Jack stretched his legs as the warmth of the sun washed over him. Something about that was off but he was too tired to really get what. He tried to roll over and go back to sleep but the clamor of the busy street made that impossible. Wait, busy street? Was he outside? He cracked a single eye only to have it snap shut from the rush of bright light. Several seconds of squinting and blinking later he eventually managed to get see the area around him. Grey stone walls on his left and right with busy sunlight streets at either end of the ally. Jack bolted up right, and flung himself so hard he landed right on his face.
"Are you alright?" Asked some kind soul.
"I fink I bid my Lit." Jack summarized his most pressing issue.
"Well sit up and I'll have a look at it." she said.
Jack pushed himself up into a seated position to find a woman with orange hair and brown eyes staring down at him. She cupped a hand around his chin and looked him over.
"Hmm, no bleeding, probably going to have some bruising on your nose though." She said in a voice that now seemed oddly familiar. "You might want to put some ice on it to be safe."
Jack rubbed his aching schnoz and nodded. "Fanks."
"No problem, but I have to ask." She took a step back allowing Jack to take in more details she was wearing a white shirt with a blue stripe across the chest, the very ample chest. No bad Jack! Down boy! And a yellow miniskirt that caused Jack's eyes to immediately shoot back up to her face before he got to distracted by her shapely legs. Her smirk said he hadn't gone unnoticed. "Why are you face planting out of an ally."
"Beads me." Jack said. "Laz I knew I waz zleepin' my bet." God it was annoying hearing that lisp.
"Wait you were sleeping in your bed, like in a house, and you woke up." She looked at him confused.
"Propally zome frientz pullin' a prank." Jack waved it off before he had to try and explain away an event he didn't understand himself.
"Oh well those are some crummy friends then leaving you out here where anyone could do anything." She huffed and crossed her arms looking away. Her eyes widened a bit. "A sorry to cut this short but I've got a boat to catch."
"Yeah, Fanks for da helb." Jack nodded as the woman waved and took off. Jack stood up and dusted himself off.
Alright pocket check, wad of bills, and a knife… He looked down to confirm that he was indeed holding a sheathed knife and a wad of bills in a currency that was most definitely not good old freedom bucks. When he unfolded the notes they were had a 100 and the word beli written on them. No. a stumble backwards caused him to trip and crash straight on his ass.
"Ah great just great what did I." He looked down to find the back pack he sometimes used on the ground. He lifted it up to and felt something loose roll around in side of it. A quick unzip and he pulled out a fruit. Shaped vaguely like a peach it white with ridges creating a cloud pattern, on it's top leaves gray and twisted like a thunderhead. No!
Jack popped out of the ally and walked up to a random man who was just leaning against a wall with a newspaper. "Excuse me."
"Waddaya want pal I'm busy."
"I can see that." Be polite don't tick off your leads. "I was just wondering if you could tell me where we are."
"Are you serious."
"Yes." Jack gritted his teeth.
"We're in Tortuga." The man's reply was thick with condescension.
"and where is Tortuga?"
"On Concha Island."
"Mmhmm mmhmm and which oh say part of the world is?"
"The east blue." The man practically growled before stage muttering. "Friggin' drunk sailors can't even remember what sea their in."
Ah. I'm in one piece. That dream was not a dream. Well… balls.
Jack decided that he should probably find somewhere a bit more quiet to have his screaming fit. As he wondered off his stomach began to growl. Oh right I haven't had anything to eat yet.
His thoughts drifted to that piece of fruit in his pack. No I will not give up my ability to swim because I'm a little peckish. I have money I'll go by a bowl of cornflakes or something.
Ten minutes of wandering, followed by giving up in frustration and asking for directions, followed by ten minutes of trying to memorize verbal directions, followed by the other party giving up and just writing them down, followed by twenty more minutes of following directions that listed street names he had never seen before finally brought him to a quaint little cafe.
"Finally." Jack grumbled stuffing the paper into his pocket and strolling in. The instant he got in he enjoyed the feeling of shade hitting his skin. Honestly he wasn't looking forward to the aftermath of all the sun. Jack didn't tan, he just burned.
A woman in a pink dress with a white apron and chestnut hair greeted him. "Hello table for one."
Jack nodded and was led to a two seat table in the back. She handed him a menu and wandered off. He absentmindedly skimmed the grub on offer as he took stock of the situation.
Okay I'm in a fictional universe, after a dream conversation with a creepy Spaniard, with only a knife, pocket money, and a devil fruit to my name. So the first question is how do I get home? Actually the first question is can I get home? His stomach dropped.
"Can I take your order." A bubbly young woman with blond hair and a uniform identical to the hostess but blue asked him.
"Ah yes, I'll have the." He focused on the menu. "Pancake deluxe and a coffee. Can you bring it black and with some cream and sugar on the side? I'm a bit particular about that."
"Alright I'll bring that coffee right back."
"Oh if it wouldn't be too much trouble do you happen to have a newspaper lying around."
"Not at all we keep a stack on hand, it will cost and extra 50 beli though."
Jack nodded and set down his menu.
Okay where was I. Oh right well I came here so obviously there must be a way back right. I just need to get in touch with that Jose guy. Who contacted me in a dream, and left me no way to get in touch, and might not be willing to send me back even if he did.
The waitress can by and dropped off his coffee and paper. Jack began skimming the pages. Okay so priority one is finding Jose. Well I've got a description so I guess I'll just need some way to travel. Hmmm.
While lost in thought the waitress dropped off his meal, a stack of five pancakes, two eggs over easy, toast, 3 sausage patties, and two slices of bacon. The smell of the feast laid before him broke his train of thought.
Well no sense worrying over an empty stomach.
Jack dug into his meal like a wild beast scarfing everything on all three plates so fast that from an outsiders point of view it seemed to simply vanish into thin air. So boorishness was his repast that several nearby tables had stopped there own meals to simply watch him dig in like they were staring at a car wreck, simultaneously wanting to look away but completely unable to avert their gazes. Yet miraculously not a crumb missed his mouth. With a grin he leaned back and gave his stomach a gentle pat. After several seconds his waitress returned looking down at the table she had covered in their single largest breakfast, one most people wouldn't even finish, completely vanished as if by magic. Only a stray drop of syrup or dab of butter here and there indicating that there had been anything on the plates at all.
"Would, would you like anything else sir?" She said having to pause to regain her composure.
"No that'll do check please." Jack nodded as he reclaimed his paper.
"I'll be right back with that." She said lifting the plates
Jack had time to reed one report, something about a rash of ships disappearing in some part of the world whose name he didn't recognize. Don't remember that from the show. Well I guess that makes sense anywhere the straw hats didn't interact with would go unmentioned. I mean I don't even think we actually know anything about the north or south blues. Actually most of the story never leaves the Grand Line now that I think about it. God how big is this planet, a stretch of ocean that looks like an equator line on a world map is big enough to contain basically every important government outpost, Islands that take days to cross, and pirate crews galore while they barely interact with each other.
"Your bill sir."
Jack was snapped out of his thoughts by the offending document being stuck in his face. A quick look at the annoyed waitress said she had been trying to get his attention for a while now.
"Thank you." He said gingerly clutching the bill. 1350 Beli, out of my 1700. Shit
Handing the woman 1400 he told her to keep the change. Alright well next step of the plan is worked out for me. I won't be going anywhere or finding any mysterious not-Spanish bastards without any scratch so I guess it's time to go job hunting. How hard can it really be?
"Sorry don't need anyone."
"Nope not hiring."
"That flier, I told Darla to take those down a month ago."
"Still don't need anyone."
"Sorry pal filled the position an hour ago."
"No I don't need any help."
"For the last time I don't need anyone."
"Does it really look like we need any help?"
"This place, closed down 3 days ago."
"If you come here one more time I'm calling the marines!"
"Do you really think you have what it takes to be a marine?"
"Got nothing for ya buddy, you might try the docks there's usually a ship looking to pick up and extra sailor or two."
And thus Jack arrived at the Tortuga town docks. "Seriously my legs feel like there going to fall off."
He stumbled along looking over the ships at dock and seeing who had crews working at them. The first two were merchant vessels that were full up. The next a fishing vessel took one look at him and told him to move on. The fourth had actually just arrived and wasn't going to need anyone for at least 3 days. The fifth was hiring, experienced mercenaries only, apparently they had valuable cargo and heard there were pirates about. Jack was about to give up and start rooting through trash cans for his next meal.
"What do you mean Ted can't make it."
"Well he and Bill went to the bar last night."
"Of course," The sound of an open palm slapping flesh could be heard. "What did the idiot go and do this time."
"He started putting the moves on this girl, red head with an hourglass figure, and at one point got close and uhhh slapped her right on the bum. She took exception to that. The kind of exception that ends in a broken jaw and a hospital visit to be specific."
"Great we set sail in two hours, where are we going to find a replacement on such short notice?"
Jack rolled up to a main in a captain's dress uniform, with a great bushy mustache and sunglasses staring at the sky both hands thrust straight up and an apologetic looking man in an old time sailor uniform.
"Hello there name's Jack Quincy and I couldn't help but over here your dilemma." Jack said extending one arm for a hand shake.
The captain looked down at Jack quickly eyeing him up before ignoring the offered hand and asking. "Any Experience?"
"Ever ridden on a ship before?"
"Do you have even the slightest cursory knowledge of sailing."
"Then what pray tell do you have to offer?"
"An extra pair of hands that can start immediately and is desperate enough to accept anything short of slave trading or piracy."
The captain stared at him for a moment. "Well I guess beggars can't be choosers. Frank set this man up with a uniform and put him to work."
"Right away Captain." The sailor stood and attention with both hands folded behind his back. "Follow me new guy."
Jack did as instructed gleeful to have found gainful employment after what felt like an eternity of searching.
"Okay here's the deal this is a cruise ship taking a group of rich, young, and most importantly rich patrons to a resort about five days from here. You'll be swabbing the decks carrying supplies up from the cargo deck to the galley or where ever else is needed and staying out of the guests way as much as possible. The uniform must be worn whenever your on the boat so the passengers know you work here. You'll have to stay in the sailors bunks between shifts to stay out of the way." Frank lead him through the halls and down several flights of stairs. "You'll get three meals a day one before your shift, one in the middle, and one after. There will be a small locker under your cot for personal belongings you can requisition a lock and key from the quartermaster but most don't bother, it's a ship on the water so it's pretty easy for the captain to figure out who stole something."
The duo arrived at a desk operated buy an older man with thick spectacles chomping on a cigar. He looked them over once each. "New guy?"
"Yep." Frank said.
"Right I'll get ya a suit, you can change over there." The old man pointed his cigar at a small curtained off corner of the room. And with that he disappeared through a door.
"Okay what else was there? Oh yeah you'll receive your salary when ever we make port. Port lasts three days and you can sleep on the ship but once the passengers are off we get the next two days for leave and can go anywhere as long as we're back in time to restock all the supplies delivered to the docks on the third morning. You get all that?" Frank gave him a hearty slap on the back.
"I think so, clean what I'm told, take what I'm told where I'm told, don't get in the passengers' way and party on landing as long as I'm back at dock in time to resupply." Jack said. "I do need that lock though, got some stuff I'm worried about getting tossed if we hit rough seas."
The click of a door caught their attention and a tied uniform was flung into Jack's arms.
"Well go pit it on, you are bein' paid to lolly gag are ya!"
Jack practically jumped out of his skin and bolted to the curtain a couple of seconds and some awkward attempts and squeezing his clothes into the bag with his devil fruit later. He was now back in view in a perfectly fitting sailor uniform. "How did you? I didn't tell you any sizes, you didn't take any measurements."
"When you've been at this game as long as I have a quick glimpse is all you need." The old quarter master said. "No if there's nothing else."
Jack quickly requested, and received, his new lock and key then he and Frank were off to the workers bunk. He stuffed his belongings into a small wooden footlocker, taking extra care to make sure the valuable and potentially dangerous devil fruit was looked away where it wouldn't end up in just anyone's hands. "Alright so that's done go ahead and give me my first assignment."
Frank and Jack spent the next hour and a half hauling heavy barrels and crates of food, water, and of course good ol' booze from the docks to the cargo. Though he hadn't noticed to much when carrying a light load and going his own pace the seas rocked the ship back and forth even in dock making the whole task just that much harder. Then he found himself running around a busy ship deck without having gotten his sea legs and tumbling violently around as he was literally shown the ropes by Frank and crew. After that he was handed a mop and told to start cleaning out the head. A sudden wave caused him to fall a loud splash echoed Jack fell ass first into the toilet whose seat he had raised to clean. He knees rose up catching him in the chest and knocking the wind right out of him.
"Help!" Jack called as he squirmed against his unforgiving porcelain captor.
"Yeah, Yeah, What do you… How did you even do that?" One of the other sailors walked in.
"Oh well I was tired, getting a little to hot, figured I'd stick my ass in some water to radiate the, I FELL WHEN THE FUCKING WAVE HIT US HOW DO YOU THINK I GOT HERE!?"
"What's that your going to cover my first trip to the bar when we hit shore, the whole night you say?" The man grinned.
"That is nothing like what I just."
"Oh wow that's so generous I might even forget to mention why you're doing it."
Jack stared incredulously at the man. "Yes, Yes whole night on me. You can drink whatever you want."
The man nodded, a dark chuckle escaping his lips as he pulled Jack free of wicked throne. "Why you know what that's so generous I'll even cover for you while you wait for those pants to dry."
The sailor walked out of the head telling one of the passengers it was closed and winked back to Jack. Jack in turn sighed. One day in the fantasy land and he'd already been blackmailed. Weren't these scenarios supposed to end in him meeting his favorite girl and have some cliche anime tsundere slap slap kiss romance while being an invincible badass. How did he get stuck cleaning toilets? Well one thing was for sure this part is getting left out of the memoir when I right about my adventures.
And so Jack stewed in the head waiting for his uniform to dry enough to not give away what happened before finally returning to the deck.
"Oh god this is torture." Jack wheezed as he found his way to his mentor.
"Here kid take this and relax." Frank handed over a small wooden tray with some fruit, some sort of cracker, and what looked to be salted fish. "Don't worry first couple days are rough for everyone, I talked to the captain and he'll let you take crows nest duty for the rest of your shift. Just a quick shimmy up a ladder and then all you have to do is watch."
"I hub vue" Jack let out between bites of tasteless hard cracker.
And so it went that the last 4 hours of his shift was spent staring at the ocean. While at first the sun glistening of the endless blue expanse, the dancing of shadows where fish where swimming, and the sight of sea birds soaring through the air filled him with awe and wonder, half an hour of doing that and nothing else managed to sap the magic out of even that. The remaining three and a half hours were spent playing word association games with himself just to keep from falling asleep out of boredom. And we still have four more days of this before we make port. God who knew being a sailor could be this dull.
A quick meal in the galley and a ration of rum later and Jack hauled himself into his cot wanting to sleep for a week but settling for the precious few hours before his next shift.
"Up and at 'em Quincy!." Frank shouted.
Jack bolted up right, cocked back a fist, swung it in a sloppy arc missed his target by a mile and followed it up with a headbutt to the floor.
"Shwawawawawawa." Frank clutched his gut as he laughed. Wiping a tear from his eye. "C'mon it's time for breakfast."
Jack grumbled as he strolled forward through the ship. "So what's the plan for today?"
"Well the guests are going to have some fancy dress ball, so naturally we are going to run snacks, sorry hors d'oeuvres from the up and down the ship." Frank said turning into galley. "bright side since they'll be concentrated into one room we got it easy if we're not running."
As Jack sipped his coffee he thought. A fancy dress ball on a ship. Why does that sound familiar? Maybe more caffeine will answer my question.
It didn't answer any questions just woke Jack up enough to here the captain give out orders.
"Quincy you'll be working the guest hall. I know you're new and not trained for it but I've seen the rest of these louts in action and trust me a train chimp would have better manners." The man said with a grin accompanied by chuckles from some of the crowd. Jack nodded and set about what ever monotonous tasks they were going to dump on him. The whole time being bugged by the simple question what was it about the idea of a cruise dance party that seemed so familiar.
The guests slowly filed in as noon approached.
"Sir there's a whirlpool a few miles out, helmsman Ichirou says he'll steer clear of it but we're probably going to hit a bit of rough water either way." A random sailor Jack hadn't met yet informed the captain.
Ball and a whirlpool this feels so familiar but I can't put my finger on it.
"I see I'll warn the guests." The captain let out a sigh. "You go make sure everything in the cargo is properly braced. I do not want a repeat of the storm from last month."
The sailor stood at attention for a moment and then power walked out of the room.
"Quincy if you could go in form the galley and servers please." The captain rubbed his temples while looking at Jack.
Jack stood at attention like he had seen the others do and said. "Yes sir."
"Good man." the captain walked off without another word.
Jack started on his way to the galley only too be stopped as soon as he got out of the room. He turned to find the same carrot top who had helped him when he tripped out of the alley the day before. She wore a tan dress with with pink lines and arcs for decoration.
"Oh you worked on this ship?" She asked surprise evident in her voice.
"Nope actually started after we met. One of the sailors got sent to the hospital. Something about a girl and bar." Jack said noticing something familiar about the girl. I swear I know that voice from somewhere.
"Well good luck for you then." She followed with a nervous chuckle. "and oh I just realized we never introduced ourselves."
Well that was, abrupt.
"I'm Nami and you are?" She gave smiled at him.
A smile he barely noticed as everything suddenly clicked. The cruise, the whirlpool, the red head, no. this can't be. This isn't. I'm in the first episode.
"Hello, anybody home?" Nami asked waving a hand in front of his face. She then snapped her fingers a few times.
"Ah yes sorry, the name's Jack, Jack Quincy." Jack said scratching the back of his head. "Sorry but I have to go to the galley."
"Oh Okay. See you around Quincy." Nami nodded and walked into the party.
Shit! Shit! Shit! This is the first episode. But that means, that means, that means that this ship is about to be attacked by pirates.
Alright three last points I want to make real quick. One this story does in fact have a final conflict in mind and will actually wrap up before the story hit's the time skip though If it might get a sequel later. Two in order to help prevent burn out on my end I actually plan to alternate between this and a second story a poll for which is one my page if you'd like to give it a look. Third since this story is built on the premise of more than one insert existing I'm taking pitches for devil fruits. Not characters who will remain those I personally craft for this tale but devil fruits so if you've ever had an idea for one that you wanted to see in prose but lacked a story to put it in feel free to pitch it (preferably by P.M.) and if I like your idea it may end up in the hands of one of this stories characters