This One-Shot was Beta'd by the wonderful Lalaranya! Thank you! ^_^
The original version of this, was produced by callosum, which was chapter two of his drabbles in the fic: Thirty Strands of Red Hair.
Here is the link for the original: h t t p (colon)/www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/s/6102616/1/Thirty_Strands_of_Red_Hair
Disclaimer: The original idea belongs to callosum, and One Piece belongs to Oda-Sensei.
A Time for Tears.
The young boy's dripping black hair was matted to his face and the back of his neck as they were dragged out of the water by the able-bodied crew. They red-haired man's hair was dripping also, but his hair fell in front of his face almost protectively, so that no one could read his expression as he retreated into the shadows.
A young woman with green hair, which was tied back in a bandana so as to keep it out of her face, broke from the crowds that had gathered, her apron flying back and wrapping around her legs a little as she ran towards the two dripping wet figures. She knelt beside the young boy as the last drop of water was pumped from his lungs by a crew member by the name of Yassop.
"He'll be alright Makino." Yassop said with a slight smile, dusting his hands down on his trousers.
"I'll be the judge of that Yassop." Makino said somewhat sharply in her immediate concern for the boy, shooting the man a quick apologetic look, of which he just smiled back in recognition.
She pulled him to his feet as he coughed and spluttered everywhere, gulping down breaths of air, tasting it's coolness as it mixed with the sea salt which he could still taste in his mouth. The bitterness of it lingered, making him pull a disgusted look on his seven year old face.
The woman gasped in terror as she saw red seeping through the boy's top, staining it a deep crimson.
"Luffy! You're bleeding!" Makino gasped, gently pressing a hand to his top, and pulling it back to see the blood reflecting back at her in the sunlight as it lightly dripped from her fingertips.
Luffy flinched, and his body shook slightly as he ignored the woman and looked up into the shadowed face of the man that had saved him. The man that had faced danger in order to keep him in the land of the living.
"I-I-It's not…m-my blood…" The boy said, his teeth chattering with fear and cold. Both wrapping around him in an icy blanket that he was unable to shake off.
Everyone looked to the man that had been standing there silently, pressed against the wall in the shadows. Luffy gulped and stumbled over to the wall, standing directly in front of the man, and his eyes began to glisten as they threatened tears.
The first mate of the man in the shadows narrowed his eyes at his captain, checking him over silently, only to notice the absence of one arm, which was being clutched by the hand of the remaining arm.
Luffy balled his fists, and quit biting his lip in order to speak. However, no words came, but one. "S-S-S-S-SHANKS!" The child screamed in guilt. The tears then flowed, as the boy was beside himself and was by now crying hysterically.
"L-Luffy…It's ok." Shanks said roughly, his voice cracking a little on the k.
Luffy shook his head violently. "B-But your arm!"
"Huh? O-Oh that? It's just an arm Luffy." Shanks said, a smile gifting his lips as he looked up at long last, in an attempt to reassure the boy which he had now grown so close to. The boy he considered as a son to him.
"I-It's m-m-my fault though!"
Shanks snapped his head up at that. "No, Luffy." He said, and his voice was steeled this time, the edge of his words cutting through the air like a knife. "It was not your fault, and had I not been there you would have died. It was my responsibility to save you, and that responsibility was carried out, because whether you believe it or not…people care for you, Luffy." He said, his voice going a little softer at the end.
At that, Luffy bawled his eyes out, and Shanks grabbed him with his arm and pressed Luffy to him, both of them crushing each other into a hug. Shanks rested his chin on top of Luffy's head as he felt the sobs that were racking his body echo into his own.
Startled cries went up as the onlookers of his crew finally realised that his arm was missing, which had been the reason of Luffy's stained top. With a grin he tried to shrug, but his grin turned half to a grimace as pain shot across his shoulder. This movement only made Luffy cry harder as the boy clung to his already soaked shirt, and he managed to maintain the grin once more as he resorted to teasing Luffy a little.
"Grown men don't cry." He whispered, repeating it just as softly as Luffy continued to cling to him.
However it had an effect, as Luffy's crying ceased a little. Not much, but enough.
A few minutes later, Benn Beckman, his first mate, approached the two of them, Makino accompanying him, holding a couple of full-bodied towels that she had quickly fetched from back at the bar.
"Captain. We need to get you to the doctor." Benn stated, his voice a monotone that displayed almost no emotion.
"I brought you both towels, you must be freezing." Makino said, offering the towel out to Shanks, who ignored her, still repeating the same words over and over again to Luffy, who was now still in his arms, having passed out from exhaustion.
There was a silence.
Makino shifted uncomfortably, and she glanced over to Benn, who closed his eyes and restrained himself from taking out a cigar. Instead rubbing his temples as he stepped forward and rested a hand on his captain's wrist.
"Oi, captain. I said you need to get to the doctor. You're losing far too much blood."
"No…Mustn't let Luffy…get hurt…Must…get to him…now…Need to…save him." Shanks mumbled out from between numb lips. His eyes rolled and he started to fall forwards.
Makino rushed forwards at the same time that Benn did, grabbing Luffy as Benn simultaneously grabbed Shanks. With a grunt he hoisted the barely conscious red-haired man into his arms and shifted him so as to get a better hold, whilst Makino draped the towel over him and wrapped the other around Luffy's small unconscious form.
Benn looked down at her as she bent to cradle Luffy into her arms. "I'll be taking the captain onboard. He will have to have surgery so as to stop the bleeding. Otherwise he'll never stop bleeding until he's all out of blood."
Makino nodded, not trusting herself to say anything. She watched with wide, concerned eyes as the red-haired pirate crew parted before the first mate as he ascended the ladder onto the Red Force.
Yassop and Benn had been waiting outside the surgery room of the ship for hours on end. It had started out with the whole crew, but as the wild screams of anguished pain got to them after the first two hours, they had diminished, leaving only two. Another scream, this one more high-pitched than the others, pierced the air from within the door, and Benn continued to take another drag on his cigar with his eyes closed.
Yassop however, could stand no more. "I'm sorry, Benn. I can't…" He apologised quickly, standing up straight and hurriedly exiting the corridor, his face paler against his normally tanned skin.
Benn let out a shaky breath, and the smoke exhaled with it.
That had been the last pain filled scream.
Now he had to allow for recovery time, which would be at least another six hours. But it was ok. He had another pack of cigars with him, meaning he was well prepared. That and Lucky Roo had promised to bring down dinner for them some time later that evening.
Now it was just the continuation of the waiting game.
Shanks had awoken to silence. A silence that shrieked in his eardrums, making him wince and cower back down into the bed covers as he prayed that it did not bring on a headache.
'W-What do I tell the crew? No…No I can't say anything to them…Not yet…Maybe Benn…' He thought desperately. He blinked in realisation. Benn. Of course. 'The first mate, I should tell him. I'm not…I can't…What should I tell him?'
His shaking had stopped and he closed his eyes as he retreated deep into the depths of his mind as he thought with a fierce concentration.
That had been seven hours ago.
Now, Shanks shifted in his wooden chair and shrugged a little with his only good shoulder, grimacing slightly as he did so. Benn Beckman faced him, leaning against the opposite wall, a cigar slowly being puffed in his mouth from it was loosely held between his teeth, and his rifle laying on the floor in the far corner.
The red-haired pirate captain braced himself by steeling his mind, his speech all planned out in his head. He swallowed, his Adam's apple dipping like a ship in the water, before rising again.
Yassop, who was situated outside the door with Rockstar and Lucky Roo, pressed his ear to the wooden door and he watched as his equally intrigued comrades followed suit.
"Don't say anything till' I've finished." Shanks said quietly, taking off his straw hat and placing it on the desk beside him.
Benn acknowledged it with a curt nod of his head, signalling for him to continue. Shanks took a deep breath in preparation for what he was about to say next.
"You know Benn…I've been sailing these seas for a long time now…and during that time, I have had adventures that I couldn't have dreamed up even in my wildest daydreams." He said almost wistfully. Focusing once more, he coughed to clear his throat. Only once.
"Nevertheless, my adventures end here. Under these unfortunate circumstances, I am unable to fight as I should, meaning that I cannot guide or protect my crew, and would I would then pose as a liability to you all. Therefore, I am unfit to be your captain. Moreover, once Mihawk hears of this, he will know that I have lost my title as the World's Greatest Swordsman, unto which he will no doubt renounce me as his rival, and will then accept the position which I rightfully pass on to him."
Here he took a breath, finding it ever harder to keep his voice from cracking with remorse and self-pity.
"Speaking of passing on titles…I hereby pass on my title of captain to you Benn. This crew shall no longer be known as the 'Red-Haired Pirates', as you are now their captain. I am unfit to travel the Grand Line, and so you must take the crew to have your own adventures. I wish all the luck in the world to befall you and the crew, and I hope you have a safe journey throughout your travels in the Grand Line. I can promise that this will be the last you'll hear of me as your captain."
On the last word, his voice choked up, making him unable to say any more as he wallowed in despair.
Benn said nothing. Instead he walked over to the door and opened it, revealing the three dumbfounded snoops, who were horrified at the information that they had gleaned from spying on the conversation between their captain and first mate.
"Forget all you have heard from this conversation, and I shall overlook you sneaking around out here. Prepare to load supplies. We spend one extra day here. One only. Step to it, and make sure no one else comes down here. At all." Benn said shortly, startling them as they snapped to attention hastily.
"Y-Yes sir." The said in unison, scrambling back down the hallway in order to obey the command.
Benn re-sealed the door so that it was properly shut, and he locked it subtly. With a deep sigh he took his cigar out of his mouth after one last drag, and promptly threw it out of the window with contempt before closing and drawing the curtain over it, so as to block out the light, or anyone trying to look in.
Shanks gulped. This wasn't a good sign. He kept looking forwards, with his eyes fixated on his bunk on the other side of the room. Yet he didn't dare to turn around, even when he felt Benn approach his chair from behind, making the hair on his neck stand on end.
"You ass." Was all his first mate said to him, before slamming his fist into the side of Shanks' head, knocking his captain clean off the chair and onto the floor.
Said captain got his only hand underneath him, trying to support his weight, before collapsing and making a futile attempt to try and slink away from his fuming friend.
"B-B-Benn, I mean it. I-" Shanks stuttered, crawling away desperately, as fast as he could with only one arm.
"Shut up." Benn snarled. He leant down and picked Shanks up by one ear, making the captain yelp in surprise and pain. He shook him roughly to his feet as he hauled him upright. "Do you really think that I would-no, ANY of us would accept that?" He questioned, glaring with intensely angry eyes.
"Y-You have to. I c-c-can't continue as your capt-"
"Bullshit. We would follow you to the ends of the earth and over the edge if it meant it, and you know that. You said yourself that it was 'just an arm'. Do you really think you're seriously going to give up on being a captain? "
"Yes! I meant every word of it! I lied when I said it was 'just an arm'! I just couldn't admit it in front of the kid!" Shanks cried out, his eyes starting to glisten as he clawed at Beckman's hand which was firmly gripping his ear.
Benn shook him again. "You're lying, Shanks. Now TELL ME THE TRUTH." He thundered. Shanks cowered from the force of it, and he quivered a little, wincing as he unsuccessfully tried to pull his ear out of his first mate's grasp.
"THAT WAS THE TRUTH." Shanks shouted, squeezing his eyes tightly shut and pounding his fist repeatedly into Benn's stomach instead to no avail.
Benn clenched his teeth and released Shanks, who fell forwards and past him as he followed his fist. However he was swiftly followed with a boot to the rear, sending him flying into the wall, hitting it with a fair amount of force.
"You're lying through your teeth Shanks. If I need to hear lies, I'll ask for Yassop." Benn said, his voice a little calmer, but not much. "Now tell me honestly, do you want to remain as captain of the red-haired pirates?" He asked.
Shanks didn't trust himself to speak from where he was crumpled next the wall, as he was too busy trying to hold back tears so as not to look like a cry-baby in front of his first mate. So he settled for a nod.
"Answer me properly." Benn commanded firmly, looking his captain in the eyes.
"Y-Yeah." Came the quiet, broken response.
"Why do you think you can't then?"
"Because I'm useless as I am now. I am of no use to anyone, and I'll be unable to protect those I love. So I can't be."
Benn's eyebrow twitched in annoyance, and he straightened up. Walking over to the far corner, he picked up his rifle. Turning back and walking over to Shanks, he swiftly knocked the butt of the rifle into his head. He then proceeded to heavily jab away at his captain, beating him senseless with it as the red-haired pirate screamed in terror and pain as he ran all over the room, Benn chasing him and utterly thrashing him with the rifle.
"Don't. You. Dare. To. Ever. Suggest. Such. A. STUPID. Thing. Ever. Again." Benn reprimanded, enforcing each word with a hit of the rifle. "Or I can promise that I will kick your sorry ass to the New World and back again. Do you hear me?" He asked.
"Y-Y-Yes! Stop! Please! I beg of you!" Shanks wailed, writhing as he fought to get away from the jabbing wooden rifle end.
Benn dropped the rifle as Shanks suddenly crushed him in a bone breaking one-armed hug. To say he was astonished was an understatement, and he would have normally pushed the younger man off of him, had he not heard the deep sobs coming from him, and felt the violent shaking of the broken captain in his arms.
With a sigh, he wrapped his arms around his emotionally and physically bruised captain, and gently rocked him. Allowing him to cry all he wanted into his chest as the tears that Shanks had kept pent up finally cascaded down his face, soaking into the thin material of his shirt. His choked cries echoed loudly, and Benn was sure that the crew would have heard the ruckus by now.
However, he was dealing with a distraught captain, who was choking upon his words in his attempt to get them out into the air.
"I…-hic-…W-W-Want to d-do Roger p-p-proud…B-B-But I c-can't -hic- b-be as g-great as he w-was…-hic-…I can't l-l-l-leave a leg-hic- a legacy like h-h-he did." Shanks bawled, clenching Benn's shirt in his hand so tightly that his knuckles turned white within mere seconds.
Benn ruffled his captain's hair fondly to sooth him, a wry smile donning his lips. "I'm sure you will captain…I'm sure you will…"
It was an attempt…So I hope you liked it. It was…emotional. ^_^,
So please review!
And many thanks once again to Callosum, who allowed me to expand on the chapter of his fic 'Thirty Strands of Red Hair'.