Wide tipped inkpen pressed between his nose and stiff upper lip, Rico sat cross legged as he glared at a piece of canvas [Begging Sign, 4th Iteration].
“Like I said, sympathy, sympathy!” Wicc coached.
Words strained as he spoke through his upturned lip, Rico explained, “Well, I don’t wanna lie, and I don’t wanna copy you, but it’s like...I just don’t know!”
Wicc sighed. “Well, why did you stop the mugger?”“You’re my friend! Of course I’ll help you!”
“Yeah, people want to help others, sometimes even complete strangers. Has no one helped you before?”
Rico’s face relaxed, the pen dropping into his hand. “More than I can ever pay back...”
Shaking his head, he added, “And that’s exactly why I don’t wanna!”
Wicc paused, letting out a low sigh. “Guess that’s fair. Come on, let’s take a break, bum around town a bit.”
Finding a spot to sit bench around the corner of a cafe they got some drinks at (Wicc’s treat), the man suggested, “You want to leave, right? Go to Zenith with some signs that say ‘Anywhere but here’. Might even get a free ride! Or some people trying to beat you up, but you can take ‘em. See, it’s not really mugging if they
initiate.”“Holy shit you’re a fucking genius.”
Wicc blushed. “Well, just doin’ my best.” A shadow cast over him.
“Yup, that’s them captain.” The mugger from before was no longer alone, joined by more men in similar dark leathers, varying body types and colors between them. At the forefront, a whip lashed at his side, his beard bristled like thorns from a rosebush, a round leather cap on his head with straps hanging down. He looked over Rico and Wicc, before his face cracked into a smile with browning teeth not quite fitting to their browner gums. [“Painmaker” Desprit, 8 million beri, Captain of the Good Vibes Pirates]
“You the Fruit user? We could use you on our crew,” said Desprit.
“Wait, you’re not seek revenge for me?” said the mugger, his face fallen. The men near him backed up, strained smiles coming to their faces as a vein popped out on Despirt’s forehead. Glancing around, the mugger quickly straightened his posture, a smile of his own coming to his face, but Desprit had already loosened his whip. With a fast hand, he struck the man again and again, blood letting through torn skin. “Augh, god, thank you sir! I can never thank you enough! You’re the best captain ever!”
“Yes, exactly! Good Vibes only with the Good Vibes Pirates! If I want a new member we’re getting one, no matter what they did to any of you!”
“Augh! I’m looking forward to trying to sleep in pools of my own blood, I was getting too much lately anyway!”
Wicc elbowed Rico. “See, some people can enjoy life no matter what, we should be more like them.”“I really don’t want to.”
Waving his hand, he said, “Sorry, I’m a pirate myself so no can do!”
Desprit pulled his whip back, grimacing. “Grrr, your vibes are good but they make me feel bad!” Looking to Wicc, he asked, “What about you?”
Wicc laughed. “Sorry, I’m more interested in doing my own thing. Not interested in being tied down, you see.” He wiggled his fingers. “Like the commitment though. Good vibes~”
Desprit wailed. “No no no no no good vibes are my thing only mine only I need to feel good vibes!” He shot his whip out, the tip cracking through the air. Wicc covered his body, only for the lash to strike Rico’s arm, covering the older guy, his face twisted to anger. “Ah hah! There are your bad vibes!” Blood dripped from Rico’s torn sleeve. Desprit moved behind his men, who all started pulling out cutlasses and clubs.“Do you guys actually not like me, or are you just more afraid of him than you are me?”
Bursting through the door to her home, Coriander caught her breath. Hyssop looked up from yesterday’s newspaper, today’s not having arrived yet for the weather. “Where are the girls?” he wondered.“Sorry! Is it okay if we have company?
Coriander’s fists gyrated. “We ran into a Marine, my age kinda, and he was nice so we were talking to him and I thought it would be good for Peppermint and stuff but we gotta eat so I invited him but I didn’t ask first!”
Hyssop blinked. “Sh-should be-”
“Of course it’s fine! I’m not about to turn away a hungry soldier!” called Marjoram from the kitchen.
Coriander pumped her fist, turning back. “Thanks mom!”
Scrambling from the house, she ran back to Haku, Peppermint, and Rue with good news to share.
The smile on Hyssop’s face was stuck still, and once he was sure Corainder was gone, it shifted to a look of light panic. “H-honey!”
As he limped through the door from the dining area to the kitchen, she snapped, “You just said you were fine with syrup!”
Finding a chair, he insisted, “No, it’s not that. She’s bringing a sailor home
“You don’t have to say it like that.”
“Of course I do! She...she’s never met a boy her age and puberty was years ago! She’s bound to be a late bloomer and...ah, I don’t think I’m ready.”
Marjoram turned on him. “You’re
not ready? I’ve been feeling sorry enough for her lately. Any girl longs for love, we’re just lucky she hasn’t turned nasty for it.” Hyssop gawked. “Yet.”
“Wh-what’s that supposed to mean!?”
“She’s gotta get married eventually! Is a religious obligation for starters.” Hyssop’s eyes threatened to pop from their sockets. “Didn’t you read the bible? Half the time I think of her as a child but I forget how much you’re still holding on to.”
Hyssop slumped onto the bare counter. “But...a sailor? A soldier?”
“Steady work. Might mean she’s relocating a lot, which she’d love I’ll bet. Some wives join up as cooks or other less sensitive positions.”
“SHE JUST MET HIM TWENTY MINUTES AGO!” Slumping back, Hyssop moaned, “What if she gets taken advantage of?”
Brandishing a knife, Marjoram said, “Well, if he gives off a bad odor we can chase him off.”
“...Why do you have a knife, you’re making waffles.”
She admitted, “It just found its way into my hand. Does that sometimes.”