Have you ever had that nagging feeling that something was wrong? Well, our favourite sharpshooter was in this very predicament.
All week, the seat next to the captain's remained empty and strange enough, no one questioned it. Although Nami didn't make it to the office everyday, to be missing all week was so unlike her. He played it off as her being sick but in addition to that, there was something else; A bad vibe in the air which was suffocating. Then again, no one talked about it and Usopp played along thinking that it was all in his head.
However, on the last day of work week when everyone was about to bid their farewells, Luffy called him out saying that he had to discuss a matter with him alone. All turned to him with pity in their eyes and Usopp knew that something was wrong. Was really sure this time.
The meeting place was at the very back of Monkey D. Corps. The sun had already begun its decent and the air grew still.
Usopp met his captain leaning against the wall; eyes observing the gallant sunset. But when it was time to face him, Usopp's smile disappeared. The jolly greeting he planned on saying was forgotten.
"Luffy... Is everything okay?"
Usopp gulped. Was never a fan of bad news.
"Is it about Nami?"
As soon as his wife name was mentioned, Luffy turned away and covered his eyes, heaving a sob. Usopp's stomach knotted at the sight of fallen tears.
Luffy felt a hand on his shoulder but quickly shook it off. The message was clear: He didn't want the sniper's comfort. Usopp was not going to lie; It hurt.
"Our marriage. Nami wants a divorce."
Usopp's eyes were wide open. What he was hearing was the unthinkable. Where was all this coming from?
Luffy turned and had appeared to manage to sieze the waterworks. Previous tears were smeared across his face and his eyes were red from what appeared to be from a lack of sleep. Usopp had never seen his captain so stressed.
"It was those pranks."
Usopp gasped and his body quivered but continued listening to what had to be said.
"Even though she asked me to stop countless times, I couldn't. I took advantage of her and one day she said that she didn't think that she could trust me anymore and took her stuff and left... I didn't understand. Weren't pranks just all about having fun, Usopp?"
Usopp did not know what to say. He turned his captain into a monster; He ruined his life.
"Is she serious?" Usopp didn't regret his choice of words until he saw his captain frown. He didn't plan on getting on his bad side. "Don't answer that... Look, Luffy. I can't help but feel responsible for all this."
"It's not your fault. It's mine for listening to you in the first place."
Usopp rubbed the back of his neck. "Where's Nami now?"
"Why does it matter?"
"I want to apologize. Maybe together we can change her mind."
"I've apologized to her so many times now and haven't had any luck. What makes you think that you have a chance?"
"You're right. I'm sorry. But you two can't just finish it like that. Don't you love each other?"
Luffy did not answer. Usopp mentally slapped himself. He kept forgetting the seriousness of the situation. Divorce was not just a wild idea someone came up with on a whim. It took lots of thought. Love wasn't the only factor that kept two people together. It was much more than that.
Usopp eyes shot up with fear to look at his captain, his companion, his most trusted friend.
"What? You can't do that."
"Give me one reason why."
"What about all that we've been through together all these years? I mean, come on, Luffy. We're friends."
"Yeah. We were. But after what happened that cost me my marriage, I don't think that we should be friends anymore.
Nami was right. You are a bad influence. If I had listened to her, we would still be together." Luffy's voice broke mourning the loss of his wife and now he was going to lose a friend.
"I loved her more than life, Usopp. More than all those adventures, more than anything. And now she's gone.
I'm sorry that it turned out like this, Usopp. But I believe that it's for the best."
At this point, Usopp had already began to cry. Tears raced out his eyes one after the other and he nodded understanding his captain's plight. Every man under the sun should in whatever shape or form pay for his sins. This was for the best.
He bowed low, expressing his final sincere apologies; also asking of the captain to give the others his best regards. His only regret was not being able to see the real victim whom was in the middle of all this mess.
During the journey home, he walked with heavy feet and what felt like the whole universe on his shoulders. Some people went about their lives after having a history of murders under their belts without batting an eye. But in Usopp's case, what he did to his best friend felt much worse.
He snapped out of his thoughts when he heard his cellphone ring and after fishing for it out his shoulder bag, he answered it without checking the ID.
Usopp's throat went tight and he tugged at his collar. It was his captain.
"I got you real good back there, huh?"
"That was a prank."
Usopp's jaw cracked the sidewalk.
"Was all that really a prank?"
"That's what I said. Anyways, Nami and Chopper have been tailing you this entire time. She said that you looked like a walking zombie. Everyone's meeting at Makino's for a party. Sanji's trying out a new dish and something tells me that it's gonna be good. See you when you get here. Bye."
The line died and Usopp was overwhelmed by a hurricane of relief that overtook him.
Turning around, he saw Nami eyeing him from the driver's seat of Luffy's car, all buckled up, tapping an impatient finger on the steering wheel. Chopper waved at him from the backseat.
He chose to sit next to the driver and was floored when she smiled giving him a genuine look of concern.
"Feeling better?" she asked.
"Yeah... Where were you all week?"
"I took the week off. Didn't Luffy tell you?"
Nami put the car in "Drive" and began the journey.
"Just so you know, I didn't have any part in this," she said, "I'm just the driver."
Usopp's eyes popped out. "So you didn't give him any ideas?"
"Nope. All he said was that he was going to prank you. What did he tell you for you to look so sad?"
"You seriously have no clue?"
"He fired me after saying that I was a catalyst for why you wanted to divorce him."
Nami almost slammed the breaks but remembered that she was on a highway.
"He did what?!" Her knuckles tightened on the wheel. "I'm sorry about that, Usopp."
"No. I should be the one saying sorry to you, Nami. I am the reason Luffy's this way. Even had him use you as a guinea pig."
"I just hope that you've learned your lesson," Nami said, throwing him a look.
"You guys have to admit that that prank was pure genius," Chopper said.
Both in front nodded.
Usopp decided it a great idea to lighten up the mood.
"I'm surprised that he even was able to fool a pranking legend such as myself."
Chopper looked at him unimpressed.
"I think that we all know who that title goes to..." he mocked and Usopp sulked, admitting defeat. Afterall, what kind of legend falls for the old "Your-shoelaces-are-untied" trick?
"Okay-okay. I get it. Luffy wins. But at least, it's not canon, right?"
As Usopp chuckled, he noticed the chill in the air.
"I'm going to pretend that I didn't hear that," said Nami, indicating into a lane; eyes never leaving the road.
"What? Was it what I said about this whole series not being canon?"
Chopper's hair on his skin stood straight and his teeth chattered in fright.
"Usopp, I don't know if you've lived under a rock your whole life but the ultimate rule is to never break the fourth wall."
"What happens if I do?"
Nami couldn't take it anymore.
"Will you two please keep quiet about that? I've heard stories of people who have died daring to break it. If you wish to live another day, stop talking. Please."
"I've heard about that but isn't it different if it's non-canon? I thought that-"
"Usopp!" Chopper and Nami yelled but it was too late. Things around them seemed to freeze with time. The cars stopped driving simultaneously, there was a pause to the dancing act of a free, white plastic bag and the birds in the sky stopped mid-flight. Nothing moved. Everything had grown quiet.
"What the hell is going on?" Usopp tried pinching himself but only found that he was not dreaming.
Chopper bawled in the backseat and Nami after numerous tries, could not get the car to start. She gave up and stared ahead of her with a blank expression knowing to herself that not ever her dear husband could save her now. They were doomed.
"All this because I broke the fourth wall?"
All eyes were on the blabbermouth.
Sadly for Usopp and his friends, that was the final straw. Like a light switched off, everything around them was lost to darkness. Each held their breaths. And if that was not the worst that could happen, they felt an earthquake and all grabbed onto each other screaming at the top of their lungs.
They heard the floor breaking up and the car was plunged into what seemed like a never-ending pit.
"Do something, Usopp," Nami begged.
"You're the one that got us into this mess!"
"Hurry up, Usopp. Please. I don't wanna die!" Chopper cried. Nami held him closer and leered at the perpetrator for endangering their lives.
Usopp gulped and began prostrating himself over and over again begging for forgiveness; Asking that the lives of his friends be saved over his due to his carelessness. He had never been so afraid.
After having my fun, I snapped my fingers and everything went back to normal.
Nami, Usopp and Chopper slowly peeked open their eyes and reluctantly released one another; seeing after great inspection of their surroundings that they were parked in front of 'Party's Bar'.
More than thankful that she had been given another shot at life, Nami left the two idiots in the vehicle and ran to meet her husband.
Usopp and Chopper looked at each other at the same time.
"Are you sure you've learned your lesson, Usopp?"
"Yeah. Pranks are stupid. Not all pranks are harmless or fun. People can get hurt."
The doctor stared at him long and hard. That was a trick question.
"I've learned a lot today, Chopper. I'm a changed man. Now let's go have some fun. Luffy's waiting on us."
Chopper grinned and followed the sharpshooter inside to meet the rest of the crew.