Chapter 16: Setting Sail for The Grand Cross
“I swear, if I never see another Royal again, it will be to soon,” Sanji said as the ship got smaller with distance.
Shadow nodded, “Yes. But must they always be like that?”
“Well, I don’t want to defined them but you are quite beautiful,” Sanji said scratching the back of her ear.
Walking up to them, Ushio chuckled, “I have to agree. I mean when I first saw you I was... skeptical…”
“Skeptical?” Sirraco interrupted.
Ushio rolled her eye’s. “I’ve never seen a Lupus Vespertilio in person before but I’ve heard rumors.”
Sanji wrinkled his nose as his eyes narrowed.
“But it seems to me that these rumors aren’t necessarily true. And I would not mind having you on the crew, Shadow. Nor some who actually enjoys cooking.”
“I’m sorry, but you can’t change my mind. Shadow and I aren’t leaving here.”
“Sanji is right. You seem like decent people, but we owe this place a great dept.”
“Alright, but if you change your minds let us know. I wouldn’t mind having your amazing cooking again,” Sora said returning her swords to their sheaths.
“We do appreciate the offer though,” Shadow added as her feet touched the ground and began to walk back inside, Sanji still on her back.
Seeing that we finished the fight, the customers began to filter back in when while we continued down the deck to the doors.
“I don’t know about you guys but I for one am hungry.”
Ushio clinched her fist. “And I repeat, is that all you think about!” She said punching me in the back of the head.
“Ow!” I said rubbing the spot she hit. “Sorry, but when you use up so much energy that fast, it kind of makes you hungry fast. I don’t eat a lot because I want to. I eat a lot because I have to, especially after using energy burst. As of right now, i can use to other attacks with energy burst. It’s not something I like to use often.”
“But when you used that energy rope thing and energy burst back on Noberu, you were able to run all the way from Seara’s house to our ship,” Sora said as we walked back to our table.
“Yes, energy bind uses very little energy that it hardly counts, not to mention it really isn’t meant to be used in a fight. So after I used energy burst that day it didn’t use as much energy as I did today with my other two attacks.”
“Now see, Ushio, you’ve been complaining about his appetite all this time for nothing,” Sirraco teased.
“Maybe so, but he could have said something about it sooner,” Ushio replied as she pulled out a chair and sat down.
“He barely even knew you at the time!”
“No, Sirraco, Ushio is right, I could have and should have said something sooner. That said, I’m still hungry. Sanji will you make us some food?”
“What kind of question is that? I’m a chef! Making food is what I do. It’s kind of in the job description,” Sanji said sarcastically.
I gasped, “Can we watch you cook?!”
“Absolutely not!” He replied sharply,
“What would la ’arm be,” April said placing a hand on Sanji’s shoulder.
“The kitchen is for employees onl~” Sanji’s voice trailed off at the end when April tilted her head just slightly and raised a brow. “Oh, all right, fine. They can watch if they want.”
April had got each of the pirates a chair for them all to sit along the island counter I was working at. The kitchen was huge which left plenty of room for the five of them to set and the us chefs and waitresses to work.
Having them watch me cook was a bit annoying. I tried to ignore their presence as I moved around the kitchen getting the utensils I needed. I got an iron skillet off the wall and placed it on the stove, as well as two pots hanging above the counter. A small whisk from a drawer and a fork. A measuring cup for liquids off the shelf, and measuring spoons hanging next to the measuring cups for powereds, spices and other solid ingredients. I placed everything on the counter and continued to get the engrediance. Shadow sat beside me making sure she didn’t get in my way.
“So, Sanji, have you always wanted to be a cook?” Ushio asked.
“No,” I replied with a dull voice as I carefully cut some unions.
“What made you want to be one?” Seara said while I put the unions in the smaller of the two pots which had peas and cut red potatoes boiling in water.
“The idea of it grew on me, having to watch everyone cook,” I said mixing together flower, salt, pepper, and a bit of corn starch in the small dish. I left the mix sit as I put butter in the larger pot on a low heat and let it melt.
“Now, will you join my crew?” Shiro said when I began mixing flower, salt, and pepper in a large mixing dish for the fried fish.
“I’ll kick you if you don’t stop asking me that!”
“Right because that sound real threatening,” the Pirate Reaper said sarcastically.
“Sanji is black belt level in martial arts,” Shadow replied as I poured the first mixture into the pot with the melted butter and stirred it until it was a paist.
“Shadow, you know as well as anybody else that I do not have a black belt in martial arts, nor have I ever taken a class,” I said slowly adding milk to the pot while continuing to sture.
“I never said you did, I said you were at black belt level.”
When the milk gravy was done I turned off the heat, drained the water from the peas and potatoes and mixed them in the gravy. I then began to fry the fish.
“Well, I don’t care if you do have one or not, I still want you on my crew,” Shiro finally said as I placed the fish on plates and the peas and potatoes in small bowls.
I looked at Sora, “Does this guy not know how to take no for an answer?”
“No,” Ushio and Sirraco said blankly, slowly shaking their heads while Sora and Seara chuckled.
When they finished eating, Sirraco stude up and stretched, “Well, I don’t know about you guys but I’m ready to set sail.”
“But we still haven’t convinced Sanji to join our crew!” Shiro said.
“You heard the guy. He doesn’t want to join, so let’s just forget about it.”
April walked into the kitchen, “Sanji, Shadow, could ze both of you come haire pléasé?”
The two of us followed her to the paintry.
“What is it, April?” I asked.
“Go wiv zem.”
Shadow and I stared at her, wide eyed, mouths open.
“C-come again?” Shadow replied after a minute of silence.
“Go wiv zem.”
“April! How could… Why would…” I tried to speak but couldn’t finish.
“Sanji, let me explain. It’s not zat ai went you to leave. Ai can see eet een yur eye when yur around zem, you went to go, zo go. La entiyairé time I’vé known you I’ve seen notheng but a young man wiv too many questshe-ons ’é needs answairs to. You’re not goéng to find zem haire, Sanji. Ai don’t know if you’ll evair find zém, but if you léave you weehl at least ’ave a chance to. Zo if you tru-lee went to répai Zedd and ai zen go and sairch fair zém.”
“Sanji, do you remembair zat island Zedd and ai tuld you abut when you first décided you wented to bé a cook?”
“Do you steehl beliéve eet might bé reahl?”
“Thén go find eet. Prove to ze whirld zat it’s not a lejened.” She said placing her hands on either side of my face. “You know beeng a piraté eez la best wai to find eet. Le navy ’as to many restricshe-ons et we’re not leaveng ze Westairn Ocean anytime soon. But those kids oot zere, théy’ré goeng now. Zeir nice péople, you can trust zem.”
“You only just meant them. How can you be so sure?”
“Sanji, did you not see ze wai zéy jumped to defined Shadow? Zey fought fair zumone zey just meent. If zat doésn’t prové anythéng zen ai don’t know what doés. Go wiv zem. Travél lé whirld and fullow yur dréams. Un dai you weehl lairn to trust zem as much as you trust us, maibé even maire. And if you évair decide you went to leave zem, you weehl alwais ’ave a ’ome haire to comé bak to.”
“Okay. We’ll go. But only long enough to find evidence that the island does exist.”
“Sanj! Do you not remember our conversation earlier today?”
“Yes, Shadow, but… I need to do this.”
Shadow nuzzled into my neck and sighed, “I know.”
“YES!” I heard someone holler behind us.
Shadow and I turned to see Shiro and the others standing in the doorway of the pantry.
“Thank gosh! I don’t have to cook anymore!” Ushio said.
“I got two new crewmembers!”
Sirraco laughed, “I feel bad for the new guy! Have fun making the food for your own banquet!”
“Aaagh! He’s right we have to have two more banquets! Well, three including Seara’s.”
“Woh, Shiro, slow down. We don’t want to over welm him with your food obsession. Give him a chance to get adjusted and stuff,” Seara laughed.
“Well, Sanji, if we’re really going to do this, we’ll need to go pack,” Shadow said just before my feet was lifted off the ground.
“Shadow! Put me down! I can get there myself! How many times do I have to tell you, I’m not your puppy!” Everyone laughed as we left the Kitchen. “IT’S NOT FUNNY!”
“Are you one hundred percent sure you want to do this Sanji?” Shadow asked as I packed my clothes.
“No, but maybe April is right. Maybe it will be helpful. I’m not saying we need to become friends with them, just try to get along with them. I mean it isn’t like we have to tell them our darkest secrets, is it?”
“Well, no, but becoming a pirate. Sanji that is the exact kind of thing that could get us into the trouble I spoke of earlier.”
I finished packing my clothes, grabbed my case of knives and other cooking utensils and placed it on the bed. I then began walking around the room and picked up all my odds and ends, such as pictures of Zedd, April, Shadow, and I. “I know, but hey at least I have you.”
“Yes,” She agreed walking over to the night table. She lifted her paw and pulled it out be hooking her claw on it. “You might want to bring this,” She said pulling necklace out, holding it gently in her mouth. I took it from her and reluctantly placed it in with my clothes. “I know you don’t want it, I can’t say I blame you. But you don’t want someone to accidentally finding it ether.”
“Yeah, it’s probably best. Besides, you never know if we end up needing it for something. I highly doubt it but if I don’t bring it we will need it. Well, I think that’s everything.”
“All right. Shall we go then?”
“Yeah,” I sighed.
When I finished packing Shadow took the baga and we walked out to the living room. I stood there for a while examining the room, memorizing every little detail so I wouldn’t forget it. After awhile, Shadow forced her head under my arm. She looked at me with empathetic eyes. I nodded once, smiling at her. Down stairs the dining hall was empty. We went to the kitchen but nobody was there. I took in the smell of the familiar foods before leaving. I slowly walked to the door out to the deck. I looked over the plaques that The Galleon won over the years and the pictures of the staff, Zedd , April, Shadow and I.
The deck was crowded with the customers that have been coming here for years and the chefs and waitresses. Our new crew mates were all waiting on their ship for us, as Shadow and I passed April and Zedd standing on either side of the door. Silently, we walked to the pirate ship.
The little boy that I took for a flight early this morning ran up to me and hugged my leg.
“Thank you for taking me for a ride on Shadow and for making me that free birthday cake. It was the best birthday I ever had!”
I placed my hand on the boys head, “You’re welcome kid. Come back again and someday when we return we’ll take you for another flight. But only if you grow up to be a kind young man who cares about others. Respect your parents and others, never hit a lady but most importantly don’t ever waste food. Thank you can do that?”
The boy’s face lit up. He nodded, “Uh-huh!” He gave Shadow a hug before running back to his parents. “Mommy, Daddy! Did you hear that? He’s going to take me flying again.”
“Yes, we did,” they replied as Shadow and I continued down the deck.
“Take care, Shadow, Sanji.”
The two of us froze mid step as we were about to board the ship, over the past seven years Zedd had never called us by name. We looked back, April was looking at him with a small, pleased smile. I could feel a tire welding up in my right eye as I looked at the two people I trusted more than anyone. I dropped the case with my knives, ran back to the only people I can call family and through my arms around them both.
“Thank you. For every thing. Your kindness is the one thing we will never forget,” I said as a tire rolled down my right cheek.
“We lové you Sanji,” April replied. “I wish you could stai, but you’ve got zo much lifé ahéad of you. You can’t spend eet all haire. You are an amazéng chef, wiv zo much potential. Travel ze whirld zo you can unlok zat potential. Even le best chefs ’ave ruhm to grow.”
I polled away and looked at her. “I don’t understand what you mean. What potential?”
“You weehl figuré eet oot soon, ai promize. Now, go. And alwais remembair zat, if evair you need eet, you weehl alwais ’ave a ’ome haire, non mattair what ’appéns,” April’s voice was soft and gentle.
Shadow nuzzled Aprils cheek, “We will.”
“Tak care of Sanji,” April added petting Shadow on the head.
“I always do.”
“Get out of here Kid and if you even think about coming back before you actually deserve the title Sous Chef, I’ll kick your ass!” He paused for a moment. “By that I mean, when you come back, Sanji, you better be at least the second best chef here and not third best.”
I smiled and nodded once, coming from him that was a complement of high appraisal. I climbed onto Shadow’s back and she flew towards the ship. She grabbed the case I had dropped with claw, and dropped it on the ship before we made one last flight show, circling the restaurant I call home and spun up-sided-down once before landing on the deck of the pirate ship.
“Ready to set sail?” Shiro asked us.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Sirraco, hoist the anchor!” He said turning to the others. “Ushio, Sora, unfrail the sail! Set sail for The Grand Cross!”
“Goodbye, Sanji, Shadow!” the people at The Galleon called to us.
“We hope to see you again, soon!”
“Have fun on your journey! We’ll miss you!”
“We’ll be back as soon as we can!” I hollered back to them.
Shadow and I watch as April, Zedd, and The Galleon faded from our vision.
“Wanna go see what the kitchen looks like?” Shadow asked.
“It’s just through those doors. I can have Sirraco take your stuff to the boys dorm if you like,” Sora said.
“Thanks but Shadow and I can get it later,” I smiled at her.
“Well, I can at least show you to the kitchen.”
“If anyone should be showing someone anywhere, it should be me showing you to dinner.”
“Is that you’re best pickup line?” She teased.
“Uh, No, I didn’t mean it like that! I just meant that it’s been awhile since you guys ate, maybe I should go make something for you. Or even~”
“I’m sure the other would like that. Come one, I’ll show you the kitchen then give you a tore, not that there’s much to see, it is a bit small compared to most pirate ships,” She said leading me to the cabin.
When you first walk into the cabin you see the small dining area. To the left was the kitchen. I walked over to get a better look. In the cupboards were pots and pans just thrown in randomly. Plates and bowls were stacked like a game of jenga, with large plates on top of saucers. The cooking utensils where shoved into a draw with the silverware and couldn’t close all the way. So unorganized!
“You guys won’t mind if I did a little rearranging would you?” I said seeing the unprofessional state of their kitchen.
“Of course not. You’re the chef, which makes this your kitchen,” She said.
“Sora’s right. I’ve got my Mapping room,” Seara said coming into the cabin with the others.
“I have my Captain’s quarters!”
“And everyone else has no private room.”
“Sirraco, what kind of room would a swordsmen need?” Ushio asked. “I meaning I wouldn’t mind a small lad for experimenting on my arrows but does a swordsmen really need a personal room?”
“Some sort of work out room to practise my skills. A swordsmen needs to be able to get stronger through experience and practise.”
“I wouldn’t mind that,” Sora responded. “Maybe we can add one later, but for now I’m fine with practising on the deck. You up for a fight sometime? We haven’t done that in awhile.”
“Maybe tomorrow. That fight today’s got me beat.”
“Yeah, we should all probably get some rest after that,” Ushio replied.
’Yes, but first, I’m hungry! Sanji, food! Make us food! Uh, please.”
“I was going to do that anyway, you don’t have to beg. If you’re hungry I’ll feed you. But fair warning, if anyone, i don’t care what the reasoning is, wastes even a single bread crumb while I am the chef of this ship, I will see to it that their ass gets kicked. Shiro maybe the captain of this ship but I’m the captain of the kitchen. Do I make myself clear?”
Everyone stared at me in silence, as if they didn’t know if I was joking or not.
“He’s serious! He will do it. The kitchen is a cooks domain, when it comes to food and meal time, the chef is the captain.” Shadow said. “Understood?” She added more intimidating than I was.
“Understood,” they replied.
“Don’t forget! We’re having a banquet! We still haven’t had one for Seara joining and then tomorrow will be Sanji’s and the next day will be Shadow!”
“There’s no need for two banquets for the two of us. Were kind of a package deal. If you want on of us, you get us both,” Shadow said.
“Okay then we’ll have two banquets for the both of you!”
“Shadow, just don’t even bother. He seems to dance to understand the concept of only needing one.” I said putting a hand in front of her face.
After I finished cooking and setting the table everyone sat down to eat.
“Wow! This food looks amazing!” Ushio said.
“It’s so beautifully displayed!” Sora added.
“Of course it is. Presentation is key.”
Shiro banged his head on the table and Sirraco face-palmed while the girls looked at eachother.
“I like him already,” Ushio said.
Sora and Seara nodded in agreement.
“What’d I do?”
“Nothing,” Sora laughed.
“Sora and I said that when we were remodeling this ship,” Ushio chuckled.
“We had just finished and was going to begin moving in the furniture in the boys and girls dorms.”
“And the boys said what does it matter what the dorms look like as long as there is room for everything. I said the way a room is kept tells a lot about a person.”
“I then replied with presentation is key.”
“Well I couldn’t agree more. Cooking is an art, it is important to present it properly. What are you all waiting for? Eat!”
“What does it matter? It’s all going to the same place,” Sirraco said in regards to my cooking being an art statement.
“No you don’t,” Shadow said grabbing the back of my jacket with her claw.
“Hmm, what’s that?” I said pointing to a cork bulletin board, above it was the words, Condition board, in white letters.
“Oh that is our condition board. I came up with the idea so this pirate’s crew members had an insurance policy,” Ushio began as I walked closer to the board. Shadow and Seara followed me. “Oh yeah, we haven’t explained it to Seara yet, either. Each member writes down condition for them joining the crew and nobody can complain. For me, I’m only here to find my mother. As soon as I do that, I’m leaving. That’s the condition I’m most concerned about, that I came up with anyway. So if there is anything you would like to add go for it. You can have as many as you need and add more in the future.”
“So if it’s an insurance policy for the crew members, why does the captain have a columb?”
“He thought of something he wanted to add so we decided that it would probably be fine to let him put some up for him letting people join or whatever. It’s also so nobody forgets what each of us are here for.”
I read through each condition carefully. I paused when one condition in particular caught my attention.It was under Shiro’s columb. He had the fewest conditions, but this one really stuck out to me.
“No secrets?” I whispered to myself.
“Do you want to go back? We’re not that far. If we go now we should get there in an hour or two by air,” Shadow whispered in my ear.
“No, it will be fine. I hope.”
To be continued!
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