A/N: Hey, s'up guys! Got a part-time job after the exams, and did a bit of good old relaxing, hence why I didn't really update lately lol. Well, I'm sure you guys understand. Anyway, so we're moving on with the plot. Like I said, not too much focus will be placed on the earlier parts of the manga. So sit back, relax and enjoy! =D
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto/One Piece/Nurarihyon no Mago/Persona. The last two, well, this applies if they appear. I put them in just in case.
A Whole New World
Chapter 6: Unexpected Discovery
"Next up for auction is…"
A boisterous voice permeated through the arena as he enthusiastically tried to sell his latest slave. The poor girl was chained up, quivering under the greedy gazes of the nobles and the rich within the audience. If she were to be bought, there would be no escape for her; such was the destiny of a slave.
Shaking her head in despair, she closed her eyes, not wanting to face the harsh reality that awaited her. She had simply been out on a fishing trip. Her dad had passed away years ago and her mum was currently bed-ridden by a terrible sickness, leaving her to do whatever she could to earn some money to try and keep her mother alive. Their village was one situated somewhere in the South Blue, one full of warriors capable of wielding any weapon that existed in this world. Yet that proved to be their downfall, because they were not that medically advanced and in recent years, they lost more warriors to illness and diseases than they did to human warfare.
Descended from the same ancestors as the long-armed tribe, they had similar skin and pupil colours, without the extra joint in the arms. Contrary to that, they actually lacked a certain ligament within their knees, which, miraculously allowed them incredible athleticism and leaping ability. Flexibility was also much improved, where some of the tribesmen took it to the point where they could pull in their general skeletal structure for up to a few hours, allowing them to shrink to a smaller size when they needed to explore crevasses and small caves in the icy mountains.
So why was a girl capable of all of that and more, caught and chained up like a display item here in Sabaody Archipelago?
Simply said, she was tricked. Desperate to gain money to save her mother, a man had come up to her and told her that he was willing to pay for all of the medical fees if she were to follow him. Though she had her doubts, she had no other choice, medicine was not cheap nowadays and what she earned from selling fish barely allowed her to feed the family, much less buy medicine. The moment she stepped on his ship, she was surrounded and after a harsh combat, she was eventually overwhelmed by the sheer number of enemies. A quick whack on the head and she was unconscious. The next thing she knew, she was here at the slave auction, helpless to do anything but bow her head.
She had seen what had happened to people who tried to remove the chains by force, and it wasn't pretty. As long as she was alive, she had a chance to escape. That was what she kept telling herself as she gritted her teeth against the lecherous jeers aimed at her. She was disgusted by the so-called nobles, who felt that they were above everyone else simply because they were born with money.
What did they know about hardship and adversities?
Who gave them the right to look down on poor people?
Why was life so damn unfair?
Those were questions of the ages, but sadly, there was no answer, because there will never be one, since life will always be unfair at times.
"Calling thrice! SOLD! Congratulations to this fine gentleman here!" The gavel was struck and in that moment, despair engulfed her being. This was it. She was to be sold off to some rich asshole that was going to rape her whenever he felt like it. She wasn't stupid. She could see all the way from here the drool that was leaking out of that fool's mouth and his hands making ridiculously perverted movements with his hands. Chances of her being innocent after one day with this man was about as likely as her being rescued…
"Thank you! Thank you very much! Now dearie, come on, let's go home!" Reaching his hand out to yank at her chains while maintaining a disgustingly cruel smile, the girl was about to give in to her 'fate' when a cold voice reverberated in the audience's ears.
"You're welcome, let me give you a couple of parting words, just so you know how I feel about this. FUCK YOU!"
"Eh?" The next thing the rich guy knew was an orb of blue flung at him at an incredible speed and then immense pain and agony followed by a whole lot of rubble falling on him was registered in his pain receptors. What the audience saw, was a gigantic hole now situated slightly to the left of a terrified auctioneer.
The girl in chains was surprisingly calm and stared at the new comer with a slight gleam in her eyes. She didn't think her new 'owner' had an enemy that would dare attack him on the island of Sabaody. The Marine Headquarters were quite close after all. Maybe if she went along with this enemy of his, she would be better off?
Slowly walking to the stage, with his spiky blond hair glowing slightly in the lights, the man gave a ferocious snarl at the auctioneer, "You've got balls, I tell you."
The poor man was currently shaking in his knees and wanted to be anywhere but here at this moment, "I-I was u-under o-orders of Sir D-doflami – "
"I don't give a shit who you're working for. What did I tell you last time?"
"Y-you – "
"No more slave auctioning. I was pretty sure I burned this place down. It's kinda amazing to see you build it all up again." Speaking nonchalantly as the audience continued staring at him in confusion and curiosity, the blond scratched his head, "I think I should give a demonstration for them to get an idea of what I mean."
"Katon: Karyuuendan! (Fire jutsu – Fire Blaze Dragon Missile)" As the name suggested, the entire arena was instantly engulfed in flames, eliciting shrieks of horror and fear as the audience started clawing their way out of the inferno. It was pretty interesting to watch the 'nobles' acting in manners so different from their usual dignified poise. Just for fun, Naruto sent them a Fuuton: Fuuryuudan (Wind jutsu – Wind Dragon Missile) to fan the flames a bit more. Of course, it wasn't his intention to burn any of them, he just wanted to burn down the arena. If one of the rich people got hurt because he didn't get out of the way in time, well, that wasn't his fault now, was it?
Turning back to the auctioneer who was currently trying to secretly crawl out of the arena, Naruto simply picked him up by the collar and flung him towards the tent, "Go put that stupid flamingo on the phone."
Shaking his head, Naruto then turned his attention towards the black-haired beauty currently staring at him in wondrous curiosity. It was somewhere between awe, surprise and wariness. You really couldn't blame the poor girl, how many people had the power and courage to simply walk into an auction for the rich, blast a crazy big-ass hole onto the wall and spout fire from his mouth. Not many in this world, since there really weren't that many fire-related devil fruits. Besides, the famed fire-fist Ace used his fists, not mouth.
"You look beaten-up." Sending an amused gaze her way, Naruto gave her a small smile, "Give me a few minutes and we'll be on our way."
Not even bothering to reply, the girl simply shook her head in exasperation.
"Oi! Is that stupid pink dude on yet?"
"H-hai! Yes, yes, Doflamingo-sama is ready to hear what you say." Handing over the den-den mushi with shaky hands, the auctioneer immediately retreated backwards, as though not wanting to know the outcome of the conversation.
"What's up flamingo, I believe we had a deal?"
"Fufufufu, we did? I'm sorry, I get a bit forgetful lately when the partner just ups and disappears for years on end."
"Don't give me that crap. I don't like people who break promises, you know that."
"Ah yes, but I didn't break any promise. Did I order that guy to start selling slaves? Ask him."
Naruto turned towards the auctioneer, raising an eyebrow as he asked, "You heard the man, I want an explanation."
"No! It wasn't my idea! It was – "
"The man is pleading innocent." Naruto spoke back into the den-den mushi.
"But was it my idea?"
"Was it?" Again, the question was aimed at the auctioneer.
"Ah… ah… n-no…" For some reason, his face turned quite blue after uttering those words, like he was forced to swallow a very sour lemon.
"Oh? So whose idea was it?"
"T-the T-Tenryuubito, Saint Roswald…"
Blinking, Naruto yelled at the phone, "You piece of shit, how dare you tip them off!"
"Fufufufu, I just wanted you to have some motivation into showing your face around more. It has gotten quite boring nowadays with nothing happening."
"I'm not joking around here. Mess around anymore, and I will kill you. I'm not affected by your stupid puppetry, I've seen way better puppet masters than you, so don't even think about it."
"Sure thing. Is that all?"
"You're such a nice boss, aren't you? Not even gonna give your employee some final words before he departs for the afterlife?"
"Fufufufu, you are funny as always Uzumaki. I do not have time for weaklings like him. Do what you will."
"Keh, get outta here."
Hanging up in a swift move, Naruto turned back towards the auctioneer, and before he could even utter a word, Naruto kicked him hard in the chest, sending him flying through whatever rubble was left of the wall with an easy Rankyaku.
Muttering curses as he turned back towards the girl, he reached out absently for her collar, and before she even realized it, the collar was ripped to shreds and flung into the inferno around them, "There, you're free now. Wanna go get a bite with me?"
Unable to grasp the turn of events just yet, still thinking that this was all just some joke between those crazy nobles, the young woman simply ignored the blond, focusing instead on how to remove her chains. Now that all the guards were gone, this was her chance to escape, but as long as this time-bomb was on her, there was no way for her to be free. If only she had her scythe, then she could easily slice through this…
"You do realize your stomach is growling right?"
She had about a second before the thing exploded. If only she could cut through the steel there shouldn't be too much of a problem. Besides, it wasn't like an explosion from point blank range will kill her.
It would only cripple her.
That wasn't as bad as being ravished like a Barbie doll by perverts now, was it?
"And just what, may I ask, is a Barbie doll?" The blond continued to be amused by the random mutterings of the woman.
Growling as she tried to figure out ways in which she could first find her scythe, then use it, her mumbles gradually grew darker and more depressed since she had no recollection of where the heck her weapon might be since the moment she woke up she found herself being the eye-candy for tons of sexist males.
"Oh yeah, by the way, I found this in their warehouse, not sure if you know how to use it, but at least it's better than nothing, right?"
It took her about five seconds to understand the reality around her.
One - Her precious scythe had just been flung onto the floor before her.
Two – This guy just insinuated that she didn't know how to use this baby.
Three – She now had a damn weapon.
Conclusion – Let's do this shit!
Without another moment of hesitation, the black-haired woman easily lifted the gleaming scythe into her right hand, spinning it deftly within her palm and let it fly as she tilted her head to the left.
In some ways, it looked like she was about to decapitate herself, which would kinda explain why Naruto deadpanned with a huge sweatdrop. It was quite bewildering to see her try to kill herself even though he had already told her he was taking her out to lunch once they got out of this hellhole. I mean, sure, she probably didn't want a date at this particular moment, but that was just a figure of speech!
Just as the woman was expecting the explosion, a hand reached over to her and easily dragged her out of the way of the blast. With her eyes tightly closed and awaiting the resounding boom that was supposed to break every single bone in her body and make her wish she was never born, she was weirdly surprised to realize that the boom was a small one, coming from within the auction hall.
Wait, she was in the auction hall when she cleaved the damn chain…
"Ah, so that's what you were trying to do. I knew it was a bit weird when you would rather turn down my lunch offer to kill yourself instead. I'm not that handsome yes, but I'm not that repulsive either."
Turning her head around to analyze this blond enigma once again, she finally uttered, "Who the hell are you?"
Deadpanning, Naruto shook his head before sighing, "Let's just go to lunch. On the count of three."
"How did you just pull me out of the building?"
"Huh, what – "
And in a flash of yellow, they were gone, leaving what once used to be the auction building to crash and burn.
X – X
"Naruto-chan, you don't change, do you?" The slim and tall woman with short black hair took in a deep puff of cigarette before she smiled wryly, "Now why don't you put me down?"
The first thing Naruto had done the moment he entered Shakky's Rip-Off bar was pull the woman he considered one of his parental figures into a big hug and swing her around. It had been four years since he even had a word with this special woman.
"Hell no. My hugs are awesome, you should feel honored to even have me hugging you." His mischievous smile and roguish tone was quite a huge contrast to his serious expression just moments ago, and it left the female slave to wonder just how many masks this guy was wearing.
"Oh put me down you oaf and let me get a good look at you." Returning a wide smirk of her own, she easily maneuvered her body out of his hands and landed gently on the ground, before circling around him, "Hm, you're been working hard."
Grinning, the blond even went through a few poses, eliciting more laughter out of the woman, "Alright, alright, I'll stop. I don't want Rayleigh to think I'm hitting on you, as young and sexy as you are."
"Please, flattery will get you nowhere. Have you had lunch yet?" Shakky was already at the refrigerator, plucking random things out, ready to cook the moment she got her answer.
"Nope. Two huge lunches please, this girl over here could probably eat a whale right now."
"Ah yes, you have yet to introduce her to me. You poor thing, they haven't been feeding you properly, have they?" Shakky went over and fussed all over the slave-girl, who was all but shell-shocked by her concern.
"You haven't been hurt by that brute have you? You have to forgive him for all his crazy acts. He's a nice little boy on the inside with the best of intentions but sometimes his execution just drives people insane." Smoothening out the ruffled hair of the girl, Shakky did her best imitation of a mother trying to tell her child to stay away from dangerous individuals.
"Oi." The exasperated expression was all Shakky needed before she went back to the kitchen.
Scratching the back of his head, Naruto gave a small smile, "Sorry if I seemed a bit aggressive at the auction, I just don't like to see people being enslaved and sold like objects. I'll introduce myself, my name is Naruto. That woman you just met is Shakky, who cooks the best omelet there ever was."
"I'm not giving you extra eggs for that compliment."
"Awww, well it's not like I'm lying or anything, the omelets you make are awesome."
"That will get you extra eggs."
"Yay ya!" Grinning from ear to ear, the blond then turned back to the dumbfounded woman, "Well? Wanna introduce yourself?"
Silence reigned for about a minute or so, before she spoke in a quiet tone, "Sei."
"My name. It's Sei." Staring back at Naruto with her ruby eyes, she continued, "Why did you rescue me?"
Chuckling in amusement, Shakky cracked a couple of eggs into the frying pan, "Dear, I bet you think there is some complicated ulterior motive to this, but unfortunately," Shaking her head in the blond's direction, she laughed, "This idiot over here is pretty simple-minded."
"Yes, yes, I'm idiot, I get that enough from you women." Facing Sei, he shrugged, "She's right. I went there to let off some steam. I blew that place up a few years ago and to see it back up again pissed me off. You were just at the right place at the right time, for you at least. Don't read too much into it, the only factor that might have played a role in me rescuing you might be your state of dress and pretty face. You did play the role of the distressed damsel well, what with you being all chained up and depressed."
"This isn't a joking matter! You think you can just come over and grab me, save me from that hellhole and just pretend that nothing important just happened? What is wrong with you? How is this funny at all?" Her yells were filled with agony and pain for some reason. That particular reason was unknown to Naruto since he had absolutely no idea why someone would feel so shocked and hurt at being rescued.
It wasn't like he rescued her to kill her or something, he just thought it would be a nice way to do a good deed and let this girl go. This lunch thing was just because she looked absolutely exhausted and weak.
Since this was Naruto, a very straightforward individual who usually threw caution to the winds when he opened his mouth, his answer was exactly that.
"Erm, why are you so upset?" The fact that he had a raised eyebrow made his confusion all the more obvious.
"I was about to be auctioned for an amount of money! That money could have been used to save my mom! I could have escaped from that rich piece of shit somehow!" Her voice was rising by the second, her anxiety rolling off her in waves, "Now what do I do? They're gonna think you're my accomplice and give me a bounty! I'll never make it back home!"
Clearly, this woman was a complete wreck, physically and mentally.
With a quick chop to her neck, she was sent into blissful unconsciousness, before Naruto lifted her gently onto the bed.
"I will never understand women."
X – X
"Are you serious? There's only the two of us in your crew right now?" A certain green-haired swordsman yelled in disbelief as he pointed at the tiny boat that was currently roped to the dock, "You want to go to the Grand Line on this?"
"Don't gimme that 'yea' crap! You can't be serious!"
"But I am! I got myself here, didn't I?" A certain straw-hat rubber man had his smile on at maximum voltage.
"You got here by sheer luck! You can't even tell north south east west out there!"
"Shishishi! I know, right?"
"That's not something to be proud of!"
"Luffy-san!" A childish voice rang through the area as a boy with short pink hair ran towards them.
"Arigato gozaimashita! (Thank you very much!)" Skidding to a halt and giving a perfect ninety-degree bow, he yelled out at the top of his lungs, "I won't let you down, Luffy-san! I will do it! I will reach my goal! And one day! One day we'll meet out there, in the Grand Line!"
"Hehehe! Gotcha! Ganbare!" Cheerful waves were sent back his way as tears flowed down his cheeks in torrents.
To Coby's surprise, a whole platoon of marines stood beside him, in a perfect military salute, sending off the two heroes that had saved them from Morgan's 'evil' grasp. Now, they were back to being normal marines, ready to defend the town without having to bow to unreasonable and despicable people.
Snapping out of his surprise, the pink-haired boy, too, brought his right hand to his temple and gave a salute to the man that saved his life.
Luffy-san! Thank you very much! I won't ever forget what you did for me today! Let's both aim for our dreams! I swear, the next time you see me, I'd have become a man that is worth your time!
"Jaaaaaaa neeeeeeee!" Was the goodbye that echoed through the oceans, signaling the leave of the first two members of the soon-to-be Straw Hat Pirates.
X – X
It would be a few more hours before Sei woke up. Contrary to her expectations of the cold cell and rotting food, she was surprised by the warm bed and the sweet aroma of tasty dinner by her bed.
The sight of yellow hair brought back memories of the rescue and their conversation before she fainted, if you could even call that a conversation.
"Eat up. You must be hungry. We can talk later." His voice was gentle and soothing, his words calming her down as she slowly reached for the spoon.
"I not as great a cook as Shakky when it comes to breakfast, but if it's lunch or dinner, I'm alright. I wasn't sure what you liked, so I just made some seafood fried rice."
She took the plate he handed her, simply staring at the food before she started to dig in.
This woman was exactly like Naruto expected. Even when she was hungry, she would still eat with an elegance and grace that one just didn't expect from a warrior like her. If Naruto was as hungry as she was, he would probably have swallowed the plate in one gulp, but here she was, spooning the rice into her mouth slowly and neatly, actually tasting the food in her mouth before swallowing.
"So, is it edible?" The corner of his mouth was lifted as he continued to observe the girl."
"This is… delicious." Her tone never changed but Naruto could feel the appreciation that just lit up in her eyes.
He knew she was tired. Taking it upon himself to find out what was bothering this girl, he had tapped into her mind and sifted through some of her recent memories. It was technically unethical to do that but when the girl was about to break down simply because he had saved her, then he would be damned if he didn't at least find out what he could do to help her.
"Thank you." Soft words reverberated around the room.
Naruto simply rested his chin on the back of his hands as he stayed by her bedside, looking at her as though trying to see through a puzzle, "You're welcome."
The black-haired beauty laid down the spoon and gave him a wry smile, "I… need to apologize. I should have said those words hours ago."
Waving his hand to dismiss her apology, Naruto spoke, "Nah, it's alright. If I were caged up like a wild animal before that I would have freaked too. Besides, you've got a lot of things on your mind back then, so don't worry too much about it. Finish this, and I'll bring you up to date as to what I've done while you were sleeping."
"Hm." Just like that, she resumed her food consumption process, her hands resuming their delicate motions as the blond continued to watch over her.
I never knew eating could be such a beautiful thing to watch.
Well what do ya know, that's another thing females are better at than males.
Heh, I wonder if she'll leave some of that rice for me, I'm getting kinda hungry after watching her eat.
X – X
"So, what do you do for a living?"
"Oh, I'm a pirate! And I'm gonna be the King of the pirates!" The rubberman declared in a confident tone.
"I see. Well I have to tell you." The teenage girl with orange hair yelled right back into his face, "I hate pirates!"
X – X
It turned out that Sei left absolutely nothing for Naruto (since she had no idea he wanted any). She had regained some strength and energy from that dish and was now ready for whatever information Naruto had for her. Or so she thought.
It was five minutes into the conversation and already she was about to freak.
"You cured my mum's disease?"
"Well yeah. I mean, it was kinda serious, right? So being nice guy that I am, I got a clone over there to check out what she was suffering from."
"How did you even know my mum was sick?"
"I took a look into your memories and – "
" – got her location and off I went. It wasn't that hard to cure, but she has got to rest more. Working day in and day out is not going to help her."
"What, I don't even, I just, what?"
"Oh yeah, and I paid off whatever debt you guys owed. Had a bit of fun blowing up certain companies in the midst of the process too."
"Despite your mother's protests, I insisted on leaving her enough money for her to spend the rest of her life by. I told her it was my way of 'hiring' her daughter, since there was no other way she would take the money."
"She wanted me to tell you that she loved you and that she is feeling fantastic." Smiling, Naruto placed a hand under his chin, "Whether or not that is true, you will find out for yourself with me in about an hour."
"…. How?" She seemed tired once again, not even bothering to voice the countless number of questions within her brain at this moment.
He took out a knife-like thing, as though that was supposed to answer her question.
"I hate you. I just wanted you to know that."
Wow, harsh girl. Harsh.
X – X
"You big, fat, red NOSE!" That volume of that roar soared through the skies as everyone else in the area had their jaws locked firmly to the ground at the nerve of this absolute idiot for saying that.
"Who… the… fuck… ARE YOU CALLING BIG FAT RED NOSE? FIRE! FIRE THE GODDAMN BUGGY BALL! FIREEEEEE!"
"Why the heck did you say that? You just angered him!" The same orange-haired girl from before yelled at the rubberman.
"Hn! I'm not afraid of his stupid ball!"
"Argh! I don't believe you!"
"Gomu gomu no… Fuusen! (Rubber Rubber Balloon)"
"AAAAAAAHHHHH!" Needless to say, Nami was very surprised to see the actions of this pirate whom she first thought was an idiot, then an asshole, then back to a moron and now this. She had run out of words to even describe this crazy man. She shall settle for a simple shout.
"WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU?"
"I'm a rubber man! I can stretch myself as much as I want!"
"WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?"
X – X
"Mom, you really are better!" Sei could only stare at her mother in awe as her once bed-ridden mom was currently up and walking with no signs of fatigue whatsoever.
"Haha, I know! That's the exact expression I had when he told me." Pulling her daughter into a warm embrace, she let her hand sift through her soft black hair, "So? Have you come to a decision yet?"
Comfortable in her mother's hug, Sei gave a soft sigh as she closed her eyes, "I don't know. I just… don't know."
Chuckling, Fei continued, "Of course you don't. You always thought too much about everything."
"Mom!" Not at all pleased to hear the teasing tone in her mother's voice, Sei stood back with a frown, "How is this overthinking? He just came out of nowhere – "
"Saved you, gave you food, healed your mother and destroyed any debt that we might owe. He must be a baaaad man."
" – got me out and just started taking care of all these things! He didn't even ask for my permission or thoughts! I feel like a puppet!"
"Yes dear, I'm sorry for being so healthy again, I apologize."
"Haha, you are just too fun to tease."
"Aren't you afraid that he has something behind all these? What if he wanted something from the village? Or you? Or – "
"Dear, it's clear that he's doing all this for you. Aww, look at you, blushing and all."
"Mom! I'm not blushing!"
"Oh really, I must be getting old then. What's that red make-up you're wearing on your cheeks then?"
Fei took her precious daughter's face between her hands and gave her a quick shake, "Stop being so suspicious. My daughter is strong, beautiful and sexy, it's only normal for a man to lust after – "
"I am not having this conversation with my mother!" Struggling to get out of her mother's surprisingly strong grasp, she was reminded of the fact that it was her mother who taught her everything she knew.
And the fact that her mother really was back to full strength.
Which of course brought her mind back to the man that haunted her thoughts.
Well, haunted was a bit harsh.
Yes, that's better. Pestered.
Like a pest.
"Oh you silly girl. That nice young fellow had a long talk with me about what he felt about your skills and asked for permission to borrow you for a few years. I have agreed."
"It was a good deal! I get myself a son-in-law and earn a few years of peace and quiet to myself!" Her devious grin was a complete contrast to the flabbergasted gape of her daughter.
"How could you just sell me off! You need me here, mother! You can't expect to still work! He said so himself! You cannot tire yourself out – "
"And who said I'll tire myself out here, hm?" For some reason, she looked real smug.
"Well where else would you…" Sei stopped halfway, her eyes widening as she started mumbling, "No… no no no no no no… oh hell no."
"Hey I'm only in my forties, I can still kick lots of butt."
"Relax, it's not like I'm going to do anything dangerous."
"What did he ask from you?"
"Oh, just to go to a little village in East Blue. The weather there is wonderful and I heard the people there are simply lovely – "
"You know what I mean mom. What is the job he offered?"
"Sigh, he would like for me to guard someone. He has reassured me countless times that something probably wouldn't ever come up but he wanted to hire me just in case. Besides, I heard the client is a very talented and knowledgeable lady. It would be quite a change from what we have here. I would have company and – "
"Mom." Her voice suddenly grew soft, her eyes tearing up, "You don't have to do this."
Smiling slightly as she gathered her daughter back into her arms, she spoke in a soothing voice, "You've worked far too hard with me all these years. I know my limits and as much as I have pushed myself, I knew when to stop. I have experience on my side. You, my dear, do not." Smoothening out her hair, Fei grinned, "I'm a Zhang. I'll be fine."
"I'll miss you…" For some reason, she couldn't control the tears flowing down her cheeks. She was just worried.
She had been by her mother's side for more than a few years and the weakness, the helplessness and the absolute despair she had seen in her mother had led her to forget the warrior that was her mother. All these years, they did everything together, faced everything together and used each other as pillars of strength. Now, her mother was up and healthy, ready to get back all those lost years, and she knew, it was time for them to part again.
Warriors of their village left their family at the age of fourteen, forcing them to go out and survive on their own. They are not to return until the age of twenty. Sei was an exception. She had left at eighteen and came back in just one year, when news of her mother's illness worsening reached her. She was now at the age of twenty-three, meaning she was the prime of her life. Now was the time for her to find a partner or master, one that she could trust her life with, one she was willing to serve.
"There is a reason he appeared before you that day, my child. You know it." Her eyes were filled with love as she gazed straight into those ruby orbs, "Believe in fate, and believe in yourself. You already have an answer, don't you?" Tapping her heart lightly, she smiled, "Go with him."
"But I…" Biting her lip, she continued, "I don't even know him."
Chuckling, Fei stroked her hair, "That's just an excuse, and you know it."
"Sigh… I don't know how you guys do it. You just read me like I'm an open book."
"Oh? Naruto can do it too?"
"Why do you just assume it's him?"
"Well, who else is there?"
"I… That's… Oh I give up." Flinging her arms into the air before she felt the need to rip some hair off, Sei released an exasperated growl.
"Give up on what?" A familiar voice entered the room without warning.
"Oh my gosh!" Freaking out slightly at the sudden appearance of the blond, Sei crossed her arms before her bosom and roared, "What happened to privacy of women?"
"Well, you guys were in here for quite a while, so I just thought I should check up on you. So, you ready to go?" That wide grin of his was quite contagious and even Sei couldn't feel angry anymore after a few moments.
"… Yes. Yes, I am." In that moment, a change occurred within her mentally wise. Suddenly she was ready to accept whatever new challenge that might come her way. She had decided to trust this strange man before her, who had gone through so much trouble just to help her.
Sei wasn't one to believe in love at first sight, especially since Naruto showed little to no signs of interest in that department with regards to her. She had no money, a very bleak future and maybe some fighting skills that would help him but to be honest, she had nothing. Naruto had chosen to take her on as a prospect with pretty much potential being the main factor, at least that's what she thought. If he had wanted to cheat her or get her body or whatever, he could have done it ages ago, and even if he really did want her body, she had considered giving it to him just because he healed her mother. That in itself was enough to ask anything of her.
Naruto smiled as he stared at mother and daughter before her, "Sweet. Well, I've got my kunai and clone. Ladies, hop on."
"What, now? Don't I need to pack and – " Sei was obviously still confused since she forgot Naruto was really good at something.
"Nah, I've taken care of all that for you. I even brought your favorite pajamas so it should be alright. I have to say, that is some fine taste." Wink wink, blink blink.
There we go, her face just went 'poof' into a cloud of red.
"You looked at my lingerie?"
"I would like to say it was unintentional, but..." Shrug, "Yeah, I did. Didn't figure you to be so bold, heh."
Clenching her fists, those gorgeous crimson eyes took on a dangerous edge as she glared right at her soon-to-be partner, "You are dead."
"Erm, no, I'm alive. Contrary to popular belief, I am not an undead. I won't be killed by garlic, holy crosses, silver and whatever else you associate with undead. You could throw gold at me to try, but I'll just end up spending it. So yeah." Speaking in a nonchalant manner, Naruto gestured towards Fei and smiled, "I'll meet you with you in about a day or two. Until then, my helpful assistant here will take good care of you, won't you, Mr. Clone."
"Boss. You're weird." Said clone gave him a skeptical glance as Fei gracefully accepted his hand.
"Yeah I know. Off with ya."
And before Sei had time to say another word to her mother, Fei had disappeared in a flash of yellow. All she saw last was a teasing grin that spoke volumes for her situation.
You're going to have your hands full with this one.
Turning back to her, Naruto gave her a wide smirk, "Well come on! I haven't got all day. Show me what you got!"
Sei remained silent for but a second, before she summoned her weapon out of thin air, as though pulling it out from a separate realm, "I'll have you know that there's a reason people call that 'famous last words'."
X – X
"My name is Captaaaaaaaaaaaain USOPP! You lowly pirates! Stand back and run if you even think about invading my village! I have eight thousand men within this forest, ready to take you out any moment!" A certain long-nosed individual boasted.
"Eight thousand? SUGEIIIII! (So pro!)"
"There's only three of them, isn't there." Zoro pointed to the bushes as he deadpanned.
"Giku. (Equivalent to a gulp and shiver, sound effect when character gets caught lying)"
Nami simply yawned as she shrugged, "They're all brats too."
"Ehhh? That's not even fun! I wanna beat up eight thousand people! Hey you! Get down here! I'll show you what a real pirate is!" The rubberman pulled down his straw hat to shade his eyes, creating an ominous atmosphere.
The green-haired swordsman unsheathed one of his katanas, taking on a devilish grin, "You do realize what happens to people that lie to pirates right?"
Just staring at those eyes, the long-nosed individual felt fear creeping into his heart, almost to the point of strangling him, and with that, he fell to the ground with shaky legs.
X – X
Only a few hours had passed, and Fei was just getting settled with Olivia after introducing herself and it didn't take long before both of them started chatting about a certain blond. Unlike with Olivia, Naruto never really had the time to fully introduce himself to Fei, so instead, Naruto brought her through a short journey within his memories, showing her bits and pieces to allow her to understand who he really was and what he intended to do.
If he wanted to change the marines, he was going to need a hell of a lot more allies than certain pirates alone. Overtaking a government was hard work, much less the World Government. He would take any and every opportunity placed before him, and given his experience he had all sorts of ways to gain allies.
He had his charming smile, dashing looks, chubby face. That's the 'handsome' and 'cute' department covered.
He had his muscular body, his spiky blond hair and his whisker marks. That's the 'sexy' department covered. He also had another part of his anatomy that he was really proud of but seeing how this was for general ally appeal, he didn't need that yet. That part was reserved for the ladies only.
He had his fighting skills, social skills and political skills. That covered pretty much everything else.
So with all these tools at hand, all that was left was for him to find allies. Zhang Sei was just an awesome and lucky find for him, allowing him to interact with the entire Shu tribe present in the South blue. To his knowledge, there were two other tribes not far away from them and they were constantly at war with one another, Wu and Wei, they said. It probably wasn't completely fair to call them tribes. In actual fact, as Fei told him, they technically made up a country, one that was split up in three due to different ideals and values between the three leaders. However because they never registered themselves with the World Government as a 'legal' country, they were not recognized and hence were merely thought to be tribes.
After countless enquiries with the situation of the Shu tribe, Naruto had asked to negotiate with their leader.
It was pure coincidence that Fei was the leader.
Things just moved on from there. Naruto, as a sign of good faith, went onto cure every single disease or illness within their tribes, just to prove to Fei that he had the ability to protect, guide and sculpture Sei into the warrior that she will eventually become.
In a way, an alliance was formed as the people of Shu adored him. In mere hours, he had them on his side, his humorous actions, his open mind and the happy-go-lucky aura he exuded had them cheering him on in no time. Of course, him saving their lives might have had something to do with it.
His final request was bold and shocked most of the villagers.
He had wanted their leader, Fei, to help him guard someone.
The next shock came when their leader agreed without hesitation.
Her only request was to fight Naruto in a one-on-one match, just to get a feel for his skills.
What happened that day would forever be etched in the minds of the warriors of Shu, because that was a match none of them expected. Their leader, before falling ill, had always been the epitome of strength and skill, and watching this young man match her blow for blow came as a complete surprise to them.
Naruto assumed that her strength could easily rival that of a Shichibukai. That prowess with the spear was unbelievable. He had thought his use of weapons was good enough, but compared to her, boy, was he mistaken. He still won in the end, but even then, he was more than impressed by her skill.
He had decided to visit the Wu and Wei tribes at some point so as to get a good feel of what was happening between the three. If possible, he really wanted to erase any hard feelings amongst them and while most would call him crazy for wanting to diffuse chaos just like that, he himself knew that it was still better to try than do nothing at all.
Expressing these thoughts to Fei only strengthened the woman's decision to work for him. For years, Fei had tried to lead the Shu tribe and had achieved success to some extent. But she knew that it just wasn't enough. They needed a true leader, one with the heart, the mind and the body to successfully achieve the dream of the ancestors of Shu, Wei and Wu, the uniting of all three to form the once great Country of Han.
She was convinced that Naruto was that person, and if anyone could diffuse the differences between them, it was Naruto. Having understood what he had been through all his lives, she was deeply touched by his determination and will. Just like all the other females, a maternal instinct rose within her, calling at her to protect this man, to try and ease the pain that he had already been through.
Olivia was pleasantly surprised by her arrival and was more than happy to accept her, not as a bodyguard, but as a friend. Fei wanted to know more about Naruto and Olivia wanted to talk more about Naruto. There was no doubt that their topic will revolve around Naruto for quite some time, that's for sure.
When Naruto appeared a few hours after her arrival, she was surprised to see scratches and bite marks on his arms. The blond had deadpanned that her daughter was a very despicable warrior, resorting to finger nails and teeth when he had taken away her weapon.
Watching his expression, Fei couldn't help but chuckle.
He is the one. I just know he is. You are very lucky Sei, to have this young man enter your life. I wonder, to what heights will he take you? And to what distance will you take him?
X – X
Three shivering kids asked the three pirates (they didn't know Nami wasn't one) in shaky voices, "W-w-what happened t-to o-our ca-captain?"
In the same ominous aura they used when they first met, Zoro laughed as he chugged down more booze, "We… ate… your captain."
It took a while for that fact to register before all three kids turned to the 'innocent' orange-haired girl, "WAAAAAH! O-BAKE! (YOU MONSTER!)"
"WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME?"
And cut. It's a bit short I know, but it's kinda another interlude, haha. I'm just trying to set the base for things and then moving the Straw Hat pirates along while I do that. Review and tell me what you think.
P.S. I couldn't resist pulling another game into this fic. It's just too fun. Heh.