In The Pink
Sakura is just a month shy of seventeen when she decides she can't take it anymore.
It's not the aftermath of war that she cringes away from, it's not the nightmares of friend or foe, of White Zetsu slaughtering everyone she cares about, it's not the memory of Naruto lying -deaddeaddead- on the battlefield after the Kyuubi's momentary extraction.
No, none of that is enough to scare her off.
It's the looks everyone gives her afterwards.
Oh, look the Uchiha is back. He's good now, he helped, we'll forgive him.
By the way, when are the two of you getting married?
Sakura hates it.
Do they not realise all of the emotional damage she has suffered? All of the hopes and dreams Sasuke has steadily crushed underfoot? All the days and nights emotionally broken, just hoping and praying he'd return?
She cannot, will not keep doing this to herself.
That is why, not even seventeen years old yet, Sakura hands in her resignation and files for leave to the Beyond.
Far and few between have ever gone past the barriers into the unknown, what they now know to be a seal separating the Elemental nations from the rest of the world, one the Sage had set up to keep the Bijū separate from the rest of the world. The world outside where the Sage had sunk the second God Tree and forced it to bear thousands of different power giving fruits, instead of one lone godly produce.
While several from the Elemental Nations have left, only one person has ever stumbled through to their lands in exchange.
He never returned though after his quick look around, either happy with his life on the other side or dead.
Tsunade watches her with sad eyes once she has finished reading Sakura's petition, but she grants it anyway. No questions asked.
Her beloved mentor understands the need to just run sometimes. Sakura will be forever grateful that the woman does not attempt to halt her from reaching the starting line of her spirit.
"The barrier only ever opens once a year, Sakura. Remember that."
She'll be stuck, there'll be no one there to help her, no one to bother her, no one to chase after her for Tsunade won't tell them where she's going.
It all sounds perfect.
At sixteen years and eleven months, Haruno Sakura leaves her homeland and, unbeknown to her, arrives on the fabled island of Raftel.
From there, she picks a direction, and she sets off.
Four years later, readying for her twenty first birthday, Sakura has no regrets.
Shanks wakes up with his mouth tasting like… like… he's not sure what like, only that's it's awful. His tongue feels dry and his teeth seemed to have grown a fur coat.
How long has he been unconscious? Surely it's not been too long… oh god he needs to pee.
Stumbling to his feet, Shanks sways slightly, one hand reaching out for the railings (railings, he's on deck then) to steady himself.
With a slow blink, he peers around, offering a pray of thanks to whoever is out there that it's a dark stormy day instead of bright sunshine. Because while thunder might split his head in two, there's less chance of that happening than his eyeballs searing if the sun had been out.
Adjusting the collar of his shirt, Shanks glances down at his front and cringes at the stains of dried alcohol he finds there.
What a waste, how'd that happened?
He's on the ship, he's out at sea, so why is he so blisteringly hungover?
"Morning Captain." God bless Benn Beckmann and his sensible idea of speaking in whispers.
"Benn. Why does everything hurt." It's not a question, it's something closer to a whine and an order all wrapped up into one. He's so terribly hungover, which means he'd been even more terribly drunk; Benn wouldn't let him get that drunk without a good reason. Not after what happened the last time with those Marines.
God, that'd been a mess.
"You made a bet on how well you can hold your drink." Right, okay, that makes complete sense. What doesn't is why he's so plastered- was plastered... maybe still is?
"And where's my winnings?"
The look Benn gives him is not what Shanks is expecting and it inspires a horrible sinking feeling.
And just like that, his First Mate's calm façade breaks, cracks like an egg, the grin spreading across his face. Laughing openly, Benn claps one hand on Shanks' shoulder still heartily chuckling.
"Ain't no prize if you don't win, Cap'n. We've got us a passenger until the next island." What kind of brutish, inhuman monster had he -Red Haired Shanks, king of holding his liquor- challenged yesterday?
Squinting at his First Mate as if he'll proclaim it all a joke, Shanks rubs one hand against his forehead, the other tangling in his famous red locks that really need a wash.
"Passenger," he repeats, grimacing.
They're pirates, free as the wind and with nothing to hold them down. Their damn passenger better be happy with just being dropped off at the next island.
Hell, they're still looking for Kieeff's replacement.
The man had been a good doctor, a great crew-mate, and Shanks had been sad to see him go. But sometimes the sea doesn't call as strongly to others as it does him, and if Kieeff wanted to retire for a family, even if he'd only been sailing with the for four years, then Shanks couldn't exactly shackle him to the ship.
It's why they're skulking around in Paradise; everyone knows the best doctors come from the Grand Line, either born or trained there.
Because the whole place is just one disaster after another and a doctor needs to be able to handle anything. Anyway, where was he going with this?
"Right, the passenger," Shanks mutters to himself, ignoring Benn's quizzical look.
Shanks does not jump. He doesn't.
Swinging around, Shanks gets what feels like his first, but has to be his second, good look at their passenger.
Passenger is female.
A gorgeous, if not overly curvy, pink-haired green-eyed female.
God, how much alcohol has he drank to completely forget about that pretty face?
Wait, this tiny little thing managed to drink him under the table?
Shanks hasn't a bloody clue what to make of the ship's passenger. Even if she is a pretty face, he wouldn't have gone easy on her in a drinking contest (he has a damn reputation to protect after all) which can only mean she genuinely did drink him under the table.
Something none of the crew will let him forget from their smug smiles.
It's not like she even has a Devil Fruit that could help her out on that front; he'd seen her take a faceful of seawater to the forehead just yesterday and she hadn't so much as swayed.
Which means Shanks knows a grand total of three things for certain about their passenger; she's got the beauty of a delicate rosebud, she doesn't have a Devil Fruit, and she can hold her liquor.
Of course, she's told him her name (Haruno Sakura) but who knows if that's her actual name or not?
Not that it's Shanks' business if she's using a fake name, but, well... yeah.
It's on the fifth day of their journey that a freak storm hits (just another day on the Grand Line) and they end up in a fight for the ship's survival.
The passenger pulls her weight, helping with the sails and sticking to the deck with an enviable easy; she's more surefooted than anyone else in that moment and Shanks finds that suspicious as hell.
Of course, three days post-storm and Lucky Roo comes down with... well, it's not a cold, it's so much worse than that.
And they don't have a damn doctor.
The poor guy's shivering and shaking, eyes open but not really seeing. Delusional.
He's delusional and Shanks' not felt this helpless since he saw his Captain on that execution platform.
Someone close to Shanks is looking death in the face and there's nothing he can do about it. Again.
He's hunched over in the corridor, sat just outside of Roo's room because even if he can't go in -or he'll risk getting sick himself- Shanks is damn well gonna give as much support as he can. Even if Roo can't tell he's there.
"What's going on?"
He doesn't have the patience to deal with his mysterious passenger right now.
Glaring up from under a curtain of red, Shanks locks onto brilliant green and his scowl deepens.
"Go away." If it's laced with just a touch of Conqueror's, then who's going to call him out on it?
Pale skin goes white but their passenger remains there, tiny hands balled into fists. Why the hell isn't she leaving, this is a matter for Red Pirates only.
Shanks' falling at being a captain, has allowed one of his own to come to harm without any way to fix it and it's all his fault. He doesn't deserve Captain's old hat, it's why he's not wearing it, why he's left it in the cabin.
"Because this looks like you're trying to isolate disease and if you're doing that you really should have told me."
"Why? So you can stay the fuck away and not risk getting infected?" Shanks spits, bitterness welling in his chest. He doesn't need this right now, he doesn't need her being all high and mighty as if she's something more than a meaningless passenger, he needs-
Haruno Sakura, if that is her real name, cocks her head to a side and folds her arms. It's a stance that comes naturally to her, stubbornness in every angle of her body as she stares him down.
"I'm a medic, so let me see him."
And without so much as waiting for his agreement, she blitzes past him and into Roo's room.
"So, you're a doctor then?"
Haruno Sakura is sitting on the railings of the ship, a sandwich in one hand and the other resting beside her thigh upon the wood.
Physically, she's in great condition. A sleeveless red top covers her torso, stopping halfway down her abs and leaving a strip of exposed skin before white capris take over. Simple black sandals, a slight heel emphasis her thin ankles. The hair, a lovely shade of pink, only just brushes against her shoulders, barely wisping back and forth along her collarbones.
"Medic," she corrects, lips tilting up in a smile and Shanks' knows that's not true in the least. A field medic here can perform basic first aid, can stall life-threatening wounds long enough for a doctor to really look at the problem.
There's no way she's a medic, not with what he's just seen.
Maybe they call it 'medic' where she comes from, but what Shanks just saw is nothing short of a real doctor.
He's got no idea where that green glow on her hands came from (no idea what the hell it was 'cause it sure wasn't a Devil Fruit power) but damn is he thankful for it.
When he'd left him, Lucky Roo had already been looking better than before. The feverish tinge to his skin had gone, the sweat had stopped, he looked rested. If what their passenger says is true, then he'll be a'okay by sunrise.
The night's sky looks great, countless stars blanketing their sky.
"Whatever you want to call it... thanks." Flicking his gaze to the lass, Shanks lets a warm grin slip across his face, hopefully projecting just how grateful he is.
She of the pink hair smiles back, finishing the last of her sandwich with one last dainty bite.
"It's what I do," she says, flicking her hair away from her face, only for the pink strands to spill back into position, not long enough to be held back by the presence of her shoulder alone.
And huh, she is travelling alone. Why is that?
Shanks hadn't been curious enough to ask before, but now, now a little idea is taking root.
"Where are you heading, Lil' Lady?"
"There's no destination really," she admits, chewing thoughtfully on her lip, green eyes flicking up to the sky and looking rather wistful. "I'm not so much as travelling as I am running."
"Well, wanna run with me and the crew?"
Her head snap to a side to stare at him, seemingly genuinely surprised by the offer.
"Dahahaha! You're a great doctor and as you've clearly noticed, I don't have one. And there ain't any profession freer than being a pirate."
And by god is he serious.
Not just about the freedom, but about genuinely inviting her onto the crew.
Shanks has no issue with women, no issue with them being pirates and really it's just how the dice have fallen that's he's not had one on his crew yet.
But this, the lovely Haruno Sakura who's such a professional doctor (medic, whatever) is just too good an opportunity to pass up on. She didn't even pause when faced with whatever the hell Lucky Roo had contracted, which means she knows her stuff.
It all makes perfect sense.
"And why would I become a pirate? Why would I want the government hunting me down?"
She's not saying no.
Shanks' grin widens even more, impossibly so, and he holds out a tanned hand to the lass.
"Because it's fun."
"You're an idiot."
Sat in the medical bay, Shanks offers his new doctor a lazy grin, keeping his hand still as she carefully picks out the glass that's embedded in the skin.
The wound didn't come from a fight, more like a party that got a little too out of hand. He is feeling his blood boil though, perhaps it's time to go hunt down Mihawk for a spar? The man'll be on the Grand Line somewhere, won't he? Maybe he's exploring the New World.
Shanks' itching to get back there.
Now that his crew's complete, now that they're ready to rock n' roll; it feels like a good time to begin his quest to make a name for himself. Roger had always been careful to keep the Marines from paying too much attention to him and Buggy.
Now it's time for him to make a name for himself as Red Hair Shanks.
To make a name for them, as the Red-Hair Pirates.
And hey, the colour pink is a derivation of red, isn't it? So Sakura fits right in.
"If you get this injured at a party, I'm dreading an actual fight," Sakura grumbles, though the amused smile on her lips indicates she actually feels otherwise.
"Dahahaha, I'm with crew. I trust 'em with my life, why wouldn't I let my guard down?" He doesn't flinch when she digs into his flesh with the tweezers, but it's a near thing.
Thankfully though, that appears to be the last of it, because his pretty doctor reaches for the bandages though one dainty hand still keeps his own in position.
Already the whole room has been better changed to suit the female's needs. The bandages and tweezers are close by, along with the rubbing alcohol. Some of the more specialist tools have been set aside, redundant in the face of her fancy glowing palms.
"So, what is the green hands thing?"
"It's call Mystical Palm technique," Sakura answers, eyes trained upon his hand which she is steadily wrapping in clean white bandages. "I'm using what's essentially my life energy to speed up the natural healing process, though it takes an incredible amount of control and years of training."
"So it's basically Haki," Shanks concludes, more than a little blindsided.
Could Haki be used like this? Yeah, he knows Haki can be used for Observational, Armament and of course there's Conqueror's. But to be used in other ways? That's never even crossed his mind.
"A manifestation of willpower, Bright Eyes. Every living thing on the planet has it."
She frowns teasingly at the nickname, tying off the bandages a little harder than she'd otherwise need to.
"Where I come from, we call it Chakra," she admits, lifting her hand up and allowing the green glow to flare to life for a brief few moments.
Shanks watches the light it casts across her face, how she seems to use Haki as if it were nothing more difficult than drawing in her usual breath and he can't help but grin.
Yeah, he's probably got the best damn doctor on the Grand Line.
"Did I ever say how glad I am you chose the fun side of life?" Shanks muses and it's only half joking. He really is glad she's here, so glad. She makes a fine addition to the crew and really knows what she talking about with all this medical stuff.
"...I'm glad I joined too."
"Shit shit shit!"
Shanks shoots down the street, one hand planted firmly atop his (Captain's) hat to keep it in place, the other pumping through the air to power him forwards.
New World is fine, New World is great.
What's not so great is that bloody Vice Admiral they'd literally just crashed into.
He'd only wanted to treat Sakura to a meal, for all her hard work on the ship, for looking after his merry band of idiots.
Of course he'd literally bumped into a god damn Vice Admiral. Of all the people he could have run into, why him?
And why the ice one specifically?
Iced over water makes moving a ship fucking difficult.
She's sprinting along beside him, body in fluid motion and clearly she's done this run for your life business before.
"Right here, Captain!"
As she flicks her green gaze to him from the corner of her eyes, contrasting with the light flush of her pale cheeks, something settles in Shanks' stomach.
But really, he has no time to pause and think right now.
Especially since Ice Admiral Asshole has just vaulted down from out of nowhere to throw up an even bigger ice wall in front of them.
Fuck, that'll take ages to get around.
"Leave it to me!" Sakura cries, quickening her pace and drawing one fist back.
Shanks goes to warn her (he's heard stories about this guy before, he has and he knows there's little to no chance of breaking that blockade) only for the words to catch in his mouth when the huge block of ice blows up at first contact.
"Shannaro!" Sakura's triumphant war cry bellows through the air and Shanks just blinks.
Even Ice Admiral Asshole stares because fuck it, Sakura made that seem easy.
She's smirking, still half crouched over from the force of her punch (those tiny little hands have just dished out the biggest show of force Shanks' seen in a long while) and she draws her other fist back.
Shanks has enough sense to realise exactly what she's doing about a second before it happens.
Sakura's fist slams into the ground, shattering it like glass and sending quakes shaking out across the town. Buildings crumble, there's people screaming and Ice Admiral Asshole looks like he doesn't know how to handle all this.
The Red Hair Pirates make a clean break from the town, no injuries and suddenly a hell of a lot more aware that when Sakura threatens to punt them across the Calm Belt for not taking their medication, she might actually have the strength to do so and that's it's not an empty a threat as it may seem.
Two days later, there's a bounty poster out for 'Pink Hair Sakura' that's just a little under his own when it comes to the reward. His doctor is now official the second most wanted person on their crew in regards to the World Government.
Shanks realises that his doctor isn't just a pretty face hiding a big brain.
He realises that she's pretty damn deadly when it comes to combat, that she's quite attractive, especially when that teasing, smug little smirk graces her lips.
Red Hair Shanks realises that he finds his pretty little doctor very appealing.
And he realises that he's in big trouble.
It's like a punch to the gut.
No, more like one of Sakura's punches to the gut. And he knows what they're like now, he's seen her effortlessly punch through the hull of a Marine ship by this point.
The point is, Shanks' been hit, struck down by this damn attraction and he can't get it out of his head.
Because fuck, he doesn't want to ruin his friendship with Sakura; he's already had this dilemma back with Mihawk, back before he'd known for certain it's only girls that really get him going, back when he'd looked at his rival and thought 'maybe?'. (For the record, he's so, so glad he never acted on anything on that front. Bullet/sword-swing averted.)
That doesn't help though.
Because Sakura is female, she's beautiful (if not as curvy as his usual type but then again this isn't about sex... not completely anyway) but she's also crew.
Is that allowed? Would it be right of him to try start something?
He puzzles over it for several weeks, waving off his crew when they enquire as to his musings. He never seems to get anywhere though, and then he actually catches sight of the date and his priorities change.
They head to Loguetown because it's been ten years -has it really been ten years? It doesn't feel like it's been ten years- because there's no way in hell Shanks isn't gonna show his respects to the man that helped shape him into what he is. Even if he has to do it in disguise.
Captain's hat feels heavier than normal atop his head and Shanks takes to sitting on the figure head, just like Captain used to do when he wanted to relax.
It's on the fourth day of their journey to East Blue that Sakura comes over to sit with him, and it's on the seventh day that he begins to tell her all about his old Captain. There are no secrets between his crew.
Then Sakura looks him in the eye and says she went to war to protect her friend. That a lot of others went to fight in order to prevent him from being used as a weapon against the world, but Sakura went to fight to protect him. She speaks of the childhood crush she outgrew, her reason for leaving.
Younger Sakura sounds annoying as hell, but she's long since grown up and Shanks can respect that.
He can respect her leaving her homeland looking for the kind of freedom you can only achieve as a pirate. He's damn glad she decided to leave; maybe Lucky Roo'd pulled through without her, and they'd certainly have escaped Ice Admiral Asshole without her... but he likes how things have fallen into place.
As they stand before Captain's old execution platform, Shanks wishes they were holding hands for some other reason than just to keep Sakura's Haki Henge in place.
But he won't potentially hurt the crew by chasing this.
After Lougetown, they decide to keep sailing East Blue; Shanks wants to get a real feel for his Captain's home-sea.
It's a few months in when they find a little spot of land claiming to be East Blue's cleanest island; Dawn Island. Shanks calls bullshit on that (there's no way this place isn't hiding dirty secrets, there's got to be a trash-heap somewhere) so he and the crew dock at some little rinky-dink village on the other side. They're not used to pirates, that much is clear.
They all cringe away when Shanks and crew walk down the street, and though the barmaid is brave, there's a very noticeable quiver to her hand as she sets Shanks' drink down in front of him.
It doesn't last long, the fear that is, not in the face of the Red Hair Pirates' genuine friendliness and their good cheer.
More than one eye lingers on Sakura, both appreciatively and curiously. As if wondering what she's doing with him.
Because he's too busy looking at them, Shanks misses when the doctor swipes his drink out from under him, but watching her pale throat work to down the liquor strong enough to strip varnish has all of his attention.
"Are you gonna end up under the table again, Captain?" She asks, tone sweet and sly, eyes half-lidded as she leans forwards slightly to grin at him.
Is she flirting or teasing? Fuck, why is he even trying to figure it out? It won't go anywhere.
"Not this time, Bright Eyes."
Pale lips stretch wide to expose pearly teeth and Shanks ignores the very obvious look the ever-observant Benn Beckman is giving him.
"Why? You don't want to try win back your dignity?"
"Oh I lost that way before we met," Shanks laughs, waving his hand and offering the barmaid his most charming smile in lieu of verbally requesting another round. "Besides, I'm pretty sure you're using your Haki to soften the drink."
Her little smile around the rim of that glass says it all.
His grin stretches out just a little more, one hand grasping at the handle of his mug and he tips it back. The flavour (or rather, lack of) scorches at the back of his throats and this is familiar.
"Shouldn't you be advising us not to drink, as a doctor?" Benn snarks, his own glass empty and in the centre of the table.
"I'm not a hypocrite," snorts Sakura, flicking her hair back from her eyes. "I'll just set you all up with a detox breakfast in morning."
That doesn't sound like the deliciously greasy fry-up kind he usually has post-hangover either.
The crew laugh, though they all know it's not a halfhearted threat. They're aware resistance is futile though, so Shanks raises his glass.
"To our formidable doctor! May her good intentions never waiver!"
"Aye!" The men all agree, eagerly accepting the next round and downing the drinks.
Sakura waves another one other, and when they arrive, she stands with her own drink and beams at him. It's far too smug to be anything other than teasing and potentially flirtatious.
"And to our Captain! May his famed red hair never grey."
The cheer for this one is significantly louder and Shanks scowls. Damn mutineers.
Before he can get them back though, the front door bangs open, a small frame highlight by the outside light becoming visible as it shouts a joyously loud, "PIRATES!"
Luffy's a blast. An absolute fucking blast and all of the crew love him. He's great fun, crazy to boot, and while ninety percent of the time that's great, the other ten percent-
"Shanks, you idiot."
Cringing away from his doctor, Shanks offers her a feeble grin because it really does seem like all Sakura does is clean up his mess when it comes to Luffy.
The kid's sat up to the bar, furiously trying to stem his tears and loudly proclaiming it doesn't hurt at all. He looks at Shanks with stars in his eyes, and ooh's when Sakura's palms light up that lovely shade of green. It almost matches her eyes.
Quickly wiping the sappy grin from his face before anyone can see, Shanks watches as his doctor takes a gentle hold of Luffy's chin, angling his head to get better lighting upon his wound.
"Now stay still, I should be able to heal it up without a scar."
"No! I wanna scar! Scars are for men!" Chest puffed up, Luffy's cheeks round as he sucks in a breath and stares at Sakura. "I'm a man!" He insists.
The look Sakura gives him (her so beloved captain) implies that all of this is his fault and his alone.
Luffy grows on them all, like a damn weed and as viciously as a New World carnivorous plant.
There's no stopping him; none of the crew really have the heart to try and cut him out of their little celebrations anyway.
Shanks knows they would all happily accept him aboard the ship, but Shanks won't take a Cabin Boy on under fourteen. He was damn lucky Roger accepted him at the age he did; he'd been nothing but trouble to his old Captain, but the man'd loved him anyway.
In all honesty, Shanks can't see Luffy setting out to sail unless he's the captain of his own ship.
That's when the newly made Devil Fruit user should be setting out to sea.
Not dragged out into Sea King infested waters by a bandit.
Shanks barely even thinks about it. He's already swimming out, powering through the water because nobody else on this damn island has a bloody boat nearby and they're all useless and this is exactly why children shouldn't be allowed around pirates. They just attract danger, any and all the dange, all the threats to their lives in the immediate vicinity and may all the gods damn him (may Captain spit upon his soul) if he fails to rescue their little Anchor.
His arms are working overtime, furiously cutting into the water to where he last saw Luffy's flailing limbs fall weak as he was thrown into the ocean.
The Sea King is approaching, jaws wide and a blast of Conqueror's won't stop the momentum of that bite in time.
In a toss-up between the price of Luffy's life and the price of serious injury...
Shanks know exactly which currency he's willing to pay in.
Losing an arm leaves him in shock, he barely has time to think to comfort Luffy.
The barmaid (Makino) tears the boy away and it's only when he looks down upon Luffy's face that he notices all the blood there (his blood, not Luffy's but Shanks' and Luffy is safe, he's okay).
That's when the pain hits, and it's the last thing Shanks remembers.
He wakes up with two arms.
For a moment he lays there staring down at his shirtless form in disbelief. The scars, the torso, it's all the same. It's his body, that is the unquestionable truth.
And the arm, it's his left arm.
There'll be new scars (there's a fucking big promise of one that circles his bicep where the arm was bitten off) but it's actually still there.
Because his arm has been retrieved and reattached.
When he tries to lift it though, tries to get his fingers working, there's only the slightest twitch of his knuckles.
Not the movement he was aiming for. Nowhere near.
"Don't stress it, it'll be weeks, if not months of rehab before things are back to normal."
Flicking his glance to the left of the bed he's in (his bed, he's on the ship in his cabin, the cabin only Benn has ever actually been in because the crew respect his personal space) Shanks finds the source of the voice and his lips curl up into a smile.
A damn good doctor indeed.
Sakura's leaning against the chair-back, the object spun around so she's straddling it, arms folded to lay upon the backrest with her chin cushioned upon the top forearm.
There are dark bags under her eyes, candy pink hair pulled back into a frizzy mess of a ponytail; she looks tired. Kinda like she hasn't slept.
"Worried about me?" Shanks teases, though his words come out of a dry, raspy throat.
His arm (the arm that's been severed clean off) aches. There's gonna be so many scars (clearly the Sea King had sunk more than a few teeth into his flesh) but there's only one scar on Luffy's body that can really be considered Shanks' fault and it's gonna stay that way, even if Shanks has to invoke protection from the gods for their little Anchor.
"We cooked up the Sea King that tried to eat you for dinner. That was three days ago." Hell, she even sounds tired. But then reattaching an arm (and possibly retrieving it from a Sea King too because Shanks gets the feeling that's what happened) can't be easy work.
"I've got the best damn doctor in the world," Shanks moans, wincing as he attempts to adjust his arm again only for it to scream in pain. His gaze doesn't leave Sakura's pretty face though.
She stares back, green eyes lingering on his lips before she just smiles.
"Yeah, I suppose you have... Three days bed-rest for you, Captain... I'll ask for some food to be sent up."
As he watches her walk out the door, Shanks decides he's done denying himself.
He's a pirate after all.
The first thing he does when his bedrest is over (Sakura hasn't stopped by again while he's been awake and Shanks' pretty sure she's been drugging his food because he's never slept so damn much) is to find Luffy.
He's got far more time to try sort this thing with Sakura out than he has to settle his relationship with Luffy after all.
Captain's will burns so damn bright in his eyes that Shanks cannot help but to remove the hat from his head (it never quite sat right anyway) and place it down on that black bird's nest.
They're leaving, for good this time. Shanks' got word that Garp the Fist is on his way and he's seen enough of that man to fulfill a lifetime. Though the dangerous 'what-if' of a meeting between Sakura's tiny hands and that brute's legendary strength nags at the back of his mind.
Maybe one day in the future. One day when he can finally move his dominant arm again.
Fuck, everything around the big ass scar still itches. He's good at ignoring the pain though.
"-and I'm gonna find a doctor better than Sakura!" Luffy proudly proclaims, snot and tears streaming down his face and oh boy that ain't pretty.
It's also a big fat lie.
Luffy might be able to get the second greatest doctor on the Grand Line, but the Red Hair Pirates certainly have the best.
"Sure you will, Anchor, sure you will."
He finds her on deck, stood near the figurehead (this ship's getting old, it won't survive long in the New World, he's gonna have to invest in another) and staring out into the horizon.
Shanks doesn't hesitate; she'll either accept his advances or kick him to the rails but he's a damn Pirate so he's gonna make a play for what he wants.
Stepping up behind her, Shanks wraps his arm (the only one that's working right now) around her waist and plants his head down on her shoulder.
As he doesn't get punted into the ocean, it's clearly not completely unwelcome.
"So what now, Captain?" Sakura asks, arms still hugging her own waist, though one set of fingertips do slowly start to draw simple patterns on the bared flesh of his forearm.
"Luffy's aiming for the top," Shanks says, already missing the little Anchor who carries Captain's will. "And if I'm gonna meet him there, the Red Hair Pirates are gonna have to get busy. Especially if we want to be a Yonko worth crew."
He's been playing with the idea ever since he heard Mihawk became a Shichibukai. Now, now it doesn't seem like there's any other option if he wants to keep his promise to Luffy. It's a good goal to aim for though, and Shanks knows with this crew he can do it.
Plus, he has to one-up Mihawk somehow.
Neatly trimmed fingernails drum lightly upon his arm, drawing Shanks' attention.
Sakura's leaning back into his chest though, taking care not to put too much pressure on his left side. It's to the point he's had to remove his head from its perch upon her shoulder and relocate to the crown of her cotton candy hair.
"Dahaha, I'm pushing my luck?"
"...I wouldn't say so."
He doesn't need to look to know she's smiling.
He wants to kiss her, to finally get a taste of the lips he's been eyeing up for months now.
But they're stood watching the sunset and you can't get much more romantic than that, so he'll settle for a kiss by starlight instead.
It isn't love, it's attraction and affection.
But it's also potential.
And as with any and all potential he has, Shanks has no intentions of leaving it unrealised.
"Well you took your sweet time waking up."
Portgas D Ace blinks.
It's a slow thing, there's sleep crusting all over his eyes and his mouth's as dry as Alabasta.
It's when he attempts to sit up though, and his torso doesn't protest so much as smart more than a Garp Fist of Love that it all comes flooding back.
There's a really big-ass scar on his chest, red and angry and where the fuck is Luffy.
"Your bro's fine-yoi." Marco.
Marco is right there beside his bed in a chair and Marco wouldn't lie to him.
Ace relaxes his neck, having strained the muscles in his attempt to look around and just settles for angling his head towards the Phoenix. He looks fucking awful, but after Marineford...
"Red Hair's doctor patched him up after she pulled a miracle out of her ass to fix that damn hole in your chest," the First Division Commander explains.
For the life of him though, Ace can't remember the Red Hair Pirates arriving at the battleground. How'd he missed the entrance of another Yonko crew?
He remembers Pink Hair Sakura though, not from the battle but back from when he first met up with Shanks. Back before he became a Whitebeard Pirate. They'd sat around that fire on that ice cold island, ate and drank and made merry.
The Captain of the Red Hair Pirates had barely moved through the whole thing, reclined against a pile of furs (clearly saved from the meat that's fed them that night) one hand gripping a bottle full of rum, the other slung over the shoulders of the crew's doctor.
Before that point, Ace hadn't seen a proper relationship before, not one built on nothing but love and trust.
He'd seen the shit alliances the nobles set up back on Dawn Island, but that'd been from a distance.
That'd been his first real chance to see love in action, so to speak. And he had seen it, in every gesture Pink and Red made for each other.
It wasn't over the top, but each movement was considerate of the other, eyes and hands lingered, smiles just that bit sweeter. It's a different kind of love to the one Ace knows of with his family.
Though he doubts he'll be lucky enough to experience it himself one day.
"Pink and Red Hair, huh?" He murmurs, straining his hearing and yes, he can hear Luffy's familiar snore in the adjacent room.
"You owe Pink Hair your life, Ace-yoi."
If he gets to see Luffy achieve his dream, gets to see his little brother meet up with Shanks (Luffy's hero and role model) then it looks like he has another reason to go say thanks.
He just hopes he gets the chance to express his gratitude before there's a strawberry haired kid running around underfoot.
Happy Valentines Day Lovelies.
(About 500 words of this was wrote in December, everything else was wrote in the past three days, so forgive any mistakes?)
Have some 'I was so dissatisfied by Sakura falling back into her Sasuke trap that I wrote this because I'm still not over it'. If it reads like waffle that's because about 90% of it is.