Kitsune here with the new chapter. Ok, some quick notes. First, I've had people as me if Rakuyo was an OC. He's not. He is actually a listed commander. Anyone I use as a Commander is going to BE a cannon Commander. OCs are just going to be background characters, because there are a LOT of people on that ship. I did give his weapon a name. Secondly, this story will be updated when it's updated. Sometimes it takes a while to plan out the sections, or get the "Voice" I want for the Commanders right, or to work out the plot. And yeah, that the third point, there IS an overall plot, and there have been hints at it. it's subtle so far, but I'm kinda gonna smack you with it a bit at the end of this one. Like FISH. And about the "Voice" issue- most of these Commanders we only see for maybe a few minutes total in the whole series of the anime so far, a handful of panels in the manga. And I'm trying to use more than just the ones you ALL KNOW. So I'm trying to not make them all the same. And I might be a little epic fail. But I'm trying. It's hard, dammit, because I don't have much to go on. Check the One Piece Wiki if you don't believe me.
On a less pity party bitch fest, Burning Rubber is DONE! And there's a pole up about it. Check it out if you haven't. Also, *more shameless self-plugging* My Tumblr has a current work in progress that will be posted here when it's complete. Just go to my Tumblr page and in search look up Doctor who... I need a name for it. And It's totally not being written in order. Anjelle has yelled at me about that. Apparently I'm cruel. I'm ok with that. You've been warned.
Question of the chapter: "Are you a morning person?" Hell no. I hate mornings with a burning passion. HATE THEM!
"You know if you kill him, Oyaji's going to be pissed, yoi."
"I'd be more worried about Ace." Thatch laughed, sending Luffy flying backwards with a well timed kick to the teen's gut. "Would you just shut up and watch? I know what I'm doing."
Marco shook his head. "I thought you were supposed to be taking it easy."
"We are Mom! God, shut up Marco and let me concentrate or fight the kid yourself if you're so worried!"
"Can I call him mom, too?" Luffy panted, lucking out and connecting.
"...Do it, and not even Ace can save you." Was Marco's good-natured rejoinder as he continued to watch carefully, making sure neither over did it. Fighting Luffy was a good workout for Thatch, the Division Commander was still slightly out of shape after his brush with death. Not to mention he rarely went against opponents who preferred to brawl. Marco wanted to make sure he didn't over-tax himself or the boy.
It happened in an instant. One of those stupid accidents that could cost someone their life in a real fight. Luffy stumbled, foot coming down on a bo-staff someone had forgotten to put away. Marco cursed himself for not noticing it sooner even as he dove forward to try and protect the kid- now downed- from Thatch's powerful chop. He could see it in his friend's eyes that the swordsman couldn't stop in time. A foot snaked out, sandal loose, and hooked under the very staff that had tripped the kid, flipping it up into the air in a move Marco recognized. His eyes widened in shock as Luffy caught the staff and slammed it into Thatch's swords with bone-jarring force. Grinning widely the teen executed a twist-and-flick Ace was fond of, sending one sword clattering towards the deck even as the Fourth Division Commander danced out of the range of the tip of the staff.
Marco took the opportunity to step between them, heart in his throat at the close call. "That's enough."
Letting out a low whistle, Thatch flopped onto the deck next to Luffy. "Impressive, brat! Ace never said you could use weapons."
"Thanks! Me n' Ace grew up using pipes. Kids stuff… It's kinda the same."
Marco remembered the few non-Luffy-centric stories Ace told of his childhood. They tended to involve large beasts and the hunting of said monsters. He could see where using any kind of weapon, even a pipe, would be useful. Ace at least still carried a weapon on himself though. Luffy didn't, leading many on board to think the brat had no clue how to use anything, let alone a sword. Sitting with the other two he was surprised to see Thatch was a bit out of breath. He nudged his friend, mildly concerned. "You alright, yoi?"
"Eh, I'm fine." Despite his words, the Fourth Division Commander didn't argue when Marco loosened his cravat. (He did roll his eyes and slap Marco's hands away from the buttons of the shirt, however.) "Come on, Marco, I'm not that irresistible."
The shirt hit the deck with a wetish sounding plop, Thatch's chest was covered in sweat, telling Marco that his friend had definitely pushed himself a bit more than he had originally thought. Now the question was if he'd pushed it too much. Thatch didn't grumble as Marco ran his hands over the scars littering his body. Though the First Division Commander hadn't had experience with his own injuries in decades, he'd patched up enough people to be reasonably proficient. He noticed Luffy watching with a bland look, gaze running over all the old scars that littered the swordsman's torso and wondered what the boy was thinking.
Thatch grinned cockily at the younger pirate. "Like what you see?"
"Zoro has a lot of scars, too." Luffy shrugged. "He said it's a swordsman' pride or something."
"Well, there are some who see it like that." The Fourth Division Commander agreed. " I didn't ask that, though. What do you think, kiddo?"
"I don't like seeing all of them. Some scars are cool; like the ones you get fighting a whole bunch of Marines or like the ones Zoro has from when he tried to cut off his own feet that one time…" That sounded like an interesting story. Creepy, but interesting. "But the one he has from Mihawk on his chest bothers me."
There was a pause. "He fought Mihawk?" Marco asked, impressed.
"Yeah. Way back at Bereti. He lost, though." Luffy flopped backwards, pouting. It was obvious that he was upset.
"Still, he survived." Thatch pointed out, leaning forward so his friend could finger the wound that had nearly ended his life.
It had healed, but it was obvious by the way he twitched under Marco's gentle prodding that it was still tender. Marco sighed, the proof that he should have ended the fight sooner hard to deny even if he knew the other Commander would deny it. "I think you might need to go see the nurses, yoi."
"Wh-" Thatch sputtered predictably, turning to shoot his friend a hurt look. "Marco! Come on, man! You know if I do that Oyaji'll find out, and I won't be able to do anything fun for the next week at least!"
"Better that then finding out you've torn something." Marco shot back, not budging.
"Why do you have a scar on your back?" Both turned to see the younger now half sitting, braced by his arms and staring at the horrible scar on Thatch's back.
"It's nothing to worry about, kid!" Thatch turned back to grin at the younger pirate. "Marco here is just getting all worked up over nothing."
"It's not nothing, yoi. You almost died!" Marco snapped.
"Died?" Luffy's brows furrowed, confused, and the two Whitebeard Pirates shared a look. Neither really wanted to tell him about Teach's betrayal, but the guy was after Luffy. (Besides, even if Marco wouldn't dare admit it out loud, the brat was family. And not just because he was Ace's little brother, either.)
Finally Thatch sighed. "Yeah. I'm sure you've heard how your big brother is hunting down a former crew-mate, right? Well, I guess you could say I took the brunt of the betrayal."
"What happened? Ace only said that the guy he was after was a traitor." Luffy frowned. "He never said anything about someone dying."
"Hey, almost dieing!" Thatch half-yelped. "Big difference there, brat. Don't go killing me off like that."
It dawned on Marco why his ship-brother wouldn't have mentioned it then. When he'd first left to hunt down the traitor, Thatch had still been in really bad shape. The fool probably didn't want to do or say anything that might have jinxed his friend's recovery. "Ace probably didn't want to worry you, yoi."
"Why would I worry? Ace is strong! He's gonna find this Blackbeard guy and beat him up for you!"
"I'm sure he will." Thatch agreed easily. "Still, Teach isn't someone to be taken lightly, right?"
Luffy sat straight up and gaped at them both. "T-teach?"
"Yeah. Marshall D Teach." Marco felt like he was definitely missing something as Luffy scowled. "What?"
"Ace only ever called him Blackbeard. I met that bastard! I knew I should have beat him up!"
The half-grin Thatch had been wearing fell off his face in a flash as Marco felt himself blanch at the thought. "Wait, what?" Thatch asked.
"I met him! On Jaya."
"You're kidding, right?"
Luffy huffed, crossing his arms. "Why would I joke about that asshole? I don't like him; and he's got bad taste in pies." Apparently he saw the disbelief on their faces. "Big guy, bad teeth, laughs funny. Asshole."
Well, that sure sounded like Teach, alright. It wasn't a comforting idea at all, even if it did explain how the bastard seemed to know who Strawhat Luffy was. And here Marco had been hoping that the man had only been threatening to go after the kid as a way to rile up Ace. He nodded reluctantly. "Sounds like him, yoi."
"Next time I see him, I'm going to kill him." Luffy had this strange look on his face.
"What?!" Thatch yelped, visibly panicking.
Luffy looked at Thatch like he was an idiot. "He hurt you. You're my friend. I don't like it when people hurt my friends. So I'm going to kill him." The way he explained it was like it was the most logical thing in the world, and the First Division Commander had to admit that given what he knew of how the teen grew up, it probably was.
"B-but! He's! And you-! Ace, oh God!"
"Let us handle it." Marco cut in on Thatch's sputtered protests. "He was part of our crew. That make him our problem, yoi. No reason for you to get involved."
He was relieved when Luffy looked away, pouting. There was nothing he could say to that after all, and it was better for him to be a little disappointed now then to end up dead later. No one on the crew wanted that. Finally Luffy looked up at him, and Marco did not like the look in the kid's eye. "No. Mr. Giant Mustache wants me to join the crew, so that makes it my problem too."
"But-but, you said no!" Thatch's voice was high pitched.
"So? Then I said yes."
Marco thought back, and damn if the kid hadn't. "I thought you were joking."
The boy shrugged. "Doesn't matter. We're still Nakama; still friends. Even when I go back to my own crew, we're still gonna be friends, right?" Both men nodded. "Right! And friends help each other. So I'm gonna kill Blackbeard for hurting one of my friends."
Both men stared at him. For a guy who was supposed to be stupid, that was actually downright smart. Conniving, actually. (Ace had said Luffy usually got his way, but Marco didn't think he meant like this. Maybe the D stood for Determined?) If it wasn't bad enough that they were having to stop Ace, now they had to worry about Luffy, and something told Marco that he wouldn't listen half as well to Oyaji. One thing was for sure, Luffy sure as hell wasn't leaving the ship until Blackbeard was taken care of now.
Blenheim couldn't remember the last time that Mihawk had even been within firing range of the Moby Dick, let alone dared to come aboard. The Shichibukai wasn't exactly unwelcome, since more than a few of the crew enjoyed sparring with the world's best swordsman when their paths crossed for Oyaji to ban the man. It just wasn't like their relationship with some of the other Shichibukai, like Jinbe, who was practically one of Oyaji's sons, or Hancock, who went wherever the hell she wanted with her nose up in the air like a big Fuck You to the world. (You had to admire her spunk. Sure, she was bat-shit crazy, but she and Oyaji had and understanding of sorts.) Mihawk was more like… a cousin you only saw at reunions, and reluctantly at that. Which begged the question of what the hell the man was doing pulling his skiff up to the Moby Dick now, without sending any sort of prior warning. He didn't like the feel of it; it made his scalp tingle. That was always annoying as hell since his hair was braided and it was a real bitch to scratch that tingle out without looking like you had head lice or some shit.
He got the feeling that Oyaji had an idea what the man was there for, and judging by the looks on his fellow Commanders' faces, he wasn't the only one. If it was the reason he thought, Mihawk was in for one hell of a fight, because there was no fucking way they were going to give up their youngest brother without one. Whether he was officially family yet or not. (Or if he knew he was family or not. He'd been on the crew long enough to recognize the fierce look of "MINE!/OURS!" on most of his younger siblings faces.) So Blenheim was far from surprised when the hawk-eyed pirate's arrival on deck was met with open animosity. He was more surprised that it wasn't an openly hostile environment the lone man stood in front of. Or that the crew didn't start growling. Though, if Ace had been on deck instead of God-knew-where napping with his little brother, there definitely would have been growling.
Cold predatory eyes swept over the crew before Mihawk strode forward towards Newgate, overly large sword strapped to his back. Standing before the much larger man Hawkeye frowned. "I believe you and I need to have a talk, Whitebeard."
"Why's that, brat?" Whitebeard grinned down at him.
"You know why." Mihawk bit back as close to a temper as Blenheim had ever seen the man, and that was including the time he'd stumbled across Mihawk piss-ass drunk when he was a teen and convinced him to trade his sword for a smoked fish. (He'd still lost the duel. Kid was a monster with anything sword-like even at that age.) It was then he knew that his suspicion was correct; Mihawk was here about Luffy. (How the man found out was still a mystery, though.) The dark haired man had the audacity to turn his back on their Captain and walk back towards his skiff, ignoring the killer intent that was rapidly growing on deck. "First though, allow me to bring my… traveling companions… on board." The bastard didn't even phrase it as a question.
The Ninth Division Commander was sure someone would have cracked under the tension and lunged at the man as he leaned over the rail if it hadn't been for the warning look Oyaji shot his sons. Instead they all watched, ready to spring at the first sign of betrayal, as the man signaled down to whoever was on the skiff to join them on deck before strolling (ballsy son of a bitch) back over to Oyaji. It wasn't long before a girl with large overdone eyes and ridiculously pink hair floated up; obviously a devil fruit user. She was not happy with the person following her up, as she kept shouting down insults to them. Some were pretty creative, too.
"Perona." Mihawk's tone was an odd mixture of rebuke, warning, and (dare he believe it?) a hint of fondness.
Whether or not the girl heard all that when he said her name (Blenheim knew that name was familiar in a vague way, so she was reasonably strong. But not a swordfighter or he would have remembered who she was. He was getting old- you couldn't expect him to remember everyone, right? Right?) she stopped her heckling and moved to the side with a huff. The moment she did a head of short green hair appeared over the rail, followed by a very, very annoyed young man. He had broad shoulders and well-muscled arms, and Blenheim recognized him as a fellow swordsman before he even saw the three swords tucked into the wide haramaki. The look in his eyes is what marked him as a predator to the core, just like Mihawk. Something about those three swords nagged at him, but he couldn't remember, not with all the bitching and moaning going on around him.
Did he mention that the young man was annoyed? It spilled off the young man in waves as he stormed over to where Mihawk stood. It would have been comical if the old Commander had been sure the annoyance stemmed from the fact that the girl was once again pestering him. For some reason she seemed to be of the opinion that he was going to somehow get lost on the way from the rail to Oyaji's chair. Now, Blenheim'd seen some downright crazy shit in the twenty plus years he'd been on board the Moby Dick, but getting lost on the way to The Chair while on deck just wasn't possible.
"Why the hell are we here, Hawkeye?" The green haired youth bit out the moment he reached the other, ignoring Oyaji past a wary glance. The fact he was disrespecting their Captain was insulting enough that usually at least one of the Commanders would have stepped forward, but none did. Blenheim suspected they were all waiting for the Shichibukai to kill the fool for speaking to him like that.
"Because we need to be, boy." Mihawk's answer earned crossed arms and a loud huff from the teen and shocked looks from the crew. Oyaji just laughed. "I'm glad we amuse you, Whitebeard."
"Ahhh. So what was it that you wanted to talk to me about, brat?"
Mihawk glowered. He didn't think the man could do that. "Shanks."
"Shanks?" Oyaji actually put his tankard down and stared at the man before him.
"Yes, Shanks. Shanks, what you told him, and this fool here." Mihawk gestured at the young man who was still glaring at everyone and everything. "I have had no rest for the last few days, Whitebeard, and I hold you responsible."
"Gahahahaha! What makes you say that?"
"Do not play with me. I'm not the fool Shanks is. I have talked to the man, and I know very well who you are hiding on your ship."
The Captain, Strongest Man in the World, narrowed his eyes just a hairs breath, the grin still on his face. It wasn't the warm look the crew was familiar with. This was the smile of a wild beast before it mauled you. "And what are you going to do about it, Hawkeye Mihawk?"
"Simply this." He turned to the green haired young man. "Zoro."
"Yeah?" The teen looked slightly cross, and his hands instantly went to the three swords at his waist. (What was it about three swords that was ringing a bell? Dammit!)
"Strawhat is here, on this ship." Mihawk just went and told him the very thing they'd been trying to keep a fucking secret for weeks now like it was nothing.
Blenheim had had enough, he shoved his way to the front of the crowed and glowered at the Shichibukai that he had had a small hand in raising to greatness. "What the hell, Mihawk!"
The dick just shrugged. "It's his Captain. Does he not have the right to know where his Captain went?"
Captain? Blenheim didn't remember anyone on the Strawhat bounty posters with green hair. It hit him like one of Hareta's pirouette attacks; the three swords. "'Pirate Hunter' Roronoa Zoro."
"Luffy's here?" The annoyed look was gone in a flash of surprise that just as quickly gave way to hot rage. He didn't raise his voice to Oyaji, but the threat was there. "What have you done to my Captain?"
"Oh, like you even care! You just use the poor kid anyway!" Judging by the way the way the rage went cold-calculatingly brutally cold- that was not the thing to say. Blenheim hoped someone got the name of the dumbshit who'd spoken out of turn so he could personally open up a can of whoop-ass on him after this was all over. Because right now, standing in front of Roronoa, it was obvious that while 'Pirate Hunter' might have started out as a homage to the swordsman's odd beginnings as a bounty-hunter it was now an apt description of what he was. And even though they were (for the most part) stronger, that look said they were royally fucked if they thought they were going to 'talk this out'.
He had to try anyway. Dammit. "Listen, we didn't do shit to your Captain, alright?"
"Then why is he here?" Oh good, it looked like it was working.
"He landed here." That was easy enough to answer.
Apparently he was wrong. Killer intent started to radiate off the young Supernova. "What have you done to Luffy?"
"I told you, nothing!"
"THEN HE WOULDN'T STILL BE HERE!" A sword was drawn, and Blenheim couldn't find it in himself to blame the brat. Here he was, standing before the whole crew, ready to fight to the death to get his Captain back. That he understood.
He waved his brothers and sisters back before the situation could escalate out of control, wondering why Oyaji was just watching. "Calm down, it's not like that." He found a sword scant centimeters from his nose for his troubles.
"Then what did you do? Bribe him with meat?"
"Don't be ri-"
"MEAT!" A the sound the green haired pirate looked around in an actual panic, which seemed surprising since it came from the very person he was so desperate to find a second ago. "Gum-gum-rocket!"
"Luffy don't-!" A blur of red, blue and yellow slammed into Roronoa and sent them both tumbling.
Blenheim's eyes slowly tracked from the empty air where the Pirate Hunter had been to where he was now. "Huh. Well, guess that's why he was freaking out."
"GAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Ace my boy! Did you have a good rest?"
"Yeah, until someone woke us up with all that yelling. What the hell is going on, Oyaji?"
"Mihawk seems to have found one of Luffy's crew members."
"Found? More like had him dumped upon me. Perona as well. My castle has gotten quite noisy of late, Whitebeard."
Ace visibly perked up, ignoring Mihawk completely. "Which member?"
"Meat! Zoro! I'm hungry!" Luffy half-cheered in that infectious way he had. He blinked, looking down at the man he was still sitting on. "Zoro? ZORO!" Instantly he was latched onto the other again, laughing and grinning, happier then Blenheim had seen him, though if he'd been there when Ace had come back, he was sure it would have looked like this.
"Zoro, huh?" Ace's smile was easy going, relaxed, and the crew picked up on it. Any lingering hostility faded at the obvious calm the Second Division commander felt about this man being so close to his precious little brother.
"Luffy, get off me already!" The swordsman had to fight to get to his feet, untangling Luffy's arms repeatedly in the process. Despite his scowl and the angry tone Luffy continued to laugh. "That's enough you idiot!" A fist connected with a rubbery head and instantly the Whitebeard Pirates were ready to rip this guy a new one all over again.
"Buuuuut Zoro!" Luffy pouted.
The other looked away, apparently as unable to take the hurt-puppy look as they were. He grumbled a bit. "I get it; you missed me. You don't have to try and crush me to death to show me."
"He was worried about you." Ace put in, causing Roronoa to look over at him.
If he was shocked, he didn't show it. "Ace."
"Zoro." Ace grinned. "I'm surprised you found us without getting lost."
"I'm not that bad!"
"Quit laughing, I'm not!"
"Yes, you are!" The pink haired girl chimed in, unable to stop herself.
Luffy stared at her for a moment before he pointed a finger at her. His mouth dropped open in shock. "Ghost girl!"
"It's PERONA!" She shouted back, the cute tone completely gone.
"Eh?" Luffy shrugged. "But I thought Nami said Kuma did something to you?"
Perona huffed, crossing her arms. "He did. He sent me to the best place in the world. Until he got lost there and interrupted my lovely haunted castle."
Blenheim was pretty sure he heard Mihawk mutter something about it being his castle in the first place, but he could have been mistaken.
"Oh." Luffy gave Zoro one of his trademark grins. "Come on, let me show you around! You come, too, Ghost girl!"
"PERONA!" She screeched right in his ear, trailing after him.
Ace shrugged, turning to Oyaji. "I better go keep an eye on them. Luffy's bad enough, but from what I know he can talk Zoro into almost anything."
"Ahhh. Make sure they don't destroy my ship." Oyaji's face broke out into a wide grin. "Don't let them get lost, either."
"Aye aye, Captain." Ace laughed, trotting after his brother. "Oiy! Lu, wait up!"
Whitebeard turned his attention to Mihawk, who had remained (mostly) silent during all of this. "So what was your real reason for bringing him here, brat?"
Mihawk was never one for answering questions directly. "When I first met him, Roronoa told me that he was going to defeat me. That it was his dream to be the world's best swordsman."
"That when you cut him down?" Blenheim asked. When Hawkeye looked at him with a slightly raised brow he sighed. "I saw that scar, or the start of it. I know your handiwork, Mihawk. You almost split the brat in two."
"You like that little shit, don't you?" The other said nothing. "Damn, got yourself a protegee, huh?"
Mihawk ignored him. Or it seemed like it, at least. "A short time ago he stood before me yet again and I asked what his goal was. You know what he said, Whitebeard?"
"To beat you and be the best, right?"
"To be the best, because that was what the Luffy, his Captain, needed him to be." When he looked again at Blenheim before turning his attention back to Oyaji, the older pirate saw pride and wonder in the man's eyes. "I know as a Shichibukai I should be bringing Strawhat in, but, I've seen how those two boys have grown in such a short time. It would be interesting to see how much more they can grow."
Whitebeard sat back. "Are you suggesting I take on this brat. This Roronoa Zoro?"
"No." The answer was quick, angry even. "Before long he'd surpass all but your Commanders, and I doubt they have the time nor the inclination to train someone like Zoro."
"What makes you say that?" Blenheim mused, not really offended since he was getting too old to deal with a young hot headed brat, but mildly annoyed to be brushed aside like that.
Hawkeye curled his lip slightly. "He is very literal-minded and direct. It's like dealing with a young Shanks all over again. A drunk Shanks. But if you wish to try…"
Blenheim blanched at the thought of a younger Shanks drunk off his ass with three swords (still didn't know how the hell that was supposed to work) and shook his head. "Nah, we'll pass."
"Which is why I am going to train him."
"...Luffy might have something to say about that." Oyaji pointed out, and it was a valid point, even if it was a low blow.
Mihawk shook his head. "Zoro asked me to train him. It's between he and I."
"And you think the Strawhat brat is just going to go along with it?" Blenheim found himself asking.
Hawkeyes looked towards where the two young pirates had vanished below deck. "If he is half the Captain Zoro thinks he is- no, even less than that; then yes."
Whitebeard sighed gustily. "He's not going to be happy about this. How long?"
"Two years." Mihawk smirked. "By then your youngest son should be strong enough to leave the nest."
"Gahahahaha! Fine then. Two years, but not a moment longer." Newgate let out another chuckle. "It should give us time to hunt down that traitor, too."
"I wish you luck with that. For now, I don't suppose you have anything to drink? It looks like I might be here awhile."