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White Knight

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The pirates are out cold on the floor, snoring away. Sena sighs, drying the last beer glass and placing it on the shelf. He wouldn't get much sleep tonight. He glances at the clock, which reads 3:13 AM. Tonight was almost over, actually. After the Christmas Games, the pirates had partied for days. The Devilbats had emerged victorious, with a last minute comeback. Sena yawns, tears piling at the corners of his eyes, and scrubs at them, rubbing the tears away. Pitt slinks over, butting Sena's arm with his paw.

"Hey, Pitt." Sena mumbles, scratching the black and white cat's head. Pitt purrs, tail coiling around Sena's arm. Sena grins at the little cat, giving him a final pat on the head, before hanging up his apron. Sena goes to lock the doors and windows, for the safety of the pirates. Though they wouldn't really need it. Sena pushes down the last window, then stretches, ready for bed. A pirate rolls over, wrapping his arms around Sena's ankle. Sena looks over, seeing Shin sprawled on the ground before him, fast asleep.

"Ah. Shin. Shin!" Sena whispers, nudging Shin with his other foot, but to no avail. The man sleeps like a rock. Sena looks around the room, seeing which pirates are in range. Most of them had a nasty tendency to fire at anybody who woke them up. Sena sighs, and tries again. "Shin? Please wake up!"

"Mmmhm." Shin mumbles, then rolls over farther, knocking Sena to the ground.

"Shin! Leg, leg!" Sena whispers, careful not to wake Ootawara, who snores loudly beside him. Still, Shin's eyes remained closed.

"Kekeke, you've gotten yourself into quite the predicament, shrimp." Hiruma quietly cackles from behind Sena, making him whip his head around. The Devilbats' captain has a rifle strapped across his back and is flipping through his little black notebook.

"Hiruma, please! Help!" Sena begs, leg already going numb. Hiruma tilts his head back, pretending to consider it, and stares at Sena, a devilish smile on his face.

"Join the Devilbats, then I'll save you."

"No! I can't!" Sena shakes his head, shivering. Life with Hiruma... on the sea... nowhere to run... Sena shakes the thought out of his head. Hiruma pops a bubble, shrugging his shoulders.

"Too bad then. I have places to go." He turns and pushes the door open.

"Wait, I just locked that-" Hiruma has already disappeared. Sena sighs, ands slumps to the floor. Maybe he should just accept his fate, here on the ground, with the circulation in his legs slowly being cut off.

"Hmmm." Shin grumbles as he shifts, grip on Sena's leg tightening. Sena squeaks in discomfort. Pitt, noticing the commotion, pads over to Shin, sniffing his face.

"Mmmrrraah?" Pitt mews as Shin extends an arm, grabbing the cat as well. Sena watches the cat squirm, then accept his fate of being trapped under Shin's arm. Pitt closes his eyes, going straight to sleep. Sena laughs at the sight of the burly man unconsciously cooing at the little cat now trapped under his arm. Pitt had taken strangely taken a liking to Shin almost instantly. Sena thinks back to that day, when a black haired man had washed up on the shore.

"Sena! What are you doing so close to the ocean? Be careful, you might get swept in!" Mihae's voice calls from the bar.

"Yeah..." Sena calls back as he watches the tide roll in, the blue waves lapping against the shore. He often sat there, watching the waves roll into shore. That beautiful expanse of water that he could never touch. 

"Oi, Sena! You better get inside! A storm's comin'!" Monta shouts as he runs up behind him. The sky had already turned dark, clouds gathering. It begins to drizzle.

"Yeah. I'll be back in just a bit, Monta." Sena mumbles, eyes fixed on the sea. He could feel Monta's hand tighten a bit on his shoulder before releasing it, turning to go back inside. 

"Sena, make sure you get inside soon." Monta calls after him as he runs back to the house. The waves roll in a little farther, licking at Sena's feet. Sena pulls back from the water. The sea slowly turns dark with the arrival of the storm. A crack of thunder brings in the first waves of rain, raindrops drumming on his arms. Sena gets up from his spot on the sand and turns to go back to the house. He casts one last look at the sea, the dark waves rolling in a little farther each time, a plank of wood carried in by the waves. A plank? Sena looks back out at the ocean, waves rolling higher and higher. He can see more planks being carried by the waves. This much wood could only mean... 

A young man floats on a long plank of wood rolling in on the waves, lying face-down in the water. Sena plants his feet, gritting his teeth. With a flash of light, the man is on the shore. Sena places his ear over the man's chest. His heart is still beating, but he doesn't seem to be breathing. 

"Mom!" Sena throws open the door to his house, the bar, man in his arms. 

"Sena, dear, I really wish you wouldn't light-speed warp-" Mihae turns, carrying a basket of bread. She notices the man in Sena's arms and drops  it, hands covering her mouth.

"No time! Please, help him!" Sena shouts, dragging the man onto the table.

"Ms. Anezaki!" Mihae turns, calling for Mamori's mother.

"Yes?" She peeks into the kitchen, spotting the unconscious man on the table. "Oh no!" She rushes to his side and rolls up her sleeves, placing her fingers on his pulse. "He's still alive, but that could change. I'll need to work quick." She tilts the man's chin back, opening his mouth and begins to perform CPR.

After 13 agonizing minutes, the man coughs, water spilling out of his mouth. Sena breathes a sigh of relief as the man begins to breathe, chest heaving up and down. Ms. Anezaki stands back, panting. She wipes her forehead, and runs out of the room. Sena takes a better look at the man lying on the table. He has short black hair, an average height with a strong build, and serious eyes. He has several cuts and bruises on him, especially on his chest, and a large tattoo spanning all of his back. He slowly sits up, wincing.

"No, no, lie back down, young man. You just got dragged out of the ocean. You weren't breathing!" Mihae gently pushes the man back down onto the table. He winces as her hand brushes his chest. Ms. Anezaki comes back, holding towels. She tosses one at Sena, who accepts it with a grateful nod. 

"I'm glad to see you're still alive." Ms. Anezaki smiles warmly, drying the man off. As she passes over his chest, he flinches again. She frowns, and examines the area. "You probably have a broken rib or two, and many wounds. I'll bandage them and make sure they don't get infected. You should rest here for a few weeks, until that heals up. I'll get some ice."

"Ship...crew members...ship wrecked..." He croaks, raising a shaky finger towards the sea. Sena catches another glimpse of the tattoo on his back. His eyes widen in recognition. The symbol of the White Knights, a large pirate group. Then this must be...

"Shin Seijuro." Sena whispers. The rookie pirate, only 17, who had ascended the ranks quickly and had a 70,000,000 beli bounty on his head. "Pirate. He's a pirate."

"What?" Mihae backs up from the table. "A pirate?" 

"Yes...I am." Shin groans, sitting up. He stands shakily, handing the towel and a pouch of gold that somehow managed to tray tethered to his belt to Ms. Anezaki, who's frozen by the door. " me." He takes a deep breath in, then winces. "I go." Each word is drawn out by pain, each step is strangled. 

"No. You need to rest." Sena grabs Shin's arm. "We can keep you. And your crew. For however long it takes." His eyes widen, and he shakes off Sena's hand. 

"No. I'm...not wanted." He pushes open the door, rain spilling into the house. "I'll go. Thank you." He takes one step into the storm, and stumbles. Sena reaches out, managing to catch Shin before he falls. 

"Mom. Take him up to my room. He can use the bed, I'll just sleep on the floor." Sena gives the pirate to his mother. "I'll go rescue his crew. Ms. Anezaki, don't let him go." Sena pulls off his shoes, and shuts his eyes tightly. As he mumbles incoherent words, his figure disappears in blur of light.

"I won't!" She calls after the blur of light. 

"Li...ght." He mumbles before his eyes close again.

Shin opens his eyes, an unfamiliar ceiling over head, and a black and white cat sleeping on his stomach. As he sits up, pain spikes in his chest, making him lie down again. The cat opens an eye, and jumps off his stomach with a soft mmroww. He lands on the bed next to Shin and begins licking his paw. Shin lifts a heavily bandaged arm, and places it on the cat's head. It almost instantly begins to purr, eyes closing. Shin roughly pets the cat, movements shaky. It still purrs, butting its head against Shin's hand.

"Awake?" The brown haired boy who had saved him pushes the door open, a tray of food in his hands. He notices the cat purring happily away on the bed, Shin's hand resting on its head. Shin quickly pulls his hand away. 

"Um." He mumbles, trying to look like he wasn't just petting the cat.

"Aww, Pitt likes you. He doesn't like anyone not in the family, though. Weird." The boy scratches the cat's head, and places the tray on the nightstand next to the bed. "How are you feeling, Mr. Shin?" The corner of Shin's lips twitch.

"You don't need to call me that. Shin is fine." He says, voice scratchy. Mr. Shin. Imagine that.

"But... Ok, then...Shin." The boy agrees. "Can you sit up?" Shin tries again, but the pain in his chest stops him from trying to go up all the way. "Thought so. You broke three ribs." The boy pulls a chair up next to the bed.

"Who are you?" Shin asks, watching the brown haired boy pour a cup of tea.

"Oh, right. You don't know me. I'm Sena Kobayakawa, but you can call me Sena." He holds the cup out to Shin, who stretches a shaky arm out. Shin pulls himself up a little, so he can drink the tea without spilling it. He eyes the boy. Nothing really stands out about him, except for...

"Are you a pirate, Sena?" Shin asks, setting the cup down on the nightstand.

"W-what? No, of course not!" Sena shakes his head. "Someone like me could never be a pirate." 

"A marine then?" Shin suggests. 

"No! What gives you those ideas?" Sena sighs.

"You're a Light Human." Shin says. Sena looks up, surprise written across his face.

"Ah-Right. You saw me run off to get your crew." Sena refills the cup of tea. "They're all safe, all the ones I found." A flicker of a smile flashes across Shin's face at that. "But that fruit-these powers- are the reason I could never be a pirate. I love the sea," Sena smiles sadly, glancing out the window. "but it hates me. I'm too much of a coward to do anything about it too." Sena hands the tea back to Shin. "I fear the sea too much."

"You didn't seem like a coward when you rescued my crew." Shin takes a long sip from the teacup. 

"That's-" Sena starts, but Shin cuts in.

"Only fools don't feel afraid. Sena, you are not a fool. And you are not a coward, either." Shin finishes the cup, and places it back on the tray. "You are brave, and you are strong. If you love something, you chase after it." Sena looks up, wide eyes meeting Shin's stoic ones. Sena looks back down.

"I'm not strong or brave like you. I-" 

"I wouldn't lie to you, Sena." Shin says, eyes drilling into Sena.

"Shin." Sena whispers, looking up.

"I appreciate you taking care of me and my crew. We will take our leave today." Shin sits up, ignoring the pain in his chest. He stands slowly, steadying himself on the bed frame.

"Wait, it's only been two days! You need to heal your ribs." Sena grabs Shin's arm, pulling him back. "And the rest of your crew is in bad shape as well!" Shin looks back at Sena, giving him the closest thing to a reassuring look Shin could produce.

"They are strong. And so am I." Shin spots his clothes hanging on a rack. He pulls his shirt on, and grabs his jacket. "Thank you, Sena. I will see you again." Shin walks out of Sena's room, Pitt trailing behind him, mewling pitifully. Sena scrambles after the man, food left forgotten on the nightstand.

"Shin!" He calls, running into the kitchen. Ms. Anezaki sits, sipping on her tea, a stack of sheets and pillows next to her, along with a huge pile of gold.

"The young man left already." She says, pointing to the set of tracks leading to the sea. "They have no ship, but they went and left anyways." She sighs, resting a cheek on her hand. "To be young..."

"Ah?" Shuma walks into the room, scrubbing the sleep from his eyes. "What's this, Ms. Aneza-" His eyes bug out at the treasure sitting on the table.

"Good morn-" Mihae walks in, and faints upon looking at the amount of gold, eyes rolling back in her head, and falling backwards onto the stack of neatly placed pillows. The stack scatters, knocking over a vase of flowers.

"Oh dear. Mamori won't appreciate this amount of laundry." Ms. Anezaki sighs. "Oh, Sena! The young man also left a note." She holds a small scrap of paper out to Sena, who takes it, unfolding it quickly.

I will await your arrival to the world of pirates, Sena.
Become stronger.


Brief, and to the point. Just like him. Sena holds the note tightly in his fist, gazing out the door. The footprints lead straight to the ocean.

One day. One day, Sena promised himself. One day, he would follow those footsteps towards the ocean.

 "Oi, oi, wake up already, Shin! You're crushing the poor man!" Sakuraba stands over Shin and Sena, shaking Shin awake. Sena opens his eyes slowly, yawning. He attempts to stretch, but remembers that the bulk of his body is trapped under Shin's.

"Sena! Are you alright?" Mamori rushes over, pulling Sena out from under Shin. 

"Hieeee!" Sena squeaks, pain shooting up his leg. 

"Sena?" Mamori holds Sena out in front of her like a cat, examining him for injuries. 

"Let him go, shitty cook. He's fine." Hiruma snaps, popping a bubble. 

"Yeah...thanks, Mamori." Sena sighs, the pain slowly subsiding from his leg. Pins and needles crawl up and down his leg, making it hard to stand. Shin opens his eyes, sitting up. He blinks, once, twice.

"Shin..." Sakuraba sighs. He slumps back down into a chair.

"Good morning." Shin stands up, voice scratchy with sleep.

"Gahahaha! Shin!" Ootawara guffaws at nothing, pants somehow missing. 

"Ootawara." Takami tosses a pair of pants at the man. "Come on, Shin, Sakuraba, Ootawara. We've stayed too long." He turns towards Sena, handing him a bag of coins. "Thank you, Sena. We'll be back again." He turns, dragging Ootawara towards the door, who's pants are on backwards.

"Yeah, sorry about that!" Sakuraba calls, shooting Sena a sheepish smile. He runs out after Takami, waving.

"Bye! See you soon!" Sena calls after them. Most of the crew seemed to have already gotten on the ship, the rest were just waiting for Shin to get up. Shin stretches once, then grabs his jacket from the ground. 

"Apologies, Sena. I hope I didn't cause you too much discomfort last night." Shin nods apologetically, Pitt winding himself around Shin's legs.

"N-no! It's fine." Sena shakes his head. "I hope I didn't wake you up!" He apologizes, bowing.

"You have nothing to apologize for." Shin says, grabbing his jacket from the floor. He slides it over his shoulders, scratching Pitt one last time on the head. "I'll see you soon." 

Sena watches Shin's back brush out of the doorway, leaving footprints in the sand like he had three years ago.