Life had a funny way for shaking things up. It comes when you least expect it; uprooting you from your own sense of normality and making you see the world differently. It can happen in many ways: an opportunity, a loss, a disease, an idea and sometimes even in the form of a person.
Or at least that’s what your grandma would tell you.
“Somethings coming.” You remember her saying as you ran out the door a few hours ago. “Something is coming to give you a good shake [Y/N].”
You had brushed her off and continued your way out the door. What did she know? She had lived her entire life on this tiny island in the South Blue. All she knew was a slow, boring life.
It wasn’t that the island which you lived on was boring. It’s just nothing particularly exciting ever seemed to happen there.
A gentle breeze moved a strand of hair out of your face as you stared up at the sky. The scent of apples drifted down from the apple trees surrounding you.
The last time you could remember something exciting happening was when Mr. Ito’s daughter ran away with that marine boy. That caused such a ruckus; Mr. Ito was heartbroken. But as much as you sympathized with Mr. Ito, you couldn’t help but feel for his daughter. How exciting it must be to finally get away from this place. To find love and adventure all in one. Not that you knew much about love, you were only twelve after all. You closed your eyes and imagined being anywhere but there.
Far away on a pirate ship would be nice you mused. Imagine it. You, [Y/N], one of the most fearsome pirates in all the seas. Men would cower at the very mention of your name. You smiled. It was a wonderful thought, but how would you ever get out of here?
“[Y/N!]” the voice echoed across the orchard, shaking you from your day dream. You scrunch your nose in annoyance. You had been hoping to get a couple hours peace before your grandma came calling after you. Why couldn’t she bother Jun? All he ever does is play Marines all day.
“[Y/N], I need you here now!” the voice rang out again. With a huff you raised yourself up from the long grass you had taken refuge in.
All so annoying you thought as you made your way back to the cottage.
“You’re always running off like that.” The old woman said with a stern look. “Whose supposed to help me peel all these apples if my helper just runs off?” she gestures to the baskets of apples beside the table.
“I dunno, maybe Jun?” you say as you take your place at the table. “He never really does anything helpful.”
Your grandma looks at you over her glasses, amused. “You know Jun couldn’t boil water if his life depended on it. Now,” She picks up a peeler and hands it to you “Peel.” She adds, pointing to the seemingly never-ending baskets.
You grasp the peeler and start hacking away at the apples. This isn’t fair at all. You continued to grumble to yourself. Jun gets to have all the fun while I have to be here and help grandma cook. You were always someone your grandma could depend on. Ever since grandpa passed away you have taken his place as sous chef. Though you would never admit it, you loved these times. Your grandmother’s trust in you made you feel important. Plus, learning all her recipes was sure to come in handy eventually.
There was silence between you and your grandmother; a comfortable one. The only sound was the scraping of the peeler against the red skin of the apple and the occasional plunk of a skinned apple being tossed into the bowl.
“You got an air about you.” The woman finally said.
“Pardon?” you said, not even looking up from your work. You knew where this was going. Grandma always seemed to think there was something going on with you.
“You got the air child.” Her voice was more urgent than before. You sigh, placing the apple you had been intently peeling on the table before you.
“Grandma,” You begin, looking at her. “I promise you that I do not have an air. I haven’t been seeing any shadows out of the corner of my eyes and I promise I haven’t had any visions.”
This had been an almost constant thing since you were eight. Your grandma had always been the firmest believer in the idea that her bloodline carried a talent; Clairvoyance. The old woman leaned back in her chair and observed you.
“What about voices?”
You let out an unintentional laugh “Disembodied voices? No grandma, can we please just peel the apples.”
“You can’t deny the past or your blood, [Y/N]” the old woman added before turning her attention back to the task at hand.
You were about to open you mouth to protest when your brother came bursting through the front door. His blonde hair swooped carelessly to the side as he smiled at you. His green eyes sparkling.
“Hey little one,” he said as he affectionately ruffled your hair and reached past you to grab an apple from the pile.
“I need those!” You protested as Jun took a huge bite from the fruit. He smirked down at you.
“How was your day darling?” Your grandmother asked, giving Jun a loving smile. Everyone knew who that favourite was in the family.
“Wah Ghod” He said with a mouth full of apple. He swallowed before continuing “You wouldn’t believe—”
He then launched into the long story of how his day was. You had heard this story many times; how hard he worked on the boats, the stories that the sailors shared with him about the Grand Line. It was those stories that amazed you. The stories of battles between pirates and The Marines. You continued peeling the apples wishing to be anywhere but at that table.
You’ll be great. You thought to yourself as another apple peel dropped to the table. You could almost smell the salt air as you imagined yourself aboard a huge ship. Not a care in the world. Just the wind in your hair and the horizon before you.
“…Then we just kinda kicked him out.” Jun finished telling your grandmother.
“Kicked who out?” You asked finally turning your attention away from the fruit.
“It was really weird, you know” Jun said between bites. “down at the dock today some of the guys caught a kid trying to sneak onto one of the boats.”
“Oh?” you were suddenly far more interested in Jun’s story. New people were hard to come by on this island; excluding sailors who only stopped in the port for a few nights. New kids were almost unheard of.
“Yeah,” Jun muffled out of a mouth full of apple, “dorky looking guy too. Skinny as a rail but giant hair. Kept going on about how he was going to beat us all up. But in all honesty you could probably take him in a fight”
Jun reaches down and squeezes your bicep before laughing.
“You’re so annoying.” You grab Jun’s wrist and punch him playfully in the shoulder. He was about to retaliate but the old woman gives you both a dangerous look.
“Not in the kitchen.”
You both mutter an apology.
“Yeah, but then the captain—” Jun was off again, and you turned back to the apples.
You scrunched your nose slightly as you think about the boy Jun described. Whoever he was her was definitely someone you wanted to meet. It had been ages since you’d had a playmate. Ever since Jun decided he was too old to play pretend and spent all his time down at the docks.
I need to find him
“May I please be excused?” You ask as you lay down the peeler, looking up at your grandmother.
“Where are you going?” She asked, once again not looking up from her task at hand. You weren’t sure if you’d be able to get away with a lie. This lady was always able to sniff out a lie.
“I was just going to take a walk down by the docks. With all of Jun’s stories, I need to see it for myself!” Not technically a lie.
“As long as you’re back for dinner. Jun, can you try peeling apples for me please?”
You stand up quickly, grab your bag beside the door and make your way out the front door.
“What even is this?” You can hear your brother say as you close the door behind you. You just know he’s trying to figure out what the peeler was.
A few hours later you find yourself wandering the downtown, your search of the docks hadn’t gone the way you planned. Not a redheaded boy in sight. The quaint wood buildings towered over you as you sat on the fountain in the middle of the square.
Maybe he left. After all, no one would want to stay on this island for too long. Once ships are restocked, they don’t spend more than a night or two here. To be honest you didn’t blame them.
Hopefully that boy had made it on a ship and was currently hiding away until they set sail the following morning. If that was the case, then you envied him.
It was the angry yelling that snapped you back to reality.
“…and stay out!” Mr. Ito’s voice boomed across the square.
The boy tumbled back with alarming force and came to rest a few feet from the stores front entrance. With an inquisitive gaze, you watched as he abruptly got to his feet. His whole body shook as he stared up at the older man. His small hands were balled into fists.
“I’ll kill you!” The boy yelled as loudly as his small body could muster. You were taken aback by such aggressive words. The boy didn’t seem to be much taller than you and Mr. Ito was a towering man.
The older man scoffed and turned back inside. He wasn’t going to sink as low as to shallow threats with a young boy. Especially one that looked like this poor soul did. The boy looked around, glaring at all the onlookers.
“What are you looking at?!” His voice grew shakier. You could tell he was trying to appear intimidating but unfortunately failing miserably. There were hushed voice from the few people who had stopped to see what was happening. But they quickly dissipated once they realized that the boy wasn’t worth their time.
The boy huffed again before heading off towards the alley behind the deli he had just been expelled from.
But he was worth your time.
This was your opportunity. Sliding off the stone fountain you quickly head after the young boy.
As you rounded the corner of the alley, you find him hunched over a dumpster; his flaming red hair hidden from view.
“You still hungry?”
The boy jumps slightly at your voice but turns to you with such an ugly face. One so defiant and angry you would probably be scared if it wasn’t attached to such a small person. He wasn’t much to look at. He was alarmingly skinny. His hair, a flaming red, spiked out of his skull, resembling a porcupine.
“What do you want?” He said through gritted teeth, eyeing you suspiciously. You sigh and take the bag off you back. You really didn’t have time for a standoff, let alone with this guy. You unzip the bag and rummage inside.
“Here.” You pull the wrapped lunch out of your bag and extend it to him. He doesn’t take it, but rather narrows his eyes. He looks back and forth between the gift and you, as though trying to determine if you’ve poisoned it or not.
“It’s fine. Really.” You insist, taking a small step forward, urging the boy to take the package. The upturned nose and slight step back made it very obvious to you that he was not about to take your offering. You sigh and place the food down on the ground in front of you.
“Not everyone is out to get you, you know?” You say before turning to go. “It’s my grandma’s casserole by the way.”
The whole thing was strange. How did someone like him end up here? The village wasn’t an overly wealthy place, but poverty wasn’t that apparent there. The boy’s appearance gave it away. The patches in his clothing, how dirty he was and the gaunt and drawn look of his face.
As you round the corner you stop. Holding your breath, you peak your head back into the alley. A smile spreads across your face, the boy and the care package were gone.
On the walk back you kept going over the meeting you had just had. The look he had in his eyes; they were deep amber pools. So full of hate and resentment but hinted at something more. You could sense a deep sadness in him.
Was he all alone? Where was his family?
“Something on you mind?” Jun asked at the other end of the table. You hadn’t said much since you had gotten back. You just kept thinking back to that boy.
You picked at the chicken breast before you, “Yeah, I’m fine.” You mumbled. Your brother raised his eyebrows slightly; not believing you.
“May I be excused please?”
“You hardly touched your food,” Your grandmother pointed out as she looked at you above her glasses.
“I’m just not feeling the best,” You lied.
Your grandma nodded and you headed upstairs to your room. You just had too much on your mind. Guilt maybe? You had always taken the life you had for granted and you were starting to realize that. Sure, the island was boring and nothing happened, but at least you had food to eat.
Your gut wrenched as you imagined the young boy again. The garbage? Really?
You sat on the edge of your bed. Unable to shake the feeling deep in your gut. It gnawed at the edge of your mind.
Something is coming.
You shook your head and got under the covers. What could possibly be coming? Nothing ever happened here. You pushed the feeling far inside you and drifted off to sleep.
It was the smallest sound that woke you. Was that real or in your dream?
You lay motionlessly for an amount, trying to get your bearings. The same small room, the desk in the corner, and the shelf packed with one too many books.
But then you hear it again. A quiet tap on the window. Definitely not your imagination. As you sit up, you can just make out the silhouette of a small figure. A small figure that just so happens to have incredibly spikey hair.
“What are you doing here?!” you hissed, trying to keep your voice as low as possible. The last thing you needed was for your family to wake up and find this vagabond boy trying to climb through your window.
“This is your room eh?” The boy said as he hoisted himself up and over the window frame. He landed with a soft thud and proceeded to take in his surroundings.
Flabbergasted is a word that could be used to describe how you were feeling. What? How?
“How are you here?! How did you know where I lived? How did you know which room was mine?”
“Oh, I followed you.”
You weren’t sure what to do at this point. You’ve never had a stranger climb through your window before, let alone a boy. Let alone this strange of boy. In all the novels you read, it was a lover that was supposed to climb through your window and whisk you away on some fantastical adventure.
Not him. Far from a prince charming.
“You got any food?” His voice broke you from your thoughts. Definitely not prince charming. Not even his cousin: Duke Mediocre.
“You honestly cannot be here.” You stride over to the window and point to the ground below. As if urging the boy to leave. Your grandmother would have your skin if she knew this was going on.
“I’ll leave once I get food.” It made you blood boil that such a person was making demands of you. Who does he think he is? Just coming into people’s rooms in the middle of the night and demanding things. Matters were only made worst when he sauntered over to your bed and sat down.
“You have a decent room,” He mused
“If I get you food will you please leave?”
He turned to you with that smirk. You have only known this boy a day and you already want to knock that infernal look from his face.
“Of course, I’ll leave.”
Without a word you make your way to the kitchen. As you creep out of your room, you make sure not to make a sound. Standing in the hallway you can see your grandmother’s door just ajar; but not sound or movement coming from it; perfect. With light feet you descend the stairs into the kitchen.
Now what would be good enough to get him to leave, but not enough that my grandma would notice?
After a few minutes of quietly rummaging through the pantry, you settle on come crackers, some cured meat and an apple.
“Here.” You place the food next to the boy on your bed. “Would you please leave now?”
He looks down at the food. It almost seemed as though he was trying to determine if this was enough to buy him into doing what you wanted him to do. Even in the dark you could tell how skinny he was; his collar bones far more visible than they should have been. It was in that moment you feel a pang of sympathy. What happened to you?
The boy gathers the food and heads back to the window.
“What’s your name?” He asked before lowering himself down on to the roof below the window.
“[Y/N]” the boy repeated your name thoughtfully before giving you an alarming smile. You didn’t know he was capable of smiling. “Well, [Y/N] I’ll be seeing you tomorrow.”
“Wait what?!” you exclaimed. After all of this you had hoped that the food would have been enough to keep him away.
“Where else am I supposed to get food?” The boy laughed as he shimmed down the tree beside the house. “My name’s Kid by the way.” He added before taking off into the night.
You stare out the window after him for a few seconds. What just happened?
The following days of summer began to flow together perfectly. You would wake up early, steal some food from the kitchen and rush out the door before your grandma could question you on where you were headed. Kid would always be waiting for you at the same spot; your spot. Just down the path from where you lived, through the apple trees and down at the beach. He’d greet you with the same crooked smile and “what did you bring me to eat?”
You didn’t know it at the time, but these were the days that you were going to miss the most. The carefree attitude, the hours under the sun. You and Kid would play the same game over and over again. “I’m the Pirate King!” He’d bellow as he leaped from the large branch of drift wood. He landed in front of you, trying to make himself appear big.
“Fear me,” he yelled thrusting his makeshift sword into your chest. You clasp your imaginary wound dramatically as you fall to the ground.
“Oh great pirate king, show mercy.” You reached up at him dramatically, feigning death. Of course his answer would always be the same. He’d leap back up on the piece of drift wood, throw back his head in laughter, before saying “mercy is for the weak.”
It was late august when you sat at your spot with Kid. It was amazing how the summer had just seemed to fly by.
The both of you sat side by side watching the sun set. You brushed the remaining sand off your clothes and sighed contently. It had been so long since you had had this much fun. As much as you hated to admit it, Kid really had brought joy to your life. Even though he was pigheaded and would never let you be Pirate King in your game. You didn’t overly mind, anything to keep your friend close and happy.
You glance over at the boy beside you and couldn’t help but smile. Maybe your grandma was right. Something had come into your life to shake things up.
The boy sudden stood up, jolting you from your thoughts. You turn to him surprised by his sudden movement. He’s looking down at you, a triumphant look on his face.
“I’m going to be Pirate King, you know that right [Y/N]?”
You stared at him for a quiet moment, trying to digest what he just said to you. His ecstatic demeanor slightly lessened as it took long for you to answer; slowly becoming one of agitation.
“Why you don’t think I can do it?!” He asked, his sharp nose scrunching in anger. You giggled, you really couldn’t help it. You had come to love the way his nose crinkled when he was annoyed.
“What’s so funny!” He nearly yelled, bunching his fists at his side.
“Nothing!” You said quickly, looking away from him so he couldn’t see you smile. “How are you going to do that?”
He looks down at you blankly for a moment. It appeared that he hadn’t really thought that far. “It’s simple,” he said, regaining his air of confidence, “I’ll just get a ship, a crew and kill anyone who gets in my way.”
You nod quietly at his plan. For what it lacked in thorough planning it definitely made up for it in brutality. Though it was hard to imagine such a small boy murdering people, it was the dark glint in his eye that flashed every now and then that convinced you otherwise. Or maybe it was that nagging feeling in your gut that warned you of what this boy would be one day. You pushed the warnings deep inside you and smiled up at him.
“I know you will be,” You beamed. He studied your face for a pregnant second, as though looking for any hint of dishonesty.
“Good.” He finally said, sitting beside you again and looking out over the sea. The two of you sat in comfortable silence. It was funny to think that this boy had come into your life; the once boring island had some fire breathed into it and you couldn’t have been happier.
“You know…” Kid began, looking down, drawing circles in the sand with his toes. Being very mindful not to look at you “Not that I need anyone, because I’ll have the best crew ever and honestly women just slow everything down. But, you know, I really wouldn’t mind having you come with me…”
You saw a light red come to his cheeks as he continued to look away from you.
You felt like a flower had burst into bloom within your gut. Images of you and Kid, hand in hand, fighting your way across the Grand Line filled your mind. This was it, this was finally going to be your way off this island. Your ticket to adventure. You glance over at him, his eyes still cast down but his body becoming increasingly tense.
You lay your head on his shoulder. By this point you could feel the heat of his blush irradiating off him. “You know,” you said quietly, “I’d really love that.”
His body relaxed at your words and his head came down to meet yours. His hand clasped around yours as you both stared up at the sky. It was like you were the only two people in the entire world. Time moved slow and melted away. Leaving just the two of you and just this moment. Nothing else would ever matter.
“[Y/N]…” Kid began, not looking away from the stars above. “Promise me you’ll never leave, okay?”
His hand grasped yours a little tighter when he finished his sentence.
“Okay.” You whispered, grasping his hand a little tighter too. “I promise.”
Everything had happened so fast. You smile to yourself as you begin to walk up the path, last night’s kiss lingering on your lips.
The air had been cold as you and Kid laid under the stars; the blanket acting as your only barrier. The young boy snuggled closer.
“I’ve been alone a lot,” he began slowly, “But when I’m with you, I feel like… better.” you smiled at those words. He wasn’t one to be able to tell you what he was truly feeling.
Ever since you met this boy, a fire had been ignited in your world; forever burning brightly. He inched closer to you again.
“[Y/N]…” his voice was soft, something you never thought he would be capable of being. You turned your head to face him.
The kiss was quick. As light as a feather.
You blush. The sun was just breaking the horizon as you made your way home from the beach; hopefully your grandmother wasn’t up yet. The gravel crunched under your feet as the cabin grew closer.
“Sorry grandma, but I fell asleep on the beach,” you mumble to yourself. It wasn’t a complete lie. “I just lost track of time, the stars were just so beautiful. Hopefully she’ll believe that.”
Your mind drifted to the night again as you slowly open the front door.
“Promise you won’t leave.” Kid’s voice was quiet again.
“I promise.” you whispered back
“[Y/N]” your grandmother’s voice broke your day dream as you walked into the foyer. Your stomach churned. How was she up this early, she is never up this early. You walk around the corner into the kitchen.
“Grandma I can—"
“Please sit down.” She gestured to a chair at the kitchen table, cutting you off mid-excuse. Your eyes fell on Jun; sitting at the table silently. His green eyes were dark as he looked down, not making eye contact.
Something is very wrong.
You sit down, not taking your eyes off your brother. Urging him to look at you, to say something, anything.
“I’ve given this a lot of thought.” The older woman begins. “I’m not getting any younger, and I know this island doesn’t have much to offer you.” As she continued her voice became more choked. “I promised your parents I’d look after you the best I could, but staying here will only stifle your potential…”
You clench your fists and look down at the wood table, you knew what was coming.
“You need to go live with your aunt.” Your grandmother said placing a comforting hand on your shoulder, “You’ll get more opportunity there… she’ll be happy to have you. Jun could be a marine. You could be whatever you wanted…”
The following days could only be described as a blur. The anger you had felt, the packing and the fateful day when the ship captain met Jun, your grandmother and you at the dock. The tears stung at the corners of your eyes. You had looked but you weren’t able to find him anywhere.
I made a promise.
Your stomach heaved with the ship. In all your hours imagining what the open sea would be like, you never expected this nightmare. In the stories you heard of fierce storms, you were always the steadfast captain. Grasping to the helm as the waves and wind pummeled the ship beneath your feet. Never once did you see a small girl clinging to the side of a bed; praying for it to be over.
Prying yourself from the bedframe, you shakily make your way to the cabin door. Grasping the handle, you pull it open and stumble into the hall. It smelled of salt.
The hallway was dimly lit, casting menacing shadows on the walls and ceiling. Your bare feet were cold as they stepped onto the damp wood.
Where’s Jun? How long has it been?
The walls creaked and heaved as though the ship itself was alive; struggling to breathe against the assaulting storm that surrounded it.
You brace yourself against the wall as you make your way down the hall. Everything was quiet aside from the storm.
Where is everyone?
There wasn’t a sailor in sight.
The air was nearly knocked from you as you step onto the deck. The wind rips around you; threatening to lift you off your feet and carry you out to sea. You blink frantically at the darkness that was closing in, searching for Jun.
“Jun!” you call out; your voice almost silent against the storm. As you get your bearings, you come to realize that the deck was completely barren aside from the small boy that stood at the bow of the ship.
You inch forward, careful not to lose your footing.
“Jun!” you call again. Why is he not answering? Does he not hear me?
As you get closer you can make out the boy’s figure better. Small, slight, with flaming red hair. Kid? What’s he doing here?
Your mind began to race a mile a minute as your tried to make sense of what was happening. Had he snuck on the ship? Had he known that the marines had come and taken your brother away for training and you had to follow? Had he come to take you away from this nightmare?
“Kid!” your voice sounded desperate as it escaped your mouth, “I’m sorry I didn’t say goodbye, I couldn’t find you.”
Your hand reaches out and takes hold of his shoulder, begging for him to turn to you. You were relieved at first as the boy turned to face you, but relief soon turned to horror as his face came into view. Where there was once a face lay numerous gashes. Tearing deep into the skin exposing the bone. Blood flowed from the wounds, covering the boy’s left arm.
You awoke with a jolt. Your chest rising and falling rapidly as beads of sweat made their way down your forehead.
How many years had it been since you had a dream like that?
You bring trembling hands to your head and wipe away the sweat. It had been 8 years since you had left the tiny island in the South blue. 8 years since you had seen the little boy. Regaining your composure, you lift yourself from your bed and make your way to the bathroom.
“You’re losing it [Y/N].” you quietly whisper to yourself as you splash your face. The water was cold, helping ground you back in reality.
The last time you had dreamt of your old life was when you had first arrived at the Archipelago. Just a small child terrified by how quickly her life was changing.
“You’ll be alright.” The voice startled you as you looked over the side of the ship, gazing at the approaching Archipelago. “I know Clara, she’ll look after you both.” The man who had first taken you from your grandmother stands beside you. Large, intimidating, and unlikable. You bite your lip nervously as your new home grows closer.
“I don’t want to know her.” Your words were short. You tried to keep from talking, worried your composure would fail you and you’d begin to cry again. You had never met your aunt before; you had never met any family outside of your grandparents and parents. Though the memories of your mother and father were blurrier everyday.
The captain looked down with passive eyes. “Well that’s a shame, considering she’s the only family you and your brother have left.”
You give your head another shake. Trying to suppress the intrusive thoughts of the past. There was work to be done and focusing on the past wasn’t going to help.
You hurry to get yourself together. Your aunt hated when you were late. You pull on your favourite pair of jeans and a black t-shirt. After throwing your [H/C] hair into a tight bun you make your way downstairs.
“You’re late.” Your aunt’s voice was cold as you made your way into the bar. She stood with her back to you, her long black hair cascading down to her hips. She turned to you; her eyes as cold as her voice. She studied you, her blue eyes softened as bit as she saw the dark circles around your eyes. “Long night?” she added.
“Yeah, sorry about that. Didn’t sleep.” You move past her into the seating area of the bar and start to bring the chairs down from the tables. Clara was a cold woman, but underneath it you knew she cared for you and Jun. Her way of showing love was quiet, collected and in small amounts.
“Should be a long night tonight.” Clara called to you from behind the bar “the ships will be arriving throughout the day.” You already knew who she was talking about, you had heard the regulars talking about it many nights before.
The worst generation. The older men would speak in whispers at the bar. As to how all the rookies would be arriving soon, how we would have to prepare ourselves for the worst, especially after what had happened the first time they had arrived. It had always made you laugh. Year after year pirate crews would arrive at the Sabaody Archipelago; things would pick up; some damage would be done and then everything would return to normal. Well as normal as a place full of crime could be.
But with recent events you were a little more anxious. With what had happened at Marineford, the world had been shaken to its core. Or at least that’s what the drunk sailors would tell you from the other side of the bar. With what you had read in the papers, Whitebeards death and Strawhat’s escape would be the dawning of a new era. It was a little unnerving to think about, what would that mean for the civilians like you? Your aunt? What about Jun? A young marine like him is bound to get caught up in the turbulence of the changing world.
The worst generation would be returning through the Archipelago again to get to the New World. You could only imagine what new determination had been ignited within them. The games for the title Pirate King were about to reach a whole new level.
What a fun game to play
You shake your head a little, turning your attention back to your aunt.
“I look forward to it,” You say as you lower the last chair to the floor. Pirates weren’t all bad, at least the ones you had met anyways. They always had the most interesting stories and the more they drank the more likely they were to tip you.
The regulars began to stream in within the next few hours.
“Hey, lil’ lady,” The man half leaned on the bar. Trying to hold himself up. “How about you an’ I get outta here?” You weren’t sure if what followed was a wink or his eye was becoming lazier with each passing second.
“A lovely thought, but I’ll have to pass.” You say politely, trying very hard not to let your annoyance show.
“Oh, common!” He said more aggressively, swinging his beer around so it spilled on the bar and himself. “Wouldn’t you fancy yourself a pirate? I could show you the New World~”
You study the man closely. He was larger, much larger than you. His bushy brown hair stuck out in all directions, coupled with an equally scraggly beard. From his red coat to his brown boots you could tell this wasn’t the kind of man you would want to get involved with. His kind passed through here all the time; a false sense of confidence, a casual bravado that made you want to throw up.
“I’m fine. Thank you.” You turn your back to him, hoping he’d take the hint. He huffs loudly.
“Whatever, you aren’t even that good looking. You’ll regret the day that you turned me, Haritsu down!!” the bar had grown quieter at his outburst. You turned to the man, a defiant look on your face.
“Do you really think I would ever let someone like you—”
“My, my” Clara appeared behind the man, placing a hand on his back. “What seems to be the matter here?” She looks between the two of you, eyes calculating.
“Nothing, auntie.” You say matter-of-factly, “This man was just leaving.”
The man had grown red in the face, he lifts a fat finger and points at you, “You’d be lucky to have—"
“Wonderful.” Clara interrupts, dismissing the man with a wave of her hand. She eyes him from head to toe, her look as cold as ever. “Don’t bother my niece again or I’ll have you put up for auction.” Her voice was laced with venom as she stared at him. The man dropped his finger and gaped at Clara. His face continued to redden. He opened and closed his mouth, trying to find the proper words for retaliation. Finally realizing that he had lost, he turned on his heel with a huff and returned to his table at the back of the bar. His crew greeting him with hushed voices and confused looks.
“So rude.” Clara sat down in front of you at the bar. “Wine please.”
“Isn’t it wrong for the owner of the establishment to be drinking during working hours?” You place the full glass in front of her, she gives you a small smirk.
“The owner of the bar does not care. But before I forget, letter for you.” Clara hands you a small envelope from her back pocket. Your name was written in swirling letters on the front. You flip the letter over to see the Marine seal on the back.
“Odd.” Why on earth would they be writing you? You rip open the letter with a bit of apprehension. You had no reason to think anything was wrong, but then again, you hadn’t heard from Jun in the last couple weeks.
Your heart nearly stopped as you began to read the letter. The world was spinning and falling out from under you. You brace yourself against the bar as the note falls from your fingers.
“Darling are you okay? You’re as white as a ghost.” Your aunt had gotten up from her seat and joined you on the other side of the bar, she places a concerned hand on your shoulder. You turn to her, trying to find the words. You felt the sting in your eyes building as you glanced at her confused face. You couldn’t do this right now.
You broke away from your aunt and ran upstairs.
Need to get away, need to be alone.
It felt as though the breath had been stolen from your lungs. You sat down on the bed; your legs being too weak to hold you any longer. The words of the note reverberating throughout your mind.
It is with greatest sympathy that we must inform you of your brothers untimely….
Lost at sea….
It was all too much. It couldn’t be true. Jun wasn’t one to just die like that. He couldn’t. You refused to believe.
You would know if he was truly gone
The voice smoothed over your panicked thoughts as you stared at the floor of your bedroom. It was a quiet voice but grew in volume the longer you blankly stared.
Your eyes ached, puffy from the endless crying. How long had you been sitting there? Hours? It didn’t really matter. As you laid down on your bed your body felt as though it was made of lead; you didn’t know it was possible to hurt this much. To not only feel it in your bones but also in your soul.
You would know.
The voice had grown quieter as your eyes grew heavier. Sleep soon came over you.
Apples. Why does it smell like apples?
Your eyes flutter open. The light above blinds you as you sit up. Bringing a hand up to shield your eyes you try to figure out what was happening. The long grass tickles your bare legs, the hill you find yourself laying on slopes down into an orchard. Hundreds of apple trees line the field below you.
“I’m home?” you said out loud, looking around for anything that would help you make sense of what was going on.
“I was in bed, but now I’m here?” You stand, brushing a strand of hair from your face. It was just as you remembered. The never-ending orchards, the sweet smell of apples and the constant warm breeze.
Wait, was there always a warm breeze? Was is always this serene?
You shake your head. Making your way up the hill, you come to a familiar path. You smile remembering all the times you had ran up and down that path. One-way home and the other way to meet him. Maybe he was waiting for you? Looking to the right you can almost see the gleaming ocean.
“Maybe just a look,” you muse to yourself. “I could see him again…” you move to turn towards the beach, but something stops you. As much as you want to go to the right, a nagging feeling saying that wasn’t the best idea. You were needed elsewhere. Someone else needed you.
Reluctantly, you turn left up the path. The trees lining the walkway seemed to grow brighter as the cabin came into view. With each step, the surrounding light grew brighter.
“I don’t remember it being this warm…”
As you reach the door, the light had almost become blinding. Obscuring mostly everything that surrounds the cabin. You push the door open.
It was eerily quiet. It was as though the house itself was holding its breath; scared to frighten you away.
“Hello?” You call out, unsure, stepping into the foyer the boards squeak beneath your hesitant feet. It had been so many years since you had been here, yet everything looked the same.
“I’m in here!” a voice calls out from somewhere within the house. You follow the voice into the kitchen where Jun is standing with his back to you.
“Jun, what’s going on?” you look around the familiar kitchen. The room where your grandmother had changed your life forever.
“Not much!” your brother said. He didn’t look up from the apples he was cutting on the counter. “You know, I have never been able to cook like Grandma.” The young boy huffs, finally turning towards you. “But you always knew how to cook like her.” His smile was soft as he looks at you.
He gestures for you to sit down at the kitchen table. “I’ve cut up some apples if you want some, you look hungry.”
“This doesn’t make sense,” You sigh as you walk to the table and take a seat, “no sense at all.” Jun places a plate of apples before you and makes his way to the seat on the other side of the table.
“The world is a funny place isn’t it? Everything can be so topsy turvy at times.” He muses.
“I think we should be focusing on the fact that you’re here and I was under the impression that you were lost at sea! Dead even!”
“Lost at sea doesn’t mean dead. Don’t be stupid.” Your brother scoffs at you from across the wood table. “You know better than that.”
“Well, then where are you? Are you coming back?”
“I don’t even know where I am… I think I’ll just be gone for awhile. If I can get back. But I don’t know if I’ll be able too…”
“What on earth are you talking about?” Your voice suddenly sounds distant; the room began to fall away. Board by board, the floor gave away as you sank deeper into an all-consuming light.
Jun leans over the side of the table, smiling down at you. “Don’t worry [Y/N], I’m sure you’ll find me.”
You sit up on the bed grasping your chest. It felt like you had been choking, drowning in your own grief. You place your head in your hands.
“What’s the matter with me?” You whisper, “Jun is gone.”
What about the vision?
The voice was intrusive again. You smirk at the thought. Visions? As if, things like that didn’t happen. At least not to you. Your grandma had always mentioned it, but you had never experienced it.
You would know if he was dead.
Maybe you would know. Jun and you had always been connected. Sensitive to each other’s feelings and even thoughts sometimes. What had that dream meant? He doesn’t know where he is? He didn’t know if he could even make it back?
You felt sick at the thought of Jun being trapped somewhere, far away, with no real idea of what was going on.
“Don’t worry [Y/N], I’m sure you’ll find me.”
His words played over in your head. Was that what he wanted? What the universe wanted?
You should go find him
It was an insane thought; but Jun would do it for you.
You stand back from the bed. Surveying everything you were going to bring with you. A few shirts, pants, and the essentials. Not too much, but just enough to fill the small knapsack. You shove everything into the small bag and make your way downstairs. The bar was dark, not a soul in sight. After the news of Jun, you weren’t surprised that your aunt had closed the doors early. Not the time to deal with drunks.
Walking over to the bar, you pull a scrap piece of paper out from your back pocket and place it down on the bar. Finding a pen, you begin to write:
I’m going to find—
Not good enough; you scribble out the writing.
I hate to leave you like—
Still not good enough.
Don’t worry, I’ll be home soon. I promise.
That was it. She would be sure to understand. After all, she had always wanted you to branch out on your own. This may not be the most orthodox of notes, but you were never one to do anything the easy way.
You shut the door quietly behind you as you step out into the night. Things were much quieter than you were used to; but with everything that was going on you weren’t overly surprised. The marine presence had increased, and anyone would be stupid to start causing trouble.
Aren’t you causing trouble though?
You hike your bag a little higher on your shoulder. The wind was cold on your face as you head in the direction on the dockyard.
“Best to go through the marine section.” You mumble. You knew avoiding groves 0-29 was in your best interest. Though your aunt did her best to protect you, ending up on auction would but a major damper on your plan.
“Never go there alone.” Your aunt had told you. “Only go there with me, unless you want to end up a slave.”
It was one of the first things Clara had said to you, it was also one that had stuck with you after all this time. You had only been on the island for a few years when you first saw it. A man being dragged away; gagged and tied by a group of men you had seen in the bar before. You were so young you didn’t understand why it was happening. How could people be so cruel to one another? You had ran home to your aunt, determined to tell her what you had witnessed. Those men had to be banned. You remembered the cool look your aunt had given you. Calculating what to say to you.
“You won’t have to serve those men anymore.”
When you persisted, she added “[Y/n], there are things in this world you will not understand. This place is far darker than the apple orchards you grew up in. Not everyone is good. As much as you want to believe. People hurt other people for no reason or for personal gain. All that matters is that you are okay, that Jun is okay. Because we are all we have, and I will look after the both of you. I promise.”
It didn’t take you long to reach the dockyard. It had been years since you had been there. You made it your job to avoid it; it would always drag up so many bad memories. It smelled just as you remembered, salty and like oil. The ships were in a line before you, they resemble dark looming figures; casting their shadows over the water and the docks there were tied to. The ships creaked and moaned as they rocked in the gentle waves; protesting their confinement.
“So, just pick one. That should be easy.” You whisper to yourself as you walk closer. The dock shakes a little as you step down.
But which one? You could die if you pick the wrong one.
You look around the dock, hoping something will catch your eye and help you configure a plan. As you scan the surrounding area, you see barrels laying few ships down for you.
This could work.
You come to barrels and kick the first one. An echo sounds from inside. Empty, perfect. Lifting the lid you carefully step inside. It was a great plan, when the sun came up, the crew would start stocking the ships. Stock being these barrels and you.
Now we wait.
The sudden jolting of the barrel knocks you from your sleep.
“God, why is this so heavy,” The male voice said from outside, somewhere above your head.
“Shut up and just carry the damn thing” A second male voice responds with an annoyed tone. As you listen, you can hear the bustling docks, the yelling of men over one another and the creaks of the plank as the man carry your hiding place onto the ship.
“There.” The first male voice said as he placed the barrel down with the thud.
“Hurry up,” The second voice sounded again “The Captain wants to get out of here as soon as possible. He’s in a sour mood.”
You hear their footsteps as they walk away and the slamming of a door. Phase one had been a complete success.
You strain your ears against the wood of the barrel. Trying to hear anything other than your own hushed breathing. Sweat drips down your temple; the heat inside your hiding spot had gradually gotten more stifling with each passing moment.
It should be safe now.
You carefully push the lid of the barrel above your head, being sure not to let it crash to the floor. Peaking your head over the rim, you welcome the cool air hitting your face. You wouldn’t describe it as fresh, but it was better than the recycled air within the barrel.
It smells like old beer and sweat.
Every part of your body ached as you raised yourself up. How long had you been tucked away in that barrel; it seems like forever. The room you were in was surprisingly tiny; shelves lined every wall and were packed full of canned goods. It didn’t take you long to realize you were in the pantry.
So, what now?
You stand in the dark room at a loss. What were you going to do now? You hadn’t thought this far; you had been so over come by what your dream had showed you and your need to find your brother.
“For fuck sakes [Y/N]” you mumble under your breath, raking a hand through your hair. “What am I supposed to do? Just walk out on deck and act like nothing is wrong? Hide in this barrel for the rest of my days?”
No that won’t work
You take a deep, calming breath. “This is fine,” you continue to mumble, “I’ll just wait for the ship to dock and then I’ll sneak off. It’ll be fine, this will all be fine.”
“What the f—” The male voice startles you from your monologue. You turn around to see the silhouette of a man standing in the pantry doorway. A huge man, taking up more than just the doorframe. Your heart was in your throat. Your panic heightened as the man makes to move towards you, his hands outreached trying to grasp your arms. You duck passed his outstretched arms with a speed you didn’t know you possessed.
Get away, get away, get away
The voice screams in your head as you burst through the kitchen door into the hallway. Torches lined the hall as you dashed away. You look frantically around for an escape. Unmarked doors line the walls, giving you no clue as to whether they hold more danger or sanctuary. You turn to the right, praying that this was the correct way to go. As you reach the end of the hall you push the heavy wood door open, trying to ignore the numerous voices that were yelling behind you. The door swings violently open as you run out onto the deck.
The wind rips around you.
Have you been here before?
You hit the side of the ship with such force you nearly knocked the wind from your lungs. You dig your nails into the wood; terror welling up in your throat as your mind desperately tries to find an escape. The thing that shook you from your panicked thoughts was the sound of heavy steps growing closer towards you. Steady, determined steps. Your fear grew tenfold as you heard a faint chuckle come from behind you.
You whip around, bracing your back against the wood railing. You were trapped, like a rat in a cage there was nowhere for you to escape. You were done for.
Your body trembles as you look up at the men that now surround you. Try as you might you couldn’t take in all their faces. It was all too much, the rain blurred your vision.
“Why, hello.” The voice came from the man standing directly in front of you. It was deep and sounded as though it promised something far more sadistic. You look up to see a familiar pair of amber eyes bearing down on you. The same red hair you remember contrasted against the night sky as the storm came down on all of you. You swallow hard. This was not the little boy you remembered.
Why did I get on this ship?