Chapter Fourteen


They may have been leaving Arabasta at top speed but they were taking on water probably just as fast, even with Kai using his Ability to freeze every leak that threatened to burst. But with salt water being what it was, they were melting before Usopp could nail them shut.

He paid no attention to the chaos happening upstairs as he concentrated on freezing as many leaks as possible and not collapsing face first in the water as his brain swelled.

At least the Marines had stopped shooting at them, now Kai could concentrate on getting the water OUT of the room instead of stopping more getting in.

His skull felt three sizes too small for his brain as he leaned against the mast, breathing slow and deep as he tried to deal with the pain and will his eyes into focus again. Listening with half an ear to the whining of his crewmates.

"What's wrong with you guys?" Zoro snarled, folding his arms over his dark navy blue desert robe.

"We miss her!" the others chorused tearfully sprawled out across the deck under the railings.

"Don't cry anymore! Jeez, I knew I should have just dragged her on board," the swordsman complained with a huff.

Kai had to smile when the rest of the crew immediately started shouting at him, calling him Marimo, barbarian and natto of all things, Zoro grumbled at their reactions but otherwise didn't say anything as he glanced down at – what was he supposed to call Kai now? Boyfriend sounded too childish and since they probably weren't going to have sex anytime soon he couldn't legitimately call the younger teenager his Lover. (Just trying to get his hand down Kai's trousers got him with a rather nasty North Blue Burn on his forearm, he didn't try it again.) Meh, he'd figure it out later. (And maybe try that hand thing again – only avoiding the violent reaction this time.)

"So we're out at sea, well done," Kai cracked open his eyes at the familiar female voice. And the chaos that erupted at her presence. He supposed he should have been annoyed at the fact Zoro took a guard position in front of him but right now his brain felt like soup, he couldn't get to his feet even if he wanted to.

"Don't point those dangerous things at me. Didn't I tell you this before?" Nico Robin asked lightly, tanned hands sprouting from Nami and Zoro to slap away their weapons.

"How did you get on the ship?" Nami demanded, rubbing her wrist.

"I was here the whole time, reading a book and taking a bath," the dark haired woman admitted as she moved to unfold a deck chair, "These clothes are yours, aren't they? I'm borrowing them," she told the Navigator, her tone slightly apologetic if only to Kai's ears.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE BAROQUE WORKS?" the ginger haired teenager screamed, waving a fist in the air as Kai's head throbbed sharply making him grit his teeth and hold his breath against the involuntary hiss of pain.

"Monkey D. Luffy," the former Miss All Sunday intoned slowly, studying the wiry young seventeen year old with knowing blue eyes, "You aren't forgetting what you did to me, are you?" she asked curiously.

This had the predictable reaction from Sanji who immediately grabbed Luffy and started shaking him demanding to know what heinous crime he had committed on such a beautiful young lady. The ruckus, coupled with Usopp using a megaphone to threaten to call the Marines just made Kai's head throb painfully until he couldn't help the ever so slight whimper. Luckily no one heard him.

"You're really weird," Luffy stated unhappily, glowering at the twenty eight year old, "What do you want?"

Robin smiled, "Let me join your crew."

"HAAA?" the others exclaimed.

"YEEES!" Sanji cheered.

"Back then," Robin stated, "You forced me to live when I wished to die. That is your crime, take responsibility. I have no where to go and no one to return to. Let me join you," the Archaeologist requested.

"I see," Luffy admitted – he really didn't though, "Then that's all there is to it. Okay."

"LUFFY!" the others snarled in alarm.

Kai groaned as his brain throbbed.

"Don't worry," the seventeen year old chirped, grinning at them, "She's not all that bad."

The expressions on everyone else's faces clearly stated they didn't agree with him. Sanji being the obvious exception as he pranced around and shrilled the word 'Mellorine' at the top of his lungs – until Kai kicked him in the back of the knees and told him to shut up. For a moment it looked like the Cook was going to shout at him but he just stared at him for a moment before grunting and making his way up to the kitchen, a gleeful light entering his eyes as he did so, no doubt he was going to make something for Nico-san.

As long as everyone stayed quiet, Kai didn't give a damn.

Zoro didn't like her.

She stank of threat to his senses and he didn't trust her, not in the slightest.

That dislike was only thoroughly compounded when he caught her glancing over at Kai repeatedly from where the exhausted teenager had fallen asleep against his shoulder. His grip on his swords tightened as he glared at her while Usopp conducted some kind of Job interview – an archaeologist huh? Not the sort of profession he expected of a former partner of Crocodile, though being wanted by the World Government at the age of eight was quite a feat.

That just made her an even bigger problem in Zoro's mind.

The fact that one by one everyone in the crew fell to her wiles was just more nails in the coffin of his dislike, really though, he should have expected Sanji – Chopper and Luffy were givens. He had at least hoped Nami would be against her but the minute something valuable was flashed under her nose it became apparent how easily their resident Kleptomaniac could be manipulated. Even Usopp fell prey to her with just a simple impersonation.

How simple minded could you get?

He grumbled and got to his feet, lifting Kai up as he did so, there was no way his headache was going to get any better with that lot making so much noise so close by. He decided to move to the front of the ship where he would not only be further away from that woman but it would also be slightly quieter as they were up wind of the others.

The fact that she followed them just pissed him off something awful.

She was definitely planning something.

"Are they usually so carefree?" she asked lightly, eyes lingering on the sleeping dark haired male for a moment before sliding up to the swordsman's face.

He arched an eyebrow, what was she plotting? "Yeah, it's always like this," he lied.

"Really?" she asked practically beaming at him.

Zoro sneered, his grip tightening on the younger male and his swords.

He didn't trust her.

Robin couldn't help but chuckle quietly at the high strung swordsman, he hardly seemed that frightening with Namikaze-kun curled up into him like that but she was well aware of how dangerous they could both be.

Though she had to admit, she never thought she would see the day where the usually so hot tempered youngster would sleep with anything akin to a threat near-by. Did he trust her that much, despite her past? Or was it something else?

After all... He certainly didn't curl up to just anyone like that.

Chopper felt guilty, he couldn't do anything to help Kai and his headaches when he used his ability.

He was a Doctor and yet he couldn't help one of his friend's when they were in pain, when his body didn't work the way it was supposed to.

He couldn't even help him get his memory back.

The little reindeer tugged unhappily on his hat as he watched the long haired male stumble slightly as he joined them at the dinner table, Zoro hovering protectively behind him, grabbing his arm before he fell. He wanted to help but he didn't know how! He knew that Kai's brain was unhealthy, that it wasn't producing the right hormone in the right amounts for him to use his ability safely but he needed to know what that hormone was before he could create a drug capable of producing it.

He needed someone with a healthy brain and a similar ability as Kai, it didn't have to be as powerful it just need to exist so he could examine it.

Until then, he could only advise Sanji on what to cook for the other male so as to hasten his recovery and keep a close eye on him, keep him out of high stress situations and make sure he got lots of sleep – no night guard duty until he created the drug he needed to.

Kai chuckled as they came upon the island, it was shaped like a fruit. He thought he'd been to this one before. It had a lot of herbs and the like in places and the fruit had a very unique flavour that went well with a lot of foods and drinks – Sanji would love to get his hands on a barrel of it and they had enough vitamin C to lessen the strain on Nami's Mikan trees.

Before he got off the ship though, he caught Nico-san setting up her deck chair and approached her.

"Nico-san," he greeted with a small smile, the former Assassin smiling up at him.

"Good morning, Namikaze-kun. Are you feeling better now?" she asked politely.

Kai nodded, "Much, thank you," he admitted before sighing heavily, "I like you. So I will warn you only this once." His eyes narrowed as he unleashed a touch of his power, all the hairs on the woman's arms standing straight even if her expression never changed one jot. "Hurt any of them and I will rip your heart out and eat it before your very eyes," he promised darkly.

Robin nodded, she had received similar threats but this one... this one she knew he would carry out.

"I understand, I have no intention of harming anyone onboard, I assure you," she told him and Kai smiled as he turned.

"I know, Nico-san. I just wished to make myself inescapably clear. People tend to mistake me for someone who isn't a Pirate after they've known me a while," he explained and she found her eyebrow moving into her hairline as he made his way to the railings and jumped into the shallows. Now who would be blind or foolish enough to forget he was a Pirate?

And how many pieces did they find that person in once Namikaze-kun was finished with them?

Usopp and Luffy were useless and didn't gather any fruit but at least between himself and Zoro they had managed to gather a good four barrels worth of the stuff – even after Luffy had eaten his fill from the original haul.

They probably would have gotten more if Zoro hadn't gotten grabbier than an octopus at a Japanese school-girl convention half way through. Still, Kai wasn't complaining.


Next morning was misty.

Kai was cleaning up in the kitchen for lack of anything to do, gluing back together the plates that Luffy had broken earlier by accident.

He paid no mind to the minor chaos that happened outside. He had learned fairly early on that he should only be worried if everything had gone silent or risen to the level of explosive – mainly because there would be explosives raining down on them.

The unconscious mini-Marine they brought into the kitchen garnered a wide eyed look though.

He knew the moment that the little Trainee Chef mentioned 'All Blue' that Sanji would help him with his Curry dish.

Rolling a shoulder he went back to fixing the broken dishes.

Two hours later, he promptly dropped and broke them when the wall behind him cracked – Sanji's imprint splintering out into the kitchen.

Out of all the Islands in the Grand Line, Kai had very few favourites.

Hannabal just so happened to be one of them.

Kai spent what had to have been two weeks on the Island while Mihawk pranced off on some official business – and then got lost on the way back having been distracted by a Red Light District. Kai ended up having to go and hunt him down and drag him out of a brothel, he'd lost count of the propositions he received from both men and women that day. Good times, good times.

The long haired male laughed as Zoro grabbed Sanji by the scruff of his neck before the Cook could go running off after a scantily clad red head in a corset – probably for the best, that was Areishi Nadeshiko of the Ford Pirates, a very well known sadist with a Bounty of 230,000,000 Belli. Hannabal was in full swing now that the sun had gone down, Luffy was following his nose and leading them towards where he could smell the best food – Kai wondered if he would find the Hive before shrugging a shoulder, if he found it – he found it.

He long haired male froze and whipped around as a familiar feeling ghosted across the back of his neck.

"Namikaze-kun, is something the matter?" Robin asked having noticed him pause in the middle of the street.

Kai stared toward where he thought the feeling emanated from. It couldn't be... could it?

"Kai?" the long haired male glanced up as he felt Zoro place a hand on his shoulder, "You see something?" he asked warily.

Kai stared at him for a moment as if he didn't even recognise him before smiling. "Yeah, do you guys mind if I pop off and see some people? I'll come find you later, it's just been a while since I've been to Hannabal and I'd like to catch up with them," he explained, gently pulling Zoro's hand off and pushing it towards him.

Nami shrugged a shoulder. "I don't see a problem with it," she admitted lazily. "When do you think you'll be back?" she asked.

Kai shrugged a shoulder, "Probably back at the ship before Dawn, depends on what information I get and how long it takes to squeeze it out of him."

"Him?" Zoro demanded, brain immediately latching onto that one little word.

"Ja!" Kai called, already jogging away from the group – noticeably without answering the swordsman's question.

There was a moment of silence before Nami clapped the green haired man on the back. "Don't worry about it, Kai isn't the type to cheat," she chirped before continuing off down the path, "Let's go before Luffy gets completely lost!"

"Cheat? Why would Kai cheat? What's he cheating at? Oi!" Usopp called chasing after her.

"We'll tell you when you're older," Sanji retorted.

The green eyed Pirate sighed and shook his head as he drew level with the other man, marching their way down the cobbled street toward the Red Light District, "That was hardly very subtle... Niisama."

"It got your attention," the Shichibukai stated as he quite casually glowered at anyone who tried to approach the long haired teenager.

Kai rolled his eyes. "You're lucky my Crew aren't advanced enough to begin Haki training or I'd be having to answer a few uncomfortable questions – and stop my idiot swordsman from challenging you again," he added as they ducked into a pleasant seeming wooden building filled with blue silk and see through drapes. The Blue Koi was one of the more expensive brothels on the Island, incidentally it was the one Mihawk and Kai were most familiar with – though for entirely different reasons. Mihawk through hiring the girls and Kai through getting stuck with them and offering to help out with odd jobs and basically protecting them when they went out and about. It was built in traditional Wano style, wooden floors, silk screens that actually afforded NO privacy being that they were transparent allowing every activity going on behind them to be visible – and giving Kai the heebie-jeebies at the same time, he really didn't see the appeal in blowjobs, the very idea of them was disgusting. There were a lot of places like this all over the Grand Line, and somehow Kai ended up being dragged to most of them – Shitty Niisama...

The pair moved through the brothel, the girls greeting Mihawk respectfully and Kai warmly, attaching cutesy honorifics to his name, though there were quite a few unfamiliar faces around which surprised them. The Blue Koi was a very good establishment, the girls who worked there weren't forced into the profession, quite a lot of them enjoyed their work and even refused Kai's help when he offered to get them out of the business.

Entering into the storeroom the swordsman pushed open a door and the pair simply walked down the pitch black corridor. "Speaking of the swordsman, has he improved?" Mihawk asked and unseen in the darkness Kai's smile stretched into a feral grin.

"Exponentially. He has already discovered how to cut through metal; he's finally cleaned his ears out."

The Shichibukai rumbled in pleasure, it was one of the reasons why Kai always sniggered at his nickname – Hawk Eyes, the man really wasn't hawk-like at all, he reminded the younger pirate entirely too much of a big cat or something. Lazy, smug, superior, deadly when roused and prissy as all hell when woken up.

Arching at eyebrow at the door guardian, the assassin hastily stepped aside to allow the pair past – they were hardly unknown faces in the Hive after all.

Music and laughter greeted their ears as they stepped into the massive Pirate haven.

"Have you eaten?" the swordsman asked, glancing over his shoulder at the smaller male.

Kai shook his head. "Nah, we were on our way to a bar when you 'summoned' me," the Weapon's Master teased as they moved through the tables and people.

"Am I not allowed to have dinner with my younger brother anymore?" the swordsman teased right back – though to anyone else it probably would have seemed like a very serious question.

Kai snorted and promptly stole his hat, "Only when he has to pay," the younger Pirate taunted, skipping off ahead to go and grab a table overlooking the Hive.

Smirking ever so slightly, the Shichibukai followed at a more sedate pace and studied his troublesome younger sibling as he chose a table that looked out over the balcony and practically threw himself down with a heartfelt sigh. Mihawk could only shake his head as he sat opposite, Kai seemed different since the last time he saw him.

When Mihawk ditched him in East Blue, Kai had been a scrawny eighteen year old(1) ball of hair who looked more like a fourteen-year-old than he should have (if he ever got his hands on the bastards who raised him, not even the Four Gods would find a piece of them when Mihawk was finished). When Mihawk first picked him up he had been weak and submissive. A civilian, a non-combatant, a victim, all the things Mihawk hated. He hadn't wanted to take the damn brat in, but Shanks had actually begged him to keep an eye on the kid, so he did, if only because his friend asked him to. And yes, he would admit, the training he gave the boy in the beginning was just an excuse to work out his frustrations and beat on him with an excuse. (He was a Pirate, a Shichibukai, he was not a kind man.) He wanted the boy to break and run away, to be injured to the point where Mihawk would have to leave him with a Doctor and go off on his own for some Shichibukai Business and conveniently forget to pick him up. But every time he tried to, not only would Shanks's face float up on his memory begging him to keep the kid safe until he could take care of himself or get out of the Grand Line, but the kid would pull something so inane, so unexpected or physically impossible, that he couldn't. He hesitated and dropped his guard and allowed the match to end.

It didn't stop him from attempting to abandon the boy though.

He had actually managed to do it once. Mihawk had been at his wits end with the kid, how he just could not handle a sword and he refused, point blank, to have someone who couldn't wield a blade associated with him in anyway. So he went to an old Rival, a Pirate turned Priestess and Teacher; if he was to learn the ways of the sword, she would have to be his teacher.

Whatever Mihawk had been expecting, it certainly wasn't for the kid to become her protégé. Still it worked out well enough.

The Shichibukai left him there. Sailed away with a smile on his face and a song in his heart, he was finally free of the kid, he would be safe with her, he would learn how to defend himself and now that he was her protégé he wouldn't actually be allowed to leave the island. He was tied to the Monastery now.

Several months later he was enjoying himself in Sunflower when he spotted a slave auction, more specifically, a young woman barely into adulthood, her hair was black and her eyes a muddy green, her cheeks were freckled and around her neck and wrists were thick metal restraints tying her to a wagon. Yasopp always said he lacked imagination, Mihawk didn't, he had a very active imagination to be honest, which was why he suddenly felt angry at the sight of her. Angry because she looked like that goddamn Hairball, angry because she was chained down, angry because he had practically done the same thing as the animals who were trying to sell her.

He had sworn on his honour as a Swordsman to take care of the damn hairball for Shanks.

He had disgraced himself by ditching the little annoyance at the Monastery where he knew he wouldn't be allowed to leave.

He left Sunflower Island that night and sailed straight back – after, of course, completely ripping apart that slave ring and killing anyone who made a prophet out of it and setting all the slaves free – only to meet the boy half way at Aqua Vita.

He certainly hadn't been pleased about being left behind, which he had demonstrated that night by quite calmly setting him on fire while he slept. Mihawk had to admit, if the kid learned nothing else, the skill to kill someone with no ill intent, to harm them without giving himself away, that was possibly one of the most dangerous skills on the Grand Line. And ironically, it had to be the one that the Hairball was best at. It was how the swordsman ended up getting Pranked whenever the younger male was irritated with him.

Mihawk still hadn't liked him, didn't like the fact he was actually stuck with the boy, but at some point in the following year, that annoyance turned to fond exasperation and then into amusement and then into affection.

Looking at the kid who had been such a pain in his ass, such a scrawny, weak and delicate looking thing when he left him to walk on his own, Mihawk could only sigh and sit in a position that would allow for a quick drawing of Kokuto Yoru. His brother had grown up, but damn him to hell for growing up to look like THAT.

Every dirty pervert in Hannabal would be eyeing his little brother like a slab of meat.

Kai only rolled his eyes when he caught the possessive glint in the older man's eye, really now, he was old enough to take care of himself!

"So what's new in the World?" the younger male asked before Mihawk could start eyeing the nearest table and beheading anyone that looked at them funny.

Zoro was sulking.

It was easy to see for anyone looking, Nami found it quite hilarious to be honest. He was just lurking at the back of the group and glowering at anyone who came too close, no doubt wondering who this mysterious 'him' that Kai was off to speak to was. Sanji looked like he was trying to decide whether or not to be disgusted or amused as they ate their dinner before Luffy could do it for them. Occasionally, Robin would chuckle slightly at him which prompted a dark glare in her direction, which just amused her further so Sanji didn't comment on the stupid Marimo's lack of respect for the beautiful Robin-chan. (What could he expect from a guy who obviously did not appreciate the fairer sex and instead snubbed them completely to go off with another man? How impolite! Brutish and disrespectful! No, no, calm down, Nami-san would be very upset if she knew what he was thinking. It had nothing to do with being disrespectful or being unappreciative it was just... just... yeah, just... that. Just that. Yeah. Whatever that was.)

At least they now had a chance at some quick cash.

"Show two hundred Belli coins to the man at the end of the passageway. That's the password," the Barkeeper told them as they began to move down the highly suspicious tunnel.

"Thanks Ossan!" Luffy chirped excitedly as Zoro led the group with the lantern.

"Can I ask you something?" the barkeep asked, "Why did you become a pirate?"

Luffy blinked and grinned broadly at him, "To become the Pirate King," he admitted proudly. "Besides... the sea is nice and free, right? Treasure hunting and adventures, there's lots of cool stuff!"

The barkeep stared at him and started to chuckle. "Nice, I like you guys," he told the young Monkey before giving him a smirk that spoke volumes. "Stay alive."

Whatever it was waiting for them at the end of the tunnel... when the door opened it most certainly wasn't the massive underground cavern filled with people, jaunty tunes filling the air coupled with the scent of food and beer and unwashed bodies and tallow wax. Luffy crowed gleefully at the sight of all the Pirate Flags, it had to be a Pirate Hub, just like the ones Shanks used to tell him about as a kid! It was a large room circular with at least fifteen floors and railings encircling the whole length of it, a large deep pool of water below and an old wooden row-boat suspended from the ceiling as decoration.

"Oi, Neechan." Nami looked away from the sight to a group of men clustered around a table playing poker. "You come here to bet? The Bookkeeper's on the top floor," he told her with a friendly grin.

Bewilderment painted itself across her face. "Bookkeeper?" she echoed.

The man's friendly expression turned into one of surprise, "What? You're here to enter the Race too?" he asked.

"Race?" Nami echoed again, her confusion hitting the peak just before she started knocking heads together for answers.

The man waved a hand, grinning broadly, "No way, don't bother! You'll just be wasting your lives doing that!" he told her.

Robin nodded, "Ah, so this is the place. It's been a while so I didn't recall it at first," she admitted stepping forward, realisation lighting her eyes.

"What is it? Tell me," Nami requested as the group clustered around their former Assassin.

"I was here before with the Captain of a ship I'd previously boarded. It's not regular, but they hold a race once every few years. Organised by Pirates, for Pirates, the anything goes Dead End Race," she announced, smiling at the memory.

"By Pirates?" Sanji echoed as he puffed on a fresh cigarette.

Robin nodded, "Ex-pirates to be precise. All the citizens on this island used to be Pirates."

"I see, I see," Luffy and Chopper chorused, looking up at the woman adoringly prompting a small smile from her as she passed them.

"The goal is different every time, but the starting point is always here," she explained, "Participants sail via an Eternal Pose adjusted for the Final Goal. The Rules are simple. Whoever reaches the Goal first, wins. The winner will then receive the Prize. Whatever happens en-route is your own problem. No matter what happens."

"Easy enough to understand," Zoro admitted from where he had his arms folded, absently he wondered if Kai knew about this place and about the race before shaking his head. Of course Kai knew about it, he knew about everything that happened on the Grand Line, this was probably why he'd gone to talk to that mysterious 'Him' he spoke about earlier.

"As simple as figuring out what's going to happen next," Sanji continued lazily.

"It sounds so dangerous," Nami admitted. "It might not be so bad with a crew like ours... And it looks like Luffy's eager to join," the grin on their Captain's face pretty much confirmed her words as an understatement, she smiled hesitantly at the rapturous grin. "Hey, who else is entering the race?" she called over to the poker playing guys.

"What? You're really going to enter?" he demanded disbelievingly. "Well, I'd say about a third of the guys here are entering," he admitted, nodding to the centre of the room, that had to be at least over two thousand pirates, at least.

"Whoa! That's a lot of people!" Nami exclaimed, smiling.

"The guys at the bottom are the third favourites to win. See those big guys? They're Giants, Bobby and Pogo."

"Oh! So there are Giants entering!" Usopp exclaimed, smiling the exact same smile as Nami.

"And on the terrace opposite us. An old rival of Arlong, and the second favourite, a Grampus Merman, Willy."

Nami giggled, "Even a Merman!"

"And an old rival of Arlong's!" Usopp added, still smiling.

Nami chose this moment to punch Luffy in the face and noogie him, scolding him and arguing about why they shouldn't enter the race, the strawhatted Pirate not listening to a word she said.

"So, how much is the prize money?" Robin asked, a sly smirk playing on her lips.

The man hummed in thought for a moment, "Hmm, if I remember correctly, it's about three hundred million Belli this year."

"YOSH WE'RE ENTERING THE RACE!" Nami roared, pumping a fist out.

The man laughed. "You're getting off lightly then, see those two on the second from the top terrace? With the huge sword? Last time Hawk Eyes ran a race there were no survivors, took 'em all out before they even left the island," the man explained, pointing to a familiar form on said terrace.

A familiar form sat opposite their crewmate – who was wearing his hat!

Kai rolled his eyes and took a sip from his glass. "Oh please, like everyone in the Grand Line DOESN'T know you're putting the wood to Shanks whenever you two meet," he taunted taking a mouthful of his glass – just as Mihawk promptly spat his across the room.

Usopp's eyes practically bugged out of his skull, "Did Hawk-eyes just do a spit-take?" he demanded in disbelief.

Mihawk coughed slightly and wiped at his mouth delicately, trying to salvage what little dignity he could while his face burned bright pink and his irritating pain in the ass little brother snickered into his drink.

"It was just the once," he stated tightly, "We were both drunk – it doesn't count."

Kai stopped laughing and just stared at him from over his drink, mouth still on the edge. Carefully, the younger Pirate swallowed and put his drink down. "Niisama... I was kidding," he pointed out quietly.

The two of them stared at one another in silence before:

"Not a word to anyone," Mihawk hissed threateningly.

"Agreed," Kai nodded, sitting back with a vaguely disturbed look on his face.

Nami shook her head. "I didn't see that. None of us saw that. It didn't happen. They aren't there," she told them all firmly, finally managing to tear her eyes away from the spectacle, "Let's go, we need to sign up."

"What is that idiot doing?" Sanji asked weakly, his eyes still glued to the pair in the top gallery, the pair that had just been joined by what was obviously a very rookie pirate if his behaviour was any indication.

Kai glanced down to the hand that landed on his shoulder, taking note of the way his brother tensed and glared from his seat as the Rookie loomed at the long haired pirate, his breath reeking of old meat and stale beer. He looked like he had crawled out of a sewer and forgotten to bathe along the way to the Hive.

"Hey, Ojochan," and really, Mihawk shouldn't smirk like that where Kai could see him, "Why don't you ditch this loser and come sit with us?" he asked, hand stroking across his shoulder in a way that made his skin crawl with many oh-so unpleasant things. "We'll treat ya real nice," he purred touching his face while one of the Pirates on the other table paled to an almost transparent colour as Mihawk's arm twitched.

"At least you didn't cover the table with blood this time," Kai congratulated as he tipped the brim of his hat up, paying the headless corpse no mind as it toppled back, hitting the floor with a resounding thud as his brother flicked blood from the massive blade and slid it back into place across his back.

"Trash," the Shichibukai sniffed scornfully as the formerly missing head smacked down onto the table, the drunkard's expression still set in a cross between a lusty grin and a look of bewilderment.

Kai sighed and tipped back on his seat. "He was a Rookie," he pointed out flatly. "A drunk Rookie," he added before arching an eyebrow and prodding the severed head with his fork. "And you got blood in the chicken noodles," he pointed out, pouting unhappily at the loss of his chickeny goodness.

"Apologies," the older Pirate intoned.

Kai waved a hand. "Eh, it's fine. If you didn't kill him – I would've. Just aim the severed heads somewhere else next time."

Zoro's eyes were practically bugging out of his skull at the careless display of brutality from the Shichibukai and his... and Kai. He hadn't even seen Hawk Eyes move before the Rookie's head was in mid-air.

"You're heading off now, aren't you?" Kai asked as his brother got to his feet, chugging the last of his drink.

"Yes," the Shichibukai stated, plucking his hat from his younger brother's head.

Kai sighed and patted down the resulting hat hair as he too got to his feet, he could sense the others near-by, he supposed he should hunt them down. "Remember to tip them well," he stated knowing full well that his brother was heading straight back to the Blue Koi to get his groove on and then leaving the island before the big race. He had no interest in getting dragged into the race this year, he'd done it once and it had been nothing but boring for him, too easy.

Mihawk smirked slightly as he pressed a kiss against his younger brother's forehead, "Stay out of trouble Toriko. The World Government are up to something, there have been whispers about the Weapons, and the Admirals are beginning to move. Vegapunk has been getting more and more funding for his human experimentation," he warned quietly before turning away.

"I'll be careful, promise."

The Shichibukai snorted, sweeping off, not believing a damn word of it.

Now that Mihawk had left, Kai ended up having to deal with the crew-members of the Rookie the Shichibukai beheaded earlier.

Kai wasn't as ruthless as his brother, not anymore anyway, he didn't much feel like slicking blood up to the ceiling these days – feh, he must he getting soft in his old age, that or Luffy's whole 'Let Them Watch Their Dream Die In Front Of Them' punishment was beginning to catch on. It was probably why he left them alive – beaten, broken and perhaps a little bloodier than necessary (he wasn't as ruthless as Mihawk but he never said he was merciful either) before deciding to go and find the rest of his crew. He frowned when he spotted Luffy on the decorative ship above him, a ship which suddenly plummeted down when some idiot pink haired pirate slashed at the support ropes.

A fight huh? He frowned at the man in yellow... was that a tattoo of a hook on his face?

An eyebrow shot into his hairline, Shiraiya Bascud, here? Now? How did he even get in? A Pirate Hunter usually wasn't allowed into the Hive, how did he bluff his way in?

He was good according to the Prostitutes he'd heard from, damn good. Known as the 'Pirate Executioner' apparently on something of a vengeance kick after his whole Island was burned to the ground, his whole family killed. While he knew Luffy could handle himself, it would still be fun to watch.

Chuckling slightly, Kai decided to make his way up the stairs towards the top floor where his Captain was.

He frowned as he began to draw nearer, there was a third voice there and it was much too deep to belong to that pink haired moron who was chasing Luffy earlier. It was unfamiliar to him. Kai frowned. Didn't that pink haired guy have a tat on his face too? It seemed so familiar as well! He bit his lip and moved in close to the wall, green eyes sharp as he peeked around the corner and pulled back, air leaving his lungs in a surprised woosh.


The Traitor Marine, Gasparde – nicknamed the General amidst his small fleet of Pirates despite never having achieved the rank while with the Government.

Was he entering the Dead End Race too?

Kai had heard bad things about him and his crew, worse than he usually heard about Pirate crews. The man didn't even like the ocean or piracy, he liked power and he saw both of them as just another means of attaining it. The worst sort of human being.

Kai wasn't surprised when he heard Luffy turn down the former Marine's invitation to join his crew – though he did sometimes wish his Captain learned how to be a little more... diplomatic in his choice of words.

"He smells like trash," the seventeen year old declared flatly, scorn thick in his tone.

Movement blurred in the corner of his eye and Kai lunged forward.

He slammed Gasparde's First Mate to the floor – a split second before those wickedly hooked knuckle blades could wrap themselves around his Captain's throat. "You even try to touch my Captain and you won't see the sun rise," Kai promised as Luffy glanced at him and nodded thankfully, the long haired male merely smirked and gave a bow of his head even as he twisted the albino's arm into a painful position.

Gasparde was a large man with a very thick jaw and pale skin, he went shirtless and wore the standard Marine coat with the symbol on his back slashed out with two crossed streaks of dark red – almost blood in colour. Right now, he looked extremely displeased with the current situation, especially with his Second in Command being so effortlessly pinned down.

He smiled unpleasantly. "You have a good Crew Mugiwara. Don't let it go to your head," he growled, getting to his feet.

Kai pushed himself up, stepping clear of the albino as he hopped to his feet in a crouching position, staring at him with a mixture of fury, wariness and intense curiosity. Kai narrowed his eyes and shifted into a ready position, glaring him straight in the eye as they both went motionless in a silent battle of wills.

"Needles," Gasparde snarled as he turned, beckoning his Second to follow – or else.

Tense and wary of attack, the three younger men watched as the other two Pirates left in silence before allowing themselves to relax, Kai took his chance to observe the damage to the room around them as Luffy and Shiraiya spoke briefly. Eventually culminating in Shiraiya promising that the next time they met he would take Luffy's head as he walked away.

"You alright, Luffy?" Kai asked, touching his elbow lightly.

The Strawhat Pirate nodded and grinned at him.

Zoro was sulking.

Kai would have found it amusing under other circumstances but the swordsman was just being annoying right now, sighing slightly Kai clocked him upside the head before practically plastering himself to the larger man's side.

"What has your underwear in a twist now?" he asked in a long suffering patient tone.

"Nothing is wrong with my underwear," the green haired teenager stated firmly.

He poked the swordsman's hip, "That's not what I meant. You're sulking, why?"

"I am not sulking," he growled.

"Of course not, how silly of me. You're engaging in an intellectual brood," Zoro shot him a dirty look which Kai just smiled sunnily to. The green eyed male chuckled. "You're not jealous that I ditched you guys to hang with my brother, are you?" he asked leaning against the railings to look him in the face a bit better.

The green haired male looked at him, Kai merely quirked an eyebrow up at him curiously. He honestly didn't understand why the swordsman was getting defensive over the whole thing.

Zoro sighed and looked down at his swords, at Kuina's blade before staring off at horizon. He knew that Mihawk was leagues ahead of him in East Blue, he had thought he had caught up, he thought he had been making a huge amount of progress by training with Kai and he knew he had. He just... hadn't realised that it amounted to very little compared to how far he still needed to go. It was... a blow to his ego, to be honest.

"If I had asked you before Arabasta..." Zoro began, "would you have told me the secret to cutting metal?" he asked, glancing down at the green eyed male, the one he was in a relationship that he couldn't put a name to with.

Kai stared at him for a moment before laughing lightly and nudging him with a hip. "Hell no," he exclaimed before smiling and leaning up to steal a kiss, "You would have never let me tell you anyway."

He had a point.

Shortcuts were for the weak and undedicated.

Smirking slightly, the swordsman dipped down and claimed the smaller Pirate's mouth again, thankful that they were alone for at least five minutes. (Without Nami shamelessly watching them from the nearest window, corner or even through the leaves of her Mikan trees.)

Even though he was under Chopper's orders to get plenty of rest and not to exert himself, Kai still got up at the same time as the rest of the boys – the last time he dared to sleep in he woke up just as Zoro tried to get in a molesty grope, the rest of the group having already left. Kai kicked him in the head before fleeing into the kitchen where Robin greeted him with a smirk and a sugary sweet 'Good morning Namikaze-kun' as if she hadn't just been using her Devil Fruit powers to watch the whole thing. He was surrounded by dirty perverted voyeurs.

Sitting himself on the railings next to the figure head he kept out of trouble as much as possible as he ate his apple and kept an eye on the ever sleepy and somewhat clumsy Luffy – morning creature his Captain was not.

The Eternal Pose was still baffling Nami though – at least Luffy was properly awake now.

"It's still pointing at that mountain," she complained in bemusement, a slight frown creasing her face.

"What's wrong Nami?" Luffy asked as he stretched down from the rigging – Sanji going down the shrouds like a sane person.

"The Eternal Pose is still pointing over that mountain," the Navigator explained.

"Is that Start Point over there?" Sanji asked.

Nami shook her head, "No, The Bookkeeper specifically told me this town was the start point."

"It is," Kai stated smiling as he hopped off his railing and tossed his apple core overboard. "It's like Reverse Mountain but it works on a seasonal basis. Every few years according to the alignments of the Moon and the weather systems in the Partia region, there's a huge current of water accompanied by a massive gale-force wind that sweeps through the area. It's why Hannabal is shaped the way it is. The wind and water currents will surge the ship straight up the mountain just like East Blue," he explained before smirking, "And right to the Grand Fall."

"Grand Fall?" Usopp asked, not liking the way his Crewmate was smiling.

Kai just chuckled, "You'll find out when you get there. Just remember, after the Grand Fall, the race starts so be prepared to shoot some people in the face."

Robin laughed, "Sound advice," she complimented.

Kai gave her a theatrical bow as Nami twitched, like a dog who had just heard someone call its name.

"Its here!" she exclaimed, her hypersensitivity to the air currents spurring her into action, "Luffy, hurry and reinforce the yards! Usopp, take the helm! Chopper, watch the aft! Sanji, Zoro, watch the shrouds on both sides of the mast!" she barked, pointing at each member of the crew as they scurried off to their assigned tasks. Kai moving to the front of the ship just in case the gale was that little too strong and sent them arse over teakettle – even though Chopper would have his guts for garters, Kai would just have to use his ability to stop them from destroying the ship and drowning.

There was a moment of absolute calm, Kai could feel the water beneath the ship preparing, building, green eyes widened as Nami whispered under her breath.

It was here.

The ship jerked with the force of the sail snapping full, the Merry surging forward so quickly it threatened to flip as they shot towards a tunnel leading straight through the town – the makeshift bridges having been removed for the event so the ships could travel up the Mountain without running into any of them.

Kai smiled at the crowds of cheering people, he could see the girls from the Blue Koi stood on the roof waving and cheering for them, he laughed and waved back at them.

"We bet on you Kai! You'd better win!"

"I have three thousand riding on you little brother! Do us proud!"

"Strawhats go!"

They were perhaps the only ones shouting such positive things to them, ah well, Kai laughed, they were the only ones he gave a damn about to be honest.

"Introduce me to your Captain later!" he was just going to pretend he didn't hear that.

"Your brother says you had better win or you're disowned!" and he was going to kick Mihawk in the nuts next time he saw the bastard. Oh damn he was going to do that this time for that Corset gag back in Loguetown! Damnit! Curse his faulty memory!

He clung to the railings as they began to climb the mountain, a quick glance confirmed that they weren't going to be loosing anyone soon – though he wondered who would throttle him first for not telling them about the Grand Fall. (It was always much more fun to see the looks on their faces when they got their first eyeballing at what awaited them at the top of the mountain.)

He glanced over his shoulder as they crested the hill, sunlight hitting them head on and illuminating the expressions on their faces – and the cigarette falling from Sanji's open mouth.

Luffy yelled gleefully as they shot over the Grand Fall and plummeted down the entire length of the mountain – because the Grand Fall was, as its name suggested, a giant waterfall!

Kai laughed and whooped as they fell, Nami shrieking curse words at him while Luffy cackled.

The ship jerked and shuddered as they hit the river again, bouncing slightly and making Kai momentarily think of what damage that might do to the ship.

"Navigator-san! This isn't the time to be overwhelmed! The race has begun!" Robin called to the younger girl whose face was blue as she foamed at the mouth, the Archaeologist spotting the Merman Willy shred a smaller ship to splinters.

All around them ships were destroying and firing on one another. "What are they doing?" Usopp howled in horror.

"The race has started," Zoro stated in explanation, grinning.

"From this point on: Anything goes!" Robin called.

"Usopp, go stand guard on the aft deck!" Nami commanded making Usopp jolt and tear up.

"Me?" he squeaked before slumping and shuffling off to do as he was told. Kai just laughed and jumped up, kicking a cannon ball away from the ship and back to its sender.

Luffy dashed past him and hopped up onto his favourite seat, laughing happily at the carnage all around them.

"Chopper! Cut the Helm!" Nami called as they approached a sharp bend in the river – Kai was quite certain the town's designer had put that there simply to cut the numbers of the race participants.

"I can't! It's stuck!" the Reindeer wailed, heaving on the steering pole.

"We'll crash at this rate!" Nami shrieked as they surged toward the bend, too fast to turn and without enough space to do so either.

"If I kicked the ship from below, would it help cushion it?" Zoro asked, actually serious – which was the worrying thing.

"YOU CAN'T DO THAT!" Nami shouted before blinking as realisation hit, "Ah, cushion. Luffy!" she sang.

"GOMU GOMU NO FUUSEN!" Kai winced slightly in sympathy as the ship impacted with Luffy's inflated body, hard before rolling off him and straight into the air – just like those Giants – Bobby and Pogo – did before them.

"Grand Fleur!" the former Miss All Sunday commanded, hands held in a cross position in front of her, millions of hands sprouting from the side of the ship and forming a giant hand that reached toward one of the near-by buildings, yanking them back towards the river.

"NIIIIIIIIICE ROOOOOBIIIIIN!" Luffy crowed as he flew along behind the ship attached to the railings on rubber arms.

Kai laughed as Sanji lit himself another cigarette, the ship peeling out from the mouth of the river and into open Ocean. "Man, its unreal how often this sort of thing happens to us," the cook complained as he shook his matchstick out and tossed the burnt splinter of wood overboard. "I'm surprised we've survived this long."

Nami laughed nervously. "Thank you Robin-neesan! Just as I planned!" the eighteen year old chirped, hands clasped to her chest to prevent her wildly beating heart from escaping out her ribcage.

"LIAR!" Zoro snapped.

Robin laughed, "Well, we're on our way. Let's enjoy the rest of the ride."

"Yeah, I'm really pumped!" Luffy crowed slapping the side of the ship. "Looks like we're at the tail of the pack but this is just the beginning! This is why it's great to be a Pirate!" he exclaimed excitedly as Nami could be heard chanting 'three hundred million Belli, three hundred million Belli, three hundred million Belli' under her breath, "YOSH! LET'S GO EVERYONE!" the Pirate commanded, ignoring or not hearing Usopp's complaint of his 'mustn't-leave-this-island-or-I'll-die' disease acting up again.

Kai could only laugh and cheer along with Luffy.

A gunshot tore through the air from the bathroom, making everyone jerk as though someone had just taken a stick and jammed it up their backside's simultaneously.

"Zoro!" Kai called vaulting over the railings, the rest of the crew thundering after him only to stop in the doorway, stunned at the sight of their swordsman holding an unconscious kid. His expression was a mixture of horror, disgust and confusion as he looked at them and wiggled the unconscious kid in mid-air, "How the hell did he sneak on board?" the swordsman asked.

Kai frowned slightly before blushing faintly and arching his eyebrow, Zoro was on watch last night so it must have been when the swordsman had decided to... er... well for lack of any better words 'try his luck'. (For the record, he wasn't that lucky.)

Well, dinner and a show.

Watching the kid freak out not only over Chopper but Luffy was quite amusing from where he was sat beside Zoro. Still... the kid was walking a slippery slope – and she managed to piss Nami off at the same time.

"Zoro, I'm borrowing your Katana," the thief growled, getting to her feet and hopping over the two of them.

"Don't step over people," the swordsman grunted closing his eyes carelessly.

"Why don't you quit the self-pity crap," Nami growled marching toward the child, unsheathing Wado Ichimonji, heedless of Chopper's growing distress. "If that's really how you feel, then I'll give you what you want!" she barked.

"Stop Nami!" Chopper squeaked scurrying in front of her.

"Stay out of this!" the thief ordered, completely beyond all reason. "This is what pisses me off the most! No reason to keep living?" she demanded, seething. "IF YOU'RE ALIVE YOU CAN'T TALK ABOUT DYING!"

Ah, so that was what this was about. Kai sighed and leaned his head back on Zoro's shoulder, she was upset because the kid was going to give up and die when Nami put herself through eight years of hell. That the kid wanted to die when Nami wanted so desperately for her mother to live.

"Lunch is ready!" Sanji called, setting a large pot of stew and dumplings on the table while Chopper worked on restraining Nami and the rest of them tucked into the meal – ignoring the drama going on behind their backs. Nami wouldn't really kill the kid, scare her into pissing on herself sure, but she wasn't a murderer regardless of how badly someone upset her.

"Itadekimasu!" the group chorused.


So far the race had been going surprisingly well, minus a few hiccups.

Like the Sea Kings.

And their Eternal Pose taking them to the wrong place – to Navarone, the Marine Base.

A fake, a ruse, a game for Gasparde. Pirates stabbing Pirates in the back and the kid, the kid they'd brought on board was one of Gasparde's prisoners, she tried to kill them to get the Bounty, to buy medicine for her Grandfather who was sick and trapped on Gasparde's ship. What a mess. They needed to find that bastard soon to not only rescue the old man but to also beat the crap out of that so called General – you don't fuck over your fellow Pirates with tactics like that! It just wasn't done! It was cowardly and disgusting! That was something the marines did, or worse, Akainu.

But they didn't have a way of getting to Partia, the Eternal Pose was a fake and Chopper's nose couldn't detect anything with all the gun-powder in the air.

Kai sighed, he wasn't particularly fond of revealing this part of his past. It was more than a little embarrassing and he knew damn well that Sanji would never let him live it down.

"I know the way to Partia," the long haired pirate announced, staring at the Marine base and refusing to look at the rest of the crew, "It's that way. Seventy miles that way," he stated pointing to the right.

"How do you know that?" Nami asked.

Kai shuddered slightly, "By way of the West Wind and the chaos of the skies, here reigneth Second King Amba, the Tiger Lord of Sky and Storm. Partia is a Sacred Island. It's that way," he explained, not exactly explaining but still giving them enough information.

"Amba?" Robin echoed, a frown on her face, she had heard that name before but she couldn't put her finger on it.

"It's this way, trust me. When we get close enough, Chopper can use his nose to guide us to Gasparde's ship, the Salamander," Kai explained as he dropped his arm.

"Let's go," Luffy commanded.

He could hear them whispering, the sea and the sky, calling to him.

Kai shook his head, he wouldn't get caught up in that again, he refused! He had left that behind him!

But apparently not enough if a simple invocation was enough to move them. To bring their attention to him.

A Cyclone was coming. A big one.

Sea and Sky agreed, they surged and formed and this Cyclone was to display their full power, the strength the Gods could quite casually throw at the mortals who displeased them. But they weren't angry with him, no, he could tell that much from the snatched rumbles and hissing that whispered like forgotten silk drapes across the floor.

But... They wanted something from him and they would have their way – Kai knew that much.

He knew he would have to come clean eventually.

He just hoped that he would still have his freedom when he did.


"Quite a pair of lungs on him," Kai muttered as he leaned against the railings as the Merry approached the Salamander – it seemed crippled, someone had already started the party it seemed.

"Luffy, go ahead and bust a move!" Nami called from the kitchen door as the Salamander open fire at them.

"Right! GOMU GOMU NO PISTOL – AND ROCKET!" the young Pirate bellowed, stretching his arm out and flying into the Salamander with enough force to destroy a good portion of it.

And then they saw him slice through one of the Masts with his foot.

"Oh, sounds like he's having fun," Sanji stated as the Merry pulled aside the large metal monstrosity.

"Make sure you take us straight there," Zoro said to the kid while Sanji spun a rope in his hand aiming for the ship's railings.


"This guy has a habit of getting lost," Sanji pointed out with a broad grin as Zoro flushed irritably – Kai refrained from pinching his cheeks if only because he knew it would just make the situation worse, funny though it would have been.

"Shut yer hole," the swordsman growled as the cook sniggered and flung the grappling hook onto the Salamander.

"Yosh! I'll back you up so go about your business," Usopp declared, folding his arms sternly – this time Kai didn't refrain from pinching his cheeks and cooing obnoxiously over how manly he was trying to be, the Sniper squeaked and tried to bat him away while Sanji, Zoro and the kid quickly climbed up onto the ship, Zoro carrying the girl under his arm and ignoring her thrashing and snapping at him. He had such a way with kids. Kai snorted.

Deciding to leave Usopp alone for now – as both his cheeks looked painfully pink – Kai sat back to await the others with Nami and Robin, eyes flickering towards the horizon. A cyclone was coming. A big one.

"Nami-swan! We're done here!" Sanji simpered from the Salamander.

"Good, hurry up and get back on board! Something's weird!" the Navigator called back, the cook grunted in confusion, "The weather is really weird!" she elaborated.

Kai's eyebrow shot up again as Zoro descended from the ship – conspicuously minus a certain old man that he was supposed to be bringing on board for Chopper to take a look at. At least he hadn't lost the girl in the process. Waiting until they hit the deck and the swordsman allowed the little girl back to her feet, Kai hopped off his perch and grabbed the green haired male's shoulder, yanking him down far enough to hiss in his ear.

"What happened? Where's the old guy?" he asked, green eyes flickering to the girl in the hat as she jumped onto the railings, feet swinging with effort as she used her chest and elbows to stay aloft.

"He said he had something to take care of, that he'd catch up later," he explained, shooting the girl a glance as well before pulling Kai a little closer, "He's going to blow the ship I think."

The Weapons' Master frowned slightly, but to be absolutely certain of that he would – green eyes widened as he jerked back to stare opened mouthed at the swordsman who nodded grimly. Kai whipped his head around to stare at the girl, oh Gods Above and Below, how would she fare with her beloved Grandfather's death?

"Any way of stopping him?" he asked looking back up at the swordsman. He shook his head slowly making the smaller male growl and look away even as he could hear a fight finally break out on board the Salamander – along with the sound of the boilers beginning to rattle as the overload set in. What would be waiting for that little girl after the old man died? He got the feeling she had no where else to go... perhaps he could talk the rest of the crew into letting her hitch a ride with them to Water 7, if she had been working on the Salamander then she must know something about Steam Engines, Iceburg-sama would be more than welcoming of her.

"Oi, oi..." Sanji muttered from where he was still stood at the railings of Gasparde's ship, he moved away to go and aid Luffy as the seventeen year old grunted in pain.

"Stay out of it," Zoro ordered as Kai slipped away from his side, hands balled into fists, "This is his fight. He'll get mad if you step in."

"But that Candy-Bastard is strong," Sanji protested half-heartedly, stopping in his tracks and staying there even as his upper body leaned forward – still wanting to help but respecting his Captain's desires even more. There was a moment of silence aside from the sound of flesh hitting flesh before inspiration struck the cook. "Hey, wait here for me!" he requested before running off.


"Whoa! That still freaks me out!" they heard Sanji yelp.


The wind was getting worse, the Cyclone was forming on the horizon.

"GOMU GOMU NO ONO! GOMU GOMU NO BAKU BAKU!" Kai twitched at the title of that last attack, Baku Baku? As in the Baku Baku no Mi from Drum Island? That fat king Wapol who ate everything? Did Luffy just eat a chunk of Gasparde?

Judging by the expressions on everyone else's faces they were probably wondering the exact same thing.

"DON'T TOUCH IT!" Luffy snarled, a raw tone of fear and fury catching at his voice. Kai frowned, he had a bad feeling. He couldn't hear what was being said but he could definitely hear Luffy's reply, "Stop! You touch it, you're a dead man!"

"Just shouting won't protect anything!"


Lightning flashed and for a split second, Kai felt as though something in Luffy had snapped.


Kai shivered as he felt something change, what was going on up there? Something was wrong with Luffy, Kai could feel him, he was so angry! Beyond furious! Murderous.

Of course, Nami chose this moment to figure out what the wind currents had been telling them all along and proceeded to freak out about the encroaching Cyclone.

Wood could be heard shattering and splintering as Luffy bellowed in fury.

Still... watching Luffy use part of the sail rigging to skewer Gasparde five minutes later was pretty awesome.

Sanji jumped onto the ship a split second later.

"Where were you?" Nami demanded.

"Tell you later. Let's get out of here, it's dangerous."

Nami nodded in agreement before pausing, "But... what about Luffy?"

"Wait..." Usopp muttered, looking around. "Weren't you bringing the old man?"

"He's going to blow up the boiler," the Cook explained, confirming Zoro and Kai's theory – not that they particularly wanted it confirmed, especially when they got a look at the expression on the girl's face. "There's less than a minute left."

"SCREW THAT! GO BACK!" she screamed as the ship began to set out, "WHY DIDN'T YOU SAVE GRANDPA? HOW COULD YOU DO THAT? WHY DID YOU COME BACK WITHOUT HIM?" she wailed tugging desperately on Sanji's arm, her eyes suspiciously bright. "YOU SAID YOU'D RESCUE HIM!"

"What about Luffy?" Usopp repeated.

"We can't help him now. We'll come back later," Sanji explained watching as both Kai and Zoro approached, the former to take the girl and comfort her, the latter cracking the hilt of his Katana into the back of her head – knocking her out.

"Zoro!" Chopper and Kai exclaimed.

"He's better off like this," the swordsman explained mercilessly as the reindeer and the long haired male dropped down at her side.

"How could you do that?" the reindeer demanded, scandalised. "Didn't you notice?" he demanded as the girl's hat fell to the floor, Zoro and Sanji jerking backwards with yelps of alarm and surprise as long chestnut coloured hair tumbled down her back. "This kid... This kid is a girl!"

The Salamander exploded.

The storm was so bad they couldn't stay on the Merry that night.

They docked at a small uninhabited island not too far away and spent the night in a sheltered inlet, the Merry with her anchor down and several ropes affixing her to the cliff while the rest of them hid away in a cave a little but above the High Tide mark, watching the sea warily for any sign of their Captain or the storm lessening enough for them to go and find him.

It was hard to hide their nervousness, Usopp and Nami were visibly worrying themselves while Chopper busied himself with the girl who was still unconscious, Robin was unrolling a few bed mats for them while Sanji went about making some tea from a camp fire, just to keep his hands busy. Zoro sat at the mouth of the cave, one arm wrapped tight around his swords, the other around Kai's waist as the smaller male meditated.

It was a long and cold wet night.

The only thing Kai could tell them for certain was that Luffy was still alive – unconscious, but alive.

The next morning dawned with clean blue skies and the clean scent of fresh rain.

Merry was a little roughed up but undamaged, Usopp had a bit of a shock when he woke up to see Kai and Zoro curled up together again, then the girl woke up and all hell broke out as she started to scream and cry and throw rocks at Zoro and Sanji for their 'betrayal'.

She eventually cried herself out and seemed to just... die a little on the inside as Nami dug out one of her old dresses for her, holding up a towel for the eight year old to get changed away from prying eyes.

It was Usopp who spotted them.

"There's a ship coming!" he called to the group, before smiling at the little girl in the yellow and blue dress as Nami brushed her hair out. "Your grandpa's on it."

For a moment, she looked like she hadn't heard him, but then her eyes widened and she bolted, not even waiting for Nami to remove the brush from her hair and accidentally tearing a few strands out – she didn't notice as she raced to the mouth of the cave and clambered over the rocks to the mouth of the inlet. Wanting to see with her own eyes that it was true, that her Grandpa had survived.

Kai laughed in relief. Luffy was on board as well!

Kai twiddled his fingers a little, pursing his lips.


This was awkward.

The kitchen was silent after the girl, Adelle, was told just who the man in yellow was in relation to her, her brother... Shiraiya Bascud – her older brother whom she was separated from at age three when Gasparde burned her home village to the ground, knocked her into the river and murdered her family. Shiraiya thought she had died when in fact she had been plucked from the river by the very man she called Grandpa. Her brother had been hunting Gasparde down to enact his revenge for her perceived death. It was obvious neither of them knew how to speak to one another, or act as siblings do. (Kai could hardly tell them, he doubted his relationship with Mihawk was in anyway an accurate representation of what normal sibling relationships were.)

Luffy was quite literally crying a river at the death of his hat – which was apparently shredded by Gasparde during their fight, prompting the onslaught of murderous rage Kai sensed from his Captain.

"Here," Shiraiya declared, flicking a familiar straw hat at the sobbing seventeen year old.

Luffy lit up at the sight of his best friend, "AHHHH HAT!" he screamed gleefully.

"You said it was important to you, right?" Shiraiya asked as he zipped his jacket up from where he had been carrying it. "It was lying at my feet so I picked it up."

"Thank you! You're a great guy!" Luffy exclaimed – still a little waterlogged and mucus-y, Kai wasn't touching him until he blew his nose. "Nami! Fix it again!" he pleaded stretching the beloved object out to her.

She smiled slightly and took it from him, "Alright, alright."


Kai smiled as they came up to Partia, another rather Pirate central island – not that anyone from Amba's Sect knew, and he certainly wasn't telling them.

He laughed as the crew promptly burst out into celebration – they won! Three hundred million Belli in the bag!

Luffy, Usopp and Chopper could be seen bouncing around the ship like hyperactive five year olds.

"WAIT EVERYONE! THE MARINES ARE HERE!" Kai shouted, catching sight of the collection of ships.

"Those were the guys who were chasing us during that storm before Hannabal!" Usopp realised.

Kai shook his head as they quickly bundled the old man, Adelle and Shiraiya into their rowboat – the long haired male quickly shoving a letter at the little girl.

"If you guys ever need work, head to Water 7 and give this to the Mayor Iceburg or one of the Galley La Foremen, Paulie or Kaku. They're always looking for Shipwrights and Engineers there," he explained with a laugh. "Tell 'em Kai sent you and that I'm not dead!" he yelled waving at them.

Politely ignoring Nami as she strangled Zoro.

(1) Mihawk thinking Kai was eighteen when he left him in East Blue two years ago:

He doesn't know Kai's true age. Kai only found out about actually being eighteen now from Chopper.

Longest chapter so far. (dead) It will never be repeated – though it probably will knowing me XDD

Most of this was from the fourth film, Dead End Adventure. Good luck finding a reliable download of it, though I do suggest watching as I couldn't include Luffy's fight with Gasparde due to the fact this was told from Kai's POV. Meaning he didn't see Luffy snap and go 'SLASHERSMILEOFDOOM'. Which is really creepy.

Luffy has the best slasher smile I've seen on any anime character – and he's the most non-murderous character as well. XDD ironic.

Beta'd by the ever lovely Stalker of Stories.