Pairings (this chapter): Shanks/Luffy

Rating: PG-13

Warning: None, unless you count the age difference between Shanks and Luffy.

Um, hi again?


I'll just leave this here, shall I?

13 - lady pirate

This is probably the best way to end a day anywhere (besides, possibly, drinking himself into oblivion with his crew after a successful haul): taking someone pretty back to the Red Force for a tumble. Luko is younger than Shanks usually goes for – or so he assumes, because he still hasn't asked how old she is, and considering what they have planned for the rest of the night, he'd rather not find out – and Shanks has certainly been with curvier, more beautiful women (and a few men) before, but there's just something about Luko he can't get over.

Actually, this is one of the few times he's taken a bed partner back to the ship. He'd normally end up at the other person's place or in a rented room, but Luko seems perfectly at ease with spending the evening on a pirate ship inhabited by an infamous crew. Shanks supposes it's another thing to like about her, this edge of carelessness.

He watches her openly now, free to admire what he'd told himself he couldn't have. They're walking along the beach, and Luko splashes happily in the surf, sandals in one hand and the bunched up fabric of her dress in the other. When the tide recedes, she squishes wet sand between her toes and laughs. There's something very freeing in simply being with Luko this way, and when a sudden breeze snatches at her hat, carrying it further down the beach, Shanks takes off after it with Luko hot on his heels. He doesn't run too fast and Luko manages to keep pace beside him, turning it into a race of sorts; by the time the wind dies and drops her hat onto the sand, they're both snickering like small children.

Shanks scoops it up first, brushes the grit off on his clothes before settling it back over her messy hair. Luko lets go of her dress and clamps a hand across her head to hold the hat in place - an action so immediate he thinks she must have been doing it for years - and then she grins up at him and it's so damn charming Shanks grabs Luko by the waist and presses a kiss to her cheek. She laughs, turns her head, and takes his mouth instead.

Lays claim to it, really, without so much as a hint of shyness or embarrassment. Luko has clearly been kissed before; Shanks isn't sure whether this is better than the clumsy innocence of inexperience he half expected or not, but then she bites at his bottom lip, sucks on it a little, and he decides right then and there that this is much better. He doesn't need to teach her a single thing.

They separate when the rough sound of men shouting has them looking back the way they came. Shanks curses as they come into view, a group of men in unmistakable white and blue uniform. Because he's been too distracted to keep a sharp eye, there is now a Marine patrol heading towards them at speed. It won't be too much longer before they come close enough to recognize him as Red Hair Shanks.

He briefly considers taking Luko and making a run for it, but if those Marines continue much farther down the beach, they'll stumble across the Red Force anyway, even though the ship is hidden by an outcropping of rocks when coming from this direction. If he fights, he can buy them a little more time.

Luko groans and clutches at Shanks' arm, the expression on her face more frustration than fear. "I'm gonna be in so much trouble. Stupid Marines…"

Shanks badly wants to ask what Luko could possibly have done to be in trouble with the Marines but dismisses it for the time being, pushing her back with a hand on her shoulder, gentle but firmly enough to communicate how important it is that Luko stay out of his way or risk getting caught up in the fight. To his surprise, she frowns and shrugs out of his grip. Shanks doesn't say anything, hoping he's gotten his point across, because they don't have any time left. The patrol is yelling his name.

Yet it seems Luko hasn't understood at all; in fact, she darts forward so quickly it takes a second for Shanks to realize what's going on. And she's not even running away to hide. No, Luko is charging straight into the midst of the attacking Marines.

Shanks tries to call her back, running after her with his sword half drawn, but he doesn't get more than a few steps before he's frozen by what might be one of the most shocking sights of his life. Even having sailed the New World, the disbelief that fills him when Luko's first punch connects with the jaw of a man nearly twice her size locks Shanks in place. The shock is replace by a sort of numb awe just as quickly when he's lifted clear off the ground and sent flying by the sheer force of her blow. Shanks isn't the only one completely unprepared for a slender teenage girl to start knocking people around like it's nothing – Luko manages to take out three more before the Marines even begin to react, turning their weapons on her instead.

He should really go help. He will, any moment now…except Shanks doesn't think he's going to get the chance. Luko certainly doesn't look like she needs his help; she dances between her opponents, light on her feet as she dodges sharp blades and pistol shots, each of the twenty-something Marines falling with just one hit; occasionally less than that, as Luko grabs two men by the ears and crushes their foreheads together so harshly Shanks can hear the crack of their skills splintering.

There's nothing numb about his awe now. His blood is heating, body readying itself to fight – a feeling not dissimilar to the one that seizes hold of him just before he engages a strong enemy – and it's most definitely not the Marine fodder that has his sword free of its sheathe. A heady mix of excitement and blistering lust sears along his spine as he watches Luko dispatch the last few men, sweaty thighs flashing as she spins and catches another in the throat with her heel, breasts heaving with the motion, eyes gone dark with determination. Her mouth twists in a wide, wild smile.

God, but he wants her. Wants to fight her, wants to fuck her-

The urge to is so raw and immediate, Shanks makes himself put his damn sword away before he does something he regrets. Luko is strong – she just took down a whole group of trained, armed men and isn't even out of breath – but not strong enough to hold her own against an Emperor. More than her current strength, it's Luko's potential he aches to test. There's so much, and he can see it all. Powerful women are meant to be respected.

The last Marine crashes to the sand unconscious, and Luko pads back to his side, pushing the brim of her hat away from her face. She cocks her head and waits for Shanks to speak, still grinning.

"I should have realized." Shanks almost feels like Luko deserves to get a free punch in – it's pretty damn obvious in hindsight. Luko walking casually into a bar filled with drunken men of the sea, so unconcerned with being grabbed, knowing who he was and idolizing rather than turning scared. Eating like a maniac. Playing with gross bugs most girls would scream at. Beating the crap out of those Marines like she does it every day. "Of course, you're-" Luko perks up, looking at him expectantly, "a pirate."

Luko's cheeks puff out in clear irritation, and for a second Shanks thinks he really is about to be hit, but then she smiles again. "I did say I came here on a ship. My ship! I'm the captain of a pirate crew from East Blue."

Her eyes go wide and hopeful, but Shanks isn't sure what she's waiting for him to say, so he takes her hand and starts leading her back toward town. The Red Force is going to be found sooner rather than later, and Shanks might very well kill anyone who tries to stop him from having Luko now. In town they can blend, find somewhere to spend the night…

"You have a bounty?" he asks, wondering if he's seen her poster before but simply set it aside. It's possible – Shanks has really only paid attention to those belonging to his own crew, pirates he's familiar with (if only so they can shit talk about the inevitable increase next time they cross swords), and Luffy's. The Red Hair pirates celebrated for three days straight when Luffy's bounty shot up to a hundred million. His boy is making waves, exactly like Shanks knew he would. As is Luffy's first mate; Shanks has a bet going that the entire Straw Hat crew will have bounties before long.

Luko nods enthusiastically. "Thirty million!"

"Not bad for a rookie." But Shanks frowns, something about the number and East Blue striking home a deep sense of familiarity. He observes Luko a little more closely for a moment – she stares back, unblinking, and he actually has to fight back the urge to turn this into a contest – and realizes with a jolt that thirty million is Luffy's previous bounty.

"Heh," Shanks grins, letting go of Luko's hand to slide his arm around her waist. "You really are just like my Anchor."

When Luko snuggles even more closely against his side at that, he thinks nothing of it.

There aren't a hundred Marines out searching for him when the reach the town, which he's grateful for. He supposes Luko hit them so hard none of the men have regained consciousness and contacted the base to tell them Shanks is running around the island.

They do run into one small group of Marines while searching for an out of the way hotel to hole up in, but when Shanks curses and glances around for somewhere to hide until they pass – not wanting to cause a ruckus by fighting because they're bound to be noticed – Luko shoves him down an alleyway and into a gap between two building. It's a close fit, even more so as Luko manages to squeeze in with him, but as far as temporary confined spaces go, he's been forced into worse. Much worse, because Luko is wedged so tightly against him Shanks can feel her every curve pressed to his chest and thighs. The straps of her dress have slipped, loose material pulled down enough to make it clear Luko is apparently no fan of bras, which explains why she's so…bouncy while fighting.

Shanks grits his teeth and does his best to ignore how soft her breasts feel, how they push hard against the unforgiving planes of his body and swell every time Luko breathes. They aren't big, but they're incredibly firm – a gift of youth – and Shanks just knows they'll make for a perfect handful. Luko must be able to tell what he's thinking from the intensity of his gaze. Her cheeks flush, and for moment Shanks worries that he's embarrassed her, but her breath hitches and she hooks her fingers around the back of his neck and yanks him into a filthy, messy kiss. She has to push up onto her toes to reach at this angle, sliding along Shanks' front and dragging a hiss from his throat.

A dank back alley isn't the place for this; though the way she shifts her hips makes him think she won't mind if he has her right here, he wants Luko in a bed at the very least. His baggy clothes are all well and good, but pretty soon he won't be capable of running without difficulty. So he breaks the kiss and uses his hand to pin Luko to the rough brick wall.

"Shanks," she whines, but he shakes his head and frees himself from their little nook. A quick peek around the corner confirms that the Marines have moved on, and they dart out into the darkening evening.

Eventually he spots a hotel that charges by the hour as well as by night, which is exactly the sort of business they need – the bored looking young man recognizes Shanks but a bit of extra gold means he'll turn a blind eye to both the infamous pirate and his possibly underage companion. Shanks takes the offered key, only half focused on the room number hanging from the key ring, but they make it to the second floor, get the door open, and then Shanks stops thinking altogether.

He locks the door behind them, and by the time he turns around Luko is kneeling on the worn old bed and grinning in anticipation. Her sandals and hat are already on the floor. Shanks follows her over, kicking off his own sandals and shedding his cloak, sash, and sword on the way, playfully flattening Luko into the mattress. She giggles, apparently unfazed by his weight, and slides her hands beneath his shirt to brush teasingly across his stomach and the small of his back. He sits up, still straddling her, and has never been more grateful for not bothering with actually doing up most of the buttons because he has no patience left. Shanks tosses the white material somewhere behind him, but when he goes in for another kiss, Luko just barely responds. Her eyes are open, drawn to the stump that is all that's left of his other arm.

This is a bit of a turning point; all his previous lovers have either ignored it as best they could or started putting their clothes back on. But Luko once again proves herself different from everyone else – instead of shying away, she reaches out to touch his ruined arm, fingers careful and strangely hesitant.

"Does it hurt?" Luko asks, and for a split second she looks so sad and angry and frustrated Shanks is at a loss.

"Nah, this happened a long time ago. I told you about Luffy, yeah?" She nods. "I traded this arm for his life, and let me tell you, it's the best damn bet I'll ever make."

Her next smile is the gentlest he's seen so far, full of affection and happiness. This is something too intimate to share with someone who's basically a stranger, a one night stand, a pirate who may one day become an enemy, but Shanks doesn't find it at all odd to be telling her. Luko seems to understand.

She rolls them over, noses at his shoulder and trails kisses over the bandages, pulling them loose with her teeth. When they've unraveled enough to expose the bare, scarred flesh underneath, Luko rests her forehead there and says, quiet and sure, "Luffy definitely loves you."

Shanks means to say something in return, he does, because hearing that makes his heart stutter in his chest and he really shouldn't be mixing the things he feels for Luffy with this. It's so wrong, but-

Then Luko sits up and lets her dress fall.

The sun has already risen high in the sky, half drawn curtains filtering a warm golden glow into the sparsely furnished room. Luffy squints and turns away from the light when it falls across her face, but it's too bright for early morning; she remembers that Nami wants her back on the Going Merry at a certain time (the navigator expects everyone to be ready to set sail as soon as she's sure the Log Pose is set) and even though she can't remember what time that is, exactly, Luffy figures she should get out of bed and go to her nakama. She doesn't normally care about time limits – especially since this bed is far more comfortable than the hammocks on Merry and the arm draped around her hips means Shanks is still here – but Nami threatened her meat. Luffy will definitely, definitely die without meat, no matter how delicious Sanji's cooking is.

So she lets herself curl closer to Shanks for only a little while longer, both surprised and pleased her body is faintly sore from doing it so much the night before. The memories they've made – Shanks taking her in the bed and in the shower and against the wall as frantic shouting strained through the open window, every Marine on high alert now word had spread that the Red Hair pirates were docked here – will sustain her until their next meeting. When they'd taken a break, Luffy asked who was watching the Red Force; Shanks had murmured something about his first mate heading back early, and his sharpshooter, and knowing Ben and Yasopp were there made Luffy grin.

She's always missed Shanks, always hated to see him go when she was a child, watching him wander wherever the winds took him. But now she's the one leaving first, Luffy thinks with a snicker, and slips from their cozy nest of blankets to find her clothes. Her underwear is filthy, so she turns the backpack Nami gave her upside down and lets the contents spill onto the floor. The straw hat is there, along with her normal outfit, and Luffy happily changes into it (though the bandages are a bit of a struggle to tighten when she's still so sleepy), stuffing the underwear and her wrinkled dress into the pack instead.

Luffy holds the straw hat and the floppy hat Robin let her borrow, looks between them. At first she's just trying to figure out how to fit the large white hat into the pack without squishing it too badly – Nami will probably beat her up even though she thinks Robin won't mind – but then an awesome idea occurs to her. Settling the straw hat back on her head where it belongs (for now), Luffy grabs all her stuff, leaves Shanks with a kiss and an 'I'll see you soon' gift, and jumps out the window to the ground twenty feet below.

Everyone's already on Merry when she arrives. Zoro is still asleep, though in a different place than where they'd left him, indicating he'd gotten up to fight at some point. Nami is livid.

"The Marines were running around searching for pirates all night! What did I tell you about lying low?"

"Sooooooooorry," Luffy says. "But it wasn't my fault this time. They were after Shanks, not me…"

Nami stares at her blankly, the name 'Shanks' taking a moment to sink in. "Red Hair Shanks? The pirate who gave you that hat?"


"…Did you fight?"

"Y-yeah, but I wanted to show Shanks I'd gotten stronger-"

"You idiot!" Nami's fist connected with Luffy's skull, leaving the rubber girl rolling around the deck in pain, clutching her swollen head. "Now your Luko disguise won't work! The Marines will definitely remember a girl who's been seen with Red Hair Shanks and beat up their men. Geez, you might even get another bounty because they'll assume you can give them information or something if they catch you…"

Luffy sits up, pain forgotten as she beams with excitement. "You mean I'll have two bounties? SO COOL!"

Nami gives her a look teeming with disgust and stalks off, yelling for everyone to get their asses moving and make ready to set sail, kicking Zoro as she passes. Robin comes to stand beside Luffy instead, brushing her fingers over a fading bruise on the slope of Luffy's shoulder.

"Have a good time, Captain-san?" she asks, a small, knowing smile playing across her lips.

Luffy nods, grinning. "I missed Shanks a lot so it was really fun hanging out with him. But-" her words are punctuated with a yawn, "I wanna take a nap."

"Didn't get much sleep last night, hm?" Robin chuckles when Luffy shakes her head, then gives her a brief once over. "Captain-san…where's the hat I lent you?"

Luffy shifts her eyes to the wooden panels of Merry's deck. "Um…"

Shanks wakes up alone. He doesn't open his eyes right away, instead feeling around the side of the bed where Luko should be, but isn't. She hasn't been gone long – the sheets are still warm from her body, but when he lifts his head to check and see if she's somewhere else in the room, he knows immediately that she has left the hotel. All of her things are missing.

He groans and sits up, disappointed but not entirely surprised that Luko is gone. She's a pirate too, a captain, and therefore has her own crew to get back too and Marines to avoid. Still, waking together would have been nice. Might've even been able to get in one more round if they'd hurried. He flops back into the pillows, not quite ready to start the day despite the lingering annoyance of Marines trying to kill him. He needs coffee.

Something slides off Luko's vacated pillow and falls onto his ruined arm – the floppy hat he's come to associate with his lady pirate. Shanks grabs it, stumbling out of bed with renewed energy. The Grand Line is a vast and dangerous sea, but if luck is on their side, they'll meet again someday. And since Luko left her hat behind, she must be counting on it.

Making no effort to conceal himself on his way back to the Red Force – and getting into quite a bit of trouble for it, but there's nothing like a good fight to get the blood flowing first thing in the afternoon – he boards the ship, whistling a jovial tune and waving to the crew rushing around to prepare for departure.

Yasopp leans against the railing, frowning down the barrel of one of his guns. Shanks shouts at him, "Is everyone back?"

The marksman snorts. "Of course - you're late as usual, Captain. We ready to get out of here?"

Shanks nods and heads for the kitchen, where he hopes Ben has coffee waiting for him. Sure enough, the strong smell of freshly brewed heaven greets him, and he groans in relief. Ben watches him over his copy of today's newspaper, though he doesn't say anything until Shanks swallows a few mouthfuls of the hot brown liquid. "How was she?"

"More incredible than she had any right to be," Shanks says, and Ben smiles as he takes a drag on his cigarette. "I'm sure she'll make it to the New World soon enough. Better keep an eye out."

Ben grunts in agreement, glancing at the hat Shanks is holding before turning back to his paper. "Who's is that?"

"Luko's. She was wearing it at the bar, don't you remember?"

The newspaper folds down so slowly Shanks is worried Ben has read something terribly disturbing, but the look on his first mate's face is what really scares him. "Luko?" He slowly draws the word out as if he's tasting it…and finds it offensive or hilarious or both.

"Yeah," Shanks says. A nervous sweat breaks out on the nape of his neck. There aren't many men who can make Red Hair Shanks shake in his boots, but Ben is one of them. "She said her name was Luko."

"Did she now?" One of Ben's eyebrows shoots up. He glances out the window, and Shanks wonders if his curiosity has been spiked. Perhaps he should be worrying for Luko rather than himself. "And you slept with her."

"Er…" Ben sounds as though he's already absolutely sure Shanks did, so he doesn't say anything.

A moment of tense silence stretch out, and then Ben bursts out laughing, cigarette falling from his mouth and paper dropping to the table. Shanks stares, deeply shocked for the second time in as many days, because he's never seen his cool, clever first mate laugh like this before, doubled over with tears in his eyes.

"What the hell is going on?" he demands.

Ben refuses to tell him what's so damn funny, but chuckles to himself every time they're together for weeks.

And Shanks is left feeling like the joke is on him.

A/N – And so Shanks has no idea the girl he just slept with was Luffy. Uh-oh…

To everyone who left a review asking me to update, I'm deeply sorry for the wait. I don't have any idea what happened to the last five months – they seemed to go by like magic.

Anyway, I'm back now. I won't make you wait a billion months for the next chapter, if anyone is still reading this thing.

Kinda sad I missed the one year mark for this fic, all the way back in November. Of course, the problem with time passing is that my writing (hopefully) evolved, and now I can't stand reading those early chapters. When I finish this damn thing, I'll go back and rewrite the first two at the very least. Cringing at your own writing is never fun.

Next chapter goes back to canon scenes, probably post-Ennis Lobby, Thriller Bark, and the Archipelago.

Then comes Amazon Lily, Impel Down, the fight to rescue Ace…

And the failure.