Welcome to my new fic, inspired by the unacceptable lack of CrocodilexVivi works. I hope you enjoy it and are inspired in turn.
Vivi Nefertari scuttled down one of the many bland corridors of the huge Alabasta Water headquarters, her heels clicking off the highly polished floor. Her father had messaged her the details of an emergency conference that was due to start in five minutes. As the daughter of the CEO, and heir to the company, she could not be late! She only paused at the portrait of her mother, hung outside her father's office. Not wanting to turn up flushed and panting for breath she quickly decided that she was close enough to walk. She waved to the mother she barely remembered as she hurried on. They were nearly identical, with the same wide-set purple eyes and wavy blue hair. Vivi had always been pleased that they looked so similar; it was something that irrefutably connected them.
Vivi rounded the final corner and stopped, listening for any sign that the conference was already underway. Hearing nothing she straightened her crisp suit, collected herself and entered. Cobra, her father, acknowledged her with a quick nod and motioned for her to take a seat. Just in time! As the final members of the team entered, Vivi flipped open her notebook. She had a very real role in this company; she was not just a pretty face for PR to show off. She'd been preparing to take over the company after her father since she was a child and now, at the age of 22, was his advisor and newly appointed head of finance. The people of Grand Line City relied heavily on Alabasta Water to protect them from drought and Vivi was not prepared to let a single person down, especially not due to negligence and laziness on her part. She would do whatever was needed to make the company a success, and ultimately ensure the welfare of every resident in the city. No matter what.
Cobra finally cleared his throat, silence instantly falling over the table. Vivi always felt weird seeing her goofy father so serious. As her eyes roamed around the table she supposed that applied to a few other people here as well. Ever since her mother had died Vivi had spent her spare time here, instead of at nursery or with a babysitter, and as such many of the senior directors and managers were more like family than anything. Pell and Chaka were here, the ones she was closest with, and they also looked uncharacteristically serious.
"I've gathered you all here as a matter of some urgency and I'm afraid secrecy." Cobra began, "I know you can all be trusted to keep this meeting to yourself."
There was a general murmur of agreement as Vivi made a quick note of who was present.
"I have received some rather worrying reports from workers at the reservoir who say they have seen people skulking around the place. They appeared to be looking for something." Cobra sighed heavily, his face lined with stress.
"They looked like Baroque Works employees."
Vivi felt her heart sink. The committee seemed to reflect her dread, even letting lose a few muttered curses.
Baroque Works was a large oil company, its gleaming headquarters visible even from where she was sitting. Now it seemed to loom even larger against the skyline, casting a shadow of gloom. The owner and CEO was the notorious Sir. Crocodile. He was known throughout the business world as a shark. His methods were barely legal and certainly not moral, but he always got results and supplied most of the city with their energy needs. That the reservoir seemed to have attracted his attention was not good.
"I think it best that Crocodile doesn't realise that we know what he's up to. Mainly because we don't know what he's up to and he may be tempted to make his move before we can implement any defense. I have an old friend who has a position in Baroque Works who may be able to shed some light on the situation, but until I get a chance to talk to him we must keep this quiet. Does anyone have any other ideas?"
After a hours of frustration, and a page of useless or impractical suggestions in Vivi's notebook, it became clear that no one could think of anything that would reveal Crocodile's plan. Cobra finally stood up again, "Thank you my friends for lending me so much of your time. I can see we're going to have to sleep on this problem. Rest assured that I will put every effort into making this a success."
Eventually, after everyone had gloomily shuffled out, Vivi and her father were left alone.
"Don't worry too much Vivi. Try and get some sleep and I'll call Igaram. I'm sure we'll figure this out."
"Yeah." Vivi managed a wobbly smile. "Make sure you don't wear yourself out either."
By the time Vivi had reached their apartment she was on the verge of tears. Alabasta Water meant everything to their family. Cobra had founded it along with Vivi's mother. Before they had, Grand Line City had been classified as a drought zone, causing economic instability and making life very challenging. That could not happen again! Crocodile's could not be allowed to bring the city to ruin! But as Vivi mechanically got ready for bed, she had to admit she couldn't come up with any real plan. It was starting to feel like the only way to know what Crocodile was up to was to ask him and that definitely wasn't an option. Faintly she could hear the low hum of her father's voice in his own room. He must be on the phone to Igaram.
Igaram was a very dear friend to the family. He had worked at Alabasta Water until Sir. Crocodile moved into the city and set up his own company. Igaram, knowing Crocodile's reputation, had insisted on installing himself at Baroque Works to keep an eye on things. At the time Vivi and Cobra had thought he was overreacting and pleaded with him to stay… Now it was looking like their future depended on him. Vivi placed her ear to the wall, trying to get a better idea of what was going on but only caught the click of a phone being hung up and a deep sigh from her father. No. It didn't seem like the enigmatic Sir. Crocodile had given up his secrets so easily.
Hours later Vivi still lay awake. Her mind was whirring and she was still too panicked at the news to sleep. She tried to calm herself, what she needed to do now was be logical.
Who would know what the plans were?
Okay, who else?
Nico Robin, the Chief Financial Officer and head of PR at Baroque Works, probably would. Would she spill the beans?
Unlikely. Crocodile had quite a fearsome reputation as a boss and it was hard to imagine that there would be someone at Baroque Works willing to double cross such a man.
Vivi rolled over and pressed her face into the pillow.
Okay, what else would work.
Surely there was a hard copy of what Crocodile was up to. Anything major would take months to prepare and leave a serious trail of paperwork. Crocodile wasn't the type to entrust anyone but himself with documents like that.
So, she needed to get her hands on a copy of those files. Igaram wouldn't be able to get close to Crocodile's office without raising suspicion since he worked in Admissions.
...Igaram worked in Admissions.
And suddenly Vivi knew exactly what she had to do.
She rolled quietly out of bed and grabbed her phone. After checking she had Igaram's number she tiptoed onto a small balcony attached to her room. It was essential not to wake her father. If he got an idea of what she was planning he'd definitely try to stop her. And if Alabasta Water, a very benevolent company had someone on the inside, Baroque Works definitely had people here. The less people knew the better. She shut the door softly behind her and called Igaram. Vivi's heart was in her mouth as several tones went by, but eventually she heard:
"Igaram, sorry to call you so late. Did my father tell you everything?"
"Yes, but I'm afraid I don't know what that fiend could be planning. I don't have a particularly senior role in the company."
"That's okay, I called because I need a favour."
Vivi slipped into the seat opposite Igaram at a quiet café. The sunny day had prompted her to wear a light sundress and sunglasses, but they contrasted almost comically with the dark mood of the meeting.
"Thank you for agreeing to meet for lunch at such short notice, Igaram."
"It's no trouble." Her old mentor flashed her a quick smile before frowning again. "Vivi, you know I would do anything to help Alabasta Water, but your safety is the most important thing to me. Will you not reconsider? Or at least tell Cobra."
Vivi sighed. "Igaram… My father wouldn't let me go! You know as well as I do that this is the only way we could even get a chance to see those plans! I'm happy to risk my safety if it means that we can continue to protect this city! Please help me!"
Igaram still didn't look happy. It wasn't surprising since he'd almost replaced the role of a mother in Vivi's life, but he also knew that they couldn't risk the lives of people who lived here.
"I suspected you wouldn't budge." There was a sigh. "And as such I spent this morning looking into any job vacancies."
Some of the tension left Vivi's face and she relaxed into her chair a little. "Thank you." She said softly.
"Hmm. Well I have found one role that is theoretically sound. Next week one of the secretaries is going on maternity leave. Since her replacement hasn't been finalised yet, I can get you that position."
Vivi let out a wry chuckle. She'd been hoping to get close to the office without being under direct scrutiny, but it seemed she'd have to be even more careful than she'd expected.
"We're lucky to even have that. Yes, please Igaram."
Her friend nodded, though the edges of his mouth were still tight with worry. "I'll see that it happens. I will email you the details within the next few days. But I'd better head back now before I'm missed."
The huge man gathered himself up. "It was nice to see you again, Vivi. Even though I might wish for better circumstances. Remember though that you have a very important role within your own company. You will be hard to do without, even for a few weeks."
Vivi stood as well and smiled as she was enveloped in a hug. "Ah, don't worry. I'm off for a meeting with the best money spinner in the city."
"Vivi! Over here!"
At the slightly shrill call, Vivi finally spotted her friend and started battling her way through the crowd. Naturally Nami had picked the poshest, most expensive café in the whole of Grand Line City to meet up in.
"Nami," Vivi smiled broadly, "It's always good to see you."
Her friend flipped her waves of tangerine hair, causing several passing men to gape at her. "Of course it is. But I know you're not just here to catch up, Vivi. You wouldn't have left me a panicky voicemail at two in the morning if this was just a chat."
And that was that. Nami was an incurable flirt, but she was as sharp as a tack. Vivi had known from the outset that she'd have to share everything with her and in truth she wanted to! Nami always had brilliant advice and she wasn't afraid to help with the morally dubious either.
"Yeah, thank you for coming." Vivi gave her friend a tired smile. "I'm afraid I do need a favour…"
After explaining the whole sorry situation, including her future stint as Crocodile's secretary, Vivi sat back with a sigh. Nami had a distant look that Vivi had come to associate with big costs for somebody.
"So you need me to take over finances while you pose as a secretary in the hopes of stealing copies of Crocodile's nefarious plans."
Nami whipped out a smart phone and started tapping out a message. "I like it. Things are pretty quiet at the store at the moment since I retired from modelling, did I tell you what a sleaze my manager was? Zoro can handle things for a while."
Vivi leaned across the table and hugged her. "And I'll make sure you'll get the same wages as I did."
Nami gave her a broad wink. "I know I can always count on you. You also have to spill all the beans on your new boss! Crocodile is one of the most mysterious men in the city, I'm curious!"
Vivi laughed, feeling better than she had since the conference. "You're the best Nami."
"Tell me about it. Now that's out of the way we can have a real hang out session."
The next week had passed in a blur of worry and dread, even with various pep talks and retail therapy with Nami. It was the start of her first day and Vivi stood outside the main doors of the towering Baroque Works headquarters, sincerely worried that she was going to throw up. She'd gotten up at 4 in the morning, having woken up in a cold sweat and unable to get back to sleep, and had tried every time wasting tactic she knew. She'd even fretted over what to wear for an hour this morning, eventually settling on a grey suit with a smart pencil skirt. But even with all that she'd been in plenty of time catch her train. She'd told her father that she was doing a job swap with Nami for a while to get a better idea of which areas of the city could do with more support. It worked, but the tearful speech about how proud he was had left her stomach roiling with guilt. But this task was more important than anything, even her conscience, and she would do anything in her power to save Alabasta Water.
Squaring her shoulders and lifting her slightly pointed chin Vivi marched on into the building and headed to the main desk. A pretty brunette greeted her with a professional smile and asked her what she needed help with. Vivi gave and answering smile, feeling cold sweat breaking out on her forehead.
"Hi, I'm the new secretary. I'm covering for Sunny Mille while she's on maternity leave. I'm here to pick up my pass?"
"Ah, yes. If you could just fill out this form, I'll go get that for you."
There was a moments panic when Vivi forgot what fake surname Igaram had registered her with, but aside from that small blip, Vivi was soon handed her pass.
"Vivi Mentiri was it? You're here in good time. Sir. Crocodile usually gets in at nine, so you have fourty minutes to get your desk sorted. A computer account has been created for you. The username is just your surname and the password is password until you log in and change it." The receptionist smiled. "Have a good day and feel free to come ask me if you have any problems."
And with that Vivi headed off, heels clicking loudly off the highly polished floor, to find her desk. That had been easier than she expected, but her heart was still pounding from the feeling that she was taking a huge risk. As the elevator doors closed and whisked her off to the top floor, Vivi closed her eyes and collected herself. She couldn't look overly nervous or draw too much attention to herself; the big man was notoriously suspicious. She'd be here for a couple of weeks and then she'd be out again and Crocodile would be stopped. She just had to keep that in mind and keep her head down.
Finding her desk wasn't as hard as she expecting since there were still gaudy CONGRATULATIONS streamers hung around it. It was just as well she'd turned up early, it looked like she'd be spending the next half hour tidying up and setting up her computer. Luckily she didn't have much of her own things. As she started pulling down streamers and throwing them away, other workers started to come in. Many of them offered her smiles and greetings, which helped towards settling her nerves. In fact she was so focused on getting settled and greeting everyone that she failed to notice the intimidating form of her boss saunter past and sweep into his office. She was in the middle of chatting to the lively secretary at the desk next to hers, a Miss Monday, when the phone on her desk crackled to life with a screech of static.
And then the line went dead. Once she'd recovered from her minor heart attack, Vivi asked her new co-worker the all-important question.
"Where's the coffee machine?"
The lady chuckled. "Hollering for coffee already? It's just on the right, through that door. There should be some ready to go and the mugs are hanging from the shelf. His says 'World's Best Boss'. I believe he likes it black."
Vivi found the room and the (surely) ironic mug with little trouble and within a couple of minutes was knocking on Sir Crocodile's door with a cup of black coffee in hand.
It was time to meet her new boss.
That's the end of the chapter folks! I hope you liked it. Please review and let me know how you found it. :)