Ben had known instinctively upon waking up that morning that nothing good would come of this day, but this? This was unforgivable.

The Marines attacking was bad enough. That they attacked during breakfast was even worse. The fact that Shanks had been forced to steal an overlarge sword off an attacker and wield it with inexpert (yet surprisingly effective) confusion was enough to top it all off, but that wasn't the end of it. Because that would have been too easy.

A shocked hush had befallen the crew and even the few remaining attackers felt the aura of pure and utter fury that had swept the deck and mercifully shut up. Ben moved his gun away from the forehead of a knock-kneed and sweating opponent before lowering it to his side, stance radiating murderous rage. Slowly, Ben's head tilted to the left until the edge of Shanks' borrowed sword came into view, poised in the air over a shoulder hunched in shame and horror. Then, his gaze drifted to the deck, following the slow descent of a single steely hair that had escaped from the ponytail as it fell to the deck, cleanly sliced off at the nape of the neck.


"…yes, Ben?"

"Do you realize what you've just done?"

"Landed myself in deep shit?"

Ben turned around. So did Shanks, carefully and with his best innocent grin in place. Ben's eyes narrowed; the surrounding crew took a wary step back. A remaining Marine saw his chance and took it, diving toward Shanks with sword in hand. Yasopp, mouth still hanging open in the position it had been stunned into, grabbed the man by the arm and shoved him to Lucky Roux, who quietly pitched him overboard and shuffled backward a few steps.

"Well, look on the bright side," Shanks said cheerfully, tossing the sword over his shoulder and spreading his hand in a display of piety. "At least you won't have to pay for a barber!"

He laughed meekly, and Ben sighed, closing his eyes and bringing a hand up to rub the stress lines on his forehead. This was usually a sign of defeat; the crew took it as a signal to relax a fraction, but the reaction was premature. Without warning, Ben hefted his gun and used it to clock Shanks squarely across the head. The captain hit the deck like a sack of potatoes, and Ben leaned the gun over his shoulder in grim satisfaction.

"And now someone won't have to pay for an assassin," he said simply, and walked across the deck and down the stairs to his quarters.

Minutes passed. Eventually, the leftover attackers regained their footing and attempted to continue the raid. The rest of the crew promptly dispatched them as Yasopp went to heft his captain back to his feet.

"You okay?" he asked, casting a wary glance toward the stairs. Shanks nodded weakly, fingers pressed to one temple.

"Thanks. Heh, guess I'll be sleeping on the couch tonight, eh?"

Yasopp nodded. Shanks sighed and turned plaintive eyes on the severed ponytail. "I didn't mean to…"

"Give him a couple days," was all Yasopp could think to say.

"Man," Lucky remarked, sidling up next to Yasopp as Shanks staggered over to the stairwell. "Going gray caused enough of a fuss, and now this…"

"How long 'til Ben lets him back into their room, do you reckon?"

"Week. Maybe ten days."

"Damn. I'll go get the cot out of storage."

"I'll help. Lemme clean up some of the bodies first."

From the stairwell, there was a hopeful call of "Hey, at least you're not bald yet!" followed by the clanging sound of something heavy and metal glancing off the doorframe next to Shanks' head.

"When do you think he'll learn to just apologize?" Lucky asked.

"That wouldn't be half as entertaining," Yasopp said, grinning.

Being first mate on the Red-Haired pirate crew was a trying job, but somebody had to do it.