Chapter 37: Overwhelmed

As the days passed and the crew slowly sailed through the Grand Line, Luffy tried to work up the courage to sit down with Chopper and have the mock session that Whiskey had suggested. So far, he'd done a good job of telling the doctor any small worries he'd had, even if it wasn't always at the best times to be telling him.

Such as the day before when he'd burst into the kitchen where Chopper had been making medicine to tell him he was worried he'd catch too many fish and there wouldn't be any more fish left in the

Or when Chopper and he had shared a hiding spot in a game of hide-and-seek and he'd told the doctor he was worried they would be caught, just as Usopp walked by.

Or even when they were sailing through a storm, and as Chopper was slipping across the rain-slicked deck, Luffy had shouted over the wind that he was worried they wouldn't be able to eat on time because of the storm.

For the most part, Chopper took these admissions in stride, always commenting back with something placating, or in the case of the hide-and-seek debacle, an exclamation that they should run because their game had quickly evolved into tag. Even though the admissions themselves weren't anything all that revealing, it was still enough to put Luffy at ease that Chopper wasn't reacting all that different to hearing them.

When a week had gone by, he decided that, maybe, they should have that mock session that Whiskey had mentioned. They were still on course for their next island, but it seemed it was going to be a while before they actually reached it, and so it was the perfect time to test out the relationship between his newest doctor and himself.

With that in mind, Luffy begins to stalk over to Chopper before he can lose the nerve. The doctor was out on the deck, just as everyone else was, looking through a book as he sits against the mast. At Luffys approach, however, he looks up, curiosity radiating through him.

"We should have our mock session now," Luffy said, not bothering to beat around the bush and instead getting straight to the point. Chopper blinked in mild surprise at the sudden suggestion but closed his book and nodded, standing up.

"Oh, uh, alright. We can go to the bow. Whiskey mentioned you like to be outside during sessions." Chopper offered, only the slightest bit nervous. For the most part, the reindeer was filled with determination, ready to take on the task of being Luffys doctor.

With Luffys nod of affirmation, the two-headed to the front of the ship. The rest of the crew continued on with their business, not even giving the two a passing glance as they walked by. Luffy took a quick note that Robin was in the kitchen with Sanji and that her emotions were the usual mass of cautious/guarded/nervous, yet sprinkled in were hints of relaxed and peaceful that contradicted the more powerful emotions. As ever, Robin was a conundrum that Luffy didn't have the time- or the ability- to figure out, and so he pushed away from her emotions entirely and focused only on the upcoming session with Chopper.

While it wasn't going to be as intensive as Whiskey's had been, Luffy found he was still nervous nonetheless to be sitting across the reindeer doctor. The two of them were as isolated as could be on an open deck, sitting across from each other on the upper deck of the bow. The ocean breeze ruffled Luffy's hair and he took a deep breath, the familiar salty smell calming him slightly as he tried relaxing.

There was a moment as Chopper shifted, putting the book he'd been reading earlier beside him, and then focusing all of his attention on Luffy.

"I know it's difficult for you to have a new doctor all of a sudden, and I know we don't really know each other all that well yet, but thank you for trusting me enough to be your doctor, Luffy." Chopper started sincerely, a small smile on his face as he said this. Luffy smiled back, shrugging slightly at the gratitude.

"You're a good guy. And you're a transforming reindeer too." Luffy added as if that had had the biggest impact on his decision to have Chopper be his new doctor. There was another moment where Chopper was flustered by the compliment, but soon enough he was back under control, still smiling lightly.

"This session isn't meant to be anything stressful or difficult for you. You can choose whatever we talk about and it doesn't have to have anything to do with your past if you don't want it to. It's just to help us get to know each other better so that, hopefully in the future, we can have more serious sessions and I can better help you with whatever it is you might need." Chopper began, his nervousness slowly fading away as he spoke. The more he stepped into his role of doctor, the more confidence he had of himself, allowing for a more professional air to surround him.

"Right." Luffy agreed, remembering Whiskey saying something similar when they first started their sessions together.

"One last thing and then we can talk. Whiskey also mentioned that I'll need to learn how to regulate my emotions so that I don't inadvertently affect you during these sessions, so if you notice I'm feeling anything too strong and it's going to affect you, let me know so I can better manage it." Chopper added which got him another nod from Luffy.

And with that, they started talking.

As expected, it wasn't anything all that strange or stressful to talk about. It was all rather mundane, from Luffy's favorite kinds of foods to his favorite color. He rambled about anything and everything while Chopper asked an occasional question for clarification. To anyone else, it looked as if the two were merely getting to know each other, and in a way, that's exactly what was happening.

When Luffy finished a story about the time he and Sabo had hidden in the crow's nest from Ace after they broke his favorite belt buckle, Luffy found his attention drawn to the sudden spike of surprise coming from inside the ship where Sanji and Robin had been. The emotion had come from Robin, but it was gone almost as quickly as it had appeared as the woman managed her emotions back to their usual contradicting jumble. This reminded Luffy of what Whiskey had suggested and so he turned his attention back to Chopper, his previously joyful smile switching to a more neutral look.

"Ne, you know I see colors around people, right?" Luffy asked the reindeer suddenly, surprising him with the sudden change in topic. Chopper was quick to follow along though as he nodded.

"Blue means someone is good and black means bad right?" Chopper asked for confirmation, to which Luffy nodded.

"Mm. Colors are always somewhere between blue or black. If someones a really good person their color will be a bright blue, but normally people have blues that look like the ocean, or sometimes they're a little grey. I've seen two other colors before that weren't blue or black." Luffy explained. Chopper didn't interrupt, but instead nodded along in understanding.

"I saw Aces color turn yellow once when he lost his memories. That was right after we were saved by the Whitebeards. I don't really know what it meant and it changed back to blue after a second. I've never seen that color again since, but not too long ago I saw a new color. I thought it was black at first, but then I realized it was just a really dark purple." Luffy said, tilting his head back and forth as he wracked his own brain for an explanation behind these strange colors.

"A dark purple? Do you mean Robin?" Chopper asked curiously, remembering what Luffy had said when the crew had been nervous to let her join. The rubber man had mentioned that her color had been a dark purple, but as of this moment, it was a lighter lilac.

"Yeah. I thought it meant she was a bad person because I thought the color was black at first, and she was because she had the darkness too. Not a lot of it, but enough. After a while though, the purple started getting lighter and the darkness went away completely. She's still got a purple color, but it's a lot lighter now. Her emotions don't make sense either though." Luffy told him, growing a little frustrated at how confusing Robin was. He wanted to keep his crew safe, but he wasn't sure what his abilities were trying to tell him with the woman's weird colors and strange emotions, and so he wasn't able to decide if she was going to be a problem or not.

"What about her emotions?" Chopper asked carefully, his own emotions a calm, peaceful refuge from the turmoil inside of the rubber teen.

"She feels nervous sometimes, or guarded, or cautious, but then at the same time, she'll feel relaxed and calm which doesn't make sense. And she never looks nervous or scared or anything, but she almost always feels that way. She doesn't make sense." Luffy finished with a pout. If ever there was a time that he wished his abilities came with at least a little bit of an instruction manual, now would be the time. At least he wouldn't have to be guessing all the time about what it was he was seeing or feeling.

"Sometimes managing emotions can be hard. Robin is new and maybe she just doesn't know how or what she should be feeling just yet. I'm sure the longer she's here, the better you'll be able to understand her, and maybe her own emotions will start to settle down too." Chopper suggested. Luffy thought about the words for a minute, looking up at a cloud that was shaped just a bit too lumpy to be the face he'd thought it was and instead deciding it looked more like a flower.

"Right. Ne, you're good at this Chopper!" Luffy complemented with a bright smile, pleased that this hadn't been as daunting as he'd feared it would be. Despite the fact that he was talking to a reindeer rather than Whiskey barely registered for him now that he'd gotten comfortable with talking and he was happy that it seemed this might actually work out.

"Oh, well thank you." Chopper said, becoming flustered as he wiggled in place, his emotions screaming that he was pleased with the praise. After a few seconds he managed to settle down, but he was still smiling at Luffy.

"I think today was a good start, Luffy. If you want, we can do another one of these more easy-going sessions next week and work up to the harder stuff." Chopper suggested which made Luffy realize just how long they'd been talking for.

"Yeah! I can tell you about that time Thatch tried stealing one of Fossa's cigars or- oh! The time Haruta fell overboard and Namur had to get him because he got caught in a net he was holding! Ne, do you think lunch is ready? Sanji! Hungry!" Chopper could only blink as the words spewed rapidly from his captain's mouth, and then suddenly the rubber teen was up and running to the kitchen, food on the brain.

Still, Chopper was happy that the mock session had gone well after all.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Lunch was a chaotic affair. Luffy ate with as much gusto as ever, if not more. After overcoming his anxiety and having his mock session with Chopper he felt not only much lighter and calmer but also starving.

Luckily, Sanji made plenty and the captain shoveled food into his mouth faster than it could be put on plates. For the most part, the crew was becoming used to their rambunctious captains eating habits and so most of them barely batted an eye at it. The newer ones, namely Chopper and Robin, were both still getting used to it though and Luffy could feel their surprise at how much and how fast he was eating. As was usual, Robin didn't show her surprise on her face, but Chopper did briefly before focusing on his own meal.

Luffy was only just finishing up his thirds when he asked for fourths, to which Sanji denied and Luffy argued only briefly about. As much as he wanted more of the delicious food, he was also excited to go out and hang out with Usopp seeing as they hadn't had the chance to that morning.

Stuck in his thoughts, he was only dully aware of Sanjis rising affection as he addressed one of the women, and then Usopps teasing response in turn. As he filled his mouth with the last of the meat left on his plate he noticed the growing irritation within both Sanji and Usopp as they bickered about something back and forth.

It was obvious that the bickering wasn't anything malicious- Usopp seemed to have been teasing Sanji's skills at flirting to which Sanji had bit back with a snark on Usopps aim and things had escalated from there- but there was no denying that the two of them still felt annoyed with the words they were hearing. Annoyance which was growing steadily and seeping into Luffy before he had a chance to even blink.

It was a little surprising just how easily the emotion took over the rubber teen. Sanji and Usopp weren't all that irritated, it was just harmless bickering between the two, but for some reason, it was having the same effect on Luffy that people like Kuro had had on him. He was beginning to drown in the bubbling feeling in his chest, all but pushing his voice out of his throat with a shout. Whatever the reason for the sudden onslaught, it was too late to stop it as his own annoyance started feeding into the borrowed annoyance and he was stuck in a feedback loop.

The rest of the crew had been amused with the back and forth between the sniper and the chef, but the amusement died suddenly when Luffy stood with a huff of irritation, face pulled into a scowl and his hands clenching into fists at his sides. Some blinked silently in surprise, but before anything could be said Luffy turned and stalked off, the kitchen door slamming shut behind him as he headed out to the deck.

Still surprised, as well as confused, the crew stared at the door and tried to figure out just what had happened to cause the sudden ire in their captain.

"Is he always so easily angered?" Robin asked mildly as she took a sip of her coffee. Outwardly she seemed unfazed, if slightly interested, but if Luffy had been there he would have picked up on the growing caution and worry within the woman.

"What? No, not normally. Not unless- oh!" Nami blinked again at the idea she suddenly had, all heads turning her way in hopes for answers.

"Unless what?" Usopp asked, glancing back to the door briefly on the off chance that Luffy returned.

"Remember what Ace was saying? About Luffy sometimes getting overwhelmed by other people's emotions?" She asked the table. Recognition lit up within them all- sans Robin who hid her confusion behind her mug as she took another sip.

"Right! Were you two actually angry with each other then?" Chopper asked Usopp and Sanji. He'd thought, like the others, that the two had been arguing playfully, but Luffy had seemed to pick up on something that suggested otherwise.

"Not really. I guess I was a little annoyed, but I don't think it would have been enough to have influenced him like that." Sanji said, lighting a cigarette as he tried to think back on his own emotions. In front of him, Usopp nodded in agreement.

"Yeah, I wasn't all that worked up I don't think..." The sniper said, finger on his chin as he thought back as well.

"But maybe because the both of you were upset that's what managed to make him upset," Zoro suggested. Both frowned at this, glancing at each other before shrugging.

"I guess it's possible." Sanji agreed. None of them could know for sure unless they asked Luffy, but there didn't seem to be any other reason as to why Luffy would suddenly be so upset. They didn't know how Luffy experienced others' emotions after all, so they couldn't say definitively one way or another on the matter.

"Do you think he's alright?" Usopp asked worriedly, glancing to the door. They hadn't heard any crashing or banging which was good news for them seeing as they all had no doubt Luffy could sink the ship all by himself. He hadn't seemed angry when he'd left though, more annoyed if anything.

"I'll go check on him." Zoro decided, standing from his seat and starting for the door.

"Are you sure? Ace said we should let him get it out of his system." Nami reminded, a slight bit nervous for Zoros well being if Luffy turned on him. Not that she thought it would come down to that, but when she remembered back to the falling buildings in Alabasta during one of Luffy's 'overwhelmed' moments she couldn't help but think Zoro was on a suicide mission. Zoro didn't answer her though and only continued on out of the kitchen and out onto the deck.

Usopp began muttering a eulogy for the swordsman's funeral while Robin watched on indifferently still.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Out on the deck, it took Zoro all of two seconds to figure out that the first place to look for his captain would be the figurehead. It hadn't passed anyone's notice that the rubber man seemed to seek out the spot no matter his mood, but especially so when he was overly emotional, whether that be positively or negatively. It seemed to be the one place on the ship that Luffy could actually sit still and be calm.

Making his way there, he was quick to notice that his theory was correct as he saw Luffys back, the straw hat dangling from his neck by its string and his hair being ruffled by the wind. He sat cross-legged, hands grabbing his ankles and spine ramrod straight. Despite not being able to see his expression, Zoro could still sense the irritated aura surrounding the teen as he approached but he did his best to not let it deter him.

"Hey, Luffy," Zoro called out in case the captain didn't know he was there. The only indication that Luffy heard him was the slight drop in his shoulders, though he was still sat up straight.

"You alright?" The swordsman asks next when he didn't get an answer.

"Mm. Sorry." Luffy says, voice nearly drowned out by the sound of the waves due to how soft he spoke.

"It's fine." Zoro placated, moving to stand at the railing beside the figurehead, leaning his forearms on it.

There was a moment of silence as the two existed together. Zoro didn't bother pushing for answers- if Luffy was still annoyed it would do no good to push him further- and Luffy didn't say anything either. The sun was high in the sky, beaming down on them and causing the water to sparkle. It was beautiful and distracting, allowing the two to get lost in the mesmerizing movements of the water.

"I got overwhelmed," Luffy said eventually, stating the obvious as his posture finally relaxed fully. Zoro glanced at him out of the corner of his eye, nodding.

"Seems like it. Were they that mad at each other?" Zoro asks, already knowing that they hadn't been- at least, that's what they'd said. He wouldn't be surprised to hear from Luffy that the two had been a lot angrier than they'd let on.

"No, not really. I think it was because they were both annoyed and I was already... off." Luffy said for lack of a better word. After having thought about it, he realized that after his talk with Chopper, while he'd been relieved and happy, he'd also been tired from all the anxiety and worry. He hadn't put as much attention into blocking out emotions as he usually would. Not to mention, after being near only a handful of people in comparison to the hundreds on the Moby, he'd unknowingly relaxed his emotional shields. The combination of it all had resulted in being overwhelmed despite the emotions being presented not being all that strong.

"Off?" Zoro asked, wondering if there was something wrong. Maybe Luffy was ill?

"I'm still getting used to all of you guys. Your emotions and stuff. And there are only six of you. Back on the Moby, there were hundreds all the time. I relaxed too much and it made it easier to get overwhelmed." Luffy explained the best he could. It was still difficult for him to explain just how he experienced and managed his abilities to others, but unless they experienced themselves they would never truly understand it.

"Is there anything we can do to help?" Zoro asked after a moment of thought. This reminded the rubber man of when the Whitebeards had first found out about his abilities and how easy it could be to influence him. He'd been influenced with anger and yelled at them all, but after Sabo explained what had happened and how they could help him they'd gotten just as good as his brothers at sending him calming emotions whenever necessary.

Looking at Zoro for the first time, Luffy seemed to assess him for a moment before nodding.

"My brothers and the Whitebeards were able to help whenever it happened. They would make themselves feel calm so that I would feel it too. I think Sabo and Ace explained it like they were pushing the emotion at me or something so that I could focus on that instead of whatever was influencing me." Luffy explained. He wasn't all too sure on what exactly they did, but from what he'd understood that had basically been the gist of it.

"So if I stay calm it can help you stay calm," Zoro concluded, and while it was a bit of an oversimplification, it was essentially correct.

"Right," Luffy affirmed with a nod, turning back to the ocean.

With a nod to himself, Zoro turned to look at the water as well, wondering- not for the first time- how he'd come to follow a captain so high maintenance as his.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

When the rest of the crew hesitatingly joined the two out on deck they were relieved to see that Luffy didn't seem to be annoyed anymore. Instead, he was his usual cheery self as he hopped off of Merry's figurehead and ran toward Usopp, asking loudly if they could play a game together before running off and declaring Usopp 'It' before the sniper had a chance to even blink.

Seeing that everything was back to normal the crew found themselves relaxing as well, any uneasiness fading as they separated to go on doing whatever it was they needed to be doing at the moment.

While Luffy and Usopp ran around the deck- eventually managing to suck not only Chopper into their game, but Zoro as well- Robin watched from her lounge chair, a book open and in front of her face despite her attention being elsewhere.

She hadn't been on this crew long, not even a week yet, but already the oddities of her new captain were continuing to add up. And while he hadn't exactly hidden anything from her explicitly, he had definitely deflected when it came to a few specific subjects. One such subject had been the facility, but that had been expected. After all, his own crew- the ones he'd chosen himself- hadn't seemed to know about it, and after her short time here that assumption had been confirmed.

Clearly, whatever the facility was, it was big. But that was beside the point.

There were other things about the mysterious upstart that piqued Robin's interest, and while he hadn't done anything as overtly as refusing to answer a question about his strange capabilities, he also hadn't been forthcoming with information either.

From what she knew about Captain 11097, AKA Straw Hat Luffy, he was a former Whitebeard pirate, seventeen years old, and in possession of the Gomu-Gomu no mi. This paramecia ability turned his body into rubber which makes him immune to any blunt force and allows him to stretch his body among other things.

What she couldn't quite grasp about him however was his odd perceptiveness.

His lie detection for example. It was clear that the crew put a lot of stock in it. No one questioned him when Usopp had interrogated her, even if they didn't agree with his answer. She had to admit as well that he had been entirely accurate in his determinations of whether she'd been lying or not. What she didn't understand was how he'd known one way or another. She knew she wasn't a bad liar- she was actually very good at it thank you very much- which was why it was so surprising that the hyperactive captain had been able to so easily tell truth from falsehood.

She knew it was possible to learn people's tells, but they hadn't known each other long- or well- enough for him to know any of hers. So how had it been possible?

And then there was lunch. Where the crew had seemed to understand something about their captain that she wasn't. At first, she had assumed that Luffy had merely gotten aggravated with his crew's bickering, but the conversation afterward suggested otherwise. Clearly it had happened before, and from the sounds of it, Luffy hadn't simply been reacting to the others' bickering, but rather their emotions.

And strangest of all was when she'd first joined and he'd started talking about her 'color' being a light purple as opposed to a black or dark purple as it had been previously. This had been the most confusing bit for her to parse out and she was still no closer to figuring out what he'd meant by it. Supposedly she'd had 'the darkness' but it was gone now and that was why he was alright with her joining, but what did that even mean? Was it something figurative? The crew had seemed to understand immediately though, and while they were still wary of her, there had been a noticeable shift in the tension once they'd heard his declaration, so clearly, the words held some weight to them.

Whatever the case was, Robin was determined to find some answers herself. After all, it was better to keep informed on possible enemies so that you can better prepare yourself for the inevitable fight. She knew that best herself. To her, it was only a matter of time until this crew turned on her as so many others in the past had done.

If- when- that turned out to be the case, she would need to know everything there is to know about Monkey D. Luffy before that time came.


Welcome back to another chapter everyone! How's everyone doing?

This chapter marks the beginning of the Konoro Arc and in the next chapter we'll be seeing a bit more of what that will entail. Also, Robin's becoming more and more suspicious of Luffy and whatever it is he's hiding. While he's not intentionally hiding his abilities from her, he's also not outright letting her know about them either. The two of them are both unsure of each other, for good reasoning's on both parts, so handing over those answers and trust will not be so easy.

I've also got some news on updating schedules. I'm going to have a lot of exams come November, so I think I'm going to have to take some time off during that month so I can focus on school life first and foremost. I will continue to update normally from now through October, as well as December onward barring any surprises, but I just wanted to let you all know in advance that November might not have any updates. I'll remind you all again and let you know for sure when we're closer to the month itself, but I just wanted to give a heads up.

Thank you all for your support and love on this story, as well as your patience when it comes to my updating! You all are the best and I will be sure to let you know it at the end of every chapter!

I'll see you all again in two weeks with the next chapter!