5/15/2020 Edit: I first posted this story (my first fanfiction!) five years ago on May 15th. At that point it was my master piece... for maybe a month.
After that, I realized there were a lot of flaws. Rereading it made my fingers itch to make edits. I also received a number of supportive reviews who I wanted to improve the story for. I wanted this story to be worthy of that praise. Some people even suggested and requested more scenes!
Five-years-ago-Wordlet had a plan: edit the story so it was good and then write a follow-up with ideas I liked and suggestions from reviews.
Since then I've discovered that my writing style has changed in some pretty significant ways and that I've grown past where this story is. But when I realized earlier this week that today would be the fifth anniversary-! I couldn't help myself. I finished off the last scene and a half in chapter two and did a final check-up for chapter one. Some things will remain very cringe but overall I'm certain the story has improved. I'm proud of where I've come from, where I am, and where I'm going.
Thanks to my readers and reviewers (a special shout out to guest reviewers who I can't PM responses to) and please enjoy this finally complete story. Let me know what you think ; )
A Mystery Pipe
Franky knew every inch of the Sunny. He designed her. He built her. He maintained her. So when he was cleaning out some of the farther reaches of the ship and came across a long segment of pipe (which he knew was a different size then the piping he used) he considered it scrap. He knew it wasn't a back-up part for anything, it wouldn't fit any of the machinery. It didn't look to have a particular purpose at all, and he'd remember if it did. It was just leaning against the wall deep in the bowels of the ship where only he went and where the wood floor still had almost no wear because even he didn't venture down here often.
He deemed it scrap and put it in a barrel with the rest of the metal he was melting down, he needed some to fix a dent in the General Franky suit, and he loved repurposing useless metal.
Franky stoked his fire and fed in a bucket of bent nails, they met the flames and fell into the melting pot with soft plops as the metal began to ooze. He had three barrels of scrap; that was plenty to fix his armor and maybe make something else for his nakama, a new flower bed for Robin? A new cooking pot for Sanji? Did Chopper need two chairs? Luffy would appreciate a cool toy or something he was sure. He hummed a song and swung his hips while he worked, steadily moving through the barrels. To get the right quality he was using the long method, it took an hour or two but he needed some SUPER quality if it was to fix his armor.
Time passed and steadily he worked through the scraps, old plating, pieces he'd picked up off the last island, an old mechanism that he'd recently replaced. One by one the pieces went through the fire and came out glowing and liquid and ready to be remade into something SUPER.
Sanji yelled that it was time for dinner and Franky took a moment to consider what was left in the barrel. A couple of scrap body parts he'd had for prototypes, that pipe, and a few more sheets of plating. There was still half a barrel left of stuff to melt down, but if he didn't get up there someone would come down to get him, that or his food would be donated to Luffy. After a moment's deliberation he decided that that was fine, he couldn't leave the metal alone for a moment, and he really only needed cola anyway, he'd just be late.
More metal, more sizzling, melting away and maybe ten minutes later footsteps on the stairs.
"Frannnnky! It's time to eaaaaat and Sanji said he won't give me meat until you come!" Luffy peeked his head around the door frame and whined to Franky. Now he felt a little bad, poor Luffy-bro. He may eat enough to feed a battleship of marines, but that didn't mean he wasn't genuinely hungry.
"Sorry Luffy-bro! I'll be up in a second! I'm just finishing melting down some scrap metal. My SUPER armor has a SUPER big dent!"
"Hhuuuuurrrryyyy, I'm hhhuuuunnnggrryy." He whined, sliding down to lean against the doorframe.
"Just a few pieces left!" Franky promised and reached for the pipe. Luffy's eyes got wide as it neared the flames and he let loose a frantic shout.
"Franky!" The cyborg dropped the pipe towards the heat and turned to his captain.
"What Luffy-boooah!" Luffy's arm shot past him towards the fire and knocked several of his designs off the wall in the process. Luffy snatched the pipe from the flames and pulled it back to him, clutching it tightly even as his knuckles turned red from coming too close to the flames. His eyes were dark, Franky noted that much before his Captain pulled his hat down over his expression, gritting his teeth. Franky had to look away to grab at the floating designs before they could land in the fire and burn down the whole ship.
"Ow! Luffy-bro what are you doing?! You almost burned some of my SUPER designs!"
"Where did you get this pipe?"
"The pipe? Down below, it was just leaning on the wall..."
"Don't touch it." Luffy's head shot up and anger gleamed in his eyes "Don't touch this pipe. It's not scrap. It's mine."
"Luffy? I'm SUPER sorry, but why...?"
"Doesn't matter." He turned and walked up the stairs. "Take your time, I'm not hungry."
Franky stopped and stared, a few of his gears may have failed for a second there. His captain was not hungry. That couldn't be right...
He knows it wasn't there yesterday. He knows it was never there before, because it's so perfect he couldn't possibly just let it sit anywhere. Usopp pulled it from its place in the back of the broom closet and held it in the light, admiring the length and the smooth worn edges. What a pipe... It could be used for so much! What was it doing with the mops? He frowned and held it under his arm while he retrieved a mop and bucket, toddling out to Brook who was waiting outside.
"There you go Brook! I'm sorry you got saddled with this. I think Nami's fist is tired today..."
"I will gladly take the punishment!" He laughed "It is worth the chance of her showing me her panties... And thank you Usopp-san for retrieving the mop! I can never fit in the closet quite right! Yohoho! That must be the problem with being eight feet tall!"
"Heh! No problem Brook! Besides, if you fit, we'd have a skeleton in the closet!"
"Skull joke!" they both chorused.
"I got something out of it too!" He chuckled hefting the pipe.
"Ohh, Usopp-san what is that?"
"Soon it's gonna be my new fishing pole." He grinned and twirled it once playfully. "You should see the beauties I've caught in the past with just twigs! Entire Sea Kings, caught with poles inferior to my fishing abilities. With this rod we will never go hungry; fish will come from miles around to test themselves and against me they will always fail!"
"Ah! Good fishing then, Usopp-san!"
"And good mopping, Brook!"
They laughed and went their separate ways.
Usopp had outfitted the pipe with a winch, and a long, but thin vine from his pop green stock to be the line. This line was threaded through several metal studs that he twisted around in intervals to serve as eyes. With a pole as thick as this it would take a lot to break it and he was gonna use that to his advantage and catch something huge. Spearing his largest and juiciest lure (a piece of Sanji's steak which he'd not only liberated from the sharp-eyed cook but also protected from Luffy's stretchy and sticky fingers- quite an impressive feat, even for him.) with the hook he'd attached to the home-grown line, he pulled the pole close. Deep breath. His hands tightened and with a loud battle cry he reared back and then cast it forward into the blue. Then he waited.
He hadn't fished alone for a long while. But Chopper was reorganizing his medicine in alphabetical order as he tried to make space for his exotic new supplies from the last island, Brook was mopping, and Luffy was in a bit of a funk recently, though no one could get him to admit it. He just snapped back to his usual form whenever you got within five feet.
He pondered the questions of life while he sat, waiting. Maybe this part of the sea didn't have many fish? And then he felt the tug. He sat up straight and focused on his pole. This was it.
And it really was. The pipe jerked nearly out of his grip and he shouted another war cry as he leaned with all his weight back onto the ship. No way this fish would better the great captain Usopp!
"Yosh!" He tugged and leaned, reeled in a little, lost a little ground, his arms started shaking. Well this wasn't going too well at all... Time for backup.
"LUFFY COME HELP ME NAIL THIS FISH!"
He started pulling it across the deck, staggering away, reeling the fish closer and closer...
"Whoah! Usopp it's huge!" Luffy was suddenly at the rail where his line went in the water. "Let me pull it in, let me pull it in!" He cheered and stretched towards him, a rough smile plopping happily into his features.
"Yosh! Here!" Usopp shoved the pole into Luffy's hands and time seemed to freeze for just an instant. Luffy's eyes widened when his skin touched the pipe and his hands moved into a position akin to how one would hold a staff, not at all like a fishing pole. His mouth fell open in a short 'O' and then time unfroze. The fish gave a mighty tug and Luffy went flying across the deck, over the edge and into the ocean with a splash.
"LUFFY!" Usopp screeched and leaped over the rail after him, flailing as he was dunked under the cold waters of the grand Line. He wished he didn't have to do this. He wasn't an overly strong swimmer, but in the time it would take to get Zoro or Sanji that fish could be halfway across the calm belt!
He blinked underwater and searched for his captain as the bubbles cleared- there! He made frantic strokes and crawled through the water after Luffy, who was being towedin circles by what appeared to be a small sea-king. He thought rapid curses at the fish and his captain alike and reached out as the sea king's frantic, haphazard swimming pattern pulled him close enough for Usopp to grab his captain's wrist. Clinging to his friend's limbs, Usopp dragged himself up to where Luffy's grip was iron on the pole, and began prying at his fingers. Luffy was a little more than half dead to the world, but at Usopp's touch his eyes shot open and he shook his head frantically, his grip tightening. Usopp nearly groaned aloud and was seriously considering punching his captain for his stupidity before remembering the dire situation and whipping out a pocket knife to saw through the vine. Bubbles erupted from Luffy's face as he lost control of his muscles and relaxed, his fingers remained clenched a moment longer, long enough that the knife snapped through the vine and they began sinking instead of being pulled at top speed. With a flurry of kicks and a lopsided crawl stroke, Usopp hauled Luffy up through the water, toting the pole as well, and they broke the surface when Usopp thought he wouldn't last another second dragging a waterlogged devil fruit user.
"Hey, Luffy, Luffy!" No response. Water dribbled slowly off his chin from his mouth. He sputtered and breathed and tried to coax Luffy's arms into hanging on his shoulders, but he wasn't getting far. He had to get back to the Sunny before they both drowned… A quick glance showed that they hadn't ended up too far, not as far from the ship as they could've gotten, anyway. In fact, the mini-Merry and the Waver were both heading towards them. Nami pulled up first looking a bit worried and a bit annoyed at the top of Luffy's head.
"What happened to you two? You're almost half a mile away!"
"Fishing." Usopp gasped at her "Take him. Heavy..." She leaned over and tugged half of Luffy's weight onto the waver, he couldn't balance himself so she couldn't take him all the way on but Usopp was relieved all the same.
The Mini-Merry appeared, bringing a frantic Chopper to resuscitate Luffy and a resolute Franky to steer. Chopper lugged Luffy on board and worked the water out of his lungs while they all chugged back to the Sunny. Usopp rode behind Nami, eyeing the pipe.
"Ow! Usopp-bro! What did you do to that pipe?"
"It's my new fishing pole." He answered "I need a new line now though."
"You better fix it! That's Luffy-bros pipe! He got SUPER mad before when I thought it was scrap metal!"
"Ohhh..." So that was why he wouldn't let go of it, and why he was shocked when Usopp had given it to him to reel in a fish...
"What was that Usopp? Franky?" Nami called back over the waves.
"Nothing Nami." Usopp assured. And immediately started undoing the fixtures he'd added to the pipe.
A few minutes later Luffy was up and coughing. Shortly after that, when Chopper finally let him go, he took the pipe from Usopp's outstretched hand without a word. Usopp wasn't sure what to make of it.
Luffy was mad at him, as in genuinely angry about his appropriating the pipe. And while it wasn't Usopp's fault- the thing hadn't been marked and was in the shared hall closet- he felt guilty. Also confused but ultimately guilty.
After all, it didn't matter to him why the pipe was important to Luffy, only that it was.
Nami pulled her fingers through her hair, combing out the water and tangles. She wrapped a towel around her torso and waved away some steam, pulling another towel from the pile and wrapping up her hair. A loud clank echoed in the cavernous shower room and Nami jumped, turning towards it. A long pipe rolled towards her along the ground, coming to a rest against her ankle. Nami knelt and picked it up, weighing it in her hands. Huh, where had it come from? She shrugged and tightened the towel, then swung open the door so that it would hit Brook in the head nice and hard.
"Oh! Nami-san! Hello..."
"Brook. I've told you not to stand outside while I'm taking a shower."
"Oh, but Nami-san, I was hoping to ask... Could I pl..."
"No." She doubled up on the door's hit so that Brook sprouted a new bump and cried a little at the denial.
"Oh Brook, do you know what this is?" Nami hefted the pole she had found, "It was in the shower."
"Ahhh. That looks like Usopp-san's new fishing pole!"
"Really? It doesn't look like a fishing pole..."
"He said he was going to make it a fishing pole. It's really just a pipe."
"Hm. He left it in the bathroom, do you know where he is?"
"I believe he's working in his garden."
"Kay. Thanks Brook."
Nami turned and headed for the door, Usopp deserved a quick scolding for leaving a heavy pipe in the bathroom, just loose like that. Upon stepping outside Sanji appeared, twirling and happy to see his beloved Nami-swan. Brook wasn't far behind, planning to ask for a peek once more.
"Nami-san, please reconsider..."
Her towel slipped an inch lower and Nami's breath seized in her chest. No way were they getting a peek. Without a second thought she whipped the pipe around as a staff, forcing the pair's faces into the deck.
"DON'T CROWD ME." She yelled and fixed her towel with a deft hand. She sighed as she looked at the steaming bumps she'd administered. Served them right.
She marched across the deck, towards Usopp's garden, and she was just about to call Usopp's name when, out of the blue, Luffy landed in front of her. They were all aware that something had been bothering him as of late. He spent more time on the figurehead and napping with Zoro than playing games with Usopp and Chopper or pestering Sanji; but whenever someone had an opportunity to confront him about it he'd pretended nothing was amiss. Now he stood before her with a deep set frown on his lips. Not sad or withdrawn, like she'd predicted given his behavior, but annoyed and a little angry if his clenched fists were anything to go by. Faltering at this development, she paused in her next step and Brook, unable to take a hint, meandered up behind her with a third, meaningless request on his nonexistent lips.
"NO! I TOLD YOU ALREADY!" Slipping back into anger was much easier than whatever Luffy was about to get her involved in, so she turned into the action and pulled the pipe back far enough to give their musician a hard smack.
But it never made contact. Luffy reached between the pipe and Brook, there where he wasn't an instant before, holding a hand around the pole and frowning hard.
"Luffy?" She stammered.
"This is my pipe Nami. I'll take it." And he did. It took a flick of the wrist and it was out of Nami's grasp. Luffy walked away with it held firmly, but gently, in both hands.
Nami and Brook exchanged glances, and then watched him disappear inside. Sanji appeared next to her and began swooning once more.
Although the New World was indeed home to the best Pirate crews in the world, that didn't mean that every single ship to sail those waters had a wide-spread reputation. That was simply impossible. While many thrived in the dangers of this ocean, like the yonko and most of the Super Rookies, many just survived.
And so the occurrence came about that a group of nobodies happened across the Straw Hat ship, a first class opponent whose defeat would win absolutely anyone world-wide recognition, fame, and reward.
It is not a catch that every ship can pass up.
They attacked the Sunny around noon, which just happened to be right when Luffy was getting particularly whiny about needing food. The captain, 'Sleep Walker' Sandim as he announced himself, had a devil fruit, the snooze-snooze fruit, and the moment he stepped on deck Zoro collapsed back to the ground in a fit of snores, splayed out like he was having the best nap of his life. Sandim also had an immediate solution to Usopp's botanical ammunition. All of the plants he used as weapons were put to sleep and the sniper was forced to revert back to the limited amount of explosive ammunition he happened to have handy. Even Franky dropped after direct contact with the man, gained by an attempted knockout punch (which did, in fact, knock one of the two fighters out, just not the one intended.) With three fighters down, Robin theorized that his fruit offered the body a suggestion of rest and that it was more concentrated upon contact, which was why close proximity had put the ever-sleeping Zoro down and contact removed plants and Franky.
"So you, Sanji, Chopper, and Luffy can't fight him. He'd use his devil fruit powers when you tried to attack. And Brook can't fight him because he's entertaining." Nami gestured to the small dance contest that Brook was holding with a large group of enemies, all of whom were fully immersed in the illusion that they were at the Grand Line disco championships. "That leaves me." Nami concluded "A simple thunderstorm should be plenty..."
"No." Luffy stepped up beside her "Use that on all the other guys, I'm kicking this guy off my ship." And he walked past her and down below deck, clearly not worried as he strolled through the door.
"But! Luffy you can't..." Nami called after him before Robin stopped her.
"I'm sure he knows what he's doing. He must have a new technique he can use here." She smiled, a funny thought occuring to her. "And if he doesn't perhaps a nap will improve his mood. You can call a storm later just as well as now, hmm?"
"Ugh. Fine." Nami turned and tripped an enemy who was running towards her and promptly knocked him out.
It took a few minutes, but when Luffy returned, eyes shadowed by his hat, his severe air garnered the attention of almost everyone on deck..
And in his hands was a familiar length of pipe.
Usopp looked a little scared and Nami blinked at him, but he ignored them, walking through the fray to the enemy, who was firing little purple Zs from his fingers like bullets from guns. He'd hit Chopper a second ago and the reindeer was conked out against a wall, snuffling a little as he licked his lips in some sort of dream.
He turned the Zs on Luffy, who didn't falter, only stepped aside to let them zoom past.
And in the next second Luffy was there, both hands gripped on the pipe, the staff, Nami realized, in a comfortable stance. He swung up and hooked in under his opponent's arm, throwing the man, who yelled in surprise and outrage, into the air. Luffy jumped and followed, rearing back and pounding him back into the deck as he brought the staff down like a hammer to a nail. He landed behind the downed captain to administer a swift swipe, squashing him between the mast and the staff. Then a stab, and another swipe. It was a vicious attack without many gaps- just one. Just before the final strike of the pipe, the man grabbed for Luffy's leg, brushing it with his fingers the instant before momentum had him flying over the guard rails and dropping into the sea. A few moments later, many of his crew were diving after him, either to stage a rescue or escape the enemy ship.
Nami looked back to her own battle in a sudden realization that she was supposed to be fighting. The enemies were burnt and black but still charging forward as New World enemies seemed to like doing.
Luffy can use a staff...
The message ran through every conscious Straw Hat's mind as they fumbled with reason to help it make sense. Of course, reason was never very helpful on the Grand Line. It usually just got in the way.
Nevertheless. Luffy? And a weapon? It seemed impossible, the image wasn't believable as they pictured the fight again. But the other thing about Luffy, besides the fact that his punch was the staple for his power, was that everything was possible. Everything and anything.
Speaking of the resident impossibility, he was slumped against the mast now, staff held loosely in open palms, balanced on his knees as he fell into a dream induced by the touch of the devil fruit user.
Robin grew arms and defended him against a few of the enemy crew that thought they could attack her sleeping captain and Brook collected a new audience as the last group fell gasping to the floor in exhaustion. The battle didn't last long at all.
Zoro woke up ten minutes after the fight ended and was seriously irked that he'd missed every bit of the action. Luffy, Franky, and Chopper were all still asleep, apparently the direct attack was longer lasting. Sanji gave him a (very) simplified version of the battle (Nami-swan and Robin-chwan. Beautiful. Luffy. Beat Enemy. Used staff. Marimo slept.) and Robin elaborated for him. He agreed he'd never seen Luffy use a weapon.
An hour later, Franky sneezed himself awake when Usopp jokingly waved a bottle of cola under his nose and Chopper started awake some time later. Luffy did not wake up.
"Should we use meat?" Usopp theorized. Luffy mumbled in his sleep and drooled a little.
"There's no reason for him to still be affected when we were not." Chopper pondered. "So it's probably just a normal sleep. He might have just been tired."
"But he didn't wake up when I said meat! That's gotta be bad!" Usopp argued.
"He looks happy enough." Robin put in, and it was true. Luffy was still leaned against the mast, his fingers reflexively twitching over his staff while he murmured about meat and tigers. His smile was constant, twisting larger and lessening at times. He even snorted in laughter, still sleeping.
"I don't think it's a harmful sleep, so he should be fine until he wakes up." Chopper insisted "I think we should leave him be."
And so they did. Mostly. Nami insisted that a storm was coming, and that while they really weren't going to have any real problems with it, she'd rather not have their captain washed overboard in the squall. With a mutual agreement on this matter Sanji had plucked the pipe from Luffy's grasp only to be met with Usopp's frantic yelp, and a displeased hum from the still asleep Luffy. Sanji had, of course, dropped the pipe back into Luffy's lap and glared at Usopp.
"Um… Can't we just, not take the pipe?" The sniper spread his hands, imploring.
He was met with a few confused looks but Chopper nodded and shifted into heavy point, lifting Luffy into his arms while Robin settled the pipe lengthwise in his arms. He trundled off into the cabins, edging through the doors until he finally settled his charge into his hammock, adjusting the pipe next to him.
Luffy burped and hummed softly as he cuddled up with the pole and the pillow.
After two hours, Luffy trudged into the kitchen, dragging his pipe and grumbling about breakfast. Sanji made bacon for him and no one asked about the mysterious pipe.
A week later two crooked nails appeared on the wall in the men's bedroom, the pipe balanced carefully on them as though on display. Beneath written in sloppy red paint that Usopp had announced missing the day before was a brief message and warning.
Luffy's. Do Not Touch.
It was many weeks after this series of events that the Strawhats fell into the Dressrosa catastrophe. The whole incident had fallen off even the back burner by that point, and all repercussions for disturbing the pipe had been forgiven and forgotten.
Until they met another man who wielded a pipe as a staff.
Sabo was tall, blond, smart and calm. Really, he was rather opposite of Luffy. But apparently he was the captain's brother. They were happy for him. A little uncertain as to how any of this came to pass but happy for them both.
"Luffy, I've met all your nakama now, why don't we have a quick spar?"
"All my nakama?" Luffy blinks up at him in the middle of breakfast. "No you haven't!"
"Oh really?" Sabo gestures to the other eight people seated around the table. "So you have someone other than Zoro, Nami, Usopp, Sanji, Chopper, Robin, Franky and Brook?"
Franky starts crying, er not crying, expressing excitement about how manly he was to accept his ship as nakama and that they'd all come so far.
Luffy doesn't wait to hear it and just drags Sabo out the door. He informed his brother of all the great places on the Sunny and how he was going to let him 'meet' every bit of his nakama, starting with his special seat.
Throughout the day, the pair could be seen at various places around the ship, Luffy gesticulating and adding sound effects to some story he was telling. Sabo nodded along, tuning in and out as he heard things pertaining to something of interest.
It was when they reached the boy's cabin and the sun was set that the tour finally reached an end.
"See this is where we sleep! Everyone but Nami and Robin, cause Nami says it's not good for Sanji. But you know he's alright when we camp out on deck, so I don't see why he wouldn't be in here. Nami also says it's too loud, because we argue in our sleep. But that doesn't make much sense because we argue anyway so that would make it too loud all the ti… Sabo?"
the older man started, surprised that Luffy had noticed his attention wandering. He hadn't before, and he'd pegged it as another memorable feature of the same distracted little brother he'd always been.
But here he'd been caught, staring at the… unusual wall display.
He ambled over and ran his fingers over the metal.
"Is this the same one?"
"Yup." Luffy nodded, bouncing on the balls of his feet.
"You kept it?" He couldn't quite believe that to be the case. Luffy didn't value objects. Luffy valued people, friends and family. His hat was the only exception and that was only because of what it represented... And still, here was a pipe…
"Do you ever use it?"
"Once." Luffy shrugged, glancing at his feet. Sabo let out a breath, a feral grin settling onto his face.
"Really?!" His little brother's head snapped up, excitement burning in his gaze. "Really Sabo? Yes!" Luffy seemed elated, bounding over to the pipe, brushing his fingers over the metal in contemplation for less than a second before picking it up and hurtling past Sabo, up the stairs, presumably out onto the deck.
Later, after a fierce but brief battle between brothers (ended by an irate navigator and shiprwright warning them that they better finish it on an island in the near future instead of continuing to damage the Sunny) the pipe ceme to rest against his chair during dinner. When Sanji jostled it in his haste to bring Nami a refill Sabo noticed how everyone took a slight pause, waiting until Luffy caught it and resettled it with one hand, before continuing to eat without a hitch.