"I," Shanks declared grandly, waving the bottle for emphasis from his standing place on the wide railing, "will never get old."

"Is that so?" Ben commented noncommittally, once the similarly drunken cheers of agreement from the crew had died down.

"S'extremely so," the captain affirmed, knocking back another gulp and hopping down (landing miraculously, if a bit wobbly, on his feet) and gesturing at his first mate with a bottle of cheap grog. "You, on th'other hand." He flopped down on a crate and grinned broadly. "You will get old." He thought about this for a moment before amending "No, you already are old."

"I'm not much older than you," Ben said coolly. That, he felt, had been uncalled for, but he had drunk just enough to be on the verge of not caring.

"Yeah, but I, I'm young in spirit," said Shanks, smiling goofily. "You think too much, and you don't have enough fun, and it's makin' you old. Hair and all, it comes from stress, is what it comes from."

Ben frowned and automatically threaded his fingers through his ponytail, which was, much to his dismay, gradually becoming populated with white hairs. He frowned harder, considering that the hairs didn't have the decency to develop all in one place; rather they appeared randomly so that, from a distance, his hair looked iron gray rather than the gleaming black it had once been. Ben was thinking of cutting off the ponytail because if he was going to have gray hair, he wanted to have as little gray hair as possible.

"And where do you think that stress comes from?" the first mate shot back icily.

"Takin' life too seriously!" Shanks asserted loudly, waving the bottle again and splashing some grog onto his cape.

"It comes from you," said Ben. He snatched the bottle from his captain and took a swig before pointing an accusatory finger at the man with the fiery hair (which, damn him, did not have a single white intruder to speak of). "You get into all manner of predicaments that I am forced to extricate you from, and I am never allowed any time to recuperate before you go flouncing out to entangle yourself in yet another impossible quandary. That is why I am getting 'old', not by any fault of mine."

"Y'ever notice you use big words when yer drunk?" Shanks replied, snickering, and then paused. "And I don't flounce."

"Do too."

"Do not."

"I've known you for a long damn time. I've worked with you for a long damn time. I've watched you for a long damn time. You flounce."

"Shut up." But the captain was snickering again.

"And what's wrong with getting old anyway?" Ben asked, drawing himself up. "With age comes experience, and with experience comes wisdom. Wisdom is a good thing. Nothing you'd know anything about, however."

"Hey, I'm plenty wise!" Shanks snapped, lurching forward to grab the bottle from his first mate, but Ben held it just out of reach.

"You wear Bermuda shorts in the snow."

"Well that's 'cause–"

"And sandals."

"I like my san–"

"You cut the rigging loose and swung from it into the water last week. We still haven't gotten it properly fixed."

"Hey, that was in the name of art."

"Face it, Shanks," Ben said, with a superior air that Shanks immediately (if drunkenly) decided he was not at all fond of. "You'll never be as wise and knowledgeable as I am."

"Oh, and why's that?" the captain replied, glaring at Ben in suspicion.

"Because you'll never get old." Ben grinned.

Shanks opened his mouth for a retort, but none came. He couldn't tell whether or not he had just been insulted. Best to stick to his original point, he decided. "Damn straight!" he announced, seizing the grog from Ben and taking a long swallow.

Ben sighed and rubbed his forehead. It was impossible, utterly impossible to win against Captain Shanks, no matter how well one knew him. And Ben knew him very well.

"Hey Ben." Shanks was grinning at him, but not competitively like before. The gunslinger looked up curiously. "I don't care if yer old. I still like ya."

"Oh," Ben said. He smirked. "I still like you, even though you're a damn fool."

"You only wish you could be half the fool I am," Shanks said proudly, and winked. Then he hopped up and went off to find more alcohol and mingle with the crew.

Ben watched him go, scowling in an amused manner. No, Shanks really never would get old, would he? He would always be wonderfully young and stupid, even if he got to be 84, which at this point was doubtful. But that was why Ben was there; to keep the captain's sorry ass out of trouble. And really, when it came down to it, having that ridiculous grin for company was worth a whole head of gray hair.