Hello Everybody and welcome back to Adventures of the Phantom Pirates. It has officially been 1 year since this story was first published. With this chapter being rereleased (due to some concerns brought up by one of my faithful readers) We will hopefully be moving into a new "arc" for this story. I know the pacing is a bit slow to start but please bear with me!
This chapters been betaed now and I think its an improvement on the original draft. Much thanks to DisconsolateMist for the assist! Hope you all enjoy!
All characters belong to their respective creators!
A week had passed since the day where Kaito had discovered the truth about his father. Things had returned to normal in Amani. Well, relatively normal.
After Kaito had returned home from his "adventure", he had broken the news to his family and others that he was to start up a new apprenticeship with an old friend of his father's. The man had been introduced as Jii Konosuke, a fellow merchant sailor who still had some connections in the trade industry. Alongside him was the fairly wealthy and well known businessman, Michael Dawlish, whom was also well acquainted with the Kuroba family, though neither had been seen in the nearly eight years since Toichi's death.
The story went that they had met by accident shortly after Kaito had left the tavern. They had recognized him as the son of the late Toichi Kuroba, and gotten into a conversation with him about his father. This eventually had lead to an offer to better learn his father's trade. At some point during the interim they had also bumped into Kaito's mother who quickly agreed to allow Kaito to go with them. They had spent time reminiscing with one another and setting up the details of the arrangement.
It had all happened rather suddenly really, and after the story was told it was met with rather mixed reactions. Of course, everyone with the exception of Aoko, understood the full truth. Jii and Michael had taken turns telling their end of the story, subtly leaving out details where necessary, though their stories did seem to connect with one another.
Kaito's uncle and grandfather both remained stone faced throughout the telling of the tale, though they both took knowing glances at one another when certain details were left obscured. Toichi had been acquainted with the two "strangers" for some time. It didn't take much to put together what the nature of their past truly was. Needless to say Minato had a rather strong inkling as to how these two had truly met Kaito.
Toichi had been an expert of his trade, often traveling on missions far from port. He never really spoke of the nature of these missions, though the truth was often held in between the lines of the messages he left for his family. Minato could remember many a day where Toichi would return from a particularly dangerous endeavor. The look that was held in his brother's eye had always been unmistakable. Behind that unflinching expression there were the eyes of a man who had seen awful things… not the least of which was death.
Minato knew not what might have lain the waters far from Amalure, however the stories the sailors told left him feeling glad his family lived further inland. The sea was not a kind place, and yet it had called his brother to it nonetheless. It looked very much as it was the same for Kaito now. They knew this day would inevitably come, that didnt mean he had to like it.
Minato shook his head. There was still a bit of unquestionable pride in his heart at the young teenager's ambition. Still, there was a coldness there too. This was why he continued to question the two men before him. "He's still young. Why not wait another year or two until he's fully ready to go out to sea?"
All eyes in the room turned to him as he asked this. He could see Aoko shift not far from him clearly wanting to say something herself. Yet, she remained silent. This was a discussion for adults, after all. Chikage also sat back, listening quietly, but not offering any further commentary.
Michael turned a calculated look onto Minato, but then gave a bright grin that caused goosebumps to go up his arms. "Your concerns are warranted, but unnecessary. He may be young, but he has proven himself to be very skilled, not unlike his father before him."
Minato gave him a skeptical look, choosing to glance at his father Hayato who, despite it all, remained expressionless, seemingly neutral on the matter. It reminded him very much of the first time his brother had made such an announcement. At the time it had torn their poor mothers heart to pieces, but his father, much the same as now, had kept his opinion to himself.
He gave another brief glance at Kaito, who had also remained surprisingly quiet, though perhaps he was just being respectful. Odd for him, but with all that was being said, it was likely that he was just trying to prove himself an adult in this situation. While it was true he carried an air of maturity for his age, he also was one of the wildest boys Minato had ever known. He feared for Kaito's protection with these two men whom he barely knew.
Minato shook his head, standing and staring straight into Michael's cold eyes. "How can you be so certain? As far as I'm aware, you two have only just met him. However your paths may have crossed, one meeting is hardly enough to declare him ready for what's out there." While he himself knew well of Kaito's skill and trusted him, maybe even as far as with his life, he sure as Hell didn't trust these two random strangers, friends of Toichi's or no.
There was a spark of something dark in Michael's eyes as he spoke. "We are all very well aware of the dangers of sail, Minato… Young master Kaito knows this better than most, I'm sure. We will do everything in our power to prevent such tragedies from happening." Although his words were slightly cold, his face remained completely composed as he spoke.
Michael's words hit hard, jabbing Minato in the heart, an image of his deceased brother filling his mind. Somehow he could almost feel him judging him from beyond the grave. He opened and closed his mouth like a fish feeling set aback.
"Minato...I know you're concerned about my Kai's well being, but I think you should listen to him," Chikage suddenly spoke up.
Minato whirred, turning to her in surprise. "Excuse me?"
Behind him, Michael smirked. Leave it to Lady Chikage. He continued to sit casually, deciding to just sit back now and watch.
Chikage shook her head. "Believe me I was also...hesitant to let Kaito sail at first, but the truth is, I know I couldn't keep him here even if I wanted to. He's got too much of his father in him. If he wants to travel as his father did, then we are in no position to hold him back from such a goal. I trust these two men here with my Kai's life. I know Toichi would have felt much the same."
Both Jii and Michael nodded at this. Minato stared at them incredulously feeling suddenly outnumbered. He turned his attention to his father Hayato. "Father, surely you can't be okay with this…"
Hayato merely shrugged, a half smile on his face. "You're both right. He is young, and this is dangerous, but who are we to stop him from following such a path? I see no benefit in arguing when it's clear the boys already made up his mind. Nothing I could say or do would change such a fact. He's already too far into this..."
"If I may speak." Kaito's voice cut in, causing all eyes to turn towards him. "No offense, Uncle Minato," he paused, "Sir, but I don't think it's really your decision here. I was the one who agreed to take an apprenticeship under these two, and I plan to follow through with it, regardless of how you may feel about it. I am pretty sure it's what dad would have wanted…" He shook his head resolutely. "I know it's what my dad would have wanted. I did a lot of thinking yesterday, and this is my chance to really reconnect with him."
Minato was surprised by the resolve in Kaito's voice. Was this really the same boy who stomped out of the tavern in a huff? He turned to face the others, who wore varied expressions. Hayato sat with a contemplative, though not entirely disapproving look, while both Jii and Chikage looked nostalgic and almost proud. Michael's expression was the hardest to read, but he could swear he was on the edge of gleeful laughter. Aoko just continued to stare out into nothingness, though he could almost see the edge of tears in her eyes.
Minato opened and closed his hands in frustrated fists. What more could he say, really? Kaito had made up his mind, and it seemed that he had more than a few backing up his resolve. He sighed in defeat as he turned to Michael, who now wore a smile a mile wide. "You better take care of him, or I will personally speak to the Navy and have them hunt you down, understood?"
This time, Michael did laugh. "Aye. I have no doubt about that."
Minato grunted and, getting up, he turned his face to Kaito who was staring at the table, looking somewhat lost. "And Kaito." he said somewhat sharply.
Kaito's head shot up, a blank expression on his face, though there was something hidden in his eyes.
"Be sure and keep safe out there. If you ever have any trouble with pirates and the like... You do everything in your power to get out of there, got it? They're not to be trifled with, but I'm sure you already knew that." Minato's voice held a deep seriousness to it, even more gruff and tired than usual.
Kaito nodded lightly. Of course Minato already knew it was a little too late for that, but at the very least, he got his point across. He slowly got up making a motion to head back to work, but he turned to Michael along the way.
"You may want to check in with Captain Nakamori and the Navy before you start heading off anywhere. Seems there's been some interesting activity as of late here in our home waters. Some Pirate or other causing a ruckus for a traveling merchant. Maybe you can sort something out."
Michael grinned. "Oh, I am sure that can be arranged. Thanks for the information. I'll go to check in with him now." Michael quickly got up to leave.
Minato just shrugged. He knew there was no point in further discussion. What's done was done, he would just have to deal with the fallout. Thus, he returned to work, still unsure what to make of all this.
The room fell into silence after that.
"So this is it, then. You're leaving…" Aoko's shaking voice broke the silence.
Kaito turned to her and quickly noticed the tears streaming down her face. "Aoko…" he said quietly, before moving towards her. "C'mon Aoko, don't cry. You know I'm not going to be gone forever. Heck, I'm not even going that far away. Besides, you have Keiko and the others to keep you company while I'm gone. I know things will be boring around here without me, but it's not as if it's the end of the world." He gave her a bright grin, wiping her tears with one of his famous kerchiefs.
Aoko shook her head, trying her best to control her emotions. "Idiot…who would miss a big headed jerk like you…" She choked on her words as a slight tinge of pink covered her cheeks. Try as she might, she couldn't calm her beating heart as she stared into her best friends face. There was a longing there she wasn't sure how to explain. As crazy as he drove her some days, she couldn't stand the thought of him being so far away.
Kaito flinched a bit at the insult, but he just puffed up his chest and continued to grin. "Well excuse me for being skilled at what I do. C'mon Aoko, you know you'll miss me."
Aoko stuck out her tongue at him a bit petulantly, but she honestly couldn't help the warmth that filled her chest as she stared at Kaito's handsome smiling features. She sniffed as she dried her nose and eyes with the handkerchief Kaito had been holding earlier, before handing it back to him silently.
Kaito gave her a bit of a disgusted look, but smiled nonetheless. He made the handkerchief disappear in a small poof, though he subtly cringed as he did so. "There. Better?"
Aoko nodded, her sadness suddenly fading. Though, there was something else she wanted to bring up. "Hey, Kaito, why didn't you ever tell me about your girls…"
Kaito froze for a second before smirking. "Oh, so you found out huh?" He gave a slight glance over at his mother and grandfather, who were lost in a private conversation with Jii. His grandfather noticed him and just gave him a light shrug.
Kaito turned back to Aoko with a sigh. "It's not as if they were a big secret or anything. I rarely use them anyway, though I guess that might change now. It actually works out better that you know now." He then gave a high pitched whistle, not unlike the one Hayato had used that morning. There was the sound of fluttering and three familiar birds flew up next to Aoko.
Aoko nearly screeched as one flew right under her dress, flipping up her skirt. She gave a hard glare as it landed on Kaito's outstretched hand. "KAITO!" she yelled as she took a light swing at him.
Kaito dodged and just looked at her innocently. "Careful, you almost hit Caide! It's not her fault you were in her way."
Aoko huffed, swinging again, careful not to hit the birds currently perched on Kaito's arm and shoulder. "As if you didn't teach her that trick! Really...corrupting an innocent bird like that."
Kaito continued to look at her innocently, though it was hard to miss the manic grin on his face. "How mean Aoko! You act as if Caide doesn't have a mind of her own! Honestly insulting her like that…you should be ashamed of yourself!"
The others in the room turned to watch the spectacle unfold. It was actually somewhat impressive, watching Kaito maneuver around without letting the birds get hurt. It was clear that the pigeons were used to some pretty crazy antics from their master. Able to move in sync with him in a flurry of feathers, even as he acrobatically dodged and weaved his way through the room.
"Here we go again." Minato sighed as he watched them moving back and forth. Luckily this time, there was no one else in the line of fire as the room was empty for all but the six of them and the three birds. "Think we should stop them?" he asked, no one in particular.
Chikage and Hayato both shook their heads in sync. Hayato was the first to answer, "Let them be...this will be the last bit of time they will be able to spend together for a while. It's best they get their feelings out now. No doubt Kaito noticed how upset she was earlier. I think this is just his way of telling her everything's going to be alright."
Chikage nodded. "You're probably right about that. He's a lot like his father in that sense. Though, I must say, Toichi was far more mature in his teasing." She smiled fondly, thinking back on her early days with her husband. Kaito had actually come about as a result of one of those teasing sessions. That was certainly a fond memory.
Minato snorted and rolled his eyes. "I see your point. I'll still have to stop them if they go too far, but I trust Kaito knows what he's doing. Speaking of… About what we were just discussing... Are you really sure this is what's best for him? I know that he wants to follow in his father's footsteps, but this is dangerous. What if he were to be caught? You know the penalty..."
"That is why we are here to help train him." Jii put in. "Young Master Kaito show's a lot of untapped potential, not unlike his father before him. I too worry for his safety, but if he is able to learn to use his talents, he may be able to accomplish great things."
Chikage spoke up next, speaking in hushed tones, so that neither Kaito nor Aoko could overhear. "He's the son of two pirate's, like it or not, it's in his blood. I would have preferred him to stay out of the family business, but he's already fallen too far into it. There's no way to turn back now."
Minato sighed. "I'm holding you accountable for all this, you know. I may approve of the joy you brought into my brother's life, but you carried with you a great deal of misfortune as well."
Hayato broke in. "That's a bit unfair, Minato. If anything, Chikage here has brought quite a bit of good fortune to this family. After all, Kaito wouldn't exist were it not for her. Still… I trust you understand what should happen should Kaito be caught…" He frowned at Chikage and Jii, his eyes filled with a look that spelled wisdom beyond most, but a certain exhaustion too.
Chikage nodded again. "I understand, and Kaito does as well. He's already proven his resolve and there is nothing left we can do to stop him. As I stated earlier, I trust Jii and Michael to take care of him and do everything they can to train him properly, so such a fate doesn't befall him. After all…" Chikage turned to where Aoko had Kaito pinned up against the wall, "He has an awful lot to live for."
The others murmured their agreement.
Finally, Kaito put his hands up in surrender, disappearing in a poof of smoke, leaving behind a shocked Aoko. Caide landed on her arm,nuzzling up against her and lifting its leg, a small note attached. Slowly she unraveled it.
I'm not one for long goodbyes, so how about a "See you real soon"? As I said earlier, I promise I won't be gone that long, though if you're ever really lonely, well, at least you know how to reach me. These girls are pretty well trained as you well know, and they can find me just about anywhere, so don't worry too much okay?
"Idiot," Aoko whispered lightly, clutching the letter to her heart. She could feel the tears welling in her eyes again, though she did her best to hide them. Caide nuzzled against her cheek, cooing lightly.
The rest of the rooms residents watched this with mixed expressions. Meanwhile, the author of the note had managed to escape out the window, and was watching her reaction with his father's spyglass from the next building over. He smiled to himself, though in his heart he felt a pang of sadness. "Was this how you felt when you left home, dad?" he said to the air. He was met with silence, and then a renewed determination. With that he turned and left to revisit the boat that would take him on board to his new destiny.
*It is explained in "Captain KID is born" that most people referred to Toichi by his number code not by "KID" the only exception being Yusaku Kudo. This is more a thing to differentiate between the different "Phantom" captains. Toichi is 1412, Chikage is Lady, and Kaito is of course KID. There will be more on the history of the Phantoms in other chapters to come ;)
Hope you all enjoyed this little transitional chapter of Adventures. Hopefully next chapter should get back to more normal length as I move into the Princess Heist. Not sure when it will be out as I have several other projects going on atm but I will try to update as soon as I can. Until then! Thanks for reading! See you all next chapter!