Oneshot. No pairings. Set in Fuchsia-mura.
Did you know…?
…Luffy's from Fuchsia, because Fuchsia is bold.
…Usopp's from Syrup because syrup is sweet!
…Sanji's from North Blue because North Blue is cool.
…Zoro's from who-knows-where because that place is lost… --;;
…Nami's from Cocoyashi because Cocoyashi is free.
I don't know if that will make sense if you watch dub, because I don't know the dubbed names… or care to. I haven't figured out ones for the others yet.
-- written by Teresa Starr Ruark --
Am I Evil?
Not for the first time that night, Akagami no Shanks looked down at the small boy in his arms and wondered what was to become of him. I should have been more careful. Leaving Akuma no Mi sitting out on an open counter in a bar like that… what the hell was I thinking! If I had stopped to even consider ANYTHING for two seconds…
Luffy made a little noise and Shanks ran his finger's through the little one's hair. Seven years old… This had had to happen to him when he was only seven years old. Twenty years from now, Luffy wouldn't even remember what being a normal human had felt like…and Shanks had blamed him for it. In that first minute after learning he was made of rubber, Shanks had blamed Luffy for it, calling him an idiot.
And even though it was really the captain's fault; one of his crew members had left it right next to Luffy, and he was responsible for the actions of his crew… Luffy had never once blamed him. Never yelled or gotten mad. The boy had never before failed to fire out a comeback to everything else his role model had ever spouted at him (he loved to tease the kid…), but when everyone else in the bar had panicked… Luffy had taken everything that had been slung at him without a word, preferring the pain over talking back to the man whom he wanted to call "captain".
That same captain now brushed his thumb over the little bandage on the sleeping boy's cheek. All he wants is to be near me… Shanks had loved Luffy like his own son from the moment he'd met the boy, and now because of him, the child whom he thought of as his own one-and-only had lost his only chance at a normal life.
In the chaos that had broken out at discovery of Luffy's newly-acquired abilities earlier that afternoon, Shanks had panicked and blamed the boy for the captain's own carelessness. He had lifted the child up and shouted at him that he would never be able to swim after this, when he had just finished telling Luffy that non-swimmers were a waste of space on a ship, and could never become pirates.
Upon seeing the boy's arm stretch across the room, the Akagami crew's loud voices and the clattering of chairs had provided a back track to their captain's yells, and Luffy had started to cry. Recalling how lost and scared his boy had looked, Shanks mentally kicked himself. Of course Luffy had had no idea what Akuma no Mi even was, being only seven years old, and in the moment that he was most terrified and confused, all anyone could do was yell at him.
As he reflected on the earlier chaos and realized just what he had inadvertently told the boy, he still felt terrible.
He'd felt bad then, too. The tears that had flowed down Luffy's face and dripped off of his chin had provided a testament to his young age, and the reality of just who he was shouting at had hit the pirate captain. He had forced himself to relax, and tucked the boy close to himself, carrying the child outside the bar, away from the chaos and down to the beach with an order to his men to give him a while. Only Ben had followed. Shanks knew his first mate was worried about both of them, and he wouldn't have been able to keep him away. What a picture they must have made; Shanks and Luffy, both of them afraid, and both for the same reason.
The two pirates had spent the rest of the day gently teaching the boy what he could do; telling him how he was a little more special now, and testing his limits so that he wouldn't be afraid of his own body. The session had gone well. As Luffy learned more, he became more relaxed. His tears had disappeared, but his dependency on Shanks had redoubled. It was strange; Shanks had been afraid of the opposite happening: that Luffy wouldn't want to be near him as much after this.
When the sun had started to set and Ben suggested they call it a day, Luffy had hesitated in parting from them, but he had finally set out towards home when they had reached the docks. It had been almost dark at the time, and it seemed like most of the crew had decided to either party all night or just enjoy the feel of land for a while longer. They were supposed to sail the next morning…
Shanks had been okay as he watched as his protégé turn and run for home, but as soon as Luffy disappeared from sight, the redhead's concern and anxiety had returned full force.
He'd turned to Ben to tell him what was on his mind, and gotten as far as, "Hey Ben," before his first mate had cut in: "You need to stay on the island a little longer. I know. I'll tell the crew, though I doubt they'll need to hear it." The dark-haired man had then started toward Party's Bar, calling over his shoulder, "Everyone knows how much you love that kid," and the captain was still grateful.
Shanks had to take responsibility for this. There wasn't a question about it in his mind. He wouldn't just take off and abandon the kid only hours after something like this happened to him. He couldn't. Not this kid. Not Luffy.
He'd gone to bed soon after that knowing he wouldn't be able to sleep; that thoughts of Luffy's future would be drifting through his mind all night.
The lights had been out for maybe all of twenty minutes before the door had quietly opened…and then closed. The tiny, bare feet pitter-patting on the floor during the break between these sounds left no question as to who the visitor was. Shanks held still and waited for Luffy to make a move. He seemed to be trying to decide whether or not he should say something, or just approach the captain without words.
In the end, he had crept across the room as quietly as he could until he was next to the bed, and then Shanks had decided to speak. "Luffy?" He had been gentle and quiet, "Are you okay?" He'd had a feeling that he'd known what was wrong, but the parental concern he had for this boy was strong, and he had to make sure.
"Shanks…" The small, tear-filled voice had come to him, and the captain had reached out without another word and pulled the boy into bed with him, covering him with the blanket.
That had been a few hours ago. Now, in bed on his ship, the captain continued to hold Luffy close to him. His little boy had needed someone who would listen to him and try to understand. He needed to feel safe, and that knowledge had awoken in Shanks an overwhelming need to protect the boy. His boy. His Luffy. What am I going to do with you…?
The little one shivered, and the man rubbed his back gently to warm and reassure him.
"Shanks?" Luffy's voice was quiet and a little thoughtful. The pirate could have been surprised that the little boy was even awake, but nothing more came, and Luffy hadn't actually moved, so Shanks wasn't even sure the boy had really spoken.
Then a little arm reached up across his chest a moment later and a small hand made a fist around the material of his white shirt, as if to reassure himself that Shanks was really holding him and he was safe. The pirate tucked the boy in closer and whispered, "what is it?"
"…am I evil?"
The captain smirked, "You've always been evil." Honestly, sometimes it was just too easy.
"Mean Shanks!" Luffy exploded with one of his weird little insults and his fist tightened around Shanks' shirt for a moment… before relaxing again. He decided to elaborate on his question, "I ate an Akuma no Mi, and now I have super-powers. You said I'm not like a normal person anymore, so… am I evil?"
Shanks didn't answer right away. This kid never ceased in amaze him. In one day he stabs himself in the face, eats part of our treasure, turns into rubber, bursts into tears, crawls into bed with me, and now he's asking me if he's been magic-ed into some kind of evil creature…
Luffy seemed to get sort of nervous at the lack of a response, and began to ramble, "because, if it's a cursed fruit and it gives someone demon powers, then doesn't that make someone evil?" Luffy began to sniffle, his hands trembled slightly, "Shanks… am I evil…?"
Shanks smiled down at the boy, who couldn't make it out in the darkness. "Do you feel evil?"
The little boy was quiet for a moment. "…I don't think so…?" His hand was still clenched in the older man's shirt, and the pirate could hear his insecurity.
He continued, "Do you want to be evil?"
The child whimpered, "no…"
Shanks wrapped the hand that wasn't holding Luffy to him around the tiny one that was holding his shirt. The trembling little form in his arms responded instantly to the gesture, calming and relaxing bit by bit. "Don't you think that if someone was truly evil, they wouldn't want to be good?"
He paused to give his tiny protégé a chance to try and grasp that idea before continuing, "You can be whatever you want to be. If you want to be good in your heart, then you can never really be evil. You're asking me if I think you're evil?" He felt the child tense up and smiled at the innocence before him, "…Nah. You're not evil. You're Luffy. You were Luffy when you woke up this morning; you're Luffy now. Nothing's changed. …Either way you can't swim,"
The seven-year-old didn't rise to the bait. Instead, the captain felt the small weight next to him shift, and then move on top of him. Little hands both fisted up in the front of his shirt again, and Shanks supported him, guiding Luffy to sit on his front once he figured out what he was doing. He wants to make sure I'm taking him seriously… he needs to know I'm not teasing…
Sure enough, "But… what if I become evil? What if I'm a freak and no one likes me anymore?" A small note of panic had entered Luffy's voice, and it pulled at Shanks' heart.
The captain reached up and cupped the boy's face in both hands to get his full attention, and show Luffy through physical contact that he was very serious. Once he was sure Luffy had regained focus, he said, "Luffy? …you're right. Nobody likes an evil person." Luffy's face fell, but Shanks raised it up again, "That is why I can promise you right now… that you will never, EVER be unloved." He paused a moment to let it sink in. "Do you believe me?"
He felt the boy nod as tears splashed onto his fingers, and continued, "No matter what Yassopp may have told you, or whatever you might be afraid of… eating a piece of fruit has never turned a little boy into a demon. You are not evil. I promise."
At these words, Luffy finally broke. Body-wracking sobs heaved through him as he collapsed on top of the captain, clinging to his hero as tightly as he could.
Shanks pushed himself up before pulling his little boy to him closely and rocking him back and forth. He ran a hand through Luffy's hair and sighed, never loosening his hold, "Mattaku… Do you think I would keep you this close to me if you were evil? You know we all care about you very much. Luffy's a good boy."
The two stayed like that for a good while. When Luffy's harder sobs had shank into hiccups and the tears finally stopped, Shanks slowed his rocking and rested his head against his tiny charge's. Window curtains were drawn and it was still dark out, but a few small sounds on the ship that Luffy wouldn't be familiar with told Shanks of the approaching dawn. It had been a long night, and neither of them had slept. In his arms, Luffy yawned and began to nod a little. He's exhausted… No, he was exhausted before he cried all night, so he's gotta be on the brink of consciousness now…
"Do you feel a little better?" he whispered. When he felt a little nod, he smiled, "Good boy. Do you think you can try to sleep for a little while?"
Luffy didn't answer. At his hesitation, the older man prompted, "Luffy?"
"…Shanks is staying?" came the timid question.
The captain smiled fondly. He loved this kid so much… "Yeah… Shanks is staying. I'm not going anywhere, kid."
"But weren't you gonna sail today?"
"We decided last night to stay a little longer," the captain whispered back, rocking the boy again.
Accepting this answer, Luffy fully relaxed, all tension leaving his body in a rush as he melted into the pirate's arms. "Shanks?"
The pirate smiled and held the boy tenderly. "…Me too, Luffy." He slowly laid back down, letting the little boy slide off his chest to curl against his side, back into the crook of his arm where he'd started.
Shanks watched Luffy fall asleep almost immediately, and that familiar, overwhelming wave of emotion swept over the pirate captain once again. It was an amazing feeling… having such a tiny little person that was so completely his… He ran his thumb over the small bandage on Luffy's cheek one more time before finally closing his own eyes. 'Am I evil?'… honestly, this kid is amazing…