weeaboobs: let's get married (naruto)
weeaboobs ([personal profile] weeaboobs) wrote in [community profile] narutobang_fic2010-08-30 10:49 pm

day two: a shippy story

Title: A Shippy Story
Pairings: none/interpretive
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: it’s a pirate fic, that alone is a warning.
Summary: Recast Akatsuki (and Ino!) as pirates, and Kakashi, Shikamaru and Naruto as the British Navy. No they don’t get along, but that’s never stopped anyone.
Notes: I avoided the use of… anything to do with Pirates of the Caribbean the film series, and replaced it with historical accuracy. Except not really. Everyone talks like British royalty, so if you were looking forward to piratey vocabulary, I’m sorry. If you were dreading it, rejoice.

*Authors—please reply to your comments after reveals or anonymously.*


“Look, I know the ‘old sea dog’ is a big believer in the time honored and incredibly overdone,” Nagato parried a quick thrust. “But Yahiko, you’re captain of a ship of miscreants, killers and thieves, and you’re acting like an idiot.”

“I’ll not be having any of your sauce, me boy,” was the only response. There was a light step coming up the stairs to the quarterdeck, so they sheathed their swords.

“Konan, please tell Yahiko he’s acting like an idiot.” Nagato looked imploringly at their quartermaster and stopped dead. Konan was leaning heavily on the rail, panting for breath.

“Yer rigging looks fit to fly apart,” Yahiko observed critically. Konan glared.

“When you said you got me a corsair, I figured since there wasn’t another ship flying our colors anywhere in sight, that it would be in a bottle or something. This,” she gestured angrily down at her buxom beauties, “is a corset, and probably one for a twelve year old! How do you expect me to do anything with this on? Karin was too busy laughing to help me take it off!”

Yahiko wasn’t paying any attention, his eye fixed to his spyglass. “Look lively wench, there be sails on the horizon.”

Nagato carefully backed away as a set of daggers appeared in Konan’s hand. “Did you want an eyepatch to go with the rest of your ridiculous attitude? Because that can be arranged. It’s not like we don’t have another captain.”

Yahiko ignored her with grand aplomb. “Call Zetsu, she’s coursing toward Angel Island.”

Zetsu lived in the crow’s nest most hours of the day. He was long-sighted even without a telescope, and during a skirmish, the captains relied on his reports to guess at the enemy’s intent. The man had the sea legs of an octopus as well. Nothing could make him misstep, from climbing on the rigging during a storm to balancing on the boom during the blackest night. He tended to talk to himself since no one shared his post, but it suited him well and he was right happy with it.

“British Royal Navy. She’s no man o’ war, but she’s two dozen gunports above the waterline,” was the account.

“Then how shall we welcome her to our corner of the world?”

Konan glanced up at their ensign, skull and bones against a bloody sunrise. “She’ll riddle us with holes if we approach flying our own colors.”

“She can try,” retorted Yahiko. “But,” he added seeing his companions’ expressions, “I suppose it would be better if we fired the first shots. Run up that privateer’s colors, the one that tried to sink us last month.”

“If they thought we were a rats’ nest afloat, they might not fire first, but they would be at their guns,” countered Nagato. “They do not have high opinions of scavengers, nor should they. Privateers are codeless pirates or rejected sailors and the only honor left to them is sinking by their better’s hand. The best way to approach any naval vessel is to appear non-threatening.”

“You would have us fly merchant colors? Might as well put the men in dresses. My ship is fierce, with a body count higher than her mast, and she has the manner of a killer. That cannot be hid.” Yahiko crossed his arms and contrived to look like a genuine captain.

“You know as well as I the skill of our shipwright. If we are close enough for flag signals, we are well within range of the guns. Merchant charts are not nearly as reliable as those used by the Navy. None would think twice about stopping to help a lost passenger ship,” Nagato tried to sound persuasive rather than frustrated.

Konan caught the look he gave her and felt her mouth twist. “I’ll go get my dancing slippers,” she snapped.

“Tell the men to ready the guns and swab the decks. With good wind we’ll be on the mark within the day.” Yahiko jerked his head, indicating both that he would agree with this pansy plan and that she should take herself away so he could continuing carving up his fellow captain.

“Understood.”

“What was that, bilge scum?”

Nagato and Konan shared a pained look.

“Aye, cap’n,” she bit out.
-


“Sasori, you can leave off gutting fish, and work your magic on the prow. The quarry is the Navy, and they know the name Day Breaker possibly better than ourselves.”

“Any name in particular we must hide behind?”

Nagato winced. “Yahiko believes The Singing Mermaid would allow us to close in…”

“Why not Poseidon’s Left Testicle so as to keep some of our dignity? You know we only stay on this boat because you have never led us wrong.” Sasori seemed to have only eyes for the knife he was sharpening, but Nagato felt his gaze pierce him anyway. “Can we not convince you or the girl to—” He trailed off with a significant quirk of his eyebrow.

“You hurt any of us, and you’d be sailing blind and broke,” Nagato said firmly.
Sasori sighed and kicked the blonde man napping in the corner. “It was worth a gamble. Only ship on the sea with two captains, and it’s one too many. I would kill to know how you get information out of anyone you turn your eye to.”

“You would kill for a pretty piece of glass too, un,” Deidara remarked as he took Sasori’s place. “Are you sure we can’t pitch that idiot over the side of the boat? With a line back, un,” he amended hastily. “He was trying train me into a speech defect! No one says ‘arrr’ after every sentence, un.”

Sasori muttered something about hypocrisy and left his knife buried in a fish’s belly. Nagato withdrew, one eye always on the redhead as he went. Few people could be trusted to help Kisame cook because everyone else inevitably found themselves in a
brawl with the people passing by. Sasori was more like to put a nail in your skull as you slept but at least dinner would be edible and on time.

The Uchiha orphans fit in well enough, considering. The elder was better suited for this life, but the boy was adjusting. Karin was more than willing to distract him from whatever thoughts led him away from the Day Breaker.

Itachi had left his younger brother landbound for ten years while he sent money back. Sasuke had joined the Navy in the meantime; to learn all he could of sailing in anticipation of the day he would join his brother. Nagato had been silently relieved they would not have to teach a teenager with an attitude how to survive on a boat, to keep the best sailing master on the water with their ship.

“Uchiha.”

“Captain,” Itachi replied politely, looking up from his charts.

“Yahiko has a mind to chase down another ship. To err on the side of caution, assume she has guns and knows how to use them, how close are we to our friends on Angel Island?”

“We should be in sight of the island within hours and in our berth by midday tomorrow.”
Nagato shook his head. “Battle should be done before then. I begin to doubt any vessel can sink this ship.”

“I imagine it would be appreciated if we caught them after they spent their gold.”
“It appears to be Naval; they wouldn’t spend their coin on anything Angel Island offered them, even if they were inclined to be hospitable.”

“Then the pearl divers will pick their bones clean,” was Itachi’s complacent dismissal.


--------



Had it been someone other than Ebisu looking, he might have noticed the ship’s name, The Singing Mermaid did not sit right on her prow, which had a sunburst and not a mermaid, and was very much at odds with the rest of her. While there wasn’t anything obviously wrong, someone else might have thought something wasn’t right.

The ship was signaling them, for it seemed to have lost its bearings. Lieutenant Kakashi was also more than inclined to let the Mermaid sail closer so they could discourse with words rather than flags.

Konan was very grateful Deidara and Hidan were below deck, with their guns, waiting for the command to fire them. Had they been anywhere near the prow, it was likely she and Karin would have pitched them overboard, corsets and skirts be damned.

Uncharitable thoughts were much less visible than uncharitable deeds, so the other vessel would only see two women fluttering around the signaler as he waved his flags.

Karin was still put out that she had been unable to convince Sasuke to don a wig and dress, and contribute to the illusion of a harmless passenger ship during their lazy approach. Harmless at least until the first chain shot took out the mast and brought half a tonne of wood and brightwork down on the sailors’ heads. Konan managed to catch a glimpse of the ship’s prow before they retaliated and everything was obscured by smoke.

The Naval vessel was still too slow, the Breaker firing off three of its pilfered long nines to prevent the Indomitable from fleeing. Konan had to spare a moment to laugh at the irony of its name. And then they were close enough to use the smashers, which had Deidara’s own special blend of gunpowder to help them along.

“Eyes were more interested in you ladies than anything else, I’d wager.” Konan and Karin spun and faced Sasori, who was waiting for the chaos to die down. “Would be why no one thought to ready the guns ‘til too late. This battle is already over.”

And it was. Deidara’s strategy had always been to pierce hard and often enough to destroy the cannons below deck. Occasionally he had to restrain himself when the Breaker was too close to risk the explosion of debris and shrapnel. Like now.

Then he just focused on causing enough damage to the hull to sink the thing. He took great delight in his destruction, and only those of like mind or on probation were required to be gunners. The cannons, fired as often as they were in Deidara’s hands, were not harmless to the men behind them.

Already there were men in small boats and on floating wreckage aiming for the dark smudge of Angel Island. The captains were not interested in survivors, caring only for the annihilation of another Royal vessel. Kakuzu had emerged and Konan moved to join him, to begin organizing boats to relieve the sinking ship of anything worthwhile, mainly shot and what powder could be salvaged.

Sasori was busy assessing the Breaker’s damage and patching up what needed it most. No one bothered him while he made his rounds, ever. Every splinter was like a personal insult to the shipwright, and only Deidara had the balls to talk with him of ‘artistry’, despite ‘explosive art’ being the cause of Sasori’s irritation.

Karin petulantly slid out of her frilly frocks and stuffed them back into their trunk. She had been delighted to rifle through the loot they were bringing to port, and was reluctant to trade the pretties to a bunch of whores just for fruit and water. Never mind that Karin herself could have been one, had the Day Breaker not attacked a slaver ship. Never mind that Angel Island was more than just a trade stop, it was the only land any on board would call home, and the people the only family any of them had.


-----------



Even though he and Naruto had been alternating, Kakashi was exhausted from rowing. Shikamaru, for all his intellectual prowess, had been excused from the task after five minutes. While it wasn’t fair, both Naruto and he had determined their fatigue was better than going in circles because the scholar couldn’t row straight.

The ship that had attacked them, in an utterly ignoble fashion, Kakashi mentally added, thinking of the blue-haired beauty that had more than one spyglass at full extension, had disappeared with the setting sun.

The land they were headed for was not marked on the map provided by the Crown, which meant at best they would need to discard their uniforms to be given some pity and at worst the island was completely uninhabitable. With night as his only blanket, Kakashi couldn’t help but ponder the horrible fates he might face in the morning.

By the time they were close enough to let the swell of the tide take the boat to land, they were all half dead and possibly hallucinating.

She was beautiful, skirts hitched to her knees, pounding clothes in a mere trickle of an estuary. She put down her rock and pushed her silvery blonde hair out of her eyes, regarding them with curiosity rather than alarm.

“I have seen dead fish in better shape than you,” she announced, with the barest flavor of an accent. “You best come back to the house.”


-



It shouldn’t have been any surprise, though all three managed to be caught unaware, that by ‘house’ she had meant a cathouse. Women in other professions did not have slender legs or sparkling smiles. She herded them in through the backdoor, into the kitchen, where they could hear the muffled mayhem in the main rooms.

Ino graced them with knowing grins while they fed and watered. Finally she gave in.

“If it were only your clothes and your hair, any bandy-legged mongrel could become an officer among His Majesty’s finest. You’re going to have to try harder than hiding your uniforms. For starters,” she reached over, giving them all a generous view, and set four tankards on the table, “real men drink, horsepiss though it may be.”

“You know we’re in the Navy?” asked Naruto.

She nodded cheerfully, gesturing toward the ruckus. “Well as I know those are pirates and I’m a whore, and you can’t do anything about it. Welcome to Angel Island.” She laughed at their stricken looks. “You’ll find pulling your royal rank on us will get you a knife in a ribs and a shot in the back. We have our own rules here, and our own methods of enforcement. There are but two kings and one queen and not a one of them has a fancy seal. Their palace has three masts and its own standing army. From the look of things, I think you’ve already met.”

“They blew us out of the water without warning or reason,” Shikamaru reminded her sourly, irritated by her carefree attitude.

“None that you could fathom,” the blonde corrected. “I may as well tell you before you give insult enough to be hung or worse. This town and these people would not be but for the Day Breaker. A few are pirates who can’t sail no more, but most would have been slaves in your great houses, bodies to fertilize your fields, whores that never see two pence of their bodies’ abuse. The captains have principles, however little you may understand them. If you intend to live, much less leave, you should learn the rules, and quickly.” She drained her ale and slammed it down on the table.

“We are already in your debt, but if you would please?” Kakashi managed to wheedle while shooting Shikamaru a quelling look. Ino sighed and snatched an apple from the basket behind her.

“You were sunk without warning for the reason that you were obviously a ship of the Royal Navy. There’s more water than sunlight on this end of the earth, and plenty of both. The idea that superior firepower, to enforce the laws of a monarch who has never seen a coconut, is the only ‘acceptable’ form of government is preposterous. Even on a pirate ship there is a democracy of sorts. Captains are elected you know. Anyway, the attitude of militant domination is ridiculously offensive, especially to those of us who don’t hail from jolly old England and don’t give a rat’s ass about your king, and put that away before I slit your throat.” She stood, a slim stiletto already in her hand before Naruto had reached his sword. “Merde, if you’re going to do this every time someone says something ‘treasonous’ I ought just to kill you now. At least I’d do it painless.”

“Sorry,” Kakashi apologized for them all, over muted grumbling from Naruto. “Old habits.”

Ino pursed her lips but concluded her incessant but informative monologue. “You’ll find out here where your only god is your luck, people care more about what’s right than what’s the law, and what’s theirs than what’s right. There are pearl divers from Qin; still growing when they were brought here. You know what they were most afraid of, and justly so, going to work with your respectable jewelers? That they wouldn’t even die on land. Not even thirteen and more worried where they would die, not if. You’ll pardon if your sovereignty means less than the barnacles beneath us. This is our world, gentlemen,” she gave them a mocking curtsy. “You’d best get used to it.”

“You look better.” Someone tugged on her long tail of hair.

Ino whirled, eyes glinting, stiletto still in hand. She saw Karin and the blade disappeared, to where, only Ino knew.

“I am better. Fit enough to sail, even. I’ve been going mad with boredom.”

“You mean madder?” Karin asked archly.

Ino’s hands flew to her cheeks. “That was almost clever!” she exclaimed with false awe. “Practice your delivery and people might believe you possess more wit than hair.”

“As you possess more hair than anything, you ought to know,” Karin growled back.

“I was just getting used to having silence above me at night. No one ever said pirates had to sleep like a crate of bananas.” Ino sighed gustily.

“You’re a pirate?” Naruto demanded, stunned.

“Didn’t I say before?” she asked innocently. “Those are whores and I’m a pirate and you can’t do a thing about it.”

“And who are these?” Karin purred, looking Naruto up and down like so much cake.

“Navy,” Ino told her in a stage whisper. “Captain didn’t happen to destroy royal property today, did he?”

“Small run-in yesterday. The ship doesn’t have so much as a scratch.”

“Yours might not.” Both girls ignored the muttering.

“Think the Captain will let us keep them?” Karin’s eyes twinkled, sending shudders of fear through the pride of the British Navy.

“You couldn’t keep a parrot, a monkey or a cat alive through one voyage,” Ino reminded her mercilessly.

“Even so, they’ll live longer on the Breaker by far than if we left them here.”

“Why should you care how long we live?” challenged Shikamaru.

“Regular bundle of sunshine and joy, this one.” Ino snatched up his hands, and crowed with delighted laughter as she threw them down again. “Not a sailor, but a scholar.

You’ve only spilled ink on these hands, never blood. Are you afraid of pirates, boy?” she asked, an inch from his nose.

He slapped her. Tried to. Without even changing expression, from the set of her lips to the sparkle of her eyes, her wrist had caught his before the motion could be completed.

“You are not a pirate, and I am not a boy.” Shikamaru spun on his heel and left out the backdoor.

The girls glanced at one another, conversing silently.

“I’ll tail him,” Karin in apparent agreement. “Pray he doesn’t run afoul of crueler souls than you.”

Ino turned back to the remaining sailors. “You haven’t finished your drinks,” she remarked, not unkindly.

“That was a bit much,” said Kakashi, as if bitter truths were more appealing than the swill in his cup.

“He can’t hide behind his uniform forever. If this is the quality of your enlisted men, then God save the King indeed. At least on this end of the world, we don’t send barely suckled boys to blood the waters.”

“Shikamaru has killed more men that you could ever count,” Kakashi told her quietly.

“Not with his own hands, but his mind his sharper than your tongue and your blade, and well used. He was a passenger, though we are brothers in arms. We were going to deliver him to his family, give him an ease from battles he can’t fight but must bear anyway.”

“Why are you telling her this?” hissed Naruto. “She’s nice enough, but Shikamaru’s life is his own.”

Ino looked thoughtful, and flounced away. She left them without a guard, partly to see if they would wait for the other, mostly because there was nowhere they could go.


-----------



“A lieutenant and his two hangers-on? Let them rot on Angel Island. They do us a better favor there than here.”

“Aye, them scurvy dogs is best fit to feed the fish.”

“Yahiko, I beg you stop mutilating the language as you would the ruler,” Konan bit.

“While I’ve as little love for the King as you, I can at least appreciate his English.”

“No one would believe we were pirates if we spoke like those toy soldiers,” grumbled Yahiko, dropping the salty flairs.

“And how do you think we’ve managed thus far?” demanded Konan. “If we were so very obviously pirates, we’d be marked for the gallows every time we made port.”

“Um not that this isn’t relevant and important, but what about the survivors?” interrupted Ino. “The lieutenant doesn’t seem all that stuck up, and I think the other two will follow his lead.”

“We are not ferrying officers of the Navy—”

“I never said we’d do it for free,” huffed the blonde. “If we find some official togs, we might even be able to use them! Hold the two hostage against the one. Surely having an honest-to-god sailor with us will—”

“No.”

“Arr. No.”

“They could get us into Barbados,” Konan said quietly. “There’s one thing that’d be easier to steal on land than on sea.”

“The most successful of the English colonies, I’ll grant you, but what could we possibly want from them? I’m sure other places would offer a better price for the pearls and—”

“Maps,” answered Yahiko, catching on. “Not only maps of places we’ve never been, but charts for the Royal Fleet, sailing and docking lists, everything. The biggest and best colony will have everything.”

“Governor Sarutobi has a nice house too,” added Ino helpfully.

“You were there over ten years ago,” Nagato disregarded her.

“I remember plenty of things from when I was twelve,” spat Ino hotly, the French lilt sneaking back into her voice. “The place can only have gotten more wealthy these past few years.”

“Fine. You’re certain the lieutenant will obey?”

“He could make a decent pirate,” was all Ino offered.

“Worst comes to worst, we shoot the lot of them.”


-



“And so, all you have to do is thank God we found you after you were attacked, and accompany Konan around the town, and into the barracks for a spell. You know, because she’s the beautiful widowed sister of the captain, and her brother doesn’t want her left alone and bored and vulnerable while he conducts his merchanting business.” Ino fluttered her eyelashes at the three men in their cage.

“And you’d have some method to ensure I don’t hurt the lady and escape, of course?” Kakashi returned with a bland smile.

The blonde dug a pistol out of her bodice, to the men’s discreetly guarded interest, cocked it, and coolly aimed it at Naruto.

“If you didn’t show up at the appointed time, then these two entertain us while we wait. Left shoulder, right shoulder, left knee, right knee, one in the stomach, and then everyone places bets on who dies first.”

“Why would he care if we died?” argued Shikamaru, with the pessimistic attitude Ino was beginning to think had been there to start with, and not the result of the ship he was on being blown into splinters.

“Lieutenant Kakashi.” Ino’s gun never wavered. “Do we have an accord?”

“I am at the Day Breaker’s disposal, lady,” Kakashi saluted.

Merveilleux. But I am not a lady.”

“You were. Once.” Shikamaru surprised them all with his declaration. “I’ve had to learn the faces of nobility from Spain to the Netherlands since I was five. Ten years ago your ship ran afoul of pirates, and Ino Yamanaka was presumed dead along with her family and the entire crew.”

“Ten years ago, I was assumed a lot of things. But I told you. I’m a pirate.” She uncocked her pistol and tucked it away. “Time to set sail.” She gave them a smile that echoed her earlier greeting. “Welcome aboard the Day Breaker. Be glad we cleared out the rats.” With that, she went topdeck.

Karin came down ten minutes later, muttering under her breath. “What the hell did you do to piss her off?” she asked sourly. “She was to take first watch, but she said she would have strangled you. I hate the brig. This is taking away from my time with Sasuke!”

Naruto and Kakashi went still as the grave.

“Sasuke… Uchiha? From Ipanema?” Naruto asked, almost fearfully.

“He’s the only one I know of,” grumbled Karin. “At least that blonde harridan is on the ratline and not plastering herself all over him.”

“Sasuke Uchiha is part of your crew?” Naruto pressed anxiously. “Black hair, black eyes, kind of short for his age, pasty white skin?”

“His eyes are not black, they’re just very dark brown,” Karin informed him with all the certainty of one who devoted a great deal of time to the study. “Hint of red to them,” she sighed dreamily. “Him and his brother are the best things on this ship, otherwise I’d be on the Island, kicking drunks out of the whorehouse.”

“His brother’s here too?” “Can I see him, please?”

She blinked, considering them in their sincerity, and nodded cautiously. “I suppose… when my watch is over, I can tell him. But if you knew him while he served under the Crown, I wouldn’t expect him to agree.”

“It’ll be fine. Found him now, haven’t I?” Naruto grinned cheekily.


-----



“You look fit to be tied. Aren’t you supposed to be watching the prisoners?”

Ino yanked viciously on the rope in her hands. “It smells in there,” is all she told Zetsu before finishing her knot and hopefully convincing him not to ask further. Galling though it was, it was her idea to take them aboard. She just hadn’t expected any mention of her old life to show up here.

“It doesn’t get any better with time. The stench or your problems,” he added, answering some unheard question.

“I’ll go and face both of those when I’m good and ready, so just let me fix the damn mizzen so we can put land behind us.”

“No one else is as quick on the ropes as you,” he told her, reconciliatory. “Be glad to have you up here again, girl. How’s the leg?”

Ino hiked up her pant leg and turned her knee out so Zetsu could see the silvery pink stripe running across the flesh of her calf.

“Unnerving as he is, Orochimaru is a magician doctor. Anyone else wouldn’t have been able to fix it so I could keep the rest. With legs like mine, wood’d be a shame and a waste.”

“Can’t climb the ropes with a peg leg,” agreed Zetsu sagely. “Speaking of, hop to it girl!”

“Aye, sir,” she chirped, sliding down to the boom of the topsail to resume her work.
When she was done, and could not convince herself to get someone else to watch their guests, she slowly made her way below deck.

She shouldn’t have been so anxious; after all, she had turned her nothing into everything, and even that smarmy English dog could not corrupt that. Mind made up, she set her shoulders and backed into the little prison.

“Supper, milords?” she offered sweetly.

Karin stretched lazily as the men cast dubious looks at the tray in Ino’s hands.

“Oh come on, gents, it won’t be that bad. Unless you made her angrier than she let on. Then you have to worry about it exploding.”

“It was one time,” snarled Ino, “and only because someone put powder in the pepper!”

The bickering was interrupted by a chorus of stomachs, growling like a weathered storm. The girls rolled their eyes at each other, and Ino pulled out her pistol. Karin snatched it quickly.

“Now who’s angry?” teased the blonde girl.

“I just want to point it at him,” she grumbled, aiming at Shikamaru’s head with one hand, gesturing Ino take the keys from wall. “Hurry up and give them their food so I can have mine.

Ino obliged, unlocking the cage and setting her tray and herself down on the narrow bench.

“Why’s she—”

“Making sure you don’t try something stupid where Karin can’t see,” Ino explained, slipping a battered book through bars so she could sit more comfortably. “And Karin’s making sure you don’t try something stupid where she can see.”

“You don’t plan on reading that while you’re supposed to be guarding them?” demanded the redhead.

“No, I plan on balancing it on my head while I practice Deidara’s lessons in deportment. Yes, I plan on reading it. It’s Alexander Pope.” Ino thrust her chin out, as if the author fully justified her determination. She caught the men staring at her, and crossed her arms defiantly. “What, just ‘cause I’m a woman and a pirate and French I can’t enjoy good poetry? Better than boring myself to death on that island.”

“Should have done us all the favor,” sneered Karin.

“You don’t need to get dinner you know. A few meals skipped would do you good,” Ino simpered.

Karin drew her own pistol and cocked it, aiming into the cell.

Kakashi sat back down. Between the two guns and the familiar glint of Ino’s stiletto, any plan to take advantage of the girls’ distraction was halted in its steps.
Ino’s eyes did not hold the same mischievous sparkle.

“I tire of threatening you. Anyone else would have shot you by now. You would have shot you by now.” Quick as thought, her dagger thudded into the wood next to Naruto’s head. As Ino moved to reclaim it, blood slid down his chin, welling up in one of the whisker-like markings along his jaw.

“Dammit, woman, I didn’t do anything!” Naruto gingerly pressed his cheek and hissed.

“Next time he makes me draw this, it’s your neck,” she told him seriously.

“I thought the plan was we don’t kill any of them because two hostages is a safer bet than just one.”

“Didn’t say I was gonna kill him. Dead people don’t learn discipline. Shallow neck wound would be enough to send for the doctor though,” the blonde replied flippantly.
Understanding lit in Karin’s eyes while a tremor tore through her body. “He does get worse with ‘easy’ wounds. He can’t have been that bad to you, since that cutlass nearly took off your leg.”

“No it didn’t. Five hours doc was expressing his concern that he’d had to wait til after the fight to look at it. Kept reminding me that wiping a sword isn’t cleaning it and couldn’t I just picture the number of men, dirty filthy pirates no less, that had gotten their blood and worse on that sword, and how awful I must feel knowing what was on and inside my hurt and eeeugh.” Ino shuddered and furiously polished her stiletto with a corner of her shirt. “I hate that man. And his bedside manner. But he really can fix anything.”

“People get fewer injuries when they are properly motivated.” Karin gave the prisoners a significant look. The three of them stopped gawping and applied themselves to their meal industriously.

When they were done, Ino opened a small pouch none of them had noticed in the flickering light cast by the lantern. She tossed the contents at them and gathered up the tray.

“Limes for you, limeys,” she said with a saucy grin and let herself out. Karin put her gun away as Ino locked the door. She traded the tray for the armament and it vanished into her clothing.

“Don’t forget to tell Sasuke!” Naruto shouted at Karin’s departing feet, blood already drying on his fingers.

Kakashi was loath to admit, even to himself, that for all their unconventional and unorthodox methods, the pirates of the Day Breaker were very good at what they did. Both of their jailors had conversed with them extensively, it meant the girl’s attention never wavered from her charges and the three men had had no time to plot a daring escape anyway. He hadn’t even realized the brilliance of the strategy until after Ino had stopped nattering and become absorbed in her book, whipping her head up when any of them shifted and re-immersing herself when she was satisfied they were suitably cowed. He wondered if this was why Shikamaru had barely said five words to either girl. Naruto made up for his comrade’s silence by spending every moment he could asking for someone to convince Sasuke to come down.


----------



Ino found herself in a new and unusual predicament. Bothering Sasuke was fun, but did not measure up to the succession of exasperation currently in progress. Naruto had finally irritated Karin to the point that she agreed to stop ‘distracting Sasuke from his duties’ if he would just agree to spend some time with Naruto. Sasuke’s conditions included getting rid of Shikamaru and Kakashi, and leaving Naruto in the stupid cage, presumably because the blonde would either hug him or beat him within an inch of his life. That much she had gathered from listening to him.

Less amusing was that apparently the Cap’n had convinced the Captain that the crew could use some liquid motivation, and Konan had not been able to prevent both captains from getting dead drunk. The Day Breaker, unlike other, notably more sunken, vessels, did not believe rum and wine improved the crew’s performance. Such potables were usually reserved for after killing a bunch of people, but since they had just come from Angel Island and there did not look to be any blood spilled before they made port again, everyone agreed it would be best to make space in the storeroom.

It all would have been fine had Karin not taken advantage of the captains inebriated state to propose the most ridiculous thing Ino had ever heard, and she put live Naval sailors on the ship.

Any fun she had been having with the situation quickly abandoned ship when Konan clapped iron manacles about her left wrist because hadn’t it been her idea in the first place to have them on board? The other end held Shikamaru, who was in turn chained to Kakashi, who had the unfortunate honor of being shackled to Karin, because the need for shackling had been her idea in the first place. Because attaching people was her best solution she could come up with for keeping them out of trouble while Sasuke and Naruto… conversed. At least she’d had the longest chain, because it was her right hand and this wasn’t going to prevent them from working.

Konan stepped back to look at the string of sailors in varying states of irritated.

“You’re lucky most of the crew is too drunk to do more than stare at you; I suppose you can swab the deck at very least,” she informed them crisply, before striding away to find the less hungover captain to discuss their plan to enter Barbados.
The two girls moved to take up mops and quickly discovered his Majesty’s finest were having none of it. Kakashi was willing to move so they could work, albeit not very quickly; but Shikamaru was adamantly resisting all efforts.

“Knees or groin?” Karin asked.

“Harder to move them when they’re rolling around in pain. Knees,” Ino answered, eyes narrowed.

Before the sailors could figure out and react to the pirates’ plan, both girls were behind them, delivering a swift kick to the back of their knees followed by a hard shove in the back. Once they were flat on the floor, the girls dragged them to the buckets, uncaring of what they dragged them through.

Ino glanced behind her and giggled. “It’s not true that men can’t clean. They did a fine job with that swatch of deck.”

“Well unless they plan to polish the rest of the ship like that, they’d better move when they’re told to, as they’re told to,” Karin pronounced like the experienced little disciplinarian she was.

Being chained to three other people made things rather difficult when it came time to do the steps to the quarterdeck, but Ino was nothing if not determined. And Shikamaru was nothing if not troublesome.

She slid around him to get to her pail, because naturally the cad refused to move out of her way. And she was being considerate enough not to use her left hand so he could sulk with his tucked into his elbow. It had nothing to do with the fact that he might have been stronger than her and in the better position. She was nearly done with the top step, when the chain yanked and she felt her left side being pulled backward and downward. It was enough for her foot to slide on the clean step and the rest of her wobbled precariously for a long instant before losing out to gravity. Shikamaru actually reached up to steady her, not letting go until she had fully righted herself.

They stared each other for an interminable second before coming to a silent accord. She didn’t thank him for saving her. He didn’t apologize for causing her to need it. They began to move toward the other staircase.


-



The four of them glanced toward the cabin when they heard muffled shouting. Karin reached for her bucket.

It could have been because the men were still groggy. It could have been because the rope hadn’t been replaced within recent memory. Whatever the reason, when the ship lurched over a particularly violent wave, the net of cargo swung hard enough to snap the rope hoisting it.

There was suddenly much more shouting.

“Hit the deck!” “Don’t hit the deck, RUN!”

The mass of barrels and casks fell, shifting like some dark, heavy jellyfish. It slammed into the deck hard enough to splinter the wooden planks. The force of the impact launch several of the smaller barrels through the open spaces of the net. A couple splashed harmlessly into the sea, but one caught Karin in the arm as the group tried to move out of the corner. It sent her over the railing and Kakashi soon after her, caught off guard. Ino and Shikamaru had that short span to turn and put their weight into not following suit.

But the two of them were no contest for the combined weight of Kakashi and Karin. Ino looped her right arm around Shikamaru’s waist, twisting and wrenching to work her slender wrist and thin hand out of the iron band, shrieking ‘man overboard!’ until her lungs demanded she actually breathe in first. She wedged herself between Shikamaru and the railing, practically folding in half to try and grab Kakashi.

Once she managed to help him up, Karin was still not within her reach, and the redhead’s wild pitching would probably only serve send him back over. Kakashi and Shikamaru backed slowly away from the edge to draw her up like well water.

“Give me your hand, you stupid bitch!” Ino squawked, upset coloring her indignant tone.

“It just got broken, and don’t you call me a bitch, hellcat!” Karin shrilled in return. Her arm hung limp and useless, much of it was fast turning purple.

“I am trying to save your life, you ungrateful—” Ino barely took notice of Karin being assisted over the railing and set carefully on her feet by Zetsu, who had come down too late to help much. She promptly slid to her knees, but kept arguing.

“My life isn’t in any danger except from your unholy—”

A shot rang out.

They all turned to look, but could not find the trigger man.

A moment later the doors to the cabin slammed open and Konan stalked out. What little composure the four had recovered quickly left them. Konan was wearing a pale pink walking gown, skirts clutched in her hands so she could stomp without tripping. The staccato of her naked feet, hard and white like horn, on the clean wood seemed to make the very ship tremble. The sky darkened.

Trailing after her were the captains and Tobi, who was waving a pair of shoes. The left had a still smoking hole through the toe.

The cloud passed the sun, and in the renewed light, it became apparent Konan was not red with anger, but with powder and paint.

“Konan. I, Tobi, have been to London, to Paris, to the great courts, attended balls and soirees. I have walked the streets, mingled with the common, the uncommon and the poor, penniless wretches. I preserved your English, your sword form. I am the reason any of you can play a role beyond ‘orphaned pauper’.” He drew himself up majestically. “I am the reason you aren’t hanging right now. The least you could do is trust me.”

Konan turned to face him, trying to cross her arms, but having some difficulty as her chest was not familiar any more.

“I grant that you are a master of culture and politics and everything else, and that your lessons have kept us from discovery when we do set foot on His Majesty’s shores. But even I know a widow doesn’t wear this, and you are just dressing me up like some child’s doll.”

“Alas, my intentions have been discovered.” In a lightning change of character, Tobi bashfully hid his cheeks behind his hands. “At least you understand a woman of this rank isn’t supposed to dress like that.” He pointed at Ino, who promptly stuck her tongue out him.

Konan’s eyes followed his finger and continued on, taking in the slumped crew dotting the deck, and finally stopping on the crashed net.

“I thought that crash was too loud to be my fault.” She tilted her head and leveled her gaze at the man closest to the hatch. “You, go find the shipwright, and get him up here. The rest of you, clear that cargo. Whatever’s broken is yours to sort out. Quickly please!”

“She’s not the captain. She can’t just give—”

“Shut up!” Karin hissed, while Ino threw a rag at him. “She’s the quartermaster, which is just as good, if not better.”

“Then what’s the point of having two captains?”

Karin was interrupted from retorting by Konan carefully helping her to her feet.

“Go see the doctor. Orochimaru seems to like you almost as much as Sasuke. I’m sure he’ll be gentle.” Her eyes fell on the iron bracelet she was sporting. Her voice turned frosty. “Ah yes.”

Nagato hurried over with Konan’s keys, sheepishly unlocking his crew. “I must have been really drunk,” he muttered, unable to remember agreeing to this.

“So,” Konan turned to Shikamaru and Kakashi. “These are our strays.”

“Still barking,” Yahiko came to stand beside her. “Not bad, for Navy dogs.” He flashed Shikamaru a grin. “I admire a man that fights his fate.”

“But he’ll end a man that fights him,” Nagato told them with gravity, over a quiet thunking.

“Konan.” Kakuzu’s peg leg nudged her ankle in irritation. “Those shoes cost someone a pretty penny. Ruining one is ruining both.” His hand twitched against his sword, an unconscious warning to avoid destroying more loot.

“They were too small,” she told him haughtily. “I told you that when you forced the first one on. Since neither of you were listening, I had to resort to other methods.”

“You kicked the first one at my head.”

“I was merely trying to remove it because it was too tight.”

Yahiko surveyed his ship (damaged), his crew (damaging) and the ocean (currently calmer than everything else), and wondered why Barbados had to be so far away.


------



Konan felt more like herself after washing her face of fashion and putting away the ridiculous dress. She climbed up to the helm, joining Nagato and Yahiko. The wind played with her loose hair, sending it flying into her eyes and abruptly sweeping it over her shoulder.

“Squall’s brewing.” The men grunted their agreement, eyes fixed on the horizon. It was difficult to tell whether it was storm clouds or dusk darkening the sky in front of them, but a quick glance at the sun told her all she needed to know. “I’ll tell them to batten down below.”

“All hands on deck.”

“Yes, captain.”

The order echoed across the ship, louder than the thunder prowling on the horizon’s edge. Konan disappeared down the hatch, and seconds after, men spilled out like high tide. Konan returned with rope scant minutes later, followed closely by the crew who had finished tying down the cargo and canons, also armed with lengths of rope. They began knotting the ends to each mast, ensuring the life lines would hold fast during the blow.

“Captains.”

“Zetsu.” “The storm?”

“Nigh an hour away, the way she’s pulling us in.”

“Tell the bilge rats to get an early start!” Yahiko rolled up the sleeves of his coat. “Nothing sinks this ship; not the Navy, not nature, not the unnatural nettles that crew her.” He took the wheel. “Make right your life lines, men! Or are you going to let a little water keep you from your pay?”

“Heave to!” thundered Nagato. “Secure the rigging.”

“Aye! Heave to!” Yahiko barked. “Longer we’re at sea, more likely I chain one of you to the prisoners!” He grinned with satisfaction as the men quickened their pace, setting the sails so that one offset the other and the wind wouldn’t be able to toss the ship about and off course like some toy boat. A captain couldn’t be a captain if he was one of those God-fearing men.

“What’s happening?” demanded Naruto, looking none the worse for wear. Unlike Sasuke, who had quickly and quietly retired to the forecastle without so much as a nasty glare as he passed the girls.

“Storm’s coming at us. The awful ruckus you heard would be ‘all hands on deck’,” replied Ino distantly, peering up the stairs.

“So… shouldn’t you be up there then?”

“It means something different for a storm than for a battle. In a storm, you only want the strongest men out there. Fewer people means less chance of getting everyone tangled in the ropes. And us girls would get knocked around like a petal. Get in everyone’s way.”

“Three men in a cage is better than thirty men trying not to get a face full of ship. So sound the fanfare, because we actually prefer your company to the crew’s for this.”

“Have you ever been to Barbados?” Ino asked the sailors abruptly.

“Is that where we’re heading?”

“No, I just like the name. Yes, it’s where we’re heading. Have you been there?”

“That’s our home,” Naruto said with some surprise. “Well, not Shikamaru. It’s a good place.” He gave the girls a reserved look. “Maybe not so good for a pirate. It’s the biggest British colony in the Caribbean, with, you know… the largest presence of naval officers.”

“Worried about us? You shiny pennies don’t scare me,” taunted Ino. “A baby could see all those buttons a mile away. You just do what you’re told, and we’ll try not to shoot you.”


----------



“I hope you’re a good actor,” murmured Konan, fussing with the buttons on her gloves while the boy Konohamaru ran off. Kakashi had had no qualms about telling him bits of the story Yahiko had concocted. Konan surmised the boy was more than just a messenger for the officers.

“Good enough to be a lieutenant,” was Kakashi’s blithe reply.

“Ino says you’d make a good pirate.”

“I’m flattered.”

“She also tells me,” Konan’s fan snapped open, “you have but two concerns, and I should only trust you won’t endanger those boys.”

Kakashi opened the door and gestured her in with an urbane smile. “Worry about your own ends, lady. Commodore Sarutobi, sir.”

“Lieutenant Hatake? Where on this earth have you been?” Asuma looked genuinely glad to see him. With his personality and dedication it had been no surprise to anyone that, even without being the governor’s son, Asuma Sarutobi had quickly risen through the ranks. Kakashi had managed to avoid being promoted and forced to command with great effort. It was very difficult to maintain an inconsistent performance and not be completely relieved of duty; a balance he felt he had handled quite well.

“I couldn’t rightly say, sir,” he replied honestly, watching Konan out of the corner of his eye. “You’d be better off asking the lady. It’s her ship.”

“It is altogether unsurprising, despite the phenomenal odds, that you, Hatake, could get shipwrecked and stranded and still find a woman’s company. I do hope he’s been no trouble to you, Miss—?”

“Missus,” she corrected him. “Missus Angela Legrand. I suppose I could be a Madame too. My husband was captain of the ship.”

Sympathy warmed Asuma’s smile.

“My condolences. My wife also suffers having a captain for a husband and all the perils that accompany the profession.”

“My brother helps me conduct Jean-Paul’s business. It is not so bad.” She brightened. “He even suggested the lieutenant show me the nicer parts of Barbados while he finishes his dickering.” She drifted to the window to look out at the sea.

“You lucky dog,” Asuma laughed genially. “Since you’ve promised, perhaps she and her brother should join us for dinner, to celebrate your safe return. The Admiral will want to hear your story.”

Kakashi tensed. “Admiral Danzo Shimura?” he asked cautiously. A quick glance at Konan showed she had not moved from her relaxed position, but the reflection of her face in the glass betrayed her. She was quick to recover.

“I would be honored to dine with an admiral. My brother however, might choose not to join us and remain with the ship. The crew doesn’t quite trust him, and they seem to be having language problems.”

“Ah well, you’ll have Lieutenant Hatake to keep you company.”

“Sir, are you sure we should invite her?” Kakashi asked in a low voice. “The Admiral isn’t exactly… well he is rather…”

“Might ‘frightening and rude’ be the words you are searching for, sailor?”

Both men jumped to attention and saluted the scarred stooped figure.

“No sir! I was just thinking she might become a little overwrought, being just widowed and her husband…”

“Lieutenant?” Konan remained looking calmly out of the window. “If my husband being French somehow offends the Admiral, or it is because I,” a woman hung unspoken between then, “inherited his ship and his business after his death, then I will join my brother for supper.”

Danzo stared at her for a minute and then laughed heartily. “She’s not as delicate as you thought. Have her over for dinner. Put her next to me, even.”

The Admiral left, with a grin still on his lips. Barely had the door shut behind him when Konan politely informed them she would need a dress before she could dine with the Admiral and requested to be taken to the shopping district.


-



They were looking for black dresses, because there was no time to have one made up for tonight. Kakashi didn’t notice her twisting the ring on her fourth finger, making bright stars from sunbeams.

He did notice the grimy boy who popped up suddenly in front of them, his hair matted and uneven under his cap.

“Please, mum,” he whined, sounding younger than his height suggested. “Spare a copper for us? Me poor babe sister has had naught but water for two days and—”

“I’ll give you this,” Konan held up a dull shilling, “if you’ll take a message to my ship.”

Kakashi stared at her in shock while she began scribbling on a piece of paper she pulled from her pocket.

“For a bob, I’ll even wait for the reply!” came the urchin’s cheeky answer.

“You ask to talk to the captain, tell him Angela was invited to dine with Admiral Shimura, and if he’s quick about his business, he is also invited to come with me. Ship is at the east dock, the one with the French name.” She folded up the paper and gave it to the boy. “Here’s the map,” she said, an undercurrent of something else in her voice. “I’ll be here looking for a suitable dress.”

“Yes’m! Be back afore you can say Jack Robinson.” The urchin tipped his cap in salute, and Ino’s jewel blue eyes twinkled at them.

“Now what?” asked Kakashi, rather impressed with how well the Day Breaker could keep itself and its crew hidden and still infamous throughout the seas.

“Now you stay here until she’s back while I see if that one with the embroidery fits.”

Left alone, Kakashi allowed himself to worry. Danzo was a sharp man, sharper than his sword and Konan was a hundred times more likely to be discovered, and therefore the boys were a thousand times more likely to die before the night was over.

He couldn’t convince himself that betraying the crown like this was worse than betraying Shikarmaru and Naruto, both of whom had told him not to mind them, and then looked so pathetically happy when he promised he would come for them after dinner.

Konan had tried on over ten dresses and finally decided on one when their messenger returned. However, he had somehow gotten a touch taller, with darker hair than when he left, and a different accent entirely.

“’E said he’ll as like miss dining with your Admiral, but he’d come and fetch you back to the ship after.” Karin scratched at the cap, plainly fighting her disgust with it. “Also said to bring yer Frenchy maid to you.” She glared at the prim blonde girl trailing behind her.

“S’why it took so long.”

Ino muttered something in French and glided over to Konan.

“Seems like you’ll all be free by midnight, Lieutenant,” she murmured as she passed him.


-



“And did your husband rename his ship after you, Miss Angela?” asked Governor Sarutobi kindly, over the Admiral’s head.

“Her name is the Blue Tempest. I would be offended, but that has always been her name.” Konan tried to pass her unease off as nervousness. Kakashi was sitting across from her, managing to look as serene as ever. She sincerely hoped this venture would be worth it with Shimura thrown into the fray.

“I haven’t ever heard of that ship,” he said thoughtfully, goading her. “And this is the largest colony in the Caribbean.”

“The largest British colony,” she replied demurely. “Her name, her cargo and her crew are all French. She hasn’t been to many English shores.”

She sipped at the wine in front of her, a rich dark red, praying she could find composure in it before it robbed her of her senses. She knew with Danzo to her right, she would need every bit of canny and quickness she possessed. She sincerely hoped Ino was having better luck with her task.

She was already straining her memory to remember the lessons in etiquette Tobi insisted on teaching them. They’d been young yet, and inclined to believe they could accomplish anything with a canon. But Tobi, whose eyes seemed centuries old, had taught them how much more could be done with deceit and adaptability. When asked why he was helping them, he only said they would steer the ship that ruled the seas. And they couldn’t do it if they were rotting at the end of a rope.

Konan was losing her calm while trying desperately not to show it. She had no idea how long these dinners were supposed to last, and Danzo seemed intent on drawing it out as much as possible. He dithered on the weather over the fish, argued with the governor while the roast goose was carved, argued with the governor and his wife while the roast goose was eaten, complained about the Dutch between spoonfuls of the soup, threatened the Spanish as he stabbed at his vegetables, and ignored the pudding in favor of finding fault with the French.

The governor told her to be grateful he had at least waited till after most every one was finished eating. She gave him a weak smile, and concentrated on not shaking in her seat.
“Hatake, weren’t you and the Indomitable escorting young master Nara to his family in Port Royal?”

“I was, sir. Hurricane came out of nowhere. I imagine all the survivors were scattered. I was fortunate enough to be found by Miss Angela.” Kakashi looked slightly alarmed that the Admiral’s attention was now on him

“And you chose to come back to Barbados rather than informing the boy’s family.”

“I couldn’t have asked my benefactor to turn around—”

“I am finished. Allow me to escort you back to your ship.” It was not phrased as an invitation. Konan felt her heart sink.


------



Ino was grateful she had gotten to wash her hair that afternoon, quick and cold though it was. She stuffed it all under her cap and shed the maid’s dress. Underneath were her dark clothes, a brace of daggers held the man’s shirt close to her.

She pictured the map Konan had drawn in her mind and traced the steps the quartermaster had taken earlier that afternoon.

She was in the middle of slicing the huge map on the wall into manageable parts when a soft clatter had her dagger an inch away from Karin’s eye.

Karin made a face at her and started rifling through the drawers, leaving any likely looking thing on the desk. There was a lumpy sack at her feet.

“Hurry up,” Karin told her. “Sasori and Deidara are to empty the armory and we’re going set the whole place aglow.”

“That wasn’t the plan,” hissed Ino quietly.

“They changed the plan when they heard this Danzo fellow was around. Don’t question the captains. This is either to hide what we’re taking, or the captains know something we don’t.”

Ino put the papers into the sack as Karin placed a small cask of gun powder on the desk and began carefully pouring a trail out of another. Three times they set kegs in other rooms and led a line out. They bumped into Deidara as they were laying the last of their powder. Theirs joined the twisting snake of char black on the ground. Ino raised an eyebrow at the length of it. A glance around showed her that Sasori had slit the patrol man’s throat and left him propped against a door so Deidara could play uninterrupted.
Deidara caught her look as he stood up. “Long enough so we can be well across down when she blows.”

“Sure it will all burn?” Karin questioned. Even though they were indoors, the flame could still go out before reaching the payload.

The gunner scowled at her in disgust. “When has it ever not?”

“The place was practically empty,” rumbled Sasori. “Light it and go. I do not think we were unexpected guests.”

“Well they didn’t stop us from coming here so…”

“The ship!”

Deidara quickly lit the end of his fuse and the four of them fled into the eerily silent night.

They were halfway to the docks when they clearly heard the first explosion.

“Told you,” he said smugly.


------



Yahiko and Nagato were waiting at their slip, the Breaker was nowhere in sight. The lanterns of a dozen naval vessels armed and set to open fire revealed why there hadn’t been any one at the barracks. Without a target, they floated harmlessly, waiting for a signal.

As Konan limped into view, both captains stood, swords half drawn.

Danzo considered the scene with amusement, a pistol pointed at them and his second-in-command holding his blade against Konan’s neck. Behind him thirty men in formation at the ready.

“So tell me. Which one of you is she wearing black for?” He cocked his gun.

“Why are you still here?” Konan demanded in distress. “If you knew they were coming you should have left and never looked back!” The officer’s thick hand tightened her arm in warning.

“Laughable. Pirates who believe in honor. I never thought I would see you three alive after so many years. You’ve made quite a name for yourselves as the pirates who can not be caught. This time however, it’s you against my armada. And your ship has—”

The explosion caught them all off guard. As one they turned, and the night sky blushed. The men shifted anxiously when the Admiral did not immediately command them back.

“Sir?” Kakashi prompted, in irons for the second time in his life. “Shouldn’t you do something about that?”

“Shut up.”

“Since I’ve been forcibly relieved of duty, I can say what everyone else is thinking. And everyone is thinking three pirates, two of whom are armed and excellent fighters, and a single traitor should not present you with a dilemma.” Kakashi glanced at the ensign guarding him, who had a mix of relief and fear and anger on his face.

“Leave it. It will be taken care of! These pirates will not walk away from here.”

“With respect sir, all the men are on the water!” “Sir, the people!”

“They’re not stupid. They can figure out what must be done.”

“You sure about that?” asked Yahiko. “I mean, that was a very large explosion, and they were sleeping, so I imagine they’re probably panicking right now and—” The next words died in his throat with a gurgle. He looked down at the bloom of red growing on his shirt. “I think… you missed.”

Nagato numbly grabbed him and slowed his fall, sword forgotten.

Danzo dropped his spent pistol and turned. “Kill them all and get back to town. Someone signal the ships to return.” He marched away, as if insulted his duty was getting in the way of justice.

Despite it most men were already heading in land, doing their true job rather than following their orders.

The few who remained were advancing on Nagato, who was desperately trying to staunch the blood.

“Yahiko!” Konan strained against her captor, not realizing his sword was gone from her neck. When he fell forward, nearly dragging her with him, she saw the stilettos buried in his back.

As if her cry roused him, the captain stood and dispatched two before more of the girls’ daggers hit their marks.

“Quickly! We have to get to the ship!”

Konan was weeping into her manacled hands. She barely noticed Karin picking the locks. Kakashi, freed by Ino, wrenched the quartermaster’s hands away from her face and slapped her.

“This is why women shouldn’t command.”

Stung, Konan automatically slammed her fist into him, knocking all the air from his lungs. She did snap out of her hysterics enough to apologize immediately. Restored, she began ripping her skirt to be used for bandages.

The last of the Navy ships left, taking her light with her. As if on cue, the lanterns of the Breaker replaced them, the ship summoned from its hiding place by the explosion. Already a long boat was on its way to fetch them.

Looking at Yahiko’s pale, drawn face, she decided the evening had definitely not been worth it.


----------



“Sorry about you being branded a traitor.” Ino sat down next to Kakashi and passed him a bottle of rum.

Konan had thrown open the storerooms. No one would get drink themselves into oblivion with the Cap’n being in the state that he was in, but all men needed something to toast his health with. And rum was about the only relief Yahiko would find until Orochimaru pronounced him fit to sail again.

“Better than the alternative,” Kakashi said with feeling. “I heard you think I would make a good pirate.”

“Well, not all pirates hang the rules because they have their own morals. Half the men here would as soon shoot me as look at me, but they don’t. I earned my right to be here. Seems like a system you wouldn’t object to.” She shoved herself up and walked away.

“…So that’s pretty much the end of it,” concluded Karin. “Captain’s not much inclined to have anything to do with you after that. I don’t think you’re ever getting to Port Royal.”

“You know they hang traitors in the Navy,” Ino chimed in. “Not taking them there might well be doing them a favor.”

“Nnnn does that mean we’re going to be sitting here guarding them forever?” the redhead whined.

“Nah. We’re to let ‘em go. Crew’s under orders not to hurt any of them unless they really deserve it. Returning the favor for the grayhead. Likely we all would have died if all those men hadn’t decided on their own to go back.”

“You’re square with being pirates?” Karin asked, with some reservation. Shikamaru shrugged, wincing a little at Naruto’s vigorous nodding.

She actually clapped with joy and wasted no time in unlocking the cell.

Shikamaru opened his mouth.

“Oh just shut up,” the girls chorused.


“I was only going to say ‘thank you’,” he grumbled.


Naruto picked both girls up and danced them around for a moment before bounding off to find Sasuke, yelling his name as he took the steps three at a time. Karin realized what he was about a moment too late, and tore after him, threatening to nail him to the mast if he so much as touched a hair on Sasuke’s head.


Ino held out her hand to Shikamaru, who shook it without hesitation.


“Better show you where you’ll be sleeping from now on then. I should say it again, shouldn’t I? Welcome aboard the Day Breaker.”



end

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