A/N This piece is meant to make you cry, I tested it against my sister, who doesn't cry easily, and she almost cried (this is a major accomplishment people) So yeah, hope it makes you cry. It's more likely to do so if you listen to a slowed, solo, violin version of Bink's sake, that's what I listened to when I wrote it. I had a great time:)
BUT DON'T READ IF YOU DON'T WANT TO CRY And also, I'm told often I have terrible grammar, I think this story is fine and I ran it through a few people, but you know. *shrug* If this stuff really bothers you, advance with caution.
Also, credit my sis or the beautiful cover picture! She may have stolen my laptop to draw it, but it turned out marvelously! Don't you think? A round of applause! *claps*
Disclaimer: I don't own One Piece!
The party had been going for at least three hours, probably more, but no one was counting so for now it was called three hours.
Zoro's sake stash had been depleted at least two hours ago, likely more if the three hours were also untrue. No member of the crew remained fully aware. Chopper had been spouting facts about reindeer's stomachs, yes plural, and how they therefore had a high tolerance for many foods. The already drunk Nami had immediately taken this as a challenge and threatened Chopper with a debt heftier than Zoro's if he refused her a drinking match. Luffy had settled down with his usual juice but after a while Sanji had switched it out for alcohol, tipsy as the chef was. And Luffy, being the moron that he was, just kept downing mugs till he was swaying. Chopper's claims of being a rudiment were starting to lose credibility as Nami placed distance between their counts easily and Sanji had stopped bringing coffee to Robin, opting instead to twirl around Nami, who was being much more agreeable than usual. Brook too had taken a nice amount of alcohol, he could feel it soaking into his bones, and he knew his brain would try to burst from his skull the next morning when he attempted to wake up (but he had no brain!) staggering slightly he lurched over to the piano, and like he had on many occasions began to plod out Bink's sake. Franky, Ussop, and Luffy immediately began to sing along, horribly off key, and Zoro let out a loud sleepy verse of gibberish that seemed to vaguely match the tune.
Robin smiled softly into her book and flipped the page, hardly drunk but quickly losing awareness as her coffee supply ran low and the three nights in a row on which she'd taken night watch began to catch up to her. Chopper finally crashed and toppled off his chair, thunking down in a little heap, snoring quietly.
Nami cackled and Sanji poured her another mug, and one for himself as Luffy's voice trailed slightly, pitched back in and finally sputtered out as he drooped to the floor, quickly trampled by the still dancing Franky and Ussop. Brook's head rolled on his neck bones and he stared at his fingers for a moment before continuing on with the song, switching into the accompaniment as his drunken brain (though he had none!) heard a string section and a brass, the whole orchestra.
Sanji refilled everyone's round, and Chopper's and Luffy's mugs were adopted by Nami and Ussop. Brook stared for a moment at his fingers, acknowledging the blurry colors that he knew was his skin. But he had no skin, he truly was drunk he supposed, if his imagination was convincing him he was alive.
Franky took this moment to fall, a loud crash of metal parts and a moan about having to replace his liver, as well as a cry for some SUPER cola. Without Franky's support Ussop quickly lost his own balance and conked his head on the railing, thudding into the deck.
Brook's hands shook, as instrumental parts faded from his hearing. His brain (though he had... Wait what?) forgot his previous surprise at seeing his own skin. He was on an older ship, it was foggy, a dark night, he could feel his grip on reality slipping, and then it was gone.
So much sorrow sank into his bones, through his pores, in his blood, his nakama were all dying, they had failed Laboon, he didn't know, could he truly carry on? His fingers knew this song, he could play it forwards and backwards, this song of his crew. Perhaps he could play it even after his soul had fled?
Robin's book slipped from her fingers and fell to the deck, soft breaths indicating her slumber, but they were too quiet to hear beneath the quartet that filled Brook's ears.
Sanji collapsed as Nami shrieked for another mug and in the process may have moved slightly suggestively. All too much for an addled perverted brain.
Brook's mind processed this, listening to the dying notes and cries of his crew, falling from battle, in song. They sang for their friend, for Laboon who waited far away, at the Red Line, the other side of which they had not even reached. How stupid they were, to make promises so easily broken, if no one before had conquered the Grand Line, why them? They knew it would be hard, they had set out knowing that they would happily place their lives on the line for their occupation as pirates, and yet they had promised, promised knowing how slim their chances were, and they'd promised all the same. Because of confidence, forbidden pride.
He was captain of this dying crew, and though he felt the poison worming through his veins, the ears of a long time musician could easily make out the slowing tempo of the few heartbeats remaining. How they inched! And yet his thundered, and he felt he would be the last to die. How could this be true? Did they not know that the Captain was to die for his men? Did the fates not realize they would cut the wrong string last? His fruit may bring him back to life, could they not at least kill him first so that he might not be trapped here to watch them all leave him, leave him knowing he could not follow?
It pained him so when he heard another thud and felt the trio drop to duet, just him and one other… Please don't go, he wanted to cry, he wanted to yell and scream and reach for his final follower, and still he did not, as the tone dial was recording, and he would die (indeed he would) before he let anything spoil his nakama's last song. He wondered suddenly if he truly would return, what if he couldn't? If it was just a myth of the fruit and he would die here same as all his men? Where would their final performance go? Would it travel and be sold as a priceless antique, carrying the legend of a ghost ship that haunted the Floridian Triangle? Simply sit here and decay with the rest of the ship? Would plunderers not see it's value and toss it away, to let it rest on the bottom of the sea? Would it somehow travel back to Crocus-san and Laboon, and sing them their tale of woe? Would anyone ever know?
He decided it didn't matter, that the song must be finished, and if he was to be last to die then he would certainly finish it. He was Captain, and maybe the fates did know what they were doing, as he was the strongest, and he alone could carry this song to the end. And it was better that he could see, to one day tell his whale, their whale, their nakama, that each and every member of this crew had died. Yes died, but died happily, serenading a friend in their apology. "We're sorry we didn't make it, that we couldn't make it. Forgive us. We broke that promise. We should never have said that. We're sorry."
His fingers were wet he noticed, and decided it could only be tears, still he had no desire to wipe them away. It was right, that he cry in this time of mourning and death.
And then his only companion dropped away into the abyss of silence. Dead man do not sing, do not play music… But he would, He would die and return and be the dead musician, he would play on for all those who had fallen silent. He would play for Laboon.
At which point he knew nothing more.
*A LINE BREAK... BEHOLD*
After about an hour of light snooze by every crew member Zoro yawned and sat up, blindly feeling around for the beer bottle he had left next to him for when he woke. Grumbling he popped the cork out and stood, downing a third of the bottle in a gulp. He mussed up his hair and stepped over a mumbling/snoring Love-cook, briefly wondering if he should stop up the blood dripping from his nose before deciding that Curly-brow would be fine either way, stupid cook was durable, what an annoying feature. He staggered off to make a quick rest-stop and later he would return to drag Chopper and Ussop to bed (because Chopper might very well get carried off by a large bird of prey if left on deck and Ussop would all complain all day that the lawn was a terrible place to sleep, not to mention the fact that his nose had more than once been mistaken as a worm, by a seagull, a post to land on, also by a seagull, and a carrot, by a very hungry Luffy.) He'd check to see if anything was damaged or if anyone was coming and then he'd settle in with his extreme backup stock of booze for watch (nap time). His night planned out Zoro stretched and scratched his back before adjusting his swords and beginning what he'd designated as needed to be done.
If Zoro had remembered the moments before he settled down to sleep off the edge of the alcohol he would have gone over to make sure the musician had calmed down, would've woken Brook up and told him they were fine, and then given him one of the painkillers Chopper insisted he kept with him (the weak one he had to carry around for when he got lost but still stopped at bars, not the strong one that made his whole body a bit numb for the next hour and let him finish off whatever fight Luffy had gotten them into).
But he didn't remember, because Zoro hadn't been drunk. He could fight, and walk straight and form coherent thoughts. But that didn't mean he could remember it.
And so he didn't remember demanding what was wrong when Brook curled himself over the keys of the piano, still playing, and wept and mumbled under his breath "solo, alone, solo, alone, solo, so alone…" He didn't remember shaking him, reassuring him, even threatening him to make him stop being so miserable because there was no reason to be upset.
And because he didn't remember Brook slept on, and later that day when most of the crew was either still asleep or lined up for Chopper's special quick action headache pills, Brook stood out next to the mast and played Bink's sake on his violin. The melody, because the melody was what everyone would sing with, drunk or asleep or hung-over, they would sing, because he played.