Hello! Thank you everyone for checking this out! Instead of working on the fanfic I've had planned for over a year, I started writing this instead! It's still going to be long, and I'm going to work on it pretty regularly, but it's also mostly just self-indulgent! It's for me! I just hope other people also enjoy it haha and so I don't have every tiny microscopic detail figured out - yet - and we'll be going on this crazy journey together!
I'm also mostly using the manga as a reference! You'll notice these first couple scenes are very different from the anime, and that's why! It's just easier to follow, overall. Anyway, enough rambling! I hope you enjoy!
If you'd like to see more One Piece shenanigans (headcanons, scenarios, as well as fanfic and OC information), follow me at "laws-yellow-submarine" on Tumblr!
I don't have many memories from before I was four. Nothing concrete anyway. If I close my eyes and think hard enough, I can maybe remember a woman's voice, a man's laugh...but when I open them again it's gone, and I have to wonder if I merely imagined it.
No, my first solid memory is that of a small bundle, wrapped in blue cloth, being placed in my tiny arms. The face inside the bundle beams up at me, the grin instinctual even as a newborn. A gruff voice tells me "You're a big sister now Hazel; it's a big responsibility. Take care of him…" and awe wells up inside me at the prospect.
My next memory is waking up to a baby's wail, the kind that grips your heart and stops you cold as you struggle to find out what's wrong. It takes me a moment to realize the sound is coming from the crib in the corner of my room, and without waiting to think about it I stand up from my tiny bed and toddle over, peering inside while perched on my toes. His limbs are flailing, mouth open as he screams, yet I hear no sound of footsteps indicating an adult on the way. I reach in as best I can to grab him, pulling him close to me as I nearly fall over from the reach. But being close seems to calm him slightly, and his screams turn to tiny whines as I bounce him gently in my arms; the way I remember being shown how, though I can no longer remember who showed me.
I walk into the kitchen, finding it empty, and set him down gently on the couch. His wails start up again and I cringe at the sound, but ignore it as best I can as I push a large kitchen chair over to the counter. I nearly fall again when I reach the cupboard, tiny legs standing on the counter, but I safely make it back to my brother so I can feed him. He finally quiets, and falls back to sleep.
Everything after that is a blur; I know I stayed awake, and that eventually the mayor found us, but no parental figure ever returned to our little house. As we grew, the residents of Foosha Village did what they could to help us, just short of actually taking us in. Gramps came and went over the years as well, though never stayed long enough to take over completely.
And so take care of my brother I did. Even as his body turned to rubber, nearly being eaten by a sea monster, and us almost being burned alive, I stayed by his side. I took care of him through thick and thin, and I'll continue to do so, so long as he let's me.
But this isn't my story. It's his; the man who'll become the Pirate King:
Monkey D. Luffy.
"Wow! It's a good day to set out to sea!"
Monkey D. Hazel looked up from her notebook as her brother finally sat in his seat, having been waving since they left the shore. She grinned at his enthusiasm, eager to set sail herself. Sure, as a kid she'd never dreamed of becoming a pirate, but she couldn't just let him run off on his own. The boy had a habit of thinking himself invincible. Probably from eating a devil fruit at such a young age.
"Incoming, Luff," Hazel said, noticing the waves growing restless just ahead of them. A large sea monster burst from the ocean, the same one they'd both been rescued from about 10 years ago.
"Our local sea monster!" Luffy exclaimed, unbothered by the visitor. "Sorry to have to do this, but here's an attack I've been perfecting since the last time we met!" Luffy braced himself against the small boat, leaving Hazel to keep them steady while he reared his arm back for a punch.
"Gomu Gomu no…Pistol!" The boy shouted, his arm stretching to impossible lengths as he socked the fish in the jaw. Hazel shielded her notebook with her body as it fell beneath the waves, splashing her with water. When she raised her head to glare at Luffy, he just grinned and ignored her. "That's what you get, you darn fish!"
Settling back in her seat, she decided to pack up her notebook for now. Not much adventure had happened yet, after all, and she could just as easily write about the sea monster when Luffy was more preoccupied. Easier, even, than if she kept trying now.
"All right!" Said boy shouted as he scanned the sea. "First things first, we've gotta get a crew! I think about...10 men should do, what do you think, Hazel?" He was speaking again before she could answer. "Oh! And I'll need a pirate flag!"
"I think we should wait on the flag until we have a slightly larger vessel, Captain," Hazel smiled as her brother beamed at her, his pride coming off him in waves. It felt good to finally be captaining his own ship, even if it was just a small fishing boat for now.
"Yeah! One with a big sail!"
"Well, which way, Cap?" Luffy turned back to the sea, spinning slightly as he picked a random direction.
"That way! Look out world, here I come! I'm gonna be King of the Pirates!" Hazel's grin matched his own as she set about rowing the direction he was pointing. Their journey had officially begun.
The skies remained clear as they switched off rowing, not a cloud in sight. Hazel scribbled in her notebook once again, trying to note down anything of importance so she could rewrite it later. This was the story of the future Pirate King, the greatest adventure ever; she couldn't afford to miss a single detail. Luffy sat across from her, oars beside him as he played with a rather large, eight-legged bug that had hitchhiked on their boat.
"Hey Hazel, look at th-!"
"Luffy, if that thing comes anywhere near me or my pack, I will tie your arms to the front of the boat and drag you along behind me," she threatened without looking up. The boy paled, casually placing the spider in the water to let it swim away to freedom without another word. It wasn't that she was afraid of bugs, per se; she just didn't want it in her hair; an unfortunate habit Luffy had developed when they were still kids living in the mountains. For his part, he wasn't trying to freak her out. He just thought they were cool.
"Luffy," Hazel blinked, pausing in her writing. "Are you turning the boat?" At his questioning noise she looked down into the water, eyes growing wide as she realized they were caught in a whirlpool. How had their luck turned so sour so fast?!
Luffy either hadn't noticed, or just didn't care, if his ever-present grin was anything to go by. "The weather's so nice, who'd have thought this voyage would end in disaster so soon?"
Well, at least he'd noticed.
He continued talking to himself, thinking out loud about the situation, while Hazel snatched the oars from his grip, fruitlessly trying to row them out of the currents. "Hard to believe that we're getting sucked into this giant whirlpool right now. Maybe I was a bit careless…"
"A bit?" Hazel muttered, giving up on rowing and tossing their things in her pack.
"There's nobody around to help either...oh well, can't be helped! Down we go..."
"You are entirely too calm about this…" Hazel pried the lid off one of their supply barrels. Well, they didn't need all those vegetables anyway, right? Out they went, into the currents behind them.
"Too bad I can't swim either...oh wait, Hazel! You'll help me out, right? Oh, what am I thinking? In a giant whirlpool it doesn't really make a difference if you can swim or not! We'll drown either way!" Hazel gripped the back of his shirt, pulling him into the barrel after her and securing the lid over them.
"Hey, it's tight in here!"
"Well sorr-y Mr. Rowing-Isn't-Adventurous-Enough! You're rubber, contort yourself!" At least he didn't have the pack digging into his back. Good thing the siblings were close.
"Ugh, Hazel I don't feel so good…"
"Luffy don't you dare!"
"What's that, Coby?! Did a barrel of rum wash up on the beach?"
"Y-yeah, and it's not empty! I wasn't sure what to do with it…" the timid boy trailed off, trying not to cower under the man's stare as he rolled the heavy barrel up to the storeroom.
"Well I know what to do with it. Let's drink it all up!" Another man inside said. The first man tried to dissuade him, knowing their captain would be anything but forgiving, but a third man spoke up.
"She'll never find out!" He said, coming over to the boy. "We're the only ones here. Just Coby and the three of us know about this. And you ain't seen nothing, right Koby?"
"Right! I-I ain't seen n-nothing, heheh…" The boy, Coby, quaked in his boots at the thinly veiled threat. "Please don't hit me…" he muttered.
Suddenly, the barrel burst apart in a shower of wood, something yelling from inside as it sprung free, shocking the men in the room.
"YAAAAAWWWWN! WHAT A GREAT NAP!" Luffy yelled, causing Hazel to groan and hold her forehead, feeling a headache coming. She'd been dozing peacefully when he'd burst the barrel open, making her fall on her butt behind him. Her muscles were stiff, a sharp pain in her back from where the pack had pressed into her; but with a big stretch and a yawn of her own, she felt marginally better.
"Looks like we survived somehow! I got so dizzy I thought I was gonna barf, hahaha!" Hazel grimaced.
"Let's be glad it didn't come to that, huh Luff?" Feeling the stares on her, Hazel finally looked up, only to see three rather large men and a much smaller boy staring at them in shock. Luffy appeared to notice them too, his brow raised as he took them in.
"Who are you guys?" The siblings asked, not sounding nearly as concerned as someone normally might.
"WHO THE HECK ARE YOU?!"
"What were you doing in there?!" The shouts caused Hazel to wince, her headache aggravated.
"Back to work, ya scurvy dogs!" Came a feminine command from outside the room, followed by a rather large spiked club flying into the building, smashing the wood to pieces. Their previous transportation gone, Hazel grabbed Luffy by the shirt, swung her pack over her shoulder, and ran like hell into the woods while the others were distracted. The sounds of shouting carried on the wind after them. Well, if they didn't before, whoever ran this place knew they were here now.
Pausing to catch her breath, she let go of Luffy, rubbing her stiff muscles to avoid a cramp. That was a lot to run so soon after being cramped up like they had been. Too bad the barrel had literally fallen apart on them, likely having been pushed to its limit with two fully grown people squashed inside. Not to mention the whirlpool…
"Um, are you ok? Are you hurt?" A timid voice asked, startling Hazel from her thoughts. "After getting knocked and yanked around so much you must be-" Luffy began to laugh, halting the young boy's sentence.
"I'm fine, just a little surprised is all. I'm Luffy! That's my sister, Hazel! Where are we?" The boy glanced over to the woman Luffy pointed at, currently stretching her back out with a loud pop, muttering something about being too old for this.
From what Coby could tell, she seemed to be about the same height as her brother, with a similar slim build; though from how fast she'd run while carrying the other boy in her grip, Coby suspected that was a bit deceptive. She had royal purple hair that fell in tight waves around her face, stopping just under her chin; and as she smiled at him politely, Coby saw kindness in her gray eyes, with maybe just a hint of caution.
"This island is the hideout of Iron Mace Alvida, the Lady Pirate. I'm Coby, her cabin boy."
"I see," Luffy said. "Well, none of that really matters to me."
"Hey," the woman, Hazel, said sternly, stretching Luffy's cheek out a bit. Was it just Coby, or did she seem to be stretching it kinda far? "Mind your manners." She scolded.
"Lemme go!" Luffy whined, puffing out his other cheek in a pout. She let him go, glancing around the area while Luffy asked about a boat.
"You're lucky to be alive!" The pink-haired boy exclaimed. "But if it's a dinghy you want, I have one...sorta…"
Hazel raised her brow, following after the two boys to a nearby shore. There, sitting in the water, lay what she supposed technically resembled a boat. With the amount of nails sticking out of it, though, she wondered if it would actually be sea-worthy. Or comfortable.
"What's this? A coffin?" Luffy asked. Hazel hung her head in exasperation. There was just no teaching that boy.
"I built it myself. It took me two years…"
"Two years?! and you don't want it?" Coby hung his head, pink bangs falling across his glasses.
"I really don't need it anymore. I built it to escape from this place, but I don't have the courage to try it. I guess it's my fate to be a cabin boy for the rest of my life. But I once had a different dream." Hazel regarded the boy for a moment, pausing in her inspection of the "dinghy".
"Why don't you just escape?" Luffy deadpanned, throwing Coby into a mild panic.
"N-no way! Just thinking about what Alvida-sama would do to me if she caught me makes my bladder weak! I just can't risk it…"
"Is this 'Alvida-sama' one who would chase after a mere cabin boy?" Hazel asked. The boy shook slightly.
"Ah I-it's just...I-I'll never forget that fateful day, I just wanted to go fishing, and I boarded a pirate ship by mistake. That was two years ago. In exchange for my life, I've been working as their cabin boy." Hazel crossed her arms. The boy seemed to be making excuses, in her opinion.
"You're kinda clumsy and dumb!"
"Luffy!" She scolded under her breath. "You're not one to talk…"
"And you're gutless too," he continued, ignoring her. "You really are worthless!"
"Y-you don't have to be that frank…" Coby whined. "But you're right. I don't have the guts to float around at sea in a barrel like you guys. Luffy-san, Hazel-san, why did you go to sea, anyway?"
"Well, ya see…" Luffy grinned, causing Hazel's lips to quirk as he said what would quickly become a catchphrase if he wasn't careful. "I'm gonna be the King of the Pirates!"
"K-king of the Pirates?!" Coby stammered, eyes widening in fear. "But...you'd have to make the whole world kneel to you! Wealth, fame, power - you'd have to achieve it all! Don't tell me you're after Gold Roger's lost treasure, 'One Piece'! Do you want to die?! Every pirate in the world is after that!"
"And so am I."
"'So are we'." Hazel corrected, plopping down next to her brother on the edge of the boat. "And I'm gonna record the whole thing!" She said with a wide grin.
"But the odds against you are astronomical! It's impossible! You want to be King of the Pirates in the Golden Age of Piracy?! It'll never happen! HEY!" Coby held his head, rubbing the large lump that'd started to form. "W-why'd you hit me?!"
"You were hysterical." Luffy said simply, Hazel nodding beside him.
It seemed to do the trick though, as Coby settled into a slight nervous chuckle. "It's ok, I'm used to it…"
"I'm not afraid to die, Coby!" The boy looked up in shock. "I've set myself to become the King of the Pirates...and if I die trying, then at least I tried!" Coby stared at Luffy in awe, admiration clear on his bespectacled face.
"Y-you're not even afraid to die?!"
"And I think I'll succeed too. Or am I just deluding myself…" Luffy trailed off.
"Well, the obvious plan is for us not to die while achieving our goals; but considering we just managed to survive a whirlpool by hiding inside a barrel, I'd say the odds are in our favor so far." Luffy beamed at her, eyes alight with laughter and determination.
"Shishishi you're right!"
"Maybe...I can be like that! If I'm willing to risk my life trying…" Coby muttered, startling the siblings from their conversation. "Maybe it's possible! Do you think I can join the Marines?!"
"The Marines?!" Hazel stepped closer to her brother, wary gaze resting on the boy in front of them.
"We'll end up being enemies! But I want to join the Marines and fight the bad guys! It's been my dream since I was a little kid! Do you guys think I can do it?!"
"How would I know?"
"It's a noble goal to have, at the very least," Hazel smiled at him.
"Well I'm gonna do it! What've I got to lose?! I don't wanna be a miserable cabin boy my whole life! Better to risk my life trying to achieve my dream! I'll join the Marines...and then...I'll capture Alvida!"
Suddenly, a large body came crashing through the woods, a familiar club slamming into the patchy dinghy. "Who are you going to capture, runt?!"
"My boat!" Coby screamed.
"You little sneak! Did you really think you could escape from me?!" The big woman, who Hazel assumed was this "Alvida",walked fully into the clearing, the rest of her men following behind her. "Is this the bounty hunter you hired?" She pointed at Luffy. "Well, he certainly isn't Roronoa Zoro…"
"Zoro?" Luffy questioned, but other than a shrug from Hazel, he was ignored.
"And who are you, his woman?" Alvida sneered at Hazel. The violet-haired woman grimaced. That's just gross. "I'll give you one chance to repent, Coby...who is the fairest throughout all the seas? Answer me!"
Fighting the urge to point to herself, Hazel tried to look for an opening; whether to attack or flee, she hadn't decided yet. Luckily for her (depending on who you ask), Luffy decided for her, right as Coby opened his mouth to speak.
"Hey, who's that tough-looking old biddy?" Alvida's and her crew's mouths all fell open in shock at Luffy's brazen question, but Hazel merely rolled up her sleeves in preparation.
"Luffy-san take it back!" Coby yelled, shaking the rubber-boy. "Throughout all of the seas, Alvida-sama is…" Coby paused. "Alvida-sama is…" Suddenly, he steeled himself, yelling at the top of his lungs: "ALVIDA-SAMA IS THE UGLIEST OLD HAG OF ALL!"
As said hag stared the boy down, Luffy burst into a fit of laughter, drawing a smirk from his sister. "Good for you, Coby!"
"You little-! It makes no difference to me!" Alvida reared her club back, ready to bash the boys' skulls in. "You're all going to die!" Her mace slammed into the top of Luffy's skull, drawing a wince from Hazel even if she knew he was alright.
"That didn't hurt…" Luffy grinned, causing the hag's eyes to widen. "Because I'm made of rubber!"
"Impossible!" Alvida tried to reason. "Nobody survives the Iron Mace!" Luffy's arm flew back, and Hazel stepped up to tug Coby by the shoulder.
"You may wanna step back a bit," she warned, kind smile still fixed on her face.
"Gum gum...Pistol!" WHAM! In one hit, the old ugly witch was knocked flat, shocking almost everyone in the vicinity.
"H-his arm stretched like rubber!"
"Captain! He beat Alvida-sama! He's not human!"
"Give Coby a dinghy!" Luffy yelled, interrupting the men's panic. "He's gonna join the Marines!" They didn't need much convincing.
"You must have eaten a devil fruit...incredible! But Luffy-san, if you're going after One Piece, that means you'll have to enter the 'Grand Line'."
They were finally back on the sea, having acquired a much nicer boat than the one they'd started off with. Hazel sat next to Coby, near the little mast, as she wrote notes about what had transpired in her notebook. She wanted to get the details right; she could make it sound more exciting later.
"They call it the Pirates' Graveyard…"
"That's why we're assembling a super crew!" Luffy said matter-of-factly, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "That guy imprisoned at the prison base, what's his name?"
"Roronoa Zoro!" Coby supplied easily.
"If he's a good guy, I'll let him join my crew!"
"Well, let's hope he's a good guy then," Hazel grinned, matching his intensity.
"Now you're talking crazy again!" Coby shouted, trying to dissuade the duo. "Never never never! That'll never happen! That guy's a demonic beast!"
"How do you know?"
Sliding her notebook into her pack, Hazel lay back in the boat, arms crossed behind her head. "Well if he is a 'demonic beast', at least he'll fit right in." She contemplated just what kind of person this "Zoro" would be, the breeze catching tiny wisps of purple hair as they sailed across the waves. The sounds of their conversation continued to float over her as she relaxed.
"His real name is Roronoa Zoro," Coby continued. "But they call him 'Zoro the Pirate Hunter'." Hazel quirked a brow.
"I suppose if he's a bounty hunter, that would make sense. 'Pirate hunting' must be a lucrative business."
"He's like a bloodthirsty hound! Roaming the seas, hunting men for the bounties on their heads! They say he's a demon in human form!" Again with the demon imagery...it wasn't exactly doing much to dissuade Hazel. As far as she was concerned, Luffy was his own form of demonic...not to mention the other two growing up. "Luffy-san, he's a pirate hunter! Pirate hunters don't mix well with pirates!"
"Well have they tried?" Hazel quipped, causing a squeak of fear from the boy.
"I haven't decided if I'll invite him to join my crew or not!" Luffy laughed. "If he's a good guy, I'll-"
"He's in prison because he's not a good guy!"
"To be fair, there's plenty who would say that we're not good guys either, just because we're pirates. Seems only fair we make our own judgements, no?" But Coby merely shook his head, and Hazel gave up, settling back down for a well deserved nap.
It was early the next morning when the trio finally spotted land; a small town with a large Marine tower situated near the back. Luffy was still snoring loudly, so Hazel assisted Coby in tying their dinghy to the docks before pulling on Luffy's ears until he woke up. She'd learned a long time ago shouting at him accomplished nothing.
"We're finally here! We made it to the naval base town!" Luffy yelled, fully awake as they left the docks. "Coby, you're amazing! You actually got us to our destination!"
"Of course I did," Coby said this as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "That's the minimum requirement for people who sail the seas."
"We probably still would've gotten here…" Hazel pouted. "It just would've taken longer."
"If you guys keep randomly floating around, you'll never be pirates! You should find a navigator for your crew!"
"Yeah! That's what I'll do! Now let's eat!" Hazel chuckled, following after her brother into the town.
"Who knows…" she started, as they walked into a restaurant a few blocks from the shore. "Maybe this 'Pirate Hunter' will know something about navigation." They took their seats, and all conversation halted as food quickly became the focus.
Coby couldn't help but stare in awe at the two siblings. Watching Luffy stuff his face to the point of stretching his stomach was odd enough, but watching his sister eat with nearly the same gusto seemed just bizarre when compared to her normally calm attitude. At least she had the wherewithal to swallow before trying to speak again.
"Well Coby, I guess this is where we go our separate ways," Luffy began, having finally settled from his food frenzy. "I hope you join the Marines and become a great sailor!"
Coby began to tear up, "Th-thank you Luffy-san! And I hope you both become great pirates! Even if that means we'll be enemies…" Hazel reached across the table to rub his shoulder, offering him a smile as she did so.
"Regardless of our stations, we'll always share this experience, Coby." He returned her smile, although his was a tad watery.
"Hey I just remembered!" Luffy said, drawing the others' attention. "That guy is supposed to be imprisoned here - Roronoa Zoro!"
It was as if a bomb went off, the silent-stinky-kind, with the way the other restaurant patrons suddenly stood and backed against the wall. The three just stared, confused, and as things seemed to settle back down, Coby suggested not saying that name again.
"I saw a poster that said Captain Morgan is at this base!"
Apparently that wasn't the right thing to say either, as the others in the restaurant once again promptly sent their tables to the floor in an effort to get away from their group. Raising a purple eyebrow, Hazel paid the bill, and pulled the two boys out the door. Best to leave so those tables don't suffer anymore damage.
"What a great restaurant!" Luffy laughed, back in the street. "I wanna go back there again!"
"Everyone is so jumpy! I'm getting a bad feeling about this…"
"You and me both, Coby…" Hazel couldn't stop thinking about the people's reactions. Freaking out at the supposed "Pirate Hunter"'s name wasn't too surprising, but why would they react the same way to the Marine captain? Normally, they're the "good" guys…Coby shared her sentiments, voicing her thoughts out loud.
"Who knows?! Maybe they just got carried away!" Luffy reasoned.
"Why would that happen?! I'm trying to think seriously here…"
"I'm sure we'll find out if we bug them enough. For now, let's see if we can't pay this Pirate Hunter' a visit, hm?"
Luffy readily agreed, despite Coby's misgivings, and so the trio set off toward the large tower near the back edge of the town.
The tower was a few stories high, sky blue with what appeared to be intermittent darker blue stripes along its walls. The word "Marine" was written near the roof, upon which Hazel could clearly see a Marine flag and some cannons. A similar tower, but shorter, stood to its left, and high stone walls surrounded them and the rest of the base.
"It looks so big up close!" Hazel hummed in agreement.
"Well, I suppose we'll take our leave here?" She asked her brother.
"Yeah, go on in Coby!"
"B-but I haven't really mentally prepared myself yet!" Coby protested, not quite ready for them to leave. "And those people sure were scared when they heard the captain's name…" Hazel just shrugged, watching Luffy attempt to scale the high wall. "Luffy-san! What are you doing?!"
"I wonder if I can see the demonic beast from here…" Suddenly, Luffy jumped back down, running for another section of wall.
"You won't find him just by peeking over the fence," Coby tried to reason. "He's probably deep within the bowels of the prison…"
"Oh yeah? Well there's somebody over there! Maybe it's Zoro!"
"Hey, Luffy! Wait for me this time! I wanna see!" Hazel took off after him.
"There he is!" Luffy said, bending slightly for Hazel to climb his outstretched up while Coby scrambled his way up. She'd barely made it to the top before Coby had already fallen back down, panicking.
"A b-black bandana and a haramaki sash! I-it's really him! That's Roronoa Zoro! He looks so menacing…"
Hazel finally looked over the wall, eyes easily finding the figure in the otherwise empty grounds. He was tied at the elbows and waist to a wooden cross-like structure, staring at the ground in a way that covered his face, his bandana covering his hair. From what she could see, he was rather beat up; but he seemed to be taking whatever punishment this was calmly.
"He sure doesn't look like a demon…" She almost pouted. "Is he asleep?"
"So that's him...I could just untie those ropes and set him free…" Luffy thought out loud. Unfortunately, he sent Coby into another panic. Hazel was beginning to see a pattern.
"That's suicide! If you let him loose, he'll kill us and wreck the town!" He shouted.
"Hey kid!" A voice yelled, distracting them as Coby scrambled back up the wall. Roronoa Zoro had looked up from the ground, likely drawn by Coby's shouting, and was sending them a rather menacing grin. "Come over here and untie me...I've been here for nine days and I can't take it anymore!"
"Hey, he's smiling!"
"H-he's talking to us!"
"Yes, that inspires confidence…" Hazel muttered, sending the man a skeptical pout.
"I'll make it worth your while," he taunted, still grinning. "I'll capture someone with a big price on their head and give all the bounty to you." Hazel's look didn't waver. "You can trust me. I'm a man of my word."
"You know, typically if you have to tell people that, it's not all that true…" Roronoa's grin remained in place, staring the woman down as if daring her to try him.
"D-don't do it, you guys! As soon as you untie him, he'll kill us and get away! I just know it!"
"He won't kill us." Luffy said calmly. "He couldn't. I won't let him." The man's face finally fell, as if surprised, while Hazel sent him a cocky grin of her own.
A sudden thwack against the wall drew everyone's attention, and suddenly a little girl appeared, shushing them. Against Coby's warnings, the girl scaled over the wall, walking purposefully over to the captive man. Hazel kept her eyes trained on the girl, face stern, ready for the slightest sign of impending harm.
"Whadda you want?" Zoro asked her. Hazel pulled herself to sit on the wall as Coby yelled for Luffy to do something, ready to spring into action at a moment's notice.
"Why don't you do it yourself?" Luffy countered.
"Get lost! Do you want to get killed?" Hazel tensed. The words themselves were threatening, but the way he said them...It was clear he was warning her away from something, but Hazel wasn't too sure it was him.
"I made these rice balls for you!" The girl said sweetly, holding the food out in her small hands. Hazel's brows raised into her hairline. "I thought you might need some food! It's the first time I've ever made rice balls. I hope you like them!" Hazel relaxed in her seat on the wall; some demonic beast…
"I'm...not hungry! Now beat it, and take that stuff with you!" The "beast" tried to warn the girl off. "I don't want it! Now get outta here! Or I'll stomp you to death!" Suddenly, the gate to the yard flew open, and Hazel scrambled to get back over the wall so she wouldn't be spotted.
"Roronoa Zoro! You shouldn't pick on little girls! I'll tell my father on you!" In walked a young man with the most obnoxious blonde bowl cut Hazel had ever seen. He was dressed in a nice suit, flanked by two soldiers, and the way he spoke already had Hazel's teeth grinding.
"Who's that weirdo?"
"He must be a high-ranking Marine officer. Now that little girl will be safe." Hazel just shook her head.
"She wasn't ever in any real danger…" She was sure of that, regardless of how this Zoro acted towards her. And in the event she was wrong, Hazel knew she could've protected her anyway.
"Well…" Zoro scoffed. "If it isn't the idiot son, living off daddy's wealth."
"Did you just call me an idiot?" Bowl Cut sneered. "A man in your position should guard his tongue, or he could lose it!" He turned to the girl, causing Hazel's muscles to tense, ready to spring. "Little girl, did you bring those rice balls for me? How thoughtful."
"Hey, give it back!" The girl shouted as he snatched one up, immediately shoving it whole into his mouth, only to sputter and spit it back out.
"Blech! Disgusting! It's sweet! There's sugar on it! Rice balls are supposed to be seasoned with salt, not sugar!" He whined.
"B-but I like sweets, so I figured sugar would be better!" Bowl Cut merely kicked the other rice ball out of her tiny hand, stamping it into the dirt.
"These are completely inedible!"
"Stop please! You're ruining them!" Hazel clenched her jaw, wanting to jump in and help. Instead, she took a deep breath to try and steady herself.
It wouldn't do good to just go running in, she told herself. You could cause more harm than good, and the girl's not getting hurt. Yet…
"Don't worry, I'm sure the ants find them delicious!" Bowl Cut laughed while the girl started crying, causing Hazel's heart to break a little. She hated seeing kids cry.
"Why...I worked so hard to make them…"
"Oh, stop that crying! This is why I hate kids! It's your own fault!" He pointed to a sign near the cross. "Can't you read this sign?! It says 'anyone aiding this prisoner shall be found guilty of the crimes he has committed. - Captain Morgan'. I'm sure you've heard how scary my father can be! If you were an adult, you would be put to death." Hazel sneered as she watched him step away from the girl and walk over to his soldiers. Lackeys, more like…
"You there, throw that brat over the fence!" Hazel's eyes widened as the soldier protested. "I'm ordering you to throw that little brat over the fence! Are you going to disobey a direct order?! I'll tell daddy on you!" Bowl Cut threatened, and Hazel swore she'd knock him to the floor before they left this place.
"Y-yes sir, right away!" The Marine stammered, scooping the little girl up and launching her in their direction.
Her half-shout wasn't needed, as Luffy had already caught the girl and fallen to the ground, both perfectly safe. Hazel checked her over briefly while Coby asked if she was ok, then stalked over to where Luffy stood adjusting his hat.
She could still hear Bowl Cut's sniveling from the other side of the wall, clenching her arms across her chest before she climbed back up after Luffy.
"Hahaha! I won't dream of breaking my word! If you survive out here for a month, I'll let you go!" Were the last things he said before leaving the yard. When they could no longer hear his self-important laughter, the siblings dropped down into the yard, stalking over to the man who seemed to be the center of all the current trouble.
"You still here?" He spoke, noticing them. "Better not let Helmeppo's father catch you."
"What a dumb name…" Hazel like Bowl Cut better. Maybe even "Whiny Daddy's Boy", but that was too long.
"Look, I'm looking for good men to join my pirate crew." Luffy said, ignoring the warning.
"Pirate crew," Zoro grinned again. "You think I'd lower myself to that level? No thanks!"
"But becoming a pirate's my dream! What's wrong with it?" Luffy pouted slightly.
"Only interested in bounties if they aren't yours?" Zoro regarded her, dark eyes piercing her own, then turned back to her captain.
"You think if you untie me I'm gonna join your pirate crew?"
"I haven't decided if I'll ask you yet. You've got a pretty bad reputation, you know?"
"Bad reputation, huh?" Zoro huffed, smile still in place as if they were talking about the weather. "Well, anyway, I don't go for that kind of deal. I got my own plans for the future. I don't need your help, I can get out of here on my own. All I have to do is last here for a month, and I'm a free man! Captain Morgan's idiot son promised me…" Hazel furrowed her brows at this, skeptical of the whole thing. The man seemed to believe it, though…"All I've got to do is survive here for one month. Then I'll be free to pursue my dream!"
"Hm, I see…" Luffy said, smiling wide. "I don't think I could last one week without food!"
"I hate to say it, but I don't think I could either. It's admirable that you'd try, even if it does seem to be a waste," Hazel grinned at the small glare he sent her way.
"You and I are just different. I have more willpower," Hazel snorted. That was definitely true, but considering Luffy, it also wasn't saying much. "So go look for a crew elsewhere...hey, wait a minute!" He called when the pair turned to leave. "Pick that up for me." Hazel was confused for a moment, until Luffy picked up the dirty rice ball from the ground.
"You're not gonna eat it?! It's more of a dirt ball than a rice ball now...I know you're hungry, but this-"
"Shut up!" Zoro cut him off, opening his mouth wide. "Just shut up and feed it to me! And don't miss one grain of rice!" Luffy quickly did as he said. Zoro's cheeks puffed as he gagged, but despite his hacking he did manage to swallow it all down. Hazel felt respect swell through her at the act.
"I told you. It was mostly dirt. You wanna kill yourself?"
"Luffy…" Hazel admonished softly, shaking her head.
"T-tell the kid…" Zoro coughed. "Tell her I said it was delicious. Tell her I ate it all." Hazel nodded as Luffy let out a little laugh, and with nothing else to say, the duo turned and left.
"Yeah! He ate it all up!"
"I'm so glad!"
They'd made their way back into town, easily finding Coby and the young girl, who'd introduced herself as Rika. When Luffy told her that Zoro had eaten her food and loved it, even despite what Bowl Cut Helmeppo had done, her face lit up like a firework.
"Could that guy really be as bad as everyone says?" Coby asked.
"He's not a bad guy!" The girl insisted, and Hazel felt the need to nod along with her. It was solidified in her mind; regardless of what circumstances put him in prison, Roronoa Zoro was not an evil man. "Everyone in town is afraid of him, but he hasn't done anything wrong!" The girl explained. "He got thrown into prison because of me. Captain Morgan's son had a bunch of mean dogs! They attacked me! Roronoa Zoro saved me! Besides, those dogs were running loose and scaring everybody in town."
"That's why Zoro is in prison…" Luffy realized. "Because he hurt that guy's dog to save you?"
"That makes sense!" Coby reasoned. "Zoro-san is really scary, but he only goes after people with a price on their heads. And he wouldn't get thrown in prison for that!"
"Captain Morgan and his son are the bad ones! They put people to death for no reason at all! Everyone's really afraid of them."
"Hmm…" Hazel hummed, bouncing her leg. "Luffy, I'm going for a walk. Find me later?"
"Wha? Where are you going?!" Coby yelled after her.
"Just around!" She waved. "Just need to move around a bit!" As Coby switched to asking Luffy why she just wandered off, Hazel made a path back to the Marine base. She did need to stretch her legs a bit, all the talk of corrupt Marine captains was making her twitchy. In truth, she'd also started hearing Bowl Cut's annoying laughter from down the street, and she didn't think she'd be able to contain herself if forced to deal with him right now. Luffy would handle things.
She also wanted to talk some more to her potential future crewmate. She knew Luffy hadn't really given up completely on asking him, and after hearing more about how he'd landed in prison, the decision seemed obvious.
She scaled the wall, slightly more difficult this time without her rubber-band-brother's help, but she was fit in her own right too, and so still made it over without too much struggle. The thump of her feet landing in the yard drew Zoro's attention to her, and she couldn't help but smile at the glare he sent her.
"The hell do you want, woman? I'm not joining your little pirate crew…"
"That's what you say now, but don't worry; I'm not here to convince you." He raised a green brow at her. "I just wanted to chat a bit, that's all. Rika told us what happened. So if I've got this right...it's 'Roronoa Zoro, Pirate Hunter, demonic beast...and defender of little girls'?" The shade of red blooming across his face was almost comical.
"I've never called myself 'Pirate Hunter'..." He said, forcing the red out of his cheeks. The violet-haired woman's smile only grew, and not for the first time, Zoro wondered what her motive was. On the surface, she appeared unassuming, but he could see the muscle lining her calves, the definition of her arms; she was no weakling.
"Well as a pirate, that's mildly comforting, thank you," She chimed. "The fact that's the part you deny is rather telling, don't you think? It's very admirable of you. Only weak men feel the need to hurt those who are defenseless…" After a brief pause, she thrust a hand out, as though for him to shake. "I'm Monkey D. Hazel. It's nice to meet you! Ahh…" she quickly pulled the hand back to run through royal purple locks. "My bad, heh…"
"What do you want?"
"Like I said, I just wanted to chat! I was feeling a bit antsy, and as my brother's not ready to leave yet, I figured I'd come take a walk by you. Don't tell me you can't use the company," Hazel teased.
"That kid's your brother?" Zoro asked, genuinely surprised. She hummed in confirmation.
"And my captain. I'll follow him anywhere!" She beamed at him, genuinely this time, catching Zoro a bit off guard with how bright it seemed. Their attention was diverted when they heard another thump on the grass, turning to see Luffy walking over to them.
"Ah good, you found me," Hazel told him.
"You again? Give it a rest, if this is about me joining your pirate crew, my answer is still no!" Zoro protested, looking between the siblings.
"Call me Luffy," the boy said, ignoring him. "I'll untie you if you'll join my pirate crew, ok?" Hazel had to turn to muffle her laughter. She knew it.
"You don't listen, boy! I've got my own mission, and it doesn't involve becoming a stinking pirate!"
"You're too good to be a pirate?" Luffy drawled, skeptical. "You, a bounty hunter? Who everyone thinks is some sort of demon?"
"Hehe, well, when you put it like that…" Zoro glared at them both.
"I don't care what people think. I live by my own code. I've never done anything I regret, and I don't intend to in the future. Which is why I'll never be a pirate!" Luffy was silent for a moment, taking in what Zoro had said.
"Sorry, but I've made up my mind! You're gonna join my crew!"
"I don't care what you've decided!" Hazel just dissolved into a fit of giggles.
"I heard you can use a sword!"
"Hmph, if I wasn't tied up, I'd show you…" Zoro growled.
"So where are your swords now?"
"They took them from me. The captain's idiot son…" He clenched his jaw. "Next to my life, those swords are my dearest treasures."
"Hm...treasures, huh? Too bad they took them." Luffy thought for a moment. "I know! I'll get your swords from the idiot son!"
"Then if you want your swords back, you'll have to join my crew!"
"YOU LITTLE RAT!"
"Don't forget, Mr. Not-A-Pirate-Hunter...we're pirates," Hazel smirked, pointing between herself and her brother.
"You coming, Hazel?" Luffy asked, once again ignoring the other man's protests.
"The less time I spend around Blondie the better, so I'll stay here...for now." She still planned to hit him later. Luffy just nodded and ran off, ignoring Zoro's shouts for him to come back.
"He's going into the fortress...that's one dumb pirate!" He said, staring after the boy as he ran off. Hazel made her way over to him, leaning against his post.
"You'll find things have a way of working out for him…"
Despite what she'd said, Hazel did decide to change location, choosing once again to perch on top of the wall for a better view. She situated herself near a tree for cover, able to see on either side of the wall, but not able to be seen unless one really looked for her. She could hear the sounds of chaos from on top of the roof, felt the quaking from what looked to be half a statue hitting the ground, and could only assume Luffy was on the right track. She hoped, anyway.
It was only slightly surprising when Coby came running by, shimmying his way up and over the wall to ask Zoro where Luffy'd gone. She could only hear snippets of conversation from where she sat, but she jolted slightly in concern when she saw the boy begin undoing Zoro's restraints. Not that she wanted Zoro to remain tied to a wooden post, it did seem very uncomfortable, but Coby was willingly putting himself in danger.
Then she heard the boom, coming from the roof, and the next thing she knew Coby fell, clutching his shoulder. Her eyes widened, and she moved to jump back into the field to check on him when he started screaming.
"AHH! I've been shot! Blood! I'm bleeding! I'm gonna die!" Hazel touched the earth and ran over, cursing that she'd left her pack in the dinghy. She had bandages in there.
"Oh good, you're alive," Zoro said, and Coby stopped screaming, shocked at his blasé tone. Hazel checked over the wound, sighing in relief when it appeared to be rather shallow. "Now get outta here, they're on their way down!"
"But…" Coby huffed, and Hazel helped him sit up. "I haven't...untied you yet…"
"Coby, I can do it-!"
"Don't worry about me! I just have to survive the month and they'll let me go! So just beat it-!"
"They're not going to let you go!" Coby suddenly yelled, cutting the man off. "You're going to be executed three days from now!"
"What?!" Hazel sneered. She knew something was up.
"What are you saying?!" Zoro protested, not believing him. "That idiot promised me! If I survive here for a month, I'll be set free!"
"He never intended to keep that promise! That's why Luffy-san punched Helmeppo! Because he found out Helmeppo lied to you!" Zoro stared wide-eyed, shock clear on his face. He'd truly never considered that Bowl Cut had been lying…
"What…?!" Hazel stood up, coming nearer to the man and looking him in the eye.
"Sounds as though the Marines are your enemy anyway, Mr. Not-A-Pirate-Hunter…"
"Please! If we untie you, will you help Luffy-san?! He and Hazel-san saved my life," Well, it was mostly Luffy, but she appreciated the sentiment anyway. "I won't ask you to become a pirate, but Luffy-san is really strong and so are you! So if you team up, you can escape from here! Please, help him!" Before Zoro could answer, a shout rang from the entrance to the yard.
"Stay where you are!" Marine soldiers stood ready with guns aimed right at them. "Captain Morgan has ordered your immediate execution!"
Another man entered the yard, wearing a long officer's coat. His lower jaw was covered in metal, and where his right arm should've been, instead was a large axe, situated behind his head.
"Surround the fortress! If that rascal in the straw hat escapes, you'll all be sorry!"
"Luffy-!" Hazel gasped, worry springing through her. The only consolation was that he clearly hadn't been caught yet.
"You four aren't simple outlaws, are you? You're trying to overthrow me!" Ah great, megalomania. "Roronoa Zoro! Peasants and Pirates may tremble at your name, but you're no match for the Great One! You may be a barracuda, but I'm a great white shark! Take aim!"
The line of soldiers braced themselves, a line of rifles all aimed at the trio. Hazel stood in front of the other two as best she could, ready to take the brunt of it if she had to. She worried her lip between her teeth, trying to steady her breath as she faced her possible death.
She vaguely heard Coby telling her to move, but she wasn't about to let the boy get shot again if she could help it. They'd have to go through her, first.
Right as the Captain yelled for his men to fire, she heard the shout above her head, followed by a tell-tale boing as Luffy landed right in front of her. His arms were out to the sides, taking every single bullet into his rubbery body. The two behind her gasped, but she merely let out a shaky, but relieved, breathe.
"Bullets can't hurt me!" Luffy shouted, sending the bullets right back at their masters.
"Nice timing, Cap…" Hazel breathed as Luffy laughed, the Marines scrambling out of the way of the gunfire.
"What are you?!" Zoro shouted, Coby in shock on the ground. Luffy just shot him a smug grin.
"I'm the guy who's gonna be King of the Pirates!" Switching gears, he held out three swords to the swordsman. "So which swords are yours? I didn't know, so I brought all three!"
"They're all mine. I practice santoryu, three-sword style." Hazel tried to think of how that worked, but came up empty. She'd just have to see him in action.
"If you fight the Marines with me here and now, in the eyes of the government, you'll be one of the bad guys!" Luffy told him, still holding his swords and leaving him tied to the post. "Of course, you could obey the law and let them kill you…" Hazel grinned at Zoro's excited look.
"You must be demon spawn, but I'm not ready to die without a fight! Alright! You've got yourself a pirate!"
"Really?!" Luffy gasped, throwing his hands in the air. "You'll join my crew?!"
"I don't really have much choice! Now, untie me!"
"Luffy, you get that side! I got this one!" Together, they worked at Zoro's arms, trying to unravel the knots keeping him captive. They were very tightly woven, and no matter how much she pulled, Hazel couldn't get a good enough grip on it.
"C'mon, hurry up!"
"These knots are too tight! I can't untie them!"
"If only we could just cut through them…" Hazel mused, eyes landing on the three discarded swords.
"I'm trying, just hold on!" Luffy continued trying to undo the knot.
"There's no time!"
"How about this?" Hazel asked, drawing one of his swords free. She began sawing at the rope, drawing the ire of the swordsman her way.
"Oi! Careful with that!"
"LUFFY-SAN! ZORO-SAN! HAZEL-SAN! WATCH OUT!" Hazel looked up at Coby's scream, eyes widening at the sight of the Marines barreling towards them, swords drawn.
"There! One arm free!" Luffy exclaimed.
"GIVE ME MY SWORDS, MORON!"
Hazel tossed him the sword right as the Marines descended upon them. She knelt to the ground to brace for the impact, curling up in hopes of providing a smaller target, only to hear the clang of metal on metal.
Zoro stood directly in front of her, all three swords drawn and holding back the horde. He had one in each hand, plus the third in his mouth of all places, but despite the odd placement, it looked natural. She stared up at him in awe, meeting his eyes for a moment before he- was he smirking at her?!
"Wow! He's cool!" Luffy yelled from behind her, and despite his cocky look, she had to agree. Somewhat. Zoro finally glanced away from her, glaring at the Marines surrounding them.
"The first one who moves…dies." The man above her spoke surprisingly clearly despite having a literal sword in his mouth. Damn...Hazel finally scrambled away, standing up next to Luffy to dust herself off. "Alright, so I'm a pirate." Zoro said to the two, ignoring the blades at his back. "I gave you my word. I've fought the Marines, so I'm officially an outlaw. But hear this! I have a mission to fulfill! I'm going to be the World's Greatest Swordsman! All I have left is my destiny! My name may be infamous, but it's gonna shake the world!" He said it was such conviction, Hazel couldn't help the grin that spread across her face. He definitely fit right in. "But you are making me become a pirate! So if I have to abandon my dream for any reason, then I'm gonna make you commit hara kiri!"
Hazel crossed her arms while Luffy grinned, excited by the declaration. "The World's Greatest Swordsman, that's great! And it's fitting since your new boss is going to be King of the Pirates! Anything else would make me look bad!"
"Don't worry, Zoro! You fit right into our brand of chaos!"
"Hmph! You talk big…"
"Why do you hesitate?!" Captain Morgan interrupted to yell at his subordinates. "Hack those brigands into mince meat, now!"
"Zoro, Hazel, Duck!" Luffy yelled, rearing back his leg. Hazel dropped immediately, pulling Zoro with her by the front of his shirt. "Gum gum…"Just in time, apparently, as Luffy's leg soared above them, knocking the Marines all the way back to their captain. "Whip!"
"Wow, he's incredible!" Coby said, reminding Hazel that he was still there!
"What the devil are you?" Hazel made her way over to Coby, taking up a defensive stance in front of the boy, in case any Marines had the bright idea to go after the weaker party.
"I'm a rubber man!" Luffy answered.
As the three dusted themselves off, Hazel looked back to the Marines, now a fair distance away. Their captain appeared to be scolding them about something, but to her surprise, the Marines all began to turn their guns towards themselves.
"Something wrong with those Marines!" Zoro yelled, having noticed the same thing. Luffy ran straight for them, startling them from shooting themselves, and launched himself at the axe-handed man. Hazel couldn't hear what was said from where she was, but the two began to fight; Morgan swinging his sharp "arm" at her brother while he dodged. At one point, he even sliced the fence clean in half!
"Wow! That's sharp!" Coby yelled.
"LUFFY! DON'T GET SLICED!" Hazel yelled, worried despite her faith in him. Bullets may not hurt, but he could still get cut just as easily as anybody else. If he died here, she'd kill him.
Luckily, Luffy didn't need the encouragement, sending his feet straight into the Marine's chest, knocking him to the ground. He continued to twirl and dodge, landing hits and kicks on the large man whenever he could, sending him to the floor every time.
"He's just too strong!" Coby commented, awed by Luffy's ability in battle.
"Don't let him hear you say that, his ego is big enough as it is!" Hazel quipped, startling when she realized they were no longer alone. Her eyes widened as they met the barrel of a gun, a matching one pointed at Coby's face, held by Bowl Cut himself.
"Stop!" Luffy punched the captain again. "I said stop you idiot!" Bowl Cut yelled. "One false move and these two get it! If you even blink, I'll shoot!" Hazel's eyes narrowed.
"Why you little-"
"LUFFY-SAN!" Coby yelled. "DON'T LET THEM WIN BECAUSE OF ME! LET HIM KILL ME!"
"We're not dying today, Coby…" Hazel muttered.
Luffy smiled. "You're a good guy, Coby! Hey! Idiot-Son-Of-The-Captain! Coby means it!"
"Hey! I told you not to move or I'd shoot!" Bowl Cut yelled again as Luffy drew his fist back. "Fine! I'll just shoot them then!"
"LUFFY-SAN! BEHIND YOU!" Morgan had come up right behind Luffy, ready to swing his axe-arm across his rubber body.
"DADDY KILL HIM!" Bowl Cut screamed. Hazel dropped. Her leg shot out as she stood on her hands. Her foot connected with his chin. The guns fell from his hands.
"PISTOL!" Came Luffy's cry followed closely by his fist, catching Helmeppo in the stomach as he flew in the air from Hazel's kick. The blonde continued a few feet, before falling to the ground, thoroughly passed out. Morgan, meanwhile, had frozen, falling unconscious himself as Zoro stood next to him, swords at the ready.
Hazel stood back up as the cry of defeat rang from the Marines. She glared down at Bowl Cut's body; it wasn't a punch, but kicking him still felt like pretty good payback for his attitude. Zoro seemed to say something to the Marines, though Hazel couldn't hear, and suddenly a cry of cheer rang up from the men.
"We're free! Morgan's reign of terror is over!"
"They're happy we defeated their captain," Luffy remarked as Hazel and Coby came up next to him.
"That means Captain Morgan was ruling through fear!" Coby happily exclaimed.
"Pirates helping Marines...who wouldda thought?" Hazel laughed. Suddenly, they're newly acquired swordsman fell to the ground.
"Hmm, he's likely overexerted himself," Hazel explained, pushing the nearly delirious man into a sitting position. "How long did he say he was tied up for? Nine days?! We need to get him some food, pronto! Luffy, help me!" Her brother did as he was asked, helping Zoro lean his right arm across his shoulders, Hazel carrying the left.
They made their way back through the town, the Marines too preoccupied with their happiness to stop them. The townspeople all jumped out of their way in fright as they passed, making transport easy. The only one who didn't run in fright was a familiar little girl, brunette pigtails bouncing behind her as she urged them to follow her home.
"I'm stuffed! Not eating for nine days was worse than I thought!" Zoro yelled, smile wide across his face after stuffing his stomach full. Rika's mother had been kind enough to feed them all as a thank you. She'd provided bandages for Coby's arm, and in the meantime they'd filled Zoro in on their whole story so far. Hazel would have so much to write about when she got back to her notebook.
"See, you'd never have survived the whole month!"
"Funny, you seem hungrier than me…"
"That's just his natural state, you'll get used to it!"
"It's kind of you to feed me along with the heroes, ma'am!"
"It's the least I can do!" Rika's mother said from the stove. "You four saved the town!"
"Dunno how much 'saving' I did," Hazel pouted. "I didn't even get to fight anybody."
"Wow, you're great!" Rika told Luffy.
"Yeah, I'm kinda great! And I'm going to become a lot greater!" Great, now his ego wouldn't fit on the boat.
"So, what's next?" Zoro asked, fully sated and ready for business. Luffy gulped down his food.
"We're headed for the Grand Line!"
"Huh?! That's suicide!" Coby protested. "There are only three of you! If you go there, you'll just be sailing to your deaths! The most bloodthirsty pirates in the world are there!"
"Well, I guess if we're after the One Piece, the Grand Line is where we have to go." Zoro reasoned, not appearing at all daunted by the prospect.
"Zoro-san, you agree with him?!"
"What's it to you? You're not coming with us!"
"Hazel-san, talk some sense into them!"
"We'll have to go there eventually, why wait?"
"I'm worried about you! Is that so wrong?! Can't I worry about my friends?!" Hazel softened, smiling sympathetically towards him. "Luffy-san, we haven't known each other for very long, but we're friends, aren't we?"
"We're going our separate ways…" Luffy began, beaming at the slightly younger boy. "But we'll always be friends!"
The boy lit up, adoration clear on his face as he stared at Luffy. "You're the first real friends I've ever had...no one ever stuck up for me! I wouldn't even stick up for me! But the three of you taught me to fight for what I believe in!"
"That's why I'm going to the Grand Line!"
"Makes sense to me." Hazel just nodded along.
"Wait, that's not what I - I'm trying to convince you that it's too reckless!"
"What about your plans?" Zoro asked suddenly, knocking Coby's forehead with the butt of his katana. "You were a cabin boy on Alvida's pirate ship for two years. Watch out for the Marine's intelligence. If they find out your background, they won't let you enlist," He explained.
"I'm sure continuing to try and convince us not to be so 'reckless' won't endeavor you to the Marines, either." Hazel further pointed out. Just then the door opened, drawing everyone's attention.
"Excuse me," said the Marine currently standing in the doorway. "You folks are pirates, correct?"
"That's right! I even have a real crewman now! Which makes me a genuine pirate captain!" Hazel wanted to make a comment, but figured having your big sister tag along wasn't the same as genuinely recruiting someone. She'd let it slide for now.
"Um, you saved our base, and this town…" The Marine started. "And we are truly grateful to you. However, we're still Marines, and we can't shelter pirates. I'm sorry, but I have to ask you to leave. But to show our gratitude, we won't report you to the Marines." The decision caused an uproar from the citizens outside, appalled that they were ousting their saviors. The trio of pirates merely stood from the table, gearing up to leave.
"I guess we'll be going then. Ma'am, thanks for the meal…" Luffy told Rika's mom, ignoring the questioning from Rika and Coby that they were already leaving.
They stalked past them to the door, only pausing for a moment when the Marine asked Coby if he was going with them. "I'm...I'm not one of them!" He shouted, but Hazel could hear the emotion in his voice.
"Excuse me, pirates?" The Marine called, unsure. "Is that true?"
Luffy seemed to think for a moment, while Zoro and Hazel stood and watched from the other side of the doorway. "Let me explain. I know all about his past…" he started, drawing a quiet protest from Coby's lips. "See, there was this secret island! And a big pirate woman, her name was Alvida! She was really mean, and for two years, this guy-"
"SHUT UP!" Coby yelled, knocking Luffy backward with his fist. Unseen by the others, the pirates smiled at the action.
"Why you-!" Luffy yelled with a grin, punching Coby back. "Take that! And this!"
"Enough!" The Marine yelled. "Stop disturbing the peace!"
"Hey, hey…" Zoro grabbed Luffy by the shirt while Coby lay beaten on the floor. "That's enough."
"You've made your point, Cap…"
"It's clear that you're not friends!" The Marine pointed in their direction. "Please leave town, now!" And so they did, winding between the rows of Marines sent to act as an escort to the shore, making sure they actually left.
"Catch us if you can!" Zoro taunted one, drawing a gasp from the poor thing and a laugh from the violet-haired woman. The trio didn't turn back until they'd finally made it to their dinghy, pausing to say a silent goodbye to the boy they'd befriended. "That was some pretty bad acting, I wouldn't be surprised if they saw through it." Zoro commented.
"It can't be helped, something had to be done after all," Hazel said, climbing into the boat and immediately pulling out her notebook and pencil. She had so much to jot down, so she sat on a barrel and set to work.
"It's all up to Coby, now. He'll get in somehow!" Luffy sounded very sure.
"Well, it's a good time to be leaving." Zoro said, staring out at the sea. "Everyone hates us, that's the way pirates should leave town!"
"Hahaha I guess that's true!"
"Lu-Lu-Luffy-san!" Came the cry from the shore, startling the three pirates. Coby was doubled over, catching his breath, but stood up to a full salute and shouted, "Thank you very much, Captain Luffy! I'll never forget all you did for me!"
"This is a new one, a pirate being saluted by the Marines," Zoro quipped, smirking while Luffy laughed. The two finally climbed into the boat, Zoro pulling them out to sea while Luffy waved goodbye.
"We'll meet again, Coby!"
"'Ten-shun!" The Marine lieutenant yelled, rows of Marines lined up to salute them behind Coby. Luffy cheered as they sailed away, and Hazel waved briefly before turning back to her work. When they were far enough away that the Marines only seemed like white and blue dots on the shore, Luffy finally plopped down between his two shipmates.
"We're on our way to the Grand Line!"
Once again thank you everyone for checking this out! It's the longest chapter I've ever written haha Hopefully more action for Hazel next time! Things should pick up a bit easier now that we're past the first hump! See you soon!