“What the hell did just happen?” demanded Izo, whirling on Jozu the moment Pops’ boat disappeared from sight.
Because that was the thing, after saying he was leaving, Pops had paused just long enough to ask Jozu to call ahead and have a coated ship and provisions waiting for him, had grabbed some food and water from the mess hall itself and then he had left before anyone could do more than blink. He hadn’t even taken any of his medication with him.
Jozu stared at Izo for a moment, his gaze an unnerving mix of determination, sadness and relief, before offering him the wanted poster he had been staring at for most of breakfast.
Izo accepted it, by now aware that this poster had caused the event that had his siblings muttering to each other in confusion.
Marco the Phoenix, one hundred million beli bounty.
It wasn’t bad at all for a kid in Paradise who wasn’t even the captain of the crew, but Izo still didn’t see anything special about th kid.
“Doesn’t he look familiar?” Jozu asked, voice strangely low. By now, they had the full attention of everybody present.
Izo looked closer at the picture. Now that Jozu mentioned it…
“I think I might have seen his face before. Why?”
Nonplussed, Izo walked behind Jozu back into the mess hall, many of their siblings trailing after them, until they stopped before Pops’ column of wanted posters on the bounties’ wall.
No, not Pops’ column, Izo realized with a jolt, the one next to it. The column that hadn’t been updated in over thirty years. The column belonging to the older sibling they had all heard about but so few of the current crew had met. The first mate of the Whitebeard Pirates.
Marco the Phoenix.
Izo’s head snapped down so quickly that his neck hurt. Behind him, he could hear movement as many people reached for the wanted posters strewn all over the tables.
“You can’t be serious…”
“The phoenix fruit,” Jozu started as though he hadn’t heard Izo, “is an odd one. Unlike the other fruits, it doesn’t regenerate when the user dies. The user is a phoenix, you see, and as such is reborn along with the fruit. Only that nobody knows when or where, and it’s an entirely new life, devoid of memories. A fresh start. We learned about this by chance, and it became a joke in the crew… until it wasn’t a joke anymore.” The only reason Izo even made out those last words was because he was standing right next to Jozu. He doubted that, despite the silence that had fallen during Jozu’s explanation, anybody else in the mess hall had heard him.
He even doubted that Jozu remembered he wasn’t alone in the room. He was staring intently at the column of Marco’s wanted posters.
“Well then,” Izo said, successfully drawing Jozu back to the present, “he has a new bounty now, doesn’t he?” He offered Jozu Marco’s wanted poster.
Jozu smiled gratefully and accepted the poster. Izo pretended he hadn’t noticed the sheen of unshed tears in his eyes.