at least pulls his weight with the rearing of their offspring.
If he's even aware he's managed to procreate is another subject to be tackled later on.
"Surprise, you're an uncle," Raowl jests, and Mihawk gets the sensation that, were it not for the acknowledged fragility of babies, she'd be shaking the child in his direction.
"It doesn't look like much."
"She's two weeks old," comes the snapped retort, confirming the child as a girl and a young one at that.
"When can she fight?" When will she become something worthy of his time.
The look his little sister graces upon him makes it all too clear she knows exactly what he is truly asking, and that she is quite unamused by it.
"She won't be talking or walking for a year yet, Mihawk, never mind fighting." Well he can find other things to occupy his time with.
Like hunting down Red Hair. And this time, not for a spar, though the information Mihawk plans to hit him with will steal all the breath from his lungs as effectively as any punch will ever manage.
Proving she knows his mind better than any other can claim to manage, Raowl smiles up at him, fingers stroking up and down the little babe's back.
"Her name is Riskua, for when you find him."
It seems only right that when the inadvertent accident happens, it occurs with the woman who's big brother actually poses a threat to his health.
Not that Shanks discovered such a thing until the attempted decapitation is already underway.
He avoided the death blow -by the mere skin of his teeth- but the slight warning that Mihawk graced him with was indicator enough the man wasn't actually full-out trying to kill him.
Still, a half-hearted attempt on his life from Hawk Eyes is probably paramount to murder by anyone else's standards.
At first, Shanks concludes that the man has found out about his little tryst with Raowl -which is quite unfair, because in that instance he'd been the seducee, not the seducer. Even if he'd not cared enough to say no as he probably should have done- but the set of his shoulders is wrong. Mihawk isn't the kind of man to chase down all those who 'infringe' upon his sister's honour; not only would he spend a good portion of time tracking the members of such an exclusive club across the Grand Line, the man is well aware his sister's a big girl and can very well look after herself.
Plus, it's just not in his character.
As always, Shanks' suspicion proves correct, for not a second later, Mihawk sheaths his blade, and then he laughs. Actually laughs.
Which is how Shanks knows there's a little more to this tale than the age old 'you slept with my sister, now die'.
This is what brings him to this tiny out of the way island.
The rest of the crew are sampling the local cuisine within the centre of town, but along with the eternal log pose that Mihawk had thrown him, the man had also left the exact location Shanks was suppose to present himself at, post haste.
Thus, here Shanks stands.
The island is in the hot and sweaty grip of summer, leaving perspiration leaking down Shanks' neck from the short journey up the hill. The ship wasn't really stocked for such blistering, humid heat; even the paper thin white shirt he wears seems far too restricting.
Still, he's not quite to the point of shamelessness so as to meet a old flame sans shirt.
Especially if what Mihawk's cavalier 'congratulations' has hinted at happens to be true.
The cottage is a pleasant thing, two stories and a little on the small side.
However, as just Dracule Raowl and maybe one other little person resides in residency here, such a thing is understandable. There are no potted flowers upon the window, nor any flowerbeds resting beneath. It makes sense, Raowl is not the sentimental kind of woman to tend flowers. If anything, she will have a vegetable patch, certainly some fruit trees given the weather of this island.
It only takes him a moment to spot the variety of trees and brambles, all bearing a healthy yield of summer fruits.
What is perhaps more of a surprise is the little rope swing descending from one of the thicker branches, though given the size of the wooden plank that serves as a seat, it is quite easy to conclude that the swing does not see use from Raowl. What a strange vision that would be.
There's a ping on his internal radar, the sixth sense of observational Haki clicking for a moment and bringing about an alert for two presences. One significantly smaller than the other.
His sight catches up a moment later and registers the two presences that the open doorway now houses. He can barely spare a moment for Raowl, for all that she is a lovely looking woman.
Because the striking red, red he sees in the mirror and red he sees from the corner of his eye is catching all of his attention.
There is no doubt the child is his, a little girl from the plain dress she wears. In colouring she takes after him, the ruby hair, tanned skin -certainly a blessing, had she her mother's skin the child'd be in a constant state of sunburn without the appropriate protective cream, just like her mother- and Shanks' is reasonably certain he sees the knobbly knees of his childhood peeking out from beneath the hem of that dress.
As soon their eyes meet however, his brain fails to log much of anything else.
She has yet to develop the same dry amusement that both Raowl and Mihawk's gaze holds, instead the impassivity of those yellow eyes adds a different flavour to the intensity of her observation.
For the life of him, Shanks cannot tell if it is for the better or worst.
Only that it makes him as equally uncomfortable as when he first met Mihawk's gaze. Not that he'll allow such a thing to show.
Unabashed, they study one another.
The little girl cannot be more than a year old, cheeks rounded with youth and flushed from the heat of the sun. With her cute as a button features, she'd be adorable. If it were for those startling eyes. They really don't belong on a sweet little innocent face like that. Oh well, maybe she'll grow into them.
"I won't marry you." Raowl's greeting stuns, and it takes Shanks a second to get his feet under him, attention momentarily torn from his female miniature.
"Death do us part, right? Dwahahaha! I don't think I could put up with you for that long!" Shanks laughs, and if there's just the slightest tinge of relief in his tone, Raowl is kind enough to acknowledge it. By Mihawk's attitude he assumed she wasn't interested in pursuing an actual relationship, but the confirmation is nice.
Their short time as lovers had clearly been enough for her, just like it had been for him. That there are consequences of those actions are just something they're going to have to deal with.
Shanks likes to consider himself and honourable man, if not a good one in the eyes of the Marines. He's good to those he cares for, and Raowl is a good friend to have. That she just so happened to be the mother of his child means they've got all the more reason to get along.
"Of course you're not the marrying kind," Raowl grumbles, though a scratching humour leaks into those sharp eyes.
With a shrug, Shanks gets closer, noting that while his daughter shyly steps towards her mother, she never allows him to leave her sight, eyes bouncing from his hat to his face and back.
"I'm a Captain," Shanks declares, and really it's all the explanation a woman like this should need.
As expected, Raowl nods in complete agreement, one hand reaching down to accept the grasping limb that the tiny redhead extends towards her.
"And a father too. Shanks, this is Dracule Riskua."
Must be a family name, it isn't exactly what he'd have predicted, but then again he'd not really known what to expect if he were to be honest. Naming a child isn't something he'd ever really considered, so perhaps it's for the best Raowl has already got that part over with.
It suits the little chick though.
"Hi there, kiddo."
Squatting down to Riskua's level, Shanks offers his friendliest grin, elbows resting on his knees as the girl stares back at him from beneath that short fringe of red. It's real strange to see those eyes peering out from beneath a curtain of crimson hair. Staring out from beneath a slathering of blood would be more the kind of red surroundings he'd have expected those eyes to be paired with.
"Hello," Riskua murmurs, voice childishly high but surprisingly clear. She's what, just over a year old, he guesses. That's sort of impressive.
"I think your Tou-san owes you at least one dinner, right, Riskua-chan?"
"Wait, wha-" He doesn't even get to finish his second word before the little lady is pushed towards him and the front door closes with a 'whoomph'.
Leaving him stood there, eyes wide and head spinning just a little bit, and with a year old child stood a mere foot away.
She looks up at him with oddly musing eyes, pudgy cheeks puffing out with the pressure and fat little lips pursing. The fact her eyebrows are still quite fair means that even as they sit heavy over her eyes, her expression does not come across as the serious contemplation which it no doubt is.
Instead, she just looks sheepishly flustered.
"Would you like to get dinner with me, Riskua-chan?" Shanks asks after a moment, holding out his hand to the little red-head.
The small appendage that is placed within his own seems minute and is certainly the most delicate thing he has held in a fair number of years. Not only fragile physically, but in regards to trust as well.
Riskua looks back up at him with those ringed yellow eyes, but there's a small smile stretching across her pale lips now.
Reeling in his more exuberant traits -because this is a young child who's still cautious of the world around her and has yet to realize the joys of being truly reckless- Shanks swings the tot onto his hip as he stands, one arm wrapping around her back to hold her tight. Small fingers grasp someone effectively into the fabric of his shirt, short pudgy legs at his waist and a hesitantly smiling face looking into his.
And well huh, Shanks thinks as those eyes rapidly warm at the sight of him, he might actually take to this 'having a kid' business.
Dracule Riskua is three years old.
Dracule Riskua is three years old and she is experimenting with Haki.
Mihawk stands in the shade of his sister's house, the autumn weather of this summer island finally allowing for long sleeved shirts should one care for them, and he watches his niece. He can feel the shifts in the atmosphere that already indicate she's using Haki, but the physical evidence makes it impossible to ignore or write off.
The stone she holds in her hand would be ideal for skipping across water when she first picked it up. Smooth, rounded and flat, it'd have flown and bounced beautifully across the surface until gravity took over.
What Riskua now holds is a crumpled mass of rock, the handprint not quite a perfect indentation but the rock has clearly been crumpled by something outside of natural circumstances.
One of his brows sits high above his eye, for certainly use of Haki at such a young age is not just uncommon, it is exceptionally rare. Mihawk's well aware that he was exercising his own observational Haki by the age of six; his capabilities had only expanded since.
Still, three years old is an prodigiously young age.
Riskua places the distorted rock beside her thigh, her eyes slipping closed and hands curling into the comforts of one another atop her lap. It's not quite meditation, but it's exceptionally close. Perhaps something she has picked up from her mother; certainly it is not a skill he can picture the boisterous Red Hair imparting upon a child.
That famed hair now rests atop his niece's head, no longer the light, wispy curls that used to crown her tiny head as an infant. Instead the tresses now hang around her face in thick clumps, each no longer than her small fingers, the gentlest of flicks at the tips. Once it has some length to its form, no doubt that hair will hang heavy like Red Hair's, nothing like his sister's gentle waves.
Perspiration beads down little Riskua's temples, and Mihawk has but a moment to register that the girl has felt heat far greater than this, that it should not bother her and thus she sweats from something else, when her eyes pop open. No longer as wide as they had once been as an baby, the reflection of his own gaze locks onto his form instantly.
So, observational Haki as well?
It has taken three years, but it seems at long last his little niece has finally gotten interesting. There will be no ignoring this happenstance, Mihawk will not allow it.
"Uncle?" Riskua's voice is high, nervous as she slowly makes her way to her feet. Unlike back when she was younger, the girl has now forsaken pretty dresses, opting instead for simple cream shorts and an earthy brown top. Colours that make it easier to blend into the background, he notes.
It is an unspoken command, hidden within the weight of her title, and while Riskua may only be three, she is far from stupid.
The little redhead makes her way towards him, brows puckering over her eyes and little nose scrunched up. She acts nothing like what he's been expecting over the years. In all honesty, he'd been expecting a miniature Shanks at first. When that larger than life personality had failed to appear, he'd expected a smaller, redder version of his own sister. And then maybe even a miniature him. They were, after all, the only adults that Riskua really interacted with.
Only, the imitation never happened; Riskua seems to have carved out her own personality without aid.
"You are experimenting with Haki."
"Yes." That is one of the only traits she's inherited from Shanks, and Mihawk greatly appreciates this fact. There are far worse things she could have picked up on than the blatant bluntness. In the very least, she doesn't try to hide uselessly when she's already caught, willing to face the consequences of her actions. It's a promising sign.
"Mama used to tell me about it, in her stories."
Because of course Raowl cannot create fairytales from off the top of her head, so of course she goes with actual tales of battles to whisk her daughter off into dreamland.
And that is how Dracule Riskua's combat training unofficially began.
It's not that her face is ugly, in fact it'd perhaps be quite pretty to look at, were it not for the eyes. Those distinctive, startling eyes that drew all of one's gaze as if working their own gravity.
Sitting before the sole mirror in the bathroom, legs folded up to her chest and bottom resting comfortably within the dry sink basin, Dracule Riskua stares at the face that has been hers for the past four years.
She's been keeping track of it every day, from the textural changes to her hair, to the slight deepening of her tan as she spends more and more time outside in the baking sunshine. The way some resemblance of a face shape has finally risen from the depths of all that puppy fat, even if that pudgy disguise still remains. It'll be years before she can shed herself of it all anyway.
That's not the reason she looks in the mirror so often though. It's just; this face is so very different than the one she had before.
Brown eyes and brown hair, pale skin and slight freckles, it's all gone. Exchanged for vibrancy that really doesn't belong upon a human visage.
The hair is a lovely colour, Riskua thinks, taking a gentle hold of the strands and ruffling the small curls that top her head. It's cute and adorable, for all that this body lacks the freckles usually paired with such a hair colour. No, really she's cute as a button, and if it were not for that one thing, then she couldn't possibly be any happier.
The eyes throw it all off.
They're dominating her face, barely allowing for her, who has been a studying and familiarising herself with this face for years, to look away from them. They're not pretty, they're not cool, just really, really unsettling.
More than one shop owner in town talks to the air just left of her shoulder instead of looking her into her eyes, and it's really rude.
Not that Riskua can blame them; having to look her mother or uncle in the eye is difficult as hell. But she does, because she knows exactly what that's like.
Inspecting the skin of her arms, Riskua gently pokes at the patchwork of bruises that create a hotchpotch pattern up her limbs.
It has been a year since Mihawk caught her practicing with Haki, and ever since both her uncle and mother have been training her to fight.
Riskua's not stupid, she's aware of just what world she's been reborn into. The hows, the whys, that all escapes her. It's not answers she can picture herself coming across anytime soon, and as it is not imperative to know right away, she's already put those questions on the back-burner.
Instead, she's been focusing on the sensation that has been around more than the knowledge of what world she's been reborn into, has been there before what family relations she has in this body registered, even before she first realized she'd been reborn at all.
She can recall very little of her time in the womb, most of it erased in the soul scarring panic that is a natural birth.
What Riskua can remember though is being held within a tight, warm cocoon. She can remember having no idea where she is, and that her sight sees nothing, that her hearing's muffled, that she cannot stretch out. That, and the thought to figure out just where she is.
Unconsciously, she had reached for her Observational Haki, had used that sixth sense to get an idea of her situation. The feedback, that she was safe, was probably all that kept her from inducing her own birth early.
She's never quite forgotten that sense, had exercised it when searching for the yellow eyed woman that is now her closest relation whenever her new mother had left her terrible infant sight.
It hadn't been until Uncle Mihawk's second visit, until her father's first appearance a month later, that she really clicked onto where she was.
And just what kind of power she was experimenting with.
Riskua has no idea what she plans to do with this life. She knows that, as a relation to both Red Hair Shanks and Hawk Eyes Mihawk, she's in danger should anyone discover her existence. Riskua is not ignorant; there are people out there who would use her ruthlessly.
She refuses to allow such a thing to happen, and that is why she begins working with her Haki immediately.
Armament Haki is much more difficult, it doesn't come as naturally, but she's ever so slowly making progress. Training is hard, and it bites that she has to rely on other people for her safety. Pushing down all the doubt, all the insecurities, is immensely hard. Push it down she does though.
For Riskua has no idea what she wishes to do with this second life she finds herself with.
But when she does know, she wants to be strong enough to make that happen.
Perking up at the call, Riskua twists out of the sink, sliding along the counter top until she can leap down onto the tiled floor. Her bare feet slap against the sandstone tiles and the redhead forcibly tempers her steps.
When Mihawk walks, none could hear him unless he allowed it. Riskua would not allow herself to sound like an elephant in comparison.
As she makes her way down the corridor, her thoughts flash back to the world she is in, and just what the circumstances of her presence here could bring.
Did this body ever exist in the original story? There's always a possibility that Dracule Riskua and Dracule Raowl existed in the manga storyline, that they just died before the start of the series and thus never came up because they were unnecessary to mention.
That thought terrifies Riskua.
It's one thing to not know what to do with your life, another thing entirely to know you're destined for death. If that is the path she walks down though, well, Riskua'll just have to get strong enough to go off-road for a bit.
That's all there is to it.
She'll take every day as it comes, and if that means putting herself through the Dracule siblings Hell Training, then hell training it shall be.
Right, Dracule Riskua. A Skua is a kind of sea bird, and it fits in with the theme I had going by making Mihawk's sister's name Raowl. All three have the name of a bird slotted into their names. ... I thought it was pretty clever...
So anyway, I'm writing another Self Insert. 'I haven't lost interest in 'Weight of the World', I'm just really struggling to write 1st POV at the moment. I do make an attempt though. As to updates on all my other stories; Nothing is abandoned unless explicitly declared so. I have intentions to one day finish, but having to motivation to do it when people want just isn't possible I'm afraid.