There's nobody like him. Anywhere.
That was the thought that kept running through Coby's mind as he stared down at the water beneath the dock. His feet dangled lazily over the edge, scissoring rhythmically back and forth to a beat the pink haired boy had subconsciously decided on. He turned to his friend, that overly enthusiastic psycho, Monkey D. Luffy. Nodding and smiling was what he'd grown accustomed to doing when Luffy was telling him about one of his crazy adventures. Not that it happened often. This was actually their first meeting since Luffy's siege on the Marine base in an attempt to save his brother.
Almost three years and I still don't even know what to say to him.
While Coby tortured himself internally, Luffy stopped chattering on long enough to notice his friend's wavering attention and discomforted stare into the shallow water. He smiled and leaned back on his arms, waiting for Coby to notice he'd stopped talking. It didn't take long, and his blush of embarrassment was reaction enough to earn a hissing laugh from the boy with the straw hat.
"You're kinda quiet. You always had something to say to me before. Aren't you supposed to be like, 'that's ridiculous' or something?" Luffy straightened his hat and grinned. Coby heard him, but he was more focused on Luffy's hands. Those tanned, calloused fingers casually brushed a piece of dark hair away from lively black eyes...
"It's probably just that we haven't seen each other in so long. I'm really not even supposed to be here," he said.
"I know that. We always seem to find each other in the most random places. Didn't expect marines to be waiting for us here." Luffy sighed and flopped onto the rotting boards of the dock, his hat falling over his face. He lifted it a little and offered another grin. "You've gotten taller. Again."
Coby turned his head so Luffy didn't see the slight coloring that came to his cheeks. He wanted so badly to be able to talk to his friend normally. Despite spending these past two and a half years training and honing his haki, he'd had more than enough time to worry about Luffy's whereabouts. He had left the base in an unconscious state, then alerted the world of his recovery through that scandalous showing of praying at Ace-kun's and Whitebeard's graves. The entire crew was presumed dead until they made that flashy escape from the pacifistas. Coby had never really believed that Luffy was dead. All he wondered about were Luffy's views of him now that they had finally had to clash. Did he not care that Coby had been one of the guys trying to kill his brother? How could he not be thinking about all of this right now?
He looked back to see if Luffy was still looking at him. To his relief, the straw hat was covering the his face. Coby noticed his stomach rising and falling in a steady pattern, his hands folded behind his head. Snoring sounds were muffled by the hat.
He would fall asleep.
Coby sighed and looked down awkwardly at his hands in his lap. Then back to Luffy. Then back at his hands.
"I'm sorry, Luffy-san," he said softly. He probably could've been talking to himself. "I had wanted to…say that earlier. I was ashamed of the way the marine's handled your brother and…I just," he twiddled his thumbs and frowned sadly. "I just wanted you to know that." He lifted his legs up from where they dangled and stood up. Grabbing his jacket, he turned back towards the main road and started walking.
I'm still no good. Even after all this time, I haven't changed at all...
"I don't blame you for anything."
Coby stopped in his tracks and looked back at Luffy over his shoulder. He hadn't moved from his spot and the hat remained over his face, muffling his speech.
"If that's why you've been quiet this whole time, you can stop worrying." Luffy inhaled deeply and slowly turned over so he could look at Coby. He rested his head on his arms and swung his legs in the air like a child. His smile was reassuring. "I knew you couldn't have even known about Ace until they had already brought him in. And even then, we weren't related by blood. Nobody would've known." Coby had to fight to keep the tears from falling.
"Lu…Luffy-san…" His chin quivered and Luffy laughed at him. The wood creaked as he stood up and walked across the dock to his friend. Through his blurry eyes, Coby could see Luffy's feet, but he refused to look him in the eye. He felt a firm hand on his shoulder and turned his head slightly. Luffy met him half way by lowering his head to look at him.
"You're a good friend, Coby. I'm really glad I got to see you again."
Coby's eyes went wide, the tears flowing freely now. All of his insecurity drained away and his heart swelled. This was how it always turned out, wasn't it. He always ended up feeling like he could do anything when he was with this man. Without warning, he threw his arms around him in an awkward embrace. Luffy was caught off guard, but his surprise turned to panic as he felt both their bodies falling off the edge of the dock and toward the water below. In a moment of helplessness, he wrapped his arms around Coby and they hit the water.
Luffy could feel his lungs burning, the short breath he'd managed to take before submerging quickly being replaced by carbon dioxide. He flailed his arms frantically, but he knew it was pointless. This…is this the end?
Then, in an instant, he felt himself resurface. The first thing he saw was Coby's concerned face, his hands still fisted in the front of Luffy's vest from pulling the water handicapped captain up for air. Luffy blinked and looked around, noticing the water was only about two feet deep where they were.
"Are you alright, Luffy-san?" Coby let go of Luffy's vest, but Luffy started to waver again, so he supported his head. "I-I'm sorry I did that. I was just…I don't know what I was thinking." The pink haired boy pulled Luffy's arm over his shoulder so he could support him. Luffy's eye lids flitted open and closed.
"I feel…weak. Water isn't good for me…"
"It's because of your devil fruit ability. If I hadn't been so stupid this wouldn't have- WHOA!" Coby tripped over a rock and they both went sprawling. Coby awkwardly lifted his face with a mouthful of sand and spluttered for air. He felt around for the rarely used glasses that had finally decided to fall off his head and crawled over to Luffy. The soggy captain had managed to get into a sitting position by himself, a glare of comedic proportions sent in Coby's direction as he watched the shaky marine head his way.
"You really haven't changed that much, have you," he said critically.
Coby smiled weakly as the pirate gave into his good nature and simply laughed through his teeth at his friend's clumsiness. "I guess it's ok since I'm a moron too!" Luffy attempted to jump to his feet, but his knees buckled under the apparent stress the water had on his physicality. He groaned in annoyance. Coby sweat dropped. How do you take pride in something like that…
Luffy submitted to his weak state and sighed, staring up at the now dark sky. When had the sun set? Not that it mattered. He felt the water on either side of his face, blocking sound from his ears. Coby quietly crawled over and laid next to him. They stayed like that for a while, neither of them saying anything. Coby knew he'd be missed if he stayed for much longer. Helmeppo had probably been looking for him. He hadn't told him where he was going after dinner ended and left him to clean up alone. He'd make it up to him later and clean bathrooms or something…
"Have you ever noticed how the sky is like…another ocean?"
"…Luffy-san, that doesn't make any sense…"
"Well, maybe not right now. I mean, we don't have stars on earth. I mean during the day. It's all blue, and sometimes the clouds are all whispy and thin. They look like waves. It makes me wonder if I could sail upside down on it." He innocently turned his head to the side, probably imagining what that would be like. Coby placed a hand over his eyes.
"You've already been to Skypiea. Wasn't that close enough?" There was a splashing sound as Luffy shifted to a sitting position again. Coby kept going.
"And besides. Sailing upside down…in the sky…that's…that's completely impos-" Coby never finished his sentence. He felt soft lips, then heated breath on his face as Luffy pulled away from him. He stared down at his now blushing friend. Coby couldn't hear well with water lapping against his ears, but Luffy had always been one to speak clearly.
"You need to shut up."