Pairing: Silver Hunter (OC)/X Drake (past)

Author's Notes: I suck at naming things, which includes story titles. Experimenting with second person pov. Unedited other than a quick read-through. Let me know if you spot any errors.

Your fingers clench on the bounty, causing wrinkles on the paper and distorting Drake's name and picture. "Red Flag" X Drake, 115 million belli, wanted for obstruction of Justice, theft of Marine property, property damage, aggravated assault, murder, piracy, etc. The words swim in your sight, seeming as though they could be an illusion. You have to be reading it wrong; maybe this is some nightmare. Then you scent Nixie's alarm and realize that those distress sounds you've been hearing are coming from you. It takes you a moment to stop, and you're glad that you're still on the deck–that you paused to flip through the bounties before going below–because the sea breeze helps to ground you in the here and now. This is really happening.

Drake has a bounty, and is now an ex-Marine, a former Rear Admiral. He's no longer a Marine, and that is just not computing for you. He was a Marine when you met, when you became friends, and then lovers. It's intrinsically part of who he is in your mind-scape, but you have to try to pull the Marine thread out of his tapestry now, or maybe you need to change the thread, but if you do that will it warp the tapestry? Will it destroy it? And now you want nothing more than to go to your den den mushi to call him, but he's smart and he'll have gotten rid of the den den mushi with the code you know, because the Marines can tap lines far better if they know the connection code, and they'll know his and so he'll have gotten rid of it. And now you're circling things in your own head. Is it easier like this?

You take a deep breath. Breathing is good. It keeps you from going wolf under stress. Going wolf right now would be bad. You're on the open sea, weeks from any known port, so going wolf and destroying The Americana would be all sorts of bad. You'd survive, and Nix would most likely survive, but your ship and stores and all the information and personal belongings on board would be gone. Not to mention both of the den den mushi that you and Nix own. Nix's network would take months to rework, if she even could. And these thoughts ground you–these reasons why destruction is bad right now.

You pause in your breathing to blink back tears, because Drake matters, and he should have called and that hurts. Do you not matter to him? Your free hand rises to clutch at your chest. Even worse that the thought of you not mattering to him, is the thought that the Marines or some bounty hunter will succeed in defeating him–in taking him in. You wince and take a couple more deep breaths. You bite back the tears, and the hurt, and the anger. You can take it out of his hide when you catch up to him, which you will eventually. Between Nix's network and your own you can figure out where he's headed and sit on a chokepoint. There are always chokepoints eventually. You'll just have to trust him to stay alive until then.

You finally focus on what's in front of you, and try to smile at Nix, who is hovering. It doesn't feel like a successful smile, and she flinches some at it. You breathe out once more and try to smile again, this time Nixie just looks sad and worried. You take a look around, but even with your eyesight you don't see anything worthy of note. You can't be sure without climbing up to the crow's nest to look around, but it was clear an hour ago at the last check, so you figure it is safe enough, even with the way that sound carries on a calm sea.

"New bounties. One of them is for a friend of mine. Former Rear Admiral. Gods above, I never thought Drake would go rogue, of all the people I've known. He followed orders a hell of a lot better than my brother, even if their ideas of Justice happen to coincide. I just, would have expected a call, from Drake or my brother before this. It's a shock."

"This is the same Drake that you exchange letters with practically weekly and talk to at least once a month? That Drake? The one who makes you smile for days after hearing from him?" Nixie's tone is trying for light, but there's murder hidden under that, much like the woman herself.

"That Drake. I…should call Smoker. Nii-san should know what's going on. Will you put feelers out after him? I'm worried" Even you can hear the heartbreak in your voice, and you know that Nixie is going to do her damnedest to make Drake pay for hurting you. It's a best friend's prerogative to do so after all.

"Yeah, I'll start now. Where was he when last you heard?"

"He was just leaving base to check out some strange reports from an island bordering the Calm. Whatever was going on must have been bad, and the Marines must have given him bad orders, or maybe they were causing the trouble. I don't know. I do know that it was one of his crew that brought it to his attention, not the base. And he didn't have orders to go out there, but he didn't have orders to not go out there either."

Nixie makes a sound of understanding, but still looks unhappy. You understand, you'd be the same way if your roles were reversed. You both head downstairs to the lounge. You pause to look at Drake's bounty again, and you put it under Ace-san's most recent bounty on the bounty board. It's near the column that holds Trafalgar Law from the North Blue, and Monkey D. Luffy from the East Blue, as well as Basil Hawkins of the North Blue, and Eustass Kid of the South Blue. They're on the 'To Watch For' column, while Ace-san and Drake are on the 'Friends' column. The rest of the bounties she sets on the coffee table next to her usual chair.

Nixie is already in her room, if you focus you can hear the murmur of her voice and another from her den den mushi. You decide to make a cup of tea at you wait for yours to connect to your brother's office. He hates answering, so he tends to take as long as possible to connect in the hopes that whoever is calling will give up. You get the electric kettle started and pick out your tea. You fill the pot and cup with hot water from the tap. By the time the water begins to bubble in the kettle, your brother finally answers.

"Smoker." He sounds angry, which is about normal for him.

"Nii-san. I just got the new bounties." Your voice is icy, and you smile to know that it will give him pause. You are so rarely angry with him.

"Is there a point in there? Something you expect me to know?" He sounds calm, if cautious. There is a crashing sound and Tashigi's voice is picked up faintly.

"Smoker! X Drake has been declared an enemy of the Marines. We are to arrest him immediately on sight, and hold him for high command if captured." She sound frantic, as can be expected–Drake and Smoker are friends of a sort, after all.

"Is this what you meant brat?" He sounds angry again, but it's the tone he gets when high command issues shitty orders and pisses him off.

"Yeah, that's what I meant. Sorry, I expected you would have known before the issuing of the bounties." Your tone has warmed considerably. It's good to know that your brother didn't intentionally keep information about Drake from you.

"These orders are vague. What the hell did Drake do to piss off high command?"

"I think he did the right thing when high command didn't want anyone to do anything. Last I heard, someone on his crew pointed out a stack of reports from the crewmember's hometown. Reports that went back a while–about something weird going on there. He was going to check it out."

You take another couple of deep breaths and pour out the first cup of tea. It's a good jasmine green tea that works wonders on your mood. It is as delicious as always, and the scent begins to fill the room. You secure the kettle, extra cups, and the canister of tea before taking the pot and your cup to your chair. You sit after fetching the den den mushi to sit on the floor next to you. Your brother is still silent on his end, and you're patient enough to wait.

Eventually you hear muffled cursing from your brother. Tashigi is probably standing quietly in front of his desk looking somewhat terrified. She's come a long way since she was that green recruit Kendrick had teased, but then again, so have you.

"Silver, don't tell me anything illegal. I don't need to know. Take care of yourself. I need to make a call or two. If I can, I'll let you know what I find out." He sounds determined, and you're glad. He has friends in the old guard, the Marines who actually believe in justice for civilians and not just for the Tenryuubito or the World Government's ideals.

"Good luck bro. I'll make some calls of my own. Silver, over and out."

You hang up the com and sigh. Take another drink of the tea. Think about what contacts you have and if it's worth calling in favors to get the information you want. Probably not, at least, not yet. Eventually, if your other leads don't pan out you'll resort to calling in favors owed, but until then they're better left in reserve. You've put a lot of effort into collecting that many favors, and it would be a shame to waste them so soon. You've got time, and options, and that's more than enough for now. Best to think about how horrified Drake will be when you explain just how much trouble he's in. Yeah, that's definitely better. Now you can get to work, and make sure that ass of yours doesn't get himself killed too fast.