Mr. Tall, Dark, and Dangerous
The first time Buggy saw him was during a meeting between the two most powerful pirates in the New World. The man was standing next to Whitebeard, as he and Roger spoke, his dark hair gelled back, and his scarred face pulled into a bored expression. Buggy sighed, he checked all his boxes; tall, dark, and looked like he would step on Buggy. Shanks sidled up to his friend and followed his gaze.
“Yeah, that’s probably not a great idea, Bugs. That’s Crocodile, rumor has it he is some distant relative of the old man. I hear he has a bounty over 300,000 and a vicious temper.” Buggy just nodded before following the red head back to the Oro Jackson.
The next time he saw him, Roger and Newgate had teamed up to deal with a particularly troublesome marine admiral and his fleet. Crocodile was sitting on the rail of the Moby Dick looking completely at ease as he smoked a cigar and looked off into the distance. The man was messing with the sharp gold hook that had replaced his left hand.
The wind had blown a raven lock loose and it hung in Crocodile’s face, if they were on the same ship, and Buggy were a braver man, he would have reached out to tuck the loose hair behind the man’s ear. If he were Shanks, he could do it with a confident grin and quick pick-up line. But instead, he was Buggy, the apprentice with the schemes but no flashy powers or amazing battle winning talents. Crocodile looked up and met Buggy’s gaze. Buggy felt his face heating up as he quickly began fiddling with the rigging pretending, he hadn’t been staring at the other man. When he looked again Crocodile was gone.
Buggy hated battles like this, the ones where the deck became slippery with blood and you had to watch your step as not to trip over a corpse. The admiral had caught up with them at dawn. Watching the three massive navy ships approach Buggy had questioned the intelligence of Roger and Whitebeard deciding to meet the challenge with only their own flagships.
He blocked a clumsy blow from the young marine he was fighting. The boy looked like he wasn’t much older than 17 and Buggy felt a moment of pity as he drove his cutlass into his assailant’s throat. There was no room for compassion here. If your opponent didn’t surrender you killed them, or they killed you. Buggy glanced around the deck of the marine ship he and Shanks had been sent to defeat. The battle was winding down, Shanks stood nearby reciting the terms of surrender to what was left of the ship’s crew.
Movement caught Buggy’s eye and he stared in horror as a huge form approached the oblivious Shanks raising a large sword. Buggy moved before he could even think, darting forward and raising his own blade. The muscles in his arms screamed as he managed to stop the massive man from slicing Shanks’ signature straw hat, and his head, in two. As the was deflected Buggy felt his arms give and his sword was spinning out of his hand and across the deck. He had a moment to realize he was about to die cause his best friend was a chivalrous idiot that didn’t expect to be attacked from behind. Then the man’s sword was coming back aimed right at his head. Buggy shut his eyes waiting for pain, but it didn’t come. After a few seconds he opened his eyes to see the hulking mass of muscle before him withering away to a skeletal husk before falling lifeless to the deck. Crocodile was standing hand outstretched scarred face pulled into an expression of manic joy. His dark eyes met Buggy’s.
“Brave move Clown, stupid, but brave.” And then Shanks had spun him around and was furiously checking him for injuries in full mother hen mode.
The party the two crews threw that night was loud and boisterous. The admiral’s ship had a supply of high-quality rum of all things that was being generously distributed. Buggy sat on a corner of the Moby Dick nursing his own glass as he tried to brush off his near decapitation that afternoon. Shanks had been with him until he got bored of Buggy’s dark mood and wandered off. The red head was currently flirting hard with a very amused looking member of the Whitebeard Pirates. Buggy recognized him as the ship’s doctor, Mario, Martha, something like that.
As he watched Shanks stumbled forcing the other to catch him. Buggy snorted, he wondered if the doctor was intelligent enough to realize that Shanks was far more sober than he was currently pretending to be. He had been watching his friend so intently he didn’t hear the man behind him approach, and nearly jumped out of his skin when a deep voice spoke.
“This seat taken?” Buggy shook his head as Crocodile sat next to him. The dark-haired man followed Buggy’s gaze and snorted. “Looks like that friend of yours is trying very hard to hit on Marco.”
“Yeah, he does that.” Buggy grinned as Shanks leaned into the other man pretending to be dazed.
“Jealous?” Buggy blinked dumbly for a moment at the question before laughing.
“Oh hell no. We are close, but it’s hard to be attracted to someone who you have watched drink themselves sick and had to jump in after when they fell overboard because they weren’t paying attention and wanted to get a closer look at the pretty fish.”
“I don’t know many people who would throw themselves between a sword and a friend.” Buggy shrugged.
“He would do the same for me. And thanks, by the way, for helping keep my head attached to my shoulders.” Crocodile was grinning at him.
“Would be a real shame for someone to scar such a pretty face.” Buggy was about to protest that he wasn’t pretty when the other’s lips pressed against his.
The next morning when Buggy was led to the mess hall, he found he wasn’t the only Roger Pirate still on the Moby Dick. Shanks shot him a thumbs up from where he was sitting next to Marco. The more startling sight was Roger himself merrily talking to a very hung over looking Whitebeard.