Prompt: "chapter 561 spoilerish: Luffy didn't predict Mihawk. Aftermath when he rejoins his nakama. (Let's assume everything else worked out ok for this AU.)"

(written 9 November 2009)

((This was originally to include the reunion of Luffy with all of his crew, but I had problems working out the plotline; and with Oda writing the actual reunions, I kind of lost inspiration for it. This bit can stand on its own as a story regardless.))

He had good reflexes; that was the only thing that saved his left arm. As it was, Mihawk's blade left a deep gash from his wrist to elbow. His other arm...

Luffy jumped back, a part of his mind detachedly observing his hand hitting the ground in slow motion. Later. He heard a feminine gasp - Hancock? - from behind him. No time. Pain shot up his arms. Unimportant. Blood dripped from both arms, a veritable flood coming from what remained of his right. Need to deal with.

He gritted his teeth and pulled on his mangled arm, tears involuntarily springing to his eyes as he did so. If he had been anyone else, he might have reflected upon the fact that his unique nature allowed him to literally tie his arm up to stem the bleeding; but he was Luffy, and he didn't waste time on such inconsequential thoughts. Ace.

He watched the tide slow, slow, stop... Now I can fight, he thought, and looked for something to throw at Mihawk.

Robin never asked her captain how he'd lost his arm. It just wasn't done; besides, she knew that she could find out herself.

She had been overjoyed at first to see him - enthusiastic as ever, still underdressed for the cold climate - although she kept herself to a sedate smile. It had taken her slightly under a minute, once the shock of his personality and presence wore off, to notice he was less one limb, but she was good at hiding surprise. She had blinked once, maybe twice, then mentally filed it under "do later" while she listened to him chatter on about what had happened since Shabondy. He didn't mention what had happened to him, but that was only to be expected.

She kept him under constant surveillance - partially to satisfy her own curiousity, partially to make sure he was okay, and partially (she smiled to herself when she realized it) because she had missed him. It wasn't hard to do; he wanted to constantly be with the only one of his nakama he had thus far retrieved. If she was reading during dinner time, he took his meal to where she was, and ate as close by her as she would allow so that food wouldn't get on the book. In the mornings, as soon as she left her room, she would be greeted by a one-armed hug. Sometimes, he fell asleep in her room. She let him. He didn't mean anything by it; and they had both been lonely, separated from their nakama.

The first thing she had paid attention to was the actual appearance of his right arm. It ended just above the elbow, with scars from crude stitching on the stump. Other than that, it was unscarred, although his left forearm bore a long unfamiliar scar, possibly related. The injury appeared mostly healed by that time, although still a bit red.

He didn't appear to have much a problem functioning one-handed any more. If he needed extra gripping power, he could always stretch his arm and wrap it around what had to be held. But when he did have a problem, he almost always started talking about Ace. She knew he had rescued his brother - it had been one of the first things he'd said to her - and was certain the two were connected.

Robin looked down at the subject of her thoughts. He had originally fallen asleep sitting next to her, but was now sprawled across her lap. He looked so young and innocent like that - which he was, she thought, both young and innocent, somehow managing to remain so despite everything he'd gone through. With one hand she lightly traced the pattern of his scars: the small curved one under his left eye, which nobody even noticed any more; the long, recent one on his left arm; and the end of his right arm, which would probably draw stares for the rest of his life.

He stirred slightly under her touch. On impulse, she ruffled his hair.

She smiled, and knew she didn't have to study him any more.

The truth would come out eventually.