Title: Symbol of Manliness
Rating: PG
Word Count:
Pairing: (slight) Roger x Rouge
Topic: None.
Type: Cannon Setting, Roger's era. (Probably sometime before he was called the Pirate King.)
Genre: Humor
Disclaimer: I don't own anything from One Piece. One Piece belongs to Eiichiro Oda.
VTM: This is a sequel to my fic 'Smooth Talker'.

-o-o-

"Ray, do you know what makes a man a man?"

Silvers Rayleigh gave a blank stare to his captain. "I thought we established this before, Roger. You're terrible at philosophy..."

Roger frowned at his first mate. "What makes you say that?"

"You once said the answer to life is 'fish'." Rayleigh said in a flat tone. For some reason Roger was acting more odd than usual ever since they came to this island. It all started sometime after his captain came back for a trip to the market in a foul mood and with a sore stomach. Whenever Rayleigh tried to ask him about it Roger wouldn't tell him a damn thing.

"Fish live in the sea! The sea is freedom! There for fish are the symbol of freedom and have the answers to all of life's questions!" Roger declared, the entire bar was staring at them at this point.

"Would you sit down already?" Rayleigh barked. He sank slightly in his seat, feeling a little embarrassed by the spectacle Roger was making of himself.

Roger promptly did so, pouting like a scolded child. "Ya old crab..."

"What was that?"

"Nothing..." Roger looked away from Rayleigh's suspicious glare. "Anyway, like I was saying, do you know what makes a man a man?"

The first mate shook his head and gave a sigh. "Fine, I'll bite, what is it?"

"Manliness!" Roger said proudly and he stroked his curly mustache.

Rayleigh clapped the palm of his hand to his face and gave a tired sigh. He just knew it was going to be something stupid.

"And do you know what best represents manliness?" Roger asked with a grin.

"I don't know, is it 'fish'?" the first mate said with a shrug.

"It's having an kickass mustache!" Roger laughed all the while stroking his own glorious mustache. "Only real men have a mustache this cool. You're not invited to the club, Ray, you just got a stupid looking beard."

Rayleigh stared at Roger for a moment, part of him wanted to hit the guy, but something told him that something was bothering his captain. Even on his worst days Roger was never quite this god damned annoying. "Okay Curly-Queue, spill it, what's going on?"

"Huh?" The D. canted his head to the side. "What do you mean?"

"You know damn well what I mean, what happened?" The first mate urged his captain to talk more. "Something's aggravating you."

"No..." Roger's eyes darted elsewhere, avoiding eye contact with Ray.

"You seriously need to get better at lying." Rayleigh said as he rubbed his temples. He could feel a headache coming upon him. "But for now, just tell me what's going on."

Roger bit his lip and seemed to think it over for a moment. "Okay, so I was exploring the town a couple days ago..."

"Yeah, I remember, so what happened?"

Roger gave a small sigh as he went over the event in his head."Well I met someone there, a girl, I was going to talk to her, but I kind of froze up."

"That's it?" Rayleigh said with a hint of disappointment in his voice. It wasn't something that surprised him that much. He never really figured Roger for the kind of guy that would be a ladies' man. Not that the captain was naive to women, but his interests usually seemed to be elsewhere.

"Well, no, she did punch me pretty good." Roger added with a short laugh.

"She what? Why? " The first mate raised an eyebrow and stared at him questioningly. "What did you do?"

"Told her she had nice melons."

"You did what?" Rayleigh almost laughed. "Why the hell did you do that?"

"She bought melons." Roger said bluntly.

"And you were staring at her chest?" The first mate said with a knowing smirk.

"Well, yes, that too." the D. admitted with a shrug.

"So, I'm guessing that after that incident, you felt that you were a little less of a man? Because you got hit by a girl?"

"Well, sort of, I think it was also the freezing up part of it too." Roger said thoughtfully. "I think I was actually nervous."

"You? Nervous?" Rayleigh scoffed. "You're a pirate, pirates don't get nervous. Man up! You were the one boasting about being manly, act the part!"

Roger seemed emboldened by his friend's words and gave a nod. His usual mischievous grin reappeared onto his features. "You're right! To hell with that woman! Let's have some grog, damn it!" He then laughed.

"Good! You're paying!" Rayleigh said with a smirk.

The D. stopped in mid-laughter and frowned at him. "You bitch."

"Suck it up, manly man." Rayleigh said as he waved to a waitress.

"Hello, how can I help you boys today?" The waitress said with a cheerful tone.

Roger looked up at her and was about to make an order, and froze for a moment. There standing right next to him was the girl from the market, Rouge.

'THINK ROGER! Okay! Act manly and cool!' Roger then quickly went with the first detail about Rouge that came to mind. He then forced himself to laugh. "So then I said, 'how stupid do freckles look?'Especially on adult women?"

"Huh? What are you talking abou-OW!" Rayleigh got a sudden kick to the shin from the D. sitting across for him. Rayleigh bit his lip and then looked back and forth between Roger and the waitress. He soon put two and two together and saw what was going on. 'So that's the girl? She doesn't seem so bad...'

Rouge frowned at Roger. "What's wrong with freckles?" She was blushing from embarrassment at this point, her freckles were a slightly sensitive subject for her. While they were cute, they did make her look deceivingly childish at times.

Roger smirked triumphantly, he had found her weakness, now to exploit it! "Oh nothing's wrong with them, if your ten." True he was acting a little childish, but he was pretty sure that he had just won this round. Revenge was sweet.

Rouge pursed her lips and looked away from Roger.

"Is there a problem, miss?" Rayleigh asked with a smirk.

The female D. then looked at the both of them with a half glare. "No, I just don't talk to men with prissy looking facial hair." She then looked at Roger. "You have got to have the stupidest looking mustache that I have ever seen! You look like you took the hair from the top of your fat head and glued it to your ugly face!"

Roger's jaw dropped and Rayleigh's eyes went wide with surprise. And with that Rouge promptly left the two flabbergasted pirates.

"Damn, she's a little firecracker." Rayleigh said with a laugh. "I guess she doesn't realize that we're pirates, not that that's too bad. Too much attention would probably attract marines." It was then that he heard a small whimper, Rayleigh then looked at his captain and found him with his head on the table, sulking. He couldn't really blame the guy, that girl went right for the jugular. "...Want some cake? I know you like cake. I'll pay this time."

"Yes please." Roger said with a heavy sigh. "Ray? Do me a favor, tell me my mustache is kickass."

Rayleigh opened his mouth as if to say something, but he couldn't quite get the words out. "That's kind of pushing it."

"...You suck."

Meanwhile, Rouge went into the kitchen of the bar and gave an irritated huff.

"Well now, look at you, all in a fuss." said a fellow waitress that was on break. "That's the first time I've seen anyone get under your skin like that."

"It's nothing." Rouge said still with hint of blush in her cheeks. "Just a curly mustached asshole."

"Oh come now dear, that man was making eyes at you when he saw you." the waitress said with a smile. "I think he might have a tiny crush on you. Can't say that's too bad, he is kind of handsome."

Rouge looked back at the despairing captain. There was a certain charm that was there, but it wasn't something that she could really explain. "Well, maybe he is, but I won't tell him that."

-The End-