Shivered Timbers
by Kaline Reine

Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece or any of the characters/settings. This is just a fanfiction story. I do own Shiori, she is my character. I also own a few other original characters in this story (not affiliated with One Piece), which will be introduced as they are needed.

WARNINGS: This story contains (or may contain) graphic adult content and language, explicit sex scenes, possible violence, gore, cursing, adult themes, etc. I do not censor my writing, but I do my best to warn people about the subject matter and potential subject matter. So if you don't like that kind of thing or can't handle it, then I suggest not reading this story. You have been warned. Also, I know this doesn't follow canon but it doesn't have to, that's why it's a fanfic. xD

Also... The beautiful cover image for this story is by my friend, EzariaUmiko on DeviantArt. All credit for the image goes to her. c:

Chapter 48: Familiar Burn

"They have my sister!" Lena wailed, new tears forming in her eyes. "My family had to hand me over to O'Hara, like I said. And those umm... The Seacrets people, they took her a long time ago, just after I left. She was our vessel for the Oracle and-" After seeing all the confused looks she was getting, the blonde decided to elaborate a little more. "She was like a fortune-teller or something! Jeez! It doesn't matter, we have to help her! Please!"

Ace couldn't stand to see a little girl crying like that. He was trying to keep his emotions guarded but that was difficult with a certain white haired beauty around anyway, and hearing all of this conflicting information didn't help. Things were getting way too complicated all around. But he supposed if Artemis and Lena both agreed on their destination, even if they didn't necessarily have the same reasons for it, that was good enough for him.

"Don't worry. If she's still there, we'll help you find her."

The little blonde girl grinned happily, tears still streaming down her face. "In exchange for helping us, you can have a free wish once we get to my family's shrine."

"A wish?" He raised an eyebrow at that.

"Yeah! It's a lucky shrine, and if you visit it and ask the deity there for a favor, she may grant you one wish. You can wish for anything!"

"With all due respect," Haji growled. Apparently he'd been lurking just around the corner, listening. He hobbled over to them. "I'd love to be able to go and see my family too! You know, since we're all taking so many pointless side trips around here! My mother probably doesn't have long, she's sick-"

"So is mine!" Lena cut him off. "That's part of why she had to-"

"This isn't just about family," Artemis snarled, her eyes full of anger directed down at the short man. "You fucking dumbass! This is about the safety of the entire crew. But you don't have to help me. If I have to, I'll just leave the crew and go back on my own. Hell, I'll jump overboard and be on my way right now if the Captain says I should." Letting go of the helm completely, she crossed her arms over her chest and waited for his answer.

'So much for everyone agreeing...' Ace huffed to himself in annoyance.

"Please don't." Said Captain absentmindedly handed the kitten he'd been holding back to Shiori, who gratefully took her without a word. He stood next to his new navigator. "We need you on this crew... No one else can use echolocation the way you can. Plus you're smart, loyal, and you know how to fight. You're too important."

"...And she rescued Vanora from drowning too." Shiori added quietly, staring at the fluffy bundle in her arms. She petted her lightly.

"Hmph. This isn't fair!" Haji turned on his heel as best he could despite his injuries, and began to leave.

"Haji, wait!" Ace commanded, using his best Captain Voice(tm)! "We're nowhere near Alabasta and you know that. We don't even have enough supplies or enough Beri or men to get us there. But if you just give me time, we can start figuring out other destinations later. I'm not entirely against it, it's just that I'm only able to plan for the near future right now."

"That's the best you can do?" The midget was not impressed by any of this. "The strip club, I don't particularly mind. Not to be self-centered, but I am loathe to go to a Carnival Isle for obvious reasons. And I don't see why we should be doing any favors for the young one when she just tried to make off with our ship." He scowled.

"Then I'm sorry. I hope that's good enough, I really can't think of anything else because I am exhausted."

"It's fine." Was all Haji said. He obviously wasn't going to be able to change his mind.

Ace sat down on a nearby crate and ran his hands through his inky black hair in exasperation. He couldn't take much more of this fighting, all the arguing and indecisiveness was starting to wear on him. Shiori could sense his frazzled nerves and wandered over to comfort him, but she could only stand right in front of him as she was ignored. She turned away from him, stepping to one side. He only shook his head, holding it in his hands.

He continued speaking once everyone was finally quiet. "Damn it, why am I even having to explain this to any of you? I'm the Captain, so if anyone has such a problem with my decisions, then you really can just go. I'll even lend you a rowboat to get back to the last island and you can join up with that bitch O'Hara... I'm already sick of this. It's my ship and my decision."

"And...? What did you decide?" Artemis demanded. They all wanted to know, she was just the only one who happened to be ballsy enough to actually ask, given his current mood.

The Captain took a deep breath, wrapping an arm around a very confused Shiori and pulling her in close to him. She could sense his presence behind her. He took in her scent and she felt his warm breath ghosting over the back of her neck. He left a light kiss there, where no one else could see. It was warm and so full of fire, just like him. She wanted to forget all of their problems and melt right into him, but all she could do was stand there clutching Vanora in her arms.

"We're going to Seacrets..." He looked Artemis straight in the eye as he said so, resting his head on Shiori's shoulder. "And then we'll be setting sail for San Faldo once we leave. From there, we find the kid's shrine, drop her off, hopefully with her sister, and I will adjust our course from there depending on how everything goes. We will need to stop off for supplies soon though."

"With what money?" Haji spat bitterly. "You just said we were broke, right?"

"I'm paying him for the voyage once we get to Seacrets, dumbfuck!" The navigator snapped at her crewmate.

"So we're going?" Lena's big green eyes lit up wildly. "We can rescue her! Mitsukai-chan, hang on, I'm coming! YAY!" She wanted to jump for joy, but she was still tied to the mast, so all she could do was stick out her legs in front of her. It caused her other shoe to go flying off, clattering onto the far side of the deck. Not that she cared.

"Pipe down, brat!" Artemis scolded her, fangs bared fiercely.

"Shiori-chan," Ace spun her around to face him, lightly guiding her by her shoulders. "I know it's probably going to be hard for you to go back in there so soon, but I need you to take a look at Haji's injuries, especially his leg and wrist. Make sure nothing is broken and it's healing okay and all that?"

"S-sure..." Her face was bright red and she could barely even speak to him. Their eyes met, rose petals and tea leaves staring into each other's souls, searching for something unnamed and unknowable. "Will you take her then?"

"Ah, of course." He took Vanora when she handed the tiny cat over to him again. Their hands brushed one another lightly in the process and Shiori had to repress a shiver that threatened to run through her.

She didn't say anything else. She'd been given a job to do. The albino regretfully moved away from the handsome Captain and reached a hand out for Haji, who took it gratefully. The two walked away together. They were headed to the infirmary.

Artemis raised an eyebrow at Ace's odd demeanor, deciding to use this opportunity to bring up another touchy subject. "And our sleeping arrangements?"

"Remain the same..." He could only mumble, before he also left.

"Hey wait a minute!" The shark girl snapped viciously, baring her fangs again. "You can't just leave me in charge of this damn brat!"

But it was useless. He had already wandered off. She looked around for Hiretu, but at some point during their heated conversation, he had managed to sneak away unnoticed. Probably while everyone was yelling... She could only roll her eyes in annoyance.

"Tch. Typical..."

"Yay, we're gonna be friends!" Lena chirped in a happy singsong voice. "Best friends! Forevvvvveeeeeerrrrrr! And ever and ever and ever and-"

Shiori didn't mind tending to Haji's wounds. She was grateful for the reprieve since she needed to clear her head anyway. At least hopefully things would calm down for a while. It was a bit hard going in Walter's old office so soon, but if it was to help a fellow crewmate then she didn't have much of a choice. Besides, she'd already ventured in here to help Vanora earlier anyway.

"Thanks for taking a look at my injuries," A very relieved Haji was rubbing his newly bandaged wrist with a smile, before glancing down at his foot. "My wrist is feeling better already and this splint should work great."

He tested it by placing it on the ground and putting a little weight on it. He was able to do so without wincing, and it was all thanks to the lovely Valkyrie... The first thing she'd done was make sure nothing was broken. Thankfully they were both just sprains. Her patient hadn't been the most cooperative at first, but she was able to calm him down from his earlier disagreement with their Captain's decision. Then it was a piece of cake.

She'd fashioned a makeshift ice pack around his swollen ankle and wrist by using her snow abilities. Her Devil Fruit was coming in awfully handy lately and it was helping everyone more than she would like to admit. She never would have thought of using her unique gifts in such a way, it seemed almost undignified, but whatever worked. The soft chilled down she produced was rolled up in a thin towel, which was then wrapped around his leg and secured with medical tape. The splint was put on after with another layer of tape for extra support until it healed. It wasn't very professional, but it should do the trick.

"D-don't thank me! Thank your lucky stars that it's only sprained. The snow isn't as good as ice would probably be, but that's all I could do. It should be enough to help with the swelling at least."

"Hey don't belittle yourself! You've done a great thing for me, my friend." The short man beamed up at her, hopping onto a chair to give his leg a rest for the time being. "I have something for you... Let me see, what did I do with it...?"

He began searching his pockets and all through his turban, before eventually pulling something out from inside his vest. It was a small velvet drawstring pouch, dark purple in color. He placed it into her curious hands and waited for her reaction. The albino girl obviously didn't know what it was.

"Ooh thank you! It's so pretty..." She was holding it up to her face and began to open it and try to see what was inside... It was dangerously close to her face.

"Careful with that," He warned. "It's no joke... Best to keep it away from the face. And don't open it until you have need of it."

She then lowered it with a frown. "Why? What is it?"

"Where I am from, we have something called 'Dance Powder'. Have you ever heard of it?"

Shiori shook her head. "No, but it sounds k-kinda fun..."

"It isn't. It's also illegal there. The same term refers to all sorts of different varieties of Dance Powder. The reason for the name is because the first one ever made was something you blew in people's faces to cause them to appear to dance forever. It would actually make them have convulsions until they dropped dead."

Her jaw dropped. For a moment she felt like she was back in school. "Wow..."

"The people of Alabasta eventually started making other kinds for different purposes. See, this is only one variation of it. My own special recipe... It's a poison powder that will paralyze and slowly kill your enemy, if it's blown into their face and inhaled. There's probably only enough in there to take care of one or two people, but I can guarantee it works."

"Oh my!" Her eyes widened, the shock of what she was actually holding beginning to set in... "Th-this is pretty dangerous stuff! No wonder it's illegal."

"It is," He nodded, continuing his explanation. "That isn't why it's illegal though."

"What? Then why?"

"Often, the desert kingdom had a great need for water, as I'm sure you can imagine... There are droughts sometimes. And they eventually developed another special powder that can make it rain, if it were to be released into the sky. Before this was perfected, it would have a similar effect to the original powder, causing people to dance when the rain fell. It was not poison and they didn't die. It was hard to tell which came first; the rain, or the dancing. But it didn't take long for them to put two and two together, assuming that people were doing a rain dance and it somehow worked. Hence the name Dance Powder sticking even more... Of course they went along with it for a while, until the people finally figured out the truth."

"Oh my gosh, that's amazing!" She squealed in elation. It was incredible that such wonders existed on the Grand Line. His story was interesting as well, people believed some funny things, but the fact that such things could even exist was what truly fascinated her.

"Heh. The World Government didn't seem to think so..." Haji chuckled. "The problem is that it doesn't create it, but only steals the rain from other places. That's why it is now outlawed. The other varieties, such as this one, are illegal as well. They never took kindly to homemade poisons. Do not tell anyone I gave that to you. Agreed?"

"Sure. I wouldn't want to get you in trouble anyway." She tucked it away inside the inner pocket of her sweater for now.

Shiori realized that he'd just done her a great favor. This would undoubtedly come in very handy during an emergency. She'd had no idea that her Nakama was actually hiding such a powerful weapon this whole time. Who knew what else he was capable of?

"So... I can go now, yes? My ankle seems much better."

"Yes! But don't forget to come see me at least twice a day so I can pack it with snow for you again and re-bandage it." She nodded, but then hesitated as he made to get up. "Haji-kun... Would you be willing to do me a small favor? Please?"

"Ehh? Sure, what is it?"

"You know the conversation we all just had out on deck?" She paused for him to nod. "Please don't say anything to the others about it... Ace-kun is really stressed from everything that's happened lately and it's probably not a good idea to announce our destination before he does. He didn't mean to leave you out or anything, it's just-"

"I know that," His tone of voice had changed so much from his earlier outburst. It had become softer somehow. "I've been upset after the last letter I got from my mother. I was not lying, she really is very sick, but that's no excuse. Others also have things they need to handle, so I will wait. I am not sure how long she has but I can only hope that it will be long enough."

"I'm sorry... Truly. I know what it's like to lose your mother. I mean, I guess I've lost two mothers by now. The woman the Nuns found me with-"

"Nuns? Really?" Haji gaped at her incredulously. "You never told me about that. You were raised by them?"

"Yep. Don't feel bad, I didn't know you were from Alabasta either. It's a name that I haven't heard for a very long time. We had to study it along with other foreign kingdoms in school back at the Monastery."

"So you... You... were a Nun?" He tactfully changed the subject to avoid talking about himself. He really was pretty mysterious, she supposed. But she was probably mysterious to all of them too.

"Yep!" The albino girl giggled, knowing now that he was just ragging on her. "Hard to believe, I know, but it's true... The one who took me in was in charge of the entire Monastery and... She was like a mother to me. They weren't sure, but they found me out in the snow in the arms of a mystery woman who had frozen to death. So I think she must have been my actual mother."

"Hmm... Well that's unfortunate," He frowned. "But what happened to your adopted Mom? Do you still talk to her?"

The next words she spoke were as cold and icy and her Devil Fruit powers. "She died too."

There was a long pause.

"M-marines." The girl looked away sadly.


Neither knew what to say, so she could only watch as the short man carefully climbed down from the chair and hobbled out of her new office. He wanted to say he was sorry, but they both knew that wouldn't fix anything. And although he'd downplayed it a bit, he was likely to be in the same boat soon. For now, he seemed content to follow his Captain's orders, as he knew they were not without good reason.

Thankfully, they had made it through the entire exam without either of them mentioning this office's previous occupant. Although all of the Spades missed Walter dearly, even Shiori, it was too soon to speak of his untimely demise. It would be more than any of them could stand.

When she went to lie down after a long and tiresome ordeal, Shiori wasn't ready for what awaited her... Ace was lying on the bed, his bare chest rising and falling. The faint snoring sounds that fell from his slack mouth were impossible to miss. He'd only made it about halfway onto the bed before passing out. That wasn't the only thing that caught her attention though. A small kitten was sitting on his chest, licking one paw and using it to groom her ears and wash her face. The towel she'd been wrapped in was discarded on the bed beside them.

It melted Shiori's snowy heart to see them like that. 'Awww!' She couldn't help but think. 'So cuuuuuute!'

'Huh?' Vanora smiled up at her and squeaked. 'Thanks for the help, I definitely owe you one.'

Guilt flooded her thoughts. She knew it was all her fault that her friend had been put into such a predicament in the first place. 'You owe me nothing. Please don't say things like that...' Her eyes were downcast, staring at the floorboards beneath her feet.

'Why not? You saved me...'

'I... didn't save you,' The Valkyrie admitted. 'It was Artemis-chan. She was the one who saved you from drowning, then Rex-san wrapped you in his bandana to keep you warm. It wasn't until after I'd saved... him. That you were finally returned to me. You must not remember much.'

'Whatever. I'm still grateful. I am glad to be here. And I wouldn't be, without you and your friends.'

The girl had taken to pacing back and forth across the floor, her stride frantic, if aimless... 'Idiot! It was my fault! I'm the one who caused it to happen in the first place. I can never forgive myself, I should have-'

'NO!' Vanora growled at her, hopping down onto the bed then as she approached her human friend. 'You've got to start giving yourself more credit! It was no one's fault but that mean redheaded lady's. You didn't do it.'

'O'Hara may be terrible... But I'm just as bad.'

It was glaringly obvious to Shiori, even if no one else could see it. They were both Pirates. Both criminals... She had made her choice and now she would have to live with it, along with all of the overwhelming guilt associated with it. Time and time again, she had let her friends down. She didn't deserve to be around any of them. Yes, she had saved Ace, but it had also been her fault that he'd been captured in the first place. All because she had to go after the ice sword.

Shaking her head, the albino picked up her faded black duffel bag from the corner of the room. She unzipped it slowly, making sure to do everything quietly to avoid waking him up. Everything was right where it should be and she noted that most if not all of her clothes were still there. The other suitcase it was likely the same.

Vanora hopped down from the bed and crossed the room, sniffing at her bag curiously. 'What are you doing?'

'...' She hesitated, unsure of how to explain it. 'I need some space.'

Looking around, Shiori took note that she hadn't really left much of an impact on this place. Without those two bags, Ace's room was bare of her presence. It was like she was never even there. Nodding to reassure herself of her unspoken choice, she picked up the bag, placed Vanora on top of it, and scooped them both up. The kitten could have jumped down at any time, but she was rather fond of the girl, so she stayed put.

Outside, she didn't run into any of her crew mates. Everyone was probably sleeping or at least resting after surviving the fiasco from their last stop. Determination churned in her pale ruby eyes, fueling each step she took.

She stopped just outside of the infirmary where she'd treated everyone's injuries earlier... It felt so wrong to do this, but at the same time, at least she did have his permission. Their previous medic had left everything to her. All of his supplies, even his room. He had obviously seen that she had a need for her own space. It might not be ideal, but it was much better than the brig. It wasn't as nice as Ace's room, but it was inappropriate for them to continue sharing a bed, especially when there was one right here.

And she'd already disturbed Walter's space twice anyway... There was no point avoiding it any longer.

Although she was very tired, Shiori ventured through the dark medical office, slowly making her way to the back. She knew this was where his room was, although she couldn't recall ever actually seeing it. She found a light switch by the wall and flipped it on. She placed her bags down on the floor, noting that Vanora scampered over to the bed immediately and curled up on the pillow.

'You must be exhausted after all of that...' Shiori directed her thoughts to her little friend, as a small sad smile played out across her features.

'I am.' Was all the she-cat said. She turned around in circles, her little paws kneading the black cotton fabric.

Walter's old room was very plain in comparison to Ace's. It was more like the brig than she'd initially thought. There was only a bed, a small dresser, and a nightstand with an old brass lamp. It was even nicer than the lamp in Ace's room. The first thing she did was check out the nightstand. She found a framed photo there, with a much younger version of the old doctor, standing shoulder to shoulder with a pretty young lady. Did he have a wife? She never recalled seeing him smile so wide like that, not in all her time knowing him. It brought a flicker of a smile to her face for a moment.

Whatever, it didn't feel right to be going through his belongings. Not like she had much of a choice though... This would have to be done eventually anyway. The sooner she got it out of the way, the less awkward things would be between her and Ace. Besides, she wasn't totally happy with him right now anyway. He'd had plenty of opportunities to tell her about O'Hara, but he'd never made any mention of her at all.

It might even help to put the rest of the crew more at ease if they weren't sharing a room. She knew Mitch didn't like the idea of her distracting him or stealing their Captain away or whatever it was, so it was easier this way. More professional or something... And she couldn't bring herself to sleep next to him now anyway. He hadn't even tried to talk things out with her!

She placed the photo into the bottom drawer of the nightstand face down, feeling a single tear slide down her cheek. Surprisingly, there was nothing else in the nightstand except a small bottle containing a clear liquid in the top drawer. Holding it to her face, Shiori carefully removed the cap and took a whiff of it. She immediately recognized the scent of alcohol. Probably vodka.

Giggling to herself, she took a little sip of it. After all, the man had left her everything, and she would hate to disappoint him. She needed something to help take the edge off and ease her pain. Maybe it would also help her sleep. A familiar burn stung the back of her throat, and the feeling followed the drink down into her chest and stomach. She longed for a burn of a different kind... But that was another thing altogether. It was definitely straight vodka, she recognized the taste from her times spent drinking with the crew. It would've been better if it had been mixed with something but she didn't feel like going to the kitchen right now. She really did want to be alone.

Getting to her feet, still clutching the bottle in hand, she took another heavy swig of vodka. 'It is kind of sad that he had it in his room like this. Was he an alcoholic?' She wondered absently, now standing in front of the big oak dresser that was against the wall a few feet past the foot of the bed.

She opened the first drawer out of five that were there, and immediately noticed that most of his clothes were solid black. She checked every drawer. Yep. Black and gray, with a few scarce patches of white or brown scattered among them. At least he knew what he liked. She was unable to put them anywhere else, but she decided to deal with that in the morning. She was too tired...

Staggering across the floor, Shiori climbed into her new bed, which was bigger than she needed it to be. She petted Vanora, stroking her cream and white fur lovingly, as she fell asleep with a half-empty bottle still in her hand.

"Do you know my sister? Have you met her?" Lena looked up at the navigator with big emerald eyes.

"How the hell should I know?" The shark girl snapped irritably. "There are tons of girls in and out of that place all the time. So I wouldn't know her even if I had met her."

She was still annoyed that she'd been left to deal with this kid by herself. She had one hand on her hip, using the other to steer their ship. She'd just had to adjust their course according to Ace's latest orders. Seacrets was hard enough to find and even more difficult to actually get to, even when one already knew where it was. Thank goodness she had been bestowed with her powers of echolocation, or they might never find it at all.

"Why are you so grumpy and mean? I didn't do anything to you, ya know!"

"Yeah well," Artemis turned to face the brat. "I'm about to do something to you, if you don't shut up! And you stole our ship, which is doing something to all of us. You've just a damn spoiled brat, as far as I'm concerned. And I'm not going there to save your sister. I am going to prevent anything bad from happening to our crew, and to get money for us all, so we don't starve."

"Okay mean shark lady. I'm sorry... Can you untie me? Please?" The young blonde sniffled. "Then I'll leave you alone. Really alone! I promise not to take over the ship again."

"Tch. Like you even could! But no, I still don't think you can be trusted. Better to be safe than sorry. Besides, the Captain hasn't said anything about freeing you."

"Well we're going to where I want anyway..." She trailed off, looking away from the shark's piercing gaze. "And after that, I'm finally going home. So I have no reason to even try that. I'm just getting uncomfortable and-"

There was a faint growling sound. Artemis noticed, side-eyeing the girl again. It was her stomach. Lena was obviously hungry, and so was she.

"Fine," With a roll of her eyes and a shift of her stance, she began to untie the silk threads that had been fashioned by Hiretu to secure the girl. "But if you try anything, I'll toss you overboard before you can even blink. And there are sharks in these waters besides just me, so don't push your luck too far."

Once Lena was free, she took a minute to regain her footing. "Thank you nice shark lady! Should I help you with something on the ship? I'm not bad as a deckhand either."

"Come with me, kid."

She led her into the galley, in search of something they could eat. Artemis was hungry too.

A/N: GAH I'm so sorry for the slow updates! ;n; I got so busy with a million things and life has been keeping me completely overwhelmed to the point where writing anything at all is very hard lately. I hope you'll stick with it, and thanks so much if you're still reading! I hope I can work on this more soon.

Something I wanted to explain a little, about Dance Powder... It exists in canon (Alabasta arc, obviously) but I didn't recall them ever explaining the actual backstory behind the name. So I made up two versions of my own story to explain it and that's what Haji was relaying to Shiori in that scene. (The REAL story according to canon goes that the original creators of this powder called it Dance Powder because it would make them dance with joy with all the rain that it would create. But I thought that was boring, sorry.) I love expanding on lore like that, it's one of my favorite things about fanfiction. ;w;

There was a lot of foreshadowing in this chapter but it was also mixed in with a lot of nonsense to throw people off, ehehehe... I hope it was enjoyable anyway. ;3