A/N: Hey guys! So here's the beginning of Sail the Ocean Blue Redone.3. It's just the first two chapters and I apologize for that. I'm trying to get the rest of the East Blue arcs done by Monday night so pray for me. I over estimated myself getting 6-7 years of work done in 7 months while working full time and going to school. Any words of encouragement will fuel me and I need the fuel! Rowan is being a massive pain in my ass. Thanks for sticking with me though. I appreciate each and every one of you, from those who favorite/follow to those of you who review! And I'm gonna apologize in advance for the strangeness of order of chapters while this is under renovations!
Also! To help get the creative juices going, if you guys wanna send me a prompt or questions through here or on my tumblr (IronMaidenKissed) about/for Rowan don't hesitate!
PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT BECAUSE APPARENTLY PEOPLE CAN'T READ: RORONOA ZORO WILL BE CALLED RORONOA ZOLO IN THIS STORY! Like it says in the SUMMARY! If you do not like DO NOT READ!
Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece. Only Rowan and those associated with her.
Chapter One: My Name is Luffy
Life is a journey that must be traveled no matter how bad the roads and accommodations – Oliver Goldsmith.
"R—Rowan?" The voice, timid and with a stutter that could shake the earth off its axis, wasn't what woke her from her nap. The door, opening to the storage room where she currently hid, had done that job. She didn't bothered moving when the nervous footfalls echoed in her ears. Only one person on the ship walked with a literal falter in his step. But the boy no doubt thought her deep in slumber when she didn't so much as twitch when he stood next to her for a good five minutes while working up the courage to say her name.
"What Koby?" The flinch was a full body one. The fool almost knocked over a barrel he spasmed so hard. Rowan bothered to crack open an eye if only to glare. She had spent the past week organizing the storage room to the Captain's instructions. She'd be damned if she actually had to do it again and give the bitch the satisfaction of her 'failing' cause Koby fucked it up. The pinkette in front of her doubled in on himself, eyes glued to the floor. A thick layer of sweat glistened on his skin, illuminated from the lamp hung above.
"Uhh—well—I mean…that is—C-Captain—"
"Spit it out or get out." Koby flinched for the third time, coming even closer to knocking the barrel. She heard the liquid in side swish dangerously.
"S-sorry! I-I was s-suppose to—I mean Captain A-Alvida asked—o-ordered actually—" Koby sounded close to choking on his own tongue. Heaving out a tremendous sigh Rowan removed herself from her comfortable position. When her feet touched the floor she leaned heavily on her knees and rubbed at her eyes.
"Does the Captain want me?" Koby nodded his head hard enough Rowan was surprised it didn't snap off his neck. Her next sigh was heavier. "Fine. I'll be up in a minute." Koby was gone in a flash. She snorted after his retreating back. How that boy had survived this long on a pirate's ship was still a mystery to her. Rowan didn't bother waiting and stood up herself. The boy had probably wasted any time she had left to make it to the ship's captain without her getting chewed out for insubordination.
She lumbered to the deck where she spotted the portly Captain in seconds.
'Iron Mace' Alvida stood inspecting her ship for any imperfection with the eyes of a hawk. The bashed in head of the poor sod who hadn't listened to her infuriating instructions was still laid out cold beside her.
"You called," Rowan said in lieu of a greeting. Alvida, nimble despite her robust size, spun on her heel and glared.
"You certainly took yer sweet time," she snapped out. Rowan shrugged a shoulder. Alvida looked ready to say more on the subject but her mouth snapped shut with a clack of teeth. Rowan watched her maul over her thoughts. It was obvious in the woman's eyes she wanted to chew the other woman out for something or other but as Rowan had been hiding for the past few days there was little she could say.
"Did you want something or not?" Rowan finally huffed out, tired of watching the woman battle herself.
"Watch yer tone! Or I'll have you hanging from the crow's nest." A hum of acknowledgment and Alvida narrowed her eyes dangerously. "I want you to help the boys bring in the supplies from the shed. I want this ship out of harbor with the next tide or I'll put it on yer head!" Rowan barely stopped her eye roll. It came out as an eye twitch instead. "Now!"
"Yes Captain." With the gangplank down, Rowan easily departed the ship and walked along the shore to the little shed hiding within the shrubbery.
The three men already sorting through the supplies looked none too pleased when Rowan entered the building. That in itself didn't surprise Rowan. Most of the pirates, male and holding a sense of entitlement that was vastly over exaggerated, tended to keep their distance after one of their crewmen thought it a wise idea to try and force his 'affection' on her. The doctor had had to perform an emergency castration when Rowan crushed the man's balls in her hand when he didn't listen to her warning. Rowan refused to feel any pity and it kept the fools far enough away from her and that suited her just fine. Though it had had the side effect or her becoming a target for foul play and insubordination.
"What still needs to be done?" she demanded while eyeing one that was sitting on a box.
"We don't need ya checkin' in on us girly. You aint' the first mate," one growled with a weary expression. Rowan snorted and crossed her arms under her chest.
"I give no shits about what you're doing. The Captain ordered me to help and here I am. Now what still needs to be done?" She was waved off with orders to check the vegetables for transportation. Most of them were jarred or pickled in order to keep them from rotting on the trip but it wasn't unheard of for the occasional jar to get cracked or to have some that had certainly gone bad. Alvida was a very specific about the storage after half the crew got wasted on a bad batch of fruit that had fermented. Rowan had found it hilarious. But then, she had been up in the crow's nest and not in the range of projectile vomit.
Tuning out the others in the small building Rowan was immersed elbow deep in a box fishing for a fuzzy looking bottle when the sudden silence had her stiffening. Her backside high in the air, Rowan pushed off the side of the box to look over her shoulder. Finding the three staring grudgingly at her with scowls and a trembling Koby in the middle of them, Rowan fell back to her feet and faced them.
"Koby found a barrel…we think it's full of rum." Rowan's eyes fell to the sideways barrel at the pinkette's feet. They rose to stare blankly at the men.
"Then it is mostly like a Floating Barrel. You should put it back in the sea, Koby."
"Oi! Don't go listening to her Koby! That's a waste of rum!" Since it wasn't the captain Rowan didn't bother hiding her eye roll this time around.
"Whatever. But if we drown at sea because you angered a god I will personally end you," Rowan warned with a snapping of teeth before turning back to her job. The jar kept moving out of reach though she was starting to have a rising suspicion the 'fuzzy' wasn't in an actually jar. Something with fangs and venom maybe.
The moment Rowan's back was turned was the second the explosion went off.
"What a nice nap that was!" was screamed at inhuman levels while Rowan spun on her heel and faced the explosion with fists high. The flash of red had her immediate attention. A boy was clad in the red, a red vest to be specific. A smile that physically hurt to look at spread from ear to ear on tan cheeks.
"Looks like I'm saved! I thought I was a goner for sure!" the voice from before bellowed from the slight looking male in just as boisterous a tone.
The second bout of silence set Rowan on edge just as much as the first had. The boy still half in the barrel seemed to finally recognize he wasn't alone.
"Who are you?" he commanded.
"Who the heck are you?" was the resounding scream to his demand. Rowan supposed it was her luck that the scream came seconds before the sound of something whirling and Alvida's voice thundering in the distance. Rowan flipped over the box she had searching through and braced. Alvida's mace slammed into the storage building and said structure was ripped asunder under the force. The box Rowan hid behind was splintered but Rowan was left unharmed. Peeking over the top of her impromptu shield Rowan found Alvida snarling down at the three males. Luffy and Koby were nowhere to be seen.
"I ask you, what the most beautiful thing in all the seas is?" Alvida snarled like a rabid dog. Rowan contained her snort and came to her full height.
"That'll be you for sure, Captain!"
"Good! Then why are you trying to disobey me?"
"E-eh?" Rowan flicked a slither of wood of her shirt with a nose twitch. She was going to be finding splinters throughout her body for the next couple of days no doubt. "No! We'd never dare do something like that Captain!"
"Don't play dumb with me! I heard you guys say 'what a nice nap!' all the way from the ship!"
"Ah! T-that wasn't us Cap'n!"
"That's right Captain Alvida! There's an invader!"
"Just now Koby brought a strange guy—!"
"Koby was just as surprised as the rest of us," Rowan interrupted causing attention to settle on her. Rowan dusted off her beanie and glowered at the man who was trying to throw the poor kid under the bus. She pulled the hat back down around her ears once she was sure she wasn't going to get a splinter to the forehead.
"Rowan! What is going on?" Rowan heaved a powerful snort of frustration out through her nose, eyeing the rubble around her feet. This would take them hours to sort out.
"Koby found a barrel that was apparently part casket. Someone was hiding in it or something—"
"Could it be someone who's trying to catch me and get the bounty?" Rowan felt her breath catch as Alvida's face twisted with suspicion. "Did Koby finally betray me?"
"Could it be him? That famous—"
"Nonsense! I heard that he's still being held captive at the marine's prison!" Rowan, confused now, looked to the sneering Alvida.
"If he's the real thing, he must have escaped by now…that notoriously evil Roronoa Zolo!"
"It makes sense! That's probably how he's been able to capture so many pirates! Sneaking up on them in a barrel!"
"…that makes no sense." Rowan slammed her fists on her hips when the others continued on as if she had never spoken. Speaking amongst themselves, in reality the other pirates were agreeing with their captain and getting her fired up. When said fire was built into a nice inferno Alvida spun on Rowan while pointing a fat finger in her face. Rowan snapped her teeth in a viable threat at having her personal space invaded.
"Rowan! I want you to go and find Koby and the Pirate Hunter! Take them both out!" The redhead threw her arms up in the air with a cut off shout cut short by her snapping teeth.
"Sure! Why not? I'll just go 'nd face one o' the most feared pirate hunters of our time, 'at's just fine!"
"Do as I say or I'll have you left on a deserted island!" Alvida thundered.
"'m goin'!" Rowan roared right back, disappearing into the heavy vegetation that made up the middle of the island. Muttering under her breath Rowan tromped through the forest with ears and eyes open for any sign of the intruders or Koby.
In the end it was Koby's shouting that gave away their position. The boy's screeching had her turning directions and heading towards the small bay that was nestled on the island. Going from a thundering pace to a silent stalk, Rowan cut through the underbrush with proficiency and no small amount of stealth.
"Don't tell me your after Gold Roger's lost treasure One Piece!" Rowan froze, hidden by an impressive bush. She was able to peek through the leaves and spotted a flash of red. "Do you want to die? Every pirate in the world is after that!"
"And so am I." Koby, in his brilliant pink glory looking quite flushed. Which was interesting seeing as how he also appeared quite pale. Somewhere in the back of Rowan's mind she wondered if he'd have a stroke from his fluctuating blood pressure. Rowan's eyes rolled from Koby and to the stranger in a barrel. He was now free from his confines and Rowan was able to get a better look.
He was much darker in complexion compared to Koby, with tanned skin and dark hair. His brilliant red vest and yellow straw hat made both these things stand out even more.
"But the odds against you are astronomical! It's impossible! You want to be King of the Pirates in the Golden Age of Piracy? It'll never happen!" Rowan almost couldn't stop a growl from bursting past her lips as the strawhat brought a fist down on top of the shorter boy's head. The Kings knew the boy was picked on enough by the crew. Koby hit the dirt and wailed. "Why'd you hit me?" he hollered.
"You were hysterical," was apparently the appropriate response. Koby sucked back a sob before rolling onto his backside.
"That's okay, I'm used to it," he chuckled weakly. The stranger huffed with a scrunched up face of annoyance.
"I'm not afraid to die, Koby." Pulling his hat from his head the boy held it out for all of Koby to inspect. "I've set myself to become the King of the Pirates and if I die trying then at least I tried!"
"…you're…you're not even afraid to die?"
"Nope! And I believe I'll succeed, too. Or am I just deluding myself…"
"Most likely deluding yourself," Rowan answered, causing Koby to scream and the boy to turn in her direction. Rowan pulled herself out from the undergrowth and brushed off a few stray leaves that clung to her shirt.
"Who are you?" the boy asked.
"Better question is who are you and what are you doing on the island?" Rowan's eyes roamed to the barrel standing by the boy. "Scratch that, why did you appear on this island in a barrel? That's more important." The raven haired boy threw his head back and let out a loud laugh. It made Rowan start for there was nothing held back in that noise. Just open and honest laughter that she hadn't heard for some time.
"My boat got sucked in by a whirlpool!" he proclaimed. Rowan cocked an eyebrow.
"And your boat…was the barrel?"
"No, I had my food in the barrel but I ate all of it before I reached the whirlpool." Rowan frowned. There were no whirlpools around here for at least a day's trip. And there were no other islands around here for at least another three. If he ran out of food he must have been sailing for quite some time. "So I jumped in so I didn't drown."
"Hmph. You're lucky the barrel didn't break." The boy laughed again.
"What's your name kid?"
"Monkey D. Luffy!" Rowan's eyes narrowed dangerously. 'Luffy' didn't flinch while Koby let out an audible swallow.
"…you're a loud kid Monkey D. Luffy." He laughed a third time. Rowan decided to give the encounter up for a strange one and dust her hands of the whole situation. "Well Monkey D. Luffy you need to leave this island now. You too Koby."
"Alvida isn't happy and the others have convinced her you've finally grown a pair and hired a bounty hunter."
"What?" Rowan smacked Koby away from her, the boy's voice loud and shrill and far to close in his panic. Damn kid was going to bust her eardrum with his screaming.
"Don't ask me. I don't pretend to understand the idiotic ways of this crew. Just get off this island now. You've been building a raft haven't you?"
"H-how did you know?"
"You're not as sneaky as you like to think kid. Not many reasons to be dragging drift wood into the forest except to build something. So where's is it?"
"Right here." Rowan followed Luffy's pointing finger to the rubbish floating in the water next to them. Unable to comprehend what she was looking at Rowan glanced back to the other.
"That's Koby's ship." Rowan's head about snapped off her neck as she whirled back on the pile of floating trash. If she squinted, really reallysquinted, she could make out something that resembled a ship.
"…what?" Rowan let out a pained groan and pinched the bridge of her nose with eyes shut tight. She could feel a headache coming on strong. "Okay…okay we can deal with this." She shook her head once and turned back to the boys. "If you two can survive through the day without Alvida and the others finding you then come back to the ship once night's fallen. Koby knows the schedule well enough. Come right before a shift change and I'll lower a dinghy for you two. Try and scavenge up what you can from the island because that'll be the most I can get you."
"Y-you're going to help us Rowan?"
"If you go back to Alvida now she'll most likely kill you. It's time you went home Koby." Rowan looked away as Koby's head fell on his shoulders. She eyed Luffy before propping her hands on her hips. "I don't know what you have planned boy but I'll consider it a personal favor if you help Koby get to an island alive."
"…you don't even like me." Both Luffy and Rowan turned to Koby's soft voice. He was still looking down at the ground but his shoulders were starting to shake. Rowan eyed him with distaste, suspecting tears were about to come pouring down. The boy was a howler and she didn't need his crying bringing the rest of the crew down on their heads. At least not until she was long gone.
"It's not a matter of me liking you or not. If you stay here you'll die and there's no reason for that if we can avoid it."
"Alvida is your captain but you're willing to fight her…because you don't think I should die," Koby blubbered, just bearing making his words understandable. Rowan let out a snort.
"Alvida is the captain of the ship but she certainly isn't my captain. Just a means to an end at the moment."
"You're not afraid of her at all!" Rowan made a strong shushing noise.
"Don't bring them all down on our heads boy. Stop your crying and start moving. You'll have to stay ahead of the crew until night fall and—" Koby's head snapped up and she was greeted with red cheeks, tear filled eyes and snotty nose. Rowan instantly took a step back.
"If Alvida finds out your helping us she'll kill you!" Rowan scoffed with a fierce scowl.
"I'd like to see that fat cow try and kill me." Koby jerked back as if he was struck. Rowan eyed him suspiciously, prepared to beat him back if he lost his senses and tried to hug her in his obviously emotional state.
"If…if I'm willing to die…will I be able to become a marine?"
Koby floundered to his feet.
"Luffy, I know it means that we'll be enemies! You to Rowan! But joining the marines and catching bad guys like Alvida has always been my dream! Do you think I can do it?"
"I wouldn't know!"
"I have to at least try! I'd rather die trying to get out of here and joint the marines than stay here and be a caretaker my entire life! And then Alvida…I'll be able to arrest someone like Alvida!"
The snapping of undergrowth was the only warning Rowan had to jump backwards. Koby was lucky he was so close and Rowan instinctively grabbed him to pull him out of harm's way. Bursting from the surrounding foliage like an enraged boar, Alvida swung down her iron mace where Koby had been standing. Her swing went wide without Koby's body to stop it and smashed into the earth instead, flinging up bits of earth.
"Who did you say you are going to arrest, Koby?" Alvida roared. A second swing and Koby's 'raft' was splintered into a thousand bits.
"My boat," Rowan just barely heard him croak over Alvida's crowing.
"Did you think you can escape from me?" The stout woman stood up to her full height and swung her mace across her shoulders. Glaring from underneath her cow boy hat the woman sneered. "IS that who you hired to capture me? He doesn't seem to be Roronoa Zolo. But it certainly makes more sense to know Rowan was helping you! You never would have been able to afford a bounty hunter otherwise!" Rowan felt her body tense as the Lovely Duck's crew started to appear from the surrounding trees. Easily outnumbering them now a ten to one. More so since Rowan knew Koby would be useless in a fight and she hadn't the slightest about the other boy.
"He's not a bounty hunter," Rowan tried to intervene, hoping there was a semblance of a chance of talking their way out of this. Even if that hope was very, very slim.
"Like I'd believe a word you'd have to say! I knew I shouldn't have hired you on Rowan. I knew the second I saw you you'd be trouble and you've done nothing but prove me right since day one." Rowan scowled fiercely back at Alvida's snarling smirk.
"I'm more of an asset than half your crew you old bag!" she snapped back.
"Bullshit!" Rowan pushed Koby behind her a ways as Alvida's sneer turned into a twist mix of vicious gloating. "But I'm feeling nice! I'm gonna ask you once more, who's the most beautiful thing in the sea?" Rowan took in the breath to tell Alvida exactly what she thought of this woman when Luffy's voice cut straight through the forest,
"Who's this toad?" The squalling from the crew and Koby was enough for Rowan to push him further away. Her eardrums could only take so much.
"Luffy! Quick, repeat after me! In all the seas, this lady is the most—" It was honestly a little funny, somewhere in the back of Rowan's racing mind, when she saw the light click on in Koby's mind. Taking a deep breath, the pinkette bellowed louder than he ever had before, "—the biggest toad!"
Rowan plotted how long she could live on the island with Alvida after her and the boys dead.
Alvida turned the deepest shade of purple anyone had seen and roared.
Rowan jerked back as Koby was thrown into her body, not by Alvida's mace but by Luffy throwing him sideways with a single arm.
"Well said, Koby!" he cackled under Alvida's screaming. Rowan's hand reached out, eyes following Alvida's motions as she began to bring the spiked mace down on the raven haired kid. She was using both hands and Rowan had seen Alvida literally burst men's heads under her might. But Rowan was to slow and Alvida's mace fell like the warhammer of god. It slammed right down on the crown of Luffy's head. Rowan threw Koby behind her, hoping to spare him the sight of blood, bone and brain matter from splattering everywhere.
But it never came. Instead of exploding like a rotten watermelon, all Luffy's body did was sag slightly under the force of Alvida's hit.
"It's useless against me," she heard him chuckle, completely coherent and not the least bit brain dead. "—because I'm made of rubber!"
"GOMU-GOMU NO PISTOL!" Rowan's eyes popped out of her skull as Luffy's fist flew past her head, stretching further and further before sling-shooting back with enough force to make her feel a current.
And it slammed straight into Alvida's face knocking the woman back a hundred yards and out cold. A moment of silence held the company as all eyes fell on Alvida's unconscious form. When Luffy moved every man and woman on the island jumped. Luffy pointed an obnoxious finger at the pale crew.
"Prepare a boat for Koby! He wants to join the marines so stay outta his way!"
The crew found their voices in the forms of screams as they ran as fast as their feet could carry them.
"Wha…what happened?" Koby's shaking voice squeaked. Rowan swallowed thickly, eyes stuck on Luffy as the boy snorted at the backs of the retreating crew.
"Devil Fruit," Rowan said with an accusing tone. Luffy lost his serious expression for a bright smile that had Rowan wanting to scramble backwards. No one should switch between emotions that quick.
"That's right! I ate the Gomu Gomu no Mi. I'm a rubber man!"
"That's awesome!" Koby cheered, rushing past Rowan and beginning to throw a hundred and one questions at Koby. Luffy just stood in front of the pinkette and let him rattle on with his smile still bright.
'A Devil Fruit user and a D…this boy is going to be nothing but trouble,' she recognized silently.
"Rowan!" The woman jerked realizing both boys were looking at her now.
"What?" she demanded.
"You're coming with us right?" Rowan blinked at Koby. The boy gave her a pleading expression. "You gotta now! When Alvida wakes up she'll never forgive you for being with us! You gotta escape with us! Right Luffy?" Said boy let out a laugh and his smile got bigger.
Rowan eyed Alvida's prone body that had been abandoned by her crew. She wasn't even sure the woman was going to wake up after a hit like that. But…Koby was right. If she did wake up Rowan would be in a very sticky situation.
Rowan eyed Luffy.
Every fiber of her being screamed at her not to join the smiling fool. He was obviously strong. Not just anyone in the East Blue, especially not some no-name starter like him, could just punch an established pirate out with a single hit unless they had some real firepower. Add on the fact he was a Devil Fruit user and his name…
Rowan groaned while pinching her nose.
"Fine. But! You two are on your own the second we reach the next island. Understand?"
"Fine by me!"
"Awesome! Come on! We better get ready!" Rowan couldn't stop her face from souring as Koby shot away back towards the ship, Luffy tailing behind him. Going with the boys was obviously the better choice out of the two.
So why did she feel like she was making a huge mistake?
Said woman cracked open an eye and glanced to the boy beside her. Even with the sun down there was plenty of light from the moon and stars for her to make out Koby's face and Luffy's snoring form behind him.
The three of them had set sail out on a small ship, barely bigger than a dinghy, with enough supplies to last them five days. That was if she was able to keep Luffy from gorging himself. Already she had had to beat him back from their wares and threaten to throw him overboard more than once if he didn't stop trying to sneak food. Not that it stopped him. The boy's rubber ability was hard to keep track of and he was sneaky. For someone who had more going on in his stomach than he did between his ears, the brat was crafty.
Their destination was the nearby marine fortress. Mostly, this was due to it being the closets island to Alvida's little spit of land. And it would be a good place for Koby to enlist. And, for some unknown reason that Rowan could not understand in the least bit, Luffy wanted to meet the feared 'Pirate Hunter' Roronoa Zolo. What had made the boy think he could just walk up to a bounty hunter and talk like they were friends was uncompressible for Rowan. The idea that said pirate hunter would even indulge the idea of joining Luffy's pirate crew was to asinine for her to even begin to follow.
But Luffy was set in his ways and if the boy wanted to get his head chopped off than more power to him. Rowan would be done with the both of them the moment they set foot on the island.
If they made it there alive without Luffy eating their provisions.
"What is it Koby?" Rowan questioned, exhaustion clear. She hadn't been able to get a good night's sleep for the past two nights. Not only was the boat too small for her to really stretch out but she didn't trust that there would be food in the morning if she did do more than doze.
"Do you think I'll be able to become a marine?"
Silence stretched out between the cabin boy and pirate. When Rowan didn't so much as look in his direction let alone answer his question, Koby let out a shaky laugh.
"N-never mind! Sorry to bother you—"
"The marines will take in just about anyone," Rowan cut him off. Koby let out another weak chuckle and scratched at the back of his head.
"That's true! I guess I could easily become a cabin boy there—"
"There are worse things to be than a cabin boy," Rowan cut him off again. Koby sunk deeper into the floor of their ship, suddenly wishing there was something to hide behind. The cold expression on Rowan's face was making him sweat. It was only when Rowan let out a sigh through her nose and relaxed her shoulders that Koby started to feel safe again.
"Just believe in yourself Koby. And train hard. And…and stay true to yourself. You'll do just fine."
"…you really think so?" Rowan let a flicker of a smile cross her lips.
"I've met worse men than you Koby." The smile melted away for a more serious expression. Turning away from the inky blackness around them Rowan looked to Koby and pinned the boy with a single glance. "But don't think that just because someone is in the marines that that automatically makes them a good person."
"No." Koby sunk back down, trying to look as small as humanly possible. The cold look was back tenfold. "No buts. Not all marines are good men. Remember that…and go to sleep. You'll need all the energy you can muster when we get there."
Silence fell upon the small ship, the only noise being the sound of waves lapping against the hull and win whistling through the sail. The rocking of the ship was lulling her back into a state of meditation when a soft giggle had her eyes snapping open. Rowan expected to find Luffy having snuck his hand into a bag of provisions but found them left unmolested. When the giggle continued Rowan looked over to said rubber boy and found him smiling at her from underneath the shadow of his straw hat.
"What?" she snapped, causing the boy to increase his laughter. Rowan was honestly surprised he wasn't letting out the boisterous one that he had been sprouting since the moment she met him.
"You're actually a really nice person," he snickered. Rowan squinted her eyes at him.
"Stop spreading filthy lies and shut it." Luffy let out another snicker and practically blasted her with a toothy smile. In the dark of the night it was almost blinding.
"I think I've decided something."
"Don't hurt yourself thinking to hard kid." Luffy just continued to smile so Rowan rolled over and put him out of her range of sight. "Weirdo."
The island was small. With smaller blocky buildings made of soft color stones that all needed to be scrubbed down. Towering above all the run down buildings was the familiar blue stripped marine building.
Rowan eyed the giant building with no small amount of distaste even while tying their ship off on the dock.
"We're finally at the marines' base!" Luffy cheered while throwing himself off the little ship and onto the wooden dock.
"Watch your feet," she barked after him, not trusting how close to the edge he would get. The water was still deep enough to drown in. "You to Koby," she included, lending out a hand for the pinkette to grab so he didn't fall in the crack between boat and land.
"Thanks!" Rowan let out a snort and double checked that everything was put or tucked away properly. She didn't need these fools coming back to their ship to find it ransacked.
"You're great Koby!"
"We've actually reached our destination." Rowan felt something in her twitch at the boy's proclamation. A bit more fell into line as to why they found him floating in a barrel.
"Of course! That's the basics of navigation. If you wander around at sea every time you'll never become a pirate. You should at least find a navigator to join you—"
"Alright! Let's eat!"
"Did you hear a word that was said?" Rowan snapped, grabbing the back of the boy's red vest and shaking him back and forth. It was a little strange feeling with the boy's rubber abilities for his body didn't swing like a normal person's would. But it was a sensation she was getting use to after all the man handling she had to do to the boy. "You'll be on your own after this island so you better shape up and figure something out. You won't always have a barrel to hide in!"
Rowan wanted to punch the boy when he turned around and gave her another one of his giant smiles.
"I won't be alone! I'll have the start of my amazing crew!"
"Roronoa won't join you idget. He's a pirate hunter not a pirate." When Luffy's mouth opened Rowan knew it was going to be a disagreement. So she stopped it by pushing the boy's head down to his knees. Ignoring his shouting, Rowan turned to Koby. "You're best bet is to go straight to the marine base Koby. They'll most likely have a sign up of sorts waiting for you."
Koby swallowed thickly and his complexion went pale.
"Y-yeah," he hiccupped. The nervousness clear all over the boy was so distinct that Rowan thought if she reached out she could actually feel it.
"Then I'll be leaving you two—"
"Wait!" Rowan sighed but turned back to the quaking Koby none the less. "Y-you can't just leave! I m-mean c-can't you stay and—and eat with us? At least? Maybe? ...please?" Rowan narrowed her eyes before jabbing a finger in the boy's direction.
"People aren't going to be holding your hand any more Koby. If you want do this then you need to do this by yourself!" Koby cowered under Rowan's firm voice, all but shaking in his boots. It was watching the shaking boy that had her letting out a pained sigh and rubbing at her eyes. She's surprised she hadn't gone blind with how often she'd been pressing against her eyes as of late.
"I suppose one last meal together won't hurt though." Rowan's eyes snapped open and she glared at both boys. "But I'm not paying for you!"
The misfit trio entered the city with no destination in mind only the need for food. It was Luffy who picked out the restaurant, or most likely, went into the first placed that offered food. The restaurant was a bit crowded due to the time of day but they were able to find an empty table that was quickly claimed. When the waitress came over to ask what they wanted to eat, Rowan simply ordered what Koby did.
The meal was practically eaten in silence, the trio famished from nonperishable goods and enjoyed gorging themselves on real, warm food. Only when all the food was being digested in their guts did the conversation resume.
"We'll go our separate ways here. You do your best to be a great marine alright?" Luffy declared with a hearty burp.
"I will! Thank you very much Luffy, you have become a great pirate too. Although we'll be enemies in the future." Luffy made a noise of acknowledgement while Rowan drained what was left in her cup.
"Say, I wonder if Zolo is still being kept at the marine base…"
The reaction of the rest of the restaurant's patrons was instantaneous. Tables were thrown, plates scattered and screams took to the air. Rowan choked on the water going down and spewed in her haste to get her to her feet in preparation for a fight. When she registered all the town's folk were looking for a way out she settled back into her seat.
"Looks like we can't just yell out the name Zolo," Koby whispered behind his hands. The other patrons seemed to calm down when no more mention of the bounty hunter came up. Tables were put right and food was scraped off the floor. Though more than one look was shot their way multiple times by multiple people. "Anyway, I just saw a notice on the street. There's someone called Captain Morgan at the base."
"Come on!" Rowan yelled as the restaurant once more descended into panic. "Enough of this. Let's go." Both boys followed after Rowan who paid for the entirety of the meal if only to get out faster. When the matron said the price Rowan gagged a bit. Luffy had put so many plates away…
"You owe me Luffy!" Rowan snapped while prowling through the quiet streets of the little town. Scowling into her much lighter money pouch, Rowan counted out what few bills she had left. Hopefully enough to get her passage on a boat off the island.
"What an interesting restaurant! I gotta go there again!" Luffy laughed, ignoring Rowan completely.
"That was so strange though. I have a bad feeling about this…I could understand why they'd be scared after hearing Roronoa's name since he could escape at any time. But why would they be afraid of a marine captain's name too?"
"…do either of you idiots listen to me?" When both boys looked at her Rowan waved to the imposing marine building. "Not everyone is good Koby. Not even marines. He may be taxing the town to oblivion, he could be using his powers for self-gain and or he could be using what little power he has to bully this town. Either way, despite all that crap, this place is your best bet for now. The island's small enough you can get your basic training out of the way and then move to another island."
"T-that's true…but they wouldn't leave a bad man in charge of a marine base!" Koby shrunk under Rowan's deadpan expression. Giving her head a rough shake, Rowan turned away and started off down the street.
"Anyway, you two have fun. I'm headed out."
"Rowan! You—don't you want to—maybe come with us to the marine base?" Rowan didn't bother holding back just how stupid she thought that idea was. Pointing to herself with blatant disdain she stated slowly and with much exaggeration,
"I am a pirate. Pirates don't just walk up to marine bases, Koby. That tends to end piss poor for all involved." The look she gave Luffy spoke volumes though he obviously wasn't picking it up. She firmly put her back to the two boys and waved goodbye. "You'll do fine. Goodbye."
"Aye, that'll be enough to get you passage lady but, as I've told ya, we aren't sailing until tomorrow." Rowan held back a pained sigh by clenching her teeth. Every last bit of her money was going to passage on the merchant's ship. She would have nothing for an inn or even food.
'Damn my impatience and that bottomless pit,' she cursed to herself. Taking a deep breath Rowan let her tension out with a solid exhale.
"And you are sure you won't let me work during the voyage?" The captain, a grizzly old sea salt, shook his head.
"I only take registered sailors."
'No sell swords and no pirates,' Rowan translated.
"Fine. I'll be here at first light then." The captain nodded and turned back to his ship. Rowan eyed the floating vessel with some depredation. It seemed well enough but Rowan's expert eyes picked out the fraying ropes and patched sails with distaste. But it was the only ship leaving Shell Island for the next two weeks. Rowan refused to stay on the speck of dirt for longer than she had to.
Green eyes followed the captain as he boarded his ship before Rowan turned away and walked back into town. She kept to the back roads, staying out of people's way and making herself as scares as possible. Last thing she needed to do was run into a marine patrol.
'Someone might need a dishwasher or someone who can do some heavy lifting,' Rowan mused as she walked through an alley. The busy street in front of her was loud enough to give her insight as to what was going on but silently enough she could hear herself think. She flopped down into a hidden backdoor, settling on the steps and keeping her eyes on the person going about their lives in front of her. 'Enough old ladies around, sure one of them could do with some help. Roofs are flat enough I can probably find a place to sleep there…so long as it doesn't rain.' Rowan eyed the sky distastefully. That would just be her luck.
Rowan's attention was pulled from her ponders as the street became alive with hushed whispers. Tension ran through the crowd as faces paled and muscles tightened. Narrowing her eyes, Rowan stood up from the stoop.
"Helmeppo's coming!" she heard someone hiss to another. She watched as children were ushered inside. She was gob smacked when men and women both began to fall to their knees and bow their heads. Foreheads were pressed firmly into the ground while some people quaked. Either from anger or fear Rowan couldn't be sure.
"Why 'ey doin' 'at?" Rowan asked. He followed her pointed finger to the men and women throwing themselves down to their hands and knees. Her young nose could practically smell the terror radiating from them all.
"I told you it is best if we are not seen. Come. Now."
"Cranky ol' peacock—ow!"
Rowan sunk deeper into the shadows around her. She wanted nothing more than to shake the remaining bits of memory from her mind but she dared not move when a voice crowed,
"Who dares raise his head? I'll tell my dad!" Rowan's lip twitched. "Do you want to be like Roronoa Zolo? I'm gonna publicly execute him in three days but I'm sure they'll be room for another! I'll use him to set an example for all of you! It's gonna be pretty interesting!" The voice laughed high and proud. Rowan took a step back knowing there would be nothing good coming from being spotted by whoever it was walking down the street. She was just about to turn around and disappear for good when,
"Three days? Did you say you'll give him a month?"
Rowan squealed to a halt, recognizing Luffy's voice easily after hearing it for four days straight. Cursing by every King of Old she could think, she sped to the end of the alley. Rowan watched, eyes wide, as Luffy in all his brilliant stupidity stood in front of a man guarded by two marines.
"How rude! Not that it's any of your business but I was only joking with him! Only an idiot would believe that!" the man jeered with a face stupid enough Rowan felt her fists clench. The man still had no luck with Rowan restraining herself because the words had barely left his mouth when Luffy was grabbing hold of his gaudy dress shirt and slamming a fist straight into his rectangular shaped jaw.
"Luffy!" Koby screamed, appearing from the crowd and grabbing the other boy. "Stop! Please calm down! You want to mess with the marines or something?"
"Koby, I've decided!" Luffy declared loud and clear. "I'm gonna ask Zolo to join me!" The crowd returned to their feet and rose like the tide. Rowan had to leave the safety of her alley in order to hear what Luffy said next, "I don't care! A bastard is still a bastard!"
Now that brought a smile to her face.
"You dare hit me?" the blond haired male shouted, while the two marines helped him to his feet. His voice was shrill but even that didn't stop the lisp that was starting to form from his swollen lip. He even had a bloody nose. "My dad hasn't even hit me once!"
"I'm Captain Morgan's son! I'll tell him about this!" The citizens jerked back as if they had been hit themselves.
"Why don't you fight me yourself?" Luffy taunted.
"Luffy, don't do this!"
"You'll regret hitting me! You'll get a death sentence for it!" Rowan spotted Luffy's straw hat on the ground. It must have gotten blown off in his haste to reach the man being carted off by the marines now. "And my dad will be the one who executes you!" he was still screaming as Rowan broke away from the crowd and to the hat. She held the old thing by the brim, eyes wondering over the frayed edges and scuffs it held. The red ribbon was dingy and tattered in some places but still held strong.
"It's meaningless to hit people like him. Huh? Rowan! Hey! Why do you have my hat?" Rowan looked away from said object before reaching it out and flopping it back down on top of the boy's wild black locks.
"You dropped it."
"Rowan, I didn't think you'd still be here," Koby said. Rowan opened her mouth but was cut off by a young voice at her hip.
"You were so cool big brother!" A girl, no older than seven stood at her side with eyes wide with hero worship and fists clenched in excitement. "I really wish I'd been the one to punch him!" Luffy laughed.
"Really? I should have punched him a couple more times than!"
"R-Rika! Come away from there!" a woman in the dispersing crowd shouted. The girl walked over to the woman who Rowan presumed was her mother with a pouting expression. "Don't talk to strangers! You'll be executed too if you were mistaken as one of their friends!"
"They'd execute a girl that young?" Rowan questioned with a frown.
"Helmeppo already had her thrown over the fence. Thankfully Luffy was there and he caught her so she didn't get hurt," Koby answered. The boy let out a pained noise before gripping his hands with white knuckles. "We're in so much trouble! If the Captain gets made he might send marines after us!"
"We'll deal with it when the time comes! I'm gonna go talk to Zolo."
"You're going back to the marine base after hitting the captain's son in the face?"
"Yep!" Rowan sighed but started after the boy, ignoring Koby's shouting.
"Because Zolo doesn't deserve to be executed. So I'm gonna save him."
"And why would you want to save a pirate hunter?"
"Because he's a good guy."
"And how do you know that?"
"Because he helped save the girl. That's why he got imprisoned. He killed that bastard's dog when it attacked her."
"Huh…I suppose that makes more sense than them just throwing him into prison." Rowan observed Luffy as the boy continued to march towards the base without a hint of fright. Rowan let out a soft chuckle before yanking some of the boy's hair on the back of his head.
"Don't just go barging in idiot. Show me you actually have a brain."
"Huh? You're coming with me?"
"If there's one thing I can't stand Strawhat it's a corrupt leader. I'll help you out…just this once." Luffy gave her face splitting smile.
"Cool! Let's go!"