This is my most recent one-shot, where we get a little bit of a look at Hazel's feelings towards her parents: specifically, her mother. TW for general parental angst
From the moment Hazel opened her eyes, she knew it was going to be a long day. The skies were cloudy, the waves choppy, and her roommate's face was about ten inches away, smiling a little too sweetly.
"Ahh!" she yelled, jumping back in bed. "Nami, what the hell?!"
"Oh good, you're up!" Nami chirped at her, doing nothing to alleviate the suspicion in Hazel's gut. "I need a favor!"
"I told you before: if Luffy gets his head stuck between the railings, it's better to just leave him there or he'll never learn his lesson."
"No, no, not that, silly!" Hazel glared further at the young woman, suspicion thoroughly piqued. "See, it's Mother's Day! Normally, Nojiko and I have a tradition of cooking a big breakfast, but since she's obviously not here, I was wondering if you'd like to join me?" and then she flashed the biggest pair of puppy dog eyes Hazel had ever seen. Which was saying something, considering how often Ace had tried to use that on her when they were kids.
There was just one issue.
"It's Mother's Day?" Hazel groaned, rubbing one hand over her face. Nami took her groaning as a sign of tiredness, and enthusiastically nodded her head.
"Please, Hazel? My sister and I do this every year, and I'd really like to share it with you!"
Guilt gnawed at Hazel's gut. How could she possibly say "no" now?
"Sure, Nami...just," she sighed, "give me a second to get dressed." And then Nami let out a squeal, of all things, hugged the purple-haired girl around the shoulders, and bounded up the stairs.
Left alone, Hazel took a deep, shuddery breath. Then she took another one. Then another, on and on until they became steadier, and the world didn't feel like it'd swallow her up right there. She stood up, padding over to the closet the girls shared and quickly threw on a plain t-shirt and shorts; something she wouldn't be upset about getting messy. She threw her curly hair into a messy ponytail, squared her shoulders, and with a firm nod of her head, she followed after Nami.
It was early, enough so that the sun had barely peeked over the horizon. With all the clouds in the sky, the seascape remained a rather dull blue, the orange of the sun's rays blocked from view. Even Sanji, who normally woke up pretty early to get a start on breakfast, was still nestled deep in his hammock down below.
"How'd you manage to secure the kitchen for the day?" she asked as she entered the galley, deftly catching the apron Nami tossed her way.
"I told Sanji-kun I had something special planned, batted my eyelashes a bit, and he was convinced to sleep in for a day," Nami explained, pulling the last of the ingredients from the fridge and setting them on the counter. "I've got the pancake batter covered if you wanna get a start on the bacon!"
Hazel slid up to the counter, eyeing the array of food and utensils the navigator had set out. It had been a while since she'd made bacon - Luffy had a habit of stealing the still sizzling strips from the pan - but she dutifully set to work at the stove as Nami chatted on.
"One year, Belle-mere wasn't able to afford our usual breakfast ingredients, so Nojiko and I had to improvise," the younger woman was saying as she steadily dribbled pancake batter onto the skillet. "We snuck into the tangerine grove and picked as many as we could find, but we stuck to the smaller ones so they wouldn't be missed." Hazel hummed in acknowledgment, gut churning. "Nojiko set up an entire tray of tangerines cut into different shapes, but when Belle-mere tried to eat? Her face puckered up like this!"
Nami's face scrunched into an expression that resembled a dried-up pufferfish, cheeks sunken in and eyes screwed shut, before she bust out laughing at the memory. Hazel smiled good-naturedly, piling more bacon onto the plate beside her, and Nami launched into another story.
"Oh! And then there was the year I tried to make the pancakes by myself for the first time! Normally that was Nojiko's job, but I convinced her to let me try," the navigator said, eyes far away as she expertly flipped another pancake. "The entire kitchen ended up covered in batter! I'm not even sure how it happened - I thought Belle-mere would be furious! I was so scared I hid in the closet, but I didn't realize I'd tracked flour behind me." Nami shook her head, smiling. "Belle-mere opened the closet door, took one look at me, and grinned this huge grin. She said it was the 'best year ever'..."
Hazel bit her cheek as Nami sighed wistfully. "Belle-mere was always saying that: it was the 'best year ever', no matter how much we ruined breakfast."
"Hazel, are you ok?"
"Huh?" Hazel glanced at her in surprise, then quickly resumed her task, tension coiling in her gut as she nodded. Just breathe, Hazel…
"Are you sure?" Nami asked, worry ringing in her voice. "You don't seem to be having much fun."
"I'm fine, Nami," Hazel grit out, flinching back as a drop of grease jumped out at her.
"No, you're not! What's wrong?"
"Look, I said I'm fine, alright?!" Hazel snapped, turning from the bacon to glare at the young girl. "I just don't really give a shit about Mother's Day!"
Nami's gasp was accented by the galley door opening, their crew's footsteps halting as Hazel's statement hung in the air. All at once, her anger fled, replaced quickly with burning shame at Nami's watery gaze. Swallowing against the lump in her throat, and the warmth growing in her cheeks, Hazel muttered a quick "sorry" before bolting from the room.
The others watched her go, breakfast momentarily forgotten, until the familiar thwap thwap of their captain's flip flops broke the silence, punctuated by Luffy's excited cry: "Sanji! Food!"
"I just don't get it!" Nami yelled as she sat at the table, anger, embarrassment, and guilt all warring within her. Hazel still hadn't returned to the kitchen. "It's just Mother's Day. It should be a day to celebrate!"
"I'm sure Hazel-chan has her reasons, Nami-san," Sanji said around his cigarette, unhappy that "his girls" were at odds. Luffy scratched under his hat.
"What's Mother's Day?"
Luckily for him, Luffy was used to the incredulous stares his crew often bestowed on him. Even Zoro was looking at him like he'd grown a second head. Wait. Could he do that?
"Even you should know what Mother's Day is," Nami scolded the boy as he inexplicably began to pull at the skin on his shoulder.
Luffy shrugged. "Nope!"
"It's the day you celebrate your mom!" Nami was met with a blank stare. "You know, the one who provides for you, even if it means she goes without."
"The one who encourages your dreams, and loves you unconditionally," Sanji added, a wistful look in his eye as he flicked his cigarette.
"The one who tells you stories, and tucks you into bed at night," Usopp chimed in, face alight with happy memories.
But Luffy merely raised an eyebrow in confusion. "Hazel already has a birthday, I'm supposed to give her two parties?!"
And then the room grew silent once more as the weight of his question settled on the others' shoulders. Nami felt her stomach clench, threatening to evict a breakfast she hadn't even eaten as she realized what had happened. She pushed herself to her feet, rushing out of the kitchen with barely a word to the others.
She had to find Hazel.
Nami found her standing against the railing, on the complete opposite side of the ship. Hazel's arms were crossed in front of her, the wind blowing through her loose, purple curls as she gazed out at the sea. The navigator approached slowly, suddenly nervous now that she was here. But before she could utter any apology, Hazel beat her to it.
"I'm sorry for snapping at you. That wasn't very fair, and you didn't deserve it."
Nami's brown eyes snapped up to the other woman's face, still not facing her, and swallowed against the growing lump in her throat.
"I'm the one who should be sorry," she said, leaning on the rail beside her. "I should have asked you first. I shouldn't have assumed you'd be OK with it."
Hazel shrugged. "You had good intentions, at least. It's the thought that counts."
"Is it?" But Hazel didn't answer, and the two slipped into a heavy silence broken only by the crash of waves against the hull. "What happened to her?" Nami finally asked, shoulders tensed as she waited for the older woman to either answer or scold her.
Hazel only sighed. "Honestly?" she clicked her tongue, shrugging her shoulders and biting her lip. "No idea. Don't really remember her."
"But if you don't remember…" Nami started, eyes lighting up as an idea struck her. "Then she could still be out there somewhere! Maybe we'll find her-!"
"I hope she's dead."
The finality of the statement struck Nami dumb, mouth hanging open in shock at the woman's deadened expression. There was no waver in Hazel's tone, no room for any doubt that she meant it. "What…?"
Hazel laughed through her nose, a bitter sound. "Sounds horrible, right? Especially today of all days? But it's true." Hazel's jaw clenched, her fists curling around the Merry's railing. "If she's dead, then it wasn't a choice. If she's dead, then she didn't decide to -! She didn't just -!" Her shoulders shook, breaths coming out in ragged gasps, unable to finish the statement.
Nami reacted without thinking, pulling the shaking woman into her arms without hesitation. Hazel's voice broke, heartache echoing between them as she gasped out: "why wasn't I enough?"
"Now you look at me!" Nami cried, pulling back to lock her eyes onto Hazel's. "Don't you ever think you aren't enough! Just look at everything you've done! We're all here because of you, Hazel!"
Hazel rolled her watery gray eyes. "You're here because of Luffy - I'm just emotional support." But Nami shook her head.
"Luffy may have brought us together, but he only got to where he is because you supported him! He thinks the absolute world of you, he loves you - we all love you! And you've done all of this without her! Screw her!" Hazel dissolved into a new round of tears, and Nami pulled her back into her warm embrace. "New tradition: from now on, let us show you how much we appreciate you, whether that's through breakfast together, or leaving you the hell alone."
Hazel choked out a wet, shaky laugh, fingers clutching tightly to Nami's t-shirt as the tears flowed through her. Finally, they subsided, and as she leaned back Nami helped wipe the remaining tear tracks away. Hazel took a deep breath, then another, feeling lighter than she had all day. Then, her stomach growled.
"I think I'm ready to go back to breakfast," she murmured, too drained to be embarrassed. Nami just smiled, linking their arms together as she led the way back to the others.
When they entered the galley, the pair were separated when a rubbery figure launched itself at Hazel. Luffy wrapped his limbs around his sister, squeezing so tight it was a wonder she didn't break a rib. "Hazel! Sanji made you coffee! He wouldn't let me try it but I did anyway - how do you drink that stuff?!"
Hazel just smiled at his rambling, wiggling her arms free of her brother's embrace, surprising the boy when she hugged him back (almost) as tightly, and kissed him on the forehead. "Heeey!" He whined, pulling away to angrily rub at the spot she'd kissed. "What was that for?!"
"Nothing, just…I'm proud of you, Luff." The boy's face broke into a grin.
"Shishishi! I'm proud of you, too! Now, let's eat!"
Finally, the Straw Hats gathered around the table, digging into their meal with an excited frenzy. Sipping her coffee, Hazel nudged the woman beside her. "Thanks, Nami," she said, smiling easily after the events of that morning. "But, for future reference? On Father's Day, you may just wanna let me stay in bed."