Hey all! It's been a while, hasn't it?
Recently I've been extremely busy with work, which hasn't left much time for writing...or One Piece in general. However, work is starting to let up, and I'm trying to get back into the mood for both writing and One Piece. After digging through my writing files and discovering a bunch of stuff I've never posted, I figure, why not start with that?
So, this will be a collection of one shots, prompt fills, snippits, challenges, and completely random ideas that aren't really qualified to stand alone as their own fics...but hopefully will still be entertaining to read. It will update completely at random, whenever I happen to have something acceptable to add to the pile.
Because this is a fanfic collection, and not any specific fic as a whole, please be warned that it will have a blanket PG-13/T rating (this is the highest it gets), but they can vary from G/K to T/PG-13 (and from here on out I'm using movie ratings). Also note that all stories are nakamaship only and contain no pairings, and that the genres can vary from comedy to angst, so read all the individual warnings before each fic to know what you're getting into.
And now, onward!
Title: Over It
Warnings: Violence, some graphic imagery, and dark-ish Luffy.
Prompt: OPFanforall fill prompt: "I would love to see that when the crew reunites, they know about Ace's death, but Luffy seems to get over it. He seems to be back to normal, and they don't worry about it until they get into a serious battle and someone gets really hurt, then which Luffy snaps and goes batshit insane because he won't let anyone else die."
Notes: Mildly AU. The prompt was given pre-timeskip, and given post-timeskip events (and Luffy's obvious recovery), it was hard to meet qualifications. So, only four months have passed since everybody was separated at Sabaody, and 3D2Y did not happen. Also keep in mind that this was written over a year ago, so if there are any inconsistencies...proooobably that's why.
Disclaimer(s): I do not own, or pretend to own, One Piece or any of its subsequent characters, plots or other ideas. That right belongs solely to Eiichiro Oda.
It had been a month now since the crew had rejoined; almost four since they'd been separated at Sabaody. Every single one of the Straw Hats could feel the passage of time like something heavy pressing on their souls. Every single one of them had learned a few things here and there from wherever it was that they'd been sent, and for that they were all grateful. But they were all familiar with one all-important event that had happened in their separation as well: Ace's execution.
They all knew how heavily that had to weigh on their captain, if even they could feel the pressure of it. That was why they'd all struggled so hard to get strong enough to escape the confines of wherever they'd been sent, to work their way back to him, step by staggering step. They were all ready to help their captain in their own ways: someone to talk to, a listening ear, a chance to stay active, or just a solid but welcoming silence. They were all ready to see grief somehow, to some degree, one way or another.
What they did not expect was Luffy greeting them cheerfully, when they returned to the Thousand Sunny one by one. They didn't expect the enormous smiles, the insistences on meat dinners (or breakfasts, or snacks), the enthusiastic games of tag, the obnoxious but secretly endearing questions and actions. None of them expected the complete and total lack of grieving, mere weeks after Ace's tragic and unfair end. It was like it had never happened. Some of the more excitable crew members almost might have thought they were overreacting, but as Usopp pointed out, when even Robin and Zoro were looking disturbed, that was a sign that something was wrong.
But nothing changed after they reunited, and after a while even Zoro and Robin began to calm down, regard their captain less and less with suspicion. Maybe they had all just been overreacting. Maybe Luffy was much better at dealing with grief than they'd thought. There was never any hint of a problem—maybe he really had come to terms with what happened. Or, considering his unusual view on life, and his willingness to risk it for his dream, maybe he'd already accepted the death for what it was and moved on. Whatever the case, the Straw Hats soon fell back into their usual rhythm, sailing onward through Fishman Island and past the Red Line, into the New World.
But it was only after the battle with an extremely tenacious ship full of marines that the Straw Hats began to realize nothing was okay at all.
They'd had other battles, of course, within their one month of reuniting. It was just that none of them had been difficult yet, especially with some of the new skills the pirates had managed to develop while escaping wherever it was they'd been sent to. They'd plowed through other marines, pirates, and bounty hunters with ease, but this time, one month after rejoining, was the first time the Straw Hats had to take their fights seriously and struggle for a win.
Even so, at first the battle seemed to be going well in their favor. The fight was stretched out over the Sunny and the boarding Marine ship alongside theirs, and the Straw Hats were spread out amidst their crowds of enemies. Most of the marines had been taken out, but their officers were causing a bit of trouble. The fights had morphed into one-on-one battles as time progressed, with Luffy taking on the marine captain as usual.
But that was where things shifted, and it started with the sickening crack that came from the direction of Sanji's one-on-one battle. Sanji stumbled, and based on the grimace of pain that crossed his face, it seemed his opponent had managed to break his left leg. The leg refused to take the cook's weight, and after a wild attempt to dodge his opponent's subsequent attack the cook crashed onto his back with a yell of surprise and pain.
It was a bad situation, and left the cook at a severe disadvantage, but it wasn't completely unmanageable. Zoro was fighting nearby, and in the lull of his own battle he could easily come to Sanji's rescue. And with his ranged capabilities and a clear shot, Usopp could have temporarily intervened as well. Sanji might even be able to save himself, if he was forced to. It wouldn't be the first time he'd attacked or defended while injured, and while it might leave him in the infirmary longer than usual afterwards if he kicked with his broken leg now, it'd still leave him alive. It was bad, but it wasn't out of hand.
Which was why everyone jumped in shock when a terrible howling filled the air, and Straw Hat Luffy, eyes blazing with hatred, descended on Sanji's opponent like a demon.
There was no finesse to his attack. There was no logic to his assault, or the fact that he left his own opponent behind without a shred of hesitation to launch himself at Sanji's. It was so utterly uncharacteristic of their captain, the one who always insisted on enemies and friends alike never intervening in other peoples' duels. It wasn't even the same anger that the Straw Hats witnessed on Luffy's face, as he hurled himself at Sanji's opponent; it wasn't that simple righteousness, driven by the desire to covet dreams or right wrongs against his crew. It was like he was possessed, like he'd gone mad, like he wasn't even seeing the fight itself any more, was just fixated on Sanji's currently helpless-looking sprawl and the man swinging a sword at him.
And that madness extended to more than just his eyes, or his expression of twisted, unforgiving, unbridled fury. It seemed to power him, extended to his senses and his limbs and his speed and his strength. Luffy was across the way on the marine ship, while Sanji was on the Sunny, but he managed to cross the distance in seconds while Sanji's opponent was still drawing back his sword to swing. And while Luffy wasn't in either of his Gear states, his fist still drew back absurdly fast, and smashed down at the fighting officer with more rage than any of them, marine or pirate alike, had ever seen in a person before.
The officer smashed into the Sunny's deck so hard dirt clods were sent flying from the lawn, and before he could so much as attempt to recover or roll out of the way Luffy was on him. The captain emitted a wordless, primal howl as he smashed down at the officer he knelt over, again and again, with a move that might almost have been mistaken for the Gatling—by the marines at any rate. To the Straw Hats it was a grotesque parody of one of Luffy's most common, devastating moves. Whenever Luffy used it there was always some degree of control involved, or restraint, but now he was just lashing out again and again, merciless, ruthless, unrelenting, with so much raw power that the Adam Wood beneath the lawn creaked in distress. The marine officer had to be unconscious by now, and still Luffy kept going, still screaming wordlessly, eyes wide, expression livid.
He did not call his attack. He didn't even bother to make some sort of statement, like he usually did, when coming to a nakama's rescue. There were no bold statements about promises, or how he was stronger, or how he was going to be the pirate king. Just anger, and, some of the more sensitive Straw Hats were beginning to realize, the vaguest edges of what might almost have been frustration, or (but no, it couldn't be, this was Luffy after all) panic. He never bothered to utilize any of his new moves, either, or his new skills. He'd gleefully demonstrated to them the haki he'd learned from the inhabitants of Amazon Lily, and had developed stronger variations of his Gears as he never touched them now, just pounded away with a violent, primal fury that had nothing to do with fighting and everything to do with killing.
It was unsettling, terribly frightening to see their captain this way. The Straw Hats could only watch in shock, their own battles frozen as their marine opponents stared at the assault as well.
"Luffy," Sanji rasped after several moments, dragging himself up into a sit. "Dammit, Luffy, enough, he's out, you're gonna kill him if you keep going. Luffy! Hey, Luffy!"
But Luffy did not stop, just kept pounding furiously away, and the marine was starting to resemble raw meat more than a person, was staining the grass red from the thick pool gathering around him. And now in between the wordless, primal screaming Sanji, as the closest, could hear something else—breathy, panting, snarling insistences, like they were meant for the marine alone, or maybe not even for the dying man at all. "You can't...won't let you...not them too...never again..." Over and over, and the blood-spattered fists never stopped flying, not even once.
The marine captain that had been fighting Luffy seemed spurred on by Sanji's words. In a last desperate attempt to save his subordinate he lunged forward, swiping at Luffy's unprotected back. Without so much as a shred of hesitation one of Luffy's red-stained arms spun out behind him and smashed into the marine captain's arm. There was a sick crunch as something snapped, and Luffy threw an ugly look over his shoulder, snarling in a furious voice that still sounded nothing like his usual anger, "You can't have them, not any of them!"
The marine captain seemed to realize something was wrong, and that the situation had become far more dangerous. He was obviously in pain, but said with some degree of control, "Just let me take my subordinates and we'll retreat."
Luffy regarded him warily, ruthlessly, but the other marine officers were already backing away from their respective Straw Hat opponents, and he finally nodded. For the first time he seemed to realize he was crouching over the body of a now very much dead marine, crushed into oblivion, and he staggered backwards from it suddenly. Sanji, as the closest, caught the expression of surprise on his captain's face, but only just barely; the expression was smoothed over quickly as the marines hastily staggered onto the Thousand Sunny's decks to retrieve their fallen. They sailed away quickly, and the Straw Hats, too shocked themselves to really care, let them go.
The crew gathered around their captain, who had now gone still as stone, staring at the thick blood stains that were all that was left of his moment of madness, face utterly blank. "Luffy," Chopper said tentatively, after a moment, "Are you okay?"
It was a stupid question if any of them had ever heard one. Luffy was obviously not okay. It wasn't a matter of injury—Luffy hadn't gained so much as a bruise from his furious assault. But it was painfully obvious to the crew all the same that Luffy was hurt, and badly, and suddenly they realized the suspicions they'd had ever since they'd all rejoined were entirely justified. Luffy hadn't been okay since they'd come together again; only now had he ever let it show.
They expected Luffy to shrug it off, or try to deflect, or ask for meat, or some other evasion. They wouldn't let him get away with it, but they expected it. But to their surprise, Luffy said softly, so softly it was almost impossible to hear, in a rasping, hoarse breath after all his screaming that somehow betrayed his weakness, "He was...he was going to kill Sanji."
Usopp helped Sanji to his feet and slung an arm helpfully around his shoulders, since the broken leg still refused to take the cook's weight. Now at eye-level, Sanji frowned and said, "I would've been okay, you know that." And it was true, Luffy did know that, or at least he should have. He'd never bothered to interfere in Zoro's or Sanji's fights before, knowing and trusting that the two of them were strong enough to take care of themselves.
But Luffy just shuddered and shook his head insistently, and said, "No. He was strong too, and he still—"
He cut off abruptly, and unexpectedly it came to the rest of the crew that it wasn't the marine officer Luffy was talking about now; it was Ace. They exchanged anxious looks with each other, and Chopper trotted forward to tentatively hug Luffy's leg, looked up at him sadly.
This seemed to be enough of a catalyst for Luffy, because suddenly he was speaking again, and this time they could all hear the wavering in his voice, clear as a bell. "It wasn't supposed to...but it did. It did. It happened. And...and that means anything can happen, and...and I can't...can't let it happen again, because...no. I'm never going to let it happen again, not ever. When I saw him attack...it didn't matter what I said, it was happening again and I just couldn't—"
He shuddered again. His rubbery limbs trembled wildly, like they wouldn't hold him up, and just as predicted they gave out a few seconds later. Zoro caught him by the collar before he smashed to the deck in that thick pool of blood, and Robin used her powers to drag over one of the overturned lawn chairs, and between the two of them they managed to get their captain sitting down on its edge. Franky and Brook stepped subtly in front of the blood stains to block the view, while the rest of them gathered around their captain worriedly.
"Can't watch it happen again," Luffy mumbled, after a moment. The hat was dragged so far down that the brim hid his eyes, like he was avoiding looking at them. "I can't see that again. Not for anything. Never."
The rest of the Straw Hats exchanged frowns, and they realized what a burden the captain had on his shoulders, how worried he'd been about all of them the whole time without them ever knowing it. It hurt a little, to know their captain apparently hadn't been okay this long because of them, and at the same time it was reassuring, to know he loved them all so deeply he'd be willing to go to any lengths, even the ones they just witnessed, for their sakes. And they knew, all of them, all at once, that there was only one thing they could possibly do or say to make things better, ease the hurt.
Zoro, blunt and to the point, was the one to break the silence. "You won't," he said flatly, "'Cause we're not going anywhere."
"That's right," Usopp agreed, with mostly forced cheer and yet a hint of genuine belief that made his words strong anyway. "You don't think you can get rid of us that easily, do you?"
"Or that anyone else could, for that matter," Nami added. "We're better than that."
The others chimed in with their agreements in their own ways, and Luffy was still as stone, not looking up at anyone. When they fell silent, he took in a single, shuddering breath, and then said softly, so softly it almost seemed weak, plaintive, "You promise?"
"Yes," eight voices said almost simultaneously, insistently, each one strong and determined.
And it was only then that Luffy lifted his eyes to theirs. And it was the first time in history that any of them saw Luffy cry, really cry, when after months of forced, desperate strength he finally broke and allowed himself to grieve for Ace. It was unsettling to see their captain sobbing, but they didn't budge an inch, offering comfort simply in their willingness to be there.
After all, they weren't going anywhere.
...Maybe I like angst too much?
Recently got the latest One Piece English dub DVD. Howsabout Franky's voice, huh?