Actions

Work Header

First Mates

Chapter Text

The Sabaody Archipelago, the final island in Paradise. Its giant striped trees were elevating towards the sky to unreachable height. The Yarukiman Mangrove was a natural marvel, its aqua color range and the bubbles flying everywhere were giving the dreamlike impression to walk on the ocean floor. The slippery and sticky grass making the ground up was an odd experience for every sailor used to the firm board of a ship. But each one of them, landing there for the first time, couldn’t help to feel amaze from being at end of the first half of the Grand Line.

The soap blown by the imperceptible breathing out of the trees was a hypnotizing process. The bubbles were an integral part of Sabaody from the everyday life of his citizens to the light background noises of the bubble’s bursting. It truly was a unique environment but as many others on the Grand Line it was also a dangerous one. On this island were mingling, local inhabitants, marines, slavers, bounty hunters, World nobles and the fieriest pirates sailing on the Grand Line. The base mix of a hazardous cocktail ready to blow up at the slightest shake.

You adventurous traveler! Come and lay down your hat on Sabaody Archipelago! Where you can buy articles and food you’ll find nowhere else, enjoy the attractions of the marvelous park and buy the most exotic slaves in the world! But remember to signal every fish creatures on the island, bow down on the path of the World nobles and stay away from the dangerous pirates’ one.

 

“What’s wrong with them?! Got something on my face?” Eustass Kid snarled at the sight of people going backwards at his approach. The question was aimed to his crew, following right behind him, on their way out of a second-class bar. It was early in the morning, and they had already drunk more than the average could bear for a day. They were pirates who could hold their liquor though, even if it wasn’t enough to enhance Kid’s mood.

“I think it’s the makeup.”

“It’s your innate smile”

“Maybe they don’t like red heads.”

“You sure your devil fruit can’t also repel people?”

The Captain narrowed his eyes done with the early good mood of his men, and he wondered why he even bothered to ask in the first place. They had only arrived on Sabaody a few hours ago and his crew was far too excited to have reached this point of the world. Their enjoyment was including more jokes on their captain.

“Killer, a comment? Anything?” Kid inquired his first mate, looking for everyone’s opinion while he was hauled over the coals. The masked man had remained oddly less talkative than the others. He was watching as the people who wanted to get in the bar were renouncing, seeing the pirates blocking the entry.

“You can’t expect people to throw themselves on you with a bounty like yours.”

“Thank you,” the Captain huffed, while he appreciated to be reminded of the fair amount of money on his head. Between the two of them, Kid was excessively proud of his expensive wanted poster compared to his first mate. If Killer considered it as the consequence of having gone through the Grand Line; it was a necessary requirement to aim for the title of pirate king for Eustass Kid.

“Are we going for another bar?” Killer asked, his annoyance beginning to show after the third bar of the morning.

“You ain’t used to be so moody, what’s going on?”

“I don’t want to stay here more than necessary.”

“Enjoy our stay on the archipelago instead of brooding; you’ll miss calm land when we’ll be in the New World,” Eustass told with a smile as they started walking down the tree number twenty-two, “But you’re right, we should start searching for coating mechanic from now.”

“We’ll find one in the shipyards, from the grove fifty to fifty-nine,” the first mate informed.

“Let’s go then.”

 

Killer doubted they would find someone willing to coat their ship in the Sabaody’s shipyard. It was too close to the Marine headquarters to benefit an illegal business. However it was the best start to know where to find the mechanics they were looking for. All shipbuilders had their connections and the Kid pirates were pretty good to get what they wanted, one way or another but preferably with brutal force.

Killer was amazed they hadn’t got in any fight yet. But knowing his captain it would come soon enough. The masked man wasn’t the last to brawl, he even liked these fights except that he clearly was more cautious than the rest of them. It was his job after all.

The archipelago’s life began to spring with the rising of the sun. It was hard to tell where the sun was though, with all these bubbles blocking the sky view. The citizens had taken great advantages of their peculiar environment. Bubbles were used to make buildings and hotels and carry all kinds of charges. But what Kid’s crew appreciated the most were the local vehicles: the bon chari. The two medium bon chari they’d rented were a far better means of transport than walking all the way long.

The vehicles’ speed was heady, and Killer might have yield to the overall good mood. The most cheerful of them was their captain who had his goggles and a broad smile on, while using his devil’s fruit abilities to increase the bon chari’s speed beyond its limits. Kid was racing between heavy roots and slippery hills with ease. Their speed transformed the striped landscape in a moving optical illusion, as if the trees were following their course without getting off the ground.

Their vehicle slowed down and stopped suddenly surrounded by building machines and boat’s frames. They were arrived at the shipyard before they knew it. Eustass took a look back to see the rest of his men miles ago, struggling to catch up with them.

“Pedal faster you lazy asses!” The Captain yelled and didn’t wait for them to continue.

The shipyard was already busy, full of workers carrying materials and tools, and strangely the Kid pirates didn’t earn more than a few fearful looks on their way. Fine, if the shipbuilders weren’t that concerned by the pirates’ presence they could get to work easier.

“Oh my!” Kid exclaimed all of sudden, slowing down the bon chari to a cruising speed, “Look what we have here!”

The eyes of his crew all turned to the left, as they were trying to see what the cause of their captain’s predatory voice was. Killer immediately noticed who Eustass was pointing. Between the building platforms, a noticeable group was walking, all wearing the Heart pirates’ symbol on their backs. Their white overalls were unmistakable. But the Kid pirates could talk about clothes! They probably were the only ones on this island to wear such colorful and leathery costumes. One all.

“So Trafalgar Law is there too,” Killer commented.

“And I thought this stop-off would be deadly boring,” the Captain Kid snickered.

The playful look he saw spreading on his captain’s face made the first mate seriously wonder, “You want to attack them?”

“Nah, ‘m not that dumb.” Eustass replied indignant and Killer lightly tilted his head on the side. Kid was far from dumb but hot headed, sure he was. “But it’d be a shame not to mess with them a little,” Kid added. Here we go… However his first mate didn’t let him time to carry on his idea and jumped off the bon chari, landing on the grass in an agile leap.

“Leave them to me.”

From one gesture of a hand, Kid shut one of his men about to talk. The captain’s gaze remained on Killer. Kid leaned on the bon chari’s wheel without losing his wicked smile.

“Fine, let them know we’re here. But don’t waste time to catch up with us.”

The masked man nodded and started searching the white overalls that had disappeared from his sight. As he walked away Eustass called after him.

“Eh Killer!” He turned to his captain just to see him smiling from one ear to the other. “In case you’re wonderin’, they’ve already ran away towards South!”

“Shit!” The blonde cursed under his breath and he whizzed after the pirates.

“Hope it’ll get him out of his sulky mood,” Kid thought out loud while the rest of his men finally rejoined them.

“Don’t you think it’s a bit unfair?” Wire asked.

“You think Killer can’t take them on his own?” The Captain took offense.

“I mean unfair for the Heart pirates,” Wire smiled triggering the hilarity of the whole Kid pirates.


 

White blurry silhouettes were running as fast as they could among the striped roots. The Heart pirates crossed another bridge leading out of the shipyard’s grove.

“Is he still following us?!”

Nobody needed to look behind to know the answer.

“Yeah, keep running!”

They were out to do simple, harmless shopping, the sun was barely up and they founded themselves chased by a supernova. Great! As if they didn’t have enough trouble with the Navy, they had the Kid pirates to be aware of now.

“How about we don’t know they were here?” Penguin ranted about.

“They must have arrived today!” Shachi assumed.

Despite their velocity, their small group was losing ground to the Kid pirate. Sooner they’d be caught and they surely weren’t a match for the Massacre Soldier. So as far as it displeased the Heart pirates they would keep running. The sticky grass however wasn’t an ideal ground for fleeing. When they could the pirates were jumping on the roots but that damn soap was everywhere! And up to this point it didn’t seem to slow down their pursuer.

“Why are we running away? They didn’t seem aggressive!”

In their rush they could only scream to understand each other, it wasn’t their most discreet escape.

“We never know! The Captain Kid has quite a reputation, it’s better that our paths don’t cross!” Penguin responded, but he started to worry as well as his nakamas. They were too slow and were going to be catch. It was a matter of minutes now.

They were back in the lawless area in a part full of old shacks and half destroyed buildings. Nobody to be seen, but that didn’t mean they were alone. As it was Penguin resolved to take advantage of that dump place.

“Shachi! See that run down house over there?” and his companion nodded, acknowledging a high building surprisingly still up. “Help me knock it over!”

Shachi glared at him, not frankly carried away, “What’s it gonna do except slow him down?”

“Got a better idea?!”

Shachi grinded his teeth not having anything else to suggest right now, and he got close to Penguin at the head of their group.

“Ok everyone! When Shachi and I hit the house in front of us, you split up and we’ll meet at the submarine!”

He received affirmative replies from the others and got back to Shachi as the house grew closer. “You’re ready?”

“Let’s go!”

Practically at the same time, they both jumped up to inhuman height. They flew during one suspended moment above the dump area covered by moss among which their nakamas were running, waiting for their signal. Then Shachi and Penguin dived towards their aim in a perfect synchronization only acquired through practicing this move countless times. They landed right on the building which trembled under the power of their combines kicks and started to collapse.

Shachi crouched down in his landing and used his spring to propel himself after their nakamas. He was already behind the building when he noticed two things, the house hadn’t entirely fallen down and Penguin wasn’t by his side anymore.

“Run! I’ll catch up with you!” Shachi heard him yelled from the other side and it made the ginger got truly angry. He hadn’t enough time to get through the ruins, but he trusted Penguin to get out of this unscathed, he was sufficiently clever for that. It didn’t prevent Shachi to worry while he kept running though.

 

Penguin glanced back already seeing the shock of blond hair of their pursuer. Quickly, he took down the rest of the house, kicking in the structure and breaking the building down, leaving nothing but a high pile of stone, wood and a few half destroyed walls.

Short of breath, he hid in the middle of the ruins, careful to not make a single move that could perturbed the dust blowing all around him. Penguin watched under his peak as the masked man was almost at his level. He waited for his moment, ready to jump out of hideout and couldn’t help a sly grin when the Kid pirate started to pass the debris as if it was only a small relief on his path.

It was right at the last moment that Killer sensed an incoming attack on his side. On the top of the ruins, someone had come from the fragments and launched a powerful kick in his legs. The blonde solely owed his dodge to his instincts. But even if he had avoided the attack by a hair’s breadth, he had been stopped in his tracks and forced to go back.

The masked man made a backward loop in the air to avoid getting kick out. He plunged down the pile of stones but wasn’t balanced enough to land on his feet, so he slid to the bottom, crouched on the ground. He hammered one of his blades in the earth to stop his slide, leaving a deep cut on the way he came.

Killer lifted his head to his assailant up on the stones and picked himself up, almost growling like a wild animal. The hatted man stood his ground and took a defensive posture, his feet slightly apart and firmly stuck on the rocks, his left fist raised up beside his face, the other clenched at his waist’s level.

“Wanna fight Iron head?” He yelled, “I’m all yours!”

Chapter Text

At first Killer believed he heard the man wrong. But no. He truly intended to fight him. Killer studied the other’s stand by habit –a bit too sentaï-like for the Kid pirate’s taste– but he noted how every feature of the hatted man was showing his resolution. Some people could be so obstinate. However, the man had the guts to face him and Killer would respect that. If the Heart pirate wanted to fight him, so be it. He would give him what he asked for.

The masked man drew his second scythe and the metallic whistling echoed in the silence solely disrupted by the burst of bubbles. From where he stood Killer wasn’t able to see his opponent’s reaction but the man didn’t flinch. For a short instant the blonde wondered if the Heart pirate would come to him, but by the time the hatted man made a move Killer had already charged towards him.

The Kid pirate aimed for an easy target, that is the unstable ground the warrior in white was standing on. With one hit of his scythe, the ruins fell down. However Penguin had anticipated the weakness of the floor, and jumped before it crumbled under his feet. He had barely landed on Killer’s side that a blade was already coming towards him. He dodged the first one easily, stepping simply on his right, but not the following scythe.

This time the Heart pirate had to go down on his knees if he wanted to keep his head on shoulders. During a split second, Penguin’s sight was filled by the blinding reflection of the metal going over his face leaving tiny red bits on its way.

For a moment, Penguin’s heart flinched, and when he got up his fear became true, the red was coming from the fluffy bobble on his cap. When he passed a hand on the top of his head, the bobble had shortened. Penguin felt anger crawled into his veins like it had set him on fire. Not. His. Hat!

He knew he shouldn’t let wrath control him, but damn! Nobody was touching his hat! Using the rocks at his feet, Penguin launched them by kicking them one after the other towards the masked man. He deflected them all from the flat of his blades, progressing threateningly in Penguin’s direction. The Heart pirate didn’t let him got close; he had to be more careful because entering the man’s personal space was madness. Penguin also had to take in count the wide range his scythes were giving him.

The hatted man didn’t stay still, moving was the key to pierce his adversary’s defense, and he would also make him harder to target. Penguin was fast. In all his previous combats he had outmatched his opponents by his speed and the accuracy of his hits. He knew this time it wouldn’t be enough though.

Wherever he attempted to strike there was a blade or a leg blocking his way. All he could see was the flash of metal, the fringes blowing wildly on the man’s legs and that white and blue helmet getting closer and closer to him.

 

Penguin was starting to run out of ideas when he felt rocks under his feet again. He was so focused on not being sliced in pieces he hadn’t even thought to use their environment to his advantage. Dodging Killer’s incessant attacks, he slowly drew closer to the ruins. When he reached a wall still standing, Penguin opened his guard just a little on his side and the Kid pirate, bored to chase him, fell into the trap.

The scythe aiming for his ribs, instead of the Heart pirate’s body, dig into the stone with a sharp sound. Penguin stopped the second blade by hitting Killer’s elbow… and he almost got his own arm chopped off when the blade rotated at the end of the man’s arm. The Heart pirate swiftly kicked his opponent in the chest, taking him by surprise, and used him as a springboard to jump over the wall backwards.

Penguin was sweaty and a shiver of fright ran along his back as he saw the scrape tainted his white sleeve red. With the Kid pirate out of his sight, his best chance to escape in one piece was now or never. He barely had time to start running before the wall burst behind him and a very annoyed supernova, rushed towards him. So far for the escape.

The Heart pirate kept running and he heard the steps of the masked man louder and louder. Because he knew he would get caught, Penguin strangely looked ahead for the hand that would inevitably grab him or the hit that would make him fall. In front of Penguin the heavy roots of a soap tree were showing and he speeded up in the direction of another obstacle he could put between him and the Kid pirate.

Just when Penguin lifted his hands to grab the root at his head level, a scythe stuck itself in his overall’s sleeve. Instinctively he turned to fight his way out of Killer’s reach, but the second blade went under his throat straight away.

Penguin didn’t even dare to gulp and simply tried to catch his breath. The Kid pirate appeared to do the same, now he finally had him at his mercy. With the short distance separating them, Killer could get a closer look on the hatted man’s face. His nose was thin maybe slightly longer than the average, his lips tight, barely colored. On the other hand a heavy blush was coloring his defined cheekbones. His wide opened eyes solely showed dark color from under his cap. Chestnut-brown strands were going out of the hat framing a square jaw. This suspended moment didn’t last though. Killer was done playing.

 

“You’re pretty hard to catc–”

“What do you want?” Penguin snarled. It was rather bold for someone who hadn’t many time left to live but he didn’t like being at anyone’s mercy.

“What make you think I want something?”

“I’m still alive,” the Heart pirate bluntly replied, “so quit the praising, and get to your point.”

For an instant, Killer almost agreed with the Heart pirate but a question was troubling him and he forgot momentarily why he was here for.

“It’s stupid from you to have challenged me. Your defeat was a foregone conclusion, but you did it anyway. Why did you put your life on the line?”

“Because while you stopped to beat me up my nakamas safely ran away from you,” the hatted man told without being able to suppress a smirk, “That’s enough of a reason.”

However his answer didn’t seem to be enough for Killer, “You can’t sacrifice yourself like that each time someone stronger threaten your friends.”

“Did you just hang me up here to tell me how stupid I am?” Penguin scowled shaking his hand pinned above his head, internally embarrassed by the Kid pirate’s words.

“You’re not the one I wanted to catch, but I got unlucky.”

“Well, sorry from having spoiled your morning hunter’s game,” Penguin added bitterly.

“Don’t worry, I think you’re perfect for what I have in mind after all.”

The hatted man frowned while attempting to keep the scythe away from his throat, but the cold metal was implacably pressed against his skin right above the collar of his clothing.

“You’re going to send a message for me,” Killer continued, “I want to meet with your captain. You will give him a rendezvous point if he agrees.”

“Why do you want to meet with the Surgeon of Death?” Penguin inquired, not expecting such request from the Kid pirate.

“None of your business.” Obviously, the hatted man thought wishing he could roll his eyes without getting sliced. It was really weird though, for any member of Kid's crew to ask for a meeting. They usually were far more direct and aggressive. Well, he did have a blade under his throat. But it surely wasn’t Kid’s way to sit and talk with his rivals. So what was Killer’s goal?

“I won’t lead him into a trap that obvious–”

“There is no trap,” Killer insisted, “And you will make sure he’ll come as I ask for,” he carried on with a threatening tone.

“I don’t see in which scenario you happened to think I would betray my captain.”

“You won’t betray anyone. You’ll deliver Law a message. We all have to get ready for the New World, and I’m sure he’ll be interested to hear what I have to say.”

“I really doubt that.”

“You’re going to go back to your ship and do exactly as I said, or I’ll take care of you myself… definitely.” Killer’s voice gave Penguin goose bumps. He was deadly serious and made the hatted man hesitated, but something in the man’s speech decided him on playing his last card.

“You won’t kill me,” the Heart pirate stated with what’s left of his self-confidence, “Now or in the future.”

“What makes you so sure about that?” The masked man demanded pressing his blade a little further on Penguin’s throat.

“You won’t risk Trafalgar Law’s anger. Nobody wants a war between supernovas. On top of that, more of them are coming on Sabaody. It’ll be chaos.”

“You think your life worth so much?”

“I think you’re cleverer than you want to show; but you don’t know anything about my captain if you presume he wouldn’t get revenge for any of us.”

Penguin knew he had scored a point when he saw Killer’s arms lost their tension. Still the masked man wasn’t letting him go. Despite his good argument, the Heart pirate dreaded that the blonde would finally decide to end him. He’d be glad to avoid death today, above all he doubted even his captain would be able to patch him up after going under Killer’s blades.

And suddenly Penguin reeled off, “There is a bar in the grove 17, a low house with blue panels and two bubbles on the roof. Meet me there tomorrow night and I’ll listen to everything you have to say without having a blade under my throat.”

This offer unsettled the masked man, “Why should I talk to you instead of your captain?”

“Because it’s my first mate’s duty to take his place when it’s necessary. Or am I unworthy of your time?” Penguin didn’t know where he’d gotten such daring behavior. He wasn’t so proud usually.

The Kid pirate’s silence seemed to last an eternity and Penguin sought what he had said to make the man so quiet, but Killer finally sheathed his scythes and freed the hatted man with a monosyllabic, “Fine.”

The masked man made a few steps away then turned back to Penguin and added, “The next time you want to pick someone out of your league, be smarter and keep running.”

On that Killer left, his long blond strands disappearing quickly of Penguin’s sight. The Heart pirate let himself fall on the grass and pulled his cap down his face, wondering if their next encounter would be as hectic.

Chapter Text

“Gather up all of the crew!

Time to ship out Bink's brew!

Pirates we, eternally are challenging the sea!

With the waves to rest our heads,

The ship beneath us as our bed!

Hoisted high up on the mast our Jolly Roger flies!”

 

Ugh! Make that noise stopped! Killer thought as the bar’s patrons were chanting the following verse. They weren’t even pirates, barely local thugs with a couple of boats and the masked man kept thinking no one would miss them if he ended their show right now. And what with that song for fuck sake?! He heard it so much you’d think that was the only pirate’s song existing in this world. And now it would be stuck in his head for the rest of night!

The blonde sipped his drink, getting more and more annoyed from waiting for the Heart pirate to show. Killer saw him when he was about to enter the bar they’d agreed to meet in. The hatted man was making sure Killer was alone and he wasn’t going to fall into any kind of trap. But the Kid pirate was becoming impatient under the fearful glares the bartender was giving him and the unnerving singers of this shady place.

From his spot at the back of the room, Killer heard the main door opened and the crowd’s hubbub softened a little at Penguin’s arrival. It was about time! Even if they weren’t the most noteworthy among the pirates, the Heart’s crew held a certain reputation. Either way in that lawless pub, people were too aware or too drunk to cause the pirates any trouble.

Penguin joined his table, his hat darkening his face. He crossed his arms as he sat and stared at Killer with a serious face. Fine, they were here to talk about business after all.

However the hatted man posture was closed, he seemed to come here with no real intention to listen to what Killer had to tell. How could he convince someone decided to give him no credits from the beginning? Things couldn’t start straight away or the Kid pirate would speak for nothing.

“See? I wasn’t lying. No tricks.”

Penguin was tempted to answer the night wasn’t over yet but he kept his mouth shut. He had dwell on that encounter all day, wondering what lied in stores for him. Now he was facing the masked man though… he didn’t know what to think.

The man was still the same who had threatened him the day prior. With his long blond hair spiking out of his striped helmet. He was still wearing a black shirt with white dots, opened wide on his tanned chest where some scars could be discerned. One of his hands was holding his drink on the wooden table, and Penguin’s eyes lingered on the armband on the Kid pirate’s wrist. Its twin was laid on Killer’s thigh, right under the bright red band circling the man’s hips.

Penguin wasn’t anxious –and he would firmly deny any shaking of his hands stuck under his arms. Maybe was he actually curious about what brought him here? But in the same time he wasn’t ready to believe in Killer’s peaceful intentions yet.

 

Searching where to start, the blonde drank a sip of his tankard from a straw and suddenly remembered, “The first time I had a drink I was quite young –something like fourteen. I wasn’t allowed to, but it’d been a while since someone had authority on me. With a few liquors I got completely drunk and stupid enough to provoke the wrong guys. I can’t remember how but they almost slit my throat.”

Raising his hand to his exposed neck, the masked man mapped out a thick apparent scar on his jugular. With a gesture of his finger, he imitated the movement of a blade along his neck. Then Killer realized how gruesome this memory was and surely wasn’t the right way to break the ice… Shit he wasn’t good at that.

“A shard of glass made you that,” Penguin heard himself comment, “and… huh, the guy who was holding the bottle of course.”

“A bottle?”

“Broken glass can be as sharp as a real blade, but it leaves a larger cut. And a cut in that angle certainly comes from a broken bottle hold by its neck. The man didn’t get too deep; otherwise you would have bleed to death in seconds. The shard was rubbish,” the Heart pirate continued, drifted into his examination, “it got infected didn’t it?”

Killer nodded, uncomfortable from the facility Penguin had showed from deciphering his oldest battle scar. That studying look made him feel too exposed and willing to pull up on the collar of his shirt.

“A pretty bad wound. You’re lucky from having survived this.”

“None of my previous injuries could compare to what I’ve gone through the Grand Line though,” the blonde declared, changing for a more recent subject now he had Penguin’s attention rather than his suspicion.

Killer saw it echoed to the Heart pirate as the hatted man’s left shoulder twitched imperceptibly. “We all got our scars during this journey,” Penguin appeared to recall, but no fear or regret were tainting his voice. The blonde couldn’t help from looking at the man’s arm though, where he had hurt him the previous day. There was nothing but a topstitched seam, barely visible on the overall’s sleeve.

“What a journey up to there, indeed,” the masked man added with his ankle propped up on his knee. This way he appeared more at ease and made Penguin realized how familiar they had gotten in a so short amount of time. His caution warned him, recalling to his mind who he was talking to, a dangerous pirate and as Killer had aptly put it: out of his league.

“We had experienced Grand Line in very different ways…”

Penguin’s colder tone caught the Kid pirate off guard, for a moment he had thought the hatted man had warmed a little. Apparently it would take more than sharing history.

“Speak frankly what’s on your mind,” the masked man commanded curtly.

“You and your crew hurt innocent people, harmless citizens… you don’t care about casualties.”

Killer snorted but the Heart pirate saw his fists tightened. “Don’t try to tell me off,” the blonde replied, “You won’t be the first to fail. You ain’t better than me Penguin.”

“I don’t kill for pleasure,” the Heart pirate affirmed harder than he’d wanted to.

“Me neither,” Killer responded instantly, “I live with what I am. A lawless, a fighter and a wanted man… a pirate. And if people get in the way it’s their problem.”

“Being true to yourself isn’t incompatible with respecting others’ life.”

The Kid pirate huffed, visibly making efforts to argue with Penguin on a matter that was already settled in his mind.

“The Grand Line is a survival tournament; it means to test our will and strength. Not our kindness or empathy. I wouldn’t be here if had cared about every person I met.”

Penguin saw what Killer meant; he won’t get anything by lecturing the man. They had different views of piracy, he wouldn’t change that.

“You seemed to hold a lot of prejudices against me,” the blonde carried on and here it was Penguin’s time to snigger, the sarcasm evident in the hatted man’s tone. “Because you don’t have any against me? You’d already decided of what I was before we even fought!”

A wounded tone had crept into Penguin’s voice. And when he realized it, the Heart pirate blushed with annoyance.

“You’re right,” Killer conceded, “But how could I know who I was dealing with, when I had so little information about you?”

“I’m giving you a chance to redeem yourself here.”

“Actually… you already proved me wrong,” Killer begun, earning an inquisitive look from the hatted man, “About being Trafalgar Law’s first mate. I always thought the polar bear was the brain in your crew.”

The mere image of Bepo conceiving battle plans or taking major decisions for their crew made Penguin genuinely laugh. The hatted man immediately covered his mouth regretting his outburst already. He wouldn’t make fun of a great fighter as Bepo, they could always count on him and he held an important place at Law’s side. But he was clearly too emotional to be a right-hand man.

“No, he wouldn’t fit as a first mate,” the Heart pirate replied getting serious again, “he lacks the… huh, not the coolness but…”

“The composure?” Killer suggested.

“Yes,” Penguin agreed, and he couldn’t believe how fast the man had hurt his pride then lightened his mood. However a little voice in his head whispered him, he couldn’t unfairly blame Killer for the fluctuation of his own emotions.

The hatted man thought about his own position in the Heart’s crew. He surely wasn’t the brain, that role was devoted to his captain. Law was the one scheming, always having a head start, but he was playing on so many fronts… and he wasn’t infallible. So Penguin was trying his best to support him. Tonight he was glad from being here instead of him, his captain already had too many tasks.

 “A captain can’t carry the protection of his crew on his own,” the hatted man continued, “Each member has their own skill. We couldn’t go far without a navigator, a carpenter, a doctor or a cook, but a first mate… is the captain’s main support, he must al–”

–always have his back,” the first mates said at the same time.

They stared at each other for a brief quiet moment, before Penguin remembered he had gotten a drink at one point, and focused on finishing his beverage to avoid looking at the Kid pirate. The alcohol burnt his throat and he tried to pretend it was the cause of the heat pooling in his face. The most troubling in that conversation though, was the fact he wasn’t feeling ill at ease, on the contrary.

“So, are you often meeting with your rivals or am I a special one?” The Heart pirate asked earnestly, setting his elbows on the table when he took upon himself to look back at his interlocutor.

“You’re my first actually. It’s never been in my habits to talk with my enemies.”

“What changed then?”

“I sailed on Grand Line,” Killer explained with a deep tone full of recollections, “There was a time I never thought I’ll ever set a foot on that cursed ocean, the Pirate’s Graveyard, and here we are, at the end of what we now call Paradise. We’ve gone though many dangers on this part of the ocean but… what’s waiting for us on the other side defy everything we know until then.”

 

The New World… it was a dreadful perspective in Penguin’s mind, and apparently Killer shared a similar worry. Usually pirates were overjoyed from crossing Red Line and discovering that unexplored territory. But suddenly, the Heart pirate knew it was an important matter for the supernova. The way Killer talked about it was more serious than anything he told before. That was how Penguin guessed it was what Killer wanted to talk aboout from the beginning.

For them the New World was a bigger deal than anything they went through up to then. Clearly it wasn’t something they could talk about like the weather. The Heart pirate would have never listened to him if Killer had told him this straight away.

“What do you know about the second part of the Grand Line?” The hatted man inquired prudently.

“First, it’s a very changing world, the weather is instable and the sea unforgiving. I’ve got very little to start with actually,” Killer replied visibly annoyed by that fact, “Most are hearsays and tales. That’s what makes me wary of the future of our journey.”

Penguin remained quiet for a moment, stunned by the simple fact that Killer had spoken exactly what was on his mind for quite a time now. They had so little tangible information concerning the New World. The only man who had ever sailed to its end was Gol D. Roger, the King of pirates, and now a bunch of ultra-powerful captains were competing over its pieces.

All the stakes of an unexplored world were precisely lying in the fact that there were neither guides nor books to tell you where you were setting foot. You were on your own. That’s what was making the main danger of the journey, but Penguin had never voiced that worry out loud.

As the masked man had told it so well, hearsays and tales were all they could rely on. It seemed nobody knew anything about the rest of the world. It was infuriating! Or very exciting depending on your point of view. However when it came to the crew’s safety not knowing what could potentially kill your nakamas was a nightmare.

 

Despite sharing the masked man’s preoccupations, Penguin was wondering. Killer could have started with the danger represented by the Navy or the Four Emperors. There were shichibukai residing in the New World, revolutionaries and they had to worry about the other rookies –the Worst Generation ahead of everyone else. The Heart pirate had agreed to meet him –a little bit to avoid immediate death– but above all because Killer had insisted on having valuable information to share. So why begin with the environment?

“Sailing on Paradise was already a challenge, not knowing what kind of island we would land on,” the Heart pirate settled, “I’m not pretending the New World would be easy –the hotness of desert islands will always be awful wherever we find them–”

“Heat isn’t so bad.”

“Heat is evil!”

“Typical of North Blue people,” the masked man smugly commented and the Heart pirate gave him a scornful look.

“Well up to you if you like to cook in a ship covered with metal,” the hatted man retorted to Killer’s surprise. He hadn’t suspected Penguin to know about that. That particularity of the Kid pirates’ ship wasn’t notorious at all. But it was always useful to know about your rivals’ assets, and Killer had done his researches too.

“If you prefer to hide in a submarine and never see the light of day, it’s your choice as well.”

Now each one of them had his point, they began to wonder about how much the other actually knew. The pirates were generally aware of some members the adverse crews had, through their wanted poster and newspapers, but nothing more.

They were touching the most risky part of their interview, one of these moments when they had to choose how much information they would reveal to the other. It was all about protecting their crews and their secrets, there was information they could never share. It was time for them to decide how much they could trust each other.

Chapter Text

You could find all sort of unusual scenes in the bars of Sabaody’s lawless area. But nothing as weird tonight as two enemies pirates sitting in front of each other. The respective first mates of the Kid pirates and the Heart pirates were drinking at a small round table at the back of a shady place. The others customers were ignoring them to the point they were carefully avoiding to look at the pirates. No one had sat at the nearby tables.

From where they were sitting, the pirates had a good view of the room. They were able to see anything coming from the entry to the bar; nothing could unexpectedly catch them off guard. Nonetheless their eyes had remained locked on each other.

“I simply wonder,” Penguin set as he got back on track, “regarding navigation, what could possibly be different in the second half of Grand Line compared to what we’ve been through?”

“There’s one thing I know for sure about sailing in the New World,” Killer begun, “In addition to his very capricious weather, the islands over there changed their magnetic fields.”

“Wait a minute, the log poses work with those fields. If they’re unstable we cannot travel,” Penguin frowned not trusting what the Kid pirate was affirming.

“Exactly, the instruments we used to sail on Paradise will be inefficient. That’s why we need New World’s ones.”

The masked man got a folded paper out of his dotted shirt, making Penguin briefly wondered how on Earth could a paper stay stuck against that tanned and muscled chest?

The hatted man’s eyes slipped to the drawing the Kid pirate had put on the wooden table. Three globes were pictured, each one containing a needle and set on a round base.

Killer couldn’t help but feeling delighted to catch Penguin’s interest. Even with his cap hiding a part of his face, the hatted man’s curiosity was evident. It was more relieving than the masked man would have thought. He had so much trouble to obtain this information, but outside of their navigator no one in the Kid’s crew had been very enthusiast about it. As he leaned forward, Killer realized he deeply wanted Penguin to believe he was telling the truth, to believe him.

“Is it an assembly?” Penguin questioned as he lifted the paper and turned it to see it on different angles.

“No, New World’s log poses are one distinct instrument. But you only find them on the other side of Red Line.”

“Did you draw this?”

“The person who told me about it did.”

“And how could you say they weren’t lying?”

“I made sure they didn’t,” Killer responded in that dreadful tone holding a definitive sentence whose kept making the Heart pirate shivered imperceptibly.

Sailing on a sea so changing as the Grand Line forbade relying on stars. So if New World’s log poses were really equipped with three needles, they might sail on its seas with fewer difficulties. More needles to catch the magnetic fields could provide a direction stable enough to guide their crew through the other part of Grand Line. This was information of highest importance. Of course the Heart pirates would have probably found it by themselves but maybe far later than caution recommended.

And this information was given to them by no less than an enemy. They had never fought the Kid pirates but that wasn’t making them their friends either. Then why? Why would one of their rivals ever help them? That wasn’t making any sense in the hatted man’s mind. What was Killer trying to do? Was it anyone else Penguin wouldn’t have hesitated to believe them. However his pirate’s journey had made him suspicious. Once arrived in this part of the world, he wasn’t taking anything for granted anymore. Thus he could only see one logic reason for the masked man to do that. He was tricking him.

 

Penguin’s instinct was telling him to put an end to this masquerade and leave the bar right away. Nonetheless, he stayed where he was as his reason opposed quite convincing arguments. From what he remembered, Killer had come to their meeting alone as he had told. The hatted man hadn’t seen anyone or detected any trap while joining him. The masked man was here to give information and up to then he hadn’t lie, might this intelligence be true or not. It was Penguin’s choice to decide what to do with that, and he didn’t hide his concerns.

“How can I be sure you don’t lie to me?”

“You can’t,” the masked man replied seriously, “You’ll have to trust me.”

Well, too bad because it wasn’t gonna happen soon. Or so was telling the defensive posture the hatted man took.

“I don’t think I could do that, but I’ll listen to what you have to say,” Penguin confirmed crossing his arms on the table.

“Don’t let me be misunderstood. If you want me to tell you what I know, you’ll have to do the same.”

The Kid pirate wasn’t entirely sure this approach would work. It was the best way to keep them both on an equal footing. Problem was: they were competing, so the Heart pirate might as well call it quits. Pirates took what they wanted, they were rarely trustworthy between themselves.

“So you aren’t the generous type after all,” Penguin stated.

“I prefer us to both involve ourselves.”

 

It was fair from Killer to ask Penguin to return him the favor. And even if the Heart pirate still doubted of his honesty, curiosity was slowly winning over his suspicion. All of that because of one tiny doubt: what if Killer was telling the truth? If he truly wanted them to help each other, they might actually gather relevant facts about the New World and get prepared. That was worth taking a bit of risk.

From now on the Heart pirate decided to put his wary in a corner of his head. He would behave and open himself to the masked man. If Penguin couldn’t give him his trust, he would show him respect as Killer had do for him.

“Very well,” Penguin agreed readjusting his cap on his head and continued with a little smirk, “So, you were talking about the New World’s sea, isn’t it?”

 

“Guys! It’s Bink’s sake!” A pretty drunk sailor yelled all of a sudden to his mates whereas a waitress was refilling their tankards. All the thugs cheered the young girl and they all started to sing again.

“Yo-hohoho, Yohohohoo!”

“Yo-hohoho, Yohohohoo!”

The patrons’ heads were turned towards the joyful group, and when Penguin got back on Killer he couldn’t help but laughed quietly.

“Take in consideration that murdering them would bring you nothing.”

“Not anymore…” The Kid pirate growled then defended himself, “I wasn’t thinking about murdering them.”

“Relax your hands then, or your blades are gonna come out by themselves,” the hatted man mocked.

“Can we go elsewhere?” Killer inquired as he took back the log pose’ drawing, without hiding his annoyance any further.

Penguin quietly agreed and after throwing some bellies on the table, they got out of the bar in the fresh night air of the grove seventeen.

It was later than the pirates would have suspected, the sky was dark but barely visible through the bubbles’ gleaming. The lawless areas were livelier when the sun was set. All around the two pirates, people were going out, stalls were selling all kind of merchandise, music and cheers were flowing out of the bars. However they escaped from the most crowded place to walk down soft lighted streets.

“So you don’t like pirate’s songs or is the echo so awful through that helmet of yours?” Penguin teased.

“I’m hearing perfectly fine!” Killer snapped offended.

“Really? It covers your whole head…”

“It’s designed specifically to not block the sound but to convey it. I can hear you from a distance as fine as if you whisper in my ear,” the masked man explained, “Unfortunately it doesn’t improve drunken singers.”

“For the sake of your ears, I hope you’ll never hear me sing at all then.”

“Are you such an awful singer?” Killer demanded as he focused on Penguin’s smooth and manly voice that hadn’t bothered him at all.

“I was forbidden even to hum during the last party we set… But it’s no big deal since when the crew gives a party we played music more than we sing.”

“Most of us are quickly too drunk to keep singing in tune,” Killer toped, “But we have some pretty good dancers.”

“You dance on a ship? With the backwash of the sea?” Penguin questioned, a bit nauseous at the idea of a moving deck under his feet while dancing.

“Parties happen more often on land; the sea is already dangerous enough,” the blonde replied as he recalled the annoying time when he had to sober up the navigator in a few minutes to get them out of danger. They were far less reckless now, Killer noticed with pride.

“Well, no drunk dancing in a submarine too, unless you want to finish your night by hitting a wall.”

“Are submarine’s walls that hard?”

“Enough to resist Sea Kings attacks, but that’s probably the point of the metal cover on your ship right?”

“Yes, and to limit the damages when the Navy come across us.”

They were playing a complicated game here: starting from casual, harmless anecdotes or facts concerning their crews and then slid further in more serious topics. It seemed the way they had naturally chosen for leading their conversation. And it appeared to be a less stressful way than judging each other with wary, not knowing where they stood. Discuss with an enemy could be as hard as sailing in an unexplored territory. 

“If the sea is the first thing to take in count in the New World then our ships might need upgrades,” Penguin thought out loud carrying on their previous discussion’s topic.

“Assuring the safety of the ship’s essential parts is a priority,” Killer agreed.

“It means either finding more resistant materials or improving the ship building.”

“Either would take a lot of work.”

“But could save us in a desperate situation.”

It wasn’t just about the casual improvements they could have made in the past on their respective ships. This time it required to be planned and took their new environment on board. It wasn’t an easy task regarding the little information they had to begin with. But discussing the issue with someone else helped them to look at the bigger picture.

Their talk went on and on. They never remained stuck in endless interrogations; but always offering several solutions, debating on the different options they had, and which fit the best in their respective situations.

They weren’t shipbuilders but between the two of them they were sharing a significant amount of knowledge regarding ships. As they walked down from one grove to another aimlessly, the pirates spent hours discussing about sails, rudder, hull and weapons.

“You can’t fit more than twenty cannons on a galleon’s deck–” Penguin reasoned.

“With enough men to use them–” Killer objected.

“It’s not even a matter of crew members; it’s a matter of size. How can you expect to move between your twenty pieces of artillery?” The hatted man argued convinced of his point. He couldn’t visualize how the weapons wouldn’t take the entire place.

“During a battle from distance you only need to stand behind the cannons and reload them,” the Kid pirate continued.

“And if the enemy comes on board?”

“Through the fire of twenty cannons?”

“Let’s say they’re very lucky… or if they possess a devil fruit?”

“Then the cannons are stored on the lower deck,” the masked man replied adamant.

“That’ll required a time you don’t have in a boarding!”

“Unless one man had the power to move them all at once…”

Then Penguin understood why Killer was so sure of what he claimed, “Right… the fruit of magnetism. I forgot this one. Okay, that’s cheating but clever.”

“WE cheat?”

The Heart pirate shut his mouth and he swore he heard Killer chuckled lightly. In this part of the world it was more unusual to cross the path of enemies without devil fruits. And the Heart pirates’ captain wasn’t an exception. The farther they got, the harder it was for common humans to go the distance. Penguin knew that better than others, and he trained hard to be up to the Grand Line.

“What about the weight?” The hatted man considered suddenly.

“Of cannons?”

“Obviously. Not of our captains,” Penguin scoffed lightly, “All those weapons must be heavy and as you pointed it earlier, the more cannons you’ve got the more men you need, implying more food and space.”

“All that extra weight makes the ship heavier,” Killer completed as he acknowledged the Heart pirate point, “We can’t afford to be too slow or it’ll be our doom.”

“It’ll be a shame, a ship sunk by cannons,” the hatted man added.

“I’m started to like our ship, I won’t let it go down for more cannons,” the Kid pirate assured.

 

Apart from the resistance, a ship also needed agility and speed. The pirates carried on the subject with ease, including what they knew about navigation. They would never give anything important enough to compromise their own crews and without telling each other they decided to never drive the other into a corner by asking tricky questions.

For lack of real trust, they had quickly come to respect each other. Rivals or not, it was the least they could do considering they were sharing information. It felt so easy, as more and more time passed. They must have walk around the whole lawless area by now, however the pirates barely registered their surroundings entirely focused on their conversation.

“You traveled in a sky island?” Penguin asked even though he clearly heard it, as if his enthusiasm needed a confirmation.

“Twice,” Killer affirmed, “You’ve never seen one?”

“Not one crossed our path…” The Heart pirate told as he recalled the long time he had hoped their Log Pose would point toward the sky.

For a moment the Kid pirate truly hesitate between lying to the hatted man about the marvel of sky islands in order to not make him have too much regrets; and telling him the truth about how wonderful places they were.

“I heard there are many of them in the New World,” Killer told instead.

“How is it?”

The masked man smiled in the dark, Penguin wouldn’t let him tiptoed around the topic he was so interested with; so Killer complied.

“High. There is a bit less oxygen compared to the sea level, it’s very disturbing at the landing. Sky islands generally float ten thousand meters above the ground.”

“Are those islands entirely made of clouds or do they have an earth ground?”

“Only clouds from what we’ve seen. The islands’ ground is made to hold everything up, but the inhabitants have developed amazing crafting skills to use this material. Everything isn’t made with clouds but the roads are and a part of the buildings too. The rest is wood, stone, metal, glass…”

The Heart pirate’s excitement was palpable, as he walked by Killer’s side and asked all the questions he could think of about the islands he dreamt to sail to. In spite of the reserve Penguin had shown earlier about the veracity of what the masked man was saying, he hung on the masked man’s every word.

“Wings?! Like… angels?”

“I wouldn’t call them angels. Some are pretty nasty. They’re not very fond of strangers.”

“Let alone pirates I supposed.”

“Humans hadn’t been kind with them in general, but they respect a fair trade.”

“You traded with them?”

“Yes, earth mostly. It’s a very valuable resource in sky because plants grow far better in earth than clouds.”

“And what did you take in exchange?”

“Apart from clouds they relied on a technology called dials. They’re quite rare down there and worthwhile too. They look like seashells and to make it short they can store and reject energy and matter,” Killer answered to the hatted man’s inquisitive glare, “There are a lot of different dials’ types. Some serves to propelling, other can give light, but they’re also used to fight, to create clouds or wind, even to record sounds.”

Killer had acquired some for his own use; the Jet Dials were particularly useful in battles or pursuits. But that was a detail he would keep for himself. The hatted man’s curiosity seemed to extend to everything from the creatures living in the sky islands to the local customs. They could have gone on the subject all night long if Killer hadn’t asked Penguin in return.

“What’s like, to sail under the sea?”

At the tone of his voice, the Heart pirate understood he hadn’t asked that question out of curiosity. As he was searching his words the hatted man took an instant to focus his eyes on Killer’s body stance. It claimed to be casual while the rigidity of his limbs betrayed to an expert observer he was ready for anything to happen. Even if they had managed to talk in a civil manner, wariness was still here.

Traveling below the sea would be very soon an issue for the Kid pirates. It wasn’t enough to coat your ship to sail to the Fishman Island. The Heart’s crew was probably among the most experienced sailors in the matter on the whole Sabaody archipelago.

“There are a few basics you have to take in count. First, and it may sound obvious but when you’ve only pilot a galleon in your life it’s important. Under the sea your ship doesn’t solely go forward and on the sides, it also go upward and downward. It means you have to keep an eye on a larger environment and to know how and at which speed your ship can move underwater.”

Killer seemed to take mental notes and didn’t spare a word like an attentive student. This behavior had caught Penguin off guard from the beginning; regarding the Kid pirates’ fiery reputation he hadn’t expected Killer to be so placid. Well, that was appreciated.

“All the objects have to be stored or fixed on the grounds and walls, you don’t want to get crush by a cannon,” the hatted man chaffed the blonde, earning a snort, “When you’ll encounter turbulences it will be necessary to watch for the crew as well. Tied them even. They can easily go through something as fragile as a bubble. And it will be hard to retrieve them before they drown or get crushed by the pressure. You have to keep in mind the devil fruit powers are inefficient on anything immersed in the ocean. Food shouldn’t be a bigger issue than on sea, however light would be.”

The Kid pirate lifted his head toward the other slightly. Before the hatted man mentioned it, he hadn’t thought of light as a problem they would encounter underwater. Now Penguin was speaking of it, it seemed pretty obvious.

“From what I learnt since we landed here, the Fishman Island shouldn’t be able to receive light at ten thousand meters deep, but there are special trees –they called it sunlight trees Eve– whom the roots go to the bottom of the ocean and relay the light from the surface, as well as the oxygen. But until there you won’t be able to see where you go past three thousand meters.”

Penguin expertly reviewed everything he knew about submarine streams and how to let them guide a ship without suffering their strong currents. The hatted man wasn’t mastering all the subtleties about underwater navigation but he did his best. Outside of the sea itself, there was also all the things living in it that the pirates had to take in count too.

Even for the short time the Kid pirates would spend under the sea there was a lot to go through. And when the Heart pirate finished with the basics, he was a bit surprised by the lighter shade Killer’s blond hair had taken. Only then Penguin realized that sweet color had been brought out by the first gleams of the day…

 

“Oh jeez, it’s getting late! …I mean early! I think we should huh…” Jeez? Really Penguin… call it on sleep deprivation and put yourself together! “Maybe… call it quits for today?”

As right as the Heart pirate was, the simple fact to stop their conversation here upset Killer. That was absurd –they had plenty of important things to do– but still, a selfish part of him didn’t want to end things here. Time had flown by so quickly it seemed as if they were talking only for an hour. Yet he replied, “You’re right.”

The pirates stood awkwardly in the middle of a quiet street, feeling the sleepiness that got hold of them after staying up all night. The hatted man moved slightly from one foot to another, his lips tight and a focused air on the inferior half of his face –all that Killer could see–, as if Penguin was hesitating to say something.

And finally he let out, “I guess… since you were serious about sharing information… maybe I could get you to meet my captain like–”

“No!”

Right at the moment he said it, the masked man realized how reckless he might have sounded. But he’d supposed the Heart pirate was meaning to permanently leave his place to his captain to lead the interview. And the word had just burst out of the blonde’s mouth.

“I thought you wanted to meet with him,” the hatted man reminded a little taken aback.

“I hardly get you to talk with me, and I…” The Kid pirate thought for a second and settled on, “I don’t trust you yet. I won’t lose another night trying to do convince your captain to listen to me when you already handle it, so–”

“Ok,” the Heart pirate cut him off, “We have a lot of things to discuss about that deserve another meeting.”

The hatted man lifted his head up just enough for Killer to cross his dark eyes. Gosh, the blonde was huge!

“Is the night after tomorrow fine with you?” The masked man inquired.

“Yes. But not in the same place, it wouldn’t be very cautious… in the grove 28, the Flying Fish Pub?”

The blonde simply nodded and with the perspective to see each other again, they parted.

Chapter Text

“Secure the rope,” Kid ordered Wire as they were tying up the new cargo in the ship’s galley. It was a harder task than usual since they had starting to fix and tied every little objects and furniture in expectation of their future diving.

Once they were assured the food supplies weren’t moving an inch, the Captain got out on the deck and retrieved his hyperactive first mate tidying up the sails with a part of the crew. They were particularly careful since nothing must move when the galleon would be coated.

Under the archipelago’s bright sun, all the men were working, dealing more or less well with a hangover from the day prior. The temperature was getting hot and the Captain Kid had taken down his heavy fur coat, showing off his bare muscled chest. At the foot of the main mast, he held his right hand up and drew a metal chain around his arm. With ease he let the chain lifted him up just by his will and jumped nimbly on top of a folded sail.

From this height, the Captain had a pretty good view of his ship. All of its bone shaped rail, its black sails and the metal slabs covering the masts and the superior deck. He could see the crew busying itself from the skull that decorated the bow to the stern painted with flames that shone under the sunlight. The Kid pirates could be proud of their ship whose the black flag was waving threateningly in the breeze. 

“Sails all tied up Captain,” Killer informed as he landed beside Kid on the heavy beam. The red haired man glanced at his friend whose shoulders were slightly sloping. He visibly needed to sleep but he seemed to get infinite stamina out of nowhere. Tired or not, the blonde would never say anything if he was needed in shape. Even sick as hell he was always on duty. The blonde was a fucking nightmare when they had to confine him to bed. But he definitely was someone Kid could always count on in any situation.

There wouldn’t be much rest for the Kid pirates today. With the Navy headquarters so close, they were resupplying the ship quickly and getting ready to go, just in case. But the Kid pirates also had a lot of reparations to go through. They had a hard time arriving to here, and many pieces of the galleon needed a check. Moreover Killer had brought back useful information from his last night’s trip and they didn’t wait to apply them.

“Good,” the Captain replied casting his first mate a look which meant he better not fall asleep now. They weren’t done yet. “We’ll go see the coating mechanics by this evening. Don’t want any patrons or marines in our way,” Kid exposed, frowning aimlessly toward the horizon.

“Who are you taking with us?”

“Just one more, depends on who’s still busy tonight. Probably Heat I think.”

“Small board,” the masked man reviewed, “Does that mean we’re actually going to negotiate this time?”

Kid sniggered, “That’s why you’re comin’.”

“And I thought you just needed me to keep an eye on your sorry ass.”

“I’ve to make you feel useful from time to time.”

“How generous of you.”

“I know, I know, I’m too good.” They couldn’t help but laugh at how false that sentence sounded. They had travelled far away together but ‘good’ had never applied to any of them since their childhood. When Kid and Killer had met each other they were brats, troublemakers, bad seeds of a generation already condemned to be the worst of all. Well, nothing had very much changed since. However, with their strength and power they had taken themselves the chance nobody wanted to give them.

 

“We might expect to fight though,” Killer foresaw, recalling what they had learnt about the fierce behavior of the mechanics. They were used to deal with the pirates too eager from crossing the Red Line.

“Yeah, one of the many joys of being us,” Kid stated, then he smirked at his first mate, “If you get seriously injured, can I have that fancy dagger you brought back from the Cloudy Island?”

“Over my dead body,” the masked man calmly declared.

“Wire said something along those lines. So, that’s a yes but only at death’s door.”

“You know, that’s exactly why you don’t have any friend.”

The masked man playfully punched Kid’s shoulder and sat up before sliding with agility along the mast to the main deck. He avoided just in time to land on Heat who was checking the canons. More men were unloading a new arrival of supplies, deposing crates on the center of the deck to divide up their contents later. The Captain had followed Killer’s trail and sat on a wooden crate with a mischievous smile. Without looking he rummaged through the container beside him and got out the first foodstuff he could laid his hand on –which happen to be an apple.

“So you still don’t wanna say who’s the guy you spent the night with?” Kid asked before he bit right into his fruit.

“Nope.”

“Why? Is he too gorgeous?”

“He’s not your type,” the masked man assured.

“You’re still not telling me! If you ain’t afraid that I sleep with him, then it’s someone I’d probably kill, isn’t it?” The Captain guessed by experience, and his first mate didn’t even bother to respond.

Killer grabbed a part of the inventory list Heat was going through and took a look of what was left, but Kid wasn’t going to let him go on that.

“It’s pretty weird. Usually your enemies are mine, so what’s the reason you haven’t slit his throat already?”

“Maybe because he helps me more than you right now!” The masked man grumbled as he pushed the Captain off his sit. But when he saw Kid took another bite of his apple without losing his smile, Killer knew he wouldn’t get out of it so easily.

“I’m planning something…” the blonde explained, “But you’re not gonna like it. Let me see if it’s feasible, then I’ll brief you about the whole thing. Ok?”

“I don’t like that already…” Kid frowned, then he seemed to realize what he kept bringing to his mouth, “and why the hell am I eating a fruit?!” He shouted, horrified that something vegetal got into his body.

“You need to eat more of it if you want to grow someday,” Killer mocked. He took one crate of gun powder and went downstairs to avoid any other questions from the red haired man.

“Fuck you Mom!” The blonde heard Kid shouted after him.

 

“What’s so funny?” The Captain growled at Heat who had watched the whole scene as if it wasn’t something he had already seen hundredth times. His face was expressionless as usual but Kid could tell at the gleaming of his eyes he was having fun.

“You looked less like an old married couple this time,” Heat commented, “He seemed to have something on his mind.”

“He always has too many things on his mind…” The Captain huffed, crossing his arms with a deep frown.

“Don’t worry Captain, he’ll be fine.”

“I’m not worrying!” Kid barked and finished his apple making a face, because he wasn’t the fruit’s type didn’t mean he would waste food.

The Captain ordered the men who had finished with the sails to go on the inventory on the lower deck and got them out of the new cargo’s traffic. He sent the ship’s boys to the cleaning before turned back to Heat.

“Killer got such weird ideas sometimes…”

“He would never put the crew in danger if that’s what’s bothering you,” Heat responded.

“I know that well, but he seems to believe what that mysterious guy told without even question it.”

“He might have good reasons to.”

The Captain nodded thoughtfully and he spoke aloud the question that suddenly came to his mind.

“You think he’s fucking him?”

“Who?”

“His tell-tale he’s so secret about.”

Heat considered that issue during a moment but, “I don’t think so.”

“I bet he is.”

Chapter Text

“If we’re able to upgrade all those parts of the submarine, the Navy shouldn’t be such a problem once we’ve crossed Red Line,” Shachi reviewed with a smile, his hands holding flat several blueprints of the Polar Tang on the map’s table, “Where did you get that much inspiration Penguin?”

“Same way as for the navigation’s plans,” the hatted man answered with a similar yet sleepy smile.

Bepo had already completed his own notes on their next travel with the numerous suggestions Penguin had brought back from his successful night. The navigator had been quite happy of these new propositions. It had helped him to see their journey on a different point of view. The polar bear was sometimes so concerned about leading them in the right direction, he immersed himself too much in his task. With Bepo’s help Penguin had been able to correct the lack of expertise he and Killer had shown.

The hatted man hid a yawn behind his sleeve and focused back to the meeting he was having for hours with his captain and a few members of the Heart’s crew. The meeting room of the submarine was flooded by the ocean’s gleaming. The waters surrounding Sabaody were so clear that the high sun was flowing through it. Added to the powerful light of the room, the inside was as bright as daylight.

“I never thought you would actually find someone willing to share all those information, let alone a librarian. There isn’t much who helps pirates,” Shachi added while readjusting his sunglasses above the peak of his hat.

“I would have told you earlier, but he was quite difficult to approach,” Penguin told adding a few truths here and there to help his lie, “I didn’t know how valuable his information was until last night.”

At first, Penguin had feared that the crew wouldn’t believe a librarian could have shared all that knowledge with him. But the Heart pirates often relied on books; they were plenty of them in the ship. And above all nobody would cast a doubt on anything the first mate would have to share with his nakamas. Plus, saying it came from a man of science was more easy to swallow than from a rival pirate.

Convincing himself, he was doing the right thing, the hatted man continued to show how they could improve the submarine’s weaponry without being obstruct by the water. The excitement was such that everybody in the room was standing around the vast extension of the map table where numerous documents had been spread. Even when the men were opposing objectives arguments against Penguin’s propositions, he always had a clever answer to retort from his long night of debate with the masked man.

 

It’d been a long time the Heart pirates hadn’t reunited like this. And even if everyone wasn’t agreeing with each other they were truly motivated to get prepared to enter the New World.

At the end of the table, Law was quite silent comparing to other meetings they had had in the past, during which he was usually leaded the discussion. Now the captain of the Heart pirates, towering most of his men, arbitrated the various debates going on. He had his spotted beanie pulled low on his eyes, his long sword resting on the edge of the table. The hatted man had dreaded his reaction most than anyone else but he had agreed to a lot of Penguin’s points.

“With all that we could get out of here quicker than we planned,” one of the men gladly pointed out.

“We rather stay as long as this librarian has information to give us,” another retorted.

“Don’t forget the other supernovas are heading to this island by now, it could be safer to cross Red Line before them.”

“We won’t get anywhere without the right equipment to guide us,” Trafalgar Law cut short, “Where could we find that New World’s Log Pose you described us Penguin?”

“The Fishman Island for sure. But there might be chances to find some here at Sabaody,” the hatted man answered, glad to get back on a more relevant topic, “I’m not sure about it… with the Navy headquarters so close it’s hard to know. I could search for it while we’re still here.”

“Don’t look for it on your own. We can all search for that device during the rest of our stay on the archipelago.”

Thus it was stated. Their captain’s words were rules. His directives were always well thought, so it wouldn’t cross anyone’s mind to go against them. None of the men standing here would be there without him, it caused a strong attachment uniting Law and his men. They were all proud to be part of the Heart’s crew. It was showing quite obviously by the way they dressed, and it didn’t miss to make Penguin smiled fondly every time he remembered it.

It started for practical reasons. You can hardly practice medicine in your everyday clothes, it’s simply too unhealthy. Only their captain constituted as an exception because of his ability to have entire control of the room. But for the others they had acquired overalls that they had finally never taken off. The Heart pirates hadn’t had any other clothing to give to the new companions joining them during their travel; and for some that was the first real clothe they’d been offered to wear for a long time. That symbol on their backs meant more than carrying their colors, it was who they were.

 

“Lunch is ready!” The cook shouted through the speaker system of the submarine for the whole crew to hear.

“We still have many points to discuss about–” Law started but he was interrupt by another crew member who opened the door wide and let a delicious smell flooded into the meeting room, then the captain saw he had suddenly lost everyone’s attention. “Fine, let’s eat first,” he consented.

The pirates went enthusiastically out of the room to the galley, like kids allowed leaving the class. However Law didn’t follow the movement. He sat on a chair at the end of the map’s table instead, focusing on the plans spread on its surface. Penguin closed the door behind his nakamas, he had things too heavy on his mind he needed to speak about with his captain. His stomach could wait.

Nonetheless, the hatted man didn’t know how to begin. As often when he had something delicate to put on the table, he felt like he was twelve again, trying to convince that teenager with white marks on his skin and his bear companion to take him with them.

 

“Fascinating all the things a librarian can teach, isn’t it?”

A slight irony was audible in Trafalgar Law’s voice and Penguin was glad to hear his captain joked.

“I’m sorry for hiding the truth, but… I didn’t think the others would have understood. I don’t mean they’re dumb or anything, sorry! It’s just they’d have freaked out and not actually listened to any of those great ideas. Huh, I mean I found them great, and I wanted to thank you for allowing me to share them. Even after I told you from whom it came for… Excuse me for all th–”

“You don’t have enough fur to sound like Bepo, stop apologizing,” Law cut him calmly.

The hatted man was always stumbling on his words when he was preoccupied. And this was an important matter. This was concerning the crew, people he cared about. Nevertheless he breathed out and relaxed. Law would never have summoned the others if he had doubted of Penguin or what he had learnt. He hadn’t become Law’s first mate for nothing. The Heart's captain trusted him with his life. Penguin was even among the rare knowing about Flevance and the Donquixote family. Law had faith in his judgment and it helped Penguin to continue.

“I shall meet him again in two days.”

Law crossed his first mate’s eyes but the hatted man could not tell if the Heart's captain was more surprised or curious. However when he spoke again, Penguin knew he was actually delighted at the perspective to gather more intelligence.

“So he hasn’t told you everything?”

“Not yet,” the first mate replied while a sly grin spread his captain’s face.

From all the persons likely to help them, Law would have never bet on the Kid pirates. Moreover, Penguin had pointed the fact that Eustass Kid’s first mate was acting on his own. Several options were debating in Law’s head but there was one thing he was certain of, it surely wasn’t Kid’s way to talk with his enemies. For all that, that wasn’t making his first mate’s behavior a pure act of generosity. They were part of a merciless contest for the title of Pirate King. You didn’t reach such goal by making friends. Everyone had their price, and the supernova should have one too.

“I still have trouble to understand how the Massacre Soldier went from threatening to kill you to sharing information… he might have seemed peaceful but he might have other motives that escaped you.”

“For now we’re on an equal footing, we’re both giving information to the other.”

“That seems very idealistic. There must have something else behind all that.”

“I thought about that,” Penguin defended, “I was vigilant on anything that could look like a trap–”

“I know you’re perfectly capable of discerning if he ever tries to fool you. However you did go to that meeting without telling anyone,” Law remarked.

“None of you would have let me go alone –with or without letting me know. I wanted to play by Killer’s rules. I solely had my own skin to watch for, so I could have escaped any trick easily.”

The Surgeon of Death nodded silently because his first mate was right –and he often was. The hatted man was a good observer and he knew to keep a cool head, but he was also soft-hearted. Plus, he had taken risks, “I want you to be careful from now on.”

“Actually I–” Penguin was about to say he knew the man he was dealing with, but in reality they had only spent a single night together. He knew barely anything about the masked man. Nevertheless the hatted man was strangely confident he had figured out how Killer was working, and now he really wanted to be at their next meeting to test that hypothesis further.

“I’ll be careful,” Penguin assured already knowing deep inside his mind he would break this promise too quickly. Law casted him a thoughtful look and the hatted man knew at this instant that along all his future reckless acts would hear his captain’s voice in his head reminded him to be cautious. Even if he was right, Penguin didn’t like when Law was moralizing him.

“So no one will follow me,” the hatted man firmly stated although Law would have the final word on this matter, “I refused to get Shachi involved in this,” Penguin clarified well aware his nakama would be volunteer as soon as he’d get informed.

“I’m quite surprised, you didn’t tell him anything,” Law pointed out without answering to his first mate’s will.

Shachi was Penguin’s closest friend; he joined the Heart’s crew not so long after him. They managed to save each other’s lives countless times and after a long period of rivalry, they had realized how much they had in common. Shachi was usually the one he could tell anything, but this time appeared different. A few days ago, he had left Penguin behind to face a supernova. Even if the hatted man had come out of it just with a scratch, Shachi was loathing himself for it. Thus the hatted man was persuaded his friend couldn’t understand the situation from his point of view, even though Penguin knew he was wrong to think like this. The hatted man had the impression to be in Killer’s shoes when he was trying to convince him to listen to what he had to say.

“I’ll find a moment to talk to him,” Penguin told more to himself than to his captain, who had plunged back into the meeting’s papers.

“Try to do that before you get murdered during your next rendezvous,” Law mocked.

“That’s exactly why I can’t tell him. He won’t stop worrying that I’ll get hurt and it’ll eat him up!” Penguin deplored knowing his nakama too well.

“If you come to fight again, it’ll be outside of the submarine.”

“Don’t get anyone to tail me,” the first mate retorted, crossing his arms, “And I won’t have to kick any ass.”

In front of the hatted man’s insistence, Law reluctantly yielded, “Very well, no tailing.”

Relieved to have his captain’s word, Penguin felt his earlier nervousness leaving him. And he was the one talking about composure! It wasn’t the first time he had an important task to fulfill that could help everyone though, and this one wouldn’t go any differently. He would assure the crew’s safety.

“Anything else you wanted to talk about?” Law asked while examining another blueprint.

“Anything else you want to ask for captain?” Penguin sent back.

“Nothing in particular.”

On that, the hatted man headed for the door but at the moment he laid his hand on the doorknob, his captain’s voice raised again, “Actually I have… one interrogation left, a pittance, just a curiosity.”

Penguin turned to see Law looked at him from under his spotted beanie, a wicked grin tugging his lips.

“How is he?”

Simply by the mischief tainted Law’s voice, Penguin understood the question had intentionally been dropped not for the answer he would give but to get an honest reaction out of him. It was low blow but the hatted man should have seen that coming. Through the whole conversation he had avoided talking directly about Killer, always keeping the subject on what they had spoken about. However his captain hadn’t missed that. And now he would know everything his first mate wasn’t telling him, just by looking at his face blushing heavily.

The hatted man stood his ground in silence, well aware no words were necessary.

Chapter Text

The night had barely started to fall Penguin was already heading toward the Flying Fish Pub. He just happened to finish what he had to do earlier that day. What a chance! So why would he not go to his new meeting with the Kid pirate?

The air was warm, as always on the archipelago, but not to a deadly point fortunately for the North Blue’s pirate. He felt tempted to pull the upper part of his overall down and let the light breeze cooled his body a little. In addition of being protective his overall kept warm. But even if he wore a black tank-top underneath his clothing Penguin didn’t fancy looking too casual to meet a counterpart. The Heart pirate hadn’t stumble upon many other rookies yet. They more or less knew who had landed on Sabaody, yet they were wisely avoiding crossing each other’s paths. The archipelago wasn’t that big though and it wouldn’t take long before the first brawls started for whatever reason would please them.

 

Penguin might be lost in his thoughts but he always had an eye on his surroundings. At first he didn’t know what exactly brought him back to Earth until he saw it again. That unmistakable golden mane. He couldn’t qualify it otherwise. Killer’s hair was so long, spiking down to his thighs. It had a darker shade in the obscurity of the sunset, catching here and there the colors of the street’s lights. The Heart pirate followed the blonde as he left the crowd, going down to the next grove toward the pub they would meet at.

The Heart pirate could tell by Killer’s stance he was a fighter. He had those assured footsteps and determined gait, but his whole body appeared stiff now Penguin looked at it. It seemed the kind of tension the hatted man had notice during their first interview. Killer was always ready for anything to happen, leaving him in a constant vigilant state.

As he was getting closer to the Kid pirate, Penguin wondered how he could make his presence known. Maybe by simply calling after him like… Hey? Wow such eloquence Penguin! Why was his brain shutting down drastically each time he was near the masked man?! He should simply go by his name. Nonetheless, as the hatted man think of a good way to say it he found himself weird. He had pronounced that name a lot in his head but few times out loud. He didn't want it to sound… inappropriate.

 

He certainly shouldn’t have taken so long to decide because Killer suddenly turned to face him. So quickly Penguin instinctively adopted a defensive guard in order to avoid the blade coming for him. He dodged the attack and focused on anticipate Killer’s next move.

The blonde halted his movement when he recognized the Heart pirate but he remained tensed as the other wasn’t letting his guard down. The hatted man was lucky being endowed with good reflexes or he would have been slice in half.

The pirates defied each other from a distance during a long silent moment, the thrill of an upcoming fight electrifying the air. But they weren’t here to fight, and Killer sheathed his scythes back in sign of peace. The Heart pirate’s presence soothed him a little. The masked man tried to remind himself Penguin wasn’t an enemy. At least, not right now… the question got on Killer’s nerves, what was the hatted man then? He couldn’t qualify him of ally, they were collaborating by necessity. Rivals seemed out of place in this context, because there weren’t any competition during their meetings. Informers then? That seemed the lesser of the worst options.

 

 “You shouldn’t sneak up on me like that Penguin,” Killer warned.

Here! Why did it sound so right when it was the masked man who was saying his name? Then the hatted man registered the blonde’s appearance and worried, “Is that blood?”

Oh. Now Killer was taking a look at his outfit, it wasn’t showing him in his best light. Red stains had splattered his light blue jeans and there were larger spots on the end of his sleeves. God damn bounty hunters! He deeply hated those people, not so much for staining his clothes rather than dumping on him every fucking time he was going out. Each times more and more came, convinced that their number would make a difference. But Killer had seen them coming every time, foiled every trap they tried to get him into. And each time he beat them to the core.

It was becoming very tiring, a long-lasting tiredness, and if Killer had to add laundry to his daily tasks he would never see the end of it. As he had thought when they first landed on the archipelago he was eager to leave. However, right when this memory came back to his mind he saw the Heart pirate’s concern and suddenly leaving seemed to fly far away from his priorities.

“Not mine,” the masked man answered rolling up his sleeves to hide the drying blood. He would be glad not attracting attention on him.

“People who get in your way?”

Penguin’s remark could have passed over Killer’s head if it hadn’t been for the disappointed tone that had slipped at the end of the rhetorical question. The masked man suddenly understood, the hatted man’s worry wasn’t applying to him but to the “innocent” person that blood had belonged. Hence the disappointment… like he didn’t live up to Penguin’s expectations. Killer felt unexpectedly downhearted when he came to realize it.

It wasn’t like he gave a damn about what people were thinking of him. But right here and there, the Kid pirate didn’t want to let that pass. Out of the sudden he felt the urge to straighten things out. They were sharing so much, he couldn’t back off on a matter of pride. Getting ready for the New World was more important than that, and Killer knew for sure he would not be able to find someone like Penguin on this island. However if they started to leave something unspoken their collaboration would be rotten at its beginning.

“Is that what you really think of me? That I’m living up to my name?! Spending my time going around and slicing every person who gives me a funny look?!”

“That’s… not what I said.”

“But that’s what you’re implying!” The masked man lifted his arms up in disbelief, his annoyed steps bringing him closer to the hatted man. Not threatening but terribly calm. “Before we started to discuss about the New World the first time, you blamed me for thinking you were weak whilst I didn’t know anything about you. And I did the effort to put aside everything I had made up concerning you.”

Killer breathed out, less tensed now he had offloaded what was troubling him, “I don’t ask you to go along my way of piracy but stop acting like you’ve already figure me out. Or this won’t work,” he ended pointing at him then Penguin.

 

A silence lasted between them as Penguin was remaining dumbstruck under Killer’s words. The blonde started to grow impatient. He wasn’t asking for the impossible, simply that the Heart pirate acknowledged he was wrong. Just a little understanding.

He didn’t expect the hatted man to bow his head and declared, “I’m sorry!”

This time the astounded one was Killer. He had never seen pirates making apologies let alone bowed their head. Especially toward a rival. It was a matter of pride. Pirates didn’t excuse themselves unless they were defeated and had no other choice but to bow down. That was more than the masked man could have asked for.

“Accept my apologies. I had no intention to offend you. I’m the last one who could judge y–.”

“Ok! Ok. That’s… all I wanted to hear,” the masked man cut short holding his hand up. He could handle fights, fiery arguments, even Kid’s tantrums but dealing with someone conciliatory was far away from his skills. Killer couldn’t believe how little it had taken to make him renounce giving Penguin grief over judging him too quickly. That wasn’t good… The hatted man offered a welcomed distraction as he looked at the blonde’s arm, “Are you hurt?”

“Why do you care?” Killer retorted, but before he had time to add anything more Penguin had taken his bloody forearm in a light grip. In other times, the masked man wouldn’t have allowed anyone to get so close to his blades –unless he wanted them dead– but the hatted man’s hold on Killer’s arm felt like the most natural thing in the world as he turned it gently on different angles. The whiteness of the scars was contrasting against Killer’s the sun-kissed skin.

“That’s one of the things I do best,” the hatted man explained quietly all focused on his examination, “Patching people up. No matter who I think they are,” he added with a humble voice.

Killer was about to top that the Heart pirate was a good fighter too. Even if he could improve his balance. However, Penguin carried on, “There are scars on your forearm but… they’re at least five years old.”

The Heart pirate had taken his objective medical voice, carrying on his examination with genuinely professionals gestures like a doctor’s ones. It should run in the crew probably.

 “Told you I wasn’t wounded.”

 “Where did you get such tiny round marks? Were you attacked by an angry mechanic armed with a screwdriver?”

“Ain’t no screwdriver,” the blonde scoffed suddenly amused by the Heart pirate’s guess, because it would totally have been Kid’s style.

“It looks like a thin tool or something alike had already stuck in your skin… It can’t be from arrows or bullets,” Penguin affirmed, “It wouldn’t have healed like this. It seems like it was caused by a wooden object–”

“Chopsticks,” Killer gave away, and the hatted man let go of his arm. “That’s how you learn not to mess with someone else’s food.”

The Kid pirate cleaned himself up a bit, and looked less like a walking murderer once most of the blood had been wiped off. “I might have scars but the other guy can only see his plate with one eye now.”

 “Sounds… pretty lively to have a meal with you,” Penguin commented a bit surprised. Above all because he hadn’t expected to find anything else than battle scars marking Killer’s skin. “I’ll keep in mind your possessiveness about food.”

“Speaking of it, weren’t we supposed to meet in a pub?” The masked man asked while stepping backward in the Flying Fish Pub’s direction, as an offer to forget all about their unfortunate encounter.

“That’s what was planned but I not sure now,” the hatted man chaffed in reply, “Will I get stabbed with a straw?”

“Nothing will enter you unless you asked for it.”


 

“With Urouge it makes five rookies on the archipelago now.”

“Shit, when did he land?” Killer asked putting his almost empty drink down on the wooden counter they were sitting at.

“This afternoon. You seem to hold him close to your heart,” Penguin noticed.

“He doesn’t like us very much since we made a mess in his hometown.”

“You sacked a sky island?!”

“We didn’t sack anything. We got attacked by the locals because we happened to land on a sacred site!” The blonde huffed exasperatingly as if it wasn’t the first time he defended this case, “They didn’t really let us explain ourselves before throwing arrows and blasts at our faces! And we had to stay until the Log Pose set on the next island.”

The Heart pirate knew what kind of welcome you could receive from a hostile population, so he didn’t object any further before continuing, “I heard Jewelry Bonney and Basil Hawkins will reach Sabaody in the days to come.”

“Looks like the whole Worst Generation is gathering here. It’s gonna be a fucking mayhem.”

“It won’t last more than a few days before the Navy gets involved for a reason or another, and we’ll be forced to leave.”

“That makes me glad to be early for once,” the blonde added sipping the rest of his drink.

“Have you already met the other rookies?”

“Outside of your crew and Urouge’s one, we came across Hawkins once but never the others. Our paths were too far away.”

“It’s scratching my nerves to know so little about them… Because when we’ll manage to handle the New World’s sea, the first big enemies we’re gonna face we’ll be each others,” Penguin seriously stated looking down his tankard.

 

The Kid pirate had never considered things from this angle. In his head, the Navy would probably be their most immediate opponent as usual, and then the Four Emperors without a doubt, but Penguin had a point here. They were getting closer to the One Piece and a lot of them would be crushed before the New World’s end. Killer had assumed they would follow different paths like on Paradise. However, with the new log poses they were using, chances to meet each other had increased. And who would miss an opportunity to oust an adversary when the occasion would present itself?

Killer’s mind immediately settled on the Heart and Kid’s crew… because they would come to it. At some point. No. He wasn’t thinking about this!

“Apart from our crews, who could be the most dangerous?” The Kid pirate asked not willing to bring the topic on how they could kill each other.

“Taking the supernovas only, they’re practically all devil’s fruit users to begin with.”

“Except for the Mad Monk, the Pirate Hunter and me.”

“Bege got the Castle fruit, Drake has a mythical Zoan–”

“Apoo’s a one-man band or alike, and I heard Bonney can get younger or older.”

“Hawkins is a weird… voodoo-doll man, I can’t figure out what his powers actually are; and Straw Hat is a rubber man.”

“If there’s one thing I can’t figure out, it’s how this one came so far,” Killer wondered with disbelief.

“Monkey D. Luffy?”

“I mean, have you seen his wanted poster? He looks like a joke.”

“A three hundred millions bellies’ joke then,” Penguin pointed out.

“Yeah, we never heard about him before the Enies Lobby’s incident though.”

No matter how hard the World Government had tried to sweep the issue, the destruction of the Judicial Island couldn’t be ignored. The news had been known all over the world along with the name of Straw Hat Luffy.

“He only got a high bounty because he destroyed a World Government’s facility,” Killer insisted.

“And Eustass Kid is just above him because he kills civilians.”

Here it was, Law’s disapproving voice echoing in Penguin’s head with a, When I told you not to get murdered, it wasn’t just a joke.

On the other hand, Killer found himself surprised once more. He wouldn’t have hesitated to scalp anyone speaking bad about his captain, would they spoke the truth or not. But the Heart pirate was enouncing a fact, with full objectivity. There was no judgment in his voice –like it happened earlier– and the masked man took time to consider what Penguin was meaning.

“You can’t solely judge someone’s power base on the price on his head,” the hatted man voiced aloud.

“Above all a price set by a partial government.”

Penguin nodded, “So, we have to know who we’re going to face then… I heard that the Mad Monk is quite an adversary.”

“Not as ferocious as it’s said, but his whole crew is composed with trained fighters, and he’s crazy.”

“Aren’t we all?” The Heart pirate told quietly, smiling as he took another swallow of his drink.

“Probably… I mean, I’m talking to you.”

“Is this really the craziest thing that you’ve come to do?”

“The weirdest without a doubt.”

Penguin heard the blonde smile as he tried to recall the craziest thing he ever done in his life. He didn’t define craziness as something necessarily outstanding, you could be crazy just by doing something you would never usually do. The first event that came to Penguin’s mind was when he let Shachi tattooed him. The whole Heart’s crew had tattoos, and his friend had done most of them, he was very talented with a needle.

 

“What about the other rookies?” Killer continued.

“We’ve never met with Straw Hat Luffy –and I hope we’ll never have to– but… he made himself known quickly at a young age. Plus he’s got another Supernova within his crew.”

“The Pirate Hunter,” the masked man completed, interest tainting his voice, “He sounds more threatening than his captain. Even if he’s got a weird title considering he’s himself a pirate.”

The blonde crossed Penguin’s eyes, signifying clearly they wouldn’t debate over which pirates had the most ridiculous epithet. So the Heart pirate went on.

“I wouldn’t underestimate Bonney’s ability, we could be totally screwed if she had the power to rejuvenate a whole crew. But apart from her, her men don’t seem so powerful. Same goes for Bege. He’s got his whole crew inside him–”

“Like, literally inside him?”

“That’s how his fruit works, he has the ability to become a living fortress and he shrinks his men to keep them inside his body. But outside of him, they are just regular pirates.”

“I thought the same about X Drake, but his crew counts former Navy soldiers, some heavy fighters whose bounties are pretty high.”

“I founded the same kind of intelligence,” the hatted man added.

“But thinking about what you mentioned earlier, maybe it worth to dig more on them, and not only rely on their bounty.”

Killer was right, none of them had already faced Drake or his men, they were pretty discreet compared to the others and that was something to be wary of.

“One we don’t hear much about too is Hawkins,” Penguin carried on, “Our paths have crossed several times. I admit he’s kinda dark looking, but he’s very clever too.”

“He doesn’t seem to fight much.”

“Strength isn’t everything.”

“I know, but pure cleverness doesn’t get you far as a pirate,” Killer underlined, “From what I’ve seen of him though, he looks dangerous.”

“His strong point is that he knows his strengths well and how to use his opponents’ weaknesses against them.”

Those new information were getting the Kid pirate more at ease. The unknown was a nightmare but to know who they were going to face gave them the opportunity to get ready. To have a head start on the others.

“We came across Apoo several times too,” the hatted man declared, “He’s quite surprising because he does seem silly and uncaring but he is a good strategist.”

“We’re still talking about the long-armed music lover?”

“The very man who wiped the G-3 from the map.”

Oh right, now Killer was remembering that feat of arms. The On Air pirates had entirely destroyed the G-3 Navy base a year ago. The Kid pirates had attacked Navy bases too by the past, but it was extremely risky. Marines could sometimes be as brutal as pirates but the main danger resided in their organization. To launch an attack against the marines wasn’t something you could take lightly, or do without a very good reason.

“Ok,” the masked man conceded, “So Hawkins and Apoo?”

“From what I know, they’re the first ones I would be wary of.”

“Suspect the weirdos first.”

“You realized we’re just as weird as they are?” Penguin mocked.

“Don’t make it sounds like a bad thing,” Killer returned in the same tone, laying his arm on the counter as he turned toward the Heart pirate.

 

The blonde watched amused, how the hatted man tried to cross his eyes before he remembered he couldn’t see them and awkwardly looked away his cheeks burning slightly.

Killer had never paid attention to how often Penguin blushed. Sometimes you didn’t get the chance to have a neutral complexion. He wondered if it embarrassed the hatted man or if he was just going with it. It suited him actually, adding a bit of color to his pale face, betraying emotions.

With his helmet on all the time, nobody was able to read Killer’s expression. It could appear a bit unfair to the persons he was speaking with, but he liked it that way. His reactions were less predictable. It was giving him a more self-controlled appearance too. He preferred to remain discreet about what he felt.

Wearing a mask was also allowing him to look everywhere he wanted without the others knowing about it. He could survey his surroundings or pay a greater attention to details and, as it happened, stare at the hatted man.

Killer had turned his head back toward the bar and its rows of alcohols. But out of the corner of his eye, he could see the way Penguin had crossed his ankles under his bar stool, his right hand gripping the edge of his seat between his spread legs.

The Heart pirate gripped his tankard with his little and ring fingers folded, lifted it to his pale mouth and threw his head back. He emptied his drink in a long swallow that made his Adam’s apple raised then fell back in place. A bit of alcohol started to run down on the corner of Penguin’s lips as put down his drink. During an instant Killer was tempted to wipe it but the Heart pirate caught it with the tip of his tongue, shivering slightly from the burning of the alcohol in his throat.

“Would you like some more?”

The masked man was about to answer positively without thinking when Penguin looked at the waitress who had asked the question.

“I’m sorry,” the girl carried on as she blushed, clearly ashamed from having broken their quiet moment, “I didn’t want to interrupt you, but I have to ask every customer who has finished for a refill.” She bowed her head as if she hoped her excuse would be enough for them.

“It’ll be fine for me thank you,” the Heart pirate replied gently, “I shouldn’t drink more on an empty stomach.”

At these words the girl’s eyes suddenly lightened, “Oh! There’s that very lovely restaurant down the street you should go to! They served excellent ramen and… no one will be there to interrupt you.” She left with a knowing smile after Killer hadn’t ask for another drink, leaving the two pirates wondering why she was going away like she had made their night.

“Did she wink at you?”

“I thought it was in your direction.”

Chapter Text

“Mmmm! So good!” Penguin moaned blissfully.

“Eh, don’t choke on it.”

For a moment, Killer halted his hands and watching fascinated all the hatted man was able to take in his mouth.

“Sounds like it’s been while you haven’t taste one,” the blonde laughed quietly at the muffled whimpers the other was making.

“Way too long! You should try it, it’s amazing.”

Despite the obvious pleasure the Heart pirate was taking, Killer’s mask prevented him to do the same.

“I trust you on that.”

 

“Excuse me, can I have the same dish again?” Penguin asked, pointing toward the slices of fish in his plate, to the waiter who acknowledged with a simple nod.

“You never go fishing under the sea?” Killer inquired while going back on his ramen –that were indeed very good as the barmaid had promised.

“Of course! But this, this is raw salmon from North Blue!”

It appeared clear in the hatted man’s voice what he thought about people who didn’t appreciate North Blue salmon as much as it deserved.

“Makes you feel homesick?”

Penguin slowed down his chewing as the words hit him. He’d never put it like that. He always liked fish, it was as simple as that. It’d been his favorite meal since he was able to remember. Back when his father had invented thousand of ways to cook the fishes they had in abundance on the ice field he was born. Thus Penguin never got tired of it. But it never tasted so good that when his father just came home with the catch of the day, and they were eating the last one raw, together.

The hatted man just… never thought about it that way. Yet homesickness? No. He had left that pack ice without a look back and became a pirate regretting nothing. It was just fish!

“No,” he answered the masked man’s question with a neutral voice, “No homesickness on something as simple as food. I just… love fish.”

“So I’ve heard,” Killer mocked.

 

There were few customers so late at night in the restaurant the two pirates had ended. It was a small place anyway, where most of the seats were stools arranged around a curved wooden bar. All the food was prepared in front of the patrons, under the soft light of big paper lanterns.

“Hrm… what were we talking about earlier?” Penguin cleared his throat in attempt to bring the topic back where they had left it before he started moaning so loudly.

“Navy,” the blonde recalled, getting serious again.

“Right, that never ending cat and mouse game.”

Up to then the first mates had gone around what they knew from their own experience about fighting the Navy and where to find them. Some minor troops were scattered in the four Blues but their main battalions where here in Paradise. They were gathered safely around their beloved Marineford.

The two pirates had witnessed during their journey that they weren’t the worst in this world, but the only ones to get punish for their crimes. Were you high born or rich enough and Justice wasn’t applying to you. The Shichibukai were another example of privilege rubbed in the faces of every pirate. Become powerful enough and the Navy would exchange your submission against a complete immunity.

The marines and World Government appeared caring only about appearances and reputation these days. In spite of all their strength and power they weren’t able to cause the pirates real trouble in the New World though. Stakes were too important and bounties too high for the right side of the law to have control on this part of the world.

“So…” Killer continued after sucking a ramen through a hole of his helmet, “Navy shouldn’t be such an issue on the other half. As long as we don’t stumble upon an admiral, we can easily beat them.”

“I wouldn’t say easily but… they seem the less threatening for now,” Penguin summed up.

This statement appeared more certain as the hatted man reviewed what he knew about the respective powers of the Heart and Kid’s crews. They were strong enough to face marines, at least the large majority of their forces, and they were also working on upgrading their equipments and ships. It was a bit saddening to think about their oldest opponent that way. However Penguin couldn’t deny that through time they had grown accustomed to them. Except for the giants and the devil fruits’ users there weren’t much to worry about. The Navy was even making the pirates’ job easier because its most powerful members were well-known.

 

Even if the first mates had a lot to share, picturing the world waiting for them wasn’t an easy task. It didn’t even have to do with the little they knew about the New World, rather than the fact that they were just… two sailors. Yes, they had seen much more than the common people would ever witness in their lives. Nonetheless the more they progressed, the more they discovered about the world they were living in. There was always something they didn’t know or expect, always an island to find, a sea to explore, new people to meet… From their points of view, the pirates would never be able to look at the bigger picture, to finally understand this world, not as the Four Blues and the Grand Line and their islands, but as a one piece.

 

Thinking about that perspective made Killer’s head spin, so he focused on his now empty bowl and let Penguin’s voice grounded him, “The Four Emperors are the true rulers of the New World.”

“Their influences extend to Paradise and the Blues too,” Killer completed, then he added when he saw the Heart pirate was about to retort, “But yeah, their strongholds are in the New World anyway. That’s where they are the closest to Gold Roger’s treasure.”

“Red haired Shanks, Kaido of the Beasts, Big Mom and White Beard,” the hatted man enumerated, hitting his chopsticks on the edge of his plate at each names.

These names were making islands and government trembled with fear. These ones were the big names every rookie would be soon confronted to. However Emperors weren’t enemies they could take lightly. Assuming that they could take them at all…

The topic occupied the two pirates from the end of their dinner till the fresh hours of the night. Naturally after leaving the restaurant, they chose to walk aimlessly as they discussed, like the first time. It was a good way to make them unpredictable and difficult targets to any person who would have the stupid idea to attack pirates in the dead of the night.

As he realized that, Penguin understood his guard had completely changed. He wasn’t ready for the Kid pirate to turn against him anymore but vigilant that nothing would cause them harm. The hatted man felt a bit stupid, first for the evident reason that Killer didn’t need his protection but also because he had let his guard down. How did he let that happened?!

Frustration obscured the Heart pirate’s mind. He found himself so careless right now and without thinking further, straightened himself like a soldier on duty and tried to get rid of that comfortable sentiment that had settled in his chest. Penguin attempted to look better at his interlocutor in order to rectify his previous negligence. But their environment was too dark to have a clear view of the Kid pirate, so he kept looking at where he was setting his own feet. Instead Penguin focused on Killer’s voice talking over the connections the Four Emperors had in Paradise.

The masked man had a deep husky voice and the hatted man imagined it sounded like this he wasn’t usually very talkative. The few times their crews had met Penguin recalled he hadn’t heard more than a couple of words from behind that helmet. It was funny, usually the Heart pirate relied on the voice to tell what a person was truly feeling. That’s so because most of the people made more efforts on keeping their expression and body under control rather than their voice. In Killer’s case though, Penguin was hearing the complete opposite. The tone and variation of the sound weren’t betraying his emotions, or it seemed very controlled: A chuckle, a tease, a conviction… Even through the holes of his mask Killer’s voice was enjoyable to the Heart pirate’s ears. No weird whistling when he was laughing, nor awkward echo when he was saying…

“Penguin?”

“Yes! Hrm… I already knew about the protection Emperors give to certain islands,” the hatted man answered, glad to possess a good hearing despite he got lost in his thoughts.

“Alright. Tell me next time, so I don’t speak for nothing.”

“You ain’t! Well… It’s… always good to re-set some things. That way we know where we are?”

“I think we should rather skip some obvious parts. White Beard for example.”

“You’re right; he’s among the most powerful of the four–”

“He certainly was, but actually I won’t really care about him now,” Killer replied as if this Emperor wasn’t worth their time.

“What? You can’t just put White Beard aside. He was Gold Roger’s greatest rival!”

“Exactly. He’s old,” the masked man pressed, “He had his chances to get the One Piece and he missed the boat.”

“That doesn’t mean he’ll let us sail as we like in his territory. Even if he’s quite old, he’s also got a lot of powerful sons.”

“But would they survive their father if he passes away?”

The easy answer was affirmative however the hatted man truly thought about the issue for a second. It was very rare for crew to survive his captain, and even in that case these crews were never the same after that. The sad truth was the forsaken nakamas often disbanded. It was too hard to go on without their leader and it was applying especially to large fleets… Only time would tell for White Beard’s sons.

 

Killer took time to mentally review what they had settled about the Emperors up to then. He was sure it was nothing compared to the reality, but it seemed huge already. The Four of them had fleets if not whole armies under their commands. They had strong devoted crews with a large amount of devil fruits’ users among them, and who knew what other powers. The most dangerous though remained their influence. It was well known between rookies there were places and people they shouldn’t mess with unless having a death wish.

The masked man didn’t like planning big schemes, preferring largely progress step by step in accordance with what they were actually able to realize. He didn’t see the need to scheme too far because there was always a feature or an event that would change the game. The problem here was he didn’t even know where to start! They had so many options to go against the Emperors, and so many ways to get crushed too.

The realization wasn’t big news for the Kid pirate. It had hit him some time ago but he had issues to admit it. Even if they trained for years to be a match for their biggest challengers it wouldn’t be enough. His conversation with the hatted man helped Killer coming to terms with the idea that… they needed help.

“From who?” Penguin questioned once the masked man had exposed his reasoning.

 

As he opened his mouth to answer no sound came out because a thought just occur to Killer. It was an idea that had settled in his mind for a short time… since his first meeting with the hatted man. Since, despite being on different crews, he had felt a connection with the Heart pirate. It was a crazy idea he hadn’t talk about to anyone but… if they had successfully exchange intelligence, could the Heart and Kid pirates ever… help each other? No. That was so unlikely to happen. They were rivals. It wouldn’t work. Their captains would never be able to get along. But deep inside of him Killer wondered what Penguin would think about it. Fool. The masked man had threatened his life just a few days ago, and the hatted man was still reasonably wary of him. There was no way he could ask him.

“We could hire other pirates, gather them all under our flag and make up a fleet,” he suggested instead.

“Cannon fodder…” The Heart pirate voiced softly, exhaling disapprobation.

“Death is a risk they took when they became pirates,” the masked man affirmed with his tell-tale pragmatism.

“I won’t consider that an option.”

“I know. But a fleet isn’t necessarily more men to sacrifice.”

“Between a hundreds of pirates and your crew you wouldn’t hesitate a second to let the first die isn’t? It wouldn’t matter so much in the end,” the hatted man responded rhetorically, knowing it would make the Kid pirate seen the biggest flaw in this plan.

The masked man let this statement sunk in. Penguin was right and it also brought light on Killer’s idea. If they were ever to fight along with the Heart pirates, he would not hesitate to betray them for his nakamas’ sake. But if there was one thing he couldn’t think of right now it was Penguin’s death. Something else. Think about another plan!

“There’s a whole world of outlaws that could give us more chances against the Emperors.”

“Who would be crazy enough to stand against people so powerful?”

“Underworld could. That’s where the big deals happen. And I bet it–”

“No!”

Penguin had stop dead in his tracks, his head lowered as he stood his ground on the soapy grass. The word had come out of his mouth more intensely than he wanted to, but the mention of Underworld had triggered his categorical opposition. The hatted man saw he had taken Killer aback, as he turned back to where Penguin had stopped walking. It was easy to guess the blonde was annoyed by another refusal, they didn’t have so many choices in potential allies. But Underworld was out of question.

“Did you even think about it?” the blonde asked.

Oh, yes the Underworld was crossing Penguin’s mind from time to time… when they had echoes of what Doflamingo was doing to Dressrosa. Each time he would know just by seeing his captain’s closed face. They had tried to keep information about the Donquixote Family away from him but it’d never worked. The story of Corazon’s death came back to the first mate. And he remembered all those frightful nights they had to wake up Law by force from another nightmare and took hours in attempt to soothe the trembling and tearful frame of their captain.

Penguin lifted his head up toward Killer, almost defying, “Yes, don’t even think about it. The matter is close.”

“On what argument?” The Kid pirate clearly didn’t understand the cause of Penguin’s trouble. How could he? “Outlaws and smugglers, they have a lot to offer! Networks, connections, weapons. I’ve seen it.”

“They have also a lot to take away from you…”

“I have nothing to be taken from me,” Killer firmly proclaimed.

The hatted man sneered. The Kid pirate wasn’t even thinking about his own life. Pirates were always putting their life at risk, as he had said it so well.

“So you don’t care for anyone though?” Penguin asked with an unexpected bitter taste flowing in his mouth. There was way worse to take from someone than his life, persons he loved for example.

On Penguin’s homeland, a lot of people had died because of smuggling, either because they were too curious about Underworld’s businesses or when they had gotten involved in them. North Blue had had many troubles throughout the years due to illegal activities, and too many people forgot about what really mattered…

“People I care about can protect themselves,” the blonde insisted, “They know the risks.”

“Can you just pretend to listen to what I say for a single moment?!”

Why couldn’t Killer understand Penguin’s warning?! The Heart pirate was unable to tell him where his concerns about the Underworld came from but if the masked man just… put his goddamn pride aside!

“But you’re not telling me anything! You’re just rejecting suggestions without any good reasons to!”

“I’m trying to show you this is a dead end!” Penguin was getting angry not managing to find the right words. Just… please listen to me Iron Head! “There will be a moment when we’ll be outmatched, and no bigger gun would help us! We aren’t ready for that, and we’ll probably never be!”

This definitely wasn’t the way to bring Killer to his senses. He straightened his back moving away from the hatted man. If there was something he couldn’t accept it was those who admitted defeat before the battle even start. Why Penguin was suddenly so closed to him? The Kid pirate had hit a sensitive matter obviously, and it hurt him to see how little it had taken to break their semblance of harmony.

“Ain’t we discussing to be ready for the New World anymore?!” The masked man barked.

“We are! But this won’t suffice to plan an attack against the Emperors!”

“We’re not attacking them tomorrow! But this is the best moment to think about where to start!”

Penguin took a pause before he responded trying to calm things down, “I don’t think we’re really ready for that. Nothing we can think about right now would be enough… Stakes are too high.”

Killer could understand the hatted man didn’t want to explain himself on his motivations, but he was going in circle, trying to make Killer completely renounce to his idea. It wasn’t like the masked man was deeply attached to his previous propositions; it was the fact that Penguin seemed afraid, ready to stop everything here because things were getting dangerous… And that only made Killer grinded his teeth. It wasn’t fitting at all with the man who had stood up against him the very first time. Had he been wrong about Penguin the whole time? The man who fought him, even if he had no chance to win… was it just a single moment of bravery?

“So you just stop fighting?” The masked man spat haughtily, his hands clenching unconsciously by his sides, “What’s the meaning of this if you’ve given up already?”

“I’m not giving up. What are you talking about?”

“You sound like! Trembling in your uniform all of sudden!”

“Of course I’m scared! Unlike you I’m not ready to lose everything! I know what can bring us down, and you should take it more seriously than ‘Oh everything’s fine! We’ll slice our way out of this!’”

What the Heart pirate was calling reckless was perfectly logical in Killer’s mind. They’d have to fight and if they weren’t ready for that before crossing Red Line they had nothing to do in the New World. If the hatted man didn’t want to take risks he should have become fisherman not pirate!

“Why don’t you go back home then if you’re so afraid?!”

“You think I still got somewhere to return to with the life I’m living?!”

Home… so it happened to be long lost concept for both of them. But it didn’t change the fact the Heart pirate was renouncing. Why was the Kid pirate so affected by Penguin’s behavior? Where did that tearing inside of him come from each time the hatted man was proclaiming he was scared or not strong enough to face their enemies? Maybe he just had to accept Penguin wasn’t as strong willed as he had imagined. Then why Killer wanted so bad the Heart pirate to prove him wrong?

 

“If you’re already thinking about letting the Emperors beat you, then this talk is useless. Stay here safe since it’s too dangerous for you to even think about coping.”

“What a fucking hypocrite you make! The first thing you told me was to learn when I should pick a fight, and now I’m not even worth to be a pirate because I don’t want to take too high risks?!”

The masked man was a bit surprised by Penguin unusual cursing but he refused to be thrown off balance.

“Yes! You’re not worthy to carry a jolly roger if you’re not doing justice to it!” Killer told pointing at the symbol on Penguin’s chest. And here it was. That spark of fire the Kid pirate was looking for, it was tiny but it was there, and it had only lightened Penguin’s eyes when it had been question of the Heart’s crew.

“And the only way to do that is with my fists?” The hatted man sarcastically replied no longer knowing how to ease the situation. “Right! Brains are so overrated when you have swords in your hands!”

“Stop putting words in my mouth! This isn’t about brute force for fuck sake! This is about strength, and if you want to live up to your ambitions! If you’re not ready to do your best, that’s not worth it!”

“You don’t know anything about what I am capable of!”

Come on! I know you’re here somewhere! Where’s that fire in you Penguin? The masked man pleaded in his head.

 “Because I see nothing!” Killer was voluntary hurtful now, pushing the Heart pirate to his limits. Because he had to be stronger than he was showing. “What’s left if you refuse to call for other outlaws? Make an alliance with the Navy? Or better, why don’t you just knee in front of an Emperor and beg for his protection, then you’ll just become a fancy slave!”

“I won’t bow for anyone!”

“Prove it then!”

In a fraction of second Killer had crossed the few feet separating them and grasped Penguin’s collar. He lifted the hatted man up in the air just for his feet to barely touch the ground. The Heart pirate’s hands immediately reached for the ones tightening on his overall, griping Killer’s fists.

“Put me down!”

But the masked man only lifted him upper until he got a full view on Penguin’s angry flushed face. Why was he doing that? Why did he care?! Killer just told his reason to get lost because there was one thing he needed to be sure of. Was the hatted man’s fighting spirit real?

So the Kid pirate simply looked into Penguin’s dark infuriated eyes, daring him to give him his worst and with his deep threatening tone challenged, “Make me.”

 

It was tempting… so tempting just to yield to the feral instinct screaming inside him to punch the masked man until Penguin manage to make him come to his senses. But he knew better than stupidly answer to a provocation. The hatted man breathed out heavily and soothed his nerves, feeling all his anger spreading in his body although tamed. He focused and responded, “I don’t have anything to prove to you.”

“So what’s it gonna be then? You’ll just keep discussing the theory? This is the only interest you have here? A nice chat?”

“Killer! Put me down!”

“That’s all your brain can do, harmless talking? I’m not here just for your conversation. Unlike you I do intend to give my captain the best chances to become the Pirate King–”

“Trafalgar Law is the man who’ll become the Pirate King!”

“Who? The man sulking under the ocean? Hiding safely in his submarine? He doesn’t get a ch–”

 

A sickening crack cut short the masked man’s sentence. However it was only when he saw the Heart pirate fell on the grass that Killer realized it had been the sound of his left arm breaking. Not simply being fractured by a punch but crushed under Penguin’s fist… which was now covered with a shiny black coat up to his elbow.

For different reasons their expression suddenly matched one another with pure astonishment.

Chapter Text

Penguin kept looking at his fist for everlasting seconds, even when the black color of the armament haki had disappeared from his arm. He could have stayed dumbfounded for hours if it hadn’t been for Killer’s muffled groan. All of a sudden, the hatted man came back to Earth and swiftly stood up from the sticky ground he had fallen on.

Once the shock passed, the shooting pain in the Kid pirate’s arm had made itself known. And fuck it hurt like a bitch!

Shit!

Goddamn son of a–!

He had broken limbs by the past, more than once, but it had been a while now and he usually avoided this kind of condition. His arms were precious. Ugh! He just had to chase the flies flying inside his helmet and he’ll be fine.

Killer saw the light yellow peak of Penguin’s hat in his dark surroundings as he attempted to focus. He knew it. He knew the hatted man was strong! Well he didn’t expect him to master haki though. The masked man was training for months now in order to use it without success. But the important was Penguin had fight back, and it made Killer happier than he should have been concerning a rival. He didn’t care though, because Penguin had stood up, not for himself but for people he believed in. People he wanted to defend and put his life on the line. Things those were worthy to fight for and worry about. Like the worry that was showing on his face right now.

“Don’t move your arm!” The Heart pirate warned anxiously right as the blonde was checking how bad his limb was and hissed. He couldn’t move it at all as he expected. The sounds of his bones breaking had been explicit enough.

 

“Come here. Let me see it under a brighter light.”

The masked man complied willing to see how bad it was too. He followed Penguin to a nearby street where a few stores were projecting large yellow rays. The hatted man’s voice just a low murmur of blames against himself. Immediately Killer was examined by the Heart pirate whom he felt the hands shaking.

“Thanks goodness it’s not opened!” The hatted man breathed out.

Although Killer didn’t know how the strange angles twisting his left arm was good news. The pain was irradiating up to his shoulder and he would be grateful to skip another session of riding the lines of his scars this time.

“Can you move your elbow?”

“No!” The Kid pirate groaned after trying to a second time.

That wasn’t good.

“Shit, your forearm is swelling up. Whatever you do, keep your armband as it is, the fracture is just above.” And Killer heard Penguin murmuring, “…poly-fracture, radius and ulna…”

The Heart pirate couldn’t stop shaking slightly. He had done this. It was something to hurt enemies during a battle, but here he just lost it and… he hurt someone for no other reason than being angry. That fact alone was scarring him. The moment was replaying endlessly in his head while he attempted to fix what he had broken. What Killer had said and his own sudden urge to make him eat his words. What did he do? Penguin was better than that, and still he had hit… someone he shouldn’t have hurt. He saw again the speed with which he had lifted his arm up, his fist tightened, unaware of the haki that had coated his arm in the movement. At the very last time the hatted man had had the reflex to not aim for Killer’s armband as his instincts was saying he would surely broke his own fist on the metal. Instead Penguin had hit right in the masked man’s forearm.

The memory of the bones breaking made him sick. What did I do?

“Ok. It’s broken. Let me get to my ship–”

“Out of question!” The Heart pirate had first yelled because of the guiltiness drowning him, but then he realized what was right under his eyes. “It’s bruising too fast. There may be thrombo-embolic complications or maybe a lesion… Where is it the most painful?”

“Have to scale it from one to ten?” The masked man huffed haughtily. But the look the hatted man gave him was so concerned. “Joint.”

“I’m taking you to my ship!” Penguin exclaimed, his feet already taking him in that direction.

“Don’t think so! I’ve got a doc to go–”

“Your doc won’t be enough, I think you have…hrm you’re bleeding internally” The hatted man told in a simpler way.

“Nothing my doc can’t deal w–”

“You might lose your arm because of me!” Penguin shouted, his worry tensing the features of his pale face. “My ship is just a few minutes walking from here, and we have all the right equipment for it not to worsen!”

The perspective of losing his arm struck Killer’s foggy mind. It had escalated quickly, and he wasn’t in his better condition for such crisis.

“You’re taking me to your ship?”

After insisting so much on protecting their crews, Penguin was offering to willingly taking Killer to the Polar Tang. He knew it was reckless but he simply couldn’t leave the masked man in a state whose he was the cause.

His captain was going to be mad.


 

In the bay the Heart pirates’ submarine was anchored everything was quiet. Away from the lively groves, the Polar Tang was calmly docked between the mangrove stripped roots. Its yellow hull, a clear shape against the starry sky, appeared small on the surface of the water but it was only the tip of the iceberg.

“Is your vision still blurry?” Penguin inquired for the hundredth time.

The hatted man had passed so quickly from anger to worry it was disturbing for the Kid pirate. It seemed Penguin’s caring side was the strongest. But the guilt he was expressing started to annoy the masked man.  

“I’ll let you know if I faint,” he retorted.

He actually felt better than before. His mind was clear and he had walked the whole way along the hatted man without any other trouble than the shooting pain in his arm. It had taken a pretty bad color and Killer was glad he was finally going to receive treatment even from Penguin. The way to the submarine had been strange though, awfully quiet between Penguin’s concern and Killer’s wound. They hadn’t even spared a glance to each other, except for the hatted man who checked regularly if he was still conscious.

 

As they approach the board between the earth and the ship’s deck, someone called out from the look-out post.

“Penguin’s that you?”

“Shachi!” Just the man Penguin had hoped to find. “Come down I need your help!”

His friend stepped over his post and casually jumped to the deck, landing with a thud on the wood. Shachi replaced his hat on his ginger hair and came to the rail with a friendly smile.

“Quickly. I’m on watch. What– Penguin watch out! The Massacre Soldier! He’s right behind you!”

“Shhh! Quiet moron! I know!” Penguin shouted while running toward his nakama on board. “I brought him here!”

“Why would you do that?!”

“He’s wounded, he needs assistance Shachi!”

The ginger casted a glance to the huge form of the Kid pirate that had followed his friend. True his left arm looked really bad, but even under threat Penguin would have never brought an enemy on their ship. Not without a very good reason.

“But… why did he come to you?” Shachi insisted remembering that the supernova had fought his nakama a few days ago, and hurt him. “He doesn’t have a doc–”

Penguin shook his head, “I’m the one who did this! And it’s worsening–”

“Wait! You did it?”

“It was an accident!”

During a brief moment, Shachi’s eyes went back and forth on Killer than Penguin before he grabbed his friend by his shoulders and shook him.

“What did you do?! Damaging a Kid pirate! Do you have any idea what’s coming to us!”

“I know!”

“Oh no! Captain’s gonna be mad!”

“Shachi!”

“And Eustass Kid is gonna skin us alive–”

“Please–”

“–and he’ll use our bones to decorate his ship!”

“Stop panicking Shachi! I’m doing it already!”

This time the ginger ceased to yell and regained his composure as well as Penguin, he readjusted his sunglasses over his nose and breathed out. Killer pitied Trafalgar Law if his entire crew was like this.

“Is Captain here?”

“Technically he’s sleeping.”

“Ok, I’ll go fetch him in the library once we’ll have taken Killer to the infirmary.”

“I’ll go for the Captain,” Shachi replied glancing at the Massacre soldier with mistrust, “You take the upper passage to the infirmary, nobody will see you.”

 

 Once passed the first stage of panic, the Heart pirates were quite efficient and before he knew it, the masked man was sitting in the submarine’s huge infirmary. It was covered from the floor to ceiling with light colored metal and smelt strongly of antiseptics. Killer had taken off his left armband for Penguin to take radios of his arm. And now he was waiting. Was it so hard for the hatted man to even say something to him? But he was avoiding Killer’s eyes. The few times the blonde had tried to get a word out of him Penguin had just given him medical instructions. It was as if he wasn’t here!

The infirmary’s door grated opened and let the Heart’s captain and Shachi in. Trafalgar Law wore a simple black sweater over his spotted jeans, and his long sword was resting on his shoulder as always. However his dark hair was free of his white fluffy hat. His sleepy eyes were underlined by dark rings but interest was lightening his pupils.

“I never thought I would meet such a famous librarian aboard my ship,” the Surgeon of Death declared with a tone holding no joke but a warning. He knew who Killer was and what he’d done with his first mate.

“Same,” Killer retorted to Law and they stared at each other on the defensive.

Penguin had crossed Shachi’s eyes when their Captain had mentioned the “librarian”, the ginger had that you better have good explanation for not telling me look.

“What happened?” Law finally asked, breaking the tension.

Without letting Killer opened his mouth, Penguin summed up their altercation and took all the blame on himself. Totally ignoring the masked man again! The hatted man was the only one who seemed unaware of Killer’s presence. His ginger friend with the sunglasses was throwing him dark glares, as if he remembered the chasing. And Trafalgar Law looked in the Kid pirate’s direction from time to time to see his reactions to Penguin’s story.

“What did you do to make my first mate punch you?”

“I insulted you.”

“You had it coming,” Shachi commented his arms crossed behind his captain.

Law turned to his first mate though, “This is so unlike you Penguin-ya.”

“He hits harder than it seems,” Killer added.

“This is not the point right now,” Penguin intervened, “He needs treatment.”

Yes, and it was about a goddamn time! The masked man thought as his arm painfully reminded him of his current state. He saw Law and his men gathering around the radios of his forearm. They were speaking a completely foreign language for the Kid pirate. How could human body be so complicated?

Killer’s eyes always came back to the hatted man though. His slim silhouette was agitated with the explanations he was giving. The blonde hadn’t noticed how his hands were moving so fast. How he stood straight and focused beside his captain. How the light was catching on his white overall and his shape started to blur and … why was he falling toward the ground?

 

“Room!”

The masked man didn’t feel his body being laid on an operation table but he sensed the moment his mind cleared, and the pain came back with full force. He heard Penguin’s voice by his side. He didn’t know what the Heart pirates had done to him but he wouldn’t say no to some painkillers.

“Killer? Can you hear me?”

“Told you not to shout, I hear you fine,” the masked man groaned.

“You were right Penguin-ya. Internal bleeding,” Law reviewed then huffed tiredly, “You have to stop bringing stray dogs to be healed, we’re not a hospital.”

Killer was about to bark he was no stray dog, but he got groaning would not really help his point.

“I’m sorry Captain.”

“I know,” Trafalgar sighed for what it seemed neither the first time nor the last. Then he gave his sword to Shachi, “It’ll better if I could check his eyes though.”

Penguin and Killer responded all at once, “He doesn’t take off his helmet.”

“I don’t take off my helmet!”

Law settled for raising an eyebrow, “If you say so.”

As he looked at Penguin, the Kid pirate suddenly acknowledged the blue bubble surrounding them. It didn’t augur well for his case. Not at all. He stood up on his good arm and saw the Surgeon of Death who had now white gloves on his hands.

“Eh wait!”

His sudden alert wasn’t due to the fact that he didn’t like doctors rather than the Heart’s captain was an enemy. The blonde’s foggy mind had a hard time focusing. If he let Law heal his arm Killer was certain it would have a price, and if there was a thing he couldn’t allow it was being in debt to someone. Not now they were about to enter a ferocious competition.

As if he had read his mind Trafalgar Law explained with a cold medical voice. “In your condition, healing will take at least two months, plus reeducation and I don’t even count the numerous complications that could deprive you of your mobility, your agility and your reflexes. You’ll be a dead weight.”

Killer knew well all that was implying. He wouldn’t be only a dead weight but a dead man. He was pirate, moreover with pretty high bounty for a rookie. Lost his fighting skills would signify the end of his trip. Everything he worked years to acquire, everything he fought for… he trained so hard to be up to the Grand Line and now the New World. However he would rather lost both arms than asking for Law’s help.

“I’ll take the risk.”

“Too bad…” The Heart’s captain smirked. “I’ll have to force your hand then.”

Before Killer had time to protest Trafalgar had gotten a scalpel out of nowhere and the Kid pirate’s arm was in pieces, floating obediently in Law’s room. It lasted less than a minute, the time for the Surgeon of Death to move bones here and there, reconnect tendons and muscles, re-establish the blood flow and everything was suddenly back in place as if nothing had happened. No pain, no stitching. There wasn’t a single scar to attest the operation.

Captain son of a bitch!

Killer sat up furiously and the only thing that stopped him from tearing Trafalgar Law apart was Penguin’s hand that had instinctively landed on his chest to halt his movement. But the Heart’s captain voice brought the blonde back on a matter where there was no warm hand against his skin.

“What you saw of my ship and its location,” Law warned, “forget it.” He didn’t have to detail the threat implied in his warning, “As for your medical expenses, I’m going to spare you sleepless nights. One day I’ll ask you a favor –something that’ll cost you an arm of course– and you’ll have to comply without asking. Understood?”

“Yes,” the masked man let out from between his gritted teeth.

“Perfect,” the Heart’s captain concluded before something appeared to come across his mind, “Does Eustass-ya know about your arrangement with my first mate?”

“Ask him yourself,” the blonde retorted as he got out the operation table and fetched his left armband. He quickly put it back in place, feeling complete now he got his second blade on.

“As you want,” Trafalgar Law shrugged before added, “Don’t move.”

From a flick of his tattooed hand he enlarged his room, making it disappear from their sight. All of a sudden Killer felt Penguin’s hand close on his arm and before he knew it, he was outside, with the Heart pirate still holding onto him.

 

“What was–” Killer begun, his eyes adjusting to the darkness of the mangrove in front of the ship. He saw the blue room shrunk and disappeared inside the yellow submarine.

“Captain’s powers.”

“Oh you’re talking to me?” The masked man mocked.

“What do you mean?”

“I didn’t get more than three words out of you since you punched me!”

“I–”

“It was too hard to assume your hit?” Killer knew he was overreacting but he was upset by the turn the events had taken.

“I was worried about you!” Penguin replied with concern.

“No! You felt guilty! And because of that I’m in debt with your captain!”

Before he had taken Killer to the submarine, that possibility had crossed his mind. His captain might be mad he brought a rival on board but he would know how to take advantage of it. The fact was after discussing so much about getting ready for the New World, Penguin would have never forgiven himself if the masked man had been permanently damaged because of him. It might have not happened, but thanks to his captain’s care Killer wouldn’t have any after-effect. It was worth making the Kid pirate mad against him.

He hadn’t spoken to him because he dreaded Killer’s reaction. His and his nakamas’ ones. His captain had proved a few days ago Penguin was unable to hide his appeal toward the masked man, so he’d restrained any display of emotion as much as he could… That wasn’t the kind of behavior able to convince Killer he was truly caring about him. Despite this it certainly wasn’t worthy of a pirate for Killer.

 

“I never wanted to hurt you. You made me cross my limits tonight,” Penguin started in a quieter voice in order to calm things down, and Killer sensed it as the Heart pirate rubbed his right arm nervously, “Why did you do that?”

“Because you’re stronger than you’re showing–”

“Am I? Or did you want me to fit in your expectations?”

The hatted man’s words struck Killer and he realized… he was right. He wanted so much for them to be in tune with each other. From the beginning they had been on the same wavelength. As first mates they were sharing the same concerns and preoccupations regarding their crews. They had the same role and missions and it had been so relieving to suddenly find someone who knew exactly what he was experiencing and feeling. The Kid pirate never had that with anyone before. Someone he could form a bond with. But this understanding made him forget who they really were.

“Can’t we just… come to agree that we’re different?” Penguin asked, his dark eyes searching Killer’s ones.

Despite the truth of these words it was hard for the masked man to accept all that separated them, but he couldn’t deny what they had tried to put aside at the beginning of their meetings.

“We see the world differently, and don’t act the same way,” the Heart pirate carried on, “You pushed me to show a side of me I don’t want to be…”

“Strong?”

“Violent.”

“You don’t have to be ashamed of taking the defense of the ones you care about.”

The corner of Penguin’s lips twisted in a sad smile while he lowered his cap by the hem of his peak. Killer understood him on many levels but not this one. “You keep telling me what to do.”

Damn it! It appeared the masked man would never be able to find the right words and he felt hopeless not having the power to stick back together what had been broken.

“They’re just words,” the Kid pirate attempted, “It’s up to you to do something with that. I didn’t take your fist to hit me. …You didn’t force me to accept a medical care. We’re both making our own choices. And our own mistakes.”

The hatted man felt he was the time for them to make another choice. What did they do now? But the growing silence between them told how much none of them was able to make the first step.

“Maybe… This is a mistake…”

 

It was the wiser thing to do, Penguin repeated in his head. It was better to end things here before they get out of hand. He already put his crew in danger by bringing the Kid pirate to their ship. What’d happen when he would give away something really important because he’d have let his guard down again? He couldn’t let his inclination for the masked man harming the persons he held dear. Penguin couldn’t continue to the moment when they would realize they have so much information against each other they’d know exactly how to bring the other down. That moment bound to happen, when all that intelligence would only serve them to eliminate another rival from the game.

They had nothing to do with each other. Between their different ways of thinking and the risks they were taking, it wasn’t worth it… But the words just couldn’t pass Penguin’s lips, remaining stuck in his mouth and spreading a bitter taste on his tongue. Come on! That can’t be so hard! Say it! Say it’s over and it’ll be better for everyone!

He forced himself to look at the masked man who seemed hanged onto his words. His body was so tense, the hatted man could see his own struggle reflecting on Killer’s tightened fists, and the growing veins on his neck.

“I–”

SAY IT! YOU GODDAMN COWARD!

But nothing came out… and Penguin felt his guts twisting when the Kid pirate lowered his head, shaking angrily.

“Ok. I get it.”

Then Killer walked away, the sounds of his steps deafening to the hatted man’s ears. It was the better thing to do…

With absolutely no idea of what he could say, Penguin made a step forward. All his previous resolutions shattering. Anything would have sufficed for the hatted man, anything to make him stop, but what could ever hold the masked man back? Which reason could be valid enough to prevent the blonde from going away? Penguin heard his mouth shout the only thing he thought being able to do that.

“I know how to get rid of your debt!”

Killer stopped, and Penguin realized he had held his breath until the instant the Kid pirate turned back and meet the hatted man’s determined gaze.

“I can help you repay it.”

Chapter Text

Armed with a stained rag, Killer was trying to properly clean his right armband, enjoying with a strange impression using his freshly healed arm. It had been a little odd for his body all working to deal with his injury to suddenly have nothing to take care of. But thanks to the treatment he had came back to his ship as if nothing had happened… more or less.

Now he was in debt with Trafalgar Law, a rival captain of the Worst Generation. These guys were all insane and Killer knew what he was talking about! The Heart’s Captain could come up with something very twisted as a payment for his treatment and the masked man wasn’t going to gently wait for it. That’s why the sooner he’d get rid of it the better. It would also prevent him to have a very… unpleasant conversation with Kid on the matter. He would be good to nothing for his captain with a debt and this was intolerable! Kid was counting on him.

 

All that made Killer wondering about when the events took such a wrong turn? In fact he’d been careful from the beginning. He did pick up the Heart pirates for that reason. Among all the pirates the Kid’s crew had met, they were the most clever and easy to approach. And their substantial advantage was they knew how to sail underwater, what the Kid pirates desperately needed at the moment. It was the most logical choice then. And their cooperation turned out being better than Killer first expected.

Penguin was full of resources. Through him the masked man had gained a lot of useful information, as well as a better understanding of their situation on the Grand Line. However, now he had hindsight Killer realized how fast their conversations had become casual. He let the film playing in his head while switching to his left armband. That’s when it all went wrong, when this flightless bird seemed to have found soft spots Killer himself didn’t know he had. Otherwise how could he explain the way the Heart pirate got him so emotional? Dared he say… flirty? No! He couldn’t have been that stupid! But his memories confirmed that yes he had been.

Killer forced himself to stay focused, insisting on the grooves of his armband. He couldn’t allow himself to dig that matter any further. He was here for one practical reason and he refused to be distracted by the whys and ifs this whole situation was bringing up. The masked man had no need making assumptions, for now only the result mattered to him.

Metal and mechanism. Those were the simpler things he should set his mind on instead. His scythes were the most precious things he owned. He had them made at the beginning of their journey on the Grand Line. Killer was taking pride of these original weapons in line with his unique fighting style. Acquiring his scythes had been symbolic. It had meant he was ready to enter the game. They were companions that had never let him down in battle, both literal and emotional extensions of himself.

Usually he always found some peace in taking care of his weapons. Except tonight, he contradicted himself, while pulling his right sleeve a bit higher to not stain the long sleeved t-shirt he was wearing. Killer attempted focusing on his task to set the recent events in order and to prevent his mind wandering about why Penguin was late.

 

It’d been two hours now that Killer was sitting on one of the heavy roots at the base of the tree number 5. Surrounded by the soap bubbles lazily blown out of the grass. The last time he had saw the Heart pirate the latter had arranged a meeting at this point and promised he would explain the details of his plan. It was supposed to help him pay his debt. And if there was one person who could help Killer not to carry this sword of Damocles for too long above his head, it was Penguin.

If he decided to finally show up.

Under the dark sky Killer had plenty of time to imagine several reasons why the hatted man hadn’t arrived yet. The first and the most persistent in the blonde’s mind was that Penguin had reconsidered his offer. Maybe he had refused to risk his captain’s anger by helping the masked man. It could be very underhand for Penguin to interfere with Killer’s debt. Maybe he had finally come up with the fact that Killer wasn’t worth it.

But the Heart pirate had seemed so eaten up by his guilt. He would probably do anything to get rid of it… So why wasn’t he there?! The Kid pirate could felt his impatience growing with the nervous shaking of his leg, and the tension in his hands as he was trying not to be rude on the mechanism of his blades. The Heart pirate could be simply playing with him, laughing at his credulity!

 

A dark silhouette dashed across Killer’s field of vision and stopped his race by sliding on the slippery grass with more grace than the average. The masked man’s leg suddenly stopped shaking. Out of breath, Penguin bent to rest his hands on his folded knees, trying to say something without managing to catch his breath.

“I… so…rry… I…portant… you... ah!”

The hatted man stood up, holding his ribs as if he had run so fast his body hadn’t appreciated it. He was wearing the same overall as usual except this one was entirely black. Apart from the yellow Heart pirates’ symbols and his light colored peak, Penguin was a dark slim form against the lights of the grove behind him. Clad in black he looked like a ninja, what was… very cool actually. Then he got closer and Killer was able to see his blushing face, on which his barely colored lips were trying to let more air inside of him.

“I’m… so late… know…,” Penguin breathed out a bit better than before.

The Heart pirate took a better look on the light blue clothing with the two blades crossing on Killer’s chest. He wondered if the Kid pirate had clothes purposefully matching with his helmet’s color or if he picked it up unconsciously.  The masked man’s long sleeved t-shirt was shorter than his polka-dotted shirt, exposing more of the red strip tied around his hips. Truly his usual shirt wasn’t doing justice to the defined muscles of his chest and the thickness of his biceps… and Penguin was staring too much!

While he was waiting for Killer to say something he realized the masked man was doing the same and Penguin searched for anything suitable. However the only things that came to his mind were the memories of their last encounter. How opposed and furious they were… the tension seemed to have never left them. They could felt it creeping all around them while they were standing at a good distance from each other. The first mates stood awkwardly not knowing how to begin. This time there were no drinks or scars to help them break the ice, and it started getting really cold.

“You took your time,” Killer started bluntly.

“Did you have an appointment or something?” Penguin retorted immediately harsher than he planned to.

“Is that your way of telling me I got nothing better to do than waiting for you to show?”

“I didn’t mean…”

“Really, what did you mean?”

“That I had good reasons to be late–”

“Please, enlighten me. Was your usual nurse’s uniform not dry?”

Penguin should have made a very offended face because Killer crossed his arms like he made a point.

“A… at least I’m not exposing myself,” the hatted man pouted, retorting the first thing that came through his head.

“Excuse me?” Killer responded, offended at his turn.

Then Penguin actually grasped what he had said and tried his best not to stammer, “You’re always wearing your shirt half open and… that t-shirt is so tight fitting I can see through it!”

“At least it doesn’t get me two hours to put new clothes on!” Killer barked not seeing where the problem was with his clothes.

“I was working to help you,” the hatted man replied harshly as he crossed his arms at his turn. “Why did you come if you didn’t need my help?”

The masked man unfolded his arms annoyed by his own behavior. He got carried away while he swore earlier to keep his composure and focus on the only purpose of their meeting. He had the impression of being Kid bickering like a child with the Heart pirate.

“I’m sorry,” Killer sighed choosing to act like a grown-up man, “Shall we get directly to the point?”

Penguin didn’t expect real apologies from the proud Kid pirate, but he kept his astonishment for himself. He had a thousand snarky comebacks to throw at the masked man’s face but he knew better than that. Killer was here for business. It was what Penguin had promised after all and they’d better get directly to work.

The hatted man had had two days to find a way to help Killer repaying his debt. And that hadn’t been too much, because at the moment he had made his promise Penguin had absolutely no idea of what he could offer. Especially since he would never go against his captain or put his crew in danger, while also taking in count he shouldn’t stain Killer’s pride in the process.

“Here’s what I offer… well I’m not hundred percent sure it’ll work–”

“What?”

“You really think it’d have been easy?”

Without something witty to retort the masked man stuck his hands into his pockets and leaned against the stripped roots behind him.

“If it works, we’ll both take advantage from it.”

“Why don’t you start with explaining me what you plan instead?”

“I’m coming to it! Some time ago,” and Penguin didn’t mentioned it was yesterday, “we’ve located Navy ships that docked at Sabaody–”

“And how that’s gonna help me?”

“Let me finish!” The Heart pirate exclaimed and he fumbled for the moment he had been interrupted. “Those ships came back from the New World and we studied them from afar. My captain is certain they possess the New World log poses you told me about.”

The Kid pirate recalled that first meeting when they had connected so quickly. It’d been so simple back then. He had played his best card with the log pose in order to have Penguin’s trust, leaving him with nothing to get it back now. Since, it was far much easier to work with someone who wasn’t expecting getting stabbed in the back, he needed his trust.

“You think if I steal a log pose for your captain he’ll wipe off my debt?” Killer guessed.

“No, it won’t be enough. But if you manage to lay your hand on navigation charts or better a log book in addition to that, it’d be sufficient to have his attention.”

It was by far the best plan Penguin had come up with. It would serve both Killer and the Heart’s crew. He doubted he could intervene in Killer’s favor though, even as a first mate. However his captain wouldn’t refuse such gifts straight away.

“He’s a difficult man… no! I’m not insulting him.”

“I wasn’t going to hit you… again,” Penguin’s voice went down to a whisper on the last word. He hated the impression that they were walking on eggshells.

“So. What do the ships look like?” The blonde attempted with a businesslike voice.

“Big battleships, I barely saw them actually. I spent more time studying the interior’s blueprints.”

 

At that the Kid pirate straightened his back, “You have the plans of these ships?”

“Not exactly. That’s one of the many risky parts, we have battleships’ blueprints in our possession and–”

“Navy ships are all based on the same structure,” Killer completed softly getting deep in thought as if he was just realizing something.

It was truly easing the work of every pirate that the entire Navy fleet was built the exact same way. The most threatening in fact were the marines themselves. They were vigilant and coordinated, what the pirates often weren’t.

“We spent hours tonight studying the plans,” Penguin continued, “but since the ships are coming from the New World they’re heavily guarded and you’ll have to infiltrate the Navy Headquarters if–”

The Heart pirate slowly realized he was talking to himself. Killer seemed completely disconnected. Penguin was sure he wouldn’t even notice he had gone away. Ugh! If he had decided not listening to him why was the masked man still here?! Why am I still here? Penguin asked himself.

But the Kid pirate didn’t let him time to answer that question, as he abruptly snapped out of his trance and grabbed Penguin’s wrist, “Those plans! Do you remember them?”

Taken aback by Killer’s sudden eagerness, Penguin stammered, “Huh… Pretty much… I think–”

“Then what are we waiting for!”

 

Before the right connections could set in Penguin’s head, the Kid pirate had pulled on his wrist and dragged them toward south. The hatted man’s brain stayed behind, far away from the pirates who were now running across the groves. Penguin was unable to wrap up why he suddenly felt so light-hearted, as if all awkwardness and tension had been left behind with his reason. He was following Killer’s pace so easily, carried forward by the thrill of the running and the speed of the wind rushing around him. That couldn’t be happening… How the quiet anger he was feeling a moment earlier could have been swept away by a hand grabbing his?

But who cared when the night was so warm and the lights shone on their way and they were about to infiltrate a Navy ship… Then his brain finally caught up with Penguin snapping like a rubber band as the reason yelled in his head Wait what?! He managed to get a grip on himself and held Killer back, not without efforts though.

“You… Why you… taking me? Right now?” The hatted man stammered, short of breath and visibly unable to make full sentences.

“You’re my best chance to get this done.”

As far as he wanted to be up to that statement, Penguin’s brain was still in control. And the reality of what Killer was planning to do took the upper hand.

“We can’t do this like that!”

“Why? We know what we’re looking for, you know the place.”

“What if someone catch us?!”

“There’s no reason to if we’re quick.”

“I don’t know who you mistaken me for, but I’m not the kind doing it quickly in the dark of the night.”

Penguin stood his ground and refused to move a step further. Killer exhaled heavily and completely turned to face the hatted man. Without letting go of his wrist though. He was glad that Penguin hadn’t questioned his involvement in that mission. Because he absolutely couldn’t do this without him.

“There’s no better moment than at night. People are asleep, and if they’re coming from the New World, everybody’s probably on land. Plus the watch would be reduced to the minimum if they don’t have any valuable cargo. Give me a hand and we’ll be in and out before they know it.”

But Penguin shook his head, “We can’t just decide to infiltrate a Navy base because it happens to be the right moment. We don’t have any plan or ideas of which ship we can go on, how many person are aboard–”

“Never infiltrated a Navy ship before?”

“It’s not– Don’t act like it’s so easy!” Penguin huffed to see how lightly the Kid pirate was taking the matter, “What’s more, we’re very close from Marineford.”

“Troubles only come if you get caught,” Killer shrugged.

In fact he didn’t want to go in a never ending argument with the hatted man. Above all because the blonde knew he was acting recklessly and he would lose this argument in Penguin’s favor. Such spontaneous behavior was far away from Killer’s usually poised and rational self. But he wouldn’t wait another day and risk seeing this opportunity to get rid of his debt being taken away. Moreover, if Killer was completely honest with himself… it had felt so great. To simply take the Heart pirate’s hand and run. Maybe that was what they needed, to stop talking and act.

Killer breathed out heavily through the holes of his mask. He wouldn’t threaten Penguin or bargain with him, it didn’t work in the past because you never told a pirate how to take his own decisions. It made the masked man smiling under his helmet.

“The first choice I’ve ever made for myself was to never let anyone telling me what to do.”

“You can tal–”

“That’s why I’m free to do what I want,” Killer cut the hatted man. “To take whatever I want, whenever it pleases me.”

Without even thinking of it, Killer’s fingers tightened around Penguin’s wrist and the masked man dropped it like the skin had burnt him. This was not the point he wanted to make. Yet. Instead he took a firm voice and fixed his gaze on Penguin.

“I’m going to steal a log pose. Tonight.”

On that, Killer rushed toward south alone without looking back.

The Kid pirate had offered him a choice, something he hadn’t really done since their first encounter. It’s not as if Killer had ever been able to compel Penguin to do anything. The hatted man never forced himself to meet with him, to talk and laugh with him, to fight with… But still the choice was the important, Penguin was free to let Killer go on his own. He didn’t owe the masked man anything…

Then an exasperated manly voice breathed out on Killer’s left, “I’m not sharing a cell with you if we get caught.”

At that Killer smiled while the Heart pirate ran by his side.


 

“Told ya,” Penguin crooned with a defeated voice as they were looking at the lively activity on the Navy Headquarters’ coastline. The other’s tone scratched Killer’s nerves a little but he didn’t show anything. This wasn’t over.

“All I see it’s that they’re plenty outside. It means only few men are on board.”

The Kid pirate pointed the huge battleships sleeping quietly in the darkness of the coast. Penguin had to concede, there was no light shining inside the boats. The sails were folded, and no sign of patrols on the decks since the pirates had arrived. Moreover as the ships were docked at the headquarters, the navy wasn’t expected any kind of attack.

There could be their best chance. No one would suspect two thieves to enter an empty battleship. If they remained discreet, the pirates could be undetected shadows. It was crazy, but it could work.

I’ll bring you food when you’ll be in prison Penguin-ya, Law’s voice rang in the Heart pirate’s head. Penguin got it out of his mind and focused on the ship’s plans he had spent hours looking at.

“The best way to enter is by the stern,” the hatted man explained pointing at the closest ship, a few hundred feet from the roots where the pirates were hiding. “We can climb the hull but there’s no way we’re getting wet.”

Killer understood what Penguin meant, “If we’re dripping water everywhere we’ll be spotted right away.”

The masked man immediately thought about the Jet dials he possessed but the propelling wasn’t powerful enough to lift them both above the water. They had no craft at hand, and it wouldn’t help them to stay off the radar anyway.

 

There had to be a way in and it happened to be right in front of them. The first mates watched, completely absorbed, the process of the soap slowly elevating from the ground and lazily taking a round shape before finally detaching from the grass and flowing lightly in the warm air of the archipelago.

“You think they’re waterproof?” Penguin asked aloud what they were both thinking.

“Only one way to find it.”

Killer grabbed the bubble before it got too high with a gentler gesture than the hatted man would have thought him capable of. The soap was resistant and it bent slightly between the Kid pirate’s hands. It was the size of a big dog and glistened under the distant lights.

“We’ll have to find bigger ones if we want to fit in,” the Heart pirate pointed out.

“Let me try something first.”

Without letting go of the bubble, he got a small object out of the thick heel of his black shoe, a seashell that Penguin could now identify thanks to him.

“Is that a dial?” The hatted man let out far too enthusiastically.

“Yes.”

Slowly Killer plunged the dial inside the bubble and turn on the device which throbbed behind the soap barrier. Quickly the bubble grew bigger around Killer’s arm until enveloping him completely. For a moment they feared it would just blow before it reached the necessary size. However the soap seemed to have strong stretching properties.

Behind the glistening casing, the Kid pirate appeared strangely taller. It took them a few seconds to realize that impression was due to the elevation of the bubble that kept going up as they stared. Killer’s weight wasn’t sufficient to keep him on the ground and right before he passed over Penguin’s head, the Heart pirate instinctively reached out and grabbed Killer’s hand. A very warm and calloused hand that gripped tightly around his.

They stayed like that for a moment, forgetting to breathe and not daring to break their connection. They weren’t in any kind of trouble because Killer could have easily slashed the bubble if he’d gone too high. Or they could have found another one to blow up. Yet the pirates were holding each other like a life line.

 

The bubble had survived Penguin’s bursting in and he took advantage of his hold to pull the bubbled blonde a few inches above the sea. Now they were out of the groves and their roof of leaves and soap, the sky was clearly visible. It was a bright summer sky, filled with thousand of stars and a half moon shinning up there. The dark waters were lightened by the shore in places. It wouldn’t be too difficult to progress up to the nearest ship, which still had no guards on its deck.

On Penguin’s other hand, Killer was struggling to keep his balance in his soapy casing.

“Is it okay?” The hatted man wondered.

“I think… I’ve got a pretty good handle on it now.”

At the moment he told that however his left foot slid on the inside of the bubble and he fell down on his back, earning a soft laugh from the Heart pirate.

“If you can laugh, what don’t you show me how you get by?” Killer grumbled as he pulled Penguin into the bubble at his turn. The treacherous floor of their craft making them both slipped and collided in a tangled mess of limbs.

“Ouch!”

“Can you just–”

“That’s my hair.”

“Watch your knee!”

“Just… don’t stand up!”

“Fucking–”

“No, that’s my hand here.”

“STOP!” Penguin shouted and the pirates both ceased to move in their narrow space. While they were getting entangled, their combine weights had slowly brought them down in the sea. It made Penguin briefly wonder about how much he actually weigh. When it was clear that the water wasn’t flooding their improvised craft though, they looked back at each other.

The Heart pirate was on top of the masked man and was desperately trying not to think about everything he felt underneath him. Blushing, the hatted man attempted to get up swiftly, as if he might accidentally get under the other’s skin through their never ending contact. However the limp wall simply bent when he tried to use it as a support.

Penguin cursed then he felt a hand pushing smoothly against his chest, allowing him to finally get on his knees. Killer had followed the move, sitting up straight to keep the same short distance between them. Leaving the blonde able to feel the fluttering heart under his palm. Would they make a habit of touching each other heart?

 

None of the pirates said anything. Maybe if they didn’t talk things would stay like this, with no arguments, no resentment and lack of trust. There would be no tell-tale nor librarian, just two pirates. Both of them were truly missing those quiet moments. Such simple and meaningful times during which they were sharing something stronger than words could tell. Around them the air had that heady scent of soap and interdiction, inevitably drawing them closer to a lot of trouble…

Chapter Text

Under the two pirates was only deep endless darkness. The black waters surrounding them were only pierced by a few rays of moonlight. In their bubble Penguin and Killer had the impression to float in outer space.

“The current will be enough?” The blonde asked skeptically.

“It carries us in the right way for now.”

“For now.”

“In the worst case, we’ll swim up to the ship.”

Sat on the bottom of the bubble, Killer snorted while laying his hands on his crossed legs, “We barely fit in that bubble. Please yourself if you want to swim through that.”

“Well! Why don’t you suggest something else–”

“Penguin.”

“What? I’m not even allow–”

“Look…” The masked man cut, his head lifted upward. He took Penguin’s chin and turned his head in the direction of the battleship they were approaching from the ocean’s depths.

Under the Navy ship the pirates had view on its dark spotted hull, all roughly fixed here and there with metal and wood, but it barely managed to hide the marks of cannonballs. There were also huge black marks between the shellfishes developing on the wood. Some parts looked burnt, others frozen as if the ship had been through a weather hell. The underneath of the ship seemed to hold on despite its numerous damages. Nonetheless the material had suffered, proving the first mates had all the reasons to worry about their future journey in the New World. But another detail had caught their attention.

“Is that–”

“Seastone,” Killer confirmed, “It covers the whole keel.”

“It… can explain the lack of scratches from sea kings.”

“Never thought it could work like that. But it makes sense.”

Penguin nodded, although he wondered if it could affect devil fruit’s users in the long term.

“The Navy is more resourceful than we thought,” the hatted man stated aloud.

“Yeah… very resourceful.”

The Heart pirate didn’t comment on the sudden venom on Killer’s voice. They all had their reasons to hate the Navy, however it appeared the masked man bore a heavy grudge against it. Penguin could see it in the way Killer’s fists clenched and unclenched.

 

It was different than Killer had first thought. Being near a Navy ship was making his blood boiled and his skin itched in the perspective of a fight. The anticipation was growing in him and it appeared he could almost felt the thrill of an upcoming battle and the adrenaline flowing wildly through his veins. He wanted to let that delicious feeling sink in and think about nothing but the clash of the blades and the screams of his enemies. It’s been a long time he hadn’t had a real fight.

Despite that Killer reminded himself this mission was supposed to be discreet. However, while the shadow of the battleship was slowly covering them, he promised that if the occasion presented itself, he wouldn’t hesitate to beat them all.

 

“The ship’s almost at reach,” Penguin noticed and interrupted Killer’s train of thoughts. Above them the battleship was just a huge black form now, whose details were barely visible in the dark. The Heart pirate leaned gently on the casing of the bubble, orienting their improvised craft in the right direction, following the sea current. Sometimes Penguin had to extend his arms outside and swam but he managed to get them up. He was the first to grasp the hull of the battleship, setting his fingers between its massive wooden planks.

“Come on, we have to climb together to the surface,” the hatted man called.

“Move then.”

“I can’t!”

“Ugh!” The Kid pirate grumbled as he stood up placing himself as far as he could beside Penguin, which meant the peak of his cap was almost touching his helmet. When did that goddamn bubble become so small? They couldn’t make a move without bumping each other. Not even able to speed up because they would only get more in the other’s way. The pirates tried to act as if their clothes weren’t brushing and they weren’t griping at each other accidentally. They kept pretending none of them felt the heat rose along with them. The whole ascension seemed to last an eternity of elbowing and kneeing until their bubble finally emerged from the water.

The instant they got out the bubble didn’t take it and burst around them. The hatted man didn’t wait further to escalate first the rest of the stern. He set a foot on Killer’s arm and used it to propel himself ahead. Penguin vaguely heard a muffled protest in his escape, but he ignored it as the summer air chilled his burning cheeks.

In a few agile moves the Heart pirate had jumped over the ship’s rail like a shadow. No one on the quarterdeck. At least in Penguin’s field of vision from behind the barrels where he had hid. He was just against the main command post at the end of the ship.

“Oï! I’m not your springboard!” The masked man angrily whispered when he landed at Penguin’s side.

“Quiet. We’ve been lucky but some guards are surely on watch,” the hatted man answered avoiding looking at the irritated blonde, “First of all we have to find the control room.”

“Why not directly the navigator’s post?” Killer protested.

“We’ll be spotted right away. A ship that big can carry a hundred of soldiers, there’s surveillance den den mushis scattered everywhere.”

That was one of the main reasons Killer wasn’t a fan of infiltration. He wasn’t denying its utility but nothing was worth a good old fashioned fight. Now they were finally on board the masked man was itching to put his blades to use. Patience.

Rhythmic sounds were growing louder. Steps on the deck. The first mates froze at the same time, holding their breaths. It was coming toward them, but not heading straight for the barrels that were hiding the pirates. They weren’t so alone finally.

A soldier in coming was talking through a small snail in the palm of his hand. “–so calm I miss the land so bad! No, no don’t bring that back.” The speaker was so small, they couldn’t hear what his interlocutor replied. “Of course. As soon as I get my leave off that bloody ship, promise.”

The marine stopped three feet near the barrels, leaning on the rail to cast a look over dark waters where thousands of stars were mirroring.

“Oh yeah, what was his name again?” he continued then got back on his watch and walked away on the deck.

Killer and Penguin looked back at each other, and the Kid pirate relaxed his hands around the triggers of his blades. “How do we get to the control room without showing on the video surveillance?” The masked man got back on track.

“I know the way.”


 

Hum… he certainly knew the way… somehow. Mentally cursing at Iron Head’s stubbornness, Penguin tried his best to recall the battleship’s plans. Wait, wasn’t a door supposed to be here? Or was it another corridor?

“Huh not this way. There’s another den den mushi.”

“Where then?”

As he rummaged through his memories Penguin felt actually glad Killer wasn’t hurrying him or complaining.

“The hall on the left.”

Damned battleships! Why did they have to be so huge?!

“Once we’ll have cut off the surveillance, we’ll need to find our way out of here before going for the log pose,” the Kid pirate whispered.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“You want to stay here to admire the decoration?” Killer replied sarcastically pointing at the naked dark blue walls and the worn out floor.

“Are you done mocking me?” Penguin retorted not willing to get in an argument with the blonde now. “Think about it, if they see all the snails suddenly shutting down the marines will be alerted more quickly of our presence.”

“And?”

“And ‘troubles only come if you get caught’,” the hatted man quoted Killer.

Annoyed from being ensnared by his own words, the Kid pirate didn’t reply. No troubles allowed… They resumed their walk in the battleship’s halls, taking a lot of detours by small passages, waiting long minutes for another guard to walk over them without spotting the two pirates hid in the shadows.

“So how we’re gonna get out of here?”

“Dunno…” Penguin responded, his mind half on calculating where they should go next. “Stealing a lifeboat maybe… or we could disguise and go out by the headquarters.”

“I don’t disguise,” the Kid pirate warned.

The Heart pirate was about to retort wearing a Navy uniform wouldn’t kill him but he suddenly grasped the issue: the height, the stripped helmet, the long spiky blond hair, Killer could never pretend to be a common soldier.

“Right, forget it.”

“But stealing a boat is definitely an option.”

Penguin wouldn’t have thought searching for a way out together could ease the tension between them but hearing the masked man speaking to him with that interested voice again was comforting.

“Anything will be better than swimming,” the hatted man added.

“Afraid of getting wet?” Killer teased without letting his brain filter his words.

“I’m rather afraid you’ll sink because of that heavy mask of yours.”

“How about–”

 

“EH! You over there!”

Both pirates turned toward the marine who had shouted in their direction at the end of the hall. The sound of his gun arming resonated between the walls immediately followed by a deafening silence. He had no idea the pirates weren’t scared at all by the weapon aiming at them though. They slowly took defensive postures, and got ready for the soldier to open the hostilities.

BANG!

The bullet sped by without harming the pirates but called for the start like a fire-gun shot at the beginning of a race. Killer and Penguin were in fact so ready that they sprung at the exact same time! Only to collide violently against each other because of the narrowness of the hall. The Kid pirate fell downward to avoid landing on Penguin who managed just in time staying on his feet. The hatted man made a few unsure steps forward, holding his ribs which had taken a hard hit from Killer’s armband. This wasn’t the best start they’d made.

In front of them the soldier had stood his ground and was operating on the little den den mushi they apparently all carried with them. He had chosen to inform the other guards rather than reloading his weapon. It would be his fatal mistake and Penguin’s best chance to knock him down. In an unbelievable rush the Heart pirate was on him, and he heard Killer on his trail. Penguin first deflected the barrel of the marine’s gun and kneed his hands sending the weapon flying. The soldier tried to retaliate but Penguin bent swiftly to avoid his punch and was behind him before the man could blink.

The Heart pirate now faced the masked man on the other side of the soldier, he had deployed his scythes so quickly their sudden radiance appeared out of nowhere. Penguin saw the resolution in Killer’s stance and the marine should felt his end near because he stood petrified in front of the Massacre Soldier…

Then Penguin saw him again. The merciless pirate he had fight the very first time and who threatened to kill him. What would have happen if Penguin hadn’t been useful to him at that moment? Would he have been like this soldier knowing that there was nothing he could do to avoid these scythes? No… He was one who was fighting, no matter what the odds were. If he could do what felt right to him, he’d keep standing against the masked man.

Penguin saw the exact moment Killer was going to hit and on instinct, the hatted man kicked the soldier aside and spared him a certain gruesome death. Hurting the side wall seemed to make the marine come to his senses and he opened his mouth to shout. For his life? For help? One of Penguin’s hand put the answer on hiatus as it closed on the soldier’s mouth and nose. He struggled to get free of the hold that was suffocating him but the hatted man was holding him tight. As he looked up, Penguin saw the Kid pirate ready to slice the marine up again. The Heart pirate exhaled and focused calling for the armament haki on his free arm and stopped Killer’s blade before it reached its target.

There was a loud sharp sound at the collision of the black arm and the metal blade yet not as sharp as the look they exchanged.

What are you doing?!” They asked one another all at once in a low voice.

“Isn’t it clear?! He’s a marine!”

“And that means we have to repaint the walls with his innards?!”

“So you’re protecting them now?!”

“Of course not! Just think a minute! If the soldiers see all the blood they’ll definitely look for us!”

While they were whispering angrily at each other, the soldier Penguin was suffocating started to get more and more agitated, unable to set himself free and get the precious oxygen his brain was missing as the seconds passed.

“‘In and out before they know it’! That’s what you told me! So do whatever you want but we don’t shed blood!”

Killer felt his fighting spirit protesting vehemently while he sheathed his scythes. He still had that raging desire to beat the shit out of marines inside him. He had a score to settle with the Navy. He witnessed too many horrors back in South Blue committed by marines, not a single one of them deserved mercy after what he saw and the screams he heard. He’d sworn to make them scream in return too. But Penguin didn’t need to know that… So Killer called for his reason to get a grip on himself. He would get the fight he was looking for. Not this way though. Somehow it was comforting to realize Penguin was right as always. That familiarity helped soothing the masked man’s nerves and he got back on tracks.

As he was about to talk, Killer got distracted by the interesting red the face of the suffocating soldier had taken, but it didn’t seem to bother Penguin the slightest, still waiting for Killer to calm down.

“If you wanted to kill this one yourself, should have said it.”

“I didn’t kill him–”

“You’re about to.”

The Heart pirate used his haki coated fist to knock down the marine.

“I was not,” Penguin insisted.

“Uh-huh,” Killer replied not convinced in the least but deeply amused by the unnecessary efforts the hatted man was pulling to remain non-lethal. He watched Penguin pulled the unconscious body on his shoulder, “And you intend to carry him to the infirmary? Making sure he gets some rest?”

“We can’t leave a body in the middle of the hall. Or am I the only one really carrying about not getting caught?”

Apparently yes, but the Kid pirate had the delicacy not confirming it.

“Why don’t you make yourself useful and pull that door open over there? We’ve reach the control room.”

The Heart pirate made a gesture toward the entry their opponent had came from. Killer took the lead and held the door to Penguin parodying a reverence that made his gesture almost gallant.

 

They enter a small dark room with one wall entirely full of screens in front of a wide control panel. Penguin dropped the marine he was carrying on the single chair of the control room –his chair most certainly– while Killer closed the door. They took a good look on the army of den den mushi lined up on the console and broadcasting the main halls and places of the battleship. An officer was working in the captain’s cabin, two men were on watch on the superior and inferior decks, a few were patrolling in the halls but most of them appeared gathered around the armory and very busy gambling on a game of cards.

“They ain’t more than fifteen,” Killer counted.

“From what we can see yeah.”

“So what was the point of getting here if we’re not shutting down the surveillance?”

“We have to find the location of the log pose and their navigation charts first. They could be stored elsewhere than the navigation room. We also need to be sure there are no other marines on our way,” Penguin glanced at the unconscious soldier, “Actually now I found the disguise a good option but… there’s no way we’ll find something suitable for you.”

Even if they managed to do something about Killer’s hair, he still was taller than the average and if he hadn’t take off his helmet when his life was in danger, he would certainly not doing it now.

“Since we’re here,” the masked man started, “I can keep an eye on the marines and you go fetch the items we’re looking for. You’ll know better what could be more useful for your crew, moreover you already know your way in. In the meantime I’ll look for a way out.”

This might work. If he kept contact with Killer in the control room he could avoid meeting other soldiers on the way. Yes, Penguin liked the masked man’s plan. With a borrowed uniform he could go undetected easily. Speaking about disguise. The hatted man took an attentive look to the soldier he’d knocked down. Cap, boots, pants, sleeveless shirt, damn it! Penguin’s eyes searched the room. There were some crates and a large closet in the back of the room.

“What are you looking for?”

“A jacket. And spare me your fashion advices,” the Heart pirate quickly added to prevent the sarcasm he felt coming from the masked man.

“It’s really necessary?”

“Yes, I’ve got a… a tattooed sleeve that’ll give me away.”

Killer straightened from the edge of the console where he was sat, “A what?” he asked as if he’d misheard.

“Yes! Found it.” Penguin exclaimed victoriously after a quick search, holding up the long sleeved clothing he was looking for.

“A tattoo?” The Kid pirate questioned, managing to make it sound like his interest hadn't been seriously piqued.

“Yeah. What’s so weird about that?” The Heart pirate inquired on the defensive, his left shoulder twitching.

“Nothing.” But Killer briefly wondered if he could demand Penguin to show him as a payback for the scars he saw on his own skin… While the Kid pirate was debating with himself, the hatted man came back to the unconscious marine and laid the jacket on the console. He quickly took off the marine’s clothes leaving the rather skinny man in his underwear. Then Penguin crossed Killer’s eyes blushing so heavily his cheeks were matching the fluffy red ball on the top of his hat. He tugged lightly at the collar of his black overall.

“Can you turn around please?”

The masked man startled a little bit, he was so busy staring at Penguin, he hadn’t grasped the man needed some privacy so he could change. Killer sat up from the console then walked toward the other side of the dark room. Why did they bother being so cautious in the end? If the pirates were getting caught it wouldn’t be such a big deal, they’d fight their way out of the battleship and that was it. However, thinking about it made Killer not wanting to add marines to the bounty hunters he already had to avoid daily. The Kid pirates weren’t ready to cross the Red Line yet so they couldn’t allow themselves to be forced to leave Sabaody. And whatever excuse would be enough for the Navy to–

Zziiiiiiiiiiiiiip.

A long sharp hissing sound suddenly interrupted Killer’s reflection. The Kid pirate’s body stiffened instantly at the noise his brain was trying to process. The one from Penguin’s overall being opened. Oh fuck! It was so loud in the silent room Killer could almost picture it as if he was actually looking. The high collar being lowered. Hands moving aside both sides of the clothing. The sounds were echoing in his ears. A first shoulder getting out. The blonde wondered if it was the tattooed one. An arm slid off the fabric, and then the rustle of the other following. Killer cursed that overall’s synthetic material making the slightest movement of the hatted man torturously audible! The garment became even louder as it was pulled down to Penguin’s hips before he clicked his tongue in annoyance. He’d forgotten to remove his boots, the masked man guessed. Killer could practically saw him bent his lean frame to undo the laces of his black leather shoes.

Two boots later, the overall finally left Penguin’s legs in a hurried rustle. The hatted man folded it carefully then the sound of a softer item came to Killer’s ears. Something small being gently lay on the folded clothes. His hat… Then Penguin’s fingers gripped on smoother fabric that slid on his skin and ruffled his hair. A t-shirt without a doubt. The masked man mentally listed what clothes were now remaining on the Heart pirate what reduced to… barely anything. This definitely wasn’t the right time for such thoughts. Yet there was nothing else on the blonde’s mind than that involuntary arousing undressing. Why did Killer have to hear everything so clearly? Every sound was so defined he could have been just by Penguin’s side. Right behind him. Almost touching him…

The blonde shook his head slightly trying to push away the thoughts he had put in the back of his head earlier and were now resurfacing. No! Not with a man who was disguising rather than fighting. Not with a pirate who preferred to renounce when the price gets too high. His inner self cursed. He had it so bad he couldn’t even lie to himself, Right… not with someone who’s helping you without asking for anything in return… But Killer hadn’t time to keep scolding himself as dressing noises reached his ears. The rough material of military pants against bare skin. And another zipper being pulled up this time. Put on the shirt, put on the shirt, wipe that bare chest vision of you out my head. But only the sounds of boots being laced answered Killer’s silent pleading. There’s was too many buttons to fasten on this marine’s shirt, and there was the jacket and the cap, and the Kid pirate didn’t hold on any longer.

He turned around just as Penguin finished pulling the Navy cap on his head. Making the hatted man startled his hand still on the peak on the hat.

“I’m done…” Penguin uselessly notified with a hoarse voice, what made Killer gritted his teeth. He should be the one with a hoarse voice regarding how dry his throat was right now! However the blonde wasn’t willing to verify this. Anything he might say at this instant would certainly be very inappropriate. And he didn’t need giving Penguin more reasons to be wary of him.

Focus.

First they were going to steal what he needed to pay his debt. Then he’d have the Heart pirate.

Chapter Text

“Can you hear me now?”

“Yes. It works,” Killer confirmed to the snail phone on the console. He saw Penguin answered on the other side, his little silhouette showing on one of the many screens of the control room. The image wasn’t in very high definition but clear enough for Killer to watch the pirate in disguise casually walked down a hall, a den den mushi on his shoulder.

“Good. Now the navigation room… huh…”

“Turn on your left,” the masked man guided him. Installed behind the panel control Killer had the impression of being omniscient. He had eyes on the whole ship: on the halls and empty rooms only lightened by small lamps, on the guards not really focused on their task, and on Penguin. The Kid pirate would have bet seeing him in a Navy uniform would only made him want to punch the hatted man but actually he recognized Penguin too much behind the uniform. The way he stood, his back a little stooped, his feet at a distance from one another, his body on guard without looking like it. The way he walked trying to act military and rigorous without managing to wipe the lightness of his steps.

“I’m close,” Penguin told quietly, remembering the way as he was progressing.

“Hurry. There’s a guard walking down the next hall.”

The hatted man did so, following Killer’s instructions. But he regretted immediately walking faster in those clothes.

“Don’t be so stiff when you walk,” the masked man commanded.

“I’d like to see you walking in this tight uniform!”

“Is it the uniform or you ain’t used to wear normal clothes?”

Penguin gritted his teeth at the Kid pirate’s light tone; the voice he always took being sarcastic. Well seeing Killer was behaving and not murdering anyone Penguin supposed he could handle sarcasm.

“Why are you so interested with what I’m wearing now?”

Because the only distraction I’ll get tonight is gonna be seeing you walking in these tight clothes. Not that Killer really minded at the moment. He casted a glance to the pile of Penguin’s stuff laid on the console. His hat was carefully set down with its half red bobble standing high. He couldn’t find the words for the mixed feeling he was experiencing about this mission. Should he have come alone tonight, Killer would have already been out with a log pose and a marine battalion on his heels. Quick-and-dirty. But as much as he disliked Penguin’s plan of infiltration, that way they’d be able to gather maps and charts, highly valuable information they were desperately lacking. Moreover, it was way more efficient than fighting their way in. Despite clearly having their own ways of being pirates Killer couldn’t help but appreciating being on mission with the Heart pirate.

“You’re my nightly entertainment,” the masked man responded honestly.

“I can still cut off the den den mushi.”

“Then I won’t be able to tell you where the guards are. Speaking of it, one is coming from behind you, don’t turn around.”

Killer didn’t even bother watching for the said guard who was actually far away from Penguin. Instead he kept his eyes on the hatted man’s slim silhouette. As he expected the Heart Pirate wasn’t as thin as his shapeless overall suggested. He had the body of a trained fighter. A man light and fast, stronger than you would’ve thought at first sight. Drove by his examination Killer’s curiosity got the better of him.

“So what’s your compromising tattoo?”

Penguin almost stopped in the middle of the hall to scold the masked man but he remembered Killer was just a voice on his shoulder, “None of your business!”

“It says ‘I love my captain’ isn’t?”

The Heart pirate snorted, “Between the two of us, you’re the most likely to have it marked on your skin.”

“I wouldn’t bet on it.”

“And you better not because you’d make me rich.”

“You think so?”

“Ok,” Penguin huffed smugly, “Let’s play a quick guess game that’ll get you off my back. I’m gonna state three propositions. If they’re all true, you shut up until I get to the navigation room.”

That sounded like a risky game, even though Killer wouldn’t say anything he would give up information nonetheless. But they had already reached a point of no return in recklessness tonight and Killer longed to know why the Heart pirate sounded so confident.

“Deal,” the Kid’s pirate agreed.

A short silence ensued on Penguin’s side before he stated: “You took bullets for Eustass Kid. You owe him your life. And you’ll give up your biggest dream to make his happen.”

There was a long moment of silence that stretched along with Penguin’s smirk, before he heard.

“Not bad… My turn.” But before Penguin could objected Killer stated, “You think if Trafalgar Law hadn’t taken you in his crew, your life would’ve been miserable. You keep trying to prove your worth even now you’ve reached half of the Grand Line. And your tattoo is your jolly roger.”

Penguin’s mouth hung down, no sound coming out as if Killer suddenly took his ability to speak away from him. Penguin had a lot to say but the words couldn’t pass his lips as he just been outsmarted by the man he thought he’d figured out. Penguin tended to forget that in addition of being handsome Killer was also goddamn smart! Wait… Did he say ‘handsome’? No, troublesome he meant!

 

“There it is,” the Kid pirate finally notified, breaking almost ten unspoken minutes, when Penguin reached a large wooden door ornate with a golden plate saying ‘Navigation Room’. Penguin resisted checking on his sides like a thief, and he opened the door the most nonchalantly he could. The inside of the room was plunged in the dark only pierced by the moonlight coming through the large window. The hatted man turned on the light, illuminating the large table in the center of the room, as well as the numerous chests of drawers lined up against the walls and the huge folded maps resting at the end of the room.

Marines were so tidy. Penguin hoped he could turn it to his advantage. He took the den den mushi off his shoulder and put the snail down on the table. The animal slid lazily from his hand to the wood and stood still. When he had turned it on, Penguin had wondered what kind of expression it would show but even when it talked it’d remained inexpressive. Needless to say he’d been quite disappointed. It would have been very funny to see what Killer looked like on a snail. However his mind was on another matter at the moment.

“How did you know all that?”

“All what?” The Kid pirate asked innocently.

“These things you guessed about me,” Penguin reminded him as he quickly got to work, checking for any tricks or alarm to hide his concern.

“Does that trouble you?” An actually curious Killer questioned.

Penguin got himself busy, thinking that he should not waste time if he didn’t want to stumble upon another guard. But Killer’s words were repeating in his head. Nothing relevant was on the navigation room’s table. It gave him time to think before he answered like it didn’t really matter.

“I just want to know.”

Killer knew reading between the lines though. He was troubling the Heart pirate! In fact, it was relieving for Killer, considering how much Penguin was troubling him.

“Are you upset that I figured you out?”

Penguin snorted haughtily, a bit too quickly, “Don’t be so sure of yourself wise-ass.”

“I ain’t saying I know everything about you,” Killer calmly explained leaning on the console, “But I know where you come from.”

Penguin slowed down his search although he would deny ever waiting impatiently for the masked man to go on.

 

On the other side, the multiples screens were casting a dim light on Killer’s helmet as he hesitated to go further. Years ago he’d been like the Heart pirate. Dying to prove his worth and rub his achievements in the faces of every people that ever thought he was worthless. He saw that in Penguin’s behavior, in the way that he had to sacrifice for what he cared about and fight harder than others to prove he has the right to be there. To be part of his crew and ready to face the New World.

Am I? Or did you want me to fit in your expectations?

A memory of Penguin whispered in the dark of the control room. Far away, echoes of the argument they had days ago, came back to Killer’s mind.

Can’t we just… come to agree that we’re different?

Somehow Killer couldn’t entirely agree.

“True, we’re different in the way we act but we’re driven by the same motive. We both want our captains to win and our crews to be safe.”

On the video, the masked man could only saw the top of Penguin’s marine cap and the white of his jacket shining on the screen while he rummaged through the room. What would he have given just to see his face… Was he angry? Surprised? Blushing?

“That’s why we’re here for,” the Kid pirate went on with the desire to tell everything he wanted now he’d started, “That’s what brought us to talk the first time.”

For the captain, for the crew… Penguin kept repeating it in his head but at the moment it sounded terribly false. So he remained silent, not trusting his treacherous voice. It would certainly betray him and confirmed there was another, deeper motive –that he didn’t want to think too much about– behind his presence here.

So he focused on the rest of the furniture that happened being full of promising documents Penguin saw now he concentrated on his mission. It offered a perfect distraction for the hatted man. Wrapped up weather charts, official accreditations for docking, the ship’s plans… and a lot and lot of maps of the islands of the New World. Actually Penguin was dying to take a good look on these last ones but it wasn’t his main objective here… Oh fuck it! Killer would warn him if there was any guard incoming.

He quickly picked up the most interesting charts and maps and spread them on the table. There was so many of them the table was quickly entirely covered. The hatted man hadn’t even finished looking in the rest of the chests of drawers; this was more exciting than Penguin would have thought. Finally some good old piracy. Although, he wasn’t forgetting the following parts of the plan.

“Did you find a way to get out of here?” He asked while picking other documents that looked promising.

“I think,” Killer’s voice answered through the snail phone. “But–”

“But?” Penguin asked when the silent lasted, halting his researches.

“Use a duffle bag to carry the papers.”

A waterproof bag… Penguin didn’t like what it was implying.

“Why don’t you– Shit!”

“What is it?”

On the video surveillance the Heart pirate had stopped moving and Killer straightened up on his seat.

“The log book! Or rather… books,” Penguin corrected opening the drawer wider “There are a lot of volumes! More than we thought… everything is here.”

As he got out the numerous volumes to take a look at their content, the hatted man realized what a treasure they’d found there. This was too good of an opportunity not to take it. One of their objectives here was not getting caught but in the end of the night they could steal everything that pleased them.

Grabbing the largest bag he could found in the room, Penguin emptied the ropes he was containing and filled it with all his findings instead. He even had trouble closing the bag but he made sure no water could infiltrate in it. Penguin was exhilarated by the success of their uncertain plan. The papers he found here were precious enough to pay Killer’s debt twice. With a grin on his face, the Heart’s pirate took another look around the dark room.

“Perfect! Now, the log pose.”

“Did you search the shelves behind you?”

“Yes,” Penguin answered absent-mindedly before heading for the desk in the back of the room. He sat on the large office chair and proceeded to rummage through the drawers. Papers, offices supplies, more papers… a bottle of sake? Holding out the item the hatted man lifted an eyebrow. Dedicated to their work those marines…

In the last drawer, heavy folders were kept tidy. Penguin set the bottle on the side and pulled the first folder opened on the wooden desk. He discovered several accreditations for a special cargo. Some words caught Penguin’s attention but he couldn’t decipher the document right away… That sufficed for the Heart pirate wanting to take a better look.

“Watch out,” Killer interrupted through the snail phone, “a marine is coming in your way.”

“Is he close?”

“He’s moving fast in your direction.”

“Shit! Ah, I don’t have anywhere to hide in this room!”

“Hide?! What the hell did you disguise for then?”

Before Penguin could retort something snarky, the door burst open and the hatted man straightened in surprise. The guard with the doorknob still in his hand stared at Penguin, unsettled by his presence here. The room fell awkwardly silent between the two men and Killer didn’t dare speaking either.

“What–”

“Ssshhhhhhhhh…” Penguin cut the confused marine as he lied down on the desk and his hand clumsily grabbed the bottle of sake he’d set next to him earlier.

Out of idea he simply faked with a drunken voice, “D–don’t tell…’nyone. I–eh’ll give you some!”

The hatted man simulated a hiccup before pulling out a dumb grin under his cap and holding out the bottle in the marine’s direction. For a moment Killer thought the guard wouldn’t have any of that, but finally the man closed the door and moved toward Penguin with concern.

“What are you doin’ here?”

“Shi, shi, shi, shi! I am… drinking!” Penguin whispered making wide unbalanced gestures with his arms toward the marine.

The man adjusted the rifle on his shoulder, before he reached for the bottle in the hatted man’s hand.

“I think you had enough,” the marine huffed and when he got a grip on the sake, Penguin made a funny face, “Ah, ah, ya think?”

Before the marine understood the meaning of Penguin’s weird look, the hatted man performed an arm lock so quick the guard didn’t have time to realize what was happening. Penguin’s other hand grabbed the back of his head and slammed his face on the desk before the information reached the marine’s brain. Under the choc the soldier lost consciousness and the Heart pirate placed his limp body on the chair he’d occupied earlier with the bottle of alcohol next to him. Penguin fixed his clothes and breathed out before the snail on the table startled him.

“Neat,” Killer commented.

“Warn me earlier next time,” Penguin scolded.

This interruption had suddenly reminded him of the hazard that this mission was implying. A rush of adrenaline went through Penguin’s body and he focused, on the alert now. He took back the precious bag with the sea charts and maps, when his eyes fell down the papers he was going through before the marine burst in. Nothing worthy of his time right now but still he was intrigued by its object.

“Did you find the log pose?”

“No, only… strange accreditations.”

“How strange?”

“I think they were carrying weapons on this ship. There’s a bunch of official documents for dangerous armed cargos, but I never see that kind before…”

“What does it say?”

“It goes under the name ‘Pacifista’.”

 

After a moment, Killer shook his head, “Never heard of it. But ‘pacify’ doesn’t sound good for us.”

“Better not hang around here too long,” Penguin clicked his tongue with annoyance, “Can you take a look in the other rooms for the log pose? Maybe it’s not stored here.”

“Where then?” Killer questioned. “The captain’s cabin?”

“That’s a start. Which way it–”

The clicking of the door opening cut Penguin’s sentence short. The hatted man froze. Another marine?! Killer didn’t say anything! How could there be another so soon after the one Penguin just knocked down?

But the wooden door of the navigation room had remained shut.

Penguin tilted his head failing to understand what was happening when the snail phone on the table shouted.

“Freeze pirate!”

Killer!

Penguin heard nothing but a din on the other side, shouts and gunshots. It was really fast. How many were they? Did Killer get caught? Penguin waited. And the seconds stretched like minutes in complete silence.

“No killing,” Killer finally grumbled, “Happy?”

Penguin sighed loudly realizing he had held his breath the whole time. That idiot! Why did he take so long to answer?!

“No I’m not!” He was furious. You could have been shot! But instead Penguin scolded, “They’ll know we’re here by minutes now!”

“How the he–”

“It doesn’t seem weird to you that we both got spotted at the same time?”

“Shit! We knocked out the new shifts,” Killer understood with a groan. Fuck. If the guys he and Penguin neutralized weren’t giving sign of life, the others will be able to tell something was wrong with the soldiers that took the new shifts of watch.

Being out before the marines knew it was becoming more and more urgent now.

“I’m going to the captain’s cabin,” Penguin urged. They’d wasted enough time. “I’m going to get that log pose then we’ll get out of here.”

“Wait! The officer is still in there,” Killer warned as he glanced at the dedicated screen. When the blonde got back to the navigation room, Penguin was passing the huge bag of maps and log books on his shoulder with one hand while the other took the bottle of sake. The hatted man opened the corks with his teeth and took two large gulps for good measure.

“He won’t be a problem,” Penguin assured.

“You sure this going to work twice?” The Kid pirate doubted on the other side.

 But the hatted man had already gone out of the navigation room before Killer could finish.

“Why won’t it work?”

“Officers aren’t as naïve as the soldiers. Just wait for me, I’m going to join y–”

“No! You have to guide me,” Penguin protested as he was progressing toward the upper level where the captain’s quarters were. “I’ll make sure no one will trigger the alarm.”

Killer took the snail phone unceremoniously and snatched Penguin’s belongings despite what the Heart pirate had ordered. They had to leave the battleship before getting caught. It was a question of minutes now.

“Don’t rush!” Killer continued, “You’re going to make a mistake!”

“I won’t! Trust me!”

The masked man stopped dead in his tracks. Both hands flat on the control panel with the dim blue light of the screen reflecting on his striped helmet. It wasn’t just because Penguin’s confident voice but what he just told.

Trust me!

Killer wasn’t asking for anything more. But… He had a bad feeling about the success of their infiltration. Right now, as he looked at Penguin getting closer to the captain’s quarters, it felt wrong. He didn’t know why but it’d been a long time that Killer had learnt to trust his guts.

Checking his way on the control screens, he replied, “I’m meeting you in front of the captain’s cabin. Wait for me!”

With a small bag containing Penguin’s stuff on his back, Killer rushed through the halls. It wasn’t long until the fresh air of the summer night blew lightly around him. Out on the upper deck the masked man barely registered the railing on his left and the distant lights of Sabaody. He was almost running now, resisting the urge to go at full speed because of the loud noise he would make on the wooden deck. His earlier disturbing feeling was creeping inside him, pushing him forward eagerly. Urgency had taken over Killer and was twisting his stomach although they had nothing to worry at the moment. Something was off and Killer felt it in his guts. It wasn’t his ulcer wakening like each time Kid was doing something stupid. It was the same sickening feeling he had when his nakamas needed his help.

“I see the door,” Killer informed through the snail phone with a forceful neutral tone. But no sign of the Heart pirate…

Only then he saw that the snail in his hand had shut down. He cursed and the holes of his helmet whistled. In two steps he was at the angle formed by the captain’s quarters and the hall going down inside the battleship. Hiding in the shadows of the night, Killer scrutinized the lower deck under him, with the main mast and tied up ropes flooded by the moonlight, but the only information he received was the sound of several steps coming in his way. Marines…

They weren’t that bad at infiltration, were they?

Killer’s frustration accumulated in his hands turning into an itch to draw out his scythes. It was sad considering their plan had gone well up to this moment. One thing was sure though, if Penguin wasn’t showing up soon heads would fly. Speaking of it a lot of candidates started to gather around the masked man. He breathed out and eased his mind with habit when the marines blocked his way in front and behind him. He’d waited for this all night.

“You’re surrounded pirate!” A bold soldier shouted in Killer’s back. “Surrender!” He added while arming his rifle.

All of a sudden Killer’s murderous thoughts got out of his mind. And the masked man couldn’t help a smile nobody would see. Slowly he turned back, forgetting the marines who were invading the upper deck, towards the familiar voice that had spoken. All around him marines were pointing weapons in Killer’s direction, but he only had eyes for a pirate in disguise stuck in front of a troop of soldiers. Killer towered the shorter man that was aiming his gun barrel at his chest. Funny, how the man who insisted on having a plan was good at improvisation.

“Was that planned or you got caught first?” The blonde mocked in a whisper only for Penguin to hear him.

The Heart pirate readjusted the heavy duffle bag on his shoulder and Killer bet he was blushing heavily under the marine’s cap he was wearing.

“Totally planned!” Penguin lied in a breath, steadying the rifle he was pointing at the masked man.

“I told you to wait for me.”

“Spare me the ‘I told you’ alright?” The hatted man snapped without spite.

The officer on guard burst out the captain’s cabin to witness Killer’s arrest. Nonetheless the scowl twisting his features was not the expression of someone surprised. He solely seemed deeply pissed off finding a pirate aboard his battleship. As if he had expected some to come aboard. The officer shouted orders to the soldiers whom the white uniforms were shining under the moon rays.

A sudden peace had invaded Killer at this instant. Was it because they finally got caught or because he found the Heart pirate, he couldn’t tell. But his stomach had untwisted and he got ready to fight with a renew desire. The masked man leaned imperceptibly forward, his voice going deeper than Penguin would’ve thought possible.

“Whenever you’re ready…”

His rough voice caressed Penguin like a lover’s hand rubbing his cheek. Shivers ran down the hatted man’s spine. Not from fear this time… but from thrilling anticipation. His heart halted its fluttering for an instant, adrenaline flowing in his veins from head to toe, tickling his nerves. Penguin felt like being in the eye of a storm he could start by a single shot.

He was in control.

Chapter Text

In a faster than light movement, Penguin shot the officer who was in his reach. He made a step forward by Killer’s side while the masked man did the same until they were back to back. The dumbstruck marines, seeing their commander falling to the ground with a scream, offered the hatted man a perfect window. He reloaded his rifle and shot again before they even realize what was happening. One, two, three gunmen fell under Penguin’s fire. The shooters first.

Behind him Penguin heard the whistling of scythes drew out and marine’s shots immediately afterward. There was a brush of long hair against his jacket and he felt Killer moving. Fire guns and blades’ clash echoed loudly in Penguin’s ears while a soldier charged at him. It reminded the hatted man to stay focus on his own battle.

Penguin easily dodged the blade coming for his head and expeditiously knocked down the marine with the grip of his rifle. Soldiers were all around them and didn’t let him have time to blink before two others launched themselves in the hatted man’s direction. They were welcomed by one of Penguin’s powerful kicks. He left the soldiers holding their broken ribs and searching their lost breath through their damaged throats. When you knew how to heal people you also learnt how to hurt them. That was how the medical knowledge of the Heart crew also made them dangerous fighters. Able to break all of your bones while naming them. But this show of strength didn’t stop more soldiers from emerging on the upper deck. There were more than they counted in the control room. A lot more.

Penguin kept his guard on the defensive though he was weighed down by the maps and log books. He quickly realized the space was going to be a major issue when his arms almost meet one of Killer’s rotating blades.

“Watch out!” The Heart pirate screamed.

“Don’t get in my way!” The blonde bit back.

Penguin didn’t have time to retort anything that he had to go down to avoid another salvo from the new gunmen. That way though he’d left Killer’s back exposed and the masked man dodged the bullets by sheer luck, the last one hitting his helmet.

“What are you doing?!” Killer yelled.

“Staying alive!”

“Then don’t get me killed in the process!”

Penguin saw the marines reloading their weapons. He punched another pair of them trying to stop him and glanced at the marine headquarters, shining on the archipelago’s coast.

“Now would be the time to have a way out!” The hatted man reminded Killer.

“Down!” was the only thing the Kid pirate answered. He slashed through another bunch of soldiers and leaped nimbly in the air. His body drew a perfect arc before he landed hunkered down on the railing of the upper deck. Penguin stepped backward closer to him, holding the marines at distance. However there were too many soldiers coming over the bodies of those they’d already beaten. The pirates had kept losing ground and let the marines surrounded them completely. They were paying their improvised plan. Faced with their compromised posture, Killer sheathed his right scythe and grabbed Penguin’s collar like a kitten.

“What the–!”

The masked man jumped down to the lower deck a few feet under them carrying a very confused Penguin with one hand. He landed on his feet without trouble but the hatted man had no balance whatsoever between the heavy bag and Killer’s grip. The only thing that prevented Penguin to crash on the wooden deck was the blonde to whom he clung strongly. Finally a completely practical use for all those muscles.

The marines opened fire on them right behind them. The pirates had the same reflex to roll away from the hail of bullets. At a distance from each other Killer and Penguin saw the soldiers coming for them. They exchanged a single understanding look. The best way they could get out of this trap closing on them was to stop getting in each other’s way and fight separately. Every man for himself.

 

Without a single hesitation Penguin rushed through the enemy’s fire flashing in the dark of night. He jumped high despite the heavy bag of his shoulder and hauled himself in the rigging of the boat at light speed. If it wasn’t for the bullets exploding right behind his feet, Killer would have lost him. Penguin thanked his lithe body without which he would never be able to do such acrobatics. Here in the rigging he was out of all the swordsmen’s reach.

Little did the hatted man know that from this height he became a perfect aim for the remaining snipers. Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! Penguin climbed to the first folded sail as fast as he could, and stood up on the huge beam before he kept running. Turning into a colander wasn’t part of his tonight’s plan! He weaved in and out of the heavy ropes on his way, short of breath while the gunmen were reloading. Quick! Escape!

Penguin saw the black waves moving around the battleship. The ocean! He could easily jump in the water where he was! But something stopped him from doing so. First he thought it was out of survival instinct. From this height and with the weight he was carrying, jumping was a risky bet. At worst his loot wouldn’t survive the fall the ocean and he would injure himself badly by piercing the water. Penguin refused to lose the treasure they just laid hands on, and swimming with a broken leg could get him drown.

At best though he could escape… but then he was leaving Killer alone to fight the marines.

Penguin swore and took shelter from the soldier’s fire behind the mast. He could leave the Kid pirate without a look back, he raged internally as he climbed higher to a junction between the ropes. That’s what pirates do! The hatted man comforted himself but in the same time he got closer to where Killer was keeping the marines at distance. I can just go. He’d do the same! It was true and he should take this opportunity while he could! He wasn’t a match for a whole Navy’s battalion.

Penguins stopped dead in his tracks at that though. He wasn’t a match… Memories snapped back in his mind with the sting of a slap.

The next time you want to pick someone out of your league, be smarter and keep running. Killer’s voice haughtily echoed in Penguin’s head.

Stay here safe since it’s too dangerous for you.

The hatted man clenched his fists, shielded from the bullets, he was infuriating. He re-watched the Kid pirate desperately searching strength in him. I’ve got nothing to prove, Penguin countered. Nothing.

But that didn’t mean he would let Killer fight alone.

With a frustrated snarl he observed the battle going on underneath him. Penguin crouched on the beam and saw the backups coming from the Marine headquarters. He witnessed the mass of soldiers assaulting the masked man from all sides. It didn’t take more for the Heart pirate to grasp Killer was in a very bad situation. Every time he was slashing and making a step forward they were closing their formation in his back. Slowly but surely he was losing ground to the marines.

The Kid pirate wouldn’t make it alone, and their time was running out! However any strategy that came up to Penguin’s mind at the moment wasn’t good enough. One way or another he would get in Killer’s way when he’d aim for the marines. Damn it! His captain would be ashamed by his slowness! Out of ideas, Penguin grabbed a rope at his feet and untied it from the sail it was tightened around. A few bullets speed by his arms and adrenaline spiked within the hatted man. Clutching the rope tightly the Heart pirate didn’t even think before jumping down towards the heart of the battle. His fall had been so fast the soldiers hadn’t even paid attention to him as he swooped down on them. Between the height and the load in his back, Penguin crashed into the rows of soldiers at full speed and sent a dozen of them flying with the damage of a canon ball. On the dark pattern of the night marines were projected away from where Killer stood. The masked man stopped his blades at the last moment to avoid Penguin. The last used his momentum to perform a somersault and hit the back of the first soldier he landed on.

“What are you doing?!” Killer yelled with a genuine surprised while kicking a soldier away and cutting through three others. Despite Penguin’s impressive stunt the marine’s assault continued but at least the Heart pirate had gotten back to Killer’s side. “Get out of here!” The latter urged Penguin.

The hatted man could have retorted he didn’t come here to pay the debt of a dead pirate, but instead he preferred quipping, “And let you have all the fun? No way!” Only a grunt answered him as Killer kept fighting by his side. Then Penguin understood the measure of his mistake. He had only given them a short break before being surrounded closer than before. Soon the first mates were back to back again.

“That was very useful!” Killer shouted in the middle of the mess avoiding a charge only to offer his side to another enemy.

What was I supposed to do?! Penguin got angry while kicking the legs of a marine coming too close. Run away. Run away would have save his ass, but what about Killer? All their operation was meaningless if he left him behind. Or so Penguin tried to convince himself badly. He had a lot of thing to snap back to the Kid pirate but marines were taking a lot of his attention. “Find something else!” Was all Penguin was able to retort in the middle of brawl.

One of Killer’s scythes slashed very close to Penguin’s arm and the masked man leaped away. Killer cursed. He almost mistook him for a marine again with his borrowed uniform! They were too close again to perform their usual moves. They never fought at each other’s side before. And this battle was getting too long. Not only for Killer’s taste but also regarding their chances of survival. They had hold on up to then only because they were good fighters. But if they didn’t escape quickly, the battalion of marines was going to crush them. More than the perspective of getting caught so dumbly, the Kid pirate couldn’t stand being stopped while they were so close achieving their goal. They were almost done– almost… Red line was so close, Killer suddenly thought. They had the whole New World ahead waiting for them! They couldn’t lose now!

With a renewal of strength, Killer kept up his assault but he wasn’t able to pull out a too bold move. The soldiers attacking from everywhere weren’t giving him the time. All of a sudden he heard a strangled scream from a familiar voice. Stupid flightless bird! Penguin had been carried backward. A sword had stuck right through the duffle bag on his shoulder, while the marine at the other end kept pressing his weapon forward. Before Killer even thought of making a move, the hatted man was brought down and smashed onto the deck. He tried to turn quickly but his heavy bag slowed down his movement. The masked man enraged forced to focus on his own enemies or he would suffer the same fate. Killer tried to reach Penguin but the chaos surrounding them prevented him to even turn towards the Heart pirate.

From the corner of his eyes he saw Penguin rolled on the deck, avoiding the blades falling down upon his head. Fuck! If he could just–! But as soon as one of his scythes was free, a sword or a limb stopped its trajectory. No matter how many soldiers he sent flying of cut through they were coming back always numerous. Each one of Killer’s hits became more and more enraged as he was hearing the Heart pirate struggling on the ground when he was powerless to stop it.

“Get up!” Killer yelled.

Penguin was resisting the best he could but there were too many hands trying to grab him, too many swords aiming to run through him. The Heart pirate managed to get up on one knee, “Get up!” Killer urged him again. He didn’t know how but the masked man knew Penguin would listen. Killer could feel it, throbbing in his chest, the certainty that Penguin could do it. As if Killer’s words finally reached him, the Heart pirate shouted and his yell was heard over the din of the battle. He sent the men trying to hold him down flying away and Killer couldn’t help to crack a smile. This brief moment of inattention though, was Killer’s biggest mistake.

His right scythe was pressing against two soldiers’ blades, the left kept deflecting the furious charge of the marines and he couldn’t move his legs or nothing would support him under the assault. Leaving nothing to protect his side from the sword that found his way under his rib cage. In the middle of the chaos, Killer felt the sharp edge sinking in his flesh and the warm flow of blood starting to soak his long-sleeved shirt.

 

Penguin saw it happened in a slow motion and suddenly the noise faded around him. He wasn’t thinking anymore, his body acted instinctively. His arms coated with the shiny black of armament haki. He gripped the blade on the Kid pirate’s side and crushed the metal with his bare hand. The wielder looked dumbly at his broken sword, just the time Killer needed to hammer him with a brutal and merciful hit that cut through the marine’s chest.

In the heat of the moment Penguin passed under Killer’s scythe, he instinctively punched the closest marine back in the solar plexus. With haki Penguin’s hit had been so powerful the marine was ejected on several feet aside. Both pirates charged into the breach the hatted man had created. Like one man they kicked their nearer opponents, so fast the marines stopped their assault for a moment.

Penguin and Killer looked back at each other.

“Can you do that again?” Killer asked in a short breath.

Penguin was forced to pull out another move, striking the soldier who came to him, “Do what?” He yelled.

“Fight with me!” The Kid pirate shouted back when he caught new blades with his scythes.

This won’t work! Penguin wanted to answer between his gritted teeth while the marines seemed to renew their effort to bring them down. I keep getting in your way! And you in mine! Penguin realized how stupid he’d acted by coming down in the middle of the fight. We don’t know how to work together! Each time it starts well and we end up screwing up like tonight! No… it wasn’t their way out.

But Penguin hadn’t a single moment to put on a cleverer plan. He just had the time to steady himself bringing up his guard. Quickly before soldiers attacked him on his right. His haki coated fists joined to punch the marines aside. Another attack was already falling upon his head. Penguin didn’t think and grab the upcoming arm, intended to throw the man over his shoulder. But Penguin’s hand encountered metal. More precisely Killer’s armband, in the general confusion. The first mates acknowledged each other during a brief instant. As if their grip was the only stable thing the chaotic maelstrom of the battle.

Another wall of enraged soldiers was about to crash on Killer and Penguin; and they acted on instinct. It was all that was left to them now. It wasn’t about skill or strength anymore. They were alone facing an army. There was no time for mistrust or arguing which crew they were in.

Without thinking Penguin’s haki extended on Killer’s arm all the way down to the end of his curved blade. The pirates brought their arms down slashing through the marines’ formation so strongly the air ignited on black scythe’s way. Soldiers fell on each side of the blade like pins. And the battleship’s deck split on half its width with a loud wooden crack. Taking everyone’s breath away.

This… couldn’t work. Right?

A salvo of bullets forced them to let each other’s arms go. “Come on!” Killer cut Penguin’s thoughts short, “Help me get outta here!” The hatted man couldn’t oppose anything to the leadership Killer was suddenly showing. The masked man always fought with pride but at this instant Penguin saw an assurance radiating from him that left the Heart pirate speechless. And willing to follow Killer till the end.

Killer crossed his scythes before him and slashed the front line of soldiers. The masked man crouched down at the end of his move opening a perfect window for Penguin to jump over him and charge into the marines who were hardly getting back on their feet. The soldiers didn’t have enough time to block two different kinds of attack and stepped back once more. Penguin had a devilish smile.

 

The first mates brought up their guards with a perfect synchronization and unleashed hell upon the marines surrounding them. The power of their combined hits was those of thousand men. And each time the soldiers attempted to cut off their retreat they split up. Penguin was punching the hell out of them. Twisting every limb that came to his reach and ending the soldiers who didn’t fell under Killer’s blades. Killer was living up to the Massacre Soldier’s epithet. Inspiring true fear to every marine who had the misfortune not having been knocked down by Penguin first.

It wasn’t as easy as it looked though. They had to stay focused not to hit each other by mistake. While they were pushing the marines back however, Penguin couldn’t resist taking an actual look at how Killer was doing. Once again the Heart pirate lost his words.

The way Killer’s legs were moving, nimble and assured, or how the shining silver of his scythes seemed like an extension of his arms. The masked man’s hair was flowing wildly in the rush of the fight. Blonde clear spikes under the light of the moon. He was uncatchable and deadly. Yet the pure violence of his strikes wasn’t exempt from a certain grace. To Penguin’s eyes Killer wasn’t fighting, he was dancing. And to say he was beautiful was criminally underrated. It seemed to the Heart pirate that he was truly seeing Killer for the first time. That stark moment of truth hit him harder than any sword or bullet. He saw in Killer’s fighting, in his fury and his grace, why he out of so many rookies became a Supernova.

He flew by like a celestial body burning through the night and sending shock waves at the soldiers all around him. Destructive and magnificent. Things that, in spite of his best efforts, Penguin would never be. Killer told it to him the day they met but Penguin had refused to listen. The Kid pirate was way out of his league. A sudden memory from the beginning of the night came back to Penguin. When he reached out to take Killer’s hand drifting in his bubble. As unreachable as the stars in the sky. Penguin had fooled himself, believing he could live among them when he was just a flightless bird.

 

A warm and callous hand caught Penguin’s one and he was brought back in the fight. When he switched places with Killer, the Kid pirate gave him a new momentum so Penguin was able to throw his foot in a soldier’s head. The circle around them had grown wide. They could do it! The Heart pirate lifted his eyes up. It was time to finish them.

“Throw me again!” Penguin yelled to the masked man over the chaos.

Killer complied, taking hold of Penguin’s forearm before throwing him at full speed against the wall of marines.

“Not like that!” Penguin shouted while kicking the soldiers with all the strength Killer had giving him. Too much strength that sent Penguin off balance.

 “How?” The masked man got angry covering the Heart pirate’s side.

“Upward! On the rope!”

During a confusing moment Killer wondered what the hell Penguin was talking about. Before his eyes landed on the heavy rope the hatted man had jumped down with earlier. It was still hung up on the sail and dangling straight to the deck. It didn’t clarify anything for the masked man though. But Killer didn’t have time to question the Heart pirate. He didn’t have the luxury to doubt of his intentions or not trusting him. With another powerful hit in the marines’ direction, Killer bent a knee and sheathed his right scythe. “Hurry!” He signaled to the Heart pirate, waiting for him to jump on the improvised spring board he was forming.

Penguin didn’t think twice and ran the few feet that were separating them. He put his standing foot on Killer’s forearm and jumped high. Incredibly high with the momentum the Kid pirate gave him. Oh, this is great! Penguin almost forgot what he was aiming for under the exhilarating sensation filling his whole body. Gripping the rope tight, he pulled it out of the sail and fall down with the end tied up around his arm.

Killer hadn’t missed his move and grabbed the other end of the rope, hoping to guess what Penguin had in mind. The hatted man landed on the deck, far away from him. The look they exchanged through the battalion of soldiers was confident. They didn’t need more to know they understood each other.

To the marines’ surprise the loose rope at their feet suddenly tensed, forming a deadly straight line connecting the two pirates. And before they understood what was going on, the rope swept them away. The path of the long rope didn’t let the soldiers gathered on the deck a single chance to escape. The pirates’ combine movement was too synchronized and too fast for the marines to counterattack. The luckier ones jumped overboard and the rest of the battalion was tied up in the rope in no time. As for the few survivors, they watched the pirates reuniting in the middle of the deck. Killer and Penguin dropped the rope simultaneously, their gazes focused on the last soldiers. Slowly they walked toward them, with the assurance of men who knew they already won.

None of the marines resisted to the pirates’ final blows and their bodies hit the battleship’s deck in no time. Short of breath, they looked at their work. Not quite believing the lucky turn of tables. Their eyes finally landed on each other and Penguin opened his mouth–

THUMP.

A dull sound echoed on the quiet deck.

THUMP… THUMP.

The noise progressed and Penguin and Killer brought their guards up towards the upcoming threat behind such menacing steps. Because as it grew, it sounded more and more to the first mates’ ears like a giant walking upon them. The pace was slow and heavy turning the glow of their earlier victory to a creeping regret. Could they really be so unlucky?

In the darkness they could only see a huge form stepping slowly on the deck. The giant’s feet were bending the wood slightly each time it was moving forward. Unexpectedly a dim light grew brighter on the giant’s head. So quickly that the pirates had neither the time to distinguish the bear ears on the giant’s head nor that the beam it fired was coming from his mouth. All they could do what to step aside to avoid the blinding laser beam that split the deck between the Heart and the Kid pirate. And when the beam faded the darkness and burning wood engulfed their fields of vision.

“What the fuck is that?” Killer growled.

He had just spoken Penguin’s mind. But when the giant stepped heavily in their direction, he wasn’t so sure if he wanted to find out anymore. Their new challenger gave Penguin the creeps and he couldn’t place why. He picked up a riffle abandoned on the deck and aimed for the giant’s chest. Its steps were getting dangerously closer but Killer hadn’t made his move yet. Penguin fired and the bullets seemed to rebound against the giant, making dim sparkles when they hit him. It only enforced the hatted man’s bad feeling. Something was wrong.

“Killer–”

“I’m going to feint him on his right, take the left.”

“No, wait!” Against Penguin’s expectation Killer actually listened to him. “There’s something wrong with him.”

“Really? What’s gave you a hint? The laser?”

“Oh bite me!”

“Maybe later,” the masked man teased.

The giant didn’t let them time to carry on, he had taken off his right glove and aimed in their direction again. But they were ready. And as soon as the beam tore up the darkness the pirates jumped away. The laser though, didn’t stop like the first time. It diverted in Killer’s direction and almost touched him. He spun and avoided getting cut in half at the very last moment. The Kid pirate’s back hit the railing of the boat, adding to the throbbing pain of his bleeding side, and he threatened to fall overboard. Somewhere behind the smoke and the burnt wood Penguin screamed his name but Killer had only eyes for the giant’s mouth that was lighting up again. But this time it wasn’t aiming at him…

 

Penguin felt taken away, like he’d been hit by a brick wall, and tumbled over the railing with the Kid pirate. The hatted man saw a burst of flames exploded at the place where he was standing a second earlier and the edge of the battleship broke in splinters. Penguin hardly felt the fall then water surrounded him, soaked his clothes and blurred his field of vision. The coldness of the sea brought him back to his present self. To the salt hurting his eyes and Killer’s arm wrapped around his bruised midsection. Penguin nimbly freed himself from Killer’s arms before kicking to the surface. The waves were crashing against the nearby battleship and tossing the pirates about. His hatted head breached the water right before the masked man. They took the deep breath they barely had time to catch during their fall.

“You okay?” Penguin asked loudly to cover the sound of the backwash.

Killer resisted grunting. He should be the one asking that. Instead he just answered, “Yeah. Let’s get out of here.”

They started swimming and the chilly water helped them cooled down from the adrenaline still running wildly in their veins. Around them the ocean was calm and dark, unchanged from when they first crossed it. They did it. They escaped. Penguin hoped the bag would keep the maps and books dry. He glanced at the Sabaody’s coast, with its huge striped trees towering them. They hadn’t swum far that Penguin saw the black waves around him lighting… and lighting. Until they became too bright from a light coming in their direction. Instinctively Penguin kicked Killer away, just in time to avoid another laser beam piercing the surface of the ocean, frying the water and producing a heavy and salty steam. The impetus Penguin gave himself propelled him underwater and he could watch the beam going down the sea’s depths. Close call, he thought holding his breath.

Under the sea level Killer turned around, his long hair floating freely all around him. Uncaring of the salt stinging his open wound. He didn’t dare going up, not willing to risk getting successfully fried. Finally he saw Penguin at a dozen of feet away, with only the comforting moonlight lighting him. The Heart pirate wasn’t resurfacing either. In fact he was way deeper in the sea than Killer. Were the log books bringing him down? But Penguin looked at him and pointed down with one finger and Killer understood they came to the same conclusion. If they stayed underwater the giant might not see them. He nodded his masked head and Penguin twirled in the water with ease despite the weigh he was carrying, before beginning a breaststroke. Killer always thought that constantly fishing Kid out of the water had made him a decent swimmer but he appeared very clumsy compared to Penguin. Killer smiled to himself at the irony of Penguin’s name.

 

They swam without any more trouble towards the striped roots of Sabaody, they could already see the bubbles that were blown even under the surface of the water and went up to burst at the surface. The water started feeling a bit different at each push forward, slicker and thicker on their skin because of the soap floating around. They were almost at reach when the lack of air started to smother the pirates. They didn’t know if the giant was still waiting for them to resurface or if he could aim that far. But what if it was the case? None of them wanted trying to find out. So they remained underwater, at the price of their oxygen dangerously decreasing.

The closer they were getting to the trees, the harder it was. The soap in the water was hurting their eyes and their swimming became more and more erratic. They couldn’t hold more or they’d drown! Finally Killer’s helmet breached the surface and he took a large gulp of air, breathing heavily as to refill his lungs little by little. He grabbed a slippery root and a deadly feeling seized him. He was alone above the water.

Killer immediately plunged and looked for the hatted man in the darkness. Down between the intertwined roots, Killer spotted the whiteness of the Navy uniform and swam frantically to the Heart pirate. For the first time this night Killer was grateful that Penguin had changed his ninja’s suit for something bright and easily noticeable.

The hatted man was in deep water, struggling with the duffle bag that had stuck him between too close roots. The bag’s strap was constricting Penguin’s shoulder and before Killer reached him, the last bubbles of air escaped from the hatted man’s mouth.

The Kid pirate barely contained a shout that in addition to be useless would release the breath he was holding. Killer swam as fast as he could and caught hold of the roots above Penguin’s head in a death grip. The Heart pirate’s body had gone limp. Killer had to hurry but he never felt so slow than at this very moment. Each one of gesture was taking a lifetime, during which Penguin’s one was shortening. He extended the arm that wasn’t gripping the roots above his head, his movement getting even slower in the soapy water. His scythes got out of his armband soaking the mechanism with water but at this point he didn’t care anymore. The stark reflection of the metal shone under the moon and Killer brought down his blades over Penguin’s head, cutting off the striped ties with fury.

 

The Kid pirate got them both out of the ocean. Carrying Penguin and the maps with one arm, he lifted them to the solid soapy grass. In the sky the stars had lost all their brightness.

“You,” Killer swore like it was the haughtiest curse, “Are the worst pirate,” He continued while untying the duffle bag from the hatted man’s back, “I’ve ever met!”

The masked man dripped seawater on Penguin as he knelt beside his lying body. The blonde’s breath was harsh and deeply pissed off. He took Penguin’s pulse. Gone. Killer used only one hand, it was more than enough to break the Heart pirate’s ribs if he was going too hard. He started a heart massage and water spurted from Penguin’s mouth.

“You’re not dying on me. Not like that.”

Killer’s voice was dead cold, as if he had the power to threaten an unconscious man. He kept pumping on Penguin’s chest, feeling his rib cage bending under his rhythmical pushes but lacking the pulse of his heartbeat.

“Come on! Your captain’s gonna kill me if I come back with your corpse!”

More water sprung out of the Heart pirate’s mouth and nose with Killer’s first aid. His moves were determined and unstoppable. But he was the only thing agitated in this scene. Neither the bubbles floating around nor Penguin’s body seemed to hear his plea.

“We got their maps, their log books,” Killer kept going, actually helpless before the fact that after all they’d accomplished tonight Penguin would buy it like that, “We beat the Navy! Together! Now wake the fuck up!”

The Kid pirate didn’t consider another option. Penguin was going to regain consciousness. It was a matter of fact because Killer would refuse anything else to happen.

 

Penguin heard his name, shouted from far away like a curse. He had the impression to float. Maybe he was still in the water. He felt long hair sweeping his chest and face. His ears seemed blocked. But the second after without warning someone turn on the volume to its maximum and Killer’s voice pierced his eardrums.

The hatted man coughed up violently, rolling on the side and curling on himself. The salty and soapy water rasped the inside of his trachea as he tried to breathe again. He heard a metallic clank filling the quietness of the night, like a lock being closed. But right now he was a bit busy not dying to wonder where it came from. Penguin put a closed fist against the sticky ground and tried to inhale normally even if he just sounded like a rusty pipe for the moment.

More seawater dripped out of his mouth and nose before he was actually able to breathe in multiple times in a row without risking coughing his own lungs out. Then Penguin lifted his head up, realizing at the same time his borrowed cap was gone. His brown strands, darkened by the water, stuck to the sides of his face and were tickling his chin and cheeks. And as always some rebel strands fall down his eyes. The Heart pirate straightened up, supporting himself on his hands, and his finally opened eyes crossed Killer’s ones, or so he imagined. Penguin would have given a lot to see the expression on the motionless pirate’s face. Killer remained kneeling beside him, towering him from his height even in that position. Nonetheless Penguin didn’t know what to do with the blue and white striped helmet facing him. He didn’t know what to say while his mind was just a maelstrom of everything they did tonight. Killer helped him find out.

A solid punch sent Penguin on his back. He could tell for already having fought him that Killer had been gentle this time.

“What is wrong with you?!” Penguin yelled with a raspy voice, setting himself up on one elbow and rubbing his painful chest.

“Me?! Why did you cling on that goddamn bag for?!”

“We fought for that! No way, I was letting it go!”

“You’re fucking idiot!”

“And you’re a tall pretentious asshole!” Penguin snapped back, “What a great pair we make!”

Killer lifted his hands up then brought them down and clenched his fists as if he couldn’t decide what to do with them. Maybe hit the Heart pirate again? Just for the form. “Why did you come so close to the trees?” He raged instead.

“I wanted to… to– Ah! Does it really matter now?!”

The Kid pirate’s fist closed on Penguin’s collar and yanked him so close he could have seen through the holes of Killer’s mask with a good light.

“Yes, it matters,” Killer muttered darkly, “You almost died.”

For a moment the masked man stared at Penguin. It took Killer a moment to find why he was so rapt. Somehow it had to do with defined cheekbones and a square jaw, a pale wet and flushed skin and dark brown eyes surrounded by short lashes. Maybe it was due to tight lips that had almost lost their color or the fact that Killer was clearly seeing Penguin’s face for the first time.

However, as the pregnant pause lasted, Killer ended dropping him and got up on his feet. He was still shaken by the vision of the Heart pirate lying down without a pulse just a few minutes ago. Killer’s eyes ran over the Navy headquarters all lightened up and the burning battleship they left behind them. What a night… He wrung his long soaked hair with one hand and threw his head back. What a fucking night…

 

“You saved me,” Penguin’s voice declared calmly in his back.

Then the Heart pirate’s words sunk in. And Killer froze.

Chapter Text

“You saved me.”

The Heart pirate’s voice was filled with objective statement, gratefulness and a hint of astonishment.

No word could find its way out of Killer’s mouth. On the soapy coast, between the bubbles popping lightly in the air, an awkward silence settled. But no matter how hard Killer tried, his brain simply wouldn’t process all the implication of what he did. He just did it. That’s all. Nothing more. He just… Why did Penguin look at him like that? With his wide opened shiny brown eyes. Like he did something… something heroic. Killer hated that kind of looks. Full of hope and gratitude, thankful, praising even and above all… disarming.

 

He couldn’t– His whole life Killer had been told he didn’t belong, whether it was in a place or within a community. He’d been the shitty brat, the scum, the thug. The kind of bad seed you’d rather abandoned in the middle of junkyard of a southern island. Since his childhood, his bad reputation followed him like a shadow. He had not that dangerous magnetism Kid had that drawn people to him. No. A glance at Killer was all you needed to tell he was not trustworthy. And… Hell, the look people always gave him when they saw his face…

Killer learnt to live with that. He handled fear and mistrust on a daily basis, he lived by violence, and wasn’t paying attention to the disgust in other’s eyes anymore… but admiration? The hell was he supposed to do with that? Wait! Why did Penguin get up? Why did he come to him with that expression? What did he want from him?!

Penguin closed the distance between them, his wet Navy uniform sticking to his lean body and spattering seawater at each step. He didn’t notice or maybe he pretended he didn’t see the masked man stepping back. Under the protection of the Yarukiman mangrove they were completely safe yet Killer felt irritatingly vulnerable. He gritted his teeth, holding back a disapproving growl at Penguin’s attention. The Heart pirate opened his mouth but nothing came as if he’d decided not to speak at the last moment. His gaze seemed like he was searching for something before he decided on:

“You’re bleeding.”

Oh. Right. Between the giant shooting laser beams and Penguin’s death Killer had momentarily forgot the stinging cut on his right side. The Kid pirate lifted his bloodied shirt up revealing a cut where the marine’s sword had pierced his scarred skin. It seemed it was just what the Heart pirate was waiting for to rush at the exposed wound and take a look. Killer knew the second Penguin had his fingers around the cut that there was nothing he could do to escape the medical exam.

Yet Killer protested, “I’m fine.”

“Not sure. The tip of the sword may still be inside,” Penguin argued calmly. He barely had to lean down to examine the cut with Killer being so tall.

“Come on, it’s just another scar. I once had a camshaft stuck under my ribcage for months and I didn’t even know it was here!”

“A… What?”

“A camshaft. You know, it’s an engine’s piec–”

The horror-struck look Penguin gave him made Killer eat his own words. The grip of his fingers slightly intensified on Killer’s skin. Then Killer had enough and caught Penguin’s hand getting him away from his side. He wasn’t some weakling needing assistance each time he was hurt. And the last thing he needed was Penguin’s pity. Or whatever guilt the Heart pirate thought he was feeling. Killer truly wanted to tell him to piss off and keep his benevolence for whoever would need it.

Yet Killer didn’t go further. Something changed in the Heart pirate’s stand, a resolution that suddenly took the fear’s place. He didn’t know from where it came from exactly, but Killer suddenly had the absolute certainty that Penguin would never let anything get stuck inside of him again. He had that ‘Not under my watch’ look that made Killer cracked an unwanted smile in spite of his awkwardness.

“I said I’m fine,” Killer said firmly without spite. He kept holding Penguin’s hand away from his wound. “I can handle it.”

Penguin wiped the water drops at the end of his nose, searching the best way to call out his bullshit, “You’re no doctor to say that.” He chose.

“You already did enough for me tonight,” the Kid pirate pointed out, “No need to add more medical expenses.”

Penguin freed his hand in exasperation and resisted fisting his wet hair in annoyance.

“So that’s what it’s all about?! You’re just that proud? Better be hurt than asking for help right?!”

The masked man tightened the red band circling his hips, pressing on his open wound. But at this moment he knew better than biting back in answer. Besides it wasn’t the point he was willing to make.

“Oh no.” He calmly told, his tone slipping to the parenting one; the one he used to call Kid on his bullshit. “This isn’t about me we’re talking here. It’s you.”

That had the merit to take the soaked Heart pirate aback. “What, me?”

“You.” Killer carried on, crossing his arms, “Have to stop wanting to save me every goddamn time.”

“When did I try to save you? Right now–”

“Right now, yeah.” The Kid pirate snorted in front of Penguin’s bad faith. “And you avoided me to get shot by the laser, you watched my back during the fight–”

“You did the same for me,” the Heart pirate pouted.

“You also crushed that blade that was about to go through me–”

“Okay but–”

“–that was pretty awesome.”

The masked man closed the distance between them and it took Penguin a superhuman effort not to make a step back. “You plunged back in the middle of the brawl instead of going away.” This time Killer couldn’t help a faint laugh. “This was actually downright stupid.” Penguin glared back at him. Oh, how Killer adored those defiant looks. Those moments when he stood up and fought and he could see that spark of fire ignite the back of his pupils. “You came back to fight with me instead of running away.”

Penguin looked away with a faint smile tugging the corner of lips. His hands clumsily searching the hem of the cap he wasn’t wearing anymore to pull down his blushing face. He shrugged as a way of saying, I guess! His change of expression was so comical, a genuine laugh burst out of Killer’s mouth. It seemed to infuriate Penguin even more and it only increased Killer’s laughing. The sound came out frank and a little raspy. It made Penguin’s stomach flip.

Killer was feeling lighter than he had felt during the whole night. Actually that wasn’t quite true. He had experienced that feeling way earlier, that fluttering heartbeat that was shaking his entire chest, that impression that he was in a bubble floating lightly above the ground. That same feeling as when he took Penguin’s hand to go on a dangerous adventure.

The masked man recalled a matter he’d put in the back of his head at the beginning of the night. Something along the lines of the blushing flightless bird, soft spots and heavy flirting he’d been ignoring for too long. All the devils of the sea help him! Killer just remembered that lewd zipping sound from Penguin’s overall and he started daydreaming about all the things he could do to him… And Killer had a very good imagination. There were so many possibilities without his hat in the way or his– hmm… maybe with some clothes still on… Oh, he would give the Heart pirate good reasons to blush! And scream too. Definitely scream. Preferably his name.

But Killer was getting carried away for now. At the moment Penguin was still too unaware of what was going on in the masked man’s head. Too overwhelmed by their amazing fight and his near death experience. That was a lot for one night and suddenly Killer hesitated. Did he really want to add his lust on top of everything Penguin had to deal with?

His hesitation didn’t last. They had done crazy things tonight… They fought together for fuck sake! What could be more astonishing than that? For them who were enemies just a few days ago, they’d already overcome so many of their personal boundaries. He had to get this off his chest, while the heat of the battle hadn’t left them completely, or he would never do it.

“You helped me pay my debt. But you had no reason to,” Killer finally put in words. He leaned closer than what was respecting one’s personal space. Penguin gulped at the statement and Killer saw in the tension of his jaw that he was anticipating his next question. The masked man didn’t give him time to back off. He took the Heart pirate’s chin between his thumb and forefinger and lifted his head up. Until his eyes locked with Penguin’s brown ones. Killer relished that suspended moment he’d created. He knew that he would only need one word to completely disarm Penguin.

That was exactly the reason why he asked, so close his breath was tickling Penguin’s wet skin, “Why?”

Penguin’s mouth just opened, but no word managed to form in his throat. So he closed his mouth. Then he reopened it. And closed it again, making him looked more and more like a fish out of the sea. Before Killer had time to crack a smile, a heavy blush started eating Penguin’s face.

“A–ah… Shit,” Penguin cursed and he closed his eyes in resignation. He gulped again but the knot in his throat seemed tightening. They were so close now he hated that fucking helmet that was still separating them. If it hadn’t been there he wouldn’t have needed words.

Instead the Heart pirate slid closer in Killer’s hand. The tip of his nose entered in contact with the cold surface of the Kid pirate’s mask. Penguin’s lips brushed the surface, feeling Killer’s hot breath on them. He couldn’t back off anymore, but now he was there… he was scared. And it seemed to Penguin he’d never faced a harder challenge than letting these three little words out of his mouth, “I want you.”

Penguin took a new breath of the summer air of the archipelago. He’d be dying to say it. But never would he have imagined it’d feel so fucking great! He stepped back to look at Killer again. He probably had the dumbest smile on his face right now, but oh did he give a damn about it. He was a pirate! And was going to take what he fucking wanted!

“I wanted you since you kicked my ass,” Penguin continued with a faint laugh, realizing how stupid he’d been not saying it earlier. And now he seemed he had to unload everything that weighted on his heart.

“Man… I hate the way you’re always on edge. You resolve most of your problems with your blades. You live by ‘the stronger eat the weak’. And I’m constantly remembered that without the power of my captain I wouldn’t be there. Damn, we think so differently about our future but since we talked about the New World I found in you someone… who understands me.”

Penguin made another step back, his arms lifting slightly up to designate him whole. In all his dampness and sticky marine’s clothes. With his dark wet hair starting to spike around his angular face. The paleness of his skin and the jacket glowing in the moonlight.

“You completely turned me upside down because… suddenly I’ve seen in you the first mate I’ll never be. You’re not only strong, gifted and smart –and a damn fine strategist! But you’re also the most gorgeous man that ever paid attention to me… and I wish I could actually see your eyes laying on me just to stop imagining them at night. Dreaming of having you. Of your hands on me and your voice saying my name all over again!” Penguin’s voice had gotten stronger, and he sometimes gulped under an overwhelming emotion. “So when we clashed the other night, and you walked away– I just didn’t want to let you go!”

It felt like their argument happened a lifetime ago. Their resentment, their mistrust, all that seemed so far away now they grew so close. Penguin wouldn’t have given them a single chance to get along, yet they did it. And that alone gave him the strength to stand up. It remembered him that he ought to fight for what he wanted… and with Killer’s help he succeeded.

Penguin kept staring at the masked man. Not that he feared what he was going to say. But his silence was killing him. He wasn’t able to read a single clue either on the white and blue stripes of his helmet, on his long legs adorned with fringes or his muscular chest where a skull was biting two crossed scythes.

“Please, just say something,” Penguin pleaded.

In response Killer’s deep voice asked, “You’ve finished?”

“Yeah.”

“Then let me have you.”

Shivers ran up Penguin’s thighs. He got half hard just by hearing Killer’s voice, rough from arousing. His marine’s pants quickly became uncomfortably tighter. All that because of Killer’s tone that was screaming ‘right here and there’. Without his brain holding his hand back, Penguin palmed his crotch and the evident bulge betraying his own desire. He realized too late his instinctive gesture. And Killer didn’t miss any of that.

The short distance between them gained in tension, electrifying the air. Penguin passed his tongue on his suddenly dry lips. His heart fluttered and in this thrilling instant they devoured each other with their eyes. That’s how the pirates knew one hell of a night was awaiting them. By the way they were already touching each other from a distance.

A kinky smile appeared on the Heart pirate’s face. He made a step backward and grabbed the duffle bag containing their treasure. He put it back on his shoulder and his look became defying.

“That… being said, I’m not an easy man. Plus I’ve already been especially good to you tonight,” Penguin reminded while untying the blue scarf from his marine’s uniform. “If you want me,” He carried on, pulling it off his neck and carelessly let it fall on the soapy grass. He continued walking back with a mischievous glint in his dark eyes, “You better catch me first.”

Killer’s eyes went from the discarded scarf up to Penguin. This looked like a game he was going to enjoy. He slightly changed his posture into a predatory one, ready to spring on his prey, “I hope you run faster than the first time I chased you.”

Penguin snorted haughtily without losing his smile, “Come and get me.”

Chapter Text

Killer left him a few seconds to get ahead, adjusting his own bag containing Penguin’s clothes. He’d need new ones once Killer would be done with him. He rushed after the Heart pirate between the high striped trees. The air became cold on his wet body but his running was already warming the Kid pirate. Adrenaline came back into him with the frenzy of the chase. The excitement filled his system as he ran faster than he had before.

His eyes zeroed on Penguin who looked over his shoulder. Yes, you better run flightless bird! His prey attempted to lose him in the course of the semi-obscurity of the mangrove. He changed of direction at the last moment, sliding on the slipping grass. And propelled himself forwards by springing on the roots of the trees. Killer was tailing him closely, a carnal smile spreading on his face. He had nothing else in view other than Penguin’s nimble body, getting bothered by the tightness of his marine’s uniform hugging his legs, his butt, his arms and chest too close. He leaped behind the Heart pirate, but not using his full speed. Instead he was slowly closing the distance separating them.

The chase was easy and exhilarating. Penguin’s cheeks heated up, overwhelmed by his running. He was sensing the masked man’s eyes on his back. Craving to get his hands on him. Truly, Penguin didn’t know when he’d suddenly gotten so playful. But that was what he wanted to do now. He was wanted, desired. And that feeling alone was getting him excited. Under Killer’s look Penguin felt capable of anything. He was stronger and braver than he’d have imagined. He leaded the way through the grove, getting closer and closer to a lighter place. They were only them in this hot night. No crews, no captains. Just them running in the dark greens and blues of the mangrove.

All of a sudden, Penguin jumped down a hill in a dell shadowed by the bubbled roof. Killer cracked a smile. By the time he got up on the other side, it’d be too late. The masked man could almost feel it, his hands closing on the Heart pirate’s arm, his breath on his pale neck. At the last moment though, Penguin fainted him. He saw him fight, he’d learnt and knew exactly what the Kid pirate was going to do. In a blink Penguin leaped aside, his slender body bent smoothly and Killer’s outstretched hand brushed Penguin’s hair.

Almost… Killer was going too fast to follow the Heart pirate’s move. By the time he caught up, Penguin was already way ahead. He disappeared from Killer’s sight with a cunning smile. The masked man growled hungrily before rushing to the tree behind which Penguin had vanished.

Warms lights greeted the Kid pirate as he realized that their chasing leaded them to edge of the inhabited areas. It was pretty quiet apart from the bursting of the bubbles. For a moment, Killer stopped at the view of the few people, walking down the streets at this late hour of the night. Buildings with suspended bubbles and resorts were extending as far as Killer could see. Without bars or clubs for people to gather it wasn’t a lively area. There were only dim round lights illuminating the quarters settled at the base of the tree number 78. They had landed in the hotel town…

 

The masked man was already searching wet brown hair as he began walking down the main street. The peace and soft light of this area had somewhat slowed down the rush that had been driving Killer. Changing his eager running into a slower predatory gait. He didn’t make two steps that the glimpse of a white jacket caught his eyes. The piece of clothing had been discarded on the grass. He approached the item adorned of the word ‘justice’ on its back. Killer’s mouth went dry at the idea that his owner was now wearing fewer clothes.

Just the thought of it, speeded up Killer’s steps. Now he was longing to catch up with the Heart pirate. At the first turn on his left, he spotted it. The big duffle bag bouncing on a long wanted back further down the street. The masked man wasn’t seeing the clear buildings with their round shaped roofs or the hotel rooms suspended high in their bubbles. He wasn’t paying attention to the persons avoiding his path. He only had eyes for the pirate walking nonchalantly away.

They had slowed down their pace, still it seemed to Killer that his heart was pumping faster and faster. He felt drawn to Penguin as if an invisible thread was linking them. It left Killer with the impression that he had to follow that line, no matter what. When Penguin turned behind a high hotel with bubbled windows, Killer was dying to catch up with him. As if before the end, before the New World and all the battles to come, there was one thing he had to do. He had to have him.

Killer entered a smaller street only lightened by a single lamp. The front of the first hotel on his left was casting shadows all around the light flooding off the open door. Killer walked straight to the entrance of the three story building eaten on one side by moss. The light from the inside was bathing the doorstep made of white stone. On the entry was lying another piece of folded fabric. An unbuttoned marine’s shirt.

The masked man barely looked at the clothing. He started to get feverish, his face and palms heating up as he strode into the hotel, more determined and aroused than ever.

Behind the reception desk, a teenager had his mouth wide open. His eyes went from the stairs going up to the first floor to the Kid pirate who stepped in loudly. He startled and his nostrils flared as he pouted, “Hey there mister! I hope you ain’t here to steal a room key too–”

The end of his sentence died instantly when Killer turned his head in his direction.

“Which floor did he go?”

“S-second,” the night watchboy stammered. Then he wisely cowered behind his counter while the Kid pirate ran up the stairs. Climbing the steps four by four.

In the light blue hall of the second floor, all the background noises had dulled. Or maybe it was just Killer’s heart pounding so loud in his ears that it shut down every other sound. He was hot, too hot for this long confined hall, lined up with dark wooden doors. One of them at the end of hall was open.

The flooring creaked under Killer’s steps, when a new item appeared on his way... and his arousal reached a peak while his pants became painfully tight. On the hall’s floor was lying a pair of military pants, like thrown away in a hurry.

It seemed to Killer his head was about to explode while he took his bag out of his back, and pass the wide open door of the room.

The light wasn’t on, but the streetlight was providing the room enough brightness for the masked man to take everything in. It had no window other than a huge hole in the back of the room with a soapy casing in place of glass. Most of the space was occupied by a double bed. And the second door was probably leading to the bathroom. It looked clean and clearly built for privacy, but it wasn’t what Killer was looking for. A pair of leather boots had been discarded near the bed and beside the night table was the big duffle bag with the maps. Still not what he wanted.

 

The door closed smoothly in Killer’s back and the Kid pirate turned around at the sound of the door lock clicking shut. He found himself standing in front a gorgeous vision bathe in the dim bluish light of the street flooding the room. Penguin was leaning nonchalantly against the yellow wall of the bedroom. His thin pale legs were spread apart. And except from plain black underwear, his entire body was on display for Killer. His wiry frame was highlighted by muscled thighs and straight hips. His flat, well-shaped belly was still rising up and down from their chase. Or was he simply short of breath under the masked man’s intense stare?

On the base of his sternum, a tribal tattoo was beginning. The thick black lines were intertwining on his left pectoral to form a stylized heart shape at the place of his actual heart. The ink was curling, up to the side of his neck, and kept going down his squared shoulder. Killer cracked a smile at the sight of the Heat pirates’ jolly roger with his virus looking shape, adorning Penguin’s arm. The tattoo was ending right above his elbow, and Killer followed the curve of Penguin’s left arm outstretched over the closed door.

The Heart pirate passed his pink tongue on his colorless lips. His brown hair had started to dry, poking out in every direction but mostly over his face. The strands were falling down to the level of his jaw, framing his angular face. Penguin opened his mouth to speak but Killer didn’t allow him to do so.

In one big step he closed the distance between them and pinned him against the wall. Killer’s arms flatten around Penguin’s head cutting off any retreat. A strong smell of soap and sea water was clinging to their bodies. Although Penguin barely scented it. The moment Killer’s hands were on him, that single contact, took the Heart pirate’s breath away.

Finally Killer had him trapped, completely at his mercy, and he couldn’t help but having flashbacks of a very similar position they’d found themselves in on their first face-to-face. Except this time, one of the masked man’s legs sneaked between Penguin’s spread ones. Killer’s leg slid upward until he rubbed the Heart pirate’s crotch. Killer felt Penguin’s erection pressed against his thigh and whatever Penguin was about to say was stifled in a breathy moan.

Killer’s calloused hands settled on Penguin’s butt and the Heart pirate accompanied the rocking of their hips. The heat of their bodies melting at their contact was heady. But more than the hotness of their fondling, it was the impatience of getting their hands on each other that was threatening to make them catch fire. Just the messy rolling of their bodies pressing tight against one other drove them mad!

One of Penguin’s legs had lifted up to curl around Killer’s hip, spreading his legs wider in the meantime. How many times did he dream of this? Not enough to compare to the real thing. To have the object of his fantasies getting his hands all over him, down his underwear, fondling his ass. Penguin couldn’t describe how good it felt, sharing the warmth of his body, breathing in his smell, how aroused it was making him… he had imagined Killer’s smell but he hadn’t even been close to that wonderful mix of salt, steel and sweat. Penguin hissed, overwhelmed. His breath was harsh already when he passed his arms around the Kid pirate’s neck. He needed something to hold him up. He needed Killer. He needed more!

“Are you gonna take off that mask of yours or should I do it myself?” Penguin panted with his lips ghosting over the holed metal.

Killer’s grip on him didn’t loosen but Penguin felt him tensed. He could sense his struggle as his caresses slowed down a little. And that stopped Penguin’s fingers from going for the opening of the helmet beneath Killer’s face. The blonde’s voice was deep when he answered, “I’m gonna keep it.”

Penguin was unfairly upset at that. He knew it was just a matter of his pride being hurt. But it hurt nonetheless. Like a reminder that he wasn’t worth for Killer to completely strip down…

However his train of thought derailed when the masked man’s hand went up his chest and teased one of his nipples. Shit! How was Killer doing that?! Caressing him so smoothly with his rough swordsman’s hands. Each time Penguin expected his calloused tanned skin to rub harshly against his, and each time he was pleasantly taken aback by Killer’s softness. Every touch from the masked man was getting him hotter. Spreading shivers along his legs and his back.

Penguin’s own sighs sounded like pleas to his ears. The rough fabric of Killer’s pants was rubbing not so gently against his hard-on. That simple, sweet, heavenly friction made him want to come! He’d tried to press himself closer to Killer, but the masked man was already pinning him up the wall in a tight embrace. Oh Lord, if he could just kiss him!

Instead Penguin let his hands wandered on the blonde’s body, admiring him with his palms and fingers. Actually this was far more enjoyable than Penguin would have thought. He never took time during foreplay to touch his partner. And hell did he miss some good time! He was getting even more excited at the roll of Killer’s shoulders under his hands. At the sensation of all the muscles of his back tensing and moving to meet his body. Despite his rather svelte appearance Killer was strongly built. Penguin could sense his strength in the way he was holding him. He wanted the Kid pirate to never stop! But just as the thought occurred to him, Penguin’s fingers were slowed down by the fabric of Killer’s long sleeved t-shirt. Clearly he had too much clothes on…

When the Heart pirate gripped Killer’s t-shirt though, a sticky substance dampened his fingers. Oh shit… Penguin knew what that was. And he had to admit he completely forgot about it in the middle of the confession of their mutual desire to resolve their differences in a hot and sexual fashion.

“Killer,” He managed to pant without sounding too needy.

“What?” The masked head pulled back worriedly, “You don’t like it?”

“You’re still bleeding.”

“Fuck!” Killer swore under his breath.

“Yeah…”

“It can wait,” Killer settled without releasing Penguin from his embrace.

“What?!” With his hands pressed against his shoulders, Penguin pushed Killer back. His half lidded eyes became wide opened and glared at the Kid pirate, “Get me down!”

Killer complied and Penguin stormed in the bathroom with steam going out of his nostrils. Killer’s eyes followed him, enjoying the view of his half naked butt wiggling until Penguin pulled his underwear back in place. Killer huffed, his face hot from a too intense making out, and quite frustrated from having been stopped by a stupid wound.

He removed his light blue t-shirt and felt his skin tore a little with the stretching of his side. Then he took the red band off his hips, revealing well-defined abs. Then Killer proceeded removing his scythes from his arms. He didn’t feel really comfortable taking them off so he put them beside the bed. Not far away from his reach. His arms felt weirdly lighter without the heavy metal pieces. The Kid pirate locked the door properly while Penguin was coming back with a first aid kit. His chestnut brown hair was now falling down a murderous glare. He looked angry. Not the sexy kind of angry.

With a tilt of his head he motioned to Killer to sit on the bed. Reluctantly the masked man obeyed, his steps heavy as he walked past Penguin and sat on the bouncy mattress. Even sat down he was tall compared to the small Heart pirate. Penguin opened the kit on the bed beside Killer’s leg and pushed him lightly backward to get a better look at his wound. Then he clicked his tongue, realizing he couldn’t see clearly.

At the moment Penguin outstretched his hand Killer switched on the bedside lamp he was aiming for. Their eyes locked when the light lighted them up. The bedside lamp bathed them in a warm yellow light, reinforced by the color of the walls. Killer watched Penguin’s wide pupils shrunk and his furrowed brows softened before he quickly looked away. His eyes fell on the masked man’s wound on the side of his lower belly. He’d been right as always but Killer had been too aroused to listen to him.

So as an apology, the masked man behaved when Penguin kneeled down between his legs and examined the cut. It wasn’t bleeding anymore but it didn’t look good either. Killer watched the Heart pirate focusing on his task. He grabbed disinfectant and leaned on Killer’s thigh to steady his arm. The cleaning part stung but the Kid pirate had gone through way worse than that. Plus, Penguin acted as aperfect distraction. His feather touch was tickling Killer’s tanned skin and he felt the warmth of his body where they were touching. Very distracting but not as much as the lovely way Penguin was twisting his mouth while concentrating. He was so serious and dedicated cleaning his cut. Killer didn’t dare saying anything that could make him lose his focus.

Penguin kept brushing back rebel brown strands from his eyes. Without his hat to keep them in place they continued to fall down. At the fifteenth time, Killer beat him to it and his big hand pulled Penguin’s hair behind his ear. The blonde lingered over Penguin’s face but he had to pull out to let his nurse finish. A blush had come back coloring his cheeks. He was simply… beautif–

“You’re lucky it’s not too deep,” Penguin interrupted Killer’s thoughts, “I won’t have to sew you back.” He carried on applying butterfly stitches to maintain his wound closed.

The Heart pirate kept his head down as he finished carefully dressing Killer’s side with a patch of medical strip. Better than most of the doctors Killer had the misfortune to meet. It took the masked man a moment to put a word on his growing uneasiness. It was caused by awkward silence settling in. The space separating them seemed getting colder. Penguin remained knelt, his arms resting on Killer’s legs and half of his face lightened by the dim bluish light of the street.

As the seconds passed, Penguin still wasn’t looking at him, and Killer began getting annoyed. Their earlier bubbly light excitement had left place to something heavier and hesitant. He didn’t know what he could do or say that wouldn’t make Penguin angry or willing to leave. And just when Killer was loathing himself for killing the mood, Penguin snorted lightly.

The sound surprised Killer but he waited for Penguin to go on, “I might not be good with a needle but the one who did this is worse than me,” he stated running the tip of his pale fingers over an old pink scar above the hem of Killer’s pants. He was right, in the way much of the scar tissue there was due to the sutures rather than the original wound.

“I can’t even tell what hurt you before that,” Penguin continued, his voice warming up the cold atmosphere. Killer wanted him to keep talking. To hear more of his manly tone even if he was mocking the mark of his past mistakes.

“Sword,” Killer gave away.

Penguin’s fingers moved up to another scar. Killer’s chest was scattered with cuts and bullets wounds, old battle scars and scrapes. It seemed Killer’s scars were a never ending topic. But at the same time it felt so easy for the pirates to go back on a known subject. It was comforting, in the way that it was how they broke the ice on their first meeting.

“This one is pretty recent… four or five months,” Penguin deciphered about a round mark up Killer’s abdomen, “Bullet wound.”

The Heart pirate’s voice was relaxed and soothing; in a breath he was able to say when and by what Killer had been harmed. And he never guessed wrong while his fingers went from a swollen cut to the cross left by another sword. His touch spread shivers on Killer’s chest, making the small hairs on his skin standing on end and his nipples hardened. But he didn’t move an inch. Completely mesmerized by Penguin’s examination.

His eyes were locked on Penguin’s fingertips. Clean bitten nails and redden tips. Their paleness was such a stark contrast against Killer’s sun kissed skin. He jerked involuntarily when Penguin touched the scraps a marine left on his ribs. So the Heart pirate moved to his pectoral, up to the impact of jet dial near his sternum.

Penguin slowly got up on his knees while progressing upwards on Killer’s chest. Following the maps of his scars like small islands that his hands were visiting. To the point when he had to set a knee between Killer’s legs to reach the last scar. The first one, on the side of his neck.

“Glass shard,” Penguin ended in a murmur, his chest almost touching Killer’s whom he could feel the warmth so close.

Penguin caressed the old scar from one end to the other. Feeling the small reliefs under his touch. A little gasp escaped the masked man. He hadn’t been able to restrain it. This tickling sensation was getting him more aroused than he already was. Killer could felt his erection growing back, tightening his pants and drawing involuntary grunts out of him. All focused on his increasing urge, he didn’t felt Penguin’s eyes on him.

“You’re frustrating me,” The Heart pirate declared, furrowing his brows while biting his bottom lip at the same time. Then he explained, “I’m usually a kisser. And now…” A gulp made his Adam’s apple bobbed, “I don’t know where to start.”

Killer placed his hand over Penguin’s one against his neck, “You got hands.” And with the other Killer cupped Penguin’s face. His thumb rubbed against his pale cheek, disturbing some strands of hair in his way to his lips. “And a mouth…” Killer kept going, his deep voice vibrating through Penguin’s body. “There’re so many things you can do.”

Penguin flushed at those inviting words. Crazy ideas were now pressing in his head as if he just unlocked a fantasy door. He couldn’t choose among all he wanted to do to Killer right now. So instead he whispered, “What would you like me to do?”

“Bite me,” Killer answered without a single hesitation.

Penguin smiled in return, not expecting such a frank response. But the masked man’s eagerness just made Penguin want to comply with the same spirit. He settled his hands on Killer’s naked shoulders and lowered his head in the crook of his neck. The tip of Penguin’s nose caressed his skin down to his scar and a thrill of excitement ran through the Heart pirate’s body. He pushed back the blonde spikes tickling his face, smelling Killer’s hair in the meantime. Nothing was sweet in Killer’s scent. His long and still wet hair was just mess of different odors Penguin couldn’t place that formed an enticing mix.

Penguin opened his mouth, his breath ghosting over Killer’s skin, and felt brave enough to tease Killer more. “There?” He inquired his lips grazing the thick muscles of Killer’s neck, as if the world had been reduced to that hot patch of skin.

“Yes!”

Penguin bit down his flesh, tentatively at first then more firmly with Killer’s encouragement. The masked man wrapped his arms around Penguin, pulling him in a tight embrace. Shutting them both away from the outside world. Tonight there were only them. Only Penguin’s thin lips mouthing at Killer’s neck, his teeth bruising his skin and Killer’s sighs breaking through the quiet night.

The Kid pirate tilted his head on the side, exposing more of his throat for Penguin to mouth at. Sliding his hands in his blonde spikes, Penguin devoted himself to cover Killer’s neck with love bites. He panted against the tanned skin, wet from his kisses, at the same rhythm as the masked man. One of Killer’s hands caressed its way down Penguin’s spine, passed the curve of his butt and gripped his thigh. Killer brought him close and Penguin straddled him, completely closing the space between their bodies. At this instant the slightest distance seemed too far, each part of their skin that weren’t touching was a waste.

Keeping his mouth busy on Killer’s neck, Penguin lowered one hand between them. He groped Killer’s chest further and further down, slipping over the bulges of his muscles until he found the one he was looking for. The Heart pirate lecherously fondled Killer’s hard-on through his pants, drawing heavy gasps out him that sounded alluring to Penguin’s ears. Killer attempted rocking against his hand, but he wasn’t in the best position to do so.

Penguin took advantage of it to unfasten Killer’s pants. His cheeks were burning when suddenly Penguin halted his move. He loved how they were right now but an idea just came to his mind and… he needed to get off Killer’s lap!

He startled the masked man when he pulled back, not too far but just enough to make Killer wondering what was going on. Penguin planted a kiss on his collarbone before proceeding to kiss his way down his chest, more impatient and determined to reach his goal. Killer didn’t need more to understand what Penguin was thinking. And his breath got caught in his throat. He didn’t deserve that hot mouth going closer and closer to his crotch. Or those eager hands grabbing the hem of his fringed pants. Penguin kneeled while pulling Killer’s pants down his thighs, freeing his erection from the only clothing that covered it.

He wished he could see Penguin’s face but before his wish was granted, the Heart pirate’s pale hand had closed around his swollen length. This grip was all Killer needed to let out a pleased grunt. That simple pressure was so blissful he couldn’t wait for Penguin’s hand to move. Instead Penguin rubbed with his thumb against the thick vein along Killer’s cock and the masked man hunched forward, his mouth parted as he choked on a moan.

Then Killer saw Penguin looking up to him through his brown strands, probably not conscious that he was wetting his lips when he asked, “Can I suck you off?”

The first thing that came to Killer’s mind was: Hell yes! Immediately followed by: Why do you even bother to ask?! It made Killer wonder if Penguin had the slightest idea of the effect he had on him right now. Did Penguin know how much his hot breath was making him tremble? How much he wanted his thin lips to go down on him already, until he comes all over his blushing face!

All those thoughts came out of Killer’s mouth as a panting, “In my front pocket. Take a condom.”

Penguin bit his bottom lip and shifted on his knees to fetch the desired item in the masked man’s pants. Those few seconds of searching were enough to get them impatient. More eager as Penguin’s hand was rubbing against Killer’s thigh through his pants. Penguin got the squared wrapping out and quickly ripped it opened with his teeth.

He finally put his hands back on Killer’s cock, pulling the condom down to the blonde hairs at its base. Penguin didn’t let him time to catch a breath or to command anything else before he licked his whole length. Killer sighed heavily, feeling his erection throbbing under the warmth of Penguin’s tongue. His naked hips were wriggling already just at the thought of this mouth bringing him to his climax. That was when a pale hand settled firmly Killer’s hip.

“Don’t jerk like that or you’ll rip out your stitches,” Penguin warned with a threatening tone. “And if you do that I’ll bite your dick off.”

Before Killer got time to think, Penguin took the head of his cock between his lips. He bobbed up and down before going further down, engulfing Killer’s length in his hot mouth. Killer fought with all he had the instinctive jerking of his hips. With Penguin’s threat in mind, he held still but his struggle was real. The only thing that was left to him was sending his head backward with a long breathy moan. Pleasure rushed deep inside him, harder than when they were caressing each other. This time was so much more pleasuring, Killer’s eyes closed on their own.

He was feeling Penguin’s lips tightening around him. Each time he was going up, he was hollowing his cheeks and when he was going down his tongue was licking his length hungrily. Killer’s chest was beginning to rise faster with his heavy pants.

“Ah!” He was getting painfully hard from the dedication of Penguin’s mouth. The Heart pirate was sucking him further down with each blow, easing his mouth little by little in order to take him fully inside.

Killer’s hand clutched his brown hair, remembering a bit late about not being too rough, “Slow down,” He pleaded as his legs were trembling around Penguin. Killer kept his grip firm on Penguin’s head, guiding him at the pace that wouldn’t make him come right away. Killer’s upper body was tensing from not being able to raise his hips. His abs were flexing as Penguin’s mouth was slowly bringing him on the edge. That hot heavenly mouth sucking him and dripping saliva with obscene suction sounds. The mouth that whimpered it wanted him. Killer couldn’t get enough of it!

“Use your tongue more! Ah! Yes… yes! Like that!”

Penguin was losing himself in Killer’s moans. He began to go faster submitted to the masked man’s commanding hand. Penguin had closed his legs on his own arousal, unable to fully touch himself while going down on Killer. He was getting so hard simply by hearing how good he was able to satisfy him. Yet what was triggering goose bumps down his back was the stretching of his lips around Killer’s cock. Penguin’s mouth was mapping every inch of him, and his ass started itching just to imagine the rock hard member entering his tight hole.

Killer’s cock hit the back of his throat deeper and Penguin grunted at the fist tightening in his hair. He sensed Killer’s thigh tensing under his hand. The Kid pirate was close to orgasm. So Penguin slipped his hand to Killer’s crotch and grabbed his balls, rubbing them gently like himself would liked to. And Killer’s response was even better than what Penguin expected.

He moaned loudly, out of breath, “Oh fuck!” It was too much for him to handle. Killer couldn’t stop his body to move in rhythm with Penguin’s mouth. And then he hunched over him, stilling his head on his cock. His orgasm crashed over Killer like powerful and unstoppable tidal wave. A cry of pleasure escaped from O shaped mouth.

Then Penguin felt Killer’s whole body relax around him. His hand unclenched from his dark hair and his legs went limp around him. Penguin pulled out from him with a wet sound. He wiped the saliva dribbling down his chin, lifting his eyes up to Killer. It seemed to the Heart pirate that he was seeing Killer’s body relaxing for the first time. Killer let his upper body fell down on the bed with a content sigh. Followed by a small laugh making all the muscles of tanned chest trembling.

Is it right to feel like laughing right now? Killer briefly wondered. But only for short moment that vanished as soon as he didn’t give a shit about what was right or not. He was so good and his smile felt right. To the Kid pirate that was all that mattered.

Penguin straightened up on his knees, unsure if hadn’t broken the Kid pirate. He would gladly provide more of his care time if he was bringing Killer into that state again. The Heart pirate got up, a small grin involuntarily stretching up the corners of lips. His eyes caught the first aid kit still opened on the bed. So he set out to put it back at its place by the time Killer crashed down.

He turned around the bed in the direction of the bathroom, but passing near Killer’s head a hand held him back by the hem of his underwear.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Killer asked with his head bent backward, looking at him from upside down.

“Getting that plastic taste off my mouth,” to what Killer was obliged to nod. “Don’t move,” Penguin added with a smile, and Killer complied. Too literally one may think because his grip on Penguin’s underwear didn’t loosen.

So Killer wanted to play? Well Penguin could be playful too.

There was a wriggle at the end of Killer’s arm and suddenly all he was holding was empty underwear. It was still warm from the butt that just left it. Clothes off… That was totally the spirit Killer was in for.

Chapter Text

The masked man sat up and took off his shoes as well as his pants already hanging low on his legs. He got rid of the used condom and was tempted to turn off the light. Dark could be a nice setting but Killer wanted to see what they were going to do next.

He stretched his long muscled arms above his head and fell back on the bed. Killer was rarely allowed to savor those simple moments. In theory his job shouldn’t be that hard. In fact there were always some troubles going in the Kid’s crew. Someone to play knife throw in the ship’s hold, or Heat was setting the kitchen on fire, if it wasn’t Kid who messed with every metal bit at his reach… No. He wasn’t worrying about them. Not right now.

Right here and there, he was just feeling too damn good. Even if the mattress under him was too soft and the air hot like the middle of the summer. He quickly checked the bandage on his side but it had hold on a blowjob pretty well, he was safe from his nurse’s wrath for now. So he stretched out again, appreciating the sore muscles of his back relaxing. He dug his heels into the bed then eased the tension through his whole body for the first time since what appeared a lifetime. Orgasms usually had that effect on him.

“You’re beautiful…” Penguin sighed and Killer crawled in the direction of his voice in a blink.

The masked man shook his head slightly at this defensive reflex, and focused his attention back on Penguin, leaned on the doorframe of the bathroom. He took in the mouth-watering straight lines of his body, the intricate black ink on left shoulder and… why was his face wearing such a concerned expression?

Killer motioned to him to come closer and Penguin complied, coming into the warm light of the bedside lamp. Killer cupped his frowning face into the warmth of his big hand and guided Penguin to sit beside him.

“What’s going on?” The Kid pirate asked quietly.

Penguin tried something that didn’t pass his lips before settling a hand over Killer’s and lowering his head. His brown hair fell down to tickle his cheeks.

“It’s just… When I look at you I– I keep asking myself ‘why I’m here?’”

Killer wasn’t sure if he understood right, “What do ya mean?” He started to worry; Even if he was in his arms, Penguin seemed suddenly so far away, settling some distance between them that had no place to be. Killer had no intention to let him go. He brought Penguin’s face up to meet his eyes.

“I’m just– Look at me…”

“I’m looking at you…” Killer’s voice went deeper, scraping his throat.

Penguin’s common brown eyes glared at the masked man as if he could pierce more holes in his head. Killer didn’t seem to understand!

Penguin’s pale fingers fisted his short brown hair in annoyance. “I’m so ordinary! So– plain!” He finally let out, “While you… How can I even compare to y–”

Penguin’s back suddenly hit the bed, knocking the air out of his lungs. He hadn’t time to fight back that his wrists were pinned on each side of his head. Killer loomed over him, clutching Penguin’s arms tight. By the time Penguin understood that he was completely trapped, the weight of the masked man’s hips was already pressing down against his.

“Shut up!” Killer hissed, his long hair falling all around his striped helmet as he looked down on him. He cut short any of Penguin’s attempts to wriggle free of his hold. It was ineffective and Penguin got that pretty quickly. His arms were stuck and no matter how he tried to kick the Kid pirate off him, he had let himself be caught. Killer saw the moment Penguin regretted having let his guard down. Now his speed was complete useless against Killer’s strength. He met the Heart pirate’s murderous glare and snorted. Looks like someone didn’t like being manhandled. Too bad. Because Killer liked him where he was right now.

“I don’t fucking care ‘bout your complexes,” the Kid pirate growled. He took the chance to anger Penguin even more by locking both his wrists above his head with just one hand. Killer saw him bite down a curse at his attention. His folded legs had stilled, tempted to kick him again but not daring to provoke more friction between their crotches. Why Killer didn’t simply listen to him? He just– Penguin just didn’t know what he wanted exactly now he was grinding against the masked man at each breath.

With his free hand, Killer wandered down Penguin’s face and along his bare throat. He continued sliding down, enjoying the shivers his fingers triggered on their path. They followed the lines of Penguin’s tattoo before clawing roughly at the place of his fluttering heart.

“This. Matter to me,” Killer hammered, his voice covering Penguin’s small hiss and the masked man couldn’t denied this sound excited him. He liked too much how Penguin’s body bent under his touch, how his hips bucked despite all his efforts when Killer scratched his way down his side. His slow sliding turned into a firm grip once he reached Penguin’s thigh. Killer brought his leg up around his hip, grinding against Penguin harder in the move and drawing a sharp gasp out of him.

“This is what I’m here for,” Killer grunted while he felt himself harden again, “For you. Not your qualms or your second thoughts.”

He leaned closer, meeting Penguin’s chest that was rising up against him. Killer’s cold helmet touched his forehead and their breaths mixed all together. Killer had no doubts that Penguin still wanted him. Thus he would not allow him to hesitate.

Because the masked man began to question himself too. Despite all the strength or dominance he could display, there was something stronger that was dragging him to Penguin. Something frightening and pleasant at the same time in his guts. It was troubling Killer greatly. If he’d always been the straight forward type, opening up was something entirely different. But for a short instant, their physical closeness pushed him to speak with sincerity. “I don’t have words to put on what I’m feeling right now. Only thing I know is I’m attracted to you. I want you.”

Besides red, Penguin’s face was unreadable. Did Killer say too much or not enough? He didn’t want to know at the moment. So he shied away from the whys and hows. Before the Heart pirate had time to reply anything, Killer fell back into a more comfortable and meaningless teasing, “But if you still feel like praising my gorgeous ass, please yourself.” And it had just the desired effect, making Penguin’s chest tremble under a stifled laugh.

“You’re an asshole,” he voiced hardly holding back the smile tugging the corners of his lips.

“So I’ve been told.”

Killer got off him just a short instant to reach behind him and Penguin’s eyes caught the sight of a promising item when he came back to him. Lube. And a shiver ran through Penguin’s legs. Killer felt it and he rubbed a calloused hand inside Penguin’s thigh until his muscles relax under his touch. Killer’s hands eased Penguin’s folded legs, spreading them wider and letting the Heart pirate brought his hips closer to him on his own. All thoughts of getting away had left Penguin.

“It’s been a while I didn’t prepare…” Penguin confessed in a gasp, propping himself up on his elbows.

Killer kept stroking his pale skin, “Don’t get laid often?”

“Actually huh… I’ve been with more women than men,” Penguin blushed heavily against his will, wishing he didn’t look so vulnerable without his hat on.

However he didn’t expect the masked man to carry on with a real interest tainting his voice, “Do you prefer topping?”

Penguin forced himself to hold Killer’s gaze that he felt burning his already heated face. He tried not to think about the tanned hands on him, and their warm grip that had come to a halt. Then he repeated Killer’s question inside his head asking himself if the blonde meant in general or if he was wondering about… right now?

“Would you let me?” Penguin gulped his mouth going suddenly dry.

After truly considering it, Killer replied, “No.”

His answer was blunt and possessive. His tone growled with a deep desire to have Penguin. Like a primal instinct taking over Killer, he was seized by the urge to own him. And for Killer this would include taking the lead. The mention of the man’s previous lovers only strengthened his sudden possessiveness. Killer couldn’t believe he was getting jealous of people he wasn’t even acquainted with. Yet he was.

Penguin flushed all the way down his chest. His eagerness was growing strong along with the delicious heat down his crotch. He wanted Killer so bad. He wanted the masked man to touch him, have him inside of him, Penguin needed him now!

Penguin came back to the present time seeing Killer pouring a generous amount of lube in his hand. The Heart pirate licked his lips in anticipation, but his impatience took over.

“I can do it faster,” Penguin offered eagerly.

“I can do it better,” Killer countered.

A grin appeared on Penguin’s face while his hips wiggled slightly at those promising words. The room was getting way too hot for him. The excitement was running wild in his veins, turning into a desperate urge to be touched. His skin itched yet it didn’t stop him from teasing Killer.

“Ain’t we a little pretentious?”

All of sudden, Killer’s lap pressed under Penguin’s thighs, sinking further between his spread legs and rising up his exposed rear. Penguin muffled another gasp behind his lips shut tight, but his stiffening member betrayed his obvious arousal.

“Wanna try me?” A rough voice asked behind the mask.

A bit of lube dribbled between Killer’s fingers. The slick liquid fell at the base of Penguin’s swollen cock and slid on his heavy testicles. Penguin hissed, figuring out that if he was reaching for touching himself Killer would catch his hand. He was helpless as the lube went further down to his hole and dribbled between his buttocks.

“Yes! Do it!” He urged Killer in a harsh breath.

“Hold your legs up for me then,” the masked man demanded in return and Penguin did so, blushing harder as he shamelessly complied. His heart was pounding like it was trying to get out of his chest. Penguin felt Killer’s digit circling his hole, making him shaking under the delightful touch. He knew he had to relax or it was going to be painful but the anticipation was too strong.

Then another warm hand went to fondle his balls, smearing more lube with just enough pressure. A whimper escaped from Penguin’s lips. Those calloused hands were rubbing him in all the right ways. He jerked to better grind against Killer when a finger entered him, pulled in his tight rim rather than pushed forcefully.

“Sweet fucking Rogers!” The Heart pirate cursed his head falling backward under Killer’s ministrations. It was so good Penguin’s mouth couldn’t close anymore. He brought his hips down his finger, ready to take another one in as long as Killer kept fondling his sack like that!

Penguin’s wish was granted with a new digit easing its way inside him with more lube. They moved in and out of his hole slowly, making Penguin weak at the knees. Sweat was already starting to dampen the nape of his neck and the arch of his lower back. Never he’d been touched like that before. Fuck! Killer really knew how to use his hands!

“Y-you can put in another!” Penguin pleaded after a long and intense two-way stretching. More lube went coating his inner walls, opening wide around three of the masked man’s fingers. They spread and slid inside Penguin, drawing harsher pants out of him. It was getting Killer so aroused his cock throbbed and leaked with precome. To see Penguin wiggling on his fingers was such an indecent view but it was his lustful sighs that drove Killer crazy. He wouldn’t hold on longer if that continued.

However, as a matter of personal pride, Killer ought to do one thing before. He curled his digits as he withdrew and brushed that bundle of nerves inside Penguin’s hole he’d been avoiding from the beginning. Penguin jerked in his surprise, his back bending under the assault of his prostate. Pleasure clouded his head and a moan louder than the previous ones caressed Killer’s ears.

“Oh! Whatever you’re doin’ don’t stop!” He whimpered gripping his legs so tight his arms started to get sore.

Killer pushed a fourth finger passed Penguin’s rim. His eyes had shut tight as he was going down Killer’s fingers the best he could. That is to say clumsily but with such an enthusiasm, that Killer rewarded him by curling his fingers to the point that was making Penguin wiggling. It was easy regarding how slick and stretched Penguin was by now. It should be enough of a preparation. It had to! Because Killer was panting almost as hard as Penguin right now!

His fingers slipped out of Penguin, who found himself suddenly empty. He took his breath back but motioned to Killer that he didn’t want him to leave. That he was still craving his touch. The masked man fumbled quickly for a new condom. Fuck! Simply rolling it down on him got him grunting.

Penguin’s arms went around his neck, and pulled Killer down against his small frame. Killer barely had time to support himself on his elbows and avoided crushing Penguin under his weight. Killer was certain he wouldn’t have held it against him though. Their sweaty skins were touching again, igniting fire at their contact. Yet a cool tremor shook them both as Killer carefully settled his hips between Penguin’s folded legs. A feeling of vulnerability seized them as they lay bare and Killer placed a hand at the small of Penguin’s back, bringing butt up.

Nothing else mattered more in this instant than that burning embrace in which they held each other tight. They were here. Their hearts pounding so close they might have been in the same chest. Their mouths breathing the same air. Their grasps turning into claws when Killer entered Penguin and their bodies met in a slow thrust.

A pleasure bigger than themselves rushed through their joined flesh. They fitted together in the most intimate and delightful way. And they moved again. Penguin sucked in a sharp breath throwing his head backward. He was filled as much as his heart had desired, every inch of Killer pressing inside of him. The preparation had made him so sensitive the first thrusts sent him on edge already. Penguin hissed when Killer withdrew so slowly. Restraining his urge to go faster. He wanted to last a bit. To have Killer in him as long as he could.

Penguin’s hands clutched in his hair as he swayed his hips forward. He buried himself deep in the hotness of Penguin’s body. He grunted, the firm hold of Penguin’s inner walls around him was rubbing all the nerves along his hard cock at each passage. Killer let his masked head fall in the crook of Penguin’s neck. He hated that fucking helmet right now in which he couldn’t see all off Penguin’s flushed face. It made him sweat like Hell but he had no choice but bear with it.

Instead he focused on the fulfilling sensation of rolling against Penguin. The movement Killer was initiating with his hips was making his upper body undulate in the wake of his thrusts. Each one was a powerful wave on which they rolled. They could only hold on each other, carried away by the current.

Killer lost himself in Penguin’s grasp. In his legs clutching around him, pressing him deeper when he was entering him. In his arms that seemed they would never let him go. His breaths were becoming harsh and fast near Killer’s ear. He didn’t feel one of Penguin’s hands leaving his neck but he definitely grunted when it slapped the beginning of his ass, leaving fingernails marks as it trailed up his back.

Killer gladly pound into him harder. He was overwhelmed by the warmth of Penguin’s chest rubbing against his and the slap of their skins. Everything was mixing in Killer’s head, the sounds, the touches, the smells, to the point when he didn’t know where he was beginning and where Penguin was ending anymore.

The only thing which he was sure about was his increasing bliss filling him and his desire to fill Penguin as well. Their thrusts speeded up, and their muffled moans started echoing in the room. They were craving more of that back and forth that was slowly bringing them to a long awaited climax. Their bodies slammed accordingly. Faster. Understanding each other without the use of words they were unable to form anyway.

They kept increasing their speed. Each thrust was shaking them wildly. They couldn’t stop anymore. Their limbs started tensing. They were close. Oh so close. Just a bit more of that intense friction! More of those desperate grips! That pleasure shooting right through them! More! Penguin’s mind exploded when he climaxed from his prostate being touched so roughly. He came in a long moan dying in his throat, harsh from his pants. White streaks dirtied his belly and Killer’s while Penguin’s rim tightened around him. Killer reached his orgasm right after him. This was too much. His mind blew from the pure bliss taking over him and he pressed Penguin hard against the bed.

He pulled out and let Penguin’s arms wrap him up in a warm embrace. They stay like this a moment, too high to even think about coming down to Earth. The pirates slowly crashed down, until Killer got off Penguin. He rolled on the side, moving his annoying long hair out his face and just lay down beside the Heart pirate, out of breath.

When Killer came back to Penguin, his trembling limbs curled slightly as he closed his sore legs. One of his hands was still tangled in Killer’s hair though. He opened full blown pupils that landed on the blue and white helmet so close to his face. Heavy sighs kept his mouth hanging low, until a huge dumb grin spread on the Heart pirate’s face. Then it turned into a laugh. Uncontrollable and unrestrained.

 “We sound like fishes out of water!”

Killer didn’t even try to fight the laughter taking over him too. Fuck! His cheeks just hurt already but it was too late. He laughed wholeheartedly, not because Penguin was terribly right, simply dragged along by the Heart pirate.

 “Always thought I’d make a good sea bream,” Killer guffawed, feeling his abs protesting against so many workouts.

Penguin’s laughter burst even louder, “Ah ah! You find your way then!”

The pirates kept laughing up, unable to stop the more they looked back at each other. In any other place it would have feel off. Not tonight. Not after everything they did. They lay on their backs until their jaws stop hurting, lightheaded from too much endorphin at once. Penguin blew a brown strand away from his eyes with his mouth.

“Ah damn! That felt good.”

“Very good,” Killer agreed.

Then he passed an arm around Penguin’s waist and pulled him close. His smaller body fit just right against his. Actually no, Penguin was all curled up on himself and Killer couldn’t rest his head fully on his shoulder. They were sticky with all kind of substances but if he had to choose his favorite moment of the night it would be this one. When Penguin closed his arms over his and they just stay like that, hugging each other. With his chest against Penguin’s back and their entangled legs. He felt their warmth melting, not like the earlier fusion but the one of a fireplace in winter. One you didn’t want to leave.

Killer breathed the soapy scent clinging into Penguin’s hair. Through the holes of his helmet, Killer’s eyes trailed on the brown strands and the pale neck. But his eyes were inevitably attracted by the black ink covering Penguin’s shoulder. In fact, that was only now he was seeing it closely that Killer noticed how the lines were gathering on a very precise place, not following the natural curve of the collarbone.

“Where did you get it?”

In any other time Penguin would have stiffen and bristled. He knew what Killer’s question implied. He wasn’t talking about his tattoo but what it was covering. Penguin was tempted to hide it under his hand, but it was busy holding Killer right now. Besides, now he was thinking of it, it seemed pretty obvious that no other than Killer could understand him on a matter of scars.

“It happened the first year we started sailing as Heart pirates,” Penguin explained, lost deep in thoughts, “We had just stolen that enormous treasure. At the time it looked huge for us. Other pirates were after it too. They fell upon us as soon as we got out. And I just rushed without thinking… Maybe it was because the money could buy us the submarine we dreamt of or maybe I was heartened by the Captain’s powers… I just got over confident and an axe almost chopped my arm off.”

Penguin’s voice was neither filled with sorrow nor regret. It happened too long ago. Yet it was a scar he would still wear under the black ink.

“I learnt the hard way I wasn’t ready to be a pirate worth of that name.”

He felt the cold touch of Killer’s helmet on the top of his head. His blonde hair was stuck everywhere between them and tickled his arm.

“How does it feel now you are?”

Penguin smiled. A lighthearted smile as he closed his eyes and started sinking into the soft mattress.

“Great. It feels great.”

The masked man’s eyes were starting to close as well. This night had been really long and exhaustion began to catch up with them. Slowly creeping in their worn out bodies.

“’mmm… don’t wanna leave,” Penguin whined while getting comfortable against Killer.

Killer languorously tightened his long limbs around Penguin’s like a snake, “Then don’t leave…” He whispered back.

 

Penguin knew Shachi would worry not to see him in the morning. After all he did leave in the dark of the night without telling anyone about his meeting with Killer.

Killer knew the crew would handle breakfast without him but he was worrying about how the coating of their ship would go. The mechanics were supposed to come early and Kid surely wasn’t a morning person.

They both had excellent reasons to get up and returned to their crews. Yet in each other’s arms, they fell into the warm embrace of sleep.

Chapter Text

A hand softly shook Penguin out of sleep. It wasn’t long for him to surface and get blinded by the stark light of Sabaody piercing through the large bubble window. Although Killer had to call his name several time again until Penguin’s head poked out of the bed covers. Hmm… he liked the sound of his name in Killer’s mouth. Maybe he should have stayed under the covers. Ouch! Yes, definitely the bright light made Penguin having regrets about waking up. He squinted and pushed his hair from his face. Or rather the birds nest that was growing on his head.

Apparently he was offering a rather hilarious vision because Killer snorted above him.  Penguin glared daggers in his general direction but it only made him look funnier.

“I was about to say you shouldn’t over sleep,” Penguin heard Killer smiling, “But maybe you need your beauty sleep after all.”

Penguin attempted to get up but at the moment he lifted his chest his whole body paid him back all his acrobatics from the previous night. His rib cage was especially painful, reminding Penguin that he owed his life to Killer’s CPR. He would do a little checkup once he’d be back on the submarine. But for now, he wisely remained still until he could feel something else than aches all over his body.

With a hand covering his eyes, he asked Killer from his bed cover cave. “Hand me my hat, will you?”

A second later his beloved cap landed on the top of his head that was showing out of the covers. Penguin instantly felt better. He was himself again.

“You don’t mind taking it off?” Killer asked genuinely, pointing at Penguin’s hat back on his head and distracting him from his train of thoughts. Penguin couldn’t help but scrutinized the striped helmet that Killer was never taking off. He wondered how much of a touchy subject it was for the Kid pirate. Penguin was tempted to ask him about it as well. But he felt that it wasn’t a topic he should bring on the table like you talked about weather.

“It’s just a hat,” the Heart pirate yawned, “Reminds me of where I come from… I hold it dear but I don’t bother taking it off for a moment.”

 Killer nodded visibly satisfied with his answer. Now Penguin’s eyes were shielded from the sun he could finally take a good look at the room. The sun was indirectly casting a white light in their room. The yellow walls appeared clearer than at night.

A faint smell of soap and sweat was floating in the air. And it slowly crept inside of him taking the form of a strange sensation he couldn’t place at first. He looked back at the previous night, letting the memories played in his head everything that happened. Hell a lot had happened. And the more Penguin thought about it the more the weird impression settled. Everything was coming back to the Heart pirate little by little. The dark of night, the infiltration, the disguise, the loot, the shots fired and the blades clashing… his confession. He remembered their chase and the excitement. He couldn’t have dreamt so accurately roaming his hands over Killer or feeling the masked moving in him… Penguin’s cheeks reddened more than they ever did. Did he– did he really do all that? Was he really this man he remembered?

“What time is it?” Penguin asked in attempt to chill.

“Eight.”

The hatted man almost fell out of bed, all his internal struggle forgotten. He thought it was at least passed noon! Could he go back to sleep? Preferably in a reality in which he wouldn’t have to tell his captain he bypassed his orders. Penguin actually motioned to sink back between the bed covers but Killer, that handsome, wide awake bastard didn’t let him the time.

“But that’s not the only reason I woke you up,” the masked man got back on his earlier tracks. He rummaged around him and Penguin realized there was books spread all around Killer. Some were even resting on Penguin. The room didn’t offer a better place to put them down, so Penguin simply shrugged it off.

It also helped that his attention had been trapped by a half-naked Killer. The Kid pirate started to go into a fast speech about a serious matter. His voice was focused and he quickly passed on details to get to his point. He had a book opened in his hand and with the other he was gesturing while talking excitedly. His blonde spiky hair was moving along with his bare chest. Penguin lost himself in the movement of his tanned scarred skin. He remembered how they felt under his fingertips. Killer was sitting crossed legged with his fringed pants back on. He was animated by the same kind of energy that he had when they talked about the New World. Except this morning he was glowing.

Did his hair always have been so golden? Penguin asked himself. He detailed the sun-tan lines that his armbands had left on Killer’s forearms while his speech turned into a pleasant humming to Penguin’s ears. The Heart pirate sighed contently, aware that a dumb smile had appeared on his face. He had no excuse but what could he say? He was just weak for Killer’s serious and businesslike attitude. The only thing Penguin’s groggy mind was able to think was: Can I keep you?

“–know this isn’t the right time. But when we’ll be in the New World it’ll be too late. And to be honest, last night changed my mind…” The Heart pirate vaguely heard. “Now I’m sure about it. We have to do it!”

Killer had stopped talking and suddenly Penguin realized he was probably waiting for him to say something. His half awaken mind tried to put back together what Killer was saying. Something about last night and doing things before it’s too late…

“Do you mean… you’re up for a… a second round?” Wow, in terms of sexy things, that was certainly the worst thing Penguin ever said. Man, no wonder he was single.

Killer sighed and yanked the bed covers off Penguin with one hand. Exposed to the cool morning air, he curled up on himself. His sore body made him regretting that. The hatted man also noticed quickly that his bandage had hold on Killer well. But some bruises had bloomed on the blonde’s skin. The marines really didn’t pull their punches. Well, except for the mark on Killer’s neck. Those were Penguin’s work.

“Did you even listen to me?” The masked man grunted.

“Eh! I’m barely awake!” Penguin snapped back crawling back after the blanket to wrap his lower half in the part he could reach. He sat up in the middle of the bed against the protests of his back and lifted his hatted head up with a pout, “Plus you’re pretty distracting.”

Killer’s head tilted downward and Penguin felt the Kid pirate’s disbelieving look on his naked upper half. Then the Kid pirate got on his knees, sinking in the soft mattress, and straddled Penguin. He settled on the Heart pirate’s lap the most seriously in the world and shoved an opened book in Penguin’s face.

“Read.” He demanded.

Penguin took the book in his hand by automatism not quite sure of his own name at the present moment. Killer had trapped him down with his beautiful legs. And if Penguin lifted his head a little he had a wonderful close-up on his tanned chest.

“Focus.” Killer added pushing down on the peak of Penguin’s cap.

Just how was he supposed to do that when he was in such position and his cheeks were on fire?! He tried hard to concentrate on the pages but the text was just horizontal blurry lines at the moment.

That was when a word finally caught his attention. “Emperors? This is–”

Penguin lost his words. On the pages right in front of him were the coordinates of an Emperor’s territory. Detailed charts showing its limits, indications on the road to avoid and the safe paths to go in. And every kind of dangerous pirates you could encounter in this part of… of the New World.

The more he was reading, the more Penguin felt a sudden excitement arising inside of him. Killer and he talked about all this. They suspected many things but they had never been able to share so accurate details. If the other log books they had stolen contained as much information, then the New World was at their hands’ reach! It seemed to the Heart pirate that he had suddenly turned on the light. This foreign part of the Grand Line wasn’t a dark unknown place where they would risk dying at the first misstep anymore. Now it was a more precise and tangible place where they would risk dying knowing they had sailed in an ocean of lava. This was truly amazing!

“With this you can pay your debt a hundred times!” Penguin exclaimed gladly.

Killer’s helmet tilted on the side, “Sure we read the same book?”

“What do you mean? That’s all we’ve ever dream of. The captain will be ready to negotiate anything against that.”

“That’s what I’m saying. We’ve been waiting to lay our hands on that kind of stuff for so long.”

“So wh–”

“But the only way we got it was by working together!”

“Yes…” Penguin agreed not seeing where Killer wanted to lead him, “So what’s stopping you? Don’t you want to be free anymore?”

“I want more!” The blonde exclaimed, “You said Trafalgar Law would kill for something like that. Well Kid too.”

The Heart pirate closed his mouth before anything passed his lips. He began to understand Killer’s ulterior motives.

“You want your share of the treasure…” Penguin guessed aloud with a strangely disappointed voice. Somehow he didn’t think Killer would act greedily and sacrifice his own freedom to have what he wished for. Penguin supposed that Killer was prepared to go all the way to give his captain the best chances.

All of a sudden, a big hand lifted Penguin’s chin up until he faced the white and blue striped helmet, “No dummy, I want us to share this treasure.”

Penguin snorted weakly, unsure about what Killer meant, “Never heard of pirates who’re sharing.”

“Of course. That’s what allies do.”

“A–a–a– What?”

The hatted man felt dumbstruck. Did he really hear what he heard? Maybe. Probably. Killer’s hands on him seemed pretty sure about it.

“Let’s make an alliance,” the Kid pirate advanced.

 

Penguin’s opened mouth showed how insane this offer was. Maybe that was the reason why he took so long to guess Killer’s intentions. But the most insane was that the Heart pirate found it well thought out. Penguin took a moment to step back and think. This was… if anyone else had made him such offer Penguin would have laugh to their face. Hell, if he was truly honest he would have turned Killer down was it a few days ago. But here and there things were different. Something in his guts was telling Penguin that this wasn’t as weird as he thought it was. Because –damn it was about time that he acknowledges that!– Penguin trusted Killer.

“Don’t freak out,” Killer demanded as the hatted man remained silent.

Penguin looked at him while the book lowered in his hand, “I’m not… Actually– I think we can make it work.”

Did he really say that aloud? In retrospect, attacking a Navy base without any plan whatsoever seemed like a walk in park beside making an alliance between the Heart and the Kid’s crews. Just pronouncing the actual words in his head felt vertiginous. But this morning anything seemed possible.

“This is crazy…” The hatted man told to himself.

“Damn right,” Killer agreed and he held out an opened hand between them, “You’re in?”

What were they gotten themselves into? An alliance between rookies. They were completely out of their minds. This was by far the worst idea they came up with throughout their partnership.

“I’m in,” Penguin replied clasping his hand in the Kid pirate’s.

 

Soon though, the Heart pirate’s grin turned into tight shut lips.

“There is– just one thing…”

Killer read his thoughts. They weren’t hard to guess. Because they had everything: the strength of their crews, the knowledge, the willpower, even devil fruits’ users. Everything could work perfectly if Killer and Penguin were joining their forces. They hadn’t a single doubt into convincing their nakamas. Themselves being the proof this could work.

In fact, the only and biggest obstacle to their plan was two men. And both wholeheartedly couldn’t stand each other.

“The captain,” Penguin sighed.

“Captain,” Killer nodded.


 

On the way back to the Kid pirates’ ship, Killer was actively thinking the best way Penguin and him could make this alliance working. He had left the Heart pirate earlier with the promise to see each other again the following night… and he wanted to come up with a more solid course of action.

His mates weren’t going to like that at first, but Killer knew them too well by now. If he convinced Wire that they weren’t any trick, he would give it a shot. And along Wire, Heat would follow. Of course those two would need to be watched closely. At the first sign of betrayal there would be no more alliance. Once Killer would have them on his side the other members of the crew wouldn’t be such a problem.

The hardest part was certainly going to be their fucking stubbornness and hot tempers. But it was nothing Killer wasn’t already dealing with on a daily basis. Dust was going to be a pain in the ass, as always their helmsman wasn’t easy to change his way of thinking, but with his support Killer was guaranteed that others would followed. And Shadow, of course. The gunner of the crew was such a skilled troublemaker; Killer would also need to keep an eye on him if he didn’t want an unfortunate explosion ruining the alliance to be.

His biggest and most important issue was going to be Kid himself. Killer was fearing his captain could surprise him here. Kid was very predictable with his characteristic straight-forwardness but from time to time he was acting completely opposite to what they were used to. Obviously leading the crew into insanely dangerous adventures…

The masked man sighed even though a small smile was stretching his lips thinking about the improbable situations Kid had sometimes leaded them into. He'd have to talk with him and delay their departure, without telling him why just yet. Killer had no doubt Kid would trust him no matter what he asked for. But it was Killer himself who was getting more and more uncomfortable hiding things from his best friend.

Killer shook his head. He tightened the duffle bag on his shoulder containing half of the log books and maps Penguin and him had stolen. Right now wasn’t the ideal time to sit down with a beer and casually dropping: “Guess what? I’m sleeping with that awesome informant I talked to you about. Oh and he’s actually a Heart pirate!”

He needed to get his captain in better dispositions or the only interest he would see in this alliance would be a chance to mess with Trafalgar Law offered on a plate. Surely, Penguin had a complete different issue with his own captain.

Oddly enough, and despite the foretold failure of their scheme, Killer was excited by this new plan. Almost bouncing on his way to the galleon. He wasn’t the exciting type though. Never had been. This was more Kid’s thing. But thing is… he couldn’t deny the energy filling his limbs.

Walking down the cove where the Kid pirates’ ship was docked, he masked man passed over bounty hunters’ bodies, quite used to them now. There were new ones scattered all around the soapy grass. Some were just a burnt pile, other were missing parts… a good reminder to the men seeking their bounties that the Kid pirates weren’t small fries and it made Killer even more glad about this day. The clear blue sky reminded him of South Blue and the air was warming with the rising sun. But like every rare mood lift he was getting, Killer was quickly brought down from his little cloud.

He hadn’t stepped on the boarding plank yet that he could already hear his mates’ sweet voices storming in that beautiful summer day.

Killer walked up the loud deck, a hand running by habit on the bone shaped railing. He wasn’t comfortable anywhere else than on this wooden deck smelling old paint and salt, both from the sea and the metal parts. The masked man looked fondly at the door painted with flames going down to the galley and the large deck filled with most of their men gathered on its center. They were such a colorful bunch of all shapes, sizes and genres. 23 pirates, minus Kid and Killer. Most of them had been gathered all along throughout their journey on Grand Line. Their current galleon was big, enough to fit their biggest crew members. And despite not being a small man, the ship always seemed really big to Killer.

 

The Kid pirates had formed a circle near the main mast and they were grumbling toward the center of everyone’s attention. Among their voices, Killer distinctly recognized Kid’s one, roaring above the others’ like a good captain should. Nothing unusual among the crew. But the masked man came to face a less usual scene.

Pirates were forming a wall, some sitting, some with their arms crossed and various expressions on their faces from glares to smirks. All eagerly waiting for the Captain’s move.

Kid had his goggles down around his neck and a scowl twisting the corner of his lips down. His flaming red hair was spiking in every direction, meaning he woke up not so long ago like Killer assumed. His fists were clenching and unclenching, as if he was hesitating grabbing the daggers hanged on the belt across his bare chest.

The reason of his barely contained murderous instincts was short and glaring back a look as dark as Kid himself. It was both truly impressive and suicidal from a young woman.

“Listen bitch, this is not what we agreed on!”

Leaning on paint brush as big as her, the woman frowned harder. Her bandana, from which her short blue hair was flowing out, was shadowing her fierce eyes.

So this was their coating mechanic? Killer thought while making his way through the crew. It seemed he looked at least 30 years younger and wore way less facial hair than when Kid and him sealed the deal for the coating of the ship. The mechanic stood her ground against the Captain, with her arms crossed under her large breast. There was where Kid’s self-control was holding on, Killer understood.

“I know!” The woman enraged for what it sounded like not the first time, “But my uncle sprained his ankle and sent me to replace him! I’m as good as him at coating ships, and I won’t grow a beard just to please you!”

Around them the pirates’ guns and swords started shaking under Kid’s growing rage.

“You could have four arms or three tits I don’t fucking care! We need to be ready to go in two days and you can’t meet the deadline!”

“No good mechanic can coat a ship like yours in two days!” The young woman shouted back, “Uncle said that because he was too scared to say no to you!”

“And you’re not?”

Killer had spoken calmly, his crystal clear voice covering his captain and the mechanic’s ones. Everybody’s eyes pinned him where he stood, just acknowledging the first mate’s presence. The silence settled for a moment, most of the audience waiting to see where this was going to lead them.

Nobody would’ve bet on Kid bursting out of laughter. He took his attention off the young woman to turn fully toward his first mate with a wicked grin.

“Eh Killer! What’s the name of the vampire you spent the night with?”

“None of your business,” Killer replied instantly stepping in the circle.

“This one again?” Kid kept up smugly. His fists had definitely unclenched now.

The masked man turned to the mechanic whose eyes had settled on the bruises that had started to form at the place of the hickeys on Killer’s neck. The round collar of his sweatshirt weren’t leaving his whereabouts to imagination.

“Can you coat this ship yes or not?” The masked man asked.

“Yes,” the young mechanic stated proudly.

“How long?”

Her eyes went from the deck to the crow’s nest, scanning every detailed of the ship she could see and making the pirates blocking her view lowered their eyes.

“Hmm…” She thought aloud, taping her chin with one finger, “For a galleon this size… five days.”

Kid chocked and veins grew on his forehead, “You fucking little–”

“Why for?” Killer went on, “We weren’t stingy when we dealt with your uncle.”

“Oh your price is fair,” the woman agreed before warning, “Don’t expect to pay me less! But your ship is huge, plus it got all these spikes and bones sticking everywhere–”

All around pirates protested, grumbling that their ship was awesome. No matter what the Sabaody woman had to say about it.

She glared at all of them, daring any of them to come and get her.

“It won’t be easy,” she explained when nobody stepped in and Killer was holding his captain back, “If you want to make sure the coating hold on the journey to the other side, I’ll need five days. Nothing less.”

“This is bullshit!” A crew member shouted.

This is perfect, Killer thought.

The masked man turned to his captain who was blowing steam out of his nose.

“I don’t know shit about coating,” Killer stated, “But I know for sure that we’ll need at least two days more to find someone else to do the work.”

Kid frowned at him then shook his head, “Not what the old man said.”

It wasn’t that Kid wasn’t agreeing with him, no, Killer knew that his arguments were always reaching his captain somehow. But among many things, Kid hated to back down. And after so much fuss he would rather dive underwater without bubble than admit to the mechanic that he was wrong.

Luckily for his pride, Killer wasn’t just a good negotiator. He was a highly skilled one.

The masked man lifted his hand and tapped his right ear piece, as if to check it, and suddenly Kid’s expression changed. He answered positively to Killer’s coded ask by cracking his fingers. Kid tried not to smile too much, but he barely contained himself. He stepped back and crossed his arms without a word. Letting Killer do the work.

The blonde turned to the young mechanic, confirming what he had noticed earlier. Once you passed her charming feminine advantages, she was wearing rags. And if Killer added that to the state of the shop where they met her uncle, it seemed like the business wasn’t great these days. Plus, she hadn’t been afraid to come here alone and bargain with a supernova. A man reputed for killing easily. She might be bold, but she was also desperate.

“Well…” Killer began while turning around her, “Looks like the captain doesn’t agree.”

Just as he pronounced those words, the young woman’s proud face crackled. Worry started to show behind her strong features as her eyes tried to follow Killer. And the last didn’t need more to know he had hit right.

She was struggling to keep both Killer and Kid in sight. The Captain was in her back, his arms crossed and his red eyes zeroed on her. They had cut every way out for the mechanic. And she took the measure of the situation she got herself into. Behind desperation began to creep a cold fear.

“I thought you wanted to get to the New World?” She challenged. But her voice had lost a bit of its power.

“Yes, but on the terms we agreed. Since you can’t do that, why would we do business with you?”

Against the mechanic’s expectations the crew parted on Killer’s way. The trap she was in had suddenly a breach she just had to hop in… And she fought her instincts that were screaming to flee. Who would hire her, a young woman, for such a high paid job?

As Killer expected, the woman didn’t move. Her eyes had widened in panic and now she was struggling to find something to maintain the deal that would make her eat decent meals for the next weeks.

“Eh! Listen, I really can’t go faster I swear! B–But… How about a… discount?” The last word visibly costed her.

Behind her, Kid casted a huge shadow that couldn’t darken his bright grin.

“Discount you say? Thought our ship wasn’t worth less.”

The crew murmured in agreement.

“I… might have spoken too fast,” She said between her gritted teeth.

“Really?” Kid smiled meanly, “Well take your time now. How much are we going to pay that coating now?”

“I can lessen the original price off… 5%.”

“10,” Kid snapped back.

“8!” The mechanic countered.”

“20.”

“Alright stop! …15%, I can’t do more.”

“What?” Kid asked while leaning threateningly toward her, “You said 20, right?”

To Killer’s surprise, the mechanic had some pride left –or was more in need for that money than her life– and she planted herself firmly stating, “15. Or else there might be some holes in your coating.”

 

She felt the coldness of a blade pressing against her neck before she had time to see the spark of the metal. Kid had drawn one of his daggers faster than any of them without even using his powers. And his smile had dropped just as fast.

“If your bubble blows up, I swear on the One Piece I’ll come back from depths of hell itself to skin you alive,” the Captain whispered very close to her face. “Deal?”

She neither dared to nod nor to speak, until Kid released her. Then she stumbled back on her coating stuff, pressing a hand against her intact neck. She would remember that if it was ever coming to her mind to botch her work.

“15 it is!” Kid exclaimed, “You better get started now! We’ll be gone in five days!”


 

“Ya better have a good reason for makin’ me acceptin’ the girl’s delay!” Kid grumbled with his mouth full of fried eggs and bread. “Thought you wanted to leave!”

Killer went to sit down by his side in the galley, while some of their mates were coming for an early breakfast as well.

“There have been some changes–”

“Changes yes,” Heat’s raspy voice laughed while he was bringing more food to the table, “You got sucked in the meantime.”

Killer narrowed his eyes but before he had time to snap back, Wire’s laugh rumbled like a smooth thunder. When the white and blue mask turned to him, Wire quickly shoved a handful of smoked bacon down his mouth to stifle his laughter. But that didn’t change anything. He was still an impressively tall man in fishnets who was kidding Killer. Except now he had his mouth full of bacon.

Wire had let his hood down and his silky black hair were going down wildly around his pale face. He swallowed his mouthful and sat properly down nearby Kid and Killer while Heat was going back to feed the rest of the early risers.

Now he was thinking about it, all these fried treats were reminding the masked man how hungry he was after such eventful night. Heat’s territory was always smelling so good around meal time, that it managed to mask the men’s locker room smell that was lingering in the ship’s halls.

The galley was the most spacious room of the whole galleon, able to fit the whole crew when they couldn’t do it outside. It had the advantage of having a huge fireplace on its center, keeping everyone warm even during the harshest cold they had gone through. They had conceived this when the boat was built. Along with a clever system of vent pipes. It had both the advantage of making the ship smoking. Which in everyone’s opinion looked really cool. And nobody had been opposed to an evacuation system in case of fire. Which was happening way too often for Killer’s taste.

Wire waited for Killer to grab his breakfast before spilling out a thought he was certainly not the only one to share.

“A week ago you were ready to departure as soon as the tide is up and now we are staying longer than planned. You don’t want to linger here just to be with your new crush right?”

Killer was about to snap back negatively, but Kid’s snort cut his answer short. They shared a knowing look over their meals.

“Whaaaat? Who’s got a crush?” Dust yelled from the nearby table, spilling his morning beer everywhere.

“Killer,” Chain answered when she sat beside their helmsman, “He’s planning to leave us.”

Indignant voices immediately distorted the overheard news and in no time the galley had turned into a gossip room.

“Killer is leaving?”

“Look at his neck! I’d be leaving all of you without a second thought if I had that too!”

“That’s all we mean to ya?”

“I’m taking his room!”

“I was here first!”

“I’m bigger then you Shorty.”

“And I’m richer!”

Killer sighed and passed a long leg over the bench he was sat on, like he was about to get up. Even from behind the mask, the first mate’s voice topped everyone else’s in the galley.

“My room comes with the job. Anyone who wants to take it is free to step in!”

There were a few scraping noises but none of the Kid pirates felt brave enough to get in Killer’s shoes. Being first mate on this ship was a hell of thankless job. But as much as he had to complain about it, nothing could convince Killer into doing something else.

Hearing his crew getting all quiet made Kid burst out laughing again, his deep bark warming the galley. Their red haired captain always sounded like a maniac when he was amused. Showing off his teeth in a wide grin that made his red lipstick looking morbid. A vision that Killer found a 100 percent more comforting than any of his childish scowls.

Killer understood that his mates had doubts, even Wire or Heat, whom he was the closest in the crew; but Kid knew him better than everyone else. One of the advantage of having grown up together, Killer guessed. They grew a bond stronger than friendship. They shared so many things, even partners sometimes, but not a single one had been able to go between them. And nothing would ever.

“I only have one thing in mind, helping Kid to find the One Piece and be at his side when he’ll be the King of the pirates,” Killer affirmed with such conviction that Wire simply nodded, not needing more to be reassured.

“Apparently no one is gonna fight you for this honor,” the tall man topped while Heat was dropping extra bacon in his plate.

Then the masked man went back to Kid, “Like I said before they started to launch an auction on my room, those extra days won’t be too much.”

The Captain downed his drink in one long go and sighed loudly, before wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

“So what do ya have in mind now?”

The blonde picked the fried eggs in his plate and started to eat. It was time for him to be more convincing than ever.

“I need you to meet someone.”

Chapter Text

“Is there some cereals left?” Uni asked with a yawn while coming in the submarine’s galley.

Almost the entire Heart crew was there, apart from the two on watch this morning. A rumble of full mouths pointed the end of the table to Uni. There was a box of cereals opened next to some exotic fruits from the archipelago and rice sweets.

Like every room in the Polar Tang, the galley was just big enough to fit the twenty-one of them. The space inside was carefully distributed to fit their needs. They couldn’t allow useless weight because of the diving. However, they all came to like their confined home. Even though, they were often bumping into each other or –as it was this morning– hitting their elbows together, the Heart pirates were finding comfort in their proximity.

Uni shuffled along the long dining table up to the breakfast dishes. Most of the Heart pirates were slowly waking up, half dressed up and hair still flat on the pillow side. It wasn’t easy at first but spending most of their time close helped them creating a familiar intimacy.

Of course they had to take breaks from one another from time to time. Nobody wanted to have claustrophobic crisis from people who knew how to dissect another person with a kitchen knife.

This wasn’t a dissection morning though. It was a calm and contemplative one. Usually, they were more enthusiastic during breakfast, with everyone getting in gear for the day. Shachi would tell jokes, the captain would read the journal with his first coffee of the day, sometimes Marv would play a bit of music on his guitar… But all throughout this last week, they had plenty of time to enjoy the summer climate of the archipelago and now the heat of Sabaody had them running all slow.

The portholes in the dining room were already letting in a bright light, announcing another beautiful hot day. Most of them had their white overalls opened wide or with the upper half knotted around their hips. No sign of Law but some crewmates were already working between the bowls and mugs of coffee. Bepo had brought some maps to work on and Clione was reading the newspapers.

“Anything new?” Uni asked while getting Shachi’s feet off his chair.

“Everything,” Clione answered without lifting his nose from his journal.

“Sentence dude,” Uni pleaded. He just got out of bed, it was too early for guesses.

“This is news, everything is new.”

Uni sighed, running a tired hand on his face with an unwanted smile as he remembered that you better choose your words carefully with the master of puns.

“You asked,” Shachi topped with a shit eating grin. But he was in a nice enough mood to answer, “It says that Apoo’s ship has been seen near Sabaody.”

“Oh Lord, another one? Just how many captains from the Worst generation are gonna show up here?”

There were shrugs and some looks exchanged but nobody had an answer to that question. If anything, they’d be more cautious but they feared less the other pirate crews than the too close Navy base, Marineford.

“Any sign of the captain?” Uni kept going before taking a spoonful of cereals.

“He fell asleep in the helm’s room again,” one of their crewmate informed.

“Someone’ll bring him something to eat?”

“Yeah, we kept him food aside.”

They were sailing together for long enough to know that Law would probably want to eat quickly and get down to business. They had taken upon themselves to care about their captain. As clever as he was, in his crewmates’ own words ‘He sucked at getting care of himself’.

Their captain was actually the only one really keeping himself busy. Since they arrived, the Heart pirates had already repaired and checked the submarine up, filled the food stock, redid their supplies. They had been far from idle, so the work they brought on this morning had been more out of habit than a real need. In fact, the longer they were staying in the archipelago, the more it started to look like extended vacations. So far, nobody had complained from having a bit of good time before going into the New World.

But some of them were spending too much good time, Shachi grumbled to himself. Starting with his secretive best friend. “Nobody’s heard from Penguin?” He asked aloud.

“He wasn’t in your room last night?”

“No, he left after we finished the meet-up about the Navy’s battleship and he wasn’t there when I woke up.”

“Oh! I was on watch last night,” Ikkaku took part in the morning discussion. She was trying to tie her curly hair up in vain again, “How did it go?”

“Pretty good!” Shachi affirmed proudly, “Since we kept those construction plans from our raid in Seagull Bay, it’s gonna be an easy stealing. In and out, right under their noses, Captain thought five of us would be enough.”

“Is it enough though?” Uni asked with wide opened eyes and mouth full of cereals.

“Eh don’t spit on me man, I ate already!” Marv yelled.

“Well, me and Pen were thinking more would be a straight giveaway,” Shachi continued.

The pirates nodded and the ginger played with the hem of his green hat. He would have like to continue planning this operation with Penguin this morning. At least they would do something productive. Instead of bringing damaged Kid pirates aboard… Where the hell was his useless best friend?

Fuck!

Shachi cursed twice more in his head because he just answered his question by himself. Pen was off with the goddamn Massacre Soldier again! That dumbass! Would he ever learn not to play with fire?

Shachi wasn’t a paragon either but Penguin had a knack for throwing himself in the stupidest plans! The ginger rubbed his eyes under his sunglasses. What did he do to deserve such a shitty friend?

“Maybe the captain had a mission for him?” Someone suggested.

At this Bepo lifted his big round head up while chewing half of a raw fish, “No he’d have told me,” He assured with the tail of the fish wiggling out of his mouth. He would’ve sounded like a grumble beyond understanding to an outsider but everyone in the crew spoke the Bepo. As well as they knew Law wouldn’t make a move without telling at least his loyal polar bear. Although it was more of a long term habit than a real strategic decision.

Penguin was important in the chain of command because they need someone to lead and take the blame for the eventual failures should the captain be away. Bepo was important because he was huge and fluffy and Law loved him the most in spite of his denial.

“Don’t worry Shach’ I’m sure Pen’s fine,” Ikkaku assured.

But Shachi wasn’t worrying anymore, he was simply picturing Penguin coming back bruised and beaten, so worked up that he couldn’t walk straight because he ran out all night with another pirate probably planning to steal his kidneys!

For a second that last thought startled Shachi and then he let his forehead hit the table. Come on… that was Penguin he was talking about, of course that kind of things could happen.

 

In fact, Shachi had time to go through a bunch of other awful scenarios, including him refusing to give one of his kidneys to this idiot, before the idiot aforementioned showed up like he just rose and shone out of wherever he spent the night at.

“Morning guys!” The traitor shouted loudly while entering the galley with big vigorous steps. Shachi still had his head down on the table and heard Bepo groaning like when one of them was rubbing his fur.

Daring move Dude, Shachi thought, Teddy bear is barely woken up.

The ginger felt Penguin sitting down at the table with clearly more energy than everyone else’s here reunited. Goddammit! Shachi truly loathed when Penguin was in a good mood. He was insufferable!

There was another weak protestation of someone who had just gotten robbed of his breakfast and hadn’t been fast enough to prevent Penguin from stealing it. Maybe Shachi could drown him later? He was sure the captain would approve since he went out all night seeing an enemy without telling anyone.

The ginger grabbed his coffee mug by fishing it without lifting his head from the table yet. In fact, he waited to take a sip and only then he glared at Penguin over the edge of his mug. He had prepared a very judgmental look, destined to his best friend for those moments when he was acting like a douche and making him worry. Like when he was risking life getting along with a Kid pirate!

But Shachi’s well prepared glare immediately turned into wide opened eyes as he laid his eyes on Penguin… and the ginger spit his coffee all over his plate.

Not only this douchebag was in a good mood, but he was glowing! So much he looked like he had swallowed one of the submarine’s headlights! Shachi coughed, once, twice, thrice… oh good he couldn’t stop! And now all his friends’ attention turned on him with evident concern.

But Shachi kept his eyes locked on the traitor. He couldn’t stop choking on his sip of coffee but he swore –mentally– that as soon as he got his breath back Penguin was going to hear him!

The ginger’s eyes narrowed while he was still dying, unable to catch his breath! Because they’re was only one thing that was making Penguin have that blinding glow! And Shachi –for his greatest despair– knew what it was!

Suddenly Penguin understood the connection Shachi just made. Penguin crossed his eyes and shook his head without the other paying attention to him.

Don’t you dare! Penguin’s eyes warned. Don’t give me away dude!

Watch me! Shachi silently replied starting to get his breath back.

In one go Penguin jumped from the bench where he was sat and went to Shachi.

“Oh my god man! You need some fresh air isn’t?!” Penguin grabbed his best friend by his wide collar and yanked him out of the galley before the other’s puzzled looks. “Breathe! I got you!” Penguin continued while tightening his arm around his best friend’s neck to prevent him to say a word about what he just guessed.

 

Before Shachi had the time to explode in front of everyone, Penguin dragged him to their shared cabin. The light was already flowing brightly inside the room where two beds with messy bedsheets were facing each other. The walls covered with photos and bounty posters shook under Shachi’s voice.

“You slept with him?!”

“Thanks man! Can you just yell it A LITTLE LOUDER?”

“YOU–”

Penguin threw a pillow in Shachi’s face to shut him up. The ginger grabbed the pillow madly and hit Penguin back with it.

“I can’t believe you did that Pen!” Shachi scolded, “He was ready to kill you just a week ago! You’re insane!”

Penguin let himself be hit a bit more by Shachi’s pillow, searching for the best way to explain the whole situation. A fricking lot of things had happened in a few days but it seemed to Penguin that months had passed. How could he explain his closeness with Killer otherwise?

“Listen, it’s…”

“If you say complicated I’m punching you,” Shachi threatened, holding his pillow up.

“It’s not what you think.”

“Oh?” Shachi frowned, “You didn’t get into his pants because he has impressed you?”

Penguin opened his mouth and then closed it. He was owing Shachi –and himself– the truth at the very least. “Huh, yeah a little…”

“Pff! A little? You were totally drooling on him when you brought him to fix his arm the other night.”

Shachi sat slackly on his bed and tousled his ginger hair. He didn’t know what he preferred the beaten up Penguin he imagined he’d have to deal with or the infatuated one he got. His eyes ran over their room, littered with dirty clothes, books and a pack of cards for their late night games. They used to fight so hard over the little things… but this time Shachi didn’t want to bicker endlessly with his best friends. Just by his worried stare he could tell the situation was important to Penguin. And throughout their life among the Heart crew they learnt to deal with serious matters in a more adult way. Damn it felt weird to Shachi to realize they had well and good grown up!

“Ok, I don’t wanna get into your story but–”

“But you’re about to do it anyway.”

“Seriously Pen, this is gonna backfire to you and you won’t be able to say I didn’t warn you.”

“Shach’, everything is fine. Great even! You can’t get the whole thing because you’re looking at it from the outside. And I guess it most likely looks crazy but… How can I put it?”

“Just explain it from the beginning! Because from where I stand it looks like you’re falling for a homicidal maniac from another pirate crew!”

“You have just the right way to make it sound like I’m going mad.”

“Prove me wrong then,” Shachi asked then he put his hands down his laps.

Penguin nodded and took off his hat, before he sat down beside his best friend. The mattress bounced under him and immediately Penguin lost his words. He really wanted Shachi to believe everything was alright, that he had a plan, that he wasn’t letting him down. Thing is, Penguin wasn’t so sure about that… like, he didn’t want to make false promises. Shachi deserved better but at the same time he wanted his best friend to support him and… it was so hard not to bullshit his way out of this situation! Seriously! When did it became easier to open up to Killer rather than Shachi?

Penguin twisted his hat and then put it down beside Shachi’s one. He knew why. Because they shared a long history, and that he cared deeply about his friend no matter what happened those last days.

 

“Do you remember, the Rocky Port?”

“Pen, as if any of us would forget that–”

“Yeah but do you recall how we were back then?”

Shachi snorted and moved backward, resting on his extended arms, “All I wanted was to make you shut your smart mouth up.”

“And I’d sworn I’d make you eat your hat,” Penguin laughed quietly.

“My sunglasses,” the ginger corrected.

“Yes, your sunglasses. And obviously we got everyone captured because–”

“Because you couldn’t guard a door,” Shachi teased.

“Remember who was guarding it with me dickhead?”

Now they were laughing about it, but back then they had been out of their minds. They really acted like a pair of children. Endangering the whole crew because they got into a stupid competition of who could be the stupidest. They both won even this day.

They found themselves alone with the crew getting arrested by the marines along with the captain who had earned a nice pair of seastone handcuffs.

That day Shachi and Penguin had nothing but each other, the submarine and a common goal. But it was all they needed to finally stop bickering and work together as the members of the same crew.

When they had launched themselves into battle this day, they had shared the same rage and the same spirit: they were the Heart pirates and this flag was all they lived for. Against all odds they would fight for it!

“We didn’t become best friends forever after that though,” Shachi pointed out.

“Yeah but we trusted each other since that moment.”

Penguin looked at Shachi meaningfully and the ginger felt that he was trying to bring him back on their original subject.

“So you’re saying… you’re trusting him?” Shachi concluded incredulously.

Penguin nodded with his lips shut tight although a spark was enlightening his eyes.

Shachi made a little ‘tsk’ with his tongue and was about to refute that, but his best friend’s look stopped him from doing so.

“I know it sounds crazy but– I can’t put words on it. It just… happened.”

“Was it before or after…” Shachi mimicked a screwing gesture with his fingers.

“You’re disgusting man seriously,” Penguin shoved him. The first mate got off the bed with reddened cheeks.

All that red made Shachi squinted, “Since when are you embarrassed by a one-night stand?”

At the moment he pronounced those words Shachi’s eyes opened wide again. He felt like the stupidest friend for not seeing it earlier.

“Holy fucking Rogers! You’re in love with him!”

“NO!” Penguin denied blatantly.

Shachi burst out of laughing and rolled on his bed like it was the best joke he ever heard.

“Stop it!” Penguin shouted his face full red now. He grabbed the pillow they left aside and hit an unstoppable Shachi, laughing louder each time Penguin was hitting him.

“Killer-senpaï!” Shachi mocked with a high pitched voice, “Would you like to take me on a date?”

“Shut up I swear–!”

Penguin jumped at his throat, but the bed bounced under their weights and unsettled him. Shachi took the chance to lock one of Penguin’s legs between his. Then Penguin tried to catch Shachi’s arms while pushing on his face. They wrestled until none of them managed to take the upper hand. Finally, they parted, huffing, with a smile for Shachi to the point his cheeks hurt and a dark glare for Penguin.

“Ha ha! I can’t believe, over all of the people here, you fell for a psychopath!”

Penguin got his bangs out of his face, “I didn’t fall for anyone.”

“Yeah and I’m gonna be the Pirate King.”

“I mean it man!”

Shachi stared at Penguin in disbelief.

“Listen,” Penguin sighed running a hand on the nape of neck, “I already have trouble naming it. But we’re not boyfriends or anything. We’re not even in love.”

Yet, when Penguin remembered the previous night, he wasn’t so sure about that. And his palms were sweating anxiously. It had been so intense and passionate, what if… there was more than he thought? No. Just the thought was scaring him. So it couldn’t be. They– they had just escaped death –from very close in his case– they had been carried away by the heat of the moment.

“Last night was just sex.”

“Pff, you damn liar,” Shachi mocked.

“What do you know about it?” Penguin retorted.

“You said you trusted him.”

“A-and so what? Can’t I trust a one-night stand?”

“No,” Shachi pointed out categorically, “You don’t trust like that.”

Penguin kicked him weakly in bad faith, “Alright, maybe I care about him. Happy?”

“You know as long as you don’t get sliced up or put the crew in danger, you’re doing what you want with your ass.”

“Classy.”

“You’re welcome. Eh! Does that mean we’re cool with the Kid pirates now?”

“Never miss a chance do you?” Penguin lifted an eyebrow. He liked being judgmental toward Shachi, especially when the same thought had occurred to him this morning. “And no. You better stay out of the Kid pirates’ way. No one knows about us.”

Shachi was about to retort with another joke but Penguin grabbed the ginger’s face and squeezed his cheeks to prevent him to say anything more. He looked at him deadly serious in the eyes.

“No one. Must know.”

Shachi’s eyes rolled up but he nodded. As if he was going to–

A translucent blue casing went through the closed door with a too familiar sound. And before Penguin or Shachi had time to do anything, their captain’s room grew to the middle of their cabin.

Trafalgar appeared at the place of a magazine lying on the ground. Groggy, with his dark hair flat on one side of his head, he threw them a glare through his narrowed eyes. He still had his clothes from yesterday on, which really looked like he slept in them and was clutching his nodachi in one hand.

At the sight of their barely awake captain, Penguin immediately let go of Shachi’s face and they both waited to see what Law had in store for them. Praying that his room wasn’t going to extend up to them.

“Heard you fighting?” Law’s tired voice asked. Captain before coffee was one of the most dangerous thing aboard the submarine. It scared the Heart pirates shitless.

“No! Nope!” Penguin and Shachi exclaimed almost at the same time. “We were just talking!”

Shachi put an arm around Penguin’s shoulders in the most awkward hug in the history. Penguin forced a smile when his crewmate squeezed his painful bruises from last night, “Yeah harmless talk, friends talk, ha ha!”

Law didn’t move and shot them a suspicious tired look. He made this tensed examination last, enough for his subordinates to fear the worst. Then he pointed Penguin with a tattooed finger, then Shachi, then his own dark circled eyes.

I’m watching you, Law signed. Kitchen, he added pointing his fingers toward the back of the submarine. With a last flick of fingers Law disappeared as quick as he had come. Only then Penguin and Shachi breathed out.

“Thanks for not telling anything.”

“Yeah,” the ginger replied, “Well you better keep me on tracks because if I’m getting turned into Shachimi while you’re getting laid, at least I wanna know why I’m covering you.”

“You’re right,” Penguin nodded.

Shachi’s mouth broke into a shit eating grin, “Well if that isn’t the best! I’m right!” He got off the bed with overconfidence, swaggering around in their cabin. “Ah! It’s the best feeling ever. Say it again!”

Penguin pouted and looked away. Speaking of backfire… He regretted his sincerity now. Shachi was never going to let him forget that time admitted that he was right. Penguin sighed. He fucked up already so a little more or a little less wasn’t going to change much.

“You’re right,” Penguin recognized once more, staring into Shachi’s eyes, “I have to tell you everything.”

Then Shachi’s little confident laugh got in his throat, “Huh you know you don’t have to tell me everything-everything right?”

“No, it’s time I tell you what really happened,” Penguin insisted earnestly.

“Oh no!” Shachi laughed nervously, “I would mind that you wanted to keep certain parts for you!”

 

Before Shachi had the time to get more embarrassed, Penguin helped him catching up with everything: from their first pacific meeting to their fight against a giant aboard a Marine’s battleship. And of course the alliance they planned to make happening.

Shachi had remained quiet during Penguin’s story. Too quiet for his usual self and it started to make Penguin worry. Did he miscalculate Shachi’s reaction? Or rather lack of. Did he say something wrong? Earlier this morning it was making so much sense… now looking at Shachi’s blank face, Penguin didn’t know anymore.

The ginger tried to open his mouth. But no sound came out. Then he found Penguin’s eyes. And his voice came back.

“YOU WANT TO DO WHAT?!”

Chapter Text

This is crazy… Shachi thought while running along the submarine’s deck. Penguin’s crazy. An alliance! No less! The ginger tried to see some good omens to that plan but no matter how he put it in his head any outcome looked disastrous or unreachable. And this idiot had the nerve to ask Shachi for help! Of course Shachi was not going to let him down. But how could he find a way to reconcile the Heart and the Kid captains? It wasn’t like he could say hi and declare them friends on the go! Pirates didn’t work that way!

His internal debate had taken Shachi’s attention away and Ikkaku stole the basketball he was holding. She threw it up and it landed back in her hands playfully. The black stylized waves tattooed on her upper chest appeared stark black against her pale skin in the blinding the sun.

“You’re sleeping Shach’?” She taunted him. Shachi pulled his cap down and ran after her but Marv was already covering her side. She threw the ball to Clione who caught it expertly and smashed it down into the basket above the submarine’s main entrance. Their team shouted happily at the point marked. Marv high-fived Bepo and immediately regretted it after the bear almost crushed his hand. Then proceeded to apologize at least five times for it.

“Shachi! Get you head in the game man, they’re gonna crush us!” Penguin pointed at Shachi while the others nodded.

The ginger tightened the sleeves of his overall around his hips. Most of them had let down the upper part of their outfits, showing off how pale they all were underneath, as much as Bepo’s fur.

They might be pale but they weren’t puny though. Living inside a submarine was more physical than one might think. And they took care into training regularly. After all they had to be prepared to defend themselves on such dangerous seas. But this beautiful morning wasn’t one for training.

It had become a habit among the Heart pirates to play together when they had the occasion to resurface. The deck of the Polar Tang just had the perfect ground for them to run and the captain was kind enough to use his devil fruit power in order to stick baskets above the main door and on a pole at the other side of the ship.

After the intellectual activities they were reduced to underwater, running and smashing felt like a real outlet for their excesses of energy.

“It’s time to get your ass kicked losers!” Clione shouted while throwing the basketball back to Shachi and Penguin’s team.

 “You’re gonna go diving!” Penguin warned while catching the ball. He looked at Shiru and Wolf on his right and dashed on the deck. The ball bounced loudly then Penguin stopped, he turned around Ikkaku who came in front of him and threw the ball behind him.

Wolf caught it in a middle of a jump, his tongue flowing happily out of his mouth. He made his way up the deck but Bepo was right after him, towering the slender man from his huge frame.

“Shachi!” he yelled throwing the basketball in the ginger’s direction. The ball flew and brushed passed Shachi’s fingers to continue toward Marv. Acting on instinct, Shachi rolled on the deck and swept the musician off his feet right before he caught the ball. It landed in Penguin’s hands who smiled at Shachi before he started running again.

“Shitty move Shach’!”

Seeing this Uni growled, he stopped and then dashed forward so fast his silhouette disappeared momentarily. He appeared before Penguin who stopped his run right away before he reached the basket.

“Who’s doing shitty moves now?” Penguin asked with a crooked grin. He was stuck and the basket was too far… Wolf was blocked by Bepo and Shachi had ran way past his point. Uni gave Penguin his smile back. They knew each other too well to use simple tricks.

Out of option, Penguin went for a three-point field goal and leaped at the same time as Uni attempting to counter him. But the basketball flew right toward the basket at high speed. Too fast even. And it missed the basket from a good ten feet, continuing its fly way past the rail of the submarine and landed in the water.

The main downside about playing on a ship was that when the ball was out, you had to go swimming to get it back.

The Heart pirates shouted loudly for Penguin, singing along: “Jump in! Jump in! Jump in!”

Penguin mumbled some curses. He couldn’t take his overall off, because all his bruises from last night would raise unwanted questions. Nonetheless he took his hat off. Although by the time he did some of his mates had gotten closer to help him jump. Oh no guys not this time!

Penguin dived before Shachi –the traitor– managed to push him off the submarine. The water was so cool, it wasn’t a bad thing for such a hot and sunny day. Penguin appreciated it while he swam to the ball but the salty and soapy waves brought Penguin back to last night. His senses overflowed by memories of the Kid pirate… Oh for fuck sake how could he be excited right now?! Damn Killer!

Penguin quickly got back on the submarine and his nakamas’ circle grew wider around him because he was dripping water everywhere.

“Shachi! Penguin yelled happily, Come and give me a hug man!”

“You’re dreaming!” The ginger scouted while a wet Penguin ran after him under their mates’ laughs.

“You bastard!” Shachi screamed when Penguin caught him. “Get off me!”

“Ah!” Penguin said while hugging his best friend tight and drenching him with seawater. “I love you too!”

Penguin wringed his hair and put his hat back while Shachi wrung seawater out of his black tank top.

“This is how you expect making new allies?” Shachi grumbled, “Making them wet– Wait! I didn’t say that forget it! Stop laughing you asshole!”

“I don’t think it’ll work with each one of them,” Penguin laughed.

“So if you’re not going to give that much of yourself, how are you gonna do it?”

Penguin’s lips shut tight in a thin line, “I have some ideas, but… they pretty much all suck.”

“Giving up already?”

“Never!” Penguin smiled, “I’m just thinking…”

“You didn’t talk to the captain yet?”

“No, actually I wonder… what if we set up a meeting without telling them and putting both he and Kid in front of that alliance to be?”

“They’ll be unsettled for sure,” Shachi made a face, “Maybe enough to consider it or to shelter behind their usual petty selves.”

Penguin was picturing it very clearly. As soon as the captains would feel threatened, or hurt in their pride, they would be on the defensive and he could say goodbye to any chance of understanding between the two.

“Ugh! There are so many ways it could go wrong!”

Shachi nodded at that in a frank approval that achieved to disheartened Penguin. But he still believed in his and Killer’s idea. There had to be a way!

“I think you should tell Law at least. Captain hates going somewhere unprepared. He loves having the high ground.”

“That’s precisely what annoys Kid…” Penguin added pulling his hat down his face by the earflaps in annoyance. “I’ll only let Law know about this once we’ll have the perfect plan.”

“You’re aware you don’t have much time left?” Shachi pointed out. “I don’t even know what’s keeping the captain’s here so long.”

“He probably got his reasons…” Shachi and Penguin both glanced at their captain, leaning on the submarine’s railing with a cup of coffee in one hand.

It kind of became Law’s ritual since they arrived at Sabaody. He would wake up no long after the crew, no matter how late he had fallen into sleep. If they were lucky the captain would take breakfast with them, otherwise he would go directly to the deck with some coffee and his long sword. Usually to receive his daily correspondence.

Different kinds of birds came down swooping over the emerged submarine. They were barely noticeable among the flocks of birds flying at the edge of the soapy mangrove. But if you were paying attention enough you could discern a weird pattern and the little items that were falling off their beaks to land in Law’s hand unnoticed.

Trafalgar was receiving a lot of messages recently, gathering information from various contacts on the archipelago and near, for all Penguin knew. The captain often discussed the new intel with them later on. Mostly because they couldn’t take every information for truth. They had to separate the rumors from the facts. As difficult as it seemed though, the Heart pirates had become quite good at it.

This morning a couple of messages ended unseen in Law’s hand. He put them in his pants’ pocket and finished his drink leaned on the railing. Law had discarded his wrinkled hoodie, exposing his tattooed torso to Sabaody’s blazing sun. But he had kept his spotted hat and a pair of sunglasses on. At the sight of the smiling face on Law’s back, Penguin thought to himself that it was funny. Even when he wore nothing, he was always bearing Corazon’s smile on him.

Penguin quickly turned his eyes back to Shachi, afraid that Law would notice that he was watching him from afar. The captain just knew when he was watched. This was a talent he learnt pretty young, being constantly vigilant. And it somewhat hurt Penguin to see that he kept doing it now.

“He’ll know about the alliance stuff sooner or later Pen,” Shachi continued, “Captain always knows.”

“I know!” Penguin shouted in a murmur, “You know! He’ll know! Damn… I dunno how we’re gonna do this! It’s not like we can sit he and Kid down at a table and let them talk this out!”

“It never worked before,” Shachi recalled and his mouth twisted at the memories. “The few times we met they almost jumped at each other’s throats in the span of two sentences.”

“That’s what’s making me mad man…” Penguin sighed while wringing his sleeves from the sea water still soaking them. “If they could just talk to each other without acting like wiseass–”

At that the ginger burst out of laughing. “If you think one second that they’ll behave! That’s who they are. If you and your boyfriend want to make this work, you’ll have to play with those cards.”

Penguin opened his mouth but Shachi had other arguments. He knew he was playing the devil’s advocate here but Penguin needed to face the truth of the situation. So the ginger took upon himself to present him the facts, as unpleasant as they were.

“No matter how hard you’ll plan Pen, the only way for Kid and Law to get along is in a fictional world.”

Penguin sighed and shoved his best friends with a smile to hide that his arguments actually hit right. He let Shachi shoving him back playfully and stuck his hands in his overall’s pockets. “Fuck… How are we gonna do that?”

“Tying them to chairs with seastone cuffs?” Shachi offered.

“If only… We gotta be careful and plan this through perfectly. I think what we need is a strategy that–”

“Which strategy?” Wolf shouted appearing between the two friends with the basketball stuck under his arm. “You have strategy? Because we’re getting our asses kicked right now!”

“Eh guys what are you doing? We’re losing 3 to 9!” Morusu added, towering them from his big frame.

Quickly the basketball team gathered around them and it was the end of any alliance discussion.

“We should take them on the right!” Shiru offered enthusiastically, “Push them against the rail!”

“You don’t wanna push them directly into the water?” Morusu joked.

“We have to block Bepo first!”

“No, Ikkaku is the most dangerous!”

They fought like that for a few minutes until their captain’s voice interrupted them from behind. Everybody turned to him, even though he had spoken low, Law had a presence that was immediately catching everyone else’s attention.

“Your plans suck.” Trafalgar pointed out with a jaded look. Then he took a sip of his coffee and keep walking to his sun lounger. His men watched him go, jaws slacked, not getting any more help from their captain. So typical!

Shachi and Penguin exchanged an outraged look. It was one of Law’s favorite occupation it seemed. Dropping smart ass one-liners and leaving them dealing with their own incompetence. Fine, they weren’t as good strategists as him but was it too much to ask that he show a little more faith in them!

It wasn’t just the basketball game that suddenly bothered Penguin. Law was systematically taking the lead of everything as if they were too weak to help him. The Heart pirates knew their captain trusted them, but Penguin often had the impression that they weren’t strong enough… Penguin began to understand that was one of the reason that leaded him to continue his little secret meetings with Killer. He wanted to prove himself and his captain that he could do it, that he could be useful. If only Law was letting them…

Penguin was districted from his brooding thought by a sly smile appearing on Shachi’s face. He lifted his soaking wet arms in Law’s direction and Penguin smiled too.

“Hey captain!” They sang together in one voice.

Emerging from the group, the two dripping wet troublemakers began to walk toward Law with shit-eating grins.

When Law saw them coming from his sun lounger he remained unshaken.

“You don’t want to do that.” He warned, thinking about the precious messages he just received. But when he saw that it wasn’t stopping them one second, Law started to worry a little in front of their wolfish grins.

“Come on captain!”

“It’s just a little bit of water.”

“So you don’t get a heatstroke.”

Law didn’t know what he hated the least: the moments when they were fighting and damaging the submarine or those when they were working together and being a pain in his ass. These two were incorrigible when they had their minds set on bothering you! His inner rambling tricked Law and prevented him to see how close Penguin and Shachi had gotten. Shit! Now he had no time to both cast a room and send them away!

“Bepo!” Law shouted while gripping the armrests of his sun lounger in sheer annoyance.

As soon as he heard his name the polar bear ran toward Law without any further thinking. His big steps shook the deck and Penguin and Shachi started to take in the consequences of their joke… Their big smiles turned into unsure wavy mouths while they turned back at Bepo with sweat dripping on their foreheads.

“Hey man!” Penguin started while making a few steps back already.

“Hey! You know we love you right?” Shachi added with his hands up in the air as if it would stop the white giant fur ball to crush him.

“We always respected you!”

“You’re our favorite fluffy bear!”

But their awkward laughs couldn’t manage to hide the tremors of Shit we miscalculated! in their voices. Penguin and Shachi made some more steps away from Bepo but his huge hairy arms caught them both in one go. And their joke backfired at them sooner than they planned. They found themselves a few feet off the deck waving their limbs everywhere to wriggle free from Bepo’s hold. But it was vain and they very well knew it. Actually, perhaps Law was right. Their plans sucked.

Or at least that was what Shachi thought when Bepo threw Penguin and him overboard with so much strength that they flew magnificently before splashing in a huge stream of water at their landing. All their nakamas applauded the performance and cheered at the wetters wet. Bepo bowed his round head down with a: “Sorry guys.” But if he was truly sorry he looked very smug about what he did.

“First class strat you shitty first mate!” Shachi laughed while splashing water into Penguin’s face.

“It was your idea!” Penguin responded with a grin and attempted to drown the ginger.

They playfully fought to be the first to get back on the submarine but ended up mostly wrestling in the water under the crews’ cheers.

“Ok, break! Break time! Let me breathe you ass!” Shachi pleaded.

He earned a mean laugh from his best friend and the ginger climbed the ladder up to the submarine’s deck soon after him. With how hot this day was getting, Shachi didn’t mind this second bathing after all. Penguin and him looked at their mates, ready to resume their game.

But as soon as they reached the deck, they all had their eyes toward the entry of the submarine. Before any of them could say something, the main door slammed loudly. An unexpected chill passed through the crew while the silence settled.

“What happened?” Penguin asked with surprise.

“I don’t know. The captain jut went mad all of a sudden and he left.” Ikkaku explained without understanding either.

Bepo intervened with his worried furrowed brows wrinkling his fur, “He was reading his letters…”

Penguin and Shachi looked at each other. This was bad. For Law to get that angry it would only mean that it was very bad news.


 

It can’t be!

Law was rarely getting angry. Or rather rarely letting out his anger physically. It was a waste of time and energy that would do him no good in the end. Law’s rational mind was perfectly aware of that. But the childish terror that had crept into his body didn’t think so. His fear turned into outrage, because he couldn’t stand to let it take over him. He wasn’t a child anymore! But the sight of this smiling face instantly brought him back years earlier… When he was dying of saturnism and he had looked at that symbol filled with wrath and a wish of destruction.

Many years after he left the Donquixote family he was still fearing this crossed smiley. But he only realized now that this fear had never left him. He had just buried it down under a burning desire of revenge. He thought his plans for avenging Corazon’s death had helped him overcoming his fear. Yet, as his eyes wandered on the message he just received again, Law’s throat tightened.

How naïve you’ve become Law, on the letter of his informer Donquixote’s symbol seemed to laugh at him. Although it wasn’t a message coming from the Donquixote family itself, it was a confirmation of how carefree Law had become, You think you could get away from me?

Of course not… they were safe here in Paradise, but their way to the One Piece was only getting him closer to Doflamingo. Distress raised up inside Law and burst through his hands as he swept the message away with everything that was on his desk. Books, maps, navigation instruments, medical charts. Everything was thrown on the ground in a loud chaos. But it wasn’t enough to ease the storm sweeping every self-control away within him.

The Heart captain forced himself back to calm but he couldn’t shake off the pressure that had suddenly fallen upon him and was crushing his chest painfully. He had been stupid. He should have known better. That in a place like this, where a shiny and funny façade was just a mask hiding the misery and the slavery, that it would be just like Doflamingo’s kingdom. Law should have known he would be there, letting himself known when Law had let his guard down.

Doffy owned an auction house on Sabaody. Law actually reread the message many times until the words had burnt each one of their letters on his retina. He was feeling sick. Of all the horrors coming back to his mind. Of finding out another of Doflamingo’s inhuman businesses. Of his own powerlessness to go against him.

He wasn’t strong enough. Law knew that well… And he wouldn’t make his crew take so many risks at this point of their journey. Even though Law was certain that each one of them would follow him anywhere.

“Captain?” A series of knocks on Law’s door got him out of his train of thoughts. Speaking of the devils.

“Are you alright Captain?” Bepo asked on the other side of the heavy metal door.

“What happened?” Shachi went on.

“Can you open the door Captain?” Penguin finished.

Those three were the very reason why Law was so reluctant to go further. He wasn’t doubting about their loyalty. On the contrary, he was worried about it. They didn’t know what they had signed for…

“I’m fine. Go away.” Trafalgar sent them away. But even to his own ears he sounded pitiful and shaken.

“Explain us.” Penguin insisted. “What was on the message?”

“Let us in. We can help.” Shachi topped.

“No you can’t! Now move away from my door or I room you back to North Blue!”

No. They couldn’t help him. They wouldn’t only get hurt. And Law didn’t need wounded crewmates. He needed them alive. Alive and well. And as far away from Doflamingo as possible. Those three already knew much more than Law would’ve like to. He heard them waiting behind the door and then reluctantly walking away. He knew they wouldn’t go too far and they’d probably try again in a moment. He couldn’t help but think he was too lucky to have them.

Then something began to resurface, a feeling between rage and possessiveness. A feeling that suddenly animated Law with a strong urge to fight. Never he would let Doflamingo get near them! Law swore it but it only made him feel like he failed his promise already. Doflamingo was already here. Not in person but his threads were trailing up to this place. Law gritted his teeth. They had been there all along and he was seeing them just now!

It only confirmed that he needed more preparations. He had to wait. To keep his cool. Law exhorted himself to patience but at this very moment his body was still filled with a tension that should have broken him in half.

No! Law admonished himself, gripping the hilt of his nodashi so hard the joints of his hand turned white. He was so much tougher than that!

Or maybe… maybe he could get rid of this troublesome turmoil in a good old fashioned way.


 

The twilight had started to paint the sky purple by the time Eustass Kid went out of the bar he had settled in for the last hour. He did take his crew longer than usual to empty the place from anything that was bearing alcohol labels. But the booze had been alright. He set his googles down around his neck and brushed his wild red hair back. The night was still warm and he was pleasantly dizzy from a day he had spent out with his crew.

The shorty coating mechanic had thrown them out of their ship for the duration of the coating. So they took it upon themselves to keep them busy by drinking and picking up fights.

Without surprise, the only one that didn’t manage to lay down was Killer. The masked man had annoyed him all day with some kind of important matter. Something about the New World. But Killer just tried to coax him into new ideas without telling him more. So Kid had stopped listening pretty quickly. Schemes weren’t his forte. That was Killer’s job. So Kid had agreed with himself that when his first mate would’ve settle his mind, then he would hear everything in one go. In the meantime, Kid had better to do.

He had drunk all his heart content. Now he wanted a fight.

He wandered aimlessly around the bar, and walked down the narrow streets of the grove where they had landed. He loved the sharp sounds that his leather boots were making against the ground. His heavy fur coat, just thrown on his shoulders, was flowing behind him like a cape while he made his way between the buildings. Shops were closing, bars were getting busier and people were stepping out of his way like he was a celestial dragon. Kid took an immense pride at imagining all of the Sabaody people kneeling before him. Once he’d get the One Piece he’d come back here, Eustass started daydreaming. And he’d make them all kneel. What an awesome picture it was!

He flashed a dangerous smile to a group of thugs going out for the evening. But to his disappointment they shied away as soon as Eustass’ teeth caught the light. To kill his boredom, the Captain took out a shiny knife out of the belt wrapped around his naked torso. He played with it absent-mindedly. Above his opened palm, the knife started to float as Eustass’ powers bypassed the gravity. Then the blade began to turn in every direction, like the needle of a log pose going crazy. It pointed everywhere, whirling quicker and quicker. But never finding a decent opponent on whom to stop.

Kid blew steam out of his nose in annoyance and walked down shadier streets with the determined gait someone looking for troubles. He didn’t have to go very far until he finally felt promising eyes on his back. Hope you’re at least bounty hunters lads. He thought while a feral grin split up his face. Kid turned in what looked like a back alley with moss growing pitifully at the bottom of the buildings and a ground so sticky, the bubbles were barely forming. The falling night had turned the world in shades of dark blues only lightened dimly by the few remaining yellow street lights.

The hunt would have been more exciting if he made it last but Kid wasn’t known for his patience. It wasn’t the street full of spectators he had hoped for either, but any fight would do at this point. Kid’s devil fruit power began to shake every magnetic material around him. A delicious shiver ran though him and exciting each nerve ending of his body.

Before he turned around though a bubble formed from behind Eustass and grew until it completely surrounded him. It filtered his world in blue, shaping in a translucent wall in front of him. His grin got bigger at the sight of this bubble he knew well by now. It was bringing memories back.

“Are you here to fight?” Eustass slowly turned around, knowing he looked like a maniac with his stark red hair falling wildly around his head. His red eyes pinned his counterpart on the other side of the back alley. “Trafalgar.”

Law’s silhouette was cut out against the light of the street. With his sword unmistakably resting on his shoulder, he calmly walked closer. Then the soothing rumble of his voice reached Kid’s ears above every other sounds of the nearby streets.

“It depends on what you’re up to, Eustass-ya.”

This voice sounded like a thunder echoing in Kid’s head. As Law got closer and closer to him it felt like all the air was compressing and tensing between their bodies, to the point lightning could have struck the earth still separating them.

The Heart captain stopped before Kid at arm’s reach and his grey eyes looked up to the red ones from under his fluffy spotted hat. Law was bearing darker rings under his eyes than the last time Kid saw him. But it had been a while now. Law was still wearing this sinful smile though, tugging playfully at his lips and suggesting a world of enticing troubles. How Kid loved that smile that was breaking Law’s usually so composed expression.

However, Kid’s satisfaction would never be complete in regard of this matter. As Law’s smile never reached his eyes. Those eyes had seen too much horrors to ever smile again. Now they were only filled with a darkness, deeper than any being should have to bear. When Kid stepped into Law’s personal space, towering him from all his height and build, he saw a real storm raging inside his grey eyes.

Kid dived into them. Feeling the whirlwind inhabiting Trafalgar. There were so many parts of him Kid couldn’t reached under the surface. But he fed on the tension coming from Law. Growing intensely.

The Surgeon of Death was a dangerous man. He could cut Kid in pieces with a flick of his fingers and take his heart out if it pleased him. But Kid would not let him do that without a fight. Instinctively Kid took in, the placement of Law’s feet on the ground, red eyes followed his long thin legs looking for the slightest sign of movement. Kid’s eyes ran on Law’s slender hips, then on his tattooed hands and forearms. The casing of Law’s sword was shining on his shoulder and Kid started to calculate who between the two of them could draw their weapons the fastest.

Law hadn’t make a move, but a resolution suddenly appeared on his face, wiping his smile. He looked handsomely threatening, ready to wreck a havoc.

Kid felt it one second before Law moved.

 

The red haired pirate drew a dagger out of the hem of his pants. But just has he pressed it against Law’s ribs, the Heart captain kissed him.

The hot mouth pressing against his, halted Kid’s hand for a second and it was enough for the Captain to change his mind and kiss Law back. Opening his mouth against his, Kid lifted the dark haired man off the ground and pinned him on the nearest wall. His muscular body crushed Law’s one on the dirty bricks, his dagger still tickling his side. Fuck! Kid had had no idea how much he wanted that until Law’s legs hooked around his hips and his chest rubbed against his torso. Kid shoved his tongue in Law’s mouth hungrily and it felt even better than he remembered.

Kid always hated the expression It’s like coming back home. Having a home meant you were tied up to something. For Kid it only meant the end of freedom. And he would die rather than give that up. Yet… he couldn’t stop thinking about this stupid saying while kissing Law. Eustass grunted in his mouth, angry at himself to feel like that. Trafalgar’s hands were all over him. He heard his sword hitting the soapy ground and suddenly his belt full of weapons slid off Kid’s chest. The Captain tried to remember everything that was pissing him off about Law. It wasn’t that hard. Then tattooed fingers ran through his red hair, tugging at them roughly and he couldn’t remember what annoyed him exactly.

Fucking hell! He couldn’t stand Law’s smugness and conceited smiles! But when their tongues were meeting eagerly– There were cool drinks after a hot day flowing in Kid’s mouth. There were the sun rising above the endless ocean and the deep vibration of the metal under his fingertips. It had that familiar taste that the other hadn’t… Like coming back home.

Kid made their kiss last until he had no air left, then he was forced to take break from devouring Law’s mouth. When he drew back though, Kid had the displeasure of crossing angry grey eyes.

“With all these bars around, you’re pretty hard to find.” Trafalgar Law scolded him, while taking his spotted hat off. When he had finally managed to get out of the submarine, Law spent hours looking for the red haired man. It had not helped the nervousness that had clung on him all day at all!

Kid tightened his grip on Law’s ass, pressing him against the wall with his whole body. He grinded their crotches together in frank sway of hips, feeling the bulges in their pants as if they weren’t wearing any.

“And you’re pretty… hard.”

Law rolled his eyes at the obvious, beginning to regret his choice of partner for the night. Especially seeing that the red haired pirate looked so overconfident.

“Miss me haven’t ya?”

Law could have easily shut him up with a kiss. He hesitated… but not for long.

“Actually I ran out of people to fuck with here, and there was only you left so–”

Eustass’ growl was immediate and Law bit down a satisfied smirk. So predictable as usual. In fact, each time he was looking for Eustass Kid, Law need exactly where to find him. To top the insult Law put on his best bored resting face and Kid didn’t need more to recall the dagger he was still holding. The blade pressed against Law’s ribs and slid down to find the hem of black and yellow hoodie. The cold metal against his skin made Law hissed as the dagger began to lift his clothes up. He felt the built-up tension he had carried all day turning into a much more pleasant one.

“Why did you come here for Law?” Kid growled with a low voice that Law couldn’t tell if it was more threatening or playful, “Since we are on this fucking island you pretend I don’t exist and now you come all the way here to piss me off?”

“There’s only one thing I want from you…” Law replied as his hand palmed Kid’s bulge through his pants. He saw Eustass’ lips parting and when Law got him where he wanted his tone dropped, “But if you ain’t up to the task I’ll look for someone else.”

A cold shower washed over Kid, and before he knew it he was seeing red. He dropped Law on his feet. Suddenly Kid was towering him again, his red hair falling on his displeased face. His free hand came up to Law’s neck and kept him pinned on the wall where he was. Trapped, at the mercy of the dagger that caressed its way down the pointy end of the heart tattooed on Law’s belly.

“Others you say?” Kid went on between his gritted teeth while the edge of the blade caught into the button closing Law’s pants. In a sharp move, the button was cut off and an involuntary shiver ran through Law’s entire skin. “How many fucked you so bad you came back begging me.”

Trafalgar gulped and his Adam’s apple rubbed against Kid’s palm. It wasn’t tight enough to Law’s taste yet.

“More than you can count,” Law answered with a sultry tone, “Maybe I should have gone for that first mate of yours. He seems to work wonders on the ones he’s doing.”

Kid’s gripped tightened on Law’s neck. Oh this is much better! Triggering his jealous side was such a child play, Law usually found that kind of foreplay unsatisfying. But right now all he wanted was unleashing Kid’s anger, hard and fast.

“Now all I need is someone to put me back to sleep. That doesn’t sound too hard for you?”

That was it for Kid. The anger that flashed in his red eyes would have been the same if Law had slapped him. In a blink the red haired man had turned him around and pushed Law’s face into the wall. The Heart captain felt Kid’s erection rubbing harshly against his ass. However, by the time Law opened his witty mouth again a shiny dagger stuck itself right beside his head. His heart jumped and Law realized too late that he wasn’t hurt but the shoulder and the hood of his top had been stabbed here. Pinning him up the wall like a trophy.

Enraged hands tore his pants opened and his spotted jeans dropped down to his knees. Law had barely put his hand flat on the wall to pull on his restrain, that he was weighed down under Kid’s body. The red haired pirate bit his ear possessively getting a strangled moan out of Law.

“Wanna get some sleep? Fine! I’m gonna fuck you till you pass out Trafalgar. And next time someone else will do you, the tearing in your ass will remind you that nobody fuck you like I do.”

Yes! Law was finally getting what he came for. And in a way he had a hard time admitting Kid was right about this. No one among his past booty calls had fucked his brain out like Eustass did. Seeing how they couldn’t stand each other it could only have ended in battle or in bed. Law was glad they managed to work out the second option. It had unexpectedly become the most pleasant way he’d found to relieve himself. He always came out of their intense making out sessions worn out and exhausted, with no recollection of his own name. It was just what he was craving right now! A moment of relief during which there would be no Trafalgar Law, no Donquixote or slave auction house. Just rough sexual outlet.

“Are you gonna act upon it or are these just fancy words?”

Just as he pronounced those words, Law felt Kid’s naked cock rubbing between his cheeks. Law parted his legs as Kid’s harsh grip bruised his hips and he brought him down on him. Kid’s length entered him fully in a single stinging and deliciously painful thrust; in spite of Law’s early preparations. But they didn’t need more to be satisfied. Their bodies shuddered under the same pleasure, making their breaths going harsh and erratic.

The slapping of their naked skin made Law’s head swirling. His whole body was shaken by Kid’s brutal thrusts. And each time he was brushing past the bundle of nerves inside Law, the Heart captain was arching his back to better fit their pace. His nails were scratching the old bricks, his arms barely holding him up, as moans were flowing freely out of his mouth. He needed more! He needed Kid to go faster! Harder!

Trafalgar should have worry about someone stumbling upon them. Fucking each other senseless in the darkness of a back alley. What a shame it would be, to be discovered like this. After all, their little arrangement had been a secret for over a year now and it would only go on if it remained secret. They both had a reputation to hold and feelings to ignore. But at this instant Law had already forgot everything outside of the cock pounding vigorously into him. There were hands manhandling him, urging him to submit and let go of everything holding him back. He was feeling precome leaking on his over sensitive length, begging for a release Law felt coming. And nothing else mattered.

Chapter Text

“This is a nightmare! How will the captain and Eustass Kid ever get along?” Penguin let his head down on the table.

“We don’t need them to go that far,” Killer argued, “Just behave enough not to jump on each other for… let’s say an hour.”

“I don’t know if that’s even possible!” Penguin whined against the wood.

“Will it kill you just to believe in them one second?”

Penguin lifted his head up and looked deep into the holes of the blue and white helmet. “Do you believe in Kid’s behavior?”

Killer was about to speak but then he stopped, “…sometimes.” He concluded, to what the hatted man laughed quietly.

Penguin couldn’t see it but Killer smiled too, while bringing his straw to his mouth. As many times before, he was glad the Heart pirate couldn’t see his face. He was smiling too often lately; it was so unlike him! The masked man had noticed some changes with his behavior. He was usually more in control of himself. But now he was still the same while acting different, it was unsettling. But most of it, Killer found himself worried about those changes. Would it mean Penguin will find him too different from the man he first met?

Killer’s eyes fell on said Penguin and all of that didn’t seem to matter so much.

The Kid pirate saw him glaring with curiosity toward his helmet. Since they spent the night together, and that Killer had been adamant about keeping it, Penguin didn’t ask again. But the masked man could sense that he would like to know the end of it, if given the chance.

If only you knew. What would you say? Killer thought. He took in the details of the Heart pirate, his hunched silhouette all clad in white and his tell-tale hat whom his reddish fingers was playing with the peak. Maybe during a calmer time?

Although they weren’t about to enter calmer times. On the contrary, the New World was ahead of them, meaning their journey was about to take a dangerous turn.

At that thought the masked man enjoyed to be just sitting at a terrace, with no other than someone– Killer search the right way to finish this sentence… whom he appreciated the company? Will do, the masked man shook off. He so rarely enjoyed little things like sitting somewhere without a ruckus going on, or several rounds of rum. Since the ship was in coating, his crew had scattered around the archipelago. It was odd not being with them for a while, but discussing strategy with Penguin made it bearable.

The Heart pirate and him rarely had the occasion to meet by day. So Killer appreciated the shining sun of Sabaody that was warming the place they had settled at. This grove was a bit fancier than the bars of the lawless area. It was nice for once to not worry about bounty hunters jumping on him behind every building. They had to be carefully of the increase presence of the marines around here but at least there weren’t people looking for robbing them as soon as they get out of the coffee house. When he actually took a look around, Killer witnessed a few people who couldn’t help but double checking their unusual looks, but they quickly go back to their walking. And Killer had completely ignored them! That was bad, he was usually more attentive.

“Are you with me?” Penguin asked.

“Yes! What were you talking about?”

Penguin’s eyes squinted. “That you can’t stay focused.” He flicked his finger against Killer’s helmet, earning a metallic ‘dong’. Oh, so that was what Penguin thinking?

The Heart pirate took a sip of his drink. But his tankard wasn’t wide enough to hide the subtle blush blooming on his cheekbones. Killer recalled how sharp and hot they felt under his fingers… Penguin was wrong, the masked man thought while devouring him with his well-hidden eyes. He could totally stay focus.

“You know what’s frustrating me the most?” Penguin continued. “After all these years spent by the captain’s side, I can’t figure out a sure way to make him behave.”

“Why would you need to do that?”

Penguin squinted at Killer from under his cap, “Because we need it for the alliance?”

Killer leaned on the table, closer to Penguin and his long blonde hair brushed the Heart pirate’s arm.

“Would Law be the same man you are willing to sacrifice yourself for, if he was so easily tamable?”

Killer’s words struck Penguin. He thought he was the most clairvoyant of them but the Kid pirate just proved him wrong.

“When Kid decided to be a pirate I called him a fool,” Killer told, his voice lost in the past, “He just laughed and eight years later I stole a boat with him and we set sails from our homeland without a look back. This was– and still is the best decision I ever made in my life. And each time I found myself doubting about what’s ahead of us or if we will make it, I remember the crazy smile Kid had when we first set sails… Anything was possible. Because he wasn’t afraid. We had taken our freedom by ourselves. And nobody will ever gonna take it away from us.”

Penguin breathed heavily, carried by this wind of freedom Killer described. He was feeling the excitement of the young Kid pirates at the dawn of their adventure. The sun blowing in their sails and the world ahead that they had yet to discover.

“I see what you mean… We follow them because they inspired us. And it wouldn’t be the case if they were reasonable men.” Penguin shook his head with a small smile. “And that’s why it is so difficult to prevent their reactions. We know them all too well.”

“So, what can prevent Law to be a smartass, and Kid to punch him in the face?” Killer summed up.

“That’s the one million bellies question,” Penguin sighed before he took another sip of his drink. “I can’t help but ask myself,” he continued after putting his tankard down, “How can we show them that it can work?”

“To begin with I don’t think Kid would be enchanted by the whole–” For lack of a word to put on them Killer pointed him then Penguin, “…situation.”

“Would he be that pissed off about our–” Penguin didn’t dare place another word on what they had than the one Killer used, “situation?”

“You could be anyone else he wouldn’t care. But a rival crew? Kid’ll have my head for that if he knew.”

Penguin’s eyes opened wide, horrified at the thought of what Killer was risking just spending time with him.

“Would he– kill you?” The hatted man worried sincerely.

Killer burst out of laughter at the sight of Penguin’s concerned face. Then the Heart pirate blushed seeing he fooled himself so brilliantly. Killer bit his bottom lip to stop his laughter.

“Were you worried about me one second?”

Penguin pouted, “Not just for one second, you prick!”

“I’m sorry,” Killer laughed, but his tone clearly sounded like he wasn’t. He found it funny, how mad he could have been with Penguin during their first conversations and now… now he just felt right to laugh and relax. “What would Law say if he knew?” The masked man asked in return.

The Heart pirate’s thin colorless lips tightened, “I think he suspects it somehow. He already knows we’re meeting secretly.”

“Clever, Trafalgar…” Killer commented before he drank a bit. The Kid pirate also remembered what the Heart captain did to his arm when he was brought aboard the submarine. Killer had yet to figure out what devil power Law possessed, and it wasn’t something he would ask Penguin about. As surely as he himself wouldn’t tell him about Kid’s powers. In fact, as the things were right now, Killer was more worried about what Law could do if he ever found out about Penguin and him than any of Kid’s outburst.

Now he was thinking about it, Killer didn’t think that talking their captains into an alliance on the basis of one awesome night in bed would really work in their favor.

 

“There’s something I didn’t mention earlier…” Penguin went on after a moment. “I’m not quite sure about it. But I think we can give it a try.” His voice was lower, sounding like he was about to say something that wasn’t actually worth to be heard.

Killer leaned on the table, his broad frame reducing the space between the Heart pirate and him. His sudden proximity brought Penguin back to that night they spent together… And he was the one blaming Killer earlier for not focusing. But how could he, when the masked man was wearing a shirt so wide open? Plus, the peak of cap was conveniently low, so that when he was looking up to Killer, his eyes would just see up to his broad chest. Don’t stare at his chest! Don’t stare at his chest! Penguin kept ordering himself.

“What is it?” Killer asked, unknowing about what was troubling Penguin’s mind.

The last cleared his throat, “Nothing is settle yet, but there are chances that the captain will go to the auction house soon. If our suspicions get confirmed, I’d say by two days.”

“I didn’t know Law participated in auctions. Are you guys that rich?”

“Not yet, no.” Penguin mocked. “Captain hasn’t told us about it yet, but if he made up his mind, it’ll be soon.”

“What are you worried about?”

“If we’re right… it’ll be at the Human Auctioning House.”

“What the f–!” Killer frowned, “Human auction! This is messed up.”

“This isn’t for us!” Penguin defended. “Captain needs to see something… If it gets confirmed, he’ll be there and we’ll be too.”

“What are you thinking about exactly?”

Penguin played with the hem of his cap, but he wasn’t actually nervous. Not anymore in front of Killer. “A big place, with a lot of witnesses–”

“So getting a public for the fight is your plan?” Killer mocked.

“No, you ass.” Penguin shoved him, before he took his hand off Killer’s sleeve while biting his lip. “I was just thinking it could prevent them from fighting too much.”

“Crowds tend to get Kid excited.” Killer wished he could joke about that, sadly too many stages had been ruined by his captain’s love for an audience. “Plus, the Human Auctioning House will most likely host Celestial Dragons.”

“The last persons anyone wants to piss off, I know… that was just a stupid idea,” Penguin sighed before looking down his tankard.

Following his instinct, Killer went with the want to lift Penguin’s cap up slightly. The masked man met his brown eyes and thought deeply. He lost himself a bit in them. Then an idea clicked in his head.

“Wait! The Celestial Dragons are the last persons anybody will piss off!”

“Yes? That’s what I just said.”

“They can act as the restraint we need!”

“You mean during the auction?”

“Yes! I bet my head that neither Kid nor Law would ever dare go on a rampage in the presence of Celestial Dragons!”

Penguin brightened up all of a sudden. “Nobody would come to that, unless they have a death wish! This could be our chance for them to sit and talk without tearing each other apart!”

He couldn’t believe they found it! The weight off Penguin’s chest suddenly flew away and he felt like he would reach the sky like the earth of Sabaody had blown air into him! The hatted man clenched his fist on his lap, fighting the urge to jump at Killer’s neck. The masked wouldn’t like that probably.

“Will you manage to get Kid there once I’ll be sure the captain would be?”

“Not the hardest thing,” Killer shrugged.

“What’s gonna be hard?”

Killer bit off the pervert comeback that almost passed his lips. This would have made his mates laugh for sure. However, in this situation, it just gave Killer some ideas.

“Well, first I’ll have to talk him to the idea of going to the auction house. A place Kid hates.” Penguin saw Killer had lifted his thumb up to count a first task. As his eyes were all focused on Killer’s hand on the table, the hatted man only found out about his second hand when it slipped on his thigh.

Penguin jumped slightly at the unexpected touch. But he didn’t dare say anything else. He checked around them but nobody seemed disturbed by the fact that Killer’s hand was on his lap.

“If he is in good company I’ll have to convince him to leave his room.” Killer continued with a serious tone, as if nothing had happened.

Penguin didn’t know what to do, but he didn’t get Killer’s hand off him. He hadn’t known how to act around Killer physically when they met earlier. Penguin wasn’t sure what had changed since they slept together. He was certain that he liked the Kid pirate’s hand where it was right now though. However… there were people around, no? What if they were seeing that? What would they say? As Killer kept exposing the hardship Kid could be, the hand didn’t move. Waiting.

So Penguin decided to play along. Clearing his throat, he commented, a bit too bluntly and with too much red eating his face, “’don’t see what’s so complicated about it.”

“I can go further in the matter if it helps you,” Killer replied with an audible smirk. And his hand on Penguin’s thigh progressed slowly upwards. Shivers were already running up Penguin’s leg all the way to his crotch.

“–if he’s not hungover it’d be easier but I can’t count on it so early in the morning so–”

Killer was still speaking but half of his sentences weren’t reaching Penguin’s brain. His mind was half busy by the touch of his warm hand on his thigh going up and up! The Heart pirate’s fists had clenched without him thinking about it. He wanted to lean into that touch but it would give him away to any exterior observer.

How could Killer remain so unshaken?! Penguin got angry. He couldn’t believe that the masked man had so much effect on him, yet Killer was showing nothing at all!

“I don’t know what’s the worst thing Law ever put you in but I can assure it has nothing to do with–”

Killer’s hand was rubbing his leg and the waterproof fabric of Penguin’s overall followed his move. The hatted man felt himself blushing heavily and he breathed to let out some steam. It seemed to no use though because the heat between his legs kept growing. The fabric of his clothing had become too tight around there already and Penguin fought the urge to wriggle his hips just to apply more pressure on his growing hard on.

“Maybe some help from the crew could be useful. No need to tell them the end of the plan… What do you think Penguin?”

At the mention of his name, the hatted man lifted his head up. His heart was racing, but he managed to get his focus back. When he found the control of his mouth again, Penguin opened it but was cut short by a new sneaky move. Killer’s hand had slid on his inner thigh, now so close to Penguin’s erection that he could easily touch it. This thought stole the Heart pirate’s words. He could feel the weight of Killer’s armband on his lap, and his palm caressing him. Penguin bit his lip hard not to let any compromising sound out but it was hard. He was hard!

“Here I thought you could help, but you just can’t focus do you?” Killer teased. He sounded almost disappointed and his hand began slipping away from Penguin’s leg.

Before it did so, the hatted man caught it. His jaws were so tight he had troubles opening his mouth to growl lowly, “If you don’t get your hands back on me I swear I’m gonna kick your ass right here and there!”

Penguin heard Killer smiling, “I don’t do that kind of thing in public.”

“Then I hope you have a room somewhere!”

“I thought you’d never ask.”


 

Killer grabbed the hatted man by the collar of his overall and pulled him into his hotel room. The room was bigger than what he was used to on the ship. Emptier even, without his blades and books. The hatted man almost tripped on the wooden floor but he caught himself up right on time.

Then he lifted his eyes up to the ceiling, which wasn’t made out of wood. It was only a giant bubble letting in the declining sunlight of Sabaody.

Killer was appreciating a different view. Penguin’s one, in the middle of his room. It was in fact better what he fantasized. It seemed to him that his heart was purring with content to have Penguin here. Just for him. It comforted the masked man into his idea of getting a decent room.

The time needed for the coating of the Kid pirates’ ship had forced the crew to find hotel rooms in the archipelago. So most of them had decided to booked in the same establishment, but Killer had taken the chance to get some privacy out of this deal. He did want a nice place where they could be alone. With a roof –or alike– and real bed.

He knew they should put their time left together to better use, but each second not spent, touching Penguin felt like a waste! The Kid pirate couldn’t focus on anything but the one who enticed him.

Killer took his time to come closer. Enjoying for once a treat that he didn’t have to share or to let the other take. Penguin was his, and that thought made him growl possessively. He found the idea of someone belonging only to him comforting.

 

Penguin turned away from the stripped trees and the blue sky, warned by his instincts that he was targeted. However, by the time his worn out boots changed of direction Killer had already invaded his personal space. Penguin hadn’t heard him moving and his sudden closeness made the pirate’s heart stammered in his chest. Penguin didn’t dare making a move, marvelously afraid that one wrong step would result in him getting eaten alive. Killer’s predatory stance reminded him of their chase their previous night. The thought of it sent thrills all over Penguin’s body.

The hatted man’s mouth opened. He wanted to say so many things. So much had happened and he wasn’t sure about where they stood exactly now. But Killer walked towards him and his breath had been taken already.

The Heart pirate didn’t dare to lick his drying lips. Instead he took a small step back whereas Killer progressed. Penguin gulped as he understood that he had no way out and suddenly the edge of the bed hit the back of his knees. All focused on Killer, Penguin lost his balance and his back hit the bed.

His limbs all spread out, made Killer’s mouth watered. He came forward until his knees touched the edge of the bed, right between Penguin’s legs. He looked so eager and inviting. As if he was only waiting for Killer’s next move. What did he do to deserve such a treat? For an instant the masked man wanted to voice it aloud but he held it back, afraid that he would spoil their moment. He didn’t want to break the tension they created.

His heart was hammering in his chest so brutally now it must have been deafening. Killer’s hand wandered over Penguin’s still clothed body. The lewd zipping sound of the overall came back to his mind and suddenly the Kid pirate had only one desire but to tear this piece of clothing off him.

Which he did.

The Heart pirate’s overall was tore opened under Killer’s grip and the zip broke in a worrying sound. Penguin’s jaw dropped, seeing the state of his clothing.

“You just rip my favorite jumpsuit.”

“Shit… Didn’t go as I expected to.”

“And how did you expected it to go exactly?”

“Sexier?”

To Killer’s relief, Penguin laughed it off but the hatted man’s concern was still visible. Killer didn’t know how he could make up to that and Penguin saw his discomfort too. He propped himself up on his elbows before he took his cap off. Penguin ran a hand through his half long hair and gave Killer a sweet smile, “It’s okay. Just, let me undress next time?”

“You do that well on your own if I recall.”

A blush spread on Penguin’s face. He bit his bottom lip trying to forget about his ruined overall, and searched for a good way to get back in a sexier mood as well. The masked man was still kneeled on the edge of the bed. Incredibly tall. Penguin was about to ask him to get down but–  no, stop talking, you gonna ruin the mood again, the Heart pirate thought.

Instead Penguin hooked his legs behind Killer’s ones and brought him forward. The masked man barely had time to catch himself that he fell forward on all four, sticking his hands on each side of Penguin’s face just on time. The last suddenly saw Killer’s armbands from very close, maybe too much. Ok, no such a smart move in the end!

Penguin brought his hands up to Killer’s chest over him. His fingertips ran tentatively along his scarred skin. Then the Heart pirate’s hands became more assured and wandered to the buttons of the polka dotted shirt. They came off easily and when Penguin reached the last ones, Killer sounded as short of breath as he was. Penguin grinned this time and caressed Killer’s tanned skin up to his broad shoulders to take his shirt off.

Killer sat up on Penguin’s lap to help him. They both sat like they did on the morning they woke up in the same bed. The memory off it was still vivid in their minds. The Heart pirate’s face came so close to Killer’s naked chest, that he could feel the heat radiating off his body on the tip of his nose. Penguin closed his eyes before his mouth met the hot tanned skin. He left a trail of kisses along his chest while pulling the polka dotted shirt down. Killer was so marvelously handso–

Penguin’s train of thought was interrupted at the end of Killer’s arms, where his armbands were still in place and forbid any removal of his shirt. They remained stuck like this for a second before moving both at the same time. Penguin to get up and Killer to grab his weapons but they only threw each other off balance. Killer gripped Penguin’s arm but he was half way up and they both fall down the bed.

All of a sudden Killer was crushed between the floor and Penguin and the air was knocked out of his lungs. To top it all something hit his helmet right on with a loud ‘dong’. Thankfully for Killer it wasn’t the first hit he received with his mask on. On the other hand, it was Penguin’s first time.

The Heart pirate held his forehead where a red bump was already forming. “Fuck! You’ve got a tough skull Iron head!”

“Are you ok?” Killer asked while putting both hands on Penguin’s legs to secure him. But a slight amusement was peeking inside his voice from having fallen so stupidly off the bed.

“No!” Penguin whined indignantly but the corners of his lips betrayed that Killer’s laugh began to win over him. “I’m hurt!”

The Kid pirate began to laugh more frankly, “Want a healing kiss?”

“No! Keep your damn Iron face away from mine!” Penguin pushed him down for the form. He started laughing genuinely too, overwhelmed by Killer’s mood. What the hell was happening to them?

“Ain’t we looking like two idiots? Laughing because we can’t make out properly.”

“You’re right!” This time Killer’s frame was shaking under his laughter, “I never failed so hard getting into a guy’s pants!”

They both laughed for a few minutes until their bellies protested and their cheeks hurt. For the first time since they entered Killer’s hotel room, they were completely at ease. Free of the earlier tension. Once assured he wasn’t going to hurt any of them, Penguin let himself falling carefully next to Killer. Then gazed at the bubble ceiling were the sky had taken the orange and pink of the sunset.

“I don’t get it,” Penguin finally said. “What did we do wrong this time?”

“I don’t know,” Killer replied. “Maybe it only works when we get on a dangerous mission first?”

“I’m not getting inside another Navy ship with you ever again!” Penguin stated firmly while elbowing Killer. “You’re too reckless.”

Behind his mask Killer pulled on a ‘I can’t argue against that’ face of approval.

“Seriously, it felt so easy the first time…” Penguin bit his lips and fetched his cap on the floor before putting it back on his head.

Killer felt that Penguin was holding back something, so he kept quiet the time the hatted man gathered his thoughts. He wanted to hear him say whatever he needed to. Anything he felt like to. Killer realized he wanted Penguin to feel free to say anything to him.

Finally, Penguin looked at him, “I can’t help but thinking– How can we hope bringing our captains to get along if we can’t even do this right? I mean we kinda founded our belief in this alliance on the basis that we–”

“Eh,” Killer interrupted him, “First, our captains and us have nothing to compare with. We are in completely different settings and second: yes. We failed this. Monumentally! And it was the first time in weeks I hadn’t laugh like that.”

“I don’t usually laugh at bed,” Penguin frowned. “It’s more a moment for– well… You know!” Penguin had trouble phrasing out his bedroom activities now.

“What? For smooshing? Making out? Fucking till your ass get sore and you can’t remember your own name?” Killer mocked playfully.

“Yeah, all that.”

“Then you missed some pretty good time in a bed Flightless Bird,” Killer told as he grabbed the Heart pirate’s hand and pressed it against him.

It was weird. Usually when one of Penguin’s partner had pointed out something that went wrong, he felt ashamed and couldn’t wait to run away. He usually didn’t want to stay snuggled against them on the floor of their bedroom.

What was happening to him, he wondered. His logical sense had cowardly fled him and he didn’t know what his next course of action could be now. He was lost while feeling right where he should be. Then he started to worry.

“Did you already fail that much?”

“Who cares? This isn’t a contest. All I care about is that we didn’t keep going until one of us get accidentally stabbed.”

“That would have definitely ruined the mood,” Penguin snorted then he twisted his mouth. He thought sadly that they wouldn’t be able to get back in the mood after that. “I guess, even if we failed this, it wasn’t all bad in the end.”

“It wasn’t what we planned,” Killer corrected as he cupped Penguin’s face. “But I’d love to fail again with you.”

Penguin opened his mouth then closed it, and let his blush eating his face. That was the nicest thing a lover said to him. Wait! Lover? Shit! The Heart pirate realized he forbid himself to think about Killer in those terms. In fact, it was– this four letter word he didn’t want to think about. He instantly felt a connection with Killer, from the moment they sat down and opened up to each other for the first time. Since then a warm feeling had grown inside Penguin. Something that had grown too much for him to ignore it any longer.

Their relationship had evolved to something bigger than he’d planned. To the point Penguin was now feeling more confident around Killer than he had been with any partner in a long time. Penguin trusted Killer, in a weird sort of way in which he couldn’t tell how they would act in front of their crews, but he was certain as he lied by Killer’s side that he would never hurt him. Penguin let the feeling sink in and he breathed more freely. He wasn’t foolish enough to hope for love. But trust. Hell yeah he would take it. How odd… he had always been afraid that the pirate life would always keep him away of experiencing something true with another person, romantically speaking. Yet he did. And he couldn’t believe it was with a Kid pirate.

Penguin brought the peak of his cap to touch Killer’s helmet and whispered, “Thank you.”

Killer saw Penguin getting up and taking down the upper half of his broken overall. He lost his gaze on Penguin’s pale and tattooed skin, showing from the black tank top he was wearing underneath.

“Alright,” The Heart pirate smirked as he finished tying the arms of his overall around his hips. “I’m starving. Wanna grab something?”

Killer looked up to him and grinned, “Hell yeah.”

Chapter Text

Penguin huffed, his nape sweaty from running all around the room. His chest heaved and he thanked once more his beloved hat for shielding his eyes from the drops he felt rolling down his face.

He made his spear twirled rapidly and caught Wolf’s sword before it touched his tattooed shoulder. The weapons parted as quickly as they met and Penguin kicked Clione who had taken the chance to attack him behind his back. Penguin stopped the twirling of his spear behind his back and offered his unguarded head to his mates.

The hatted man smiled at their annoyed faces. They knew well that he was deliberately offering his head. They tried to turn around him but every distraction that they tried had failed up to now. The training room of the submarine was resonating with their careful steps. On the sides, the other Heart Pirates, had long stop their own training to watch the show.

On Penguin’s right Clione jumped in the air and launched his hammer at the first mate’s head. The steely weapon hit the ground where Penguin was a second before, making the metal floor rang at the hit. Clione grumbling between his teeth.

“You’re too slow mate!” Penguin warned, “Your stance’s right but try to get faster!”

Clione jumped on Penguin, whirling his hammer over his head. His weapon was heavy and hit hard but his moves suffered from the weight of it. The shaft of Penguin’s spear landed on Clione’s head while the first was carried away by the weight of his weapon. Then Penguin turned around and blocked Wolf’s sword right before it hit him. The tongue of his mate was still hanging out his mouth and Penguin didn’t resist knocking his chin up.

Wolf yelped and pulled his tongue inside his mouth while closing his eyes shut. Penguin took advantage of his adversary blinding himself to sweep him off his feet. Then Penguin turned to his only opponent left. However, he’d been a little too distracted.

Clione’s hammer came from his right and Penguin was forced to jump quickly, unbalancing himself. He spun but his stance was weakened and he had to look away from his opponents for a moment. Wolf’s sword was already on the hatted man before he had time to lift his spear and his mate grinned sticking his tongue out again…

Clink! The eyes of Penguin’s mates opened wide when he blocked the sharp sword with his naked arm. The blade had stopped on the shiny black coat that had covered the first mate’s arm up to the elbow. Penguin smiled and divert the blade before letting go of the armament haki.

Clione put his hammer down with a scowl, “You can’t do that! That’s not fair!”

Half of the Heart pirates began to laugh at his complain.

“You think anybody’s gonna play fair with you?” Shachi replied from the viewers’ side. The Heart pirates turned around, surprised to hear his voice behind them. He was usually so loud that everybody forgot that Shachi could be discreet when he wanted to.

“Why don’t you come down here instead of giving lessons?” Clione shouted back with a mean smirk while leaning on his weapon.

The red haired pirate got off the wall that he was leaning on with a smile. “I got work to do guys, Captain said we’ll have to move the submarine by the end of the morning.”

“So, it’s true? We’re changing of spot?” Ikkaku asked above the boys’ voices.

“Yes.” Shachi confirmed and then he looked at Penguin knowingly. “It looks like there is a little too much marines in the area since one of their ships got damaged…”

The first mate put on a sheepish face. He and Killer’s robbery didn’t go as smooth as they planned and increased the number of marines on Sabaody. As if the gathering of the Worst Generation wasn’t enough to put everybody on edge already. So Law decided not to risk anything and find a safer location for the Polar Tang.

They resumed the training and everybody got in motion. In no time, the Heart pirates’ ship disappeared under the surface, bothering the fishes in the area who fled at the departure of the yellow submarine.

They had to be careful of where they were going around the archipelago. Some areas were so thick with the soap of the trees that it could easily solidify on the back propellers and block the engines. The operation took them a good part of the day and when they finally resurfaced, the sun had already begun his descent.

The crew found itself in the galley to have a late lunch all together and this time, their captain granted them his company. In fact, Law seemed less tensed than the day prior and Bepo didn’t hide his good mood seeing that his captain was doing better. He was more loud and joyful than usual and, rare fact, he managed to get a snort out of Law.

They feasted of delicious fried vegetables and seafood from Sabaody. Between the beautiful weather and the abundance of food, the Heart pirates had settle into a comfortable routine, very unlike the hardship that were waiting for them behind Red Line.

By the end of their late lunch, Law called for everyone’s attention.

“Most of you already know it, but today’s journal reported that Monkey D. Luffy has been seen approaching Sabaody. Also it’s not the only reason we’ll be staying longer on the archipelago.” Law’s grey eyes passed on the attentive faces of his mates. “I have come across an old enemy of ours on this very island. Jean Bart.”

His announcement provoked a mix of wide opened eyes and smiles full of memories. But regardless of their reactions, the Heart pirates weren’t about to forget their encounter with the Bart pirates. It was a story they loved telling when they wanted to let their reputation known. Defeating Bart’s crew, despite that they were outnumbered, was the first feat of the freshly formed Heart pirates.

“How is he doing? He still wants his revenge after the Mint Leaves islands?”

The Heart pirates recalled the fiery battle that they won that day. They had only been on Grand Line for a few weeks while Bart was already a known captain. He was their first real enemy and the Heart pirates fought with all they had. They won, took Bart’s treasures as their reward and it was known that Bart was looking for a rematch since then.

For a while they had their fun following all his efforts to pursuit them through Grand Line for a few months. A submarine was a challenge to follow but Bart was a force of nature and a good sailor.

Penguin recalled how during that pursuit a marine ship once targeted Bart’s one; all focused on chasing them he hadn’t seen the Navy on his own trail. So out of respect of their enemy, the Heart pirates took care of the marines one night. Law stole the heart of the Navy commander and threw it in the ocean as a warning. If he was bothering them again, he would do far worse to him.

With bright faces, the Heart pirates quieted down to hear some news about their old enemy.

“Bart’s men were captured by the Navy and he has been enslaved by Celestial Dragons. I received the confirmation earlier today that he was on Sabaody at the time we speak.”

The crew’s good mood faded a little at Law’s announcement, but their captain remained unbothered.

“They will certainly attend to the Human Auction House tomorrow; the Celestial Dragons never miss an auction when they land here. So we’ll meet him there.”

“You want to go in that awful place?” Marv gulped while playing with his hat.

“And buy his liberty if we can,” Law nodded.

Penguin and Shachi nodded and a general approval went throughout the crew at this idea.  They still had plenty of gold from their journey in Paradise. The first mate was about to tell Shachi a joke about that when he noticed a gesture from Law. It was so tiny that he could have easily missed it but he recognized the way he laid his fingers flat on the table. A habit he took to not twist them in worry.

Law was still preoccupied somehow and Penguin suspected why. Law wouldn’t talk about it, but the hatted man was ready to bet Donquixote was behind this. They will find out the end of it when the captain would be ready to share it. Whether Penguin was right or wrong, they would be there for him when he needs them.

Law seemed to feel his first mate’s eyes lingering on him and shot him a thoughtful look. “I’m gonna keep studying in my quarters. The charts you brought back are very resourceful Penguin.”

“Because we have the best first mate!” Wolf shouted happily. The table cheered in agreement and Penguin’s cheeks reddened instantly.

“The Navy is going to keep their wits about them now,” the Surgeon of Death reminded his mates and with a cunning smile he added, “But it was worth it. With theirs maps we can have a head start on the others once we’ll be in the New World.”

At the mention of navigation to a new place, Bepo lifted his head up while munching on raw fish. Law absent-mindedly scratched between his fluffy ears. The polar bear made a content face and Law’s eyes landed on his fluffy companion, “I’ll need your advice on a new path once you’re finished.” He informed Bepo. The last chewed an ‘Alright!’ before Law got out of the table.

 

Penguin jumped after him, Shachi on his heels. But by the time they got out of the galley Law had almost reached his quarters. The Heart captain was spending quite a lot of time in his room at the back of the submarine. Everything was impeccably clean although Law’s stuff was spread here and there on most of the available furniture. When Penguin and Shachi knocked at his opened door, Law was rearranging the maps of the New World on his large desk.

His cabin was located deep under the floating line but filled with many portholes that were letting in a blueish light inside the captain’s quarters. It was both beautiful and weird in a way Shachi and Penguin had sometimes the impression of going down a monster’s den. Fortunately for them, they had been dismembered and reassembled enough not to fear the Surgeon of Death anymore. Well less often at least.

“Did I forget something?” Law asked without lifting his eyes of the documents he was reading.

“No, actually it’s me,” Penguin started, “I forgot to tell you something captain.” He took a step forward gathering his courage, “I didn’t steal these documents from the marines on my own.”

Law’s eyes slid on Shachi who was standing at the door, he was half inside, intrigued by their conversation, half outside in case it’d turn into an argument.

Penguin saw on his captain’s face that he was calculating. Shachi weren’t with him because the last was there early in the morning whereas Penguin came home later. And Law was certain that if any of his men had gone on this mission with Penguin he would have heard about it– of course… Law thought.

“The Massacre Soldier?”

Penguin gulped. He knew that his captain would make the connection quickly. In spite of this, he couldn’t help but feeling like a teenager caught sneaking out.

“Did he threaten you to do it?” Law inquired, but it appeared unlikely to his own ears.

“No!” Penguin replied, “We… both agreed to this plan.”

“Does Killer expect me to wipe out his debt because of this?” The Heart captain declared pointing out the maps, “If that’s so, it’s not–”

“It was the intent… originally,” Penguin interrupted, “But we ended up splitting the loot between the both of us.”

“You mean you had twice of what you brought back?” Law opened his eyes with sharp interest.

“Yes. And we could have so much more this way.” The first mate’s heart was pounding as the hope of opening Law’s eyes became real. Even if it was in a more literal sense to begin with Penguin would take it.

“We never had troubles stealing from the Navy before,” Law recalled while sitting on his desk, “Then you pair up with a Kid pirate and the whole Navy on the island is getting out of its mind.”

They were going down a path that Penguin wanted to avoid at all cost. Because at the end of it his captain would have made up his mind. Never Penguin admired a man more than Trafalgar Law. He would follow him into the jaws of death because without him Penguin wouldn’t be the man he is today. Law was a very sensible man, but once he had decided on something, nothing couldn’t change his mind. Like for the Kid pirates. But Penguin had to try anyway.

“Killer helped me get these maps.”

Law’s grey eyes pierced right through Penguin. He had the impression of being dissected and despite his uneasiness Penguin didn’t move an inch.

“Was it before or after you slept with him?”

Against his will Penguin’s mouth opened wide, horrified that his captain came to this true conclusion by himself. An intense blush covered Penguin’s face. He couldn’t speak anymore, and his silence had just given him away.

“H–how did you…?”

“You’re not the most discreet and this a small ship,” Law smiled smugly, “Marv overheard Shachi screaming in your room the other day. It wasn’t complicated to connect the dots.”

Penguin glared daggers at Shachi who shrugged guiltily. Sorry mate! The ginger said wordlessly.

“I swear to you captain, what’s between me and Killer has nothing to do with the maps or–”

“It has everything to do with it, on the contrary.” Law insisted firmly, “First you want to help a pirate from another crew. And when you get what you want, you suddenly find a new meaning in your collaboration? I’m afraid you’re not seeing it through Penguin.”

“I–”

“You are a valiant warrior and a good first mate.” Hearing this from his captain, moved Penguin deeply. He knew Law wouldn’t have him by his side if he wasn’t good enough, but… it was the first time Law ever said it at loud. The Heart captain crossed his arms and looked right into his first mate’s eyes, “I know you only want the best for the crew because you care about the Heart pirates. But that is also your greatest weakness. You care too much and I’m afraid you are being abused by your own feelings.”

Penguin’s shoulders dropped in defeat. That was it. His captain had made up his mind. The underwater cabin felt suddenly really cold as the hope that was galvanizing him before turned into dust, leaving him empty.

Law passed behind his desk and sat on his comfy chair, “I think you’re right on one thing though.”

The first mate lifted his head up.

“We could use allies.”

Did he hear right? Fucking hell, that was all Penguin asked for! Law’s consideration. It was all he needed in fact, a chance to change his mind. With Killer’s help he knew they could do it. The Kid pirates had a lot offer: men, influence, firepower, and a will stronger than everything they saw up to there.

The first mate bowed his head in respect. He knew well by now that his captain would take his own decision. But Penguin succeeded to make him glimpse the possibility of an alliance. He knew Law was going to think about it and that was a hopeful first step.

 

Penguin and Shachi left their captain’s quarters and went directly to the upper levels where the artificial lights were for once replaced by the bright one of the declining sun. The two friends navigated through the narrow corridors of the submarine and it seems to them that they were depressurizing the upper they get. They breathed more lightly, thankful for being able to see the sky and hear the reflux of the sea right under them. They loved their submarine but a bit of sun was so agreeable from time to time.

The familiar pipes running on the walls and the ceiling guided their feet to the entrance of the crew’s quarters. Some of the pipes were painted to signal what was inside and notes from the crew members had been left near the them. Simple reminders, jokes or death threats it varied:

Oil pipe

Water pipe

Wrong pipe

This was supposed to be red but Clione fucked it up

The notes near the pipes had migrated on the walls next to their cabins doors and at almost every corner, colorful notes had bloomed.

Shachi has a body pillow

It’s a pillow for my back!

I think you spelled ‘Dick’ wrong

Sometimes it would come back to actual maintenance topic.

Don’t touch that lever!

And sometimes not.

What do you not understand in DON’T TOUCH THE FUCKING LEVER?!

Weather of the day: water leaks

Spoiler alert: it’s not water

Captain before coffee is your worst enemy

This filter needs to be changed, there’s fur in it’ Followed by unintelligible scribbles because Bepo’s handwriting was worse than a doctor’s one.

Whoever took my toothbrush is a dead man

Because of your bad breath?

Most of the conversations on the walls had escalated quickly into silly written wars. It went to the point that Law had to forbid any tags outside of the crew’s quarter. Which now made their part of the submarine very colorful both literally and literary.

Penguin and Shachi stopped by an opened porthole next to which was a tracking table keeping the score between who kicked whose ass at the training. Shachi absent mindedly added two crosses in Penguin line for having beaten Wolf and Clione earlier this morning. The captain was off the chart of course since his level was way higher than any of them. So instead the Heart Pirates began to list the abilities he discovered with his devil fruit power. Law wasn’t fond at all of having all his abilities on display for any clever enemy to find out at the corner of a hall. So to fix it the crew decided to fool a potential ill-intentioned person by writing all kind of powers for their captain. He currently could: Spit lighting, bring dead pirates to life, remove your senses, tell your chances of survival on a scale from one to ten, make your blood stop and pull lollipops out of thin air.

Shachi looked down at the ‘make your blood stop’ inscription and was wondering if the captain couldn’t actually do that. He gulped and looked back at his first mate, “Well, that went… better than I expected.”

“At least this time he didn’t cut anything, cursing Kid on thousand generations.”

The corners of Shachi’s mouth unwillingly came up and they started laughing wholeheartedly. Not as comfortable as they usually were but relieved that things weren’t weird after Penguin’s shenanigans. Many things happened since they first accosted on Sabaody and Penguin realized that he hadn’t been much here for Shachi lately. Guilt started to eat him up again.

 “Sorry for everything. I haven’t been here for you lately and you keep helping me with this. Maybe the captain is right… Maybe I just think with my dick here.”

“Yes, and it’s not a bad thing in the end!” Shachi genuinely told.

“Wanna try that again?” Penguin frowned with an uncredulous smirk.

“What I’m trying to say is that the captain being the captain, he needs to see the bigger picture you know? He shields himself from any sentiment so he can take the hard decisions nobody could take instead. But you are his first mate. You can bring him the part he lacks of.”

“Feelings?”

“Yeah,” Shachi exclaimed, “You care about people. And no matter what the captain said, it’s a strength!”

Rare were the moments when one of them called out their captain from being wrong. Law was basically their hero. He was the core of the Heart pirates and the center around the whole crew revolved. But what Shachi told opened new perspectives in Penguin’s mind and his red haired friend continued.

“Our captain is strong and without a doubt the smartest of us. But the more I see us moving forward, closer to the New World and to the One Piece the more I said to myself that together we are as strong as he is.” Shachi turned his eyes toward the horizon turning pink, “Alone we didn’t worth shit compare to other pirates, but as soon as I put this suit on I felt accepted, I had people I looked for and that cared about me… I would have never get as strong as I am now if you all didn’t support me. We fought and laughed and cried our heart out together!”

The red haired pirates turned back to Penguin and crossed his best friend’s eyes.

“Law is the best leader we could have dreamt of but without us to care about him and believe in him there is no Heart pirates.” Shachi had a small laugh and jabbed his finger in Penguin’s chest. “You made me saw that.”

Penguin gaped foolishly at his friend. Shachi was a specialist of silly pranks but he happened to have some very enlightening moments like that, that kept sweeping Penguin off his feet. It was funny to think they used to be so jealous of each other. And now it would never cross their minds to undertake a journey in the New World without the other by their side. They were part of the same family. Shachi was absolutely right. They were the Heart pirates.

“Wasn’t it me who was trying to say nice things about you?”

“Nice try but I won’t let you go with just a sugar coat. I covered you and your not-boyfriend.”

“For the last time we just had sex, it’s not like we were married or anything!” Or if we kissed… Penguin thought bitterly and regret letting this parasite thought coming to his mind. He shouldn’t think about it so regretfully.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever you call it, if you think I’m not gonna use your guilt to my advantage until I own your ass, you’re seriously mistaken my subaquatic friend.”

“Pff, give me your price you pirate!”

“OK, there’s this new tattoo I was working on–”

“Oh no! Don’t even dream about it, my ass will stay untouched,” Penguin crossed his arms, adamant, “Ask me something else.”

Shachi bit down a perverse comment about Penguin’s choice of words but he abstained himself. He reset his sunglasses on his nose before he suddenly exclaimed: “Oh I know! Tell me how you did it?”

Penguin frowned before Shachi explained: “The haki.”

The hatted man wasn’t surprised, in fact he expected Shachi to ask him about it sooner. In fact, Penguin was so sure about it, that he didn’t give it much thought before. When Shachi asked him though, he knew exactly how he could pass it on him.

“You remember the Rocky Port? When we attacked the first troop of marines together?”

Shachi would always remember that day. He has never felt so scared that when he had to fight alongside Penguin against whole troops of armed soldiers, with only his fists and his will to fight. It had been a semi disaster in a way that they got badly hurt but they managed to steal what would become later the Polar Tang.

“Hmm yeah…” Shachi answered feeling the reassuring metal of their beloved ship; he waited for Penguin to get to his point.

“Remember the feelings you had at this moment, when we had nothing and all our mates were in danger.”

“That’s not hard.”

But for Penguin, Shachi made the effort to focus. They were on their own that day and it was up to them to free the crew. So much weighed on their shoulders and Shachi would always thank their sheer luck for getting away from this nightmare.

Well… they had been lucky for sure but he couldn’t deny they put a hell of a fight too. Back then, they were the only ones able to save their friends from getting killed. Shachi still had this anguish emotions twisting his gusts sometimes… well right before every battle actually. Something in his guts wanted him to give everything he had and what he hadn’t too! It wasn’t up to him to save his mates anymore, but he kept wanting to draw into unimaginable resources to keep them safe. And he knew Penguin shared this feeling.

“That’s it. Hold on to that.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, just focus on those feelings,” Penguin told confidently. “And try to bring back what the captain told us about the breath.”

Shachi twisted his mouth but he complied anyway. He breathed out by his mouth and in by his nose, letting his belly follow the move. He felt silly and then Penguin said:

“Ok, now hit me.”

His best friend didn’t hesitate and punched straight at Penguin’s face. Shachi’s features were closed and concerned at the memory of the battle Penguin invoked, but his will to fight for what he cared about felt bigger than everything else. Then the sudden sound of a hit again the metal wall echoed loudly in the corridors and Shachi opened his eyes.

Where Penguin’s head was just a second ago, Shachi’s black coated fist had bent the wall of metal. When he slowly got it out, he left a hand imprint behind him. The sensation was very unexpected. All the part covered in black armament haki felt numb when at the same time, each one of his nerves were tickled by the slightest movement of the air. Shachi grinned at his black hand, folding and unfolding his fingers like he was seeing them for the first time.

“Oh this is great!” Then he looked at the wall he damaged and his smile faded instantly, “Oh I’m so fucked! Uni is gonna use my head to fix that wall.”

Penguin burst out of laughing and put a hand on Shachi’s shoulder, “Yup, it was nice knowing you man.”

“Hey, nobody can tell it was me! They all think that you’re the only one who find the way to use the haki.” Shachi said wickedly and pushed Penguin further down the hall. “I was never here!”

“Come back here you traitor!” Penguin shouted after him. The first mate dashed after the red haired pirate and they shoved each other against the walls like children.

Despite his speed though, Shachi had always been the fastest. The hatted man saw the shock of red hair disappearing through their doorway and the metal door slammed shut followed by Shachi’s devious laugh.

“Shachi open up! I’m gonna kick your ass!”

For while Penguin only heard a ruckus in their room. What was this moron up t–? A sudden frightened scream came from behind the door before it stopped brutally.

“Shachi?” Penguin started to worry.

He took the door knob and breathed in and out. The first mate’s hand turned black and the bolt yield under his grip. For once, their room was flooded with direct sun. With the Polar Tang being out of the water for the most part, the light had been allowed to come inside the upper rooms of submarine. And near the porthole, between their beds and their small furniture was Shachi. The red head was glaring daggers at Penguin. His sunglasses had fallen half off his face and his mouth shut by Killer’s hand.

 

His white and blue mask was staring at Penguin and the Kid pirate lifted one finger up to the level of his mouth. Killer was dripping wet, looking like he caught Shachi right before he signaled his intrusion to the entire submarine. His polka dotted shirt was sticking to his chest and his jeans had taken a darker color with the water. His wet hair was falling down, lower than they used to. He offered quite a dreamy vision that made Penguin’s mouth suddenly dry.

He had to calm his heart down as it was about to burst out of his chest. Killer was here. In flash and mask, forming an unsettling sight in the middle of their bedroom full of games, posters and dirty underwear.

“How the hell did you get here?!” Penguin whispered his jaw hanging so low he feared it would never be able to close it again.

“I swam.” The masked man answered as if it was the obvious.

It seemed to Killer that they hadn’t seen each other in months. He took in every detail of the Heart pirate from the way he stood to the pale color of his skin. The declining sun had started to bathe the room in orange tones. So the kid pirate didn’t dare to come further, just to not cast any shadow on that vision.

“You’re crazy!” Penguin went on, crossing for him the few steps separating them, “My captain promised to cut you to pieces if he finds you here again! And he’s a man of his words!”

“I needed to see you but the sub had disappeared.” Killer’s voice was hardly hiding the fear that took over him when he didn’t find the Heart pirates’ ship. But he knew Penguin wouldn’t run away like that. Not after all they accomplished together. “Changing location was a smart move, with all the marines running around. You chose your spot well, I had a hard time finding you.”

Penguin shook his head, trying to come to his senses, but he stopped listening after Killer said, I needed to see you.

“What was so important that you had to risk losing your head to see me?”

Behind Killer’s hand Shachi rolled his eyes, but he paid attention to the masked man’s answer.

“Kid agreed to come. I had to be pretty damn convincing for him to agree showing in a place like a human auction, but he’ll be there.”

Penguin was impressed. He knew the Captain Kid listened closely to his first mate, yet he seemed to constantly forget about Killer negotiating skill.

“What did you tell him?”

Truly, Penguin wanted to know. Although he knew his relationship with Law was quite different to say the least from Killer and Kid’s one.

“I didn’t reveal him anything major; I simply coax him into the idea of getting an advantage for the journey in the New World. He trusts me enough not to ask more questions but it’s better worth it.”

The hatted man caught a slight worry, gritting Killer’s voice at the end. Penguin couldn’t tell if he was nervous or if he wanted Penguin to be up to his efforts. Mostly, the masked man sounded as worry as Penguin had been, regarding the success of this alliance.

“Law will be there too,” The Heart pirate reassured, “He doesn’t like Kid any better, but he’s interested by getting allies. I’m sure together we can show him what we’re capable of!” The perspective to have Killer backing him up was comforting. He felt stronger, reinforcing the idea that this alliance could bring out new strengths for all of them.

Killer knew it was risky, yet he was sure that their captains won’t flee such occasion to discuss a matter so important. Enable to fight in front of the noble crowd and with their first mates to guide them in this new direction… His chest lifted with hope.

“We’ll show them,” The Kid pirate assured, “But first I wanted to– I swear if you keep trying to bite my hand–!” Killer let Shachi go with a growl and the red haired pirate flee while whipping his mouth, finally free of the blonde’s grip.

“Ugh, great! I’m all wet thanks to you! No pun intended!” Shachi corrected instantly, “Keep your hands to yourself!” He replaced his sunglasses right on his nose and lifted his chin up with the little dignity left to a man that was surprised in his own room, “Make a Denden mushi call next time.”

“I don’t have your snail number.” Killer countered.

“Yeah that’s it…” Shachi squinted his eyes, “Look for an excuse.”

Clearly the red haired Heart pirate didn’t hold Killer in his heart before and it wasn’t about to change. In bad faith, he planted himself behind Penguin and didn’t let the Kid pirate go off his sight.

“I’m glad you came,” Penguin began.

“Pun intended?” Killer mocked and Shachi backed away in defeat.

“You Kid pirates are gross. He’s all yours Pen.”

“Don’t pay attention to him,” Penguin told Killer with a small laugh.

“Oh I’m not listening to this intruder anymore don’t worry!” Shachi shouted from the back of the room indignantly.

Killer sat on the edge of the porthole and Penguin stayed closed, unwilling for Shachi to over ear them, as if they were about to spill out dark secrets. Or maybe because he loved how close they were right now. The scent of salt and soap was lingering on the masked man, bringing memories back. The bright declining sun was making Killer’s skin a wonderful golden brown color. Penguin had to fight not to linger on the droplets that were still running down the masked man’s body.

Killer had remained quiet, but Penguin felt his eyes on him. Through his mask… the Heart Pirate realized that at his distance and with the help of the light he could almost see through its holes. However, he didn’t dare peaking, feeling too invasive of Killer’s private space.

Instead Penguin reached out for Killer’s hand on the top of his thigh– then he dropped the idea half way, not entirely about whether Killer would like it or not. So Penguin’s hand ended dropping on the masked man’s wet jean. And he left it there, unsure about what to do next.

Killer looked down at the Heart pirate, searching his brown eyes under the yellow peak of his cap. He was so rarely seeing them that Killer just noticed he learnt more things about the bottom half of Penguin’s face. How his nose moved when he was upset or excited, the way his thin pale mouth was twisting in various smirks or disappearing completely when the hatted man felt sheepish.

“Looks like our plan is all wrapped up. In fact, we’ve met a lot lately, so we could make it work and bring us to work together,” Killer started and Penguin sensed he was beating about the bush, but he let him time to come to his point. It was so rare seeing him looking for words.

While he was searching, Penguin felt the tickling of Killer’s fingertips brushing past his, “So I’ve been thinking– wondering, before we get to the New World, if I could get a chance to meet… you?” The masked man’s fingers slowly entangled with his as he spoke with that deep voice that never missed to make Penguin trembling, “Just you.” Killer told, “Without expectation or duty. I want this night to be ours. What do you say?”

“Hell yeah he wants to!” Shachi shouted from the back of the room unable to contain himself anymore, “Sorry but that was smooth as fuck. Doesn’t mean I’m on your side though.” He warned Killer.

Penguin startled having forgotten Shachi’s presence. Oh man, he heard everything… everything Killer said and Penguin agreed with the Kid pirate. They never actually met without their crews’ interests in mind. It was always with a hidden agenda before it became… more. He gulped when he turned back to the Killer, unable to suppress the blush eating his cheeks or the fluttering of his damn heart, as their fingers remained entangled, “I’d love to have you for the night… and get to know you better–”

“Who the fuck dented the wall?!” The angry voice interrupting from the corridor was without a doubt Uni who just discovered the damage done to the submarine. “Penguin! You better have a fucking good explanation Haki-boy!”

Shachi snorted as Penguin glared daggers at him. The hatted man crossed Killer’s eyes.

“You should go.”

“Wait,” Killer stopped, holding himself to the frame of the porthole, “Tonight, when and where?”

“9 pm, at the park. But we better not be late for the auction,” Penguin answered quickly with his hand to Killer’s chest, ready to push him outside.

“I’ll wake you up in the morning,” Killer assured softly, leaning toward the Heart pirate.

In the morning… that thought left Penguin all dreamy and now he was sure he looked like a smiling idiot but he didn’t give a single damn anymore. Unfortunately, the angry steps of his mate approaching brought him back to reality.

“Now go before anyone sees you!”

“Are you throwing me out?” Killer jested. He wouldn’t confess it aloud, but the idea of fleeing by Penguin’s window like a secret lover about to get cut in pieces had him all excited. What was happening to him he had no idea, but he liked it!

“For your own sake, I won’t hesitate,” Penguin assured with a firm voice and his hand pressed on the masked man’s chest with strong intent.

Killer didn’t resist pressing Penguin’s buttons, he loved too much his displays of strength, “As if you could really do it.”

To Killer’s surprised Penguin shook his head and back down. Then he lifted his head and a smile appeared on his thin colorless lips. At the last second, the masked man saw Penguin’s stance and he smiled too.

“9 pm, don’t be late,” Penguin ordered while lifting his leg up and then he kicked the Kid pirate out of his window.

Killer disappeared in a blink and soon the sound of his landing into the sea followed. Penguin leaned out of the porthole and watched the masked man circling under the water. He came back to the surface, his mask shining in the soft light of the sunset. The blonde mermaid waved him a goodbye with two fingers before diving into the depths, out of everyone’s sight.

When Penguin came back inside, his cheeks were on fire and he faced a very smug Shachi.

“You guys have the weirdest way of flirting I’ve ever seen,” The red head commented. “But strangely it’s kinda cute?”

Penguin was about to retort but his name was yelled behind their door. “Shit. Uni…”

“This one is on you,” Shachi cleared and when he saw Penguin crossing his arms he explained, “I wanna keep my haki a secret so I could see Marv’s face when I’ll kick his ass at the next training session. Plus, you’re going out tonight and you need someone to take your shift.”

“Shiiiiit,” Penguin recalled suddenly, “I forgot about that.”

“Yeah I know,” Shachi smiled even more smugly.

Penguin was about to go out. In fact, he was already gone to the night and everything he would do instead of being on watch.

“Fine, but not a word about Killer OK?”

Shachi mimicked locking his mouth and throwing out the key.

“Thanks,” Penguin said, and he meant it.


 

 A very dark blue sky was wrapped around Sabaody Archipelago when Penguin came out on the deck of the Polar Tang. He breathed in the summer air, letting the ocean spray and the fresh smell of soap and grass permeated his nose. The air was still warm yet Penguin shivered with anticipation.

He had no better outfit than his good old white overall, but he had showered and brushed his teeth more than necessary. He put on some perfume and then showered again because it felt too odd. The deck held him steady while the hatted man stepped forward. His boots making soft thuds on the wood. The sound reassured him as he put his hands on the railing, gripping it tight as to better stop their slight trembling.

The first mate looked at the fairy lights dancing over the distant grove of the amusement park. It looked like a place of wonder, coming straight out of a dream… but the place he was looking forward to had angles and crooked shapes. Tall, sharp, scary and thrilling all at the same time. The comfort of warm, muscled arms waiting for him was more precious and more beautiful than anything these islands had to offer.

Penguin took another full breath and he felt his heart slowing down. Now he could go. He was waited for after all.

“Going somewhere?”

Law’s smooth voice made Penguin jumped to the sky. His heart going from cool to panic in the space of a sentence. His captain was the most outstanding among the Heart pirates yet he could be so sneaky that he was constant giving his crew heart attacks. To the point it became a recurrent pun between them.

The Heart captain was leaned against the railing, his forearms resting on the solid metallic rail. He had laid off his fluffy spotted hat aside and his disheveled black hair was giving him a younger look. However, the dark rings under his eyes and the cigarette stuck between his long tattooed fingers betrayed how adultly tired he was.

Penguin frown at the sight of the smoking stick. Law was only doing that as a last resort against anxiety.

“You should go inside and find Bepo Captain, because these things won’t kill you before piracy do.”

“Huh-huh,” Law shook his head, bringing the cigarette to his mouth, “You’re not allowed to mother me tonight. You have better things to do isn’t?”

Penguin fought a blush having been caught again and cursing his captain’s wit.

“Nope!” The hatted man baffled, “I’m just… going to enjoy myself at the park!”

Why did he lie? He wasn’t entirely sure, but Penguin suddenly felt so ashamed that white lies came out naturally.

“Alone?” Law asked without asking as he clearly didn’t buy it.

“Yeah! Maybe, well if I find some gal on the way who knows, he he!”

“Don’t play me a fool Pen, you’re quite bad at the ladies’ man act when your mind is on a guy.”

Was he that obvious?! That and his captain probably knew him too well by now. Cigarette smoke curled in the air and for a moment obscured Law’s face apart from his eyes. Somehow he always knows. That was so infuriating sometimes! Penguin realized that he would’ve liked to keep Killer a secret, as a way to keep him just for him.

“Sorry, I was being stupid…”

“Lucky for me you have your bright moments,” Law ironized with such a flat tone that only someone who knew him could hear the compliment hidden in his words. “I’ve been thinking about your idea. But it still bothers me in some way. What do you hope to find in the Kid pirates?”

“A helping hand,” Penguin smiled confidently.

Law snorted and smoke blew out of his nostrils. A disdainful smirk was floating over his mouth. “I’ve seen what the Kid pirate’s hands can do. Trust me, it’s not worth the trouble.”

“I’ll prove you wrong then.”

Penguin’s confidence made Law’s eyebrow lifting up slightly. Whatever his first mate was planning, he was now intrigued. Outstretching his hand toward Penguin, the Surgeon of Death wordlessly meant: by all means, show me.

The Heart pirate bowed his head slightly and made a step down the walkway to join the land.

“I should go join my guy now,” Penguin looked forward before added shortly, “And you should quit smoking before the truffle bear smell anything.”

“Fuck off my submarine!” Law angrily muffled with his cigarette pinched between his lips.

Penguin laughed and jumped on the soapy grass.

“Eh Penguin!” Law called out from the Polar Tang and his devilish features made the hatted man fearing the following part, “Tell Killer he still owes me.”

He was right to be scared. Penguin pulled his hat down his face, before mumbling a ‘Will do!’ and running away in the summer night.


My Dear beta-reader EC made a joke reviewing this chapter that I had to share with you:

Chapter Text

One of the first places where the Heart pirates stopped by after their arrival on Sabaody was the Amusement Park. Their captain’s instructions didn’t manage to contain their excitement for long. So, they spent the whole day there, eating cotton candy and taking turns on the roller coaster until their heads spun. It was such a fun day that they all felt nothing on the archipelago would amaze them anymore. Yet when Penguin saw the sparkling halo of the park, his spirit was lifted up just like the first time.

In the dark of the night, just coming out from behind the trees, Penguin was like an adventurer. He traveled through the Grand Line, the cemetery of pirates. He fought his way through countless dangers and now he finally reached a place so bright that it seemed nothing wrong could ever happen there. The fairy lights were dancing over the stalls of sugar treats and delighted laughs were filling the air. All the movements and the colors gave the place a magical atmosphere; as if this place was made of dreams.

How did he make this far? He wondered. How his journey took him to be the pirate he is now?

For once, the hatted man quitted worrying about what lied ahead and looked back in the past. To the little troublemaker he was, back on the icy patch where Law found him. He wished he could tell this teenager that things were going to get better. He wanted to tell him that, of course there will be difficult times when he’ll doubt himself, but he will never regret leaving his island. In the end, every hard time will be worth it. He will make awesome friends, learn how to fight, find strength in himself he didn’t suspect. He will follow roads he had never dreamed of. Some paths, through the soapy grass, which would lead him to meet unexpected people… Oh he will have some lovers here and there. Not as much as he’d like to brag about. And along the way, he will discover that he fancies men as much as women. He’ll freak out about it for a while, but he will figure it out with time. Then he will experience intimacy and pleasure like he never imagined.

However, there was one thing Penguin absolutely wanted to pass on to his younger self. One piece of knowledge in two words: don’t wait.

Because one night he will go up a small hill, toward an amusement park; he will follow a soft path of grass, sticking slightly to his boots, up to someone special. A person who had the power of taking his eyes off the wonders of entertainment.

Sure, the first time they’ll meet he’ll scare the shit out of him. But soon they’ll discover they have much more in common than they imagined. They will have… an instant connection, a bond that even their differences wouldn’t be able to break. It’ll be hard and confusing –so confusing sometimes!– yet when they’ll be together, when they’ll learn to trust each other and work along, it’ll feel right. Never before Penguin will get this sensation that he belonged in moments.

Moments like this night when he walked up to this pirate that made his heart pounding and his steps going faster. In the cool summer air, the Kid pirate will be there. Not like a stranger he’d have fallen on accidentally, but like another adventurer that finally found the crossroad where their paths met.

If Penguin could talk to his teenage self, he would tell him to get his breath back as fast as he can, turn his brain back on and not waste a single moment away from this man.

 

Killer heard the Heart pirate coming yet, to suddenly be so close to him was unexpected. It was happening to Killer too often: that feeling of surprise when people were getting close. As if he never imagined someone willingly approaching him. He assumed it was the downside of looking scary and threatening.

And suddenly, they were a kiss apart.

Their surroundings softened, dulling because they didn’t give a damn about the rest of the world. The masked man followed how Penguin’s tongue ran over his lips. Unconsciously anticipating… Despite them being so pale and thin, they suddenly look very inviting. An urge as sudden crawled under Killer’s skin. Thrilling, exciting, new. He wanted to feel these lips against his.

Would they be warm? Slick? Would he be unable to breathe, or would it feel like the purest air lifting him up to the sky?

The more he thought about it the more it became like an itch to scratch. His mind wandered to the smallest details: the way he could grab the hatted man’s waist, where he could place his hands, how his head would turn. He played several scenarios in his head, each one different but all the same enticing. He had not felt that way since… a lifetime ago he supposed. Way before he got his helmet, back to the one and only kiss he ever had.

There were few things that he regretted not being able to do because of his mask. And there were less and less with time. But he never missed kissing. Killer mostly considered that people were losing plenty of good foreplay to kisses. He hadn’t been very good at it anyway and he always found pleasure without it eventually. In fact, none of the men who he had been with since he wore his helmet made him want to get it off.

But the hatted man who was looking up to him manage to made him change his mind. If he had not this mask on… Then Penguin would see him, as he truly was.

As quickly as his desire to take off his helmet came, an overthrowing wind of shame swept over him. No no, he couldn’t do that! Not now that things were going so well, not now. He couldn’t take that risk, no matter how much he wanted. He couldn’t suffer to see Penguin’s reaction; he wasn’t ready for it. For once in his life, a deep fear shook the Kid pirate’s to the bones.

“Hey,” Penguin smiled in a try to be charming but the fire on his cheeks betrayed his nervousness. He opened his mouth to say something but then he seemed to back down for, “You look good.”

“I look exactly the same as earlier,” Killer pointed out. He wore the same polka dotted shirt and jeans with fringes flowing down his legs. The same red sash hanging around his hips, the same shiny armbands secured at the end of his arms.

“What can I say. This outfit suits you,” Penguin justified while his eyes lost themselves on the last buttons holding his shirt close.

Killer snorted and hoped the slight bitterness in his voice wouldn’t show, “I knew you only wanted my body.”

“I wouldn’t have offer you to meet at the park if that was only to take advantage you that way.”

The Heart pirate took another step forward, more confidently. Despite his current troubles with his appearance, Killer took a liking in their teasing.

“Do you have any idea of the number of couples trying to make out in the attractions?”

First Penguin thought Killer was joking but his tone made him reconsider it, “That many?”

The masked man nodded and couldn’t fight a smile at the sound of Penguin’s laugh. He didn’t know why but no matter what was troubling him, it would never last long when Penguin was around. Shaking with laughter, the hatted man took Killer’s right hand and began to lead him toward the fairy lights.

“I assure you, I only thought about this place with the purest intentions!”

“The pure intentions of a pirate?”

Penguin bit his lip and slowly began pulling them toward the entrance of the park. Their feet where pressing lightly against the soapy grass. It felt comfortable to have Killer’s warm hand in his but he was also terribly nervous at the idea of doing this with him. Going out and spending time together like it’s a… date.

They reached the huge and bright arch of the entrance. Then their fingers intertwined.  The pirates marked a stop to look at each other and their smiles answered the other’s.

At was just as easy as passing under the luminous letters entitling the Amusement Park of Sabaody. The joyful sounds and the sweet smells of the park grew louder and sharper around them and suddenly they were floating inside a bubble bathed in the magical lighting of the park. They stepped into this marvelous world, going ahead in a place where everyone wished to spend the rest of their lives.

Killer and Penguin ran inside the park, parting the crowd on their ways. They passed stalls of sugar treats and dashed behind a bunch of balloons higher than them. They didn’t stand out among the colorful people coming and going to the attractions. Everything around them was so bright and exciting and suddenly the giant mass of the attractions towered them. Supported by thousands of bubbles, the roller coaster was curling its long shape all above their heads, carrying the excited screams of the people in the train all over the park. The giant Ferris wheel was casting rainbow lights on their way, accompanied by music. The notes were mixing with the voice of a man howling people to get inside the horror house if they dared facing their worst nightmares!

Killer slowed down excitedly at the crossroads between the log ride and the carousel. Then he turned his head toward Penguin.

“Where do you wanna go first?”

“The roller coaster!” Penguin exclaimed before the masked man finished his sentence.

“Thrill seeker?”

“Hell yes!”

Killer snorted as he took a mental note about the hatted man’s preference. They started running again, giggling like teenagers. Eventually the Kid pirate stopped wondering why he was doing that. He felt good doing it, that was all that mattered. Penguin led them down a path covered with bright green grass and they soon found the line for the roller coaster, already formed by several groups and families, all chatting above one another.

Penguin stopped abruptly right before bumping into a mother holding their little girls’ hand. He had to brace himself and stopped Killer’s own momentum. They collided with each other and the masked man’s hand circled around Penguin’s waist to prevent to fall onto the family.

Short of breath, they slowly got their balance back, still holding each other by pure precaution.

“That was close…” The masked murmured in Penguin’s ear. An agreeable shiver spread all over the last’s skin.

“Eager aren’t we?” Penguin teased.

“I can be more if you like that.”

Penguin’s face reddened and steam escaped from his ears and nose. He considered for a moment, making out inside the attraction but this one might be a little risky.

“Ha ha, are you really thinking about making out in there?” Killer laughed while pointing the train speeding above their heads.

“No!”

“Yes, you did,” the masked man kept laughing, “You did that face you pull out when you think about something that’s clearly not a good idea.”

“What? I don’t have that kind of face!” Penguin took offense with way too much heart.

“Yes, you absolut–” Killer froze as he was about to follow the moving line for the roller coaster. The muscles of his neck tensed, and he tightened his fists while a small ‘shit’ whistle from between his teeth.

“Ah so this is the kind of face I make?” Penguin asked while pressing his lips in a tight line. Then he looked at what made Killer stopped in his tracks and a louder ‘shit’ came out of the hatted man’s mouth.

Coming in their direction was a troop of marines, armed and clearly looking for troublemakers. Their steady rhythm wasn’t annunciating anything good for the pirates.

“Should we fight?” Penguin demanded with concern.

Before he got an answer, the chief of the troop zeroed his eyes on the first mates and shouted in their direction.

“Hey, you there, with the mask!” His angry steps were coming fast in their direction. “You were the one who destroyed our ship!”

“No. We run!” Killer urged. He took Penguin’s hand and they exited the line faster than they get in, putting as many people as they could between them and the marines.

They let go of their hands to move easier and speeded as they rounded the corner of the carousel, jumping over stalls to lose the marines. They were fast but their running began to attract the attention of the other patrols in the park and a lot of marines’ caps turned in their direction.

“I can’t believe they’re running after us because we destroyed one Navy ship and kicked their asses!” Penguin shouted.

“I thought it’d be because we get in the park without paying!” Killer added.

The first mates stopped behind the horror house and kept quiet. Flattened against the wall, they waited patiently, their chests heaving from their running. In the shadow of the building they seemed safe meanwhile paying close attention to the sounds coming close to their hideout. Heavy steps passed near them, but they didn’t slow down at their level.

“Why are they so many marines here?” The hatted man whispered. “I thought they left pirates alone inside the park.”

“There are more marines in the streets those last days; I think our little stunt to steal their maps didn’t please them at all.”

“Dammit,” Penguin whined sticking his head out to see any upcoming movement, “This date was starting so well!”

The word ‘date’ made Killer smiled despite the unfortunate turn of their situation. So, Penguin really did think it was going well? The masked man was about to ask when a woman’s voice cut him short.

“They must be somewhere! Search behind every corner. They won’t escape to Justice.”

Pretty well, Penguin thought to himself sarcastically. “Let’s get out of here before they find us.”

Killer and Penguin ran away like shadows in smaller alleys of the park… as much as their looks allowed them to do so. Soon enough the crashing of the waves could be heard. Slowly they left the bright lights of the park behind them. No time to regret their night out. If they were getting caught by the marines tonight there would be no alliance tomorrow.

“If we follow the coast we can still head into downtown,” Killer offered, a bit angry at himself that he got recognized earlier.

“Oh, this is such a good idea,” a woman’s voice answered right before them.

A marine stood tall between the striped trees, blocking their way out of the park. She had a naginata clutched in her left hand, pointing at Killer’s chest. By her side three other marines pulled out their swords. “There is a Navy detention block downtown you could visit, pirates.”

“That’s him! That’s the Supernova!” One of them raged.

“He’s the one who hurt our captain and destroyed our ship!” Another made a step forward.

The Kid pirate cursed behind his mask. He never imagined that shipping material was such an issue in the Navy. Usually the Kid pirates were already far away before any reprisal could happen. And now, he ruined their date because he couldn’t be discreet anywhere they go. He was so disappointed with himself and Penguin must be too. Killer tried to look at his face, but his cap was hiding his features. He could only see his fists tightened and his feet planted firmly on the ground. Bubbles elevated slowly between them and the marines.

“Hey seagulls!” The hatted man spit like a curse, catching the marines’ attention. “You better not be here to ruin our night, because I swear I’m gonna be mad.”

Penguin moved forward, his white overall reflecting the lights of the park.

“Step back, we’re here for the Massacre Soldier, but if you get in our way, we’ll take you down as well!” The female marine ordered.

A wicked grin appeared on Penguin’s face. Killer hesitated to intervene, but he was also curious to see where this would be going. It reminded the masked man of that fateful night when they fought together. Thrills were coming back to him like a physical memory. The heat of the battle had been so intense… and what followed even more.

The Heart pirate shook his head, “Tsk, you’re making the same mistake as your mates. Is being stupid a requirement to enroll in the Navy?”

Killer couldn’t help an admiring whistle to pass his lips and the marine shot him a dark look.

“I wouldn’t like that if I were you,” the Kid pirate made fun of her.

The woman’s features darkened and she took a stance, bringing her naginata above her head she focused back on Penguin. “Step back!”

Penguin put up a guard as well. He was calm but his tone was pissed, and Killer was instantly hooked by this vision. He knew they’d better be running before more marines come down on them but seeing Penguin fighting was too much of a turn on to let the occasion pass.

“This man is mine!” Penguin growled. “If you want him, you’re gonna have to go through me.”

An unimpressed ‘hmpft’ passed between the marine’s shut tight lips. Then her face decomposed as she saw both Penguin’s fists turning black and their coats shining in the dim light. Whereas Killer swore that by tonight he would fulfill this man’s every desire!

The marine’s naginata slashed the air and Penguin dodged it, grabbing the handle in a sharp move that caught his opponent off guard. With a dark glare, the hatted man crushed the wood between his black fingers.

The woman growled in fury and caught the blade of her destroyed weapon. She held it like a dagger and aimed at Penguin’s midsection. The last jumped backward right on time, but one of the marines left was waiting for him. His sword circled above Penguin’s head and hit one of his fellow soldiers.

Penguin’s hand shaped like a claw and his grip hit the woman’s wrist with a crack. She dropped her improvised dagger with a yell of pain. Killer was impressed, Penguin was one hell of a fighter, but he was never able to enjoy it fully as he was always fighting too when it happened.

The Kid pirate shouted suddenly, just a moment before one of the marine’s swords sliced Penguin’s arm. A small red line formed on the white overall and Killer had his scythes out in a blink.

The masked man hadn’t made a step though that Penguin had already turned to the marine who hurt him, grabbed his collar and threw him over his shoulder. The marine shouted pitifully as he landed on two of his companions.

Penguin huffed, his fighting spirit burning like a dangerous aura all around him. He looked down at the only female marine whom remained standing. The hatted man picked up the broken handle of her naginata. When she jumped at his neck, he knocked her down so hard that she hit the grass face first.

The first mate dropped the wooden handle away and stood over the defeated marines whining on the ground.

“Remember, my name is Penguin of the Heart pirates. Don’t you ever underestimate me again.”

Killer’s jaw had dropped so low that he didn’t know if he would be able to put it back one day, but he didn’t care anymore. He only had eyes for the Heart pirate as he sheathed his useless scythes.

“You were amazing!” Killer whispered.

Penguin glared at the masked man with pride, “Of course I am! And you’re the one getting all the credit for it!”

The Kid pirate closed the distance between them. His voice now sounded like a crooked smile. Penguin’s pride faded with the realization of how close Killer had gotten at this moment. He forgot how good he smelt.

“Nobody’s ever kicked asses for me,” Killer pandered to the hatted man, “…You’re gonna make me fall for you.”

The masked man’s fingers traced Penguin’s squared jaw and moved up his cheek, leaving a red blush behind them. The Heart pirate’s hand had landed on Killer’s hips, keeping him close on pure instinct. Because there was no way he was letting go of that man!

Clatters made both their heads turn toward the amusement park that they left behind. The sounds of boots and swords became clearer and clearer.

“More marines!” Killer cursed while sadly letting go of the Heart pirate.

Penguin swore in concert and began to step angrily toward them. The masked man caught his arm before he got too far though.

“Let me go, I’m up to kick more marines’ asses!”

“As much as I’d love to see that, they’re really getting numbered now.”

Killer was right, in the soft light of the park, the shadows of the marines grew numerous and numerous. Shouts could soon be heard, coming in their direction.

“You think we can’t take them?” Penguin exclaimed with more offense than he planned.

“What I think is that, I started to think about all the things we could do together tonight but it’ll be way better if you aren’t injured.”

Penguin threw a look back to the masked man, biting his bottom lip without his brain ordering him to.

“…What kind of things?”

For only answer, Killer motioned him to come closer. Penguin obliged and he let the Kid pirate leaned down toward him until he could feel the coolness of his helmet.

“First I thought about this…” Killer whispered in his ear. Then he started to kneel slowly… before he lifted Penguin up on his shoulder. The masked man set his catch more comfortably and proceeded to get out of the marines’ way as fast as he could.

“Is that how you actually get people into your pants?” Penguin mocked.

“Only the one who I wanna keep!”

Killer kept running, his spirit lifted by the hatted man he was carrying. He felt like a brand new pirate having found his first treasure. Escaping his pursuers had never been so thrilling. He slid down the huge roots and easily find his way between the giant trees. They quickly lost the marines, who were slowed down by their formation, and soon the pirates reached the coast.

“Fuck!”

“What is it?” Penguin asked in Killer’s back. First, he tried to turn around but in his position,  he gave up quickly and resumed staring at the masked man’s backside. Not such a bad sight after all.

“I wanted to bring us back to the room I got in the hotel grove but it’s on the other side of the park…”

“Shit,” Penguin agreed, “The submarine isn’t that far away but my captain didn’t forget your first visit there…”

The Kid pirate gently put Penguin down on his feet. He kept thinking quietly merely distracting by the popping of the bubble around them. By the time they got out of the park, the moon had begun to rise in the sky. Killer didn’t want them to spend the night in the wild but the only places where they could be comfortable and alone were–

“Fuck yes!”

“What? Do you know another place nearby?” Penguin asked.

Killer turned to him and held out his hand as to invite Penguin to take it and follow him.

“The best in the whole archipelago,” his deep voice promised.

 

As they follow the coastline, navigating between the roots and the land, Penguin started to have a guess of where they were going. Yet he wasn’t entirely sure that Killer would bring him there. The cool air of the summer night was flowing gently on his face, passing in his neck above his high collar. Despite this, he was incredibly hot and nervous.

The further they walked the darker it got and soon Penguin was only distinguishing the crooked forms of the roots and the glassy casings of the bubbles. After a few minutes of walking, his eyes adjusted and with the light of the moon he was able to distinguish a big reflection growing at their approach. Then Penguin realized that the reflection belonged, in fact, to the most gigantic bubble he had ever seen.

The hatted man’s jaw dropped at the sight of the galleon anchored in front of him. The hull was shining from all the metal covering it. Claw marks were slicing its scaly looking surface. The figure head must have been a fierce pirate, but the salt and the Sea Kings turned him into a cadaveric figure. His arms were extending, and his bones turned into the railing all around the deck. On the stern, bright flames had been painted, looking like they were part of the wood. The dark sails of the three masts were neatly folded and the Kid pirates’ flag was waving gently in the sea breeze.

Every aspect of this ship looked sharp and made for a dirty fight. It had probably been repaired and upgraded numerous times already, however a look at it was able to tell you that this ship had been taken care of and it could go through hell and come back. It already looked like it was made there. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise Penguin that weapons were hidden all over this galleon.

In his bubble, the Kid pirates’ ship appeared even bigger and more threatening if it was possible. The casing seemed so fragile over this mass of spike and metal. It looked as if it could burst out of it at any moment.

While they walked toward the ship, Killer mentioned, “You probably saw it before–”

“Never this close…” Penguin whispered in a breath, “It’s… so fucking cool!” He exclaimed with stars filling his eyes. “I mean, our submarine obviously has a tactical advantage, but this ship is rad!”

Soon it wasn’t Killer but Penguin who was leading them forward. They made their way under the moonlight to the huge galleon, carried forward by the hatted man’s enthusiasm. Killer didn’t suspect how much of a fanboy Penguin could be. To an extent, he had soon gotten that Law’s men were worshiping him, but Killer credited this on their captain’s charisma. In fact, a lot of men were following Kid just by admiration.

It looked like it was a characteristic feature in Penguin’s case though.

“Won’t your crew be there?” Penguin worried a little but the absence of light coming from the windows made his question sound stupid.

“The coating should be just finished. So, they’re still all sleeping in town tonight.”

The pirates walked up the large board linking the deck and the shore. Penguin held his breath when they went through the bubble, but Killer seemed pretty confident that there was no risk, and soon found themselves on the quiet metal ship. Penguin’s first impression was confirmed when he set a foot on the deck.

“Oh my god! I can’t believe I’m finally on this ship!” The Heart pirate let go of Killer’s hand to throw his arms up with excitement. His captain wouldn’t approve but nobody was here to judge him so, Penguin felt free to show his enthusiasm.

“Are these real bones?!” He asked while running excitedly to the railing. Before Killer could answer the nurse had already guessed, “Nah, it’s wood.”

“Not all of it. Some are from sea kings we beat up.” Killer defended while crossing his arms. With an amused smirk he followed Penguin’s fanboy stroll.

“It’s huge! How many are you?! An army could stand here!”

Killer missed his army right now. He couldn’t remember when was the last time he had seen their ship so quiet. It felt strangely empty. Then the masked man spotted something unusual. So, he followed Penguin to the bow.

The first thing the Heart pirate saw was an oversized brush and a tiny form curled at his base. When they were close enough, the Heart pirate realized it was a woman. Her clothes were stained with translucent paint and her features appeared very peaceful as she snored like Penguin had never heard a woman snoring. She looked like she passed out from exhaustion and frankly Penguin would have gladly prescribed her a full week of sleep.

“Looks like our coating mechanic did a fine job,” Killer approved.

“She did that monstrous bubble on her own?!” Penguin whispered with surprised.

“Yes,” the masked man confirmed, “She’s talented and many customers are gonna look out for her after the word spread that she worked on the Manowar.”

“The Manowar?” Penguin shouted quietly, “That’s such a badass name!”

Killer kneeled to pull the blanket half covering the woman up to her chin. Seeing her state, none of the pirates worried that she would wake up before sunrise.

The Kid pirate turned to Penguin and whispered, “Shall we?”

For only answer, Penguin winked back.