"It seems you two have had extensive training in carpentry and Miss Kalifa has gotten glowing recommendations for being a secretary," Iceburg says, and sets down the folder with their forged files in it. "Are you sure you're eighteen?"
"Ahh, I hear that quite a lot," Kaku replies evenly.
The pigeon on Lucci's shoulder fluffs itself, then raises a wing. "Kaku's young but pretty good, coo-coo! Even if he does sound like an old man."
Kaku punches Lucci lightly on the arm, an exasperated smile on his face. "We'll do our best," he adds reassuringly.
"And me, Iceburg-san?"
"You'll be. Hm. My personal assistant."
Kaku claps a hand over Kalifa's mouth.
"Coo-coo," Hattori continues, "if everything's decided, you can assign us now so we can get started right away."
Kaku turns, anticipation in his wide, dark eyes. He runs a thumb slowly along the cut on his cheek before flicking off the blood, mouth curving into a slow, predatory smile as he looks to Lucci for permission.
Kaku laughs, accepting a mug from over the counter, telling Blueno about work, rolling his sleeves up and flexing his arm to show off the lean, sinewy strength one gains from hard labor that requires speed instead of brute strength. He turns and grins at Kalifa, who smiles back and pushes her glasses back up the bridge of her nose. He nods at her and finally catches Lucci's eyes from across the room. Lucci smirks and finishes his last glass of wine before excusing himself from the table and sauntering leisurely over to talk about business.
His mouth clamped down on a deep gash on his forearm, reluctant to wrap it in his just-laundered shirt, but at a sharp look from Lucci, does it anyway. Kaku sees Lucci and Jabra exchange challenging glances, play a single game of rock-paper-scissors almost faster than he could see before each selecting an enemy. He slips his swords out and he's done dispatching the rest of the thugs even before the sheathes clatter to the tiled floor, eager to watch his teammates' fights. He still has a lot to learn.
Peeling off a sweat-dampened shirt, Kaku tosses it over the rail of the ship he's lining with floorboards, selecting the chisels and pavers designed for detail work before flinging his belt of tools onto the wood near where his shirt had landed seconds earlier, dropping back down below the half-finished deck in order to tile a shower. He consults the blueprints one more time and throws himself into the work, letting the sun beat down on the back of his neck until Iceburg-san leans over and drops a Galley-La cap onto his head.
Frukurou's bleeding on him, Kaku thinks vaguely, a little too lightheaded himself to do anything like kick the bastard in the face for messing up his clothes-- again-- but it's Jabra's hand on the back of his neck, shoving him into Lucci who pushes him against a wall before ordering him to stay the hell still for a while so he and the mad dog can handle the pirates without anyone getting in the way
("What'd you say, pussy cat!"
"Nothing about a rabid dog."
"Bastard, I'll kick your ass!")
Lucci tells him that he's taking this job too seriously as he hauls Kaku to his feet from where he'd fallen asleep against the cabin of the ship he's been working on since just before dawn this morning. Had been doing his favorite part- sawing and putting together the ribs of the ship from already measured and marked lumber, content in the knowledge that he hadn't been the one doing the measuring. Paulie was exceptionally accurate about these things; it was a pleasure to feel the wood slip into place exactly as it was supposed to.
Kaku was done for the day anyway- the advantages of an early start.
He turned eighteen just last week and spent most of the day getting pounded on by Jabra and Lucci (eighteen for all the years he's been alive and one more for luck), the only two who had the guts to go after him. At the end of the day, they got him a cake and the first piece ended up on his face while the rest was polished off about 20 minutes into the celebration by all ten of them (including Hattori and Funk Freed).
Kaku got a belt from Kumadori, tools from Fukurou, mini snailphone from Spandam, a tattoo from Lucci ('no.9' on his back, left shoulder blade), a plain white scarf from Kalifa (Kaku hated unnecessary designs so he never wore the bright blue-white the government issued, and he was surprised that Kalifa remembered seeing as he'd only mentioned it once), a new watch from Blueno and set of brass knuckles from Jabura (so "instead of killing people, you can just, y'know, rearrange their faces"). For the upcoming mission, they said after they'd all dumped the presents on the table; no one had bothered wrapping.
He's twenty-one today- and it's officially legal for him to drink; not that he hasn't been drinking, but now Blueno can't act like his father and keep him from getting completely smashed with Lucci (who never seems to get drunk anyway but always wakes up with a massive hangover) and Paulie (who's only a few days older, but the other agent had never felt that he had a right to monitor Paulie's intake). He got a bottle of scotch and a bottle of whiskey from Iceburg-san (who graciously offered him the next day off) and Blueno, respectively. The other foremen had chipped in to throw a party at Blueno's bar, complete with catering and drinks, punch for the kids who arrived to watch all their idols get hammered with each other.
Kaku usually woke up quickly, with the sun in his face and birds chirping outside his open window, but this morning (with daggers in his temples and squinting against the needles in his eyes and ears) he slams the window shut and pulls down the shades, tumbling back into bed and deciding to call Iceburg-san to thank him once he was coherent enough to dial the main office.
"Hey Lucci, isn't that where you were--"
"Don't ask useless questions."
"Jabra's not coming?"
"He looks too old."
"What was that?! If it's 'cause of the scar-"
"So it's the four of us? Combination's a little strange, isn't it?"
"Just do your job."
Tonight was special, Kaku decided, so there was no point in returning to his apartment immediately after work. But what he did decide to do was jump off the tallest building in Water 7 and land as far away as he could from it, enjoying the last couple hours of freedom he'd have before getting a confirmation call from Enies Lobby. He runs along the building for a while, flipping and free-falling and jumping every chance he gets until he stops at one particular roof and settles down on the curved surface, just staring at the moon.
"It's nice out, isn't it?" he comments to no one in particular, and Lucci replies, "To shed some blood? I suppose."
"Almost time?" Kaku mutters.
"It is time," Lucci checks his watch and drops down from the roof, tugging on his dark suit-jacket and heading for his room about a block away from the main part of the island. Kaku follows close behind, flicking his Galley-La cap off as he goes and letting it fall into the watery streets.
Kaku shrugs out of his black, wide-collared turtleneck and pulls on a bright orange one with blue sleeves, kicking off formal black slacks in favor of blue jeans and presses his black cap into the suitcase, flattening it carefully to avoid damaging the bill. He ruffles his hair into the normal short, unruly curls and heads for the main part of the island- and then into the main office of the Galley-La shipbuilding company with Lucci and Kalifa.
He pulls the old black cap down over his eyes and picks up the blue robe, swinging it onto his shoulder before picking up the skull mask by the eyesocket and fitting it snugly over his head, his shoulders. Lucci's pulling on the awkward cow mask, and Kaku takes a moment to think about how ridiculous they all look.
"Mission commenced," Lucci says, leading the way as he and Kaku and Kalifa leave Iceburg-san's office and head for Dock Three, where he and Kaku had been assigned for the moment.
"Target acquired," Kaku says into the snailphone as the sea-train takes off from the station, Nico Robin in the car ahead, Cutty Flam and the long-nosed straw-hat ex-member tied up in the cargo area a few cars behind.
"Good job," Spandam replies on the other end, "now get here fast; I've got something special for that Flam bastard."