I own nothing.
dreamrose10: I hope I didn't keep you waiting too long!
He-name's-AI: Thank you! I've been pretty negligent of my stories lately, but I hope you like what I've done so far! Why nervous?
Michi5463: I'm so flattered! Thank you! I'm definitely getting to the couples in this chapter, don't worry. I like to take some time to develop plot before jumping right in. My very first fanfic I felt I rushed the couples so I take some time (maybe too much time) now. I hope you like this chapter!
Avenger - most feared ship that ever set sail with the most gruesome pirates ever to sail the seven seas. Arg. Yamato's father left it to him when he was a young lad.
Joel - 62 years old, Sora's "Papa", Avenger's Cook for as long as it's been in business—6 years.
Sora - 21 years old, Newest Slave Girl on the Avenger.
Mimi - 20 years old, Avenger's slave girl for 5 years.
Yolei - 19 years old, Avenger's slave girl for 4 years.
Kari - Tai's little sister, 18 years old, passenger on the Avenger for 5.5 years.
Yamato - 21 years old, Captain of the Avenger.
Taichi - 21 years old, First Mate of the Avenger, Yamato's best friend, been on the Avenger as long as the captain.
Izzy - 20 years old, most skilled Navigator, Navigator of the Avenger for 4 years.
Joe - 22 years old, most skilled doctor, Doctor of the Avenger for 3.5 years.
T.K. - 18 years old, Yamato's younger brother, cabin boy been on the Avenger as long as the captain.
Davis - 18 years old, cabin boy, been with the Avenger as long as the captain.
Ken - 18 years old, cabin boy, been with the Avenger as long as the captain.
Cody - 16 years old, cabin boy, Junior Navigator, been with the Avenger as long as Izzy.
Yolei looked over her shoulder to make sure Joel was busy before she started whispering her plan to Mimi.
"Why am I the one doing this?" whispered Mimi.
"I thought you'd like the time with Tai…" Yolei smirked.
Mimi blushed and said half-angrily, half-amused, "You've been hanging out with Sor too much."
The Captain was lounging on his bed with his arms behind his head. A beautiful woman was unhappily feeding grapes to him. He had finished most of his breakfast and was now taking his time with the fruit. He knew that as soon as he finished, Sora would leave to continue with her daily chores. He also knew that he would have to start his day's work. It was May 20th and his chance for the greatest treasure of all was drawing closer.
Matt smiled as he finished another grape and turned his head towards Sora and smirked, "I could get used to this."
She looked disgusted as she stood to the side of his bed. He quickly sat up and wrapped an arm around her waist. He pulled her into his lap and rubbed his face on hers. She elbowed him in the stomach and crossed the room. Three steps from the door, it slammed open. Tai burst into the room with an angry look on his face.
"Get out," he snarled to Sora.
"Gladly," Sora snapped back.
Tai slammed the door on Sora's retreating back and faced his best friend. Matt was putting a silk shirt over his toned body as Tai stormed towards him.
'What's up, Tai?" Matt asked while buttoning his shirt.
"You're going to listen to me, and you're going to listen good."
"Would you prefer us to be seated or stand?" Matt asked while tucking his shirt in.
Matt's calm demeanor frustrated Tai, "I don't' think you're taking me seriously."
"Tai, I don't know what you want, so until then, I'll remain indifferent."
"T.K. just told me that he has permission to be with my sister. Well I didn't tell him that, so that means it would be you."
"Do you want your sister to be miserable?"
"No that's not he problem. I mean, yes, T.K should have asked me, but what I mean is-"
Matt held up a hand for silence. His eyes were hard and his face was serious when he addressed Tai, "Our siblings have been going at it for a long time. I walked in on them one night and was most displeased. The only reason I'm turning a blind eye is because we don't want to lose either one of them. They were going to leave the ship if I forbade it."
"So you let them? What about 'no love, romance, or lust on this ship'? The men must go to whore houses to slake their lust when we make port, but your brother is allowed to—"
"Enough. What is it you want? You want me to forbid it? I would have to make them prisoners on my ship to prevent their escape!"
"Where would they go? Steal a row boat and try to row back to shore? There's no land for weeks!"
"Well then? If you don't want me to stop them, what do you want?"
"You did what?" Sora exclaimed.
"Shh!" Yolei and Mimi hissed.
"The two of you have lost your minds."
"Sora, we can't help it. It's what happens when you fall in love," Yolei sighed.
Mimi and Yolei had just confessed to Sora that they had fallen in love with two of Matt's crewmen.
"I knew Kari had lost her mind, but you two too?" Sora sighed.
"Sora, you'll be proud of us. We're using it to our advantage," Mimi whispered.
"What do you mean?"
"Ken told Yolei that only Tai knows why Matt's going after this treasure, and I weaseled it out of Tai."
"And…?" Sora asked.
"Matt wants to change the code."
"What? Why? The code works perfectly for pirates, especially Captains."
"Sora, originally it was an impossible treasure hunt. It was a worthy challenge. But then, four years ago Tai apparently fell in love with me. Matt wanted to do something to help Tai."
"So that's why you always got special treatment," Yolei teased.
"Ha ha, funny," Mimi said.
"I haven't heard this story yet, so can you continue?" Sora asked.
"I haven't either!" Yolei cried in defense.
"Anyway, Matt apparently found the guy who keeps the Code. If Matt brings a certain legendary trinket from the treasure Matt's hunting for to the Keeper of the Code, Matt can have the slave girl rules changed!"
"Just for you and Tai?" Sora asked skeptically.
"Well, Ken and me too," Yolei added.
"You're telling me that Matt's hunting this impossible treasure because of Tai, Ken, and his ego?" Sora asked.
"Well, that's what it sounds like?" Mimi said.
"There's got to be more to it!" Sora cried, frustrated.
"HEY! Can you three help me out or what? Get this food to the oarsmen please!" Joel jokingly scolded.
"Yes Joel," the three girls said in unison.
"Tai, you know why we're going where we're going. It's so you and Mimi can be together!"
"Matt, if I can't be with Mimi, and Ken can't be with Yolei, can't you tell your brother to lay off until we get this treasure?"
"Well, you both have done so much for me…"
"It's only fair," Tai added, "plus, it's my sister. Brother laws say I could rip T.K. apart limb by limb."
Matt laughed, "I'll go talk to T.K. about it."
As Matt walked towards the door, Tai asked, "So what about you and the red-head?"
Matt stopped in his tracks and turned to see a sly smirk on his friend's face.
Matt shrugged, "I paid a lot of money for a beautiful specimen. I'm just enjoying the purchase."
They both turned as they heard a gentle knock on the door. Matt finished crossing the room and opened his door. T.K., Davis, Joe, Izzy, Cody, and Ken were standing in a huddle.
"Time already? Well come on in then," Matt ushered them in. He grabbed T.K. by the arm and pulled him aside.
"What's the deal Matt?" T.K. asked confused.
"You and Kari need to lay off for a while."
"What? Why?" T.K. whispered.
"I suggest you wait until Tai and Ken can get what they want before you carry on with what you want. It's only a couple more months until we have it in hand."
T.K. sighed, "I suppose it's only fair."
The brothers smiled and returned to the crowd. Matt spoke first, "How are we doing Izzy?"
"On track, Matt. In fact, if we keep catching wind like we have been, we'll be a week or two early."
"Give it another few weeks then watch for weather changes. They'll come swiftly and unexpectedly."
"Remind me why exactly we're doing this?" Joe asked.
"Why not?" Matt retaliated. 'Only four people know the real reason and I intend to keep this information from everyone. I may regret it, but their safety is paramount.'
"I can think of plenty of reasons to NOT go on this ridiculous adventure, but reasons for? I have none," Joe replied.
Matt laughed, "Well, we are going. Now that it's settled, let's move on to plans…"
"I don't feel so well," Mimi moaned.
"The Captain did warn us that we would be reaching rougher waters," Yolei reminded her, looking green herself.
It had been two weeks since Mimi told Sora and Yolei Matt's reasoning for seeking the infamous treasure. Sora still couldn't believe that he would risk his ship and crew to change a few rules so that Tai and Ken could be happy. There had to be more. It was just insane otherwise.
Sora alone looked unbothered by the tossing waves, "Close your eyes you two. It'll help with the motion sickness."
Mimi and Yolei leaned against their cots and closed their eyes. Sora started humming a soothing lullaby. It wasn't long before Yolei started softly snoring and Mimi's breathing slowed. Sora stopped humming as she heard gentle footsteps approaching. A soft knock followed and Sora crossed the room to open the door. Kari stood teary-eyed and shaking from head to toe.
"Kari! What's the matter? Come in," Sora ushered Kari into the room and shut the door. She led Kari to her cot and they sat side-by-side while Kari told Sora her fear.
"Don't you see? We're heading to our dooms!"
"You have this feeling that's been ever-present for months? Why haven't you told anyone?"
"I told Yolei and she told me there was probably a reason. I've been too scared to approach Matt about it, so I told Tai just now."
"What happened when you told Tai?"
"I don't know what happened, Sora! All I know is that he's never been harsh with me. He's been firm, but never mean. He told me I didn't know what I was talking about and that I should mind my own business," Kari sobbed.
"Well, it's hard for him," Sora started.
Kari looked momentarily stunned. 'This may be the closest Sora's ever come to saying something nice about my brother…'
"Think about it. He sees his little sister happily in love," Kari blushed but Sora smiled and continued, "and he's allowed it. He's watched you fall in love with your best friend and your love has been allowed. Meanwhile, he's been in love with a girl for four years, yet he's forbidden to have feelings for her for reasons beyond his control. It's hard on anyone, and four years is a long time to be secretly in love with someone."
"Sora, I never thought of that. I guess I was so far removed from reality with T.K. that I didn't think how hard it must've been for my brother. Ken too, apparently. I've been so selfish! Oh Sora, what can I ever do to make it up to the four of them?"
Sora wrapped her arms around the distressed Kari and allowed her to cry on her shoulder. Sora stroked Kari's head comfortingly and allowed Kari to calm down. Once Sora was satisfied that Kari had hold of herself, she spoke.
"Kari, don't worry about it. Yolei and Mimi are happy for you. They are patient and hold no ill will towards you. Ken seems to be patient as well and in no danger of hating you. As for Tai, he's probably a little stressed and a touch jealous. He'll come around and apologize later. You know what you mean to him and you've seen what he'll do to anyone who just threatens to harm or distress you. I'm sure he's beating himself up, rightly, for his outburst. Don't worry, Kari. Everything will work out in the end."
"She's right, Kari," Mimi said. She and Yolei had woken during Sora's comforting, "we love you too much to hate you!"
"The only way anyone could possibly hate you is because it's impossible to hate you, Kari. You have the sweetest disposition and the most forgiving nature," Yolei added.
"Think of it this way: at least one of us is wicked happy," Mimi laughed.
Kari smiled at the three of them, "Thank you, all of you. Sora, I'm so glad Matt found you. You're the closest thing to a Mom I've ever had."
Sora smiled as she, Mimi, and Yolei enveloped Kari in a big group hug. Loud footsteps echoed in the hall beyond and Tai burst through the door.
"Sora, the Captain wants to see you. Yolei, Ken wants to see you. Mimi, please go to my quarters. My bed needs making," Tai ordered. As soon as the three girls left he added, "Kari, can we talk?"
Mimi knocked on Ken's open door and entered the room. She looked around but there was no sight of Ken. Suddenly, a creak made her turn. Ken was standing behind the door, closing it with his left hand while he held his right hand behind his back. Yolei gasped and took a step back.
"Ken! You startled me!"
Ken silently walked towards her, right hand still behind his back. As he approached her, he lifted his left hand to the level of his face, which remained impassive. Yolei took a step back as he brought his right hand to meet his left. He held a simple handkerchief in his right hand. He draped it over his left fist, lifted his right hand momentarily then dropped it quickly back to the cloth. He yanked the cloth from his hand and his left hand held a beautiful carnation.
Yolei gasped and blushed, "Thank you Ken."
He pulled out a tall cup filled with water and Yolei set the flower in it. As Yolei looked at the flower, Ken wrapped his arms around her waist and rest his head on her shoulder.
"Ken," Yolei whispered, "we mustn't!"
"Matt told T.K. and Kari to knock it off for a while. I see it as we're just catching up…"
Yolei blushed as Ken began kissing her neck. She turned to face him and they both smiled. Ken leaned in to kiss her lips. She fell into his arms and he carried her to his bed.
"I think it's time," Ken whispered in her ear.
Yolei blushed, but nodded.
"I'm glad you fixed things with Kari," Mimi smiled at Tai. His head was resting on her shoulder.
"I felt terrible," he sighed. "She didn't do anything to deserve my frustration. It's just been so hard. I love you so much," Tai looked at Mimi. "There I said it. I love you!"
Mimi looked temporarily shocked, and a single tear rolled down her cheek. Tai looked stunned but wiped away the tear. He was relieved to see a smile cross her delicate features.
"I love you too, Tai."
"My sister and T.K. have been having all the fun. I'd say we've got some catching up to do."
Tai smirked as he kissed Mimi's hand. He moved his way up her arm to her neck. Mimi grabbed his hand and pulled him to his bed. Tai smiled as he gently lay her down and climbed on top of her. His foot caught in a shirt he left on the floor and toppled on top of Mimi. She uttered a startled cry and Tai covered her mouth with his hand.
"Are you okay?" she half laughed, half whispered.
"Yeah," Tai chuckled. "Shall we try this again?"
Mimi laughed as she pulled Tai's face towards hers. Their lips met in a smile.
"Enter," Matt responded to the gentle knock on his door.
Sora walked over the threshold and closed the door behind her. She looked around the room. Matt was nowhere to be found. She silently glided across the wooden floor. A rug or two lay about the room. Sora stopped on one of the rugs and spun on the spot. Matt was too quick. He put his hand on her mouth and spun her so her back was to him.
"I need you to listen to me. I'm glad you came because I need your help. Many lives are in grave danger. We have a traitor aboard."