Come all you young sailor men, listen to me,
I'll sing you a song of the fish in the sea
(Fish in the sea)
Crocus of the Twin Capes, they call him. He who sits at the bottom of Reverse Mountain and greets all who venture to the Grand Line.
Some laugh. Some stare. Some stop to chat. And some he grabs by the ear and drags into his house for a medical exam.
The young man with an eerily familiar face and an even more familiar name is one of the laters.
“I’m one of the best doctors in the damn world, brat, and you’re not leaving my house until I’m damn sure that you’re not going to die on your crew!” Crocus decrees, glaring at the young man in front of him. “I swear on Laboon’s head I mean you no harm, but you’re not getting out of a complete examination. In fact," he turns to the rest of the crew. "All of you are getting a free check-up, and do me a favour and find yourself a damn medic soon!”
He then turns back to a fuming Portgas D. Ace.
“I know exactly who you are, young man, and trust me when I say I have good reasons to want to give you a check-up. Now, do we do this the easy way or do I have to knock you out? I swear to Davy Jones, you D’s are going to drive me nuts…” He mutters.
In the end, it's the Spade’s second in command who convinces his captain to at least humour the doctor, pointing out that they had all been roughed up by their arrival in the Grand Line.
“Who the fuck are you and what do you know about me?” Ace spits out as soon as he is alone with the Doctor.
“My name’s Crocus and I was the doctor on the Oro Jackson. Sit on the table, please. Your father had an incurable disease and these kinds of things have the bad habit of being genetic. I’ll be damned if you have to chose between dying on your sick bed or giving yourself up to go out in a blaze of glory like that moron did.”
Biting back a retort, Ace obeys, paler than he had been when he entered the room. “Disease?”
Humming as he readies a needle, the doctor nods.
“Hm. It started about four years before we got to Raftel. That’s why he recruited me, originally. I managed to extend his life expectancy by a couple of years, but in the end it was either a prolonged agony or a pirate’s death. He didn’t want to put the crew or your mother through the former, so he chose the latter. What happened to Rouge, anyway? I didn’t even know she had a kid, and I would have thought she would have brought you here to make sure you didn’t have that fucking disease.”
He regrets asking as soon as the words leave his mouth.
“She died the day I was born. She extended her pregnancy to twenty months in order to avoid the purges."
Crocus winces even as his medical curiosity tries to figure out how the hell she had managed such a feat. “Damn. Sorry, kiddo. I met her a few times. Tough as nails and one of the most stubborn pirate I’ve ever met. Reckless as hell, too, drove her crew mad.”
“My mother was a pirate?” He yelpes, causing the doctor to frown deeply.
“Are you kidding me? Who the hell raised you, kid, that you weren’t even told that?”
Ace shrugs. “Garp dropped me off with mountain bandits when I was like two months old.”
It's Crocus’s turn to gape.
“ Garp? That’s it, I’m going to kill Roger again when it’s my time to join Davy Jones. There’s no way in the seven seas that Rouge would have let that stand if he’d told her about it beforehand. She loathed Monkey with a passion. I mean, I can see Captain’s reasoning, screwed up as it is, but come the fuck on. He didn’t tell anyone in our crew! I bet the Blackjack’s don’t know about you either! And then he goes and leaves you with Marine Hero Ironfist Garp. I can’t even blame the illness, moron was always making stupid decisions like that…” He rants as he takes a few blood samples. “Do me a favour and actually listen to your ship’s doctor when you get one. We are not paid enough to deal with D’s on a daily basis."
He puts the samples away and takes out a stethoscope.
“Deep breaths please. Anyway, you probably don’t want to hear me curse your old man in the grave, you want to hear about Rouge. Cough twice. Again. Blackjack Rouge, the Queen of Spade - that’s why I thought you knew, what with your crew’s name. I bet that gave Monkey a heart attack - captain of the Blackjack pirates and certified menace. She was of the adventuring sort, always getting herself in trouble. Reckless as hell too, as I said. She fought with a bo staff most of the time, but her hand to hand was pretty good too. Decent bounty, I’m pretty sure I still have one of her posters somewhere for old time’s sake. We used to get into small skirmishes with them every few months or so, never seriously though. More like training exercices than anything, really.”
“What were her nakama like?” Ace asks hesitantly, opening his mouth wide to let the doctor check his throat.
Crocus’ mouth twitches.
“Fucking terrifying, the lot of them. I don’t quite know how she managed it, but she surrounded herself with some of the strongest, scariest women of our era, and the men were nothing to scoff at either…
Crocus smiles as he sends the Spades on their way. They’re good guys, decent nakama too if their immediate reaction when he had taken one look at their captain before dragging him to his examination room was anything to judge by.
The kid had fought him all the way, but the old doctor had dealt with worse patients before.
Yes, Crocus thinks as the ship disappears on the horizon. The kid would be alright. He had tested negative to the disease that would have killed his father if the moron hadn’t chosen Marines as cause of death, he had a good crew and as good a head on his shoulders as any D would ever have.
He eyes an inconspicuous notebook sitting on a shelf. He had told Ace that no one knew where the rest of the Oro Jackson crew had gone, and the kid had been more interested in the Blackjacks anyway, but that wasn’t exactly the truth.
He’d told the kid to seek out Shakky in Sabaody. If he happened to meet Rayleigh there, well. And the boy had mentioned tracking Shanks down to thank him for something, so that’s two down.
There’s no need to sick the rest of the mob on him, at least not now, especially with Ace being so susceptible about his father.
(Oh captain, what did you do?)
Still, he thinks as he sends a message to the Newspaper office, it’s always a good idea to keep them somewhat informed. If only to limit the collateral damage before one of them opens their big mouth.
Harried Gardener to Stubborn weeds.
Found out that two of my rarest flowers crossbred. Unexpected results, but I think I’ll leave it alone and observe for now. This could be interesting.