So, I haven't uploaded anything in.. a long time. I'm sorry!
I won't bore you with reasons. Just know that I haven't given up on this story yet!
The pirate captain stirred the next morning in amongst the fluffy duvet of a warm bed fully clothed. Shanks blinked his eyes open and rubbed away sleep before glancing sleepily around him, and was surprised to see Yasopp snoozing next to him in the double bed. He chuckled slightly at his shipmate's sleeping form; mouth slightly ajar, snoring loudly, when his leg brushed something else under the covers.
Blinking, he raised the covers so he could peer under, and sure enough, another sleeping form lay there in a huddle in between him and his crewmate – Luffy.
Shanks smiled as he stood and carefully drew Luffy back to where he himself had been sleeping and let the boy use his pillow.
He glanced around the room. It was very small room, the only furniture being the seemingly quite old double bed with a pink and white checkered mattress thrown over it, and a dressing table. A doily patterned cloth had been laid carefully over the top. The walls were painted a soft cream. There was a window sill, and on it stood a light blue vase of flowers. He knew straight away that it must be Makino's room. Although having spent his past few days at Makino's place, he had never ventured into this room before, considering it rude to go in uninvited.
He opened the door and stepped out into the familiar living room where he saw Makino, already awake, watering the flowers she had lined in the lounge's window sill.
'Thank you,' he started, watching as she jumped slightly at the sound of his voice, not having heard him come in at all, 'For letting us all sleep in your bed last night. But you shouldn't have let us, really.'
Makino laughed, 'And let the brave pirate captain and his crew of two, sleep on the ground outside my house?'
Shanks blinked, 'Were we? Oh… I'm sorry,' he laughed.
'It's no problem, really,' Makino smiled as she continued watering her flowers.
Shanks drew out a chair and sat himself down at the dining room table and wondered what to do next. He was quite comfortable with the silence that followed as he watched Makino water the rest of her plants. When she had finished, Makino made herself some tea.
'So what will happen now?' she asked as she sat down opposite him at the table.
'Well, when Yasopp and Luffy are up, I guess we'll go get our rowboat. Luffy said Gyoru has it. It's a pain but we'll just have get it back from him.'
Shanks smiled, 'Then I'll call my ship back to the place where we first left my crew, provided Garp's not around of course. Then, me and Yasopp will load the rowboat with our treasure and put it in our safe.'
'Why not just let the ship itself dock here?' Makino asked.
Shanks rested his elbows on the table's rough surface, 'Well, we don't know if the marines are still keeping an eye on this island at the moment, so the ship shouldn't be seen here. A rowboat has far less chance of being spotted – especially if we keep to shallow waters,' he paused, thinking, 'Otherwise, we could end up getting the entire island into trouble,' he seemed thoughtful before he continued, smiling brightly, 'Then, when our safe is full, maybe we'll do a bit more partying afterwards, and then we'll be off again on our journeys to the Grand Line!'
Makino blinked in surprise as the Grand Line was mentioned, but then she just shook her head and smiled – really, it wasn't all that surprising. She would miss the captain and his shipmate when they left, and she knew all too well how much Luffy would miss them both too.
Just then, Yasopp came into the room, 'Yo,' he greeted them sleepily, 'Makino, you shouldn't have let us use your bed. But thanks a lot anyway.'
Makino smiled, 'It was nothing.'
Yasopp slumped down in the chair next to Shanks, 'So, we going to Gyoru's house now?'
'Before breakfast?' a new, higher-pitched voice came from the doorway and they all turned to see Luffy standing there, rubbing sleepy eyes.
Shanks laughed, 'Of course not! We have to have breakfast first, or we won't function properly.'
'You mean, you won't function properly,' Yasopp grinned.
'Hey now, you wouldn't either,' Shanks punched his arm lightly.
Makino stood up to get breakfast ready, taking out jams and butter as well as rolls from the bread tin. Luffy galloped up to her and offered his assistance in the kitchen, which she accepted gladly. Taking orange and apple juices, Makino and Luffy laid the table. Shanks had tried to help too, but Makino had said that Luffy's help was enough already, so the two pirates sat at the table in comfortable silence, wondering what they might have in store for them that day.
As Luffy burst open the front door of Makino's house, the pirates followed him happily. Makino had already gone to work in the bar that day, and so it seemed the three would be going to Gyoru's house without her. Luffy skipped as they walked, ignoring the smiling and sometimes wary glances of the villagers he passed by. Although a lot of the island had accepted the pirates by now, it wasn't as if everyone was comfortable with the pirates' stay.
Shanks walked next to Yasopp at a slower pace than Luffy, musing how the young boy had to stop and wait for them to advance before he could carry on with his skip.
'There's Gyoru's house!' Luffy pointed to a fishmonger's in the middle of town, 'He lives on the floor above the shop.'
Yasopp smiled, 'Figures, I suppose.'
But Shanks had stopped walking, and as Yasopp turned to ask him what was wrong, his captain pointed to the same building and said, 'Smoke.'
And sure enough, behind the shop, in Gyoru's relatively small garden, smoke was billowing up into the air.
'Is he having a barbecue?' Luffy wondered aloud, but Shanks shook his head.
'I really hope that's not…' Yasopp trailed off, watching as the smoke billowed in the morning's wind, 'Aw, crap,' he grumbled.
Shanks broke into a sprint as he ran towards the house, quickly followed by Yasopp and Luffy. He pounded on the rickety wooden door, 'Open up!' he shouted, but there was no answer.
'What's wrong?' Luffy asked, 'What's bad about smoke?'
But Shanks ignored the boy's question and was just about ready to charge at the door when Yasopp called to him, 'We can go round the back!' he indicated a narrow gap between the houses.
Shanks nodded. If he was to keep on good terms with the villagers, he probably shouldn't damage their properties. Together, the three scurried down the passage and sure enough, there in front of them in the fishmonger's garden was the burning wreckage of a rowboat. Gyoru stood to the side of it, his back to the pirates, unaware of their presence.
Shanks drew a hand down his face, 'Terrific,' he stated quietly, now they'd have to buy a new one. And it had been a good quality little boat too, able to carry tons of gold at a time… he doubted anything on the island would be quite able to carry their load of treasure. He grimaced as he thought of all the journeys he'd have to take in order to get all his treasure into the safe. He glanced at Yasopp who, judging by the grimace that was set on his face, was thinking something along the same lines.
But Luffy's reaction was far different than Shanks had imagined. He ran the short distance to Gyoru and punched his thigh, taking the fishmonger by surprise as he swiveled round to face his attacker. 'Luffy!' he exclaimed, not entirely sure what to do about the whole situation.
'You idiot!' Luffy shouted, eyes clenched tightly as he continued to pound at Gyoru's, leg, although not doing any damage at all, 'Idiot!' he repeated and tears started to well in his eyes.
A hand rested on Luffy's shoulder, but it was not Gyoru's. Luffy turned round and looked into the soft eyes of the pirate captain, 'Shanks…' he mumbled.
'It's fine, Luffy,' Shanks smiled reassuringly, 'It was a good rowboat,' he cast his eyes at the bits of wood that burned wonderfully in the morning sunlight, hurting his eyes. By now, a few neighbors had turned up, having also spotted the smoke and wondered what had happened. Shanks' smile faded as he watched his boat burn to the ground, 'But we can easily get another one,' he said flatly.
Luffy bowed his head and turned in the direction of the boat. He watched it burn sadly before he suddenly cast his eyes on Gyoru. The fishmonger stood nearby, his expression somewhat unreadable, and Luffy could not tell if he was proud or sad. Still the boy stood in front of the fishmonger, eyes narrowed. The next words that came out of his mouth did not shock Gyoru, but they did the pirates.
'I hate you,' he said, all at once perfectly calm.
The sides of the fishmonger's mouth twitched into a sad smile, 'I know you do, Luffy.'
Luffy turned on his heel, fists clenched, and marched past the pirates, past the small throng of people, and turned the corner towards the dock. Shanks sighed as he watched Luffy go before he turned his gaze on Gyoru, 'You know,' he said, watching as Gyoru jumped when he spoke, 'You've only delayed us a couple days at most. There must be someone on this island who'll either lend us a boat or make one for us.'
'I know,' Gyoru said, 'It was out of principle.' He puffed up his chest, 'Maybe the idiots of this island will believe your phony stories, but I won't!' He watched as Shanks cocked an eyebrow before shrugging.
'Burning any kind of boat,' he said, 'Is a crime that should never be committed.' He cast one last look at the rowboat, before turning swiftly on his heel to pursue the boy, parting the crowd easily.
Yasopp hesitated before following. He glared daggers at Gyoru. The captain had not let on, but he knew that the longer they stayed there only endangered the villagers themselves. Gyoru had no idea what he had really done. Should Garp find out… Yasopp shook his head. He spat at Gyoru's feet before he turned to leave.
As Shanks gained speed with Luffy, the boy did not slow to wait for his captain. He said nothing to him as he continued to make his way down to the docks. He heard the sound of running feet and inclined his head slightly so he could see Yasopp running towards them. He panted slightly before regaining his breath.
'Where are we going?' Yasopp wondered aloud, 'To someone who can fix us with a boat?'
Shanks shook his head.
'Then where?' he asked.
'To the dock,' Luffy said quietly, 'But you don't have to come with me. You should find a new rowboat.' He shoved his hands into his pockets.
Shanks smiled slightly, 'And leave you all alone?' but Luffy did not reply.
As they approached the dock, Luffy slowed his pace a little. He sat down at the end of the pier, his feet dangling over the edge, nearly touching the water's surface. He rested his head in his hands, his elbows resting on his thighs, as he gazed out into the ocean. The pirates sat down on either side of him, waiting for Luffy to talk. Move. Anything. But the boy said and did nothing, and in the end, it was Yasopp who spoke first.
'You okay, Luffy?' he asked.
'Course I'm okay,' he replied a little harshly. He averted Yasopp's glance, 'You should go get a new boat. Someone in town can lend you one.'
'We can't go,' Shanks spoke up and Luffy turned on him, eyes seeking, 'Because we can't leave you all alone without making sure you're really okay.' Luffy opened his mouth to speak but Shanks halted him by putting his hand up, 'And we can tell you're not.' He watched, only slightly amused, as the boy gave up his arguing and continued to stare out into the vastness of the ocean.
'Why do you like to come here, Luffy?' Shanks asked suddenly.
Shanks picked up a stone and made it skip across the calm morning waves, 'Why do you come to this dock when you're sad?'
'What kind of question is that?' Luffy sulked.
'Just answer,' Shanks smiled, 'You might surprise yourself. What does this place mean to you? Why is it precious?'
Yasopp sent a questioning look Shanks' way but he pretended not to notice, instead choosing to watch Luffy who by now was deep in thought. He seemed to be hesitating, but he definitely had an idea in mind.
'This dock…' Luffy started, not sure where any of this was going, 'Has a nice view?'
Shanks laughed, 'You could get a better view from up on that hill,' Shanks pointed to where Luffy had first spotted the pirates, way above on the hill near the flagpole.
Luffy thought this over, 'Well, it's tiring going all the way up there.'
'That can't be the only reason,' Shanks chuckled slightly, 'You come here when you were sad, didn't you? Why here?'
Luffy narrowed his eyes in thought, 'It makes me feel better, I suppose,' he trailed off.
'Oh?' Yasopp noised, 'And why is that?' he smiled kindly down at the young boy.
Luffy looked down at his knees as he started to swing his legs, 'Well,' he switched his glance to looking out to the ocean, 'Me and Gyoru used to come here a lot I suppose.'
'Used to?' ask Yasopp.
Luffy nodded, 'Before you and Shanks came. He changed suddenly when you got here. I don't know why.' He pouted slightly, annoyed, 'But we used to come fishing here together. And we'd talk. Sometimes bring snacks.'
'Why would you come here?' Shanks wondered, skipping another flat stone, 'There are much nicer places you could fish from. A deserted dock isn't the prettiest.'
Luffy nodded, 'That's cos Gyoru and I used to come here when he got an hour off work for lunch. We didn't have time to climb the hill or go to a better fishing area. So we'd come here instead.'
Shanks smiled, 'You know Luffy,' he said, throwing a stone and watching as it landed rather heavily in the water, 'Gyoru hasn't changed.'
Luffy stared up at Shanks quizzically and Yasopp gave him the same look. Shanks snickered. They weren't all that different from each other, really.
'He wouldn't have burned a boat if he was the same!' Luffy insisted, 'Gyoru was nice. Now he's…' he trailed off again, 'Now he's mean.' He said, unable to find a better word to describe the change of character he had seen in his friend.
'Gyoru's protected you for a long time, hasn't he?' Shanks grinned.
'Protected me?' Luffy repeated, 'Well, he once helped me out of trouble with the baker when I didn't have enough money I guess.'
Shanks laughed, 'Not quite what I meant. I'll rephrase it for you: he's always been there for you, right?'
Luffy blinked, 'I guess so.'
Yasopp caught on, 'And what do you think he's doing now?'
Luffy stared at the two pirates in turn before deciding, 'Not protecting me.'
Shanks smiled, 'That's where you're wrong, Luffy. Gyoru still doesn't trust us since we're pirates; and that's why he's not happy with you seeing us so much.'
Luffy raised his eyebrows, 'I don't know why he doesn't trust you,' he began, 'But that still doesn't explain the boat.'
'Ah, the boat,' Shanks said, 'He said he burned it out of principal.'
'Principal?' Luffy sounded the word, never having used it before.
'It means because of an idea or thought he believes in,' Yasopp supplied, 'He wanted to send a message.'
Luffy nodded, but neither pirate was really sure he really had any idea what they were talking about.
Shanks smiled slightly, 'He burned it to show us that he doesn't like the idea of us coming back, of us using this island, or of us seeing you ever again. He didn't burn it so we'd have a harder time unloading the cargo from our ship; but to give us the message that he's still your protector.'
Luffy blinked as he stared up into Shanks' eyes, the usual darkness light in the sunlight, 'I don't really get it.'
Shanks sighed, 'I'll put it simply then,' he fiddled with his hat, 'Shanks burned the boat to say he doesn't want you to be caught up with dangerous, cut-throat pirates who he thinks will probably kill you in your sleep.'
Luffy stared up at his captain before asking, 'But… you wouldn't…?'
Yasopp laughed, 'Course not! But he thinks that cos he's scared of pirates! You see?'
'Ohhh,' Luffy noised, 'I see. So he thought he was helping me?'
Shanks nodded, 'That's the short of it,' he said.
They continued to stare out into the ocean in silence. Shanks gazed at Luffy out of the corner of his eye and was not surprised when the boy suddenly stood up.
'I'm going back to Gyoru,' he announced.
Shanks smiled. 'Along the way, can you show us to someone who could lend us a boat?"
Let's hope the wait for the next chapter won't be so long this time.