The Sands of Fate and Heartstrings

BY : Roronoa_93
Category: +M to R > One Piece
Dragon prints: 381
Disclaimer: I do not own one piece. The characters belong to Eichiiro Oda, their original creator. I make no profit from this.

Some kingdom in the Grand Line…

It was a big town with a bustling market street. The busy crowds took no notice of a twiggy teen as they darted through, pickpocketing and cutting purses. It wasn’t often they were caught, and the pistol on their belt usually halted most in their tracks – especially when it was aimed at them. Happy with the haul they gathered from that day’s fools, the teen sauntered through back alleys throwing and catching the bag of gold coins in their hand.

The teen was void of any indicator of gender. With mid-neck length hair that was slicked back, a single gold hoop in one ear, and a skinny, malnourished figure, the teen could have been either.

When they reached the end of one darkened alley there stood a group of men and a child wearing sunglasses with their backs to the teen. Suckers. The teen prepared to pick the larger man’s pockets, he looked almost like he was melting, his face an uninterested daze. It took a second for the teen to realise the man had turned around. Another second for the man, who was quicker than he appeared, to grab hold of the skinny teen’s wrist hard enough to bruise. Less than a second for the teen’s life to flash before their eyes. It was nothing important. A homeless thief wasn’t what the teen wanted to die as. Fear left the teen’s eyes, making way for a renewed sense of purpose and vitality.

“Stop, Trebol” commanded the child

The droopy man, Trebol, turned to the child “Ne, ne, Doffy, why should I~? He was trying to steal from me!”

“Fufufu, if anyone is brave enough to do that, then maybe they can be some fun” the child, Doffy, retorted

Reluctantly Trebol released the teen with a grumble. The teen rubbed their bruising wrist and looked between the child and the droopy man. Who was this kid that ordered around a guy like that?

“Hey, thief, What’s yer name?” Doffy demanded

The teen looked the child up and down before replying. The child wore dark sunglasses that blocked out his eyes, his clothes weren’t much better quality than the teens, and his hair was dishevelled like it hadn’t been brushed properly in a while. Just a normal looking kid.

“They call me Croq… Crocodile” the teen replied nonchalantly, ignoring their own stutter, “And you?”

“The name’s Doflamingo, Donquixote Doflamingo” the child grinned, somehow it was like he expected Crocodile to know who he was.

“That’s quite the name, for a kid” Crocodile wasn’t exactly looking down at him but being a kiss ass wasn’t on the list of things either.

Doffy wasn’t impressed but his smirk only faltered for a second. Behind his shades he judged the thief in front of him. Skinny, malnourished, homeless. Perfectly expendable. Behind him Trebol was trying not to main the thief, after all, no one insults his king. But his king told him no. And his king needed this thief for a little thievery.

“How good of a thief are you Crocodile?” Doffy goaded, “Fufufu, you can’t be that great since Trebol here noticed you coming”

Crocodile snarled, “I’m the best damn thief in this town, ask anyone”

“fufufu, if you’re that great then I have a proposition for you croco-chan. We’ll discuss it over some food, what do ya say?” Doffy held out a hand to shake crocodile’s.

Crocodile eyed it suspiciously, whatever deal this kid had couldn’t be good. Just as the teen contemplated rejecting the offer, their stomach rumbled. The child’s grin widened, Doffy knew the teen would take his offer from hunger alone.

He was right.

Though crocodile liked to think they still had their pride, the teen followed, the promise of food the highlight of their day.

*

“You want me to what?” Spoon midway to their mouth, crocodile gaped at Doffy as the child grinned.

“There’s a devil fruit being locked away by the bandits in this town. We need someone on the inside to let us in, so we can take it and use it for our family” Doffy repeated, “Fufufu, and since you’re the best thief in town, you’re only perfect for the job” he teased.

“So, I just need to… open the door?” Crocodile worded slowly, “A thief they barely trust, who is under constant supervision while in said hide out, needs to open the heavily guarded door to let a bunch of strangers in to steal their prized devil fruit?”

“Yeah, that about sums it up”

“You’re insane”

“Fufufu, Yet you’re still here”

“Ne, ne, Doffy” declared Trebol, “Why are we trusting this useless thief with such an important job?”

Crocodile glared at the seemingly melting man with the runniest nose they’d ever seen. “I never said I wouldn’t do it, Snot man”

“Ne, ne! Doffy, he insulted me!”

Doffy laughed, and laughed, and laughed. And so, did the rest of Doffy’s ‘family’. Trebol fumed. Crocodile smirked.

Doffy slammed his hand on the table to shut everyone up.

“Can we trust you with this Croco-chan?”

Crocodile didn’t hesitate, “Yes.”

The teen’s pride had been questioned, and they weren’t going to stand by and let it happen.

*

Over the course of the following days plans were hatched, trust was found, and hearts were won over.

Crocodile found themselves enjoying the time spent amid the Donquioxte family. And, although Doffy was 5 years younger, the child was headstrong and had a dark sense of humour that crocodile shared. They became as much friends as they could be.

When the day finally came for the plan to unfurl, crocodile hoped that they could join in after the mission had been fulfilled. The teen would miss the family if they left.

We’ll send a signal when it’s time for you to open the door for us, the teen remembered them saying. Though they may have forgotten to say what the signal was. Trebol may have said it. But Snot man was grating to listen to and Crocodile switched off when he spoke.

Crocodile made their way to the bandit’s hideaway with the spoils from his thievery as tribute. The bandits at the door looked down at the teen with sour faces.

“Little wench is trying to look like a guy again” sneered the big one on the left,

“Pickpocketing is all well and good, but selling your body would get you more, girly” said the ugly one on the right, undressing the teen with his eyes.

Crocodile refused to let herself flinch. This was why she hid her birth gender. Not that it was well hidden when the bandits that took her in were the ones she least wanted to know. She hated how their eyes followed her more as she grew older.

Crocodile knew that one day soon they’d probably do something.

She vowed to leave before that happened.

Leave with the family… Maybe.

“Do you want my gold or not?” Crocodile glared, holding up the hefty bag in her hand.

“The boss wanted to see you anyway. Take it to him” said the big one.

The bandits opened the doors and bid the teen entry. The ugly one kept his eyes on her until the doors closed behind her. Crocodile was repulsed by the gleam in his eyes.

The hideout wasn’t big, maybe a few rooms and a hall. The bandit leader sat on a throne like chair covered in furs that was elevated off the ground. It was so he could remain above them all even when seated.

The bandit leader watched as crocodile crossed the room until she stood before him. Elbows resting on the arms of his throne he leaned forward to talk down to his most prized thief,

“Croquette D. Elle, it’s been so long since you deemed me worthy of your presence”

“I’d prefer it if you called me Crocodile” she snapped back.

The bandit leader threw his head back and laughed. “With an attitude like that, girl, you can’t be anything but a crocodile.”

Crocodile threw the bag of gold on the ground in front of him. “Here’s your damn gold, I have shit to do”

As she turned around she heard him snicker, it didn’t stop the teen from continuing to walk away.

“Ever the ice hearted reptile” The leader called after her. Crocodile ignored him.

As she neared the doors the alarms were sounded.

Was this the signal she’d been told to look out for?

The heavy outer doors were barricaded and bandits all over the base took up positions. The door was less manned than she’d assumed it would be. As she came up to it the four men who guarded the inner doors signalled her to stop.

“We can’t have you leaving just yet, Elle. There’s a lockdown” a gruff one stated

“But I want to leave.” In her head Crocodile was figuring the odds of her shooting the 4 of them dead and opening the door before others came to see what the noise was.

“You might want to leave, but there’s some strange types wanting to get in and we can’t have that” this one was a slightly more intelligent bandit.

“I’m only small,” Crocodile hated to do it, but acting helpless or feminine boosted these guys willingness to cooperate, “Can’t you open the door just a little?”

The lesser intelligent bandits almost did.

“You’re in a pretty big hurry to leave there, running from something?” the intelligent one was annoying in crocodile’s opinion, “Running to something?” the bandit flashed a wicked grin. Crocodile’s face was that of someone majorly unimpressed. The other three bandits had their backs turned. The smart one was underestimating her.

The doors were closed and could only be opened via a lever crocodile could only just move on her own. Time was precious. She had to act now. She snapped her pistol from it’s holster and shot the 4 of them. The 3 with their backs turned fell to the ground with holes in their heads. The smart one had ducked out the way at the last second and it had grazed him instead. She aimed to shoot again but he was too fast for her.

“Or maybe you’re not running at all” there were voices coming from behind now, hurried footsteps as others came to see what the commotion was.

Angry and desperate, crocodile fired again, hitting the bandit in the thigh and causing him to fall to the ground with a resounding thud. She hurried to the lever with the grounded bandit screaming profanities in her direction. With all her might she pulled the lever, straining with the effort she fell when it finally switched.

The voices and footsteps of the bandits behind her told her she had nearly not been fast enough. As soon as the heavy doors swung open Doffy and his family swung in. There was devastation in their wake as the bandit’s head rolled and chaos ensued.

Doffy stood over her, a shit eating grin on his face with little to no regard for the battle commencing around them.

“What are you doing on the ground, Croco-chan?” Doffy chided, “Fufufu, you should be directing me to the fruit!”

Returning a smirk of her own, Crocodile got up and began to run with him to the room she knew to the fruit to be kept in. The bandit leader had bragged of his ownership of it for a while but had never had the guts to eat the fruit himself. As a superstitious man he feared of angering the gods.

With only Doffy in tow, the passing bandits paid them no heed. A teen they knew, and a strange child were not the people they were expecting to have to look out for. Even if the child was a devil fruit user. Which came as a surprise to Crocodile when she’d found out.

Doffy zoomed on ahead swinging on his invisible strings, Crocodile had trouble keeping up with him.

In some corner of the hideout they came to it. the special room where the leader kept his treasure – and the devil fruit was sat encased in an unlocked wooden box that sat open atop a pedestal.

The bandit leader was nothing if not overly dramatic with his presentation.

“This was surprising easier than expected” Doffy scoffed as he grabbed the pear like fruit from its place, he gave it close inspection before turning to Crocodile.

“Here.” He handed Crocodile the fruit

“Why’re you giving it to me?”

“Fufufu, because I want to, that’s why. Now eat it”

Crocodile looked at the yellow fruit with the swirling patterns all over it. It looked dubious.

“I. Said. EAT IT!” Doffy grabbed the hand of crocodile’s that held the fruit and shoved it into her face.  Taking the hint, she opened her mouth and took a big bite. It tasted like sand. She wanted to spit it back out but Doffy held a hand over her mouth and she had no choice but to swallow it. She shivered with revulsion.

 “I don’t… feel any different…” Crocodile murmured

A portion of the wall opened near them. From the wall the bandit leader and his best men came forth. The bandit leader stopped dead in his tracks when he looked between Crocodile and the half-eaten devil fruit in her hand. A strange noise emanated fromlow in the bandit leader’s throat as he took in the information. Crocodile had betrayed him, had eaten his most prized possession, and had brought the strangers to his door. Crocodile paled at the look of pure hatred on the bandit leader’s face.

Crocodile turned to Doffy to find he was no longer there.

Stuck where she was from fear, the bandit leader ordered his men to pin her down to the ground. By the time she again gained her control, the bandit leader stood over her, and the best of his men had her pinned so hard to the ground she could barely breathe.

“This will teach you to steal from me” the bandit leader said, raising his scimitar above his head.

With a single swipe he brought the blade down, cleaving Crocodile’s left hand clean off. She didn’t even have time to think about trying to avoid it. A bolt of pain lacerated through her, body and soul. Amidst her screams of pain something began to happen in the room. Starting from her body as it began to trickle away like the sands in an hourglass, a sandstorm began to rage. The bandits touching her began to dehydrate as the sand in the air became thicker.

For the first time in her life the people around her feared her.

For the first time in her life she wasn’t in her right mind enough to care.

Pain. Pain was all that she could focus on. Blood poured from what was her wrist as she grew numb to her surroundings. Unaware of the sand. Unaware of the death she was causing. All she saw was red.

Eventually the sands subsided. She was left in a room of corpses, her left hand gone and no one to help her. Her vision clouded, she thought of Doffy and where he might have gone to.

Would he come back for her? she wondered as her consciousness began to fade. Darkness met her as she slipped away.

*

Doffy looked behind him as he ran away, fully expecting Crocodile to be right there. Nope. Not there. Shrugging to himself, Doffy continued out of the hideout. There was no more reason to be here. The fruit had been eaten, and if Crocodile didn’t make it out by himself then Doffy wasn’t going to waste his time with him any longer. Killing all in his path, Doffy and his family left, leaving Crocodile behind to fend for himself.

*

Crocodile awoke to find her wrist stump had been treated and bandaged. Looking around she was in a ward of some back-alley hospital. The place stunk of disease. Still wearing her clothes from whenever she had been taken there she swung her legs off the bed and stood up.

Doffy wasn’t around. She didn’t recognise any of his family nearby either.

She realised she’d been abandoned. And not for the first time in her life either. Crocodile held her stump wrist in her hand, her nails biting into it until the wound began to bleed again, soaking into the already stained bandages. She vowed upon it that she would never trust again. That her strength would be her greatest ally, and that there’d be nobody to betray her if she had no one beside her.

Crocodile marched from the dank and sorry excuse for a hospital. She would rise to the top of whatever path life threw at her.

And she’d do it on her own.



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