When the bill arrived, terror struck the table of three in the form of a blood-curdling shriek from one of its patrons.
"WHAT THE HELL!" The receipt jumped from her hands like she'd seen the face of the devil himself staring back at her on it. Alarmed, Zojo grabbed it, he had to see what was so-
"Wow." He's eyes widened. "Over Twenty-thousand berries? This place must be pretty high notch."
"It's not! I come here all the time and-…" Agatha's eyes narrowed, and she slowly sat back down, the dead-pissed look on her face making Zojo a little uncomfortable and she slowly cranked her neck around to face Monkey, who was picking at bones left on his plate. "Monkey." She said, in a forced sweet, soft tone that held back something savage. "Did you order the flounder, by any chance?"
He looked at her. "Hm? Yeah! Two of them actually! I know you like them too, so since you were in the bathroom I—,"
"How long have we lived in this village?" She asked, still forcing down her rage, and Zojo found himself shrinking as he knew she was about to explode. Poor Monkey seemed oblivious to this fact.
"A month or something." He answered, not really interested.
"And how long have we known that when the fishing charters are late the cost of any fish, especially the flounder, quadruples?"
"Oh! I knew that!" He pointed to her, as if she'd given him the answer to a question and it had been on the tip of his tongue. Then he laughed.
"And what did the waitress tell us as we sat down?"
"…That her name was Sally?"
She finally broke, and slammed her palms down on the table. "HER NAME WAS SAMMY!" She screamed.
Monkey shrunk instantly away from her, suddenly terrified. "Okay, sorry!" he ground out. "Jeez…"
"AND THE FISHING CHARTERS. ARE. LATE."
"Why are you so mad!" he tried to defend, and she silenced him with a fist to the face. Then she calmly shut her eyes, and sat back down, with half the restaurant cowering in their seats.
Zojo sat up straight again, looking cock-eyed at her across the table. "Sorry, but, if he's the one who ordered so much, why doesn't he just pay for himself?"
"He barely gets paid at all." She said. "And when he does, I take it for safe keeping. In exchange I feed him, which is a much, much worse deal on my end than it sounds."
Monkey was burnt out, just sat there crumpled in his seat muttering apologies even though Zojo was sure he still had no idea what he did wrong.
"Why do it then?"
"Obviously because he's a complete idiot. You really think this numskull could take care of himself?"
"I see." Zoko grinned, and crossed his arms. "You're a pushover, then."
"WHAT?" She barked.
"I would hate to be your husband, always bringing home strays off the street."
"Shut up! I'll have you know that believe it or not, even he has skills that might be useful to me someday!" She huffed, and forcibly calmed herself, but noticed that Zojo hadn't stopped smirking.
"Sure, sure. I'm sure that's all it is." He snickered.
"Whatever!" She snapped. "Don't forget that you're in my debt too! And now that I'm down twenty-thousand, you're going to have hell to pay."
"But that wasn't even my fault!"
"Don't care." She held up a palm in his face, and then crossed that arm with the other over her chest, and sat back. "Don't forget that I also handed you information. If it hadn't been for me you'd still be out trying to figure out who you are. Now you can take the work I've already done for you and go from there."
"Furthermore, my colleague has given you a valuable asset. A name, something to call yourself."
"He's not your colleague, he's your pet." Zojo grumbled. "Besides I could have picked one of those on my own."
"But you wouldn't have unless we told you we went through the same ordeal, enabling you to realize that you wouldn't be able to find out who your were just by looking hard enough, and that in order to feed yourself and stay alive you would have to invent an identity. With the obvious low level of your IQ I'd say it would have taken you about two weeks to figure that out… so, two weeks pay… let's say minimum wage as I doubt you'd ever be able to earn more, plus paying me back for the meal…" she tapped her knuckle thoughtfully to her lips. "I'd say you owe me one-hundred thousand berries."
"One-hundred thousand! Where the hell do you get that number!"
"Two weeks pay!" She reached across the table and knocked on his head. His hands instinctively went to the hilt of his sword. "That's around eighty thousand in itself, unless you were planning to slack off and only work part time, which I won't allow given the circumstances. Plus twenty-thousand for today's check…"
"Today's check is his fault!" Zojo pointed.
"And you didn't stop him. I was in the bathroom when he ordered, but you were right here. I can't take responsibility for your ignorance to the workings of the village, I'm not a charity."
"YOU'RE THE IDIOT FOR GOING TO THE BATHROOM!" Zojo erupted from his seat and slammed his hand down hard upon the table. His right hand, however, remained somewhere else.
Agatha's eyes drifted down to it, and narrowed. Once again the entire restaurant's attention had been drawn.
"You going to do something with that?" She nodded at his hand. Zojo was red with anger, and annoyance. He'd been insulted by someone he didn't know at least five times just in that one speech and it pissed him off! But when she redirected his attention, he froze, and looked down. "Do you even know how to use those?"
His hand was on the sword, the hilt of the sword. He could feel, if he pulled up, it would be removed from the sheath… he hadn't looked at them yet, hadn't touched them. He wasn't afraid of them, he just didn't spend a lot of time noticing them… they felt as natural as a limb, like his arms or legs. Come to think of it, these were the best clues he had toward finding out who he was.
"No." He removed his hand from it, and calmed himself. This stupid, irritating woman was the least of his problems. She might've been having trouble finding out who she really was and had settled over not knowing, but he wasn't about to give up.
"All right, fine." She sighed, and drew his attention again. Only because she could tell she'd lost him. He was a tougher one. Maybe guilt alone wasn't going to work. Compromise? "I'll make you a deal." She paused, to see if he was listening, gave him an opening to make sure he could still be won back. He looked at her, as if waiting to hear the deal.
What an idiot.
"If you can get the proprietor of this restaurant to knock off the extra cost of the flounder and any other seafood product on the bill, to only charge me the usual price, I'll let you completely off the hook."
Twenty-thousand beli was only a little less than what she had left for the two-week period until she got paid again. It was much less in the long run but she wasn't stupid, she would still need to eat. Preferably without degrading herself to accepting free meals from that idiot by the coast.
"Why would I do that?" He snorted.
"Better rethink that, he's on his way over."
"What?" Zojo turned his head and found himself looking into a pair of nervous eyes. He regarded the man before him, the way sweat rolled down his forehead, and how he was holding his hands folded in front of him as if to appear polite. He must've been the proprietor… and he was clearly easy to take advantage of. Maybe it would be easy to get this woman off his back.
"Excuse me, sir." The man said. "But I'm going to have to ask you and your friends to remain more calm. Many of the other guests have expressed concern."
"Sorry." Zojo said. "Won't happen again."
"Thank you sir! And thank you for your business!" The man bowed twice and then once more before turning to walk away!
"About that." Zojo said after him, in a firm voice that sent shivers down the proprietor's spine. "My friend here wasn't aware of the price increase on the seafood products. Is there any way to withdraw it?"
"I'm sorry sir, that's impossible, sir!" He turned around again, his face turning beat red, probably at the thought of disappointing a customer. He looked like he was suffering over it so much… maybe Zojo could make a compromise and save him some pain?
"Are you absolutely sure?" Zojo pressed.
"I'm sorry sir!" He looked ready to explode, face turning beat red at the concept of disagree with a customer. "At any other time of month I would make an exception for regulars like this pair, but the festival is this Friday and the flounder is a popular menu item! If the charters are going to be late for the festival then we need all the income we can get to please our guests on that special day!"
"…Festival?" Zojo cocked his head.
Agatha stood. "What if the charters come back before Friday and the prices go down? Will you refund me then?" She asked, without mercy. Zojo scoffed, thinking only that if she was going to try and pull something like that, she should at least show a little more skin. Something like that would never on him but he knew the score and she obviously wasn't a person with much shame.
"Ah...!" The proprietor started, frowning, then stopped, and smiled! "…yes! That is a compromise I'm willing to make!"
Confusion washed over Zojo's face.
"My name is Monty, I'm the owner of the restaurant, and I will contact you through this den den mushi if the charters happen to arrive on time, or if they happen not to." He held out a small, pocket-sized den den mushi to Agatha.
"Thank you, sir!" She smiled, and took it from him. He walked backwards from them, bowing and smiling and wishing them a pleasant night.
"Wow." Zojo said, looking at the snail in her hands. "I'm surprised he went along with it."
"He went along with it because he thinks I don't know there's a huge storm blowing in from the east." Agatha was smirking. "That's the side of the island the charters dock toward, and the direction they go out to sea is also east."
"What?" Zojo barked. He didn't know much about all of that but… "Doesn't that mean there's no way they'll make it back here until the storm blows over? What day is it?"
"Wednesday." Agatha answered.
"It'll be days before they get back!"
"Probably more." She murmured. "This storm is exceptionally large, only a complete idiot would attempt to raise sails during a monsoon of this magnitude, and if they did they'd sink in an instant."
"Then why did you make a deal like that and let him walk away?"
"Because I also know that it will be about a day and a half until the storm actually makes it to the coast. Which means it is likely the charters aren't caught in it, yet, and that means they might have a chance to beat it back."
"Okay… but why would they risk it?"
"Because you are going to take the smaller, faster charter out to them and let them know."
"You're crazy!" Zojo shouted. "I may have forgotten everything but I remember where this is! This is the grand line! There's no way anyone could just sail out and find another ship! There's no telling where I'd end up!"
"How do you think they do it?" She asked. "Naturally, a log pose that has been on this island for more than a day will already and permanently be locked onto the next island. So, if you follow that log pose out to sea, and bring an eternal pose that is locked onto this island, as long as you stay on the route the log pose points to, you can't possibly get lost. The fishermen do it this way on the off chance they lose the eternal pose or something happens to it, that way if they follow the log exactly, they can simply follow it the opposite direction and end up back here. Furthermore there happens to be a small desert island with no magnetic field just along the route from this island to the next that they call a checkpoint. More than likely they are waiting there until the storm passes over."
"And if something happens to the log pose too?"
"It's not completely fool proof, but it's better than having no back-up plan. Either way, it's your ticket out of your debt." She went on. "I have a log pose you can borrow. I woke up with it on my arm. And, just in case, I also know where you can get an eternal pose."
"And how would you expect me to know how to sail? I just woke up, I don't know anything!" Actually, somehow he felt, now that it had been brought up, that he did have some knowledge toward sailing. It was strange though, how could he have knowledge for such an odd thing and yet no memory of how he learned it?
"I don't. But I know someone who does, and, it's just a gut feeling, but I think I can persuade him into accompanying you."
"If you already have someone who will do it then why not just let him do it?" This was getting ridiculous.
"I'm sure as hell not going. I'm sure Jack-kun can do most of the work that takes brains, wouldn't want to count on you for that, but he's not a navigator by trade so it'll probably take three to be safe."
"Then who the hell is the third? You don't expect me to make use of that." Zojo nodded toward Monkey who was slouched in his seat like an angry child who'd just been told he couldn't have any more cookies and to go to his room.
His head turned in a blink to face Zojo "Huh?" He asked, and Zojo just snickered and looked back to Agatha.
"I'm sure you'll find someone." She waved him off. "And no, you can't have my apprentice."
"A minute ago he was a colleague."
"Insignificant details, are you going or not?"
"Of course I'm not going." Zojo scoffed, and turned to walk away. Agatha's eyes widened, and she shot up from her seat. "What!" She called after him. "But I just fed you! You owe me!"
"I do, and I'll pay you back in my own way. I don't like being in debt to people." He said. "But I'm not like you, so I'll make it fair."
She growled and her hand curled into a fist as he continued toward the exit. She didn't have anything left to try and pull out, and then he was gone. She sighed, and sat down again. He wasn't quite as dumb as he looked.
"Didn't work, huh?" Monkey inquired.
"You're still in trouble." She sighed.
"Whatever." She glared at the wall. Monkey would regret his over-spending when they ended up not having enough to feed themselves for the next week.
He didn't know where he was.
He left the bar going… some direction, he thought it might have been west by the sun's position in the sky. But then again he could have sworn the sun had changed position on him twice since he left the restaurant.
He was sure he already passed that old man playing a cello badly next to the annoying yapping dog four times. Unless of course there were four old men, four cellos, and four annoying dogs. It was improbable but not impossible… besides, he couldn't have been that bad with directions.
He didn't even know what he was looking for. A job, maybe? Just for now, until he was able to find out who he was and where he came from. It was like she said, he would need to eat.
Then again… he had swords. Maybe if he learned how to use them he could enter a trade involving them? Maybe something like bounty hunting? Maybe, since his past self was obviously some kind of swordsman, it would come naturally?
Either way… right now he just didn't want to hear that cello or dog anymore, or ever again. He decided to lock onto something he could see, and the only thing that fit that description was the sea. So, he started to walk toward the sea.
It took him almost an hour to reach the coast. There wasn't much there, just a rocky shore, waves crashing against it. Calm waves, wherever the storm was, it wasn't having an affect on them yet. Maybe that crazy lady was right? But how the hell did she know so much about the weather?
There was a ship docked a ways down next to a sizable boathouse. It didn't have many discerning features from a distance. Small, standard caravel model, even he could identify that much. How did he know so much about ships?
He was walking toward it before he realized his feet were moving. He didn't know why, couldn't explain it, but he felt drawn to it. It wasn't as strong as the odd connection he noticed when he touched one of the swords, but it was similar. Maybe his past self had been on this ship before? Or one like it?
As he got closer he noticed that the head ornament was a ram. Not the kind of 'butt your ass off a mountain' ram that someone would feel inclined to run away from, but a friendly, smiling one. The sails were drawn up, and there was no flag.
Regardless, it just seemed so… familiar.
The front of the boathouse had the words 'Tour and Rental' in big, pale blue-painted letters nailed in. If he went inside and asked about the history of this ship, maybe he could get another clue about his own history? Or maybe just getting permission to board would spark some memories.
He was about to walk in, but caught movement in his peripheral vision mid-step, and stopped to look.
He just barely managed to catch sight of a sneaky, shadowy figure that scuttled underneath the dock where the ship was parked. …It wasn't really any of his business… but…
The same figure became less shadowy, and less sneaky, and had suddenly crawled out from under the dock and climbed onto it on all fours like a cat, then inelegantly rose to a bi-pedal stance, and ran clumsily toward the ship in the direction of the ladder.
What the hell? Was this guy trying to steal the ship?
He couldn't let that happen! It was one of the puzzle pieces!
He reacted without thinking "OI!" He shouted, and the man, who was already halfway up the ladder nearly jumped out of his skin, almost losing his grip.
Once he'd regained his foothold, he looked over his shoulder.
"What are you doing!"
He didn't recognize this guy. He'd seen and studied the habits of all the workers along these docks and he would have remembered that hair. That meant… he wasn't a worker, maybe he could be fooled into looking the other way?
"Maintenance! Why is it any of your business?"
Zoko backed off. So he was a worker? But why the hell would a shipwright behave so secretive and panicked while boarding a ship at his own dock.
"Really?" He considered. "I was actually interested in that boat. The sign says rental, is it available?"
"Of course it's not available!" The man bellowed, nearly falling off the ladder once more. "It's mine!"
"Yours?" Zojo blinked, but he wasn't speaking out enough for the man to actually hear him. He watched the guy climb the ladder the rest of the way and then moved accordingly to keep and eye on him as he scurried around on the upper deck. He stopped where a rope was thrown over the edge and ran beneath the ocean's surface. Zojo watched him spit in his hands, grab the rope and try to pull.
"Why are you trying to raise anchor? You can't pilot that ship alone."
"Of course I can, I told you, it's my ship! Now be gone, stranger!" The man waved him off. Now that Zojo had a better angle he could tell that this guy had an abnormally long nose. It was almost disturbing. More importantly, though, he wasn't in any sort of uniform either, or at least brown half-buckled overalls and no shirt wasn't attire Zojo would have expected any workman to be sporting. Moreover, if he was doing maintenance, why was he attempting to raise anchor?
"Are you sure you're not stealing it?"
The man froze at these words, and then stammered. "What?" He grumbled something under his breath and got back to pulling. "Of course I'm sure!" he shouted, and huffed.
He was obviously trying to steal it. No one had noticed it seemed, even though they'd been shouting back and forth no one was coming out of the boathouse to investigate. Come to think of it, it probably would have cost money to rent a spot on this boat, and that was something he didn't have. So stealing it… that may have been his best option.
"Hold on!" Zojo started toward the dock.
"Ah! What do you think you're doing! Get away!" The long-nosed man pulled on the rope until his face turned beat red but it still didn't budge. Zojo practically hopped up the ladder and was on the deck in seconds, and arrived beside the man and his rope in just a few more.
He was trying so hard, it looked like his arms were about to rip off. Kind of pathetic. He decided not to bother announcing his presence, and just picked up the slack of the rope, and pulled.
It was a lot lighter than he thought, and the anchor began to rise with ease.
"I'm doing it!" The man laughed loudly with victory, and Zojo rolled his eyes. "Yes! I finally did it!"
"HEY!" A third voice sounded from the direction dock, and Zojo panicked and nearly let go of the rope. Nearly being the operative word, he rekindled his grip and yanked it the rest of the way up, so far that the long-nosed man was thrown back as it broke the surface and landed on his ass next to Zojo.
He "oomphed" as he hit the wood planks and then jerked his head both ways to look. He caught sight of Zojo and squirmed away from him. "What are you doing!" He barked fiercely. It reminded Zojo of a scared kitten.
"Helping you." Zojo said simply. He walked to the railing to pull the anchor up the rest of the way, and set it down gently.
"LONG-NOSE!" The other voice sounded again, and Zojo looked over his shoulder to see a black-suited figured with yellow hair running up the dock.
The long nose guy squealed and stumbled to his feet, scurrying around Zojo and ducking behind him. "You!" He pointed an index finger up at Zojo. "As your new captain, I order you to keep that guy from boarding while I unfurl the sail!"
Zojo couldn't argue with this as a plan. The guy detached from him in the direction of the mast, and Zojo did his part in running toward the ladder.
What he didn't expect was that the guy would take two seconds to jump the ladder and land on deck just as he arrived in front of it. He was taken off guard and had to skid on his heels to stop and nearly crashed right into the guy. When he stopped, and stood up straight, they were almost nose-to-nose.
The other man didn't seem fazed by this. He stayed cool, composed. His judgmental, not in any way amused eyes… or, eye… just looking straight into Zojo's, Smoke drifted from the other man's lips, straight to Zojo's nose, who started to cough and gag on it as he backed away.
He gathered himself quickly, had landing on the hilt of his sword and he stood his ground as the man before him brought a cigarette to his lips, took a drag, and then let it out again.
"Who the hell are you?"
Zojo's hand tightened around the hilt, and then he paused, and looked at it. Wanting to use it came so naturally… how naturally would knowing how to use it come? If he had to fight right now, he wasn't sure he could. Yet he'd followed the order to stop this guy from boarding like he was completely ready and completely used to fighting.
He wanted to try them out. Even more now, with this man standing before him, the musk of a fight to come having instantly collected around them at his arrival like the smoke from those damn cigarettes.
He looked up just in time to dodge a heal to the face, followed by roundhouse aimed at his gut, away from which he dove and rolled.
"I said, who the hell are you?" The man repeated himself. Just as Zojo's dodge had changed his location, the other man had moved as well, and was standing almost precisely where Zojo had been before the first attack.
"Zojo." He said, instantly… apparently he'd adopted the name already. "Who the hell are you?"
"Zojo?" He repeated the name, and snorted. "What kind of shitty name is that?"
"Shut up," Zojo bit back, and zeroed in on a particularly ridiculous feature on his opponent's face. "It makes more sense than your eyebrow, Eyebrow."
His face twisted into a mix of offended and amused, complete with grin and grinding teeth. "Why are you helping the long nose?"
"Why does he think this is his boat?" Zojo didn't miss a beat. For all he knew these assholes stole it from the poor guy.
"Fuck if I know." He snorted and took a drag. "It was abandoned and the company took claim after no one did for weeks." Then let it out. "Now he shows up out of nowhere and says it's his without proof. He couldn't even tell us which room the helm was in. Like hell it's his ship."
"I heard that!" A familiar voice from above. Zojo looked up to see the long-nosed guy climbing up to unfurl the sail, complete with quivering arms and legs. "This is my ship and nothing you say can change that!" He shouted down, fiercely, only it looked like he was clinging to the ropes for dear life.
"Would someone who's used to sailing this ship like this be so ready to piss his pants just trying to raise sail?"
"Shut up! I'll show you!" Grumbling, the man gathered himself and continued to climb.
The blond man turned back to face Zojo. "Before I get that idiot down from there, answer my question." He took another drag. "Why are you with him?"
"I don't know. Stroke of destiny?" Zojo grinned, and he felt himself unsheathe the first few inches of one of the swords. He wasn't looking at it, but he knew it was the one with the black sheath. He could just feel it. "I wanted a boat and he happened to be taking one." He neglected to mention he was only interested in this particular boat and that his interest had nothing in actuality, to do with boats.
The man snickered. "Whatever, doesn't matter. Either way I'm going to kick your ass."
"Good luck with that." Zojo unsheathed the sword more and more. He could feel it slowly becoming exposed, and his adrenaline picked up with every inch that touched the air. He could do this, he knew how to do this… this was in his blood. He wasn't entirely sure what they were fighting over, or if there were more rational actions to take. But he didn't really give a fuck.
He silently thanked his blond, curly-browed opponent for showing up when he did. Without this development he wouldn't have had a reason to use them, nor a reason for this rush, this tingling feeling from the tips of his fingers to his shoulders. It felt right. Nothing had ever felt so right.
"By the way," He said, grinned from ear to ear. "What's your name?"
There was a pause that followed the question, during which the blond man regarded it, and faltered, as if for a moment he didn't know the answer. Realization hit Zojo. He knew those eyes, that feeling, being so lost for words at such a simple question that any normal person could answer without missing a beat.
But it didn't change anything.
"People call me Jack." He stamped out his cigarette, left its corpse on the railing, and returned both hands to his pants pockets.
"Jack, then." Zojo said, and with those words the tip and entire blade of the sword was freed. He rolled it in his hand like the most natural thing in the world, bent a knee, and launched himself forward.
Jack's eyes widened, and in its unexpectedness he nearly failed to dodge the attack. He managed to parry it, stumbling only slightly before turning again to face his enemy. This time when the blade came forward, he lifted a leg and diverted it, twisting the other man's arm to force his body with it.
"Why the hell do you have three of those?" Jack snickered. "Got an extra hand hidden somewhere?"
"Don't know." Zojo was in his zone, and he wasn't alone. This guy's look was equally feral. "Maybe one day I'll find out."
"You don't know?" Jack snorted. "You an idiot?"
"Shut up." Zojo came in for more, leaving the emotion out of his words and putting it into his attack instead. His first swing was dodged, his second blocked, and he was reaching for another sword mid his third. It happened naturally, with little thought, and he twisted himself around to swing both swords where he predicted his opponent would land, one high, one low.
One of the blades nearly caught Jack's suit jacket as he backed out of its reach, and the other just barely missed his knees. The moment he'd evaded their reach he saw the opening, and turned on the balls of his left foot to crush his left into the other man's gut.
Zojo took the blow, but managed to stay on his feet. He was slowly coming back to reality, and that technically, this was the first time he'd ever actually fought someone. But like hell was he going to lose.
"First blood." Jack said behind a smirk.
Zojo laughed. "Like I would bleed from one kick." He straightened himself, but faltered slightly from a pain in his side where he'd taken the blow. It was just a foot, how much damage could it have done? But it hurt like hell!
"Clearly you've never met my feet." Jack went on. "I'll help you get to know them a little bet-."
He was cut off by a loud screaming, followed by a thud against wood. Both of them calmly turned their heads to find the long-nose wiped out on the ground below the mast, holding a rope in his hand, having half-raised the main sail at his body's expense.
"…Do you think he lived through that?" Zojo questioned.
"Don't know." Jack shrugged. They regarded the pathetic scene before them for a few moments, until Zojo glanced at Jack. He had a mind to ask if this fight was going to continue, but Jack just sighed, shook his head, and headed for the staircase that lead to the lower deck.
Zojo watched him quietly. He had a mind to leave, run away, but didn't budge. Something about this place, the floor beneath his feet… he wanted to stay.
"Let me GO! You can't hold me here! You have no proof of anything! Untie me!" The long-nose, who Zojo had learned was called Usopp, was roped down to a chair. The trio had moved to the boathouse, which was currently very empty aside from Jack himself's presence.
"Why can't you just leave well enough alone?" Jack sighed as he looked down at the pathetic sight before him. Usopp had tissues up his nose to stop the bleeding, as well as scraped on his face and arms, rope burn on his hand, and not to mention a broken wrist.
"Because it's MY ship!" He barked, and it was followed by what may have been a growl.
"Why are you so convinced its yours?" Zojo cut in.
Usopp scoffed, and looked away from him, at the ground or at Jack's shoes in front of him. "I don't know. I can just feel it. I can't remember why, I can't remember anything but I know that it's mine and it's important to me!" He started rocking back and forth until the chair legs left the ground, and then Jack used one hand to hold him down. "I woke up in this village with no memories at all, I didn't even know my own name until I found it written on the tag of the clothes I was wearing. But I know that ship! I can feel it!"
"A common story." Jack rolled his eyes. "The same thing happened to me and two others, and we're not going around stealing ships."
"Three." Zojo repeated. There was a long pause as Jack tried to decipher this interruption.
"Your favorite number?"
"NO!" Zojo barked. "Three others! It happened to me too!"
"Hm." Jack turned away, back to face Usopp. "That's a total of five villagers now. Agatha-chan, Monkey and I all woke up near each other. But you two…"
"I only woke up two weeks ago." Usopp said. "Seeing as you already work for the fishing company you must have come here a while ago."
"Only a little more than a month." Jack nodded.
"I just woke up last night." Zojo added.
"I wonder if it's something going around?" Jack sighed as he lit up another cigarette. "This town could do with more doctors. I went to see one but they couldn't help me, too busy with serious injuries and I was physically fine. But if we come forward with this many cases…"
"Forget it." Zojo said. He didn't need some doctor digging around in his brain to sort out problems he could solve on his own. "I'm going now."
"Like hell! You're a prisoner too!" Jack jumped in front of the door.
"How come he's not tied up!" Usopp's blood boiled at the unfairness.
"If you're so pissed off why not just hand us over to the marines or something?" Zojo tried to move around Jack only to have him step back in his way.
"Marines?" Jack's eyes widened. "You-."
"Jack-kun!" A voice from outside not only cut him off, but distracted him. Zojo saw his chance to get out of this freak show until he became petrified by the disturbing expression on Jack's face.
"Agatha-chan!" He whipped around and threw the door open, dancing outside like a ballerina on crack as she and Monkey approached the boathouse.
"Oh hell." Zojo scoffed. "It's that crazy lady again." He frowned, and backed up from the door. …Was there some place to hide?
"And she has a crazy fanboy." Usopp's frown was his entire face.
Jack spun until he was near enough to smell her sweet perfume and then stopped in front of her. "What brings your beauty to this unworthy place?" He asked, taking her hand in his.
Agatha stepped around him, casually removing her hand from his grasp as he turned on his toe so his eyes could follow her. "I wanted to ask you a favor."
"Anything for you Agatha-chwaaaaan!"
"Thanks, then." Agatha continued toward the boathouse. Jack began hopping after her.
"Jacky!" Monkey shouted, and he stopped on one of his toes and looked back.
"What is with you and adding a Y to everything?" Jack mumbled as he turned. "What's up?"
"Meat!" Monkey demanded, arms straight by his side, chest sticking out assertively.
"I don't have any right now, otherwise I would." He took a drag and shifted his weight as he watched Monkey's world shatter.
"Any other preferences?"
"Mmmmmm…." Monkey thought long and hard. "MEAT!"
Agatha blinked as she entered the boat house. "What's this?" She looked at Usopp, then Zojo. "…Bondage play?"
"WHAT?" Zojo and Usopp spat simultaneously.
"I'm glad you're here." She ignored their protest. "It was the right thing for you to go through with repaying your debt." She pulled a chair up to one of the tables and sat, propping her feet up on it.
"I'm not going through with anything. I'm here by mistake." Zojo kept his arms crossed and adopted a bored tone.
"Oh? Just as well." Agatha said. "I'm going to have Jack go after the other charter and bring them back before the storm hits. You're going with him."
"And why should I do that?"
She didn't get to answer before "I'm going too!" Usopp barked. "It's my ship and I demand a place on it if you're taking it somewhere!"
"Wait!" Zojo stepped up. "You'd be taking that ship?"
"That's the fastest one available due to its size. The only other one that's still within range is currently docked at another village down the coast for trading. Not to mention it's basically Jack's boat, so he can let me do as I please with it."
"Why would he do that…" Zojo felt foolish for asking, especially when right after he did the moron came floating into through the doors like heaven had possessed him, tip-toeing through lala land until he landed in front of her. Or at least that's how Zojo may have described it.
He rolled his eyes.
"What did you want to ask of me?" Jack asked, and the tone of voice was disgusting.
"Well to be honest, you've done more for Monkey and I than I can repay—,"
He placed a single finger on her lips, and she fell silent. "Don't talk about the past, just tell me what you need."
"All right." Agatha shrugged, and pushed his hand away. Zojo snorted. She got over that quickly. "I need you to follow the other charters and bring them back before the storm hits. I promise that you can reach them and have them return here on time if you leave right away."
"How do you know that?" Jack asked, delicately.
"It's just a talent of mine. Something left over I'm sure." She said. "I can tell by the wind and sky that the storm is huge, but it's still at least a day and a half away from here. It should only take you fifteen hours or so to reach them, and maybe sixteen or seventeen for them to get back."
"Think about it. Not only is this a matter of fifteen thousand beli, but it's not going to be safe out there in this storm whether they try to raise sail in it or not. Right now they're probably sitting out there at the checkpoint waiting for it to blow over. But there's no shelter on that tiny rock of an island, people could still get hurt if the waves get too high. And they are going to get pretty high."
"I know that they can make it back here before the storm hits, and if we're lucky even have time to unload the haul. Either way any of us would rather weather this one safe in our homes. There's a chance they could too."
Zojo snorted. "You didn't mention any of that when you were trying to get me to go."
Agatha ignored him. "Most importantly, like I said, it will save me fifteen thousand beli."
"Of course I'll do it!" Jack didn't hesitate for a second. "I've been bored sitting around here anyway, I would love to go on a rescue mission for Agatha-chwan!"
Zojo scoffed. "A mission to rescue her wallet." Then stepped forward. "I'm coming with you, I guess."
"But you have to feed me. I just want to check out that ship. I'll help if that's what it takes."
"Do I really have to bring him?" Jack frowned. "Won't you come with me instead? We could lay out a red-checkered blanket on the deck, and I could put together a picnic, and we could sit side-by-side and-,"
"I have responsibility to my work, and so does Monkey." She said. "This is part of your job, and he's just a hobo, so we're counting on you."
"Hey! Didn't you hear me? I'm coming too!" Usopp was rocking the chair back and forth again, and this time he continued until it fell and he ended up with his face flat against the wood floorboards.
"Sorry. But no." Jack crouched in front of him, and cocked his head. "I don't need the thought of you sneaking in while I'm sleeping and slitting my throat to take "your" precious ship."
"You have to!" Usopp cried as Jack carefully pulled him up off the ground and set his chair back up. "I'm telling you he's /mine/! I have to be with him! I-" Jack put a hand over his mouth.
"Take him." Agatha interrupted. "The journey will go most smoothly with at least three. If the storm does happen to hit you're going to want an extra person." She looked at Jack. He didn't look happy, and he wasn't. Stuck alone on the ocean for more than thirty hours with two annoying lowlives that tried to steal his boat. "You have an Eternal pose, right?"
"Of course." Jack nodded.
Usopp cackled. "Great! So, let's discuss the only logical decision for the temporary captain of this temporary crew-. As the rightful owner of the ship, I decree…" Jack turned back and put his hand back over Usopp's mouth only to have it mumbled against before Usopp's eyes narrowed.
"I'm going to untie you now." He said, ignoring the angry glares. "Then, while you help this marimo-head over here load up some provisions, I'm going to make us all some lunch."
"Marimo?!" Zojo snapped, and huffed. What the hell… where did that come from? Yet…Why did he feel like he'd been called that before? By who? He'd only actually been alive for a day!
He chalked it up on his mental list of things that felt familiar.
"Are you hungry?" Jack asked Usopp after removing his hand. Usopp's eyes watered and he licked his lips at the thought… he hadn't had an actual proper meal in almost a week. Just scraps every now and again between raids and getting caught.
"I'm starving!" He cried, and threw his head back dramatically, then it lulled to one side and fell limp as he hunched over like he was waiting for someone to stroke him and say "there, there" … no one did.
"Right. Monkey, you help these two put things together as well. I want everything ready by the time we eat, and then me, the thief, and the hobo will get going."
"Shut the fuck up." Zojo was tired of that nickname. He was no more homeless than the rest of them. They'd all forgotten where they really belonged.
"Agatha-chan, just do as you like!"
"Roger that." She saluted.
A/N – Yay! I have a decent amount of 3 written so I feel safe posting 2! A lot more happens in this one (it's more than twice the length of 1 o-O) so I hope it'll tide everyone over until I finish 3! Which won't be too long, I'm sure!
Also I want to thank everyone who read, favorited, and reviewed! Seeing the notifications in my inbox really helped me! I know I haven't sent out any responses yet, but I'm going to right now! You all helped cure a lot of my insecurity with this, especially the reviews! Thanks so much and I hope you continue to enjoy!
Next chapter has a lot, /lot/ more Zoro/Sanji focus.
Funfact: Zojo's name was almost Zoko. In fact I had to go through this chapter and change every Zoko to Zojo after I decided to make the change. So if you happen to see any Zokos (I think I got them all, but…) …that's why.