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The Maelstorm That Stirs the Waters

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All his life, Naruto had wondered what the weird purple symbol on the golden medallion around his neck represented. He'd heard it been called a lot of things, such as proof that he was a cursed child, that it was a symbol for poison, symbol for death, but the blond boy had never believed that. After all, how could it be evil when the face in between the crossed bones was smiling so confidently. It might look like a mean smile to others, but Naruto saw something else. It was a grin that said it could take anything the world threw at it and still smile.

This was the only reason Naruto had been able to keep that fake grin on his face. He wanted to be like that, too. Like nothing could ever hurt him if he just kept smiling at the world and what it threw in his direction. It wasn't easy, but somehow, he'd made it this far.

Naruto sat in his small sailboat, staring at the round gold disk that had been with him his whole life. He'd finally found out what it was, from Jiraya's notes. The man had investigated the symbol at the request of Minato, Naruto's father. He'd only managed to find the origin of the symbol after the man's death and only a few months before his own. At the time Naruto had read the information, the war was in full swing and he hadn't been able to do anything about the knowledge.

But now, the war was over and Naruto wasn't needed anymore. He'd promised to either visit or come back after a few years, but he had to do this, for his own sake. If there was a chance that he had family out there... well, the part of him that wished for family by blood had never really died, no matter how much time had chipped away at it. But now he had a lead and the freedom to pursue it.

The Whitebeard Pirates. Arguably the strongest crew in the world, according to Ero-Sennin's sources. One of them was the owner of his father's medallion and had to be 40 years older than Naruto, minimum. He hoped they weren't dead. Shinobi life-expectancy was ridiculously low, who was to say it wasn't the same for Pirates. Only the strong and the lucky survived to live over 30, unless it was peace-time. This was a fact Naruto had learned a while ago.

How did he know the owner had to be over 40 years older than him? Simple. The thing came engraved. “Love as vast as the ocean,” with the last part having been damaged somehow, making it unintelligible. But Ero-Sennin knew love-notes when he saw them, he used them in his pervert love books after all, and he'd been sure that the medallion had been given as a token of love, which meant some other stuff Naruto hadn't really understood. Point was, Ero-Sennin had said so, so it had to be so. He didn't want to think too much on it or he'd start to second-guess himself, and right now he needed to stay focused. If he faltered, he'd fail.

Sighing, Naruto unrolled a storage scroll and unsealed the rather thick folder containing the profiles of the Captain and Division Commanders. He had another file containing the profiles of the people who'd been on the crew longest and the division commander runner-ups. He had to do this right, otherwise he'd lose everything. He could only hope the owner was alive or that someone at least knew who it had belonged to.

He'd also have to dock soon, his little fishing boat was running low on supplies, no matter how good at fishing or gathering moisture out of the air by using Suiton he was, he needed stuff. Well, first he'd need to pickpocket people, but that was so laughably easy when literally no one had even heard of Shinobi. The outside world sure was strange. But in addition to supplies, he needed information and that was best gotten around people. So, docking. Hopefully no one would try to steal his boat. They wouldn't succeed, but he'd rather not draw attention to himself, which would be inevitable if someone was electrocuted by his boat. Naruto sighed as he looked out at the horizon. He really just wanted to get this over with already.

Thatch sat on the deck of the Moby, looking up at the sky, his thoughts centered around the purple fruit beside him. He wasn't sure yet what to do with it and thought taking the night-watch would help him think about it. Of course, he had no idea just what pain the fruit could've caused if it weren't for an orphan's deep want for a family. Behind him a crew member he thought he could trust was creeping up with a knife, ready to literally stab him in the back to get what he wanted. In another world, Thatch died looking at the boots of the man they'd called brother.

In this world, Thatch whirled around at the sound of metal hitting metal and a cry of pain. The dark haired man behind him was clutching his wrist with a knife buried in the wooden planks between them and another buried behind Teach at an angle.

It only took seconds for Thatch to realize just what had almost happened. Before he could start raving about the 2nd Division member being a traitor, a bunch of odd-looking knives appeared to pin Teach to the wall behind him, some of them nicking the man if the trickles of blood were any indication. Both Whitebeards turned to face where the projectiles had come from to come face-to-face with a blond, blue-eyed teen with strange scars on his cheeks wearing orange and black, perched on the railing and still holding a few knives by the blade between his fingers.

Thatch stayed in his crouched position for a minute, before raising his hand in a friendly manner and saying “Hi, thanks for the save.”

The blond looked at him, then to Teach, then back to the 4th Division Commander and shrugged “Traitors are high up on my shit list. Like in general. My body just moved on its own.”

Thatch just shook his head, clambering up to his feet “Well, still, thanks.” he thanked again, before realizing something “Who the hell are you and why are you here?”

The blond blinked, climbing down from the railing and instead sitting on it, tucking away his knives “Uzumaki Naruto, I'll explain to your captain or someone really high up or long-time member, since what I'm here for is kinda complicated and goes back a few decades.”

Thatch snorted “You'll want Marco then, he's old as dirt.”

The blond got a peculiar look on his face before it cleared “Right, the First Mate, he would know, wouldn't he?” he muttered he then turned to look at Teach with a peculiar look on his face “Um... shouldn't you alert someone?”

Thatch looked to his former (or was he ever?) brother and grimaced “...Yeah.” he sighed and went over to the alarm bell. It was a rope connected to a pulley-system that rung multiple bells all over the ship, ensuring everyone heard it. Thatch pulled it three times, just to make sure, before coming back and sitting down on the deck with a sigh. He then looked back to the blond “You might as well come sit here so that the others don't attack you because they deemed you a threat.”

The teen hesitated, before making his way over and plopping next to the older man, looking up at him expectantly. In Thatch's opinion it made the kid look adorable so he ruffled the teen's hair, causing him to try and slap the hand away, but Thatch could tell the attempts were half-hearted at best.

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Marco burst out through his door at the sound of the alarm bell, ignoring the sound of doors slamming open as he took off running towards the deck, clad only in his pants, not bothering to pull his jacket with him. Ace was hot on his heels and from the looks of it he hadn't been sleeping, for once. Perhaps if it had been anyone but Thatch on watch, they'd both be a little more put together, but to be honest, everyone loved Thatch, he was almost everyone's favourite brother on the Moby.

When they did make it to the deck, there were three people there. Thatch, Teach and an unknown. The first reaction was to attack the unknown, but the sight that greeted them gave everyone a pause. Teach was pinned to a wall, a dagger and a throwing knife were embedded in the wood in front of him and Thatch and a blond teenager were sitting in the middle of the deck, Thatch ruffling the barely-protesting boy's hair.

“What the hell?” Ace asked, voicing what everyone was probably thinking.

Thatch and the boy looked up, while Teach looked murderous, telling everyone that something was definitely fishy. Thatch was the one to speak up “Well, if Naruto here hadn't showed up when he did, Teach would have literally stabbed me in the back and probably took off with that Devil Fruit I found.”

This caused a lot of murderous glares to be directed at Teach, the most prominent being from Pops, who had appeared right as Thatch started to speak “It appears we owe you a debt of gratitude, boy.”

The now identified Naruto brought a hand up to rub his neck “Ah, I only climbed up here to announce myself to whatever night watchman, since I wasn't noticed when I sidled up with the ship, but then I saw Huge Hair-ossan about to be murdered I reacted on instinct.”

“Huge Hair-ossan!?” Thatch yelled, seemingly trying to strangle the kid, who dodged with a laugh and hopped onto the railing, crouching there like it was the easiest thing ever, hands clutching the space between his feet.

Marco could hear stifled laughter and had to hold his own laughter, barely letting his lips twitch in amusement “We take our debts seriously here, yoi.”

The blond tilted his head and pursed his lips “Well... I came here for a reason, y'know?”

“That reason being?” the Mythical Zoan inquired.

Thatch chose that moment to speak again “Um, shouldn't we restrain the traitor better before we start?”

Everyone turned to the still fuming Teach, who was struggling against the throwing knives pinning him to the wall.

Naruto perked up “I can do that!” before disappearing and reappearing in a flurry of leaves and slapped two paper tags on Teach, who slumped forward.

“The hell?” Thatch asked, making it to his feet, bewildered.

Naruto beamed “I call it “The Three Monkeys Seal”, the first one, I mean. It seals away the victims sight, speech and hearing. The other is the knockout tag, it sends a wave of chakra through the victim and causes them to pass out, it's kind of a one-time-only seal, I haven't figured out how to make them long lasting.”

“Are you saying those pieces of paper can actually do stuff?” Ace asked, sounding bewildered.

Naruto eyed him weirdly before shaking his head and biting the needle “Right, of course you wouldn't have heard of Fuuinjutsu.”

The name sparked a memory in the members of the crew that had been there for a while “You're from the Shinobi Countries?” Fossa asked, remembering their brief visit there with their Captain.

Naruto looked around until he spotted him, nodding in his direction “Yup. Uzumaki Naruto, Second Generation Sannin of Konohagakure no Sato, pleasure to make your acquaintance.” he said with a mock-salute.

Pops rumbled a low “Konoha... I see.”

Naruto turned to face him with an innocent expression, tilting his head “You been there, old man?”

The huge man chuckled “Gurararara, very briefly, boy. So, why did you come here?”

Naruto was silent before he reached for the delicate chain around his neck, bringing it over his head and letting the golden disk rest in his palm. After a moment of silence, he started explaining “Tou-chan... tou-chan grew up an orphan. He'd never known his parents, so he didn't know what this thing stood for. He gave it to his teacher, a spymaster, to research. Unfortunately, tou-chan died before Ero-sennin, Jiraiya-sensei, could get back to him with the results... I didn't find out about my own parentage until after his death, so I didn't know what this weird purple symbol of a grinning skull with a moustache meant, either. I only found out where it came from after I went through Ero-sennin's stuff, then the Fourth War came and went, so I could leave to look for anyone who might know who this belonged to.” The blond looked up with a serious expression “The life-expectancy of a Shinobi is hella short, and I'd imagine it's the same for pirates. However, if there's a chance I have family on this crew, I'd damn well want to know.”

There was a sort of shocked silence before their Father spoke “Well, you certainly have guts, brat. Even without this connection, I would gladly have you as part of the family.”

Naruto huffed in apparent amusement, a grin forming “Why don't you just check this medallion and tell me if you can recognize it?”

With this, he tossed it at the Captain of the Whitebeard Pirates and everyone waited with bated breath as the man caught it and squinted at it. There was a tense silence before the giant of a man said gravely “Ah. I do recognize this necklace.”

Naruto took a step forward, eyes lit with hope as he urgently asked “You do? Whose is it? Are they alive?”

It was actually heartbreaking to witness that much longing for something many took for granted or just didn't want.

Pops continued as he handed the medallion back to the teen “It may be damaged, but I remember the day I gave it away all too well.”

Naruto accepted the necklace, before freezing in place, the words registering. Pretty much everyone had the same realization and slowly turned to look at the huge man.

Naruto snapped out of it, closing his hand around the golden disk and pointing at the giant incredulously “Eeeh! Are you saying you're my- my- my- my grandpa!?

Said apparent grandparent cocked an eyebrow “It would appear so, I wasn't aware Manami was pregnant when I left, though I am mostly sure that her last name wasn't Uzumaki.”

Naruto gazed into the air in front of him blankly as he spoke “Namikaze. Her name woulda been Namikaze. Uzumaki's my mom's name, I wasn't-” he exhaled loudly as his eyes cleared “I wasn't allowed to have dad's name, he was too well known, had made too many enemies for an orphan to defend against. But no one looked twice at an oddball Uzumaki with blond hair.”

“What's hair got to do with anything?” Ace asked while drawing uncomfortable parallels between what was mentioned and his own situation.

Naruto sighed and rubbed his forehead “Uzumakis were notorious for having hair as fiery as their temper. I did inherit mom's temper, but my colouring? Yeah, that's all dad.”

The large man who had always wanted a big family glanced in Ace's direction. He knew very little, but he did know that Ace's name was his mother's and that he looked like Roger. He wondered what circumstances his grandson had found himself in to be denied his birth name.

Naruto spoke up again “I... honestly didn't think it would be this easy.” he said looking up with unsure eyes “Nothing ever goes my way like this...”

Marco shook his head with a sad smile “Well, maybe it's about time it did.”

The Phoenix could tell the kid would integrate quickly, he'd seen his brothers taking a liking to him even though they had yet to talk to him and from the looks of things, Thatch wasn't gonna let go any time soon.