Sena hummed as he polished the dirty glasses. The small bar was quiet at the moment but soon, it would be around that time when customers would begin to trickle in. Or so Sen hoped. Food and drink would be ferried around by Suzuna, who was on rollerblades. The smell of fried food and alcohol already clogged the air and the sound of rowdy laughter from a few booths filled the spaces in between pauses of conversation. The beads covering the entryway jingle, and a familiar blond headed man whacks his head on the doorframe. Sena grins, grabbing the usual glasses from under the bar. The tall, lanky man slides into Sena's view. His dark haired companion follows after, much more gracefully.
"Howzit going, Sena?" Mizumachi hoots, unstrapping a longsword from his back. He drops it with a thunk at his feet, sprawling on a bar stool. Kakei follows close behind, neatly placing his bag at his feet, shoving Mizumachi to a decent sitting position. Sena laughs a bit at their interaction.
"Good, good. How were your travels?" He asks, placing two glasses down with a clink. A beer and and sake. Mizumachi scoops up the beer, taking a long swig. He breaks away from the glass, sighing, satisfied.
"Same old same old. Spoils were good this time, though!" He finishes the beer, slamming it back down with a long, satisfied breath.
"Indeed." Kakei quietly agrees, sipping on his sake. "It was quite tiring, however. I appreciate the bar you run, Sena." He sends a small smile to the bartender, but it misses, hitting the back of the bartender. Kakei returns to his drink, head bowed.
"It's nice being able to just talk with you guys and call it work!" Sena refills Mizumachi's glass. He watches Mizumachi chug this one as well, and sighs, a small smiles on his face. He refills the glass yet again, shaking his head a little. Kakei continues to almost daintily sip on his sake. The jingle of the doorway beads alerts Sena to a new presence. He dries his hands on a towel, turning to greet his new guests.
"Good evening, Sena." Akaba pushes the beads hanging on the doorway out of his face, stepping in the bar, guitar strapped across his back. His rose colored glasses glint from the light of the candles in the bar. Koutarou follows close after, comb in his hand and pistol in the other.
"Good evening, Akaba, Koutarou!" Sena's hands are already busy at work, pouring a glass of wine for Akaba and pulling a box of small pastries from the cabinet. He puts the drink and food on the counter, sliding them to their respective customers.
"You know us quite well, Sena. It's smart!" Koutarou sits down on a bar stool, grabbing a pastry. "These are the best." He takes a large bite, humming in pleasure.
"Thanks, Koutarou!" Sena grins, returning to polishing glasses. "It's been a while since I've seen either of you two. What have you been up to?" He asks, hanging glasses over head.
"Fuuuu...A pirate crew disturbed our rhythm. We took them down, like that." Akaba snaps for emphasis. He takes a sip of the wine. "They had almost nothing on their boat though..." Sena chuckles slightly nervously. These men that frequented his bar were always friendly to him, but he's often reminded of how dangerous they are. They were pirates, after all. Some of their posters were on Sena's wall.
"Yeah, easy! Smart!" Koutarou chimes in, slicking back his hair. "The Spiders are the ones who rule the sea!" He crows, snapping his comb shut.
"Obviously the God of the Sea rules the sea." Mizumachi joins in. He digs with his pinky into his nostril, rocking back and forth on the stool.
"Fuuu...Is that so?" Akaba adjusts his rose colored tinted glasses. "I beg to differ." He stands, glaring at Mizumachi. Kakei sighs, then stands, glaring down Akaba.
"Then beg." The air turns electric, Akaba's hands on his pistols, Mizumachi clutching his sword, Koutarou drawing his rifle. Kakei is the only one weaponless. The four glare at each other, making the bar fall silent.
"Hieeee!" Sena backs up from the face-off. Pirates are very easily angered, he's discovered in his time working here. He raises his hands, trying to calm the pirates "Guys, guys, lets just calm-" The bead curtain signals the entrance of more customers, and the pressure from the standoff fades.
"We are here!" Ootawara booms from the entrance, ripping a killer fart. The entire bar begins coughing, some retch into a bucket. He squeezes through the door, then Shin, Sakuraba, and Takami enter after him.
"Hello, Sena." Shin greets the small bartender, leaning his trident and net against the counter. Sena smiles nervously, eyeing the points of the long metal weapon.
"Hi, Sena." Sakuraba does the same, smiling a bit. Takami waves, nose buried in a map. Sena gets a little giggle out of that. The ever studious Takami. He slides a gin to Takami, then begins to mix up a White Russian for Sakuraba. He pours Shin a glass of water, and serves up three glasses of beer for Ootawara. He also calls back to the kitchen, asking for a few fried chicken baskets. The tension dissolves between the Spiders and the Poesidons, who begin to chat with the White Knights. Shin sips at his glass of water, absently scratching at the table. He seems distant, even more than the stoic man already is.
"Shin, is there any drink you'd like to try tonight?" Sena asks. The stoic man usually had just water, as was part of his strict training, and was in part to the fact he disliked sweet things.
"Not in particular. Make something for me." He places the glass down. Sena grins, happy that he would have a chance to surprise Shin. He jumped to it, pouring and mixing. He slides a yellow drink garnished with a slice of lemon towards Shin.
"My favorite. The Lemon Drop." Sena smiles as Shin takes it. "If you don't like it, it's on the house." Shin cautiously takes a sip, face betraying nothing. He eyes the drink, then looks Sena in the eye. Sena anxiously awaits an answer, fidgeting under Shin's gaze.
"Delicious. You have my compliments, Sena." A flitter of a smile graces Shin's lips. Sena beams from ear to ear at the praise.
"Thank you, Shin." Sena does a little bow in front of the pirate, a little skip in his step now. Shin finishes the drink, then pushes the glass back towards Sena.
"Hey, fucking shrimp!" Sena's happy thoughts are blown out of his mind by Hiruma, the Devilbat's captain's shrill voice. Sena met him about four years ago, when he came to town with his ragtag crew. Clever and manipulative, he gained followers and mainly, slaves. He quickly gained a loyal crew and formed the now well known Devilbat Pirate Crew. Sena jumps to attention, grabbing the vodka. He pours a quick Bloody Mary and a small cup of black coffee. Hiruma settles down, grabbing the drink. His attention is quickly turned to the other pirate crews, and Sena sighs in relief. Musashi, the fearless swordsman enters after Hiruma, calm as usual. He pulls a cigarette from his teeth, snuffing it on an ashtray, and takes the seat next to Hiruma.
"Yo." He eyes Hiruma, who's already terrorizing the other patrons of the bar with his little black notebook. Sena smiles, grateful to see a calm face around here. He slides Musashi his usual rum and coke, having memorized his drink preferences. Musashi takes the drink, shooting a grateful look at Sena. He lights a cigarette, taking a puff. Kurita comes barreling through the door a minute later, covered in even more scars than usual.
"Sena!" He yells, jumping in for a hug. The bar patrons shriek, and move out of the way of the incoming man. Sena ducks under the counter, crying in his mind.
I'll have to buy more glasses...
"Oi, fucking fatty, get off of me!" Hiruma yells, the point of a rifle sticking out from under Kurita's armpit. Musashi sits, unbothered under Kurita's huge body.
"Sena?" Mamori pushes past Kurita, face lighting up when she sees the small bartender. "How have you been?" She scoops him up into a hug, spinning Sena around. Sena mourns the fact he's four inches shorter and twenty pounds lighter than Mamori, even now. She places him down gently, and Sena notices that she grew her hair out. She notices Sena looking at her hair(she notices everything) and fluffs it. "Do you like it?" She tosses it, and a sweet floral scent wafts around the bar. Men look out of their booths, ogling the woman. Hiruma snaps at them, cocking his rifle, and they duck back into their booths.
"Yeah, Mamori, it's really nice." Sena agrees, giving her a pot of oolong tea and a cream puff. Mamori used to work here, which explains the varied menu with plenty of pastries, but was coerced into a pirate's life by Hiruma, Musashi, and Kurita. She left with the three at age 18, leaving Sena and his and Mamori's mothers to run the bar. Mamori's mother had since passed away, along with Sena's. He had hired Suzuna and some of her friends to help keep shop around two years ago.
Sena gazes around the bustling bar. It had been a while since his bar had been this busy. Usually only one or two crews came in at a time. Suzuna elegantly loops throughout the whole scene, delivering food to each table and booth.
"Sena! We got treasure MAX!" Monta whoops, leaping into the bar, holding a small box, most likely full of jewelry to flirt with girls. Monta also used to live here, but wanted treasure and glory, and left with Hiruma, who promised those things. Sena would like to say Hiruma had lied, but a pirate's life embodied what Month had wanted.
"Monta!" Sena turns around, holding a few glasses of beer. He grins, watching his childhood best friend jump over the counter.
'Wait wait wait-" He stumbles backwards, dropping the glasses. Shoot.
"Catch MAX!" Monta's hands shoot out, snagging all the glasses with one hand. Sena's butt hits the floor hard, but at least the glasses are safe.
"Geez, Monta...." Sena breathes out, dropping his head. At least he won't have to buy anymore of those glasses.
"Sorry, sorry! But look! I have something to show you!" He holds out the box, and Sena takes it. "Open it!" Sena opens the box, and widens his eyes at what sits inside. It's a single scarlet red fish, glittering under the dim lights of the bar.
"What is this, Monta?" Sena gasps, watching the fish swim in lazy circles. Monta smacks his forehead.
"A ruby fish! From the Jewel Lake! They're famous there. They can be sold for up to 100,000 dollars! Also, you don't have to ever feed them. Pretty cool, right?" Monta exclaims. "How great is your best friend?" He winks at Sena, who is still watching the fish glimmer.
"It's amazing, Monta! Thank you so much!" Sena gently places the fish on the back part of the counter. "I'll name him...Taro." Monta rubs the back of his neck.
"Hey, Sena!" Jumonji calls from the front. Touganou and Kuroki close behind him."The usual, ok?" Sena nods in affirmation, darting off to get a few sojus. They snag a booth at the edge of the bar, huddling around a small chest of jewels. Sena places the bottles on Suzuna's tray, who's chatting animatedly with Mamori about cooking.
"Yo, lil' bro!" Riku shouts, grinning from ear to ear. Sena waves at him, already sliding beers towards the Gunmans. Tetsuma huffs out of his nose in thanks, and drinks the beer. Riku takes a sip, and breathes out, satisfied. Kid follows, unstrapping his shotgun from his back. Sena smiles warmly at him and slides him a whiskey.
"How's it been, Riku?" Sena asks, pouring Musashi another rum and coke. Riku waves a hand, taking a swig of his beer.
"Good, good. Just the usual." Riku says, nodding his head. "Running from the Marines...stealing treasure..."
"Nothing notable?" Sena looks over, placing glasses and dishes on the drying rack.
"Looted a few ships and closely avoided getting caught, that's about it." Riku sighs. "It's been so long since we've done anything big!" He groans, burying his nose in a drink.
"Don't worry, something huge'll come along soon." Sena pats Riku on the back, placing a dish of chicken in front of the silver haired man. Riku sighs again.
"Thanks, lil' bro." Sena sighs at the endearment, taking some money from some customers. He rings them up, placing the change in the man's hand.
"Thank you for visiting!" Sena spouts the usual lines. The man grins, taking the change and slipping a piece of paper into Sena's hand. He makes a phone gesture and winks.
"Call me?" He pockets the change and turns, only to be stopped by the glares of several murderous pirate crews and the shk shk of knifes sharpening. He gulps, then snatches the piece of paper out of a red-faced Sena's hand. "Never mind! Don't call me! We won't be coming back!" He sprints out of the door, change falling from his pocket and on the floor.
As soon as his back is out of view, the air in the bar returns to normal. Sena sighs, slouching behind the counter. More business lost. But, at least he knows that these pirates are here for him.
"Hey! Fucking Kid!" Hiruma shouts, beckoning the captain. The man tilts the brim of his hat up, walking over to the spiky haired man. Riku suddenly sits up.
"Oh, something big is coming up soon!" Riku nods, then chugs the rest of his beer. "The-" He's cut off by a familiar voice calling Sena's name.
"Sena!" Sena whirls around, spotting Yamato, walking in with Taka and Karin behind him. Yamato unstraps his axe from his back, taking a seat besides Riku, who excuses himself to go sit with the Knights. Riku squeezes Sena's hand as he leaves, giving him a look that says, good luck! Sena sighs. What does that mean, Riku?
"Hello, Yamato, Karin, Taka!" Sena bows, pulling sake and wine from the fridge, and pouring a mug of hot chocolate from a thermos. He slides the drinks across the bar to Taka, who snatches them before they can fall off the counter. Sena sheepishly smiles, nodding at Taka, who nods solemnly back. Karin takes her hot chocolate, taking a long sip. She sighs, sinking into a stool recently cleared of Kurita, who's wolfing down food at a table with Ootawara.
"Thank you, Sena..." She smiles, shivering a bit. Her clothes are slightly damp, and her braid is limper than usual.
"Rain?" Sena asks, wiping down the counter again, clearing the latest beer spill.
"Yeah...it's quite cold outside as well." Karin sighs, placing a hand on her cheek. Sena sometimes can't believe this gentle woman is known as a fearsome pirate on the Alexanders' crew. She's known as the Emperor Shot, one of the best markswomen in the world.
"Really, Karin got caught in the rain on the way to your bar." Yamato chuckles good naturedly. "Anyway, Sena! I have a gift for you!" He pulls a box from his jacket, sliding it towards Sena. Shin, Akaba, and Kakei bristle from around the room. As Suzuna slides past, she winks at Sena, then looks down at the three men. Sena blushes, ducking his head.
"Really, you don't need to-" Sena slides it back, into Agon's hand. "Hieee!" He squeaks as the man shoves Yamato out of the way, tossing the box over his shoulder. He really doesn't want a fight in the bar tonight, especially when it's so crowded.
"Who are you?" Yamato grabs the box from the ground, dusting it off and tucking it firmly back into his coat.
"You don't know me?" Agon sneers, cracking his knuckles. Yamato smirks, readying for a fight.
"I don't believe so." He places a hand on his knives, and Agon runs his fingers over his brass knuckles.
"What are you doing, Agon?" Unsui yells from the front. Ikkyuu trails behind him, shaking the rain out of his hair. The Nagas rarely come to town, it's been about three months since Sena has seen any of them. Sena breathes a sigh of relief when Unsui enters. Another calm person.
"Shut up, baldy!" Agon growls, slamming a few coins down on the bar. "Whiskey." he grunts, dropping into a stool. Sena nods, and rushes to the liquor shelves. He pours a glass and slides it to Agon, who grabs it and takes a sip. Unsui sits down next to him and orders a beer, apologetically smiling. Ikkyuu gets a juice, with his low alcohol tolerance. Sena slides a cream puff to Ikkyu as well. Ikkyu nods, and wolfs down the cream puff.
"It's been a long time since I've see you guys." Sena remarks, refilling Mizumachi's glass again. He slides it back to the pirate, who has already stripped to his boxers. Kakei is pretending he doesn't exist next to him, on his third bottle of sake.
"Yeah...Agon refused to come back without five major raids, so..." Unsui trails off. "We barely came back in time." He sighs, slumping over his drink. Sena cringes at the thought of being on a ship with Agon while he's like that. He shivers.
"In time for what?" Sena asks.
"You don't know, fucking brat? I thought Mamori had written home about it!" Hiruma cackles from the corner.
"I did, but it might not have made it home yet..." Mamori muses, nibbling her creampuff.
"But there is something happening." Shin chimes in. "The Christmas Games. Held here, the only island without a Marines base." Sena sighs. That's also why his bar's patrons are mainly pirates. It makes sense.
"Kukuku, if you win you get a load of treasure..." Agon adds in, eyes shining. Sena takes a step back.
"And bragging rights. The title of strongest crew." Hiruma pops a bubble, grinning wide. His rifle is propped against his shoulder, making Sena eye it warily.
"The Knights intend to win that." Shin adjusts his gloves, flexing his hands.
"Haaah? We will, block head." Agon leers at Shin from behind his glasses.
"No, we will!" Kurita shouts, pumping a fist. "The Devilbats will prevail!"
The bar melts into a shouting competition between all the crews. Sena smiles, watching the patrons laugh and joke and talk. Calls for refills ring around the room. Someone, (Hiruma) makes confetti rain from the ceiling, covering everyone in scarlet and black shreds of paper. The bar grows louder still, full of joyful and kinda drunk pirates. Sena is pouring drinks like a madman, and Suzuna is rollerblading like she's in the Olympics.
The bar goes quiet as a bang goes off. Sena is frozen, a knife buried half an inch away from his head. A band of armed men stroll in, sneering at each patron. The pirates leer back, but it isn't as effective this time. The leader slams his hands down on the bar. Sena recognizes the man. The man that loaned his mother the money to keep the bar's doors open. A loan shark.
"Where's the money?" He snarls in Sena's face. Send had forgotten it was the eighth. Money had been tight this month, as most of the crews that usually frequented the place had been out. Although the bar looked like this today, most days the bar wasn't doing too good fiscally. Sena gulped, groping under the counter for the cash register. The man unsheathes another knife. "Hurry up, brat!" Sena swallows hard, taking his cash register out from under the counter. The man sneers at the sight, eyes gleaming at the sight of the register.
"What, exactly, are you doing with Sena?" Shin holds his trident out, eyes murderous. Sena shivers, glad the pirates were on his side. He can also hear Hiruma load his rifle behind him.
"And who the fuck are you, asking us that?" The man shouts, puffing himself up in front of the pirate.
"Who the fuck are we? Who the fuck are you, asshat?" Agon growls, raising his fists. Sena takes a step back, watching the brass spikes gleam.
"Indeed. You have no business, being here." Kakei murmurs, unsheathing an inch of his sword.
"Fuuu...You're disturbing our rhythm..." Akaba adjusts his glasses, and stands.
"Yeah. You're pathetic." Riku turns his nose up at the men, scoffing.
"You have no business being here, disturbing us." Yamato points his knives at the leader of the men.
"Beat it." Musashi glares at the men, knocking back the rest of his whiskey. One of the men realizes, and shouts,
"T-they're all pirates!" He points at each man's clothes, all of them bearing their crew's logo, then at the cork board with the posters on it. The leader gulps, then pulls out a sword.
"It doesn't matter!" The man shouts, brandishing his sword. "Kill them all and take their money!"
Ten dead and twenty five unconscious men later, Agon drops the last corpse outside. He wipes the blood off his brass knuckles with a handkerchief given to him by Sena. Each pirate drops payment for their tab on the counter, thanking the small bartender. Sena protests at the amount of money/jewels/treasure each left, but is silenced by each pirate. Hiruma drops a little extra, and when Sena tries to thank him, cackles and leaves. Monta and Mamori give Sena one last hug, then Mamori presses a small golden locket into Sena's palm. Musashi nods his head, and drops a small knife on the table.
"Self defense." He says, and then is pulled out the door by Hiruma. Akaba leaves a golden guitar pick, and Koutarou leaves a comb along with a pouch of 100 gold coins. Kakei and Mizumachi leave a strangely large sapphire and a few gold coins. Agon drops a golden bar on the counter, than stalks out of the bar, Unsui and Ikkyuu waving apologetically. Yamato presses the box into Sena's hand, and gets shoved out of the bar by Taka, who drops a few coins on the bar. Karin waves, leaving with her crew. Riku pats Sena's back enthusiastically, and gives him a pouch of diamonds and rubies. Sena's jaw drops at that, making Kid gently put it back in place. Tetsuro huffs, steam coming out of his nose. Sakuraba places a small pouch on the counter, smiling.
"Thanks for the drinks, Sena!"
"We will be back after we win the title." Shin says, placing a roll of gold coins on the table. Sena takes it, bowing his head.
"I'll be waiting." Sena grins. Shin almost smiles, but it proved too much for him yet again. Sena laughs lightly at that.
"I have something to give to you." He mumbles. Sakuraba and Takami shuffle out at that, pushing Ootawara out of the door.
"Oh, you really don't have to-" Sena protests, but the ring is already on his hand. It's black and red.
"I knew you liked those colors...so..." Shin trails off. Sena has never seen Shin flustered before.
"Thank you." Sena had met Shin three years ago. Shin was bedraggled and sick, along with the rest of his crew. Sena, his mother, Mamori, and her mother had nursed them all back to health and sent them on their way. Now Shin made sure to visit as much as he could, occasionally trying Sena's concoctions, despite their high sugar/alcohol content, and bringing lots of money each time, despite Sena's protests.
"I-i'll see you then..." Shin slips out the door into the cold and rain. Sena watches the last shadow of his silhouette disappear, then rubs the ruby on the ring. It glimmers just like Taro, happily swimming in his tank.
The bar is quiet for the rest of the night.