Crocus sat on his deck chair, set by the water outside of his home at the Twin Cape, waiting patiently for some fish to catch the bait when the first piece of broken wood drifted before him on the water. He looked up and sideways, towards the unblocked current descending into the Grand Line from all four Blue Seas. Sure enough, the current was spilling out broken wood, fragments of metal, and other things Crocus didn’t want to pay too close attention to. He raised his gaze higher to avoid focusing on a drifting hand and caught sight of a bright blue spot descending parallel to the water current, straight towards him.
He didn’t move, but kept his eyes on the spot. It soon grew into a bright blue bird that appeared to be made out of fire.
Now why does that seem familiar? Crocus wondered, but before he could think more about it the bird was above the rocks that formed the cape and had transformed into a person.
A boy, a mere teenager, stood before him, looking bedraggled and slightly in shock.
“Are you okay?” Crocus asked, more to break the silence than for any other reason given how obvious the answer was, and he stood up to approach the boy.
The boy, Marco, wasn’t in as a bad of a condition as Crocus had first feared. He wasn’t injured, and, while shocked, he wasn’t emotionally devastated either.
As Marco explained while Crocus fixed him a meal, the ship he had been on had suffered some damage as it entered the Reverse Mountain from West Blue, and it had pretty much disintegrated when it was propelled up at the top of the mountain. Marco, who had a devil fruit power that allowed him to fly, had managed to escape the wreckage before it fell back into the water or against the rocks, but he hadn’t been able to get anyone else out. The ship had been a merchant one, and Marco had just joined the crew at the last island before the Grand Line, earlier that morning, which had spared him the emotional suffering of losing any loved ones, even if he was still affected by the deaths that had just happened.
“What will you do now?” Crocus asked, setting a plate with some fish and rice before Marco. He sat down across the table with his own meal. “I suppose you could always fly back home. That’s one useful power you have there.”
“I… don’t want to go back,” Marco admitted, glancing down at his plate. “I want to travel the Grand Line, that’s why I boarded that ship in the first place.”
“Suit yourself then,” Crocus said with a shrug. “Most ships that enter this sea make at least a quick stop here, you could always wait to find a crew you like. However,” Crocus pointed his fork at Marco, “you’ll have to work while you stay here; this isn’t a hotel.”
Marco smiled in gratitude, the first real expression to cross his face.
“Now eat,” Crocus ordered, doing so himself.
He spent most of the meal sneaking glances up at Marco. The kid reminded him of someone, but Crocus couldn’t put his finger on just who it was.
The Twin Cape was an interesting place. It was calm enough, but at the same time the weather was completely unpredictable and whimsical. Marco had heard about the weather in the Grand Line, and yet he had to admit he hadn’t been prepared for this level of instability. If it wasn’t for his powers and the immunity to temperature they provided him, he would probably have frozen to death the one time the temperature had dropped from summer-warmth to cold-enough-to-snow in ten minutes while he was perched on an outcrop halfway up the entrance channel.
Crocus was a pretty nice guy who had many interesting stories to share about the crews that had been through here. Amongst them was the story of the Rumbar Pirates and Laboon, the giant whale that lived at the Cape. Sometimes, Marco almost felt as though he understood Laboon’s suffering and his denial to accept that his friends were gone, which made absolutely no sense because Marco’s parents and friends were all back at his home island. Sure, they hadn’t been happy when Marco had finally decided to act on his desire to go to sea, but he hadn’t lost them either (even if there had been some yelling and threats of disowning him if he set foot on that merchant ship). And yet sometimes Marco felt as if he had lost… someone, he just didn’t know who. It was odd. He missed something, but he didn’t know what it was. It had always been like that, and it had been that feeling that had sent him to sea, despite his parents’ insistence that all he needed to do to get rid of that strange loneliness was to choose a job and find a nice girl to settle with.
That kind of life had never appealed to Marco.
He had told Crocus about this feeling on the third day of his stay, and instead of dismissing it as a youthful yearning that would pass with age, Crocus had told him that the sea called out to some people, and it was fine to heed that call.
Marco found it a bit funny that the first person to just accept how he felt was an old man in a lonely cape who didn’t know the first thing about him.
As for the work Crocus had mentioned, it was nothing hard to do. Mainly, Crocus asked him to keep the place reasonably clean when he went into Laboon to treat his injuries. Because Laboon had been bashing his head against the Red Line for years now, and he was too large to be treated from the outside.
So far, two ships had come into the Grand Line since Marco’s arrival, both of them pirate crews. Neither of them had stuck around even long enough to set foot on the Cape, simply stopping to choose a route before leaving. Marco didn’t mind, he knew from Crocus’ stories that it was only a matter of time before some ship needed repairs after an eventful entrance, and then Marco would have a crew to judge and decide whether he liked it or not.
On the seventh day since Marco’s arrival to the Twin Cape, the Strawhat Pirates entered the Grand Line.