Summary: Fishing trips are supposed to be lazy, relaxing affairs. They don't typically involve falling off the boat and into another reality. Just stick to the rules 'Don't be a hero' and 'Don't become a pirate' and you'll survive. Maybe. (Self-Insert)

A/N: I'd like to give a special nod to Xomniac and their own SI fanfiction 'This Bites!' I grew to appreciate their style of writing, especially when reading on , and after reaching chapter 29 of their epic of a story decided to give it a shot of my own. I hope that others will enjoy this journey with me, as I certainly am writing it.

Also a huge thank you to Gil, who I discovered delights in proofreading my writing.

Thank God For Lifejackets.

What woke me was something hitting me in the face.


Jolting awake violently, the flailing of limbs had me dipping under the tide, successfully dunking my head. After a second or two more of disorientated, fearful splashing, I managed several messy upwards strokes, and, with the aid of the extra stability and buoyancy of the vest strapped to my chest, I quickly had my head back above water. Eyes now a blurry, stinging mess, it took a minute or two of before my vision cleared.

Sea. Just endless ocean and sun before me.

Well that was very promising.

With a frown as I wade in the crest of a wave, I turn myself clockwise, searching the horizon for any sign of land or boat. I'd settle for anything other than the water and bright fireball of the sky, be it sand, rock or green. All I find is the piece of driftwood that knocked me awake, and there's nothing remarkable about it.

Still, it's the only piece of dry land I've got, so I grab hold of it.

Now, where the hell was I?

I'd been pulled out to sea, obviously, but how far did I have to drift before losing complete sight of the coast? How long was I even out of it? Also where the hell did my boat go off to? It wasn't like I fell off while alone at sea: there were plenty of other people there on the communal fishing boat, and there's no way they didn't see (or hear) the splash of me being pulled over by the monster ocean fish I'd been wrestling with.

In hindsight, I probably should have let go of the rod once I'd hit the water, not gripped hold tighter and let whatever was on my line drag me along for an underwater ride.

Well, wherever that fish had taken me, at least I hadn't drowned. Thank God for Lifejackets.

Frowning deeper as I mulled over my 'stranded at sea' situation, I make several failed attempts at boarding the boards that knocked into me, before giving up. Nope, although they were almost as tall as me, those boards weren't going to let me lay on them anytime soon. Still, it gave something for my head and arms to rest on, and at this point something was better than nothing.

That settled, I took inventory of myself.

Lifejacket, watch, wet floral tank top, shorts and belt, underthings, socks and sneakers… Checking the generous cargo pockets of my pants reveal my glasses had miraculously stayed in one piece, though the sunglasses I'd been wearing at the time had been lost during my swim. There was the utility knife I'd been using for fish line, an SPF rated lip balm, and that was that.

I make quick use of the lip balm, using it on my face and arms and shoulders in place of sunscreen, before pocketing again. From the redness of it, my skin was already getting a decent burn, the weak sunblock could only help.

My earlier question of 'how long' I'd been out of it and at sea was answered by my wrist watch. It was an analog one my grandmother gifted me, a good, solid and water resistant one that I'd taken to wearing. It'd been at least forty five minutes since I'd fallen overboard, and was nearing three pm. There was plenty of sunlight hours to be had, and if the coast guard was going to be involved, I could expect to be found within the next five minutes to… four hours.

"Might as well make myself comfortable… Or something like it."

That's how I ended up with shorts on my shoulders, and my socks sacrificed into long sleeves. The sun was, after all, my number one enemy during my wait followed by dehydration.

Trailing behind those two, was the boredom.

Soon enough I was taking a nap, trusting the neon orange vest keeping me buoyant to do its job of pointing me out to the inevitable search and rescue.

"A sailor went to sea sea sea… to see what he could see see see… but all that he could see see see…was the bottom of the deep blue sea sea sea… "

This. Really. Sucked.

I understood now, just how cruel and miserable a death at sea was. It was a terribly uncomfortable experience, the sea trying its best to pickle your body while the blazing sun took a shot at cooking you.

Even though they were protecting me from sun exposure, the makeshift sleeves and cowl were hot, and the already burnt skin underneath it was dry, itchy and stinging from the stifling sheathes of cloth.

Groaning I shifted my position again, switching which other was under the wood board. The sun was steadily inching its way down the horizon, and I been bobbing like a cork for Four. Sweaty. Hours. My mouth was dry, I knew I should reserve my strength, and more importantly my voice for when I did see some sign of help, but the sound of the ebb and flow of waves and my own despondent sighs had long worn out their welcome.

So, just loud enough I could hear it over the oceans voice, I dryly sang the sadly appropriate children's rhyme. If there was more to the song, I sure didn't know it.

Checking my watch for the countless time, my temper finally furiously snaps.

"What the hell is taking them so long!?"

Someone was seriously fucking up their job, because we were not far from the coast, and I sure as hell shouldn't have been stranded as long as I'd been. I should've been long found and pulled up into a boat or helicopter, receiving an IV drip for dehydration and other first response care.

I sure as hell shouldn't be watching the sun beginning to set while still in the big lake.

"Soon as I'm saved, I'm not sure if I should be more grateful or pissed…"

Grateful. 'Grace, Jean, remember grace.' There's likely a reasonable human explanation for this delay, and the people looking for you are probably stressed enough as is. You're lucky to be alive in a time and place where you even have such emergency responders, such search and rescue of the seas.

With any luck, that boat of there was exactly what I was waiting for.



Suddenly jolting up and alert, I splash and wave my arms wide in the air, feet kicking hard against the sea to shoot me up in something of a 'hop' as I yell out. I continue to scream and signal wildly for several minutes before I realize that the boat was getting larger, and so was indeed approaching me.

Heart hammering and a grin consuming my face, all negative thoughts towards the coast guard and like were whisked away with the joy and hop of rescue. Sure, my anticipation made the wait almost unbearable, and it was weird that they'd chosen to use a sailboat of all things, but it was still chugging along at a reasonable speed so who cared?

…okay, so maybe it was really weird that the sailboat was decorated the way it was, and had canons on its sides… and that it just kept getting bigger and bigger…and bigger!

"Okay what the hell-!"

Did they seriously dispatch a battleship for a search and rescue?!

Someone was probably going to get sacked for that. My reservations and judgments I kept to myself though, as the ship (cruiser? Caravel? Heck if I knew any nautical terms), eased its speed as it neared me and begun to lower a small rowboat. Having made the mindful decision to return my shorts to their proper place on my legs during the coast guards approach, I was able to abandon my driftwood and meet my rescues partway.

Hefted into the boat of strong, formally uniformed men, one of my rescuers pats me on the back with a laugh and smile, his crewmates draping a towel over my shoulders and handing me a canteen of water.

"You're one lucky fish mamm'! If it wasn't for that orange vest of yours, we'd have never spotted you from so far out. How long have you been drifting?"

Draining the water filled flask in one long, drawn out go, I sigh contently and shook my head.

"At least five hours- I was starting to think no one was going to come for me!

"If we'd missed you returning to Shells Town, there may have been. We're pretty far out!"

"Really-? That far?" I take a swig of another canister of water offered to me, my voice still dry. "That fish must've been really big to pull me all the way out here."

"A fish?" At that, the men rowing roar with laughter good naturedly, and I cant help but join them. "I take it you weren't shipwrecked then, that's good. First time I've heard of a girl being dragged out to sea by her catch, though! Maybe leave it to the men from now on, darlin', don't want you becoming fish food."

Blushing with embarrassment and some indignation at the comment and the sailors' second round of laughter, I keep silent and tuck a lock of hair behind my ear. Ah, it's really damaged… hopefully a lot of conditioner will be able to save it.

Oddly enough once we've docked side with their mother vessel, the men go to work hoisting the small rowboat with their own arms. Watching them work make my own arms ache in sympathy, but they barely seem winded by the time we've scaled several stories and are greeted by other crewmembers. Everything turns into a bit of a blur from that point as I'm guided onboard and cared for, the men good natured and respectful as the majority return to manning the ship. Led to the infirmary the doctor gives me a quick evaluation. I had a modest head injury, but seeing I didn't have a concussion he was more concerned with my sun exposure and dehydration. Even though I'd been napping on and off for hours, once he's given a balm for my already erupting sunburn along with an IV, I find myself falling asleep on the bed he'd set me up on.

Waking up about an hour later feeling far better and finding the IV has been removed, I quickly explore the medbay to its fullest and, to my delight, find that it is equipped with a shower. Once I'm washed (cold showers have never felt so good), it wasn't long before someone was knocking on the infirmary door.

"Miss Jean! We're docking at Shells Town and I'm here to lead you to the docks, where we'll help you get situated."

"Alright, just a second!" Tossing the towel out of my knotted mess of hair onto the hook, I open the door with a smile. I had a lot of questions now, and, seeing him sporting the same formal dress whites that everyone had been wearing so far, I begin looking for answers.

"So, what's going on with you guys and the ship? Some kind of… nautical history month, or something?"

"What?" He blinks, baffled, as he leads me through the passage ways of the war ready vessel. "Oh, no, we were just on a normal patrol when we came across you. It was mostly clear waters today, and you're the only person we fished out of the water."

"Oh. That's- that's nice." I guess? "But I was talking more about your uniforms and the ship- aren't they all a little… old fashioned?"

"Old fashioned? I- I never really thought of them like that. I suppose it hasn't been changed in several decades but… that makes it recognizable."


The question on my tongue falters as we walk out onto the deck, and I get my first look at 'Shells Town'. No, that hadn't been a nickname for the Annapolis naval base as I'd thought. Neither was it any coastal town in the state of Maryland.

No, the hilly town and towering Marine Base above it, were far out of place from my modern day United States Navy.

It was straight out of the comic I'd been re-reading, about pirates and adventure and friendship.


I decide to take another nap, this time violently on the wooden deck.

"Alright, follow my finger again and… good!"

"I promise I'm fine now- I was just a little lightheaded 'cuz I hadn't eaten since the morning!"

The doctor, same one from the Marine ship earlier, gives me a critical look.

"If you were hungry you should've said something earlier. We'd have fed you sooner." He takes a couple notes on his clipboard with a hum, "…and you're wrong. You hit your head again, in the same place mind you, and although you didn't get a concussion, you're even more disoriented than you were before. Worse than that, your memories are more scrambled than the mess halls' eggs. You're really lucky we're the ones that found you, lass, and not some pirates."

"…you're right, I'm really grateful to you all."

I really was. Even more so now that I'd wrapped my mind around the reality of it all. If I really was in the world that One Piece took place, then being stranded at sea was a far direr sentence than I first thought. That was ignoring the lack of safety equipment they had. Seriously, it occurred to me during the middle of a memory assessment (interrogation) that I couldn't recall seeing a Single Goddamn Lifejacket in all of One Piece lore. Maybe that was just my poor memory, or, judging by the seamen's general bemusement and interest at my own lifevest, they weren't a common concept.

'How the hell had a global society of islands and boats gone this long without inventing a Personal Flotation Device?!'

That at least, I mused to myself, was something I could try to contribute to their lives. Hells know how many lives it'd save down the road. Civilian, Marine and… Pirate alike.

'Ugh. No, Jean, you are not touching that can of worms. Especially not right now.'

After giving me a couple more redundant tests and surveys, Dr. Shelly (I politely held back my snicker but he laughs for me) releases me from his authority, and I was allowed to head out into town.

Taking the care packet that the current Captain, a Captain Locke if I recall correctly, had arranged for me, I take my time strolling out the gate. Shells Town… was rather picturesque in the morning sunrise.

A deep breath in and out later, I nod firmly to myself with gathered determination. Well, it was time to start forging a new life here, for however long this 'displaced dimension' thing lasted.

Hopefully I just was in a coma. A vivid, full sensory, 'can have dreams within a dream' coma, and after enough time I'd go to bed and wake up back in my own reality.

Honestly that seemed far more likely than what I'd been forced to wrestle and roll with.

Ah well, at least I can try to enjoy myself.


"Hey Ririka, unless you decide to cook a couple seakings anytime soon, you're good on wood for a couple weeks now, at least!"

Laying the last splits of wood into the shed, I called out to the restaurant matron before walking towards her pride. Woodaxe resting on my shoulder as I walk, I'm greeted by the smiling face of her daughter offering me a towel.

"Thanks Rika- ah-…" I'd already wiped the sweat off my brow and hung the rag on my neck before my brain caught up with me.

"…is something wrong, Jean?"

Wrong? No. Uncomfortably hot, damp and smelly?

"…Rika, did you dunk this in the wash water?"

Her grin doubles.

"Yep! I thought if you wiped off with a really hot cloth, it'd make the air feel even cooler!"

One out of ten times, this charming girl managed to catch me off guard with her creative thinking.

At least this time, she was right.

"…huh." Baffled and pulling the steamy rag off before it cooked me, I did feel my face and neck were noticeably cooler. Come to think of it, it'd had the added benefit of washing my face. Sorta. "Well, what'd you know. Maybe use some clean water next time though, alright?"

At least she has the mind to blush a little while she giggled.

Gosh, I hope my niece grew up to be as charming as this kid.

Following Rika as she dances back behind the counter, I leave the axe next to the threshold for now. Welcoming me on the bar was a huge glass of water, one I'd been long looking forward. As I drink, Rika's mother Ririka (it gets confusing, trust me I know) returned from serving a customer and greets me with an equally warm smile.

"Thank you again Jean. I'm sure Morgan appreciates the extra set of hands now that he's busy helping Captain Locke."

Hiding a somewhat strained smile, I nod and tuck a wild lock of short hair behind my ear. In a sad state after my rescue, most of it had been chopped off within the first day.

"Yeah, he… really only has time to fell the trees now. Me' an' the men don't mind sawing the logs and splitting the wood after that, because he's done the hard part. "

It was mostly true, but the woman didn't need to know the details of the matter. Not that she'd be likely to believe poor of him. There was just too much respect for the man throughout the town, so much that they were willing to overlook and dismiss the warning signs.

It'd been well over three months since I'd been plucked out the sea and become a resident of Shells Town, and the good reputation that Axe Hand Morgan owned was one of many surprises.

The people of Shells Town were just as kind and welcoming as its marines were, and I mean that in a good way. They were more than willing to pitch in and donate some of their old belongings and let me live in one of the uninhabited homes. In a town as large as theirs, there were always a couple unused homes and buildings, just waiting for a new family or entrepreneur to move in. Rent was waved for the first month or so, as I started making a living off of performing odd jobs around town.

And boy, was there always work to be done.

I become extremely grateful that I'd always had a good work ethic, and something of a 'jack of all trades, master of none'. Chances were if I didn't know how to do something, I was quick to learn the basics.

That's how I ended up preforming repairs, yard and garden work, cleaning, sewing, waiting a store or restaurant- and all of that was just in the town itself. The 153rd Branch Marine Base was more than happy to hire me from time to time as well, Captain Locke taking a personal interest in the lifejacket I had and asking if I could replicate it. I promised I would try, had started working on some prototypes asap. With the lifejackets something of a side project, he and the other officers would still have me come by to help in the kitchen, with clothing repairs, or other tasks that his men just didn't have the 'touch' for. Sure, it sounded a little sexist, but in all honesty I'd seen how poor the men's own take on the jobs they gave me, and he was simply being blunt. They… really were poor at it.

At least I had some experience in those fields, experience that was quickly growing.

When I'd inevitably encountered Morgan the first time, well… he was an intimidating guy, to say the least. Built like a mountain, the Commander, 'Axe-Hand' Morgan took great pleasure in refining his skills by thinning the forest for the people and marines of Shells Town. As of a few weeks ago, he'd begun ordering seamen to do the splitting while he felled the trees. Then, a week after that, included the logging. As of late he'd been neglecting to help the town entirely, leaving the village running thin on the valuable fuel.

I found myself wishing I'd paid attention to how my dad made charcoal; it'd save them (and me) so much trouble. As it was, chopping wood was a very, very frequent activity on island.

With that thought in mind, I retrieve the woodaxe from the door, resting it on an empty table while Rika brings over some oil and a clean rag. Double checking that it was indeed mineral oil and not engine, olive or some other native variety (you have to expect the unexpected with Rika) I begin cleaning off the axe head and wood while I continue to muse.

Commander Morgan was arrogant, rude, and had a bad temper. The only thing larger than his hair-trigger anger was his ego, which to my growing horror was growing by the day. Despite his poor attitude, most if not all the town and seamen viewed him as a hero and idol. Not only had he survived Captain Kuro's most powerful attack, he'd overcome having his jaw permanently destroyed. Not only that, but Commander Morgan had defeated the notorious Captain of the Black Cat pirates with those injuries, and brought him in. Or so they (and he himself) believed.

Axe Hand Morgan was a complete jerk but, so far, he wasn't outright evil. He was growing more unbearable by the day though, and my knowledge of the future had my stomach twisting in a knot, worried and fearful. He was also strong. Incredibly stupidly so, and he had a brutal reputation in battle against pirates. The details of his promotion had always been vague at best, and with the firm but kind Captain Locke currently running the base, I could only imagine what he had in store for him.

I pray that he gets a promotion and would soon leave.

Knowing the world I was living in though, it could easily be far crueler.

My musings didn't go much farther before I received an inevitable call to the present.

SLAM! "Jean! There you are-!"

The woodaxe flies up into my grip.

"Helmeppo, I just fixed that door from the last time you knocked it off its hinges: Please let my work last more than a week!"

The bowl cut blond, between the threat in my voice and the freshly cleaned axe in my hands, has the intelligence to pause and grumble a very soft, childish and halfhearted 'sorry' before resuming his tirade. "-r-right. Anyway, Soro is getting impatient! He knows you promised to train him today."

"And I will, I just had to take care of my other responsibilities first."

Sighing as I shoulder the wood axe, and for a second I almost feel bad for reminding him of his father's trademark weapon. The feeling swiftly fades. The guy had literally barged himself into it.

"I keep telling you Jean, you really don't need to do all this hard labor- I'll pay you twice as much for your time as anyone in town does!"

"And I keep telling you that I like being productive and helping everyone out. If I wanted to just make easy money, you wouldn't have to hound me for it."

"B-but that's- it's doesn't make sense!"

"Not everyone is motivated by money, Helmeppo. Some people are motivated by personal integrity."

While I continued trading arguments with my purple suited stalker, Ririka and the bar patrons begin snickering to themselves. It was something of an open secret that the sheltered son of Morgan had made it his almost daily duty to seek me out with some mundane tasks, presumably in some poor awkward attempt to socialize. He'd been entirely unbearable, treating me as little more than lowly hired help. As the weeks went by, marked by a steady drop in body fat and the growth of muscle, Helmeppo started to become less terrible. Or at least made poor, fumbling attempts at human decency.

It was hard to tell if he was simply being shallow, or if the long term exposure to my strong personality had coincidentally begun to show fruit.

Either way, most everyone of town had an opinion on it.

Presumably, if Morgan cared enough, he would to.

Thank god he didn't. The less involvement I had with the man, the better.

Rubbing my temple, our argument stalls as we both take note of our bemused audience. "Alright, alright. Ririka, could you pull out the bones and meat I asked you to save? I'm going to put this axe away before I start splitting heads instead of wood."

Returning briefly to the woodshed to do just that, I return to find the promised bucket of meat, bones and animal 'byproducts' out on the back step. Helmeppo looks a little green in the face as he stands a couple yards away from the festering mess, jaw ground tight. Admittedly the smell of it was rather putrid in the summer heat, but I'd grown a stronger stomach in the past weeks. Taking the wolf food, I begin the trek back to the military base with the blond trailing safely behind.

With all this and other daily surprises keeping me busy, it was mostly at night that I had time to wonder what I was going to do about the future of the town and its people.

The 153rd Branch marines, in spite of Commander Morgan, were a very decent and upstanding folk. Sure, they were rough around the edges in some ways, but so far I felt as safe with them as I would with my own countries men and women of service. I'd been to the local Proving Grounds a lot while growing up, and my experiences and meetings there were always amiable. So I had some kind of standard to hold the Marines to, and most of the men I'd met, met them.

But being a decent man did very little good when your superior officer was openly cruel, crooked, and insanely stronger than you. At some point Morgan would be promoted, and he would have no reason to hold himself back. He'd show his true colors, would bully and threaten and abuse his position along with the people under his protection.

I wasn't looking forward to his tyranny however long it lasted, but knew there was nothing I could wisely or successfully do.

'These people… the people who took me in, who helped me without second thought, who daily laugh and smile with me… my friends are going to suffer, all because their oppressor plays a key role in the fate of countless lives. It's terrible, but in the big picture Axe Hand Morgan is a playground bully.'

A playground bully that currently left a trail of pirate blood, limbs, and chopped up bodies in his wake.

'…damn it, Helmeppo. At least I can try to do right by you and the rest of the town. '

"Damn it…"

The funeral practices of the marines were formal and beautiful, but the personal touch that the town contributed made the memorial all the more heartbreaking.

Reading the adventures of the Straw Hat Crew, it was easy to forget that the Marines had a massive presence for good reason.

"There was another raided ship today… they've been leaving survivors but we always get there too late…"

All pirates were deadly, and most were terrible excuses for humans.

"Thank you Jean. If we can get something like your lifejacket made, it'll save countless lives."

It wasn't a bloody death, it wasn't even a backstab or betrayal or a plot, it'd just-

"I'm still trying to convince HQ to give us a grant for the lifevests, but for now please make due with one my own."

It'd just been returning from a long hard fought battle, a battle they'd won at a cost, but-

"I'm sorry. They rejected it again, but I'll keep trying. Let me know as soon as you finish it; I know it's a lot of work, but if we have a working example, they may give it more thought…"

It'd just been a bad storm, a rough sea, and a crashing wave.

"Captain Locke..."

He had drowned.

"I'm sorry… If only you had this… If only I'd worked harder…! Maybe…!"

He and several others had drowned.

I was too numb to care about Morgan's assumption of command or the promotions that came after.

A/N: Yeah, that took a glum turn. Honestly I had planned for Morgan to be an outright fiendish villain from the start, and be maliciously involved in Locke's death. As I wrote the final scene though, the story had a different plan.

It's more poetic, I think, and really does set a good kickoff point for the title and a plot point.

REGARDING UPDATES!: I have a tentative goal of releasing a chapter every other week, alternating with my other story 'Children Of The Sun'. I'll let everyone know if this changes, but until then expect an update the second week of September.

Until Next Time,

Wear Your Lifejacket!