We entered the house, took off our shoes, and Daddan took our coats. We headed straight for the meeting room, where everyone was waiting for us.
“How did it go?” Lucky asked after I took my seat.
“Better than I had thought.” I told them, “What’s the shedual for the week?” Today was Sunday, and every Sunday there was a lot that had to be done, one of the main things was find out what I was going to be doing all week.
“Tomorrow there’s the Mushi meeting with the Saboy mayor at nine, Doflamingo agreed to talk to you about the mines and grenades at ten, and then you have lunch at eleven with Woopslap of the Windmill town. From one- three you’ll be at a rally for the specialty unit, also getting that new person in as a bug. Then your uncle wished for dinner with you at six.” Hawkins said.
I whistled, “Please tell me this is all written down.”
“In your planner.” He told me, “Tuesday you have the monthly Boss meeting at the temple. Wendsay is the Trades, business, and partners meeting, that will go all day.”
“If all goes well, we’ll have the paperwork for the road ready by Thursday.” Lucky told me, “And then Friday, Sir Foxey had requested a meeting with you.”
“That it for Friday?” I asked.
“All that has come up so far.” Hawkins told me.
I nodded, “Law, I got a job for you.”
He looked at me.
“Make arrangements for Monkey D. Luffy, Portgas D. Ace, and Sabo to move in to the house.” I told him.
“Ceerie, you can’t do that.” Benn told me, “They’ll be in danger if you bring them in.”
“How?” I asked him like a small child, “They aren’t going to be involved with any of this any more than they’ve involved themselves as it is. I need them here, Benn.”
“Why do you need them here?” He snapped.
“To keep me feeling things.” I told him, he instantly backed away, “I can’t stay in this giant place all alone anymore, I’ll go crazy. And they’ll make these empty halls, not so empty anymore.”
“I’ll make the arrangements.” Law told me, “I just hope you know what you’re doing.”
“Have I given you any reason to doubt me yet?” I counted.
The next day I walking through the foray to get to the meeting room. It was eight thirty and I had about a half hour before the mushi conference.
I paused and looked at the door, hardly a moment later it burst open and Ace, Sabo, and Luffy threw themselves at me head first.
Normally I would have evaded it easily. But I allowed them to tackle me to the ground in a giant dog pile/bear hug manner.
“How ya’ been?” Luffy grinned.
I smiled at him as Sabo helped me up and Ace slapped my shoulder congratulating me on becoming Boss, and doing a great job so far.
“Why did you want us to come live with you?” Sabo asked cutting through the laughter, hugs, and smiles.
I looked at the three of them, them around at the house.
“147.” I said.
“147?” Luffy asked.
“147 rooms.” I told them, “Not including bathrooms, walk in closets, and the kitchen.”
They stared at me and I smiled gently.
“I’d always run around and count the rooms when I was little, my father was out, and I wasn’t allowed out to play.” I told them, “147 rooms. The place seemed so much smaller when he was alive. And now that he’s gone all this space seems suffocating.”
“So you want us here for company?” Ace said.
I nodded, “I also realized that I had been neglecting you guys the past couple years. And I figured we’re still family, we can at least live as so.”
They nodded and I got four hugs. One from each of them and a group hug.
I held them close each time, and the only thing that interrupted us was Yassopp coming out of the meeting room.
“Ceerie.” He said, we turned and saw him standing there.
“It’s eight fifty.”
I nodded, “Makino!” I called.
She came in a moment.
“Hai, Ceerie-sama?” She asked.
“Would you please show them to their rooms and make them feel at home?” I asked her, she nodded, I turned back to them, “I have appointments for the rest of today. Tomorrow and the next day I’ll have meetings, but I can have breakfast with you guys. I’ll try to find you when I have breaks in between.”
“No sweat.” Ace told me.
“Take care in your appointments.” Sabo told me.
“Here if you need me.” Luffy grinned.
I nodded, “Arigoto.” I said and bowed.
They waved as I went to the meeting room and closed the door behind me.
“I hope you know what you’re doing.” Benn warned as I took my seat.
I smiled at him, “I am. Don’t worry.”
But Benn was cut short by the Mushi going off.
“Moshi Moshi.” I said as I answered.
“Ceerie-sama?” The voice on the other end questioned.
“Speaking.” I said and placed the receiver in the holder.
“You wished to speak with me about a trade?” He asked.
“I did.” I told him.
“I’m listening.” He told me.
“Spring’s coming.” I told him, “Our fish market’s are about to flourish.”
“You want to know if we’re interested in your fish?” he asked slightly angry.
“Yes, actually.” I told him, “We had just realized what little trade we had together. I wanted to be the first to make the effort bridge with you.”
“What kind of joke is this?!” He yelled, “You’re offering me a fish trade when I know for a fact that you offer wine, oil, and silk!”
“You’ll have to forgive me.” I told him, “I’m aware of the large amounts of wine, oil, and cloth you get from Water 7, NewKomer, and Drum island. But I found almost no fish in your trades.”
“Y-you did all that research on us?” He asked taken back.
“Yes.” I told him raising an eye brow, “You must do your homework before making an offer in trade.”
“You were the fist to do that.” He told me.
“That’s surprising.” I said, “I would assume with all the tourist you get from the park and current auctions that everyone would like to trade with you and thus be forced to know what you need and don’t.”
“You would think.” He told me, “But not really.”
“How about this.” I offered, “I offer you fish, oils of your choice, and fine silk, and you trade it with that parchment that you’re famous for?”
“It would be hard to trade all that with just parchment.” he told me.
“Parchment and credit then?” I asked him, “I’m not going to take advantage of you or your current position either, but I need good parchment and yours is the best.”
“How do you know that?” He asked me.
I smiled, “As a little girl I was fascinated with origami. I used all kinds of paper for it, but I loved parchment the most. And out of all the parchment, I liked the kind from Saboy the most.”
“Just parchment?” He asked me.
“Yes.” I told him, “I said I need god parchment.”
“I can do that.” He said.
For the next ten or so minutes we negotiated on how much parchment for what oil, wine, and fish, what fish he wanted and how much of everything in what kind.
“Fair trade.” I told him, “I’ll give you the choice, would you like it all monthly?”
“That would be best.” He told me, “And I’ll send the parchment over on rush.”
“Arigoto.” I told him, “Yours will be in, in a day or two.”
“It was a pleasure doing business with you, Ceerie-sama.” He told me.
“As you.” I said.
“If you don’t mind me saying, I’m glad it was you who took over after your late father.” He said.
“Arigoto.” I said and hung up.
“What are you planning to do with the parchment?” Law hissed.
I looked at him cooly.
“Alabasta.” I told him, “They use silk as paper to write on. We trade parchment for silk, they can make more and we gain a little more profit.”
They stared at me.
“You really planned all that out?” Killer asked finally.
I nodded, “I realized that with selling the silk, importing it, and sending the money back over, we’re actually losing 12 belli for every yard we sell. We make the trade with alabasta, as they were going to use the money made for soil and paper, we cut their yearly cost by twenty percent, and gain another fifteen for giving them the paper.”
“Completely thought out.” Benn said breaking the silence.
I smirked at him and glanced at my watch, it was almost ten.
“Hey, Hawkins.” I said.
“Hai.” He responded.
“Are you sure your cards were right?” I asked him.
“In what why?” He asked me.
“You said I would find love in that giant mess. Are you sure it was right?” I asked again.
“They haven’t been wrong yet.” He told me, “I could try again if you’d like.”
I nodded, “Please. Second I find love, I can get married and these stupid proposals will stop coming.”
The mushi began to ring again, I sighed before picking up the receiver.
“Moshi moshi.” I said.
“Moshi moshi Ceerie-sama.” Doflamingo said from the other side, “Have you considered my proposal?”
“I’m still considering.” I told him, “Right now I would like to know about the lateness of land mines and grenades that you promised me.”
“There was a back up on the order I placed for certain parts.” He told me, “They managed to put a rush on bullets, guns, and flares. But gun powder is still so low right now.”
I paused a moment watching the smile on the mushi grow bigger.
“Who else have you been selling to?” I asked him.
The mushi’s smile quickly turned into a frown.
“It’s strictly business.” He told me, “Not pleasure.” The mushi’s smile grew again.
“Doflamingo-san.” I started, “I understand business. But what I don’t understand is a smart business man like yourself violating our contract.”
The mushi’s smile turned to a frown once more, “The contract was with Shanks Le Roux.” He told me, “Not you.”
“Not according to the copy I have in front of me.” I told him, “So long as there is a living head our contact is air tight.”
“He died.” He told me, “You know that you were there.”
“True.” I said opening a folder containing various papers, “But he made me head before he died. Even Black beard and Big Mama will tell you that, the old straw hat was on my head when he died. I was the head of the Red family before he died, you’re the one over stepping this contract.”
“So young and yet so smart.” He told me, “This s why I want you to be my bride.”
“I’m still considering.” I told him, “But for right now I have things I need to straighten up first.”
“Alright.” He told me, “I send the next two loads to the regular rondevu point tomorrow. But I want an answer soon.”
“Arigoto.” I told him, “And thank you for being honest.”
He didn’t say anything as he hung up. I merely smirked and put the receiver back on the Mushi. I looked through a few of the paper’s before me.
“And I didn’t even have to go into the dirt.” I said to myself, “Too bad.”
I heard the last of the of the cards be placed down as I closed the folder.
“What do they say?” I asked passing the folder back to Benn wh put it back into the filing cabinet.
“True love is to come.” He told me, “But I can’t tell you from which direction.”
“Just please tell me it’s not Urouge or Doflamingo.” I begged, “That’s all I want.”
“That much I can tell you.” He told me and started flipping more cards, “All they say is that love is closer than expected, so I doubt that it would be anyone who’s sent a proposal.”
“Don’t forget the conference Wednesday.” Law said, “It could mean that they’re coming closer.”
I scoffed and threw a paper in front of him. He picked it up and looked on the front page, there was a large picture of Doflamingo on it.
“I will never find anything like that attractive.” I told him, “All his whores might not have taste or standards, but I do.”
They all chuckled at that. I glanced at my watch and sighed.
“Lunch time.” I said and rose.
“You don’t have any concernes?” I asked the mayor as we sat down for dinner.
He shook his head, “This is more a thank you than anything.” He said, “Thanks to you buying that old oil factory our poverty has gone down, economy has gone up, our populate has grown a little more, and our trade is wonderful. And with the wine factory it’s even better.”
I smiled, “I wish I could say that was my goal all along, but it wasn’t.”
He smiled at me, “Be it or not, I still have to thank you properly, if not for you I don’t want to think about what might have happened here.”
“Thank you.” I said.
Cheers were heard from the men before me as I had just finished my speech. I took a deep breath and walked down off the stage to where Killer and Lucky stood with another person.
“Ceerie-san, this is Heat.” Killer introduced us.
“I thought he was a permanent part of the Sweet family?” I asked.
“He was-er-is.” Lucky said, “Your late father had us place inside spies when you were born in every family, just in case.”
“Heat here happens to be one of the spies since he was a child.” Killer added.
I looked him up and down. Tall, light blue hair, muscular, tattoos that look like stitches all over his body, which was well built.
“You were part of Kidd’s group.” I called him out on it.
“I was sent to the sweet family as a spy when I was small.” He told me, “Over the course of the years, we had become friends. Apparently I wasn’t annoying, and there weren’t too many our age over there.”
I nodded, “Have you been briefed?” I asked.
“Do whatever necessary to find and kill him.” I told him.
“Yes, ma’am.” He said.
I nodded and turned around heading back to the mansion.
“Ceerie-san!” I paused and waited for Killer to catch up with me.
“Nani?” I asked him pressing on.
“You aren’t going to offer him anything more, like a good luck?”
“What may I offer him?” I asked, “I hadn’t known about the spies until now. The only reason why I knew he existed was because he hung around Kidd, who hated me.”
“I hung around Kidd too ya’ know.” He muttered.
I stopped in my tracks and looked at him. I couldn’t see his face, but I knew for a fact he was sweating.
“Then maybe you could elaborate as to why he hated me so much.” I told him, “I know for a fact it’s more than just families.”
“That’s the one thing about Kidd I’ll never know.” He told me, “You’re just his type, which I don’t get.”
“Maybe that’s it.” I muttered to myself stalking towards home again, “He actually likes me, and won’t admit it because I’m in an enemy family.”
“I doubt that’s it.” He assured.
I stopped again and looked over at him.
“May I ask you a serious question?”
“Out of all the guys in Kidd’s gang you were the only one who I never even heard say a snide remark to me. What gives?”
He didn’t answer.
“It has to be more than just families.” I told him.
“It is.” he said, “But I’d prefer not o talk about it.”
I stared at him a moment.
“You had a crush on me, didn’t you?”
He tensed, but didn’t say anything. In fact, he actually turned his head away.
I giggled lightly, making him look back at me.
“You did.” I said smiling at him, “And you still do.”
“D-don’t be rediculuse.” He muttered.
“Okay.” I said and leaned up on my tipy-toes, so I was more to his height, “But I got a little secret for you.”
He stared down at me, I could feel the intense gaze even through his mask.
“I like you too.” I whispered and pecked his covered cheek, before going back to standing regularly and continuing on back to the house, leaving a dazed and most likely blushing Killer behind me.
I fought off the urge to skip, and merely made my way up to my room to change for dinner with uncle Mihawk.
My Onii-chen and I were sitting on the porch overlooking the court yard.
I had already changed into a black skirt, vest, and tie along with a red button down, from my black slacks, coat, and white button down.
“You’ve turned from tomboy, to girly, back to tomboy.” Luffy stated after seeing me again.
I shrugged, “I think now I’m a little more of both.” I told him.
“How?” Ace asked.
“I want to be the kind of Boss my father raised me to be, but I also have my girly aspects.” I explained.
“Ceerie-san.” We turned and saw Benn in the door way leading back inside, “It’s time to go.”
I nodded and stood up bidding my brothers a good-bye.
“Uncle.” I said as I came up to him as he waited at a table at Bartie’s.
“Ceerie.” He said and rose.
We embraced best we could. It had long ago stopped trying to tell everyone that they were just really tall. I had gotten my mother’s height, I wasn’t much taller than 5’6. . . . maybe.
“It’s good to see you.” I told him.
“As you.” He said.
We sat down and were handed menus.
“I wanted to talk to you earlier, but you pushed everyone away at the funeral.” He told me.
“I’m sorry.” I said, “I just wanted to be alone for a little while.”
“You’re entitled to that.” he told me, “And with your shedual I don’t blame you. But you need to make room in your life for your family.”
I nodded, and turned my attention back to the menu before me.
“It still bother’s me.” Uncle Mihawk told me after making a very long point.
“I know it does.” I told him, “It bothers me too. But it just might be put to an end soon.”
“How?” He asked his hawkeyes digging into me.
I smiled up at him as I said, “Hawkins said that I would soon find love. And I think I might have.”
“And from who?” He asked.
I smiled and looked away, “You’ll have to wait and find out.”
“Ceerie.” He said sternly.
I smiled at him again, “He’s good guy.” I assured, “He’s not like all the other’s who’ve sent proposals. In fact he hasn’t done anything but stand by my side.”
“Just the man you need.” He said as we continued to walk.
“I don’t need a man.” I told him, “I just need these proposals to stop.”
He chuckled as we came to the door.
“Thank you for tonight, uncle.” I said sincerely.
“I should be thanking you.” He said, “There is a reason why your father saved you, and I know it’s for a greater cause than we’d have ever thought.”
I smiled and hugged him again.
“Good night.” I told him.
“Good night.” He said and walked away.
I opened the door and went inside. I sighed knowing tomorrow I was going to have my first solo meeting with all of the Head’s. This might not be as pleasant as fighting, but I was pretty sure I would like it a lot more than Daddan tying my obie ‘properly’.