Chapter 1: The Time Before
Hey again! This is the sequel to the liked fic I wrote, Broken but Loved. Lot's of drama, suspense and romance. Not to mention quite a bit of angst. Enjoy~
music: One More Light- Linkin Park
Luffy sat in his partner's lap, finally able to without hurting Zoro's leg, which had broken eight weeks ago from falling down the stairs. Their bedroom door was closed and they had a movie playing in the background, neither really watching. True to his word in the hospital, Luffy was talking to Zoro. Only Zoro. He answered questions fine, but it was hard to suddenly break such an ingrained habit of not speaking, no matter what. Luffy had gotten used to his voice, now knowing, even if he didn't know he was the one talking, that it was his voice. He rarely laughed, maybe letting a small one out on accident, turning red from it, still thinking it was girly and looking down at his fingers. But Zoro didn't think that, and when Luffy had looked up at him, nervous he would think it was funny, Zoro grinned at him and pulled him close and kissed him softly and meaningfully.
But still, Luffy didn't laugh much. Even if he was fine with his normal voice, and Zoro was fine with his laugh, Luffy still didn't like it. He didn't like hearing it, even if Zoro did. It was embarrassing. Though, truthfully, Luffy didn't really know what a normal, good laugh was supposed to sound like. When Zoro laughed, it was more like snorting loudly. Did that count as a laugh?
Since the hospital visit a couple months ago, Luffy had opened up even more than before. By seeing Zoro hurt himself to make sure Luffy wasn't had touched his heart deeply. Luffy really felt like he was precious to Zoro most times. Someone Zoro'd put himself in danger for because he loved him so much.
Luffy was even more affectionate, in ways that Zoro was happy with. He finally was comfortable enough to instigate small and short kisses, but Zoro didn't mind. He was just glad Luffy was able to be brave enough to kiss at all. Previously, Zoro had initiated the kissing, and Luffy initiated the cuddling. But now, sometimes the roles were reversed. Zoro would suddenly come up behind his small partner and hug him, almost curling his body over the little teenager.
Luffy now not only sat in Zoro's lap with his back to his chest, now he liked to sit the other way, his chest and face snuggled to Zoro's broad chest. Zoro would wrap his arms around him and they'd sit there like that, the taller one running his fingers through Luffy's soft black hair or up and down his back.
"Luffy?" Zoro asked as he held Luffy on his chest while he laid on his back after the two changed position.
"Hmm?" Luffy asked quietly. Zoro ran his thumb across Luffy's cheek, somewhat rewarding him with affection when he spoke. Neither recognized that was what was happening, so it didn't exactly bother Luffy.
"When do you think you'll talk to others?" Zoro asked softly. Luffy shrugged his shoulders, but Zoro didn't let his fingers leave Luffy's face, now running his thumb over Luffy's bottom lip. "I'm happy you talk to me, very happy. But why don't you talk to mom also?" he questioned.
"I don't love Robin like I love you," Luffy said quietly, laying his head back down on Zoro's chest and listening to his heart beat, smiling when he heard it speed up at his words.
"Do you think you ever will?" Zoro asked, trying to calm his heartbeat because he knew by that smile that Luffy was listening. And Zoro was a bit embarrassed.
Luffy nodded. Someday he'd definitely talk to Robin. He just wasn't ready yet. And he didn't know when he would be. But he knew that he would speak again to others someday. "Good," Zoro said, and dropped the topic.
Luffy eventually fell asleep quietly and peacefully as he laid on top of Zoro, falling asleep to Zoro's steady heartbeat under Luffy's ear. But Zoro didn't mind. As long as he could still play with Luffy's hair and see Luffy's face, he could be like this forever.
A while later, Zoro heard Luffy's stomach rumble multiple times. He gently woke Luffy up, who was a bit groggy, with some drool. His stomach rumbled again and his face turned red. He was still easily embarrassed, and he honestly thought he'd always be like that. He didn't remember much of what he was like before his parents tortured him so long ago, so he would never know if he had always been easily embarrassed. He assumed he didn't always feel ashamed of things. He wanted that to go away. Being embarrassed is one thing, but feeling ashamed all the time was another. He didn't become ashamed as easily anymore. When he didn't do a small task correctly a few months ago, he'd be flooded with shame and retreat to Robin's closet. Now he might blush in embarrassment, but not the tear jerking self-hatred that had accompanied him for a long time.
"Let's go get something to eat, you sound hungry," Zoro said calmly, trying not to smile at Luffy's blush. Even when he's blushing because of something he thought he did wrong, Zoro found it adorable. He liked it best when Luffy blushed during the couple's "activities". Not once since the day Zoro pushed Luffy's comfort zone too far, did he attempt anything more extreme than a somewhat rough kiss. He didn't really mind keeping their activities simple because after that incident, he had quickly resolved that Luffy might never want to be touched anywhere other than where you touch when you are hugged, outside of clothes. He was fine with that as long as it made Luffy happy. Zoro never wanted to see that look Luffy had given him that day ever again.
The two walked downstairs, holding hands of course, and got something to eat. Zoro ate cereal and Luffy ate a yogurt, still holding hands. It reminded them of the day they confessed to each other what seemed a long time ago. Nami walked in and giggled, getting a snack for herself as well. Zoro got irritated when Nami giggled at them. It was all the time. Why couldn't she just get used to it as normal and not something worth giggling about all the time, because it honestly embarrassed Zoro.
He didn't know what it was about Nami giggling and smirking at him that made him flustered. And the odd thing was Luffy was the complete opposite. He and Nami were close friends, disregarding the age gap, and he confided a lot of their relationship with her, so he didn't mind when she thought he and Zoro were cute. Part of Luffy considered his and Zoro's relationship cute himself.
Robin walked and smiled at Zoro and Luffy's joined hands. It had taken only a few days for Robin to get used to the two being together. She had caused such a mess just a few days before, but seeing how Luffy completely went back to being happy and more social after he and Zoro were "allowed" to be romantically involved again, she couldn't help but appreciate how good the relationship was for both boys.
She noticed the gentleness Zoro handled Luffy with, and was convinced he was never going to take advantage of the younger teen based on what she had seen. The most intimate she'd seen them was Luffy laying his head against Zoro's chest, sitting in her son's lap happily, actually sleeping while Zoro ran his hands down Luffy's back absentmindedly. She wasn't supposed to see that but the two had left their bedroom door open a crack. She was going to go in and ask them something, but after seeing them like that, she left them how they were, deciding to ask them her question later. She was just glad Luffy was able to sleep better now, even if it was only with Zoro. He looked so much healthier than when he'd arrived at his home. Exhausted, miserable, blank and so anti-social he didn't eat or socialize with anyone in the house besides Robin, and then Nami, and then Zoro.
"Good morning," Robin greeted the three. Luffy nodded to her with a smile and unconsciously squeezed his fingers around Zoro's and then relaxed them. Zoro squeezed back. Luffy was still happy, over two months later, that they could be public more.
After a couple days, their relationship really sunk in for the other three children. Sanji and Usopp didn't understand it much, and Nojiko had no inkling of what their relationship was or could be. The two boys had felt a bit awkward when they saw the two teenagers share a kiss, though it was a short one. They weren't necessarily against it, just felt weird about it. Not just because they were both guys, but that it was Zoro and Luffy. Seemingly such polar opposites. Seeing how gentle Zoro was with Luffy made them feel like everything they knew about Zoro's personality was thrown out the window and a new Zoro moved in.
But of course, the next minute, Zoro was being disrespectful towards Robin after he moved away from his partner and Luffy just watched from the couch as Zoro argued about something with his mom until he got bored and started to read. The two boys had looked at each other. Yup it was the same Zoro, now just with a new aspect of his personality only for and belonging to Luffy.
"Hi, Robin," Nami said and then walked out of the kitchen herself. Robin watched after her with a smile. Then she turned to the boys.
"I'm going shopping at the grocery store. Is there anything either of you want me to buy?" she asked.
Luffy really wanted popcorn, but was too embarrassed to ask. Yet he wasn't at all surprised when Zoro said, "Can you get some butter popcorn?" and squeezed Luffy's hand, who gave a small smile, looking at the table below him.
"Sure. Anything else?" she asked, writing down Zoro's request on a pad of paper with a list of other items. Zoro looked to Luffy who shook his head.
"No, that's it," Zoro said, turning back to Robin. Robin told them she'd be back in a while. Luffy waved goodbye, causing Robin to smile. Once the front door closed and locked behind Robin, Zoro leaned over and gave Luffy a kiss on the cheek, happy to see him blush and smile.
Everything was going smoothly for another week or so, Luffy talking a more every day, able to make short conversations, but of course still only for Zoro. Luffy hadn't had a flashback in quite a while, which he was happy for and completely forgot about them altogether. He still had an occasional nightmare, but he had peaceful dreams more often than the bad ones he'd had for years. Luffy was still taking his medication, able to swallow all of the pills at the same time now.
Then that week ended.
Chapter 2: Earth Shattering News
Here's the second chapter, where the story picks up. I actually made chapter breaks, instead of last time (I ranted a lot about it if you remember) so they should be more even lengths, but not all the same. Enjoy~
Luffy had been taking a nap next to Zoro, who had to use the bathroom and went to the hall one, not wanting to wake Luffy up by using their bathroom. He almost closed the bedroom door all the way, assuming he'd be right back to lay next to his love and either fall asleep or be content to watch Luffy while he slept silently.
He walked out of the bathroom and headed back to his room when he saw Robin on her bed, looking horrified. Zoro quickly walked into her room and to her bed as she stared at the screen of her laptop.
"What's the problem?" Zoro asked, concerned. Robin never looked like this. Not even when Luffy had been poisoned. This looked like she was shot in the face with a sharpened bullet. Zoro repeated his question. Robin took a deep calming breath and turned to him.
"Luffy's parents have been let out of jail."
"What?!" Zoro exclaimed. "Why?!" he demanded. Robin scowled and told him the prison had gotten too crowded so they were let out to accommodate murderers and rapists, so they were let out a little over two weeks ago.
"That's bullshit! They fucking tortured him!" he shouted furiously. "Where are they now?"
"I don't know. The prison wasn't too far from here, but I don't know if they will know anything about what happened to Luffy after all these years," she replied grimly.
The mother and son turned around when they heard a small "thump" in the doorway. Luffy had dropped his whiteboard at Robin's words and began to shake, his mouth open, looking like the world had ended. Zoro rushed over to him and embraced him tightly, but Luffy didn't respond. He just stood there in Zoro's arms as Robin looked at Luffy's face. It was mask of horror.
His parents were free? W-why? They were bad people, so they should stay in jail. And Luffy had told people about it! His dad said that… that he'd kill Luffy if he ever told anyone about what he had done down in that dark, damp basement. Poor Luffy then began to hyperventilate, causing Robin to run behind them and down to the kitchen to get a paper bag from a drawer, running back up the stairs to where the two were still, Zoro whispering to Luffy that it would be okay and touching his face with his hands softly.
Robin handed Luffy the paper bag, but Luffy wasn't sure what to do with it. "Breathe through it slowly, Luffy. That will help," Robin explained. Luffy put the bag against his lips and breathed through it, still quickly.
"Luffy, slowly," Zoro said. "Breathe slowly." Luffy did as he said and was soon breathing fine, if not a bit shaky. Luffy didn't know what to think. What to feel, at the moment. He knows! He'd just go back to sleep and wake up and find this was just a bad dream. That Zoro would hold him close and Luffy's parents will still be jailed, making Luffy feel just a bit safer. He finally responded to Zoro's hug and hugged him back tightly.
"We won't let him get you. I won't let him get you," Zoro said strongly. Robin could only assume he was referencing something the two had spoken about. But Luffy wasn't focusing very well. Zoro's words were a little garbled in Luffy's ears as his world continued to break around him.
"Luffy, I'm going to get some Xanax for you," Robin said kindly and left for the medicine cabinet. Once Robin was out of earshot, Luffy spoke, breaking Zoro's heart.
"I'm scared," was all the short teenager whispered. "Zoro, I'm scared," he repeated. He didn't cry though. Not yet.
"I'll protect you, Luffy. I promise," Zoro said, and ran his fingers through Luffy's bedhead, effectively calming him down for the moment.
Robin walked back in with the pill bottle of the little light blue tablets. "Here you go Luffy," Robin said and handed him a cup of water.
Luffy hesitated for a moment, already losing his current composure. What if he fall asleep and he breaks in and - no. Stop it. Luffy took the pill from her and downed it with the water.
He couldn't tell if it was the pill or Zoro's words that calmed him down. Maybe both. He was brought back to bed and tucked in to resume his nap. Zoro knew he'd wake up thinking this nightmare was a dream. Zoro couldn't imagine the fear Luffy must have been feeling. Was everything Zoro and he had done going to unravel from Luffy's obvious morbid fantasy of being killed some how? After all, that's what his dad told him. That he'd kill him if he ever spoke to anyone about the abuse he gave to his poor son.
Zoro left the room to go talk to Robin. "Can we get extra locks on the windows and doors? Not because I think anyone will show up, but to help make Luffy feel more secure and safe, if only a little bit. I've talked to him a lot more about things than you and he believes he's going to get murdered by his father for speaking to us about what happened to him."
Robin frowned deeply and nodded. She'd get quality locks. Not cheap plastic ones from the convenience store. It was only a little after noon, so she left Zoro to get the phone and call the locksmith. Zoro nodded thanks. He knew Luffy would probably rather have planks of wood hammered over the windows, but that wasn't going to happen. Even if it did, it probably wouldn't make much of a difference than having regular locks would.
Zoro laid down next to Luffy until he was spooning him, his arm draped over Luffy protectively. He had closed the bedroom door just because he thought it would make Luffy feel more secure once he found out.
"Hello, brat," Luffy's dad said, smiling down at him sadistically. Luffy was on the ground, staring up at the man he hadn't seen in over seven years in terror. Luffy was grabbed by his long sleeved shirt on his upper arm, like his dad used to. His shirt's sleeve was torn and pulled off his arm. "Huh, these never faded. You better not have shown anyone else," the man said, smiling in unrestrained malice.
Luffy whimpered. He was dragged by his arm, suddenly small, an 8 year old again, into the dark. He felt the needle penetrate his skin and hissed in pain. But it wasn't like it used to be. He wasn't numbed. Instead, every sensation felt stronger. He floor was colder and harder under him and the smells down there, the familiar smells, were stronger and more rancid.
Luffy was whipped over and over, screaming bloody murder as he felt he was dying from the pain.
Luffy finally woke up after dreaming his dad threw acid on his face, screaming and crying. And then suddenly he was surrounded by a warm feeling. Zoro was hugging him, shushing him softly and rubbing circles across Luffy's back. Luffy honestly thought he was going to throw up, but he held it because, in the position they were in now, the vomit would be directly on Zoro. That would be awful.
Soon the phantom pain on Luffy's face was gone and he opened his eyes, which were red and swollen. Zoro looked at him with concern.
"Are you okay?" he asked quietly. He knew Luffy wasn't okay altogether at the moment, he meant if he was okay about the nightmare he obviously just had. Luffy shook his head no and buried his face in Zoro's chest and cried softly. Zoro was surprised when he spoke.
"I don't want him to ruin everything. I've gotten so much better," Luffy lamented quietly. "I don't want to go back to being a bother," he mumbled. He was finally talking more. But not for the reason Zoro wanted him to.
Shit, Zoro thought. He hadn't used that word in a while, and he had brought it back so easily into a conversation. His father was going to ruin everything a second time. Well, Zoro wouldn't let him!
"Luffy, don't give him the satisfaction that he can ruin everything just by being set free into the world. Isn't that what he would want?" Zoro asked. Luffy nodded his head, smearing his tears against Zoro's shirt.
"Mom is getting more and sturdier locks on all the windows and doors. I think she's even doing the closet door. We most likely won't need them, but I know we'll all feel safer with them added. Right?" Zoro asked. Luffy nodded again.
"Yeah." Luffy wasn't going to ask what he wanted to because he already knew the answer. Zoro would say, "No, he's not going to find and kill you". Luffy felt like he was breaking apart slowly, every minute, his insecurities and fear flooding in slowly. It didn't overwhelm him suddenly, but it still hurt to know those horrible thoughts might come back any day and ruin everything Zoro had helped him with. What kind of repayment would that be? Falling apart just because of some fantasy that might never happen. But Luffy really couldn't help being scared. Terrified. He already felt like a dam overflowing, and the strong duct tape that was keeping it from leaking was turning into a post-it-note.
"Can I ask if you're worried about your biological mom being let out, too?" Zoro questioned quietly, breaking Luffy out of his foreboding thoughts.
"Not really. I didn't see her for years. I don't even remember what she looks like…" Luffy said, then became terrified of his words. That meant she could be anywhere. Zoro could imagine what he was thinking.
"Luffy you don't need to worry about seeing either of them anywhere. You don't leave the house, remember?" Zoro told him, still rubbing circles on his back. He found this relaxes his partner. Whenever Luffy had talked or written about something that made him uncomfortable, he would be able to continue if Zoro rubbed circles on his skin, rubbing the soft fabric on his skin. Luffy didn't know what Zoro's hand would feel like, since he'd never touched him anywhere other than his face, neck and hands.
"I… I'm sorry I can't be… normal," Luffy said quietly, not looking at Zoro's face.
"Nobody is normal, Luffy," Zoro said patiently. He hadn't seen this side of Luffy often. Almost never. He had always thought he was a bother, but never really expressed that he wasn't good enough for Zoro to love. Well, at the beginning he did, but he was now mostly convinced that wasn't true. He was good enough for Zoro. Well, that's what he said, and Zoro believed him. But now, this whole thing was going to mess it all up. Luffy could almost feel himself regressing from the extreme fear he was feeling in his heart. He was a bother to Zoro. Zoro deserved someone who wouldn't start screaming in his sleep, or need to breathe through a paper bag to stop freaking out. And Luffy couldn't ever talk about a happy or pleasant past.
"I'm abnormally abnormal," Luffy stated emotionlessly. He then voiced the reasons he had just thought of that he wasn't good enough for Zoro.
Zoro listened silently, growing more upset on the inside that Luffy was feeling these things again. "You or I can't choose who I love, Luffy," Zoro replied simply, kissing Luffy's forehead. Luffy finally started to relax before the doorbell rang. Then he suddenly wrenched himself out of Zoro's arms and jumped over him and crawled under their bed, something he had never done before. But that was the best instant hiding place he could think of in that split second.
Zoro was very surprised when Luffy practically leapt over him and hurried under the bed, breathing fast. Zoro quickly got down on the floor. He didn't attempt to remove Luffy or coax him out from his immediate hiding place, just reached under and held his hand. Zoro knew it was most likely someone coming to install more locks, but Luffy obviously was panicking that it was his dad at the door.
Zoro wanted to quickly run down the stairs to get Robin and show Luffy he was safe, but he didn't want to leave the boy by himself and he also didn't want to shout for Robin in case it triggered a panic attack or a flashback. So Zoro reached for his phone, but it was too far to stretch to and not let go of Luffy's hand, so he pulled it to himself by his toes and called Robin. She didn't answer, but came to the room and knocked on the door.
"Come in," Zoro said, just loud enough for her to hear. Robin saw the scene and it only took a few seconds for her to gauge the situation.
"It's just the locksmith, Luffy. He's here to help protect you," she added kindly. Zoro looked under the bed and saw Luffy's face redder than he'd seen in a very long time. His lower lip also trembled.
"C'mon, Luffy, you're safe," Zoro said, gently tugging Luffy's hand with his own. After a few deep breaths, Luffy crawled out from under the lower bunk and sat on the bed, curling into a ball in humiliation. How pathetic that was. So pathetic.
"Luffy, the locksmith will come in here to put another lock on both the window and the bedroom door. You can go into my room if you wish," Robin said kindly, with a smile when Luffy peeked through his arms to see her face. He nodded and got up to go in his foster mom's room, holding Zoro holding his hand out for him to take. Luffy then latched onto his arm, not just his hand. Luffy was looking everywhere, like his parents would just randomly appear at the bottom of the stairs or even on the ceiling. It was breaking Zoro's heart.
The two entered Luffy's closet and sat on the floor. Luffy didn't sit on his beanbag chair, but sat in Zoro's lap, chest to chest. Luffy surprised Zoro by speaking.
"I'm so embarrassed…" Luffy mumbled against Zoro's collar bone.
"Don't be. I can completely understand why you are so upset about this. I don't understand how you feel as much since if I saw my abusive dad, I'd punch him in the face," Zoro said, a thought popping into his head. "Luffy, would you ever want to learn self-defense? That way you could protect yourself if anything ever does happen."
Luffy didn't really know what to say. He'd have to go out in public… with other people. His face grew pale. Zoro couldn't see Luffy's face, but the younger teen stayed quiet.
"You can get a personal trainer. You don't have to be in a group class or anything." Luffy shrugged, but it was better than a no. "I can even do it with you. And then maybe after we could get ice cream. You could stay in the car with me if you want. We won't let anything happen to you, Luffy," Zoro finished speaking, waiting for a response.
"Maybe…" Luffy mumbled quietly. He was so thankful for Zoro and Robin. Luffy could somehow know that Zoro was the one who suggested getting more locks on all entrances and exits. He loved him so much. "I love you," he said to Zoro, looking up at his face and giving a small smile, the first smile since he'd heard the earth shattering news.
"I love you, too," Zoro replied with a smile of his own. Then the conversation grew serious again.
"Zoro, what do we do if my nightmares come back? I can't not sleep. I got hurt so bad because of that," Luffy said, remembering his two visits to the hospital many months ago. He hadn't been back there since Zoro broke his leg. He never wanted to go back there. "I don't want to cost any more money for anything. And I don't like getting hurt. It's not fun…" he said sadly, nuzzling his head into Zoro's shoulder, trying to hide his tears, but Zoro could feel the drops of water on his bare shoulder next to his tank top sleeve.
"I agree with that. It's not fun at all, being stuck in a bed for a long time, in an itchy gown and eating gross hospital buffet food. I don't blame you for not wanting to go back," Zoro told him, ignoring Luffy's worry about costing money.
"Luffy, I don't want to upset you, but can I ask you a question?" Luffy nodded. "Do you think you could draw a picture of your dad's face? Like a wanted poster for Robin or even us. I don't think anything will happen, but don't you think it would be better for everyone to know what he looks like?" Zoro asked. Luffy made no reaction for a moment, before he nodded slowly.
"Not right now," Luffy said quietly. "Can we watch a movie?" Luffy then asked hesitantly. Zoro replied sure, assuming since it had been a while, that the new locks were installed in their room.
"What do you want to watch?" Zoro asked as he walked to their room, holding hands.
"Something fun," Luffy said simply, once again looking everywhere to make sure his dad wasn't lurking in the bathroom or out the second story window.
"Ok, let's pick something," Zoro replied. He closed their bedroom door after nodding to Robin, who was with the locksmith on the windows in the kids' rooms.
The couple decided to watch The Incredibles, Luffy sitting in Zoro's lap facing the TV, a blanket wrapped around both of them. Somewhere in the middle of the movie, Luffy lost his concentration on the screen playing the film and looked at his wrists. The sleeves were just short enough to show the pink rings wrapped around his skinny wrists. After looking at them for moment, he pulled the sleeves down further and put his hands in his lap, hiding them within the blanket. He was surprised when Zoro took one of his hands up and kissed his wrist, turning Luffy's face red.
"If it could help you feel better, I'll kiss every scar and burn on your body," Zoro whispered against Luffy's turned cheek. Zoro then moved the shirt's collar down slowly and kissed the top of the dark chemical burn spread across his small shoulder blade. Luffy relaxed into him and laid his head against Zoro's collarbone and under his chin after he did that. Zoro then turned Luffy's head up and to the left and kissed the small scar under his wide brown eye.
"I'll do anything to help you," Zoro said, pulling his head away from Luffy's face and wrapping his arms around Luffy's abdomen. The two said nothing more the rest of the movie, Luffy's attention brought back to the wide screen.
Once the movie was over Luffy told Zoro he'd draw his dad's face. What he could remember of it since he rarely saw it in the basement when only his silhouette was visible from the kitchen light above those wooden stairs. Luffy asked Zoro to stay in the room, something he never asked because he didn't like others watching him while he drew. But Zoro knew why when Luffy began to shake as he attempted to draw. Zoro made him relax more by rubbing against his back next to him, not watching as Luffy drew.
Luffy was close to tears as he was forced to remember the face of his torturer. His eyes were watering and he kept gulping loudly, his lower lip trembling, but Zoro didn't see, which Luffy was thankful for.
He eventually finished the picture. Zoro could agree, if this picture was accurate, that the man wasn't someone you'd want to approach. Ever. Luffy had labeled the colors, so next to his cold eyes, "green" was written and next to his long hair was "black". The man had some sort of geometric tattoo on his face. He also wrote that he was tall and a bit overweight. The man looked like what he was. A violent psychopath who should be in jail. Luffy didn't draw his biological mom because he honestly couldn't remember what her face looked like. She didn't even come down the stairs when she heard the gunshot, and as far as Luffy could tell, she didn't curse him while the two people were cuffed and put in a cop car.
"Zoro?" Luffy said quietly.
"Did I ever tell you how I was found?" he asked softly. Zoro answered that he had.
"I said the neighbors called the police from the screaming, right?" he asked. Zoro didn't know where he was going with this, but he already knew he wouldn't like it. But Luffy was telling him something important. Zoro knew that. He nodded. "That was a half-truth. They heard the screaming, but first they heard the gunshot. That probably caused them to listen more carefully. I got shot in the stomach," Luffy said, pulling his shirt up to show a small circular mark in the middle of his stomach by the belly button.
"It didn't hurt as bad as a lot of the other stuff, but I guess the shock of it cause me to scream a lot. Then he stuffed a dirty rag in my mouth to keep me from screaming any more. But it was already too late by then. He usually kept the basement door closed during the torturing, but not this time, and the kitchen window had been open," Luffy pulled his legs up to his chest and continued his confession. Zoro listened quietly. "When I was set free, I didn't make any noises so none of the police knew about it at first. There was already a lot of dry blood all over my body. They only noticed when I started to spit up blood… it was scary. It was so scary and I kept choking on it…" Luffy had to stop or he'd fall apart again.
He didn't want to see Zoro's expression but he looked up anyway. He had assumed Zoro would be angry, but instead he just stared at Luffy blankly, confusing the boy. This wasn't a usual reaction when he heard something bad. Instead he leaned forward and pulled up Luffy's shirt and kissed the small scar. Luffy didn't turn red for once.
"That was a long time ago. And it will never happen again," Zoro said seriously after pulling the hem of Luffy shirt back down. And that's all he said. Luffy was thankful he didn't ask for specifics like he used to. Luffy didn't know when that had stopped, but he was happy it had.
"Promise?" Luffy asked quietly.
"I promise," Zoro replied just as softly.
Suddenly the moment was ruined when Luffy realized he'd told someone else another thing that happened down there. Now that his parents were on the loose, it was even scarier for him to say anything, but he didn't even notice what he was saying really. He just said something he felt he should. Oh, but he really shouldn't have…
"Forget I said that," Luffy said quickly, looking at the window and then the door. Zoro frowned but said nothing as he brought Luffy closer. Then he spoke, though it was quietly. He was being quiet a lot with Luffy. He knew Luffy was afraid of loud noises and raised voices, so he was beginning to talk quietly even when Luffy wasn't around, which was actually very rare.
"It's a secret between us. No one else can know a secret if it's between somebody else. So, since it's a secret, no one else will know about it unless you tell them. Right?" Zoro said with a reassuring smile.
Chapter 3: The Hospital Part 1: Once Again
I don't really have much to say about this chapter since I'm in a bad mood, but I hope reviews will help. Seriously, please review. This chapter has "violence" in it. unintentional violence that is. Enjoy~
Two days passed and Luffy as becoming more afraid. The longer nothing happened, the more he thought when it did, it would be bad. Every night before everyone went to bed, Luffy walked around the house, checking every lock on every door and window to make sure they were closed and unable to open from the outside. He even found door stoppers from a random closet and pushed them under the doors to make it harder for someone to get in. He made sure to close all the curtains as well. No one said anything about this. If it helped Luffy sleep - which he was now having trouble with - then they weren't going to do anything that might stop that.
The other children had been told to not talk to the man Luffy had drawn. When they asked why, Robin said that the man was a criminal in the next town over. She didn't want them to panic and mimic Luffy's stressed out and jumpy behavior. That really didn't explain how much Luffy was freaked out, but they didn't push it.
When Sanji had asked why Luffy was so afraid, Robin smoothly lied, saying that Luffy had seen too many news stories about the man. So, now everyone in the house knew the man was dangerous.
After Luffy had given Robin the picture, he asked her over the whiteboard to put it somewhere he wouldn't have to see it. She told him she'd put it near the front door, pinned the other way. Luffy never opened the front door anyway.
Just in the past three or four days, Luffy already had bandaids all over his fingers. He was becoming dangerously clumsy with little things. Robin told him he wasn't allowed to touch scissors or knives with no one else in the room with him.
After he stopped handling sharp objects, he started getting his fingers caught in the doorways when he closed one. So accompanying the band aids were many bruises. Luckily, none of the injuries prompted anything more than disinfectant and bandages. Luffy didn't want to go back to the hospital. He also often tripped over nothing, but was never seriously hurt, maybe banged his toes or hands while he caught himself when he fell. But he didn't feel the pain, so it didn't bother him much. For anyone else, their hands would be constantly hurting badly, and it would be uncomfortable to walk with bruised toes. Zoro had begun to walk up the stairs with Luffy and, when Luffy went downstairs to do his inspecting of all possible exits and entrances, would observe from a distance, not crowding Luffy when he was in this state. Luffy knew why Zoro was with him, and it embarrassed him deeply. That's why he tried his best to be quick about it every night.
On that fourth night, Luffy was heading up the stairs with Zoro in front of him when Luffy tripped. He caught himself just in time, which scared Zoro. Sometimes he really wished, for Luffy's safety, they lived in a one story house. What do they need to do, set up ropes and harnesses to aid Luffy up the stairs safely? Constantly worrying about Luffy every time he's out of sight was tiring for Zoro. It hadn't come to the need to get up and go to the bathroom with Luffy, even the one they shared that was attached to their bedroom and not far from their bunk bed.
Later that night, Luffy tripped again. Though in his defense this time, he couldn't see the ball of clothes Zoro had thrown on the floor and tripped over that. Usually a fall like this wasn't a big deal, he'd pick himself up like usual. Only when he put out his hands, his aim was a little off in the darkness and his neck hit the wooden chair at Zoro's desk, making a horrible sound in his throat. He coughed out, whimpering slightly at the feeling coming up his throat. It was uncomfortable, and it actually hurt in some way. He hadn't felt true pain in a long time, but this hurt bad. He touched the front of his throat and whimpered again. He hurried over to Zoro as blood dripped down his lips. The blood even dripped on Zoro as Luffy shook him awake. Luffy tried saying something, but that just made it worse. He was also having trouble breathing, and the blood in his throat wasn't helping. Luffy grabbed Zoro's cell phone and typed out 911.
Zoro was shaken awake by Luffy, something dripping on his face. "Huh?" he said groggily, then shouting in alarm when Luffy's face became clear from the light originating from Zoro's phone's screen. 911 was typed out on it. When Zoro began to ask what happened, Luffy shook his head, hurting his neck more and shoved the phone in Zoro's face. Luffy wasn't exactly a doctor, but this seemed much worse than the aftershave poisoning because he was having difficulty breathing. He could also tell his neck was swollen by touching it.
It was one in the morning when Robin was awoken by Zoro and Luffy, who was having a very hard time breathing. Luffy was terrified. At least the other two times he was seriously injured, he'd passed out. This time, he could feel what was happening to him. He had stopped coughing blood, but was now gasping for air. Robin was barely able to understand something was seriously wrong in her sleepy state before there was a banging on the door.
Though Luffy knew it must be the paramedics, he couldn't help but feel the desire to hide under the bed or in a closet. But he was unable to do either from lack of air, when he finally passed out. Zoro sprinted down the stairs and threw the front door open, leaving Robin to hold Luffy as he was unconscious and rasping for air. Robin never wanted to see Luffy wheeled away on a stretcher ever again, but had a feeling that someday Luffy would find himself in a hospital bed at least once more. She just wished it wasn't so soon since the last visit. That was only a couple months ago. She didn't care about the cost of Luffy's health because she had plenty of money, but the damage from all of his injuries together. Luffy had occasional uncomfortable headaches since he had cracked his skull the last time he needed to be in the hospital. Thankfully the aftershave poisoning left no lasting damage. That they knew of.
The paramedics knew where the things in the house were well since they'd been there three times already. It was many of the same paramedics. They picked up poor Luffy and rushed him into the ambulance, immediately sticking a tube down his throat the help him breathe, though being careful to not hurt it since the swelling was visible. Zoro was the one to get into the ambulance. Robin drove after the vehicle, red lights flashing and the siren silent since there weren't many cars out and people were asleep.
Robin was on the phone the moment she locked the front door behind her with Kureha, the neighbor who was also an expensive babysitter. She explained the situation to the old woman and told her that she'd get extra pay for her being called so late. Robin also told her to notice the poster of a man that no one in the house should interact with, even the old woman herself. She explained no further, and Kureha agreed to the foster mother's requests.
Kureha couldn't help but remember Zoro's tearful face a couple months ago when he begged the woman to baby sit the others. She couldn't have turned that boy down even if she desperately was against sitting that night. But for once, Kureha had shown empathy and understanding. And true to Zoro's word, she was paid a decent amount of cash after the incident.
In the ambulance, Luffy wanted to tell Zoro he'd be fine, but he couldn't talk around the tube down his throat breathing for him. Zoro was mirroring the way Luffy had acted when his green haired partner had broken his leg not long ago. Luffy didn't like feeling pain. He didn't like it one bit. It was bad enough to not be able to talk, but to feel this, what made him injured, was not fun. He wished he was numb, like he always was. Why wasn't he numb this time? Was it because he was injured on the inside? He didn't stub his toe or anything. Come to think of it, when he got the aftershave poisoning, he could feel the discomfort at that moment. It didn't hurt, he just didn't feel very good.
But this was worse, he thought. Not just because of the pain, but having a tube down his throat to breathe for him was scarier, and he was awake this time. He wished he'd just pass out already. He hoped the next time he was injured, he'd be numb, like he always was.
Robin was right behind the vehicle with two of her sons, worrying greatly. She knew he needed surgery once again, though she was glad, unlike last time, that he wouldn't maybe suffer brain damage. But the blood bubbling up the poor boy's throat… that scene will haunt her forever. At least he was found quickly, unlike the past incidents where he was discovered by someone else. If he hadn't been in the room with Zoro, Luffy could have suffocated or choked on his own blood in minutes. What a terrible thought.
When both Robin and the ambulance reached the hospital, Luffy was wheeled in, the tube still down his throat while Robin and Zoro followed behind. They ran with Luffy into the emergency room.
A doctor quickly appeared, with multiple nurses and asks Robin what happened, but Robin didn't know. So she moved from Robin to Zoro and asked him. All he could tell her was that he woke up with Luffy over him, his mouth bleeding and making him call 911. Then he was having a lot of trouble breathing and passed out.
The doctor seemed to come to a conclusion to act upon swiftly. "It'd be safe to assume he's fractured his larynx pretty badly," she said. Luffy made a moaning sound around the breathing tube, trying to explain himself. But the doctor kindly told him not to speak because he could do more harm than good at the moment. She felt bad for him based on the red face and tears threatening to fall. The doctor knew that the patient must be very embarrassed as he wasn't making eye contact with Zoro or Robin.
"I need to take you back to get some testing, just to make sure I'm correct on my diagnosis," she said and motioned for the nurses to wheel the injured boy away, not looking at his family as he was, soon out of sight. "I will inform you after I know for sure what is wrong," the doctor said and quickly turned the corner where Luffy had disappeared from sight. Robin and Zoro were led to the lobby and sat down.
"Poor Luffy," Robin said quietly. Zoro frowned deeply, looking at his hands. If he had been awake, maybe he could have caught Luffy. Luffy's clumsiness scared Zoro, all the time worrying how Luffy would get hurt next.
"He's gonna feel so bad. I won't be even a bit surprised if he starts thinking he's a bother again. But it wasn't his fault this time. Not that the last ones were completely his fault…" Zoro said, remembering the second injury was caused by Zoro in the first place. "It was dark in the room, and he had been sleeping fine, so this wasn't caused by exhaustion. I hope he realizes that," Zoro concluded.
"Yes, he's also been injuring himself in little ways more. Nobody has missed how injured Luffy's hands have been for the past few days. I really don't think anything is going to happen, but he won't believe us. I'm not sure how to navigate this situation. This is why Luffy would do well with a professional counselor. But -"
"He'd have to go out in public. I asked him about a self-defense class, but he was scared and mumbled maybe," Zoro said, not noticing he just confessed something Luffy did not want anyone else to know.
"He spoke to you?" Robin asked, surprised. Zoro grimaced. Shit. Luffy's going to be upset now.
"Don't let him know that you know. He talks to me, but said he's going to talk to only me. I did ask him if he'd ever talk to you someday and he answered yes. It's a start, isn't it?" Zoro questioned seriously. "Don't bring it up again. He doesn't want anyone else to know."
"I see. I will not mention it again. But I am glad he has started speaking at all. It is a wonderful start," Robin said with a small smile. She was saddened that Luffy only spoke to Zoro, but apparently he had said a strong yes to talking to Robin eventually. She was now a bit nervous he'd completely digress back to his mute and scared self from a few months ago. Not going to smile or socialize. She hadn't missed him checking every lock and looking everywhere in the house with terror and suspicion.
Luffy was scared when he was having an X-Ray and CT scan. They found he hadn't broken any bones, but he did have a fractured larynx, and it was pretty bad, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. But he was against and struggled with the laryngoscopy, not comfortable with a small camera shoved down his throat. Though he didn't like having the breathing tube down his throat, he wanted to be able to breathe. The only reason he wasn't sedated for the laryngoscopy was because he struggled and shaked his head dangerously when a syringe came anywhere near him, and the doctor finally gave up on it because Luffy's thrashing would hurt him more than he was already. So he stayed as still as he could. It didn't hurt much anymore, and he didn't know if that was because he was thankfully numb again.
He had trusted this doctor more than any of his previous ones because she reminded him of Robin when she was so gentle and kind, deducing quickly that something was psychologically wrong with her patient.
After it was over, he was informed he'd be having surgery to fix it, and a surgeon with black hair, sideburns and a goatee came in, introducing himself, seeming a bit bored.
"I'm Trafalgar Law and I'll be heading your surgery," he said to Luffy in a somewhat monotone voice. "I've seen you don't like sedatives, but you need them for the surgery." Law made no reaction to Luffy's panicking expression. He did sigh though when Luffy started looking at all the exits, like he was planning to run out on them. "Can you get his guardian, or whoever brought him here?" he asked the nurses. The doctor had left a moment ago to use the bathroom before she would observe Luffy's surgery.
Luffy looked relieved when Zoro and Robin walked in quickly. Luffy looked miserable. He was still in his regular clothes since they had to bring him back for testing immediately. He knew people would see his scars and it would be embarrassing to say the least. Robin was informed of the surgery and luffy's aversion to sedatives.
"Luffy," Zoro began. "You need to be asleep for this or you could cause lasting damage. You could need more surgery to fix this, or something to could go very wrong if you're awake and start thrashing. I usually wouldn't push you having sedatives, but you need to be asleep for your own health." Then Zoro added quietly, "They are going to see your scars. Do you really want to see their reactions?" Luffy bit his lip in response, shaking his head no. "Then will you take the medicine?" Luffy nodded.
As Zoro was speaking to Luffy, Robin had walked over to Law, the surgeon, and the nurses and helpers around him and explained Luffy's scars and behavior. She didn't go into detail, just that he was abused and to be prepared to see something that no one would ever want to see. Law nodded.
Zoro got up and left with Robin, giving Luffy a kiss on the forehead, not caring about their audience. Luffy had been able to breathe on his own after a while, but it was still a bit raspy. The surgery would take care of that hopefully.
Once Luffy was wheeled away into a room to carry out the surgery, he was helped into a gown with the doctor he'd liked. He kept his underwear on and the nurse said nothing of his horrific scars. Robin had informed her when she was walking back from the bathroom and the two had run into each other. The doctor didn't even make an expression, she just smiled at Luffy reassuringly. It was hard for Luffy to be gentle with himself because the pain in his throat had all but gone away. A blessing and a curse.
Luffy was almost in tears when he was sedated, but he fell asleep quickly from the liquid.
"Holy shit," Law said as he pulled the gown down a little to show Luffy's upper chest. The other nurses gasped when they saw the violent scars and burns scattered all over his chest. They also looked horrified with the scars on both of his arms. Thankfully, no one saw the words "Bother" and "Retard" carved into his thighs.
Once the medical team got over their initial shock the surgery began and lasted a few hours. By the end, Luffy was able to breathe by himself easier than he had been before.
Luffy woke up to Robin and Zoro sitting next to him in a hospital bed in his own room many hours later. It was now light out outside. His head was elevated a bit and the air was feeling wet. He looked over and saw a humidifier. His throat felt fine, but he knew it would take some time to completely heal. He had come to the conclusion it only didn't hurt because of his unique pain tolerance.
Both Robin and Zoro smiled when they noticed Luffy was awake. Robin then spoke to him in a serious but gentle voice. "Luffy, you can't eat or talk for a while. I know you don't really like doing either in the first place, but you will have to be set up with water and nutrients. I'm sorry, but you will need to be here for a while. A couple days at least for observation. I'm not mad," Robin said. Luffy only just noticed Zoro was holding his hand, and he squeezed it back. If he couldn't talk to anybody, he'd need his whiteboard, but it wasn't here.
When Robin saw Luffy looking around, she handed him a small whiteboard, the only one she could find that wasn't being used or had something written on it. Both Robin and Zoro were surprised and saddened by Luffy's first words.
Do they lock the doors at night? he wrote, looking from the window to the door. They were on the third story, but it still didn't comfort him. His dad could still climb up the building at night and open the window. He could kill Luffy in a minute if he wanted to. And Luffy knew that Zoro and Robin wouldn't be with him every second of every day and night. He'd be a burden to them. He already felt he was risking their safety just being around them.
"I assume they don't, but we'll give the hospital police the picture of your dad you've drawn. I would give them the real picture, but I couldn't find any that were good quality of their faces. I apologize for that," Robin said seriously. Luffy nodded slowly, trying to not move his throat too much.
"Do you want your Kindle and sketchbook? I have a feeling you're gonna get bored fast," Zoro told him. Luffy nodded slowly again. "Do you want it now?" Luffy didn't reply. He didn't want to be pushy, but he pink face and averting eyes told Zoro that he didn't want to be a bother and ask for it that very moment. "Okay, mom can you go get them? I'll stay with him," Zoro said. Robin smiled at Luffy. "Can you also get him a bigger whiteboard?" he called after she walked out the doorway.
"Sure," she replied after stopping to answer, then walking out. Robin watched the interaction between Zoro and Luffy and smiled. If Luffy didn't have Zoro, he might have continued to speak to her more, but she knew in her heart Luffy would have progressed little if he didn't have Zoro to love and be loved.
Damn I love injuring Luffy. And it's only the beginning! MWahahaha!
Chapter 4: The Hospital Part 2: Things Are Fine
New chapter. Things are beginning to get intense. Next chapter fuels the whole story QUITE a bit. A major turning point in the story. Look forward to it! This one is relatively calm and somewhat fluffy until the end. Enjoy~
The drive to the house made her stressed. Just being away from Luffy when he was afraid, even when he had Zoro with him, made her feel uncomfortable and somewhat guilty. But she had others to take care of as well. She'd pay Kureha double or maybe triple if she could stay another night. She was an expensive baby sitter, but was reliable when it counted.
When she knocked on the door four times, waited, and knocked another three and it was opened. Robin had deemed that their secret knock, so they wouldn't be afraid if Robin knocked on the front door. She had also told them that she'd do it even before she unlocked the front door. It had only been under a week since Robin and the young couple discovered Luffy's parents were free, but they needed to be prepared for anything.
Luffy's torturer and his accomplice hadn't done anything in the last two weeks, but that doesn't really count much. They must've had to find some place to stay, and if they were planning anything, it would take time to locate Luffy and formulate something. Though on the outside, she looked unconcerned and positive nothing would happen, she was constantly nervous.
She entered the house to see the four kids playing a boardgame in the living room, Kureha eating sweets from the cupboards in the kitchen, but close enough to be able to tell what was happening with the kids. This was not new. The old woman liked to take any food she wanted while she baby sat. Robin had been offended by the behavior at first, but got used to it for a while, since, though she was expensive, she was relatively good with the kids. Zoro, however, never got along with the neighbor. She bossed him around a lot once he grew up into his teenage years. Told to watch the kids, and then argue with the green haired teen while he said she was the baby sitter, not him. So they didn't get along much.
"Hello Kureha. Did anything happen while I was gone?" Robin asked the woman, who continued to eat the sweets for a moment before answering.
"Not much. You have a new neighbor who invited you and your kids to a welcoming party," she answered simply. Robin creased her eyebrows.
'What did he look like?" Robin asked. Kureha understood what Robin was hinting at.
"He didn't look like the picture of the man next to the door. I looked closely. He had no tattoo on his face, his hair was short and brown, and he had an abundance of facial hair. He also had a large burn on his face that wasn't on the face of the poster." Robin relaxed a bit.
"What did you reply when he asked about the party?"
"I said you couldn't come since one of your kids was in the hospital. He looked genuinely saddened. He replied, 'That's too bad. I hope he gets better,' and then walked down the street." Robin didn't voice her concern about this person knowing the kid in the hospital was male, but that could just be a good guess.
"And he said he was recently moving in?" When the old woman nodded, Robin asked, "Which direction did he head off to?"
"Down the sidewalk and turned right on the corner at the nearest intersection."
"Alright thank you. I'll be back by tonight." Kureha then looked angry until she smirked when Robin told her she'd be payed triple than usual. The old woman went back to eating the chocolate treats.
Robin briefly told the kids what had happened last night, concerning Nami greatly. Robin told her that Luffy would be okay but would be in hospital for a couple days. "I don't think he'd want many visitors this time. He's very stressed and I think too many people would make him uncomfortable and on edge, which wouldn't be good for him at the moment. It is not personal," Robin assured. Nami frowned at this. Did Luffy not want to see her as well? "Nami, it's really not personal, I promise. Luffy doesn't want to be overwhelmed at the moment. Remember, he's very scared of the guy who was let out of prison," Robin said and left it at that.
Robin decided to call Zoro and give him specifics about who Kureha told him, in case he sees anyone suspicious. He didn't like what he was hearing, and was in the hall briefly while Luffy napped. He clenched his teeth angrily at this situation. This guy was a risk to everyone, which Luffy must know. He just wasn't voicing it in fear of having someone confirm his guilt as completely valid.
"I'll be a little before I go back to the hospital. I want to see something," Robin said, sounding determined and a bit angry. Zoro could assume she was going to go investigate, something she loved to do when she had the chance. Though this wasn't just finding out something interesting, this was concerning her family's safety. She hung up the phone after saying goodbye and drove down the way the man had walked. She circled all of the streets in the gated neighborhood and saw no moving vans or a "sold" sign or even an open door. It looked to be that there was no new neighbors, and that man must have been lying. She hurried to the hospital.
Once she walked into the lobby, she requested to see a hospital police officer at the front desk. When the receptionist gave her a suspicious look, Robin told him quietly that it was concerning the safety of one of the patients, which got the man to call for one of the officers.
The officer came rather quickly and pulled Robin away to speak to her in private.
"What is the problem, ma'am?" he asked seriously. He didn't want to hear any false reports.
"My son was tortured by his parents while he was young, and his abusers were let out of jail a couple weeks ago. There are no locks on the patients' doors, which scares him. I am also concerned because a suspicious individual visited my home and learned that he was in the hospital. I'd like to request that someone sit outside of Luffy's door at night. This man is dangerous and could kill Luffy and anyone who gets in his way."
By the time Robin was finished with her explanation, the officer had his walkie-talkie held out in front of him, ready to request that the chief police officer of the hospital to visit the break room, where the man Robin was speaking to led her. He didn't want any of the people in the lobby knowing.
The two reached the break room for employees and met with the man that had been called. Robin explained once again what she had told the other man. The chief looked concerned as well now. He ended up paging every officer and all the staff on the third story. So everyone was prepared. There were still a few hours before sunset, but they had an officer on the third story, sitting near the stairs and elevator.
Luffy spent the rest of the day either reading or asleep. He didn't "talk" much to either of them. When they tried to talk to him he didn't respond much. He also sometimes started staring at the wall across from him, lost in thought. Much of it was just random thoughts that had no reason to make him uncomfortable, but then bad thoughts would come. He compared himself now to how he was only a few days ago. Part of him secretly wanted something else to happen somewhere that would put his parents back in jail, where they belong. He didn't want anything to happen to him or his family. But then he felt guilty he was wishing harm on someone else.
But he was afraid that if this continued, he'd break under the fear and guilt and despair he felt were blanketing him. One small layer at a time. Another comparison could be the snowball effect. Every layer of snow was a new, self-destructive thought that would be followed with similar ones.
Zoro was a bit upset when he kissed Luffy's palm and nothing happened. The small teen made no move that he even knew Zoro had done something. Zoro hated this. He hated that evil man who had done this to Luffy. He had been improving so much, and then it just starts to crumble after his abuser and the person who were in Luffy's worst nightmares was set free. He was still enraged that a man who had done that type of thing was let out. That wasn't just child abuse. It was fucking torture.
He had to wonder which was better, death or torture. He guessed it depended on the person, but Luffy had told him that when he was in that basement, before he became mute, he sometimes begged his dad to kill him already. His wounds hurt all of the time, his legs didn't move right, he was starving, it smelled down there, it was always dark, and every time the basement door opened, he'd rather be dead. So which is worse? Killing someone's body or killing their soul? It was a hard debate going on in his mind.
When night came, Zoro offered to stay the night with Luffy and hold his hand while he slept. Luffy nodded to the offer, making Zoro feel just a little better. He knew none of Luffy's behavior was personal, though. That the boy he loved was crumbling all by himself from the inside out.
No one told Luffy about the suspicious man and that a police officer would be sitting outside of Luffy's door. He didn't need added fear. He had enough already.
Robin left and both Luffy and Zoro fell asleep, Zoro, his head on Luffy's thigh and still holding his hand while they slept. Zoro woke up multiple times in the middle of the night when someone would come and check on Luffy, though the nurses did their best to be quiet. But Zoro didn't grow angry or irritated. They woke him up to take care of the person he loved, and that was cause enough to not be angry.
Nothing happened that night, and the officer stayed awake all night as a guard, comforting Zoro. Luffy didn't know the man was there and why he was there.
Luffy woke up after Zoro had, who was on Luffy's Kindle, reading. Luffy didn't mind at all and watched Zoro sadly. He was upsetting him, and he could tell. He didn't like this and wanted to be in Zoro's lap and try to make him feel loved. He thought Zoro must think it was personal. Just a week ago, Luffy would have considered that idea ridiculous, but not now. Luffy was still taking his medication at night, but it didn't seem to be helping him at the moment. Luffy almost got up to get off the bed and sit in Zoro's lap and wrap the bigger teen's arms around him like usual, but he knew he'd trouble the hospital staff and make a mess of the wires and IVs. So he just watched him read.
Zoro looked up after pretending to not notice Luffy staring at him. "You can't sit in my lap right now Luffy. You'll mess up the wires and IVs," Zoro said, seeing that longing look in Luffy's eyes. "But when you're out, you can hang on to me all day if you want. I promise," he explained with a smile. Luffy nodded slowly.
"I miss your voice," Zoro said softly, bringing a small smile and a light blush to Luffy's face, which pleased Zoro. Luffy reached for Zoro's hand with his left and picked up his whiteboard and velcroed pen with his right.
I'll talk to you a lot when we go home.
"Promise?" Zoro said with a small smile, repeating something Luffy asked all the time. He liked having multiple words of reassurance.
Luffy nodded. Zoro kissed his palm, relaxing Luffy's stiff posture a bit.
Can you close the curtains?
"Why?" asked Zoro, but he shut them anyway, waiting for Luffy's answer.
I don't want other people to see our love so easily. Zoro suddenly blushed madly at his words. What Luffy said was unintentionally... really… hot.
Luffy was confused of Zoro's red face. What had he said that caused that? So he asked.
"It's nothing," Zoro replied, his blush now under control and fading. He was glad Luffy wasn't resting on top of his chest or he'd hear Zoro's heart beat race madly. Gah, now he was having those thoughts he'd had so long ago. But looking back up at Luffy's innocent face chased them all away. Those thoughts weren't welcome to Zoro when it came to his Luffy.
Zoro stood up and leaned over Luffy, kissing him on the mouth softly. Luffy, despite kissing so many times over the months, was still not very good at it. They clashed teeth a lot. Luffy was still embarrassed at his lack of progress, but Zoro never commented on it. He sat back down on the comfy chair, his back hurting a little from sleeping in it, but he didn't mind much if he got to sleep at least a little close to Luffy. He'd slept in the same bed with him every night for months, so it would have felt strange to be completely away from him. He'd be in Luffy withdrawals.
"I'm going to go get something to eat. I'll be right back and sneak it in here," Zoro told him and left after Luffy nodded to him with a small smile. He was actually jealous. He didn't like not eating at all anymore. He used to hate eating, and he still ate small servings, but after realized how much better he felt eating any amount of food, even a little, felt better than starving. His mouth tasted gross and he didn't have a toothbrush with him. He hoped Zoro didn't taste how Luffy tasted his own mouth. Despite not eating recently, the taste was still there. And the pills he had to take left a nasty taste, so that was probably it.
The officer wasn't in the hall against Luffy's door any more since it was day time and bustling with doctors, nurses and patients or their families.
Luffy looked down at his gown. It was itchy, but he didn't want to ask to change and bother anyone. They were busy helping other people. But then his mouth opened in horror. His arms were bare. How long had they been bare? How long had he not noticed? Oh Zoro must find them awful. And the hospital staff must have seen them too! How embarrassed he felt. He knew the surgeons had seen them, and the doctor that helped him into his gown had seen them as well, but they had all been warned. But these hospital people… He wondered if the police would be called. It looked bad, but it'd been over a day and nothing had come of the scars and burns visible.
Luffy tried distracting himself from his thoughts by reading, but now that it was darker in the room, he was sleepy again. When he closed his eyes, he knew he must have fallen asleep because what seemed like seconds later, Zoro was there. Zoro looked sleepy himself, so Luffy wrote that he should go to sleep and that he would sleep himself, too. Zoro agreed and laid his head down on the bed like he had been doing and fell asleep quickly. Luffy watched him for a minute before he closed his own eyes and drifted off into a dreamless sleep. Luffy slept a lot now, like he was making up for all of the days he hadn't slept at all.
Neither were able to see the person climb through the window, which was not illuminated anymore because the light outside "went out". The figure climbed through the window and locked himself in the small bathroom attached to the bothersome brat's hospital room. He'd wait until Luffy was the only one in the room. His plan had come to him relatively easily and he couldn't wait to put it into action and swiftly get the job done.
DON DON DON! Review please!
Chapter 5: The Hospital Part 3: The Incident
Get ready for the darkness! Warning about this chapter because it involves a short bit of violence or gore? Not sure which one or even both. Anyways, last chapter I said this one was very important to the story, and it is, for both Zoro and Luffy the most. No hating for what I've done! Enjoy~
Zoro woke up when a nurse came in to check on Luffy while he slept peacefully, looking so content and that he wasn't hiding his fear every single moment someone else was in the room. Zoro knew it, but said nothing because Luffy wanted to seem strong, so he'd let his partner feel that way if it gave him some feeling of control over the grim situation.
Zoro got up to use the bathroom, not wanting to wake Luffy up by flushing in the mini bathroom no one had opened in a while. The moment the green haired teen left the room, the man hiding in the bathroom silently unlocked and left the cramped space, and swiftly, but quietly, he locked the door and made sure the rope was still attached to the window with the hook. He'd learned a lot of things in prison thanks to the murderers and kidnappers accompanying his cell. They discussed stories and tactics, most of them not feeling remorseful at all.
Luffy woke up to the lock turning, since it was a loud click. His dad was lucky that the air conditioner made a loud noise the second the door closed and locked, not alerting the officer guarding the door. He hadn't anticipated that, but he'd improvise. He had a threat to fulfil and he wasn't going to be stopped by a petty man thinking he's working towards justice. Luffy's dad hadn't deserved to go to prison. He was just getting out some stress with his son. Children are meant to work for their parents, and Luffy had been so useless and soft hearted that his parents just couldn't stand it anymore, so they erased those aspects of his personality and left a terrified and broken child three years later. They didn't want him in the first place.
Luffy opened his eyes to see some man above him. He looked scary and Luffy was somewhat sleepy. He couldn't recognize this man, but the moment he heard, "Hello, bothersome brat," he recognized the voice and started trying to scream for help and get away, but his voice was quiet and scratchy, and he got tangled in all the IVs and wires attached to him and fell to the ground when he tried to get out of the bed.
"Zoro! Zoro! Help me!" he rasped. He didn't know where Zoro had went, but he wasn't with Luffy and he was going to die. Zoro would find his body, still and empty, when he came back. But Luffy's dad didn't kill him. He ripped the Ivs out harshly, making the machine beep once his heartbeat wasn't attached anymore.
Luffy was pulled by his hair and thrown out the open window, landing hard on a smaller roof that was below the third story, and rolled down that and onto the grass. He heard, but didn't feel, his arm crack somewhere. He knew he must have broken it, but he tried to get up and run to the nearest door, but was tackled, despite hitting the ground first.
Luffy was beyond terrified and was crying hard, rasping desperately for the most important person in his life to help him, but Zoro wasn't anywhere close. Luffy was yanked back by his hair and tossed to the ground, now on his back.
"You really fucked everything up now didn't you? You put your own parents in jail. Doesn't that make you feel guilty? I see all your scars haven't faded. They never will. You bother," then he started to chuckle evilly. "Do you want to know why we tortured you? I'm sure you have always wondered. Do you want to know?" he asked cruelly. Luffy didn't want to hear, so he put his hands over his ears only to have them yanked away. The man continued to talk.
"You were never wanted. We tried to abort you over and over, and you didn't die. Every minute we had to take care of you was a minute wasted. We only did it so long to keep your grandparents happy and paying for all of your shit. I regret not killing you down there. Then we wouldn't have gone to jail," Luffy's dad told him viciously. Luffy was now sobbing. He didn't want to hear this at all. But now he knew he'd never get these words out of his mind. He was feeling like he was breaking with every words his father spat at him with a smirk.
"I've decided I don't want to kill you right now. I might come back, you will never know until it's too late, now won't you?" and he gouged a knife into Luffy's left eye, causing his only son to scream, not in pain because he thankfully couldn't feel it, but in horror. The knife was pulled out, but his eye stayed in its socket. It was just bleeding heavily now, and Luffy couldn't see out of it. It looked like he was crying blood.
"You deserve this," his father said and got up and sprinted down the street, gone from view. Luffy writhed on the ground, pressing his fingers over his bleeding eye with his broken arm. He was sobbing, laying on the ground outside in the dark, seeing everything with one eye. He couldn't see everyone running towards him from his left eye's peripheral vision.
He continued to sob uncontrollably on the ground, despite people around him and Zoro pushing through everyone to kneel next to him. He was horrified with Luffy's bloody face and bleeding arm, a bone sticking out slightly. He was an absolute mess. He was soon gently sedated by a nurse, relaxing him.
As Zoro watched, he felt like his heart was breaking into little pieces. He promised Luffy he'd protect him, and this happened. Zoro wanted to go search for the bastard he knew did this and kill him. He honestly wanted to kill him after gouging out both of his eyes and lighting him on fire. These angry thoughts were the only thing keeping him from bursting into tears. But he couldn't do that. He needed to stay strong for Luffy, even though the boy was unconscious. But that didn't stop the tears from falling from Luffy's eyes, mixed with blood coming from his left one.
If Zoro had known that Luffy had been calling for his help while he was being hurt by his dad, physically and emotionally, he wouldn't ever be able to look at Luffy again without being flooded with guilt. He knew Luffy wouldn't blame him, but Zoro hadn't kept a promise, and he didn't know how Luffy would handle that. Luffy had always thought promises were unbreakable, which was why he asked for it so much. But such an important promise was broken devastatingly.
Zoro walked with Luffy and the paramedics when he was gently put on a stretcher and carried to the emergency room. Everyone looked grim. Some of the nurses, based on what Luffy's eye looked like, were sure that he would never see out of that eye again. It looked like a deep wound, even through his eyelid.
Zoro had finally fallen apart when he called Robin. He was sobbing on the phone, Robin having trouble understanding what her hysterical son was trying to tell her. The only words she caught were "Luffy's dad", "his eye!", and "I couldn't do anything". Then the phone was hung up and Robin left the house, not alerting any of the kids and just banging on the neighbors door, saying simply Luffy was attacked, which made Kureha perk up, even though she was tired. She nodded grimly and walked to Robin's house as Robin sped away to the hospital, running red lights and illegally parking somewhat on the sidewalk.
She went to the receptionists desk and asked where her son was, not thinking to say Luffy's name. The woman knew what Robin was talking about. She'd seen the woman enough to know what her children looked like. She was informed Luffy was in the ER with her other son. Robin rushed through the doors, passing injured people who had all seen poor Luffy's condition and were quiet. They didn't want to disturb the poor boy. They knew something bad had happened because a few police officers followed into the large room and they all looked grim.
Robin saw Zoro sitting in a chair hunched over with his head in his hands, trying to hide his tears. Robin touched his shoulder softly but kept walking to Luffy's bed, where he had a bandage over his left eye and his arm was being tended to, the bone being put back in place and stitches sewn over the wound. He was still unconscious, which Robin was thankful for. She could see the blood dotting the bandage over his eye.
She quietly asked an officer what had happened and was told the details. Well, what everyone besides Luffy had seen. Robin listened grimly.
Once Luffy had a cast on his forearm, Robin was told that he needed his eye examined, and that Robin and Zoro would not want to see it, so Luffy was rolled down the hall, turning to the corner he'd gone to to be checked up and have surgery. Robin sat next to Zoro, who was still trying to hide his tears in his hands. His mom rubbed circles on his back, like he did to Luffy to calm him.
"This is not your fault," Robin said quietly. Zoro didn't talk for a moment before taking a deep breath and replying.
"I promised him I wouldn't let his father get him. I broke my promise and now he's going to be blind in one eye because I had to use the goddamn bathroom. How did that guy get in anyway!? I was in there!" Zoro said loudly, then shushed by Robin so not to disturb the other patients.
"I'm sure we will find out soon. The police are no doubt going to check the security footage in Luffy's room," Robin replied softly. Then Zoro spoke again.
"I think he must have said something to Luffy. He was sobbing hysterically when we got to him. And it wasn't because his eye or arm hurt. I could tell. Something bad happened to him that wasn't physical. Luffy can take a beating, literally, but he's more fragile on the inside than his body. Part of me doesn't want to know what that bastard told him…" Zoro said sadly. Oh Luffy. Please don't let this break you.
Luffy's eye wound was too deep to fix surgically and have him able to see out of it. It damaged his optic nerve, something that doomed that eye to be blind. The doctors and surgeons in the room when the inspection of the wound was carried on knew the only thing they could do was so give him a fake eye and have him at least look like his eye wasn't damaged. Law would be doing Luffy's surgery again. He was sad to see him back so soon. He was given the bare minimum of the situation. Not the specifics, only that his eye was stabbed and needed help. He didn't push it. It really was none of his business and he didn't need to know much more than the diagnosis.
The doctor that came out wasn't the same woman as the last time Luffy was examined. It was a man and he looked extremely grim. Zoro and Robin's hearts were beating quickly, afraid of the news they'd be receiving. The doctor took a deep breath.
"Luffy will never regain the sight of his left eye. There is nothing we can do for it other than give him a prosthetic eye to make it look normal. It will take at least six weeks for a customized eye to be made, so he will have a regular one to just fill the space while he waits. That's what we'd like to do for him, but we need your permission," the man said quietly. Zoro put his head in his hands again and Robin bit her lip when they heard the awful news.
"Please do that. I don't care how much it costs. Please help him," Robin replied sadly, sounding slightly panicked.
"As you wish. Would you like to see him first? He has not regained consciousness. We won't let him wake until after the surgery. His tears have been making it a bit difficult to work with his eye."
"Yes, we'd like to see him," Robin said. Zoro nodded his head as well.
"Alright, follow me," the doctor said and lead the two to where Luffy was.
When they walked in, the two family members were grateful that there was a fresh bandage over his eye. They really didn't want to see it. His arm was in a cast resting across his stomach. He looked so peaceful, and wasn't crying anymore.
The surgeon in the room began to explain the procedure for the surgery that will take place now, and then in six to eight weeks once again. He'd need check ups every other week or so to see how it was handling, if anything needed to be changed. Zoro cringed when he heard them say they needed to remove his eye. The eyes he loved so much and got lost in. But he would still have his other one, which Zoro was immensely grateful for.
No one told him not to when he ran his fingers in Luffy messy hair. He still had behead and some grass and dirt in it from being on the ground. Luffy didn't wake. Zoro wondered how he'd handle it when he woke up blind in one eye. Zoro could see him keep a straight face with no reaction, or he'd be devastated and fall apart.
A while after the two stayed with Luffy and were told what was going to happen, they were ushered out to begin the surgery. Both Robin and Zoro were lead to the resting area for families on the floor, the fourth floor now since they didn't want Luffy anywhere near where he had been in case he panicked. They even chose one of the very nice rooms for him, mostly for the wealthy. The poor kid deserved at least that. Robin and Zoro had asked to see the room he had been in, even though it was now off limits to everyone. But the officers caved and then let them in.
Robin and Zoro were angry to see everything was knocked over and broken. The IV's water bag had been burst and leaked everywhere. One of the machines had broken and the screen was cracked. Wires and tubes were randomly thrown down near the bed, some having dry blood on the tips of the needles. They also saw the rope attached to the window from the ground level outside. They looked out of the window and saw a small dent in the metal roof that had been over a patio area. Luffy had fallen and hit that, then bounced and rolled to the ground hard, snapping his forearm when he hit it.
Sick of seeing the scene, the two left with a bad taste in their mouths, carrying Luffy's whiteboard, sketchbook and Kindle out with them. They walked back to the floor Luffy was getting implant in. It was a long process and the time seemed to go especially slowly to the two while they waited.
After waiting a while, an officer came up to them and told Robin they had watched the security footage and if they wanted to see it. Robin almost said no, but Zoro immediately said yes. If they watched this, they'd get a better understanding of what Luffy had gone through. The two were lead the the room and watched in silent horror. They saw Luffy's dad open the window and go into the bathroom while Zoro and Luffy had been asleep. Zoro gasped at this, furious with himself for not noticing. Then the video was fast forwarded. It was just after Zoro had exited the room, and Luffy was still asleep. Then they watched as the small bathroom opened and Luffy's dad walked out, heading to close and lock the door.
He stood over Luffy a moment before Luffy started to try and get away, but fell hard to the floor after getting caught in the IVs and wires. They watched as Luffy was dragged to the open window, screaming something and struggling to get out of the grip and was unceremoniously thrown out of the three story window. Robin put her hand to her mouth and Zoro gritted his teeth.
"There is also footage of what happened once he got outside, would you like to see that?" the woman asked. Both Robin and Zoro nodded. So they watched as Luffy bounced off the small roof and onto the ground, landing on the arm that broke. He got to his feet and tried to run to the nearest door, but was tackled from behind and had his hair yanked on again. After Luffy was facing the man, he put his hands over his ears while the man was on top of him, but they were pulled away. Luffy was screaming, but there was no sound on the footage. Then they watched in horror as Luffy was stabbed violently in the eye and was screaming and crying even after the knife was pulled away and his assailant ran off. Luffy continued to hold his hands to his bleeding eye and cry and then everyone got to him and put him to sleep.
"Oh my god," Robin muttered, tears running down her face. Zoro looked like he was in physical pain by the end of the video. The officer said nothing to them for a moment to let them react. It was indeed gruesome, and the victim was a family member.
"That's all of the footage we have of the incident before the others reached him. I'm sorry this has happened," the officer said kindly. Robin thanked her for letting them watch and the two left the room, fuming. That man was the devil. His own son… what a monster! The two waited in angry silence for Luffy to wake up.
Tah dah! So angsty and dramatic.
Chapter 6: The Hospital Part 4: Living a Nightmare
Yay! New chapter. I hope everyone loved my sadistic nature from the last chapter. ;) This is the last chapter in the hospital. What a terrible hospital visit. Jeez. Please review.
Update: I did as much research as I could for the prosthetic eye. Some of it is inaccurate because I honestly couldn't get a good article about it. Just know that Luffy can't actually feel the eye, it is psychological. But everything else besides the color is accurate. Saw some pretty gruesome pictures during my research...
When Luffy woke up, he first thought he had had a very graphic nightmare, but then he felt his arm was stiff and looked at the cast. With one eye. He couldn't see the room to his left with his left eye. He gingerly felt up to it and touched gauze. It was taped over his eye. It didn't hurt, but he knew something was wrong. He was in a hospital room again, only this one had a TV and was over all nicer and smelled better. He was disoriented. Then he noticed a woman in the room with him. He coughed once, his voice still scratchy. Thankfully, the fall hadn't injured his larynx again.
When the woman heard him, she turned around and smiled. "How do you feel Luffy?" she asked. Luffy knew he didn't have his board, so he tried to speak. He wanted to know what was going on very much.
"F- fine," he rasped. "Can't see," he said. The doctor looked at him sadly.
"Luffy, you have had a serious eye injury. We tried to fix it, but I'm sorry to say the damage was just too great. You are blind in your left eye," she told him gently. Before he could reply, she explained that there was a fake one in his socket at the moment, and in a couple weeks, he'd get a nicer prosthetic that will move and look like a regular eye. "It will take a few weeks, but just bare with it." Luffy looked shocked and then scared. He looked to the window to see it was locked and unable to slide open because there was a board nailed over the latch. They could still see out of it, but nobody would be able to fit through. The incident was brought back to his mind, playing over and over like a movie flashback. He heard the words his dad spoke to him echo in his head. Where was Zoro? He wanted Zoro.
"Zoro?" he asked the woman. She smiled kindly, glad he wasn't hysterically freaking out like most patients would.
"I will go get him and your mother," the doctor said kindly. She left the room, leaving Luffy on his own for a short moment. Luffy noticed he had a necklace around his neck, and when he touched it with his left right arm, he noticed it had a button. On the back, it read if a patient needs help, the if they press the button, someone will come in. Oh how he wished he'd had one in his old room. Maybe he wouldn't have… lost his eye if he had. It finally sunk in, those few moments he was alone. He'd never see out of both of his eyes ever again. What would it feel like to have a ball in his eye? He decided he'd wear an eyepatch every moment of every day. He didn't want to be scared or scare any others in his family.
He almost scoffed at how unlucky he was. Needed surgery for his throat, tossed out a window and broke an arm, and then lost an eye. What else could go wrong? But he was thankful that it had happened in the hospital, away from the rest of his family. Did he deserve to go back home? He was a danger for everyone. His dad specifically said he might come back, and Luffy wouldn't know until it was too late.
When Zoro and Robin walked in, Luffy couldn't tell because they were on his left side. He was just looking at the ceiling until he heard a sigh and turned his head all the way to the side so he could see them with his right eye. This would take time to get used to. But at least he had his right arm and eye intact. He could still draw and write.
Zoro sighed when he saw Luffy's eye with a white gauze bandage over it. He and Robin walked to his other side and sat down. Zoro grabbed onto Luffy's hand quickly. He wanted to feel that Luffy was still here and alive.
"Hi," Luffy said softly. He felt a little loopy still. His eye also felt strange, but he didn't want to think about it right then. Or ever, actually.
"Hey…" Zoro replied, still holding onto his hand. Luffy then greeted Robin, who smiled and brushed the hair over Luffy's face back so she could run her fingers through it.
"How do you feel, Luffy?" Luffy looked downcast. He had hoped she wouldn't ask because that meant it was real. He wasn't just really out of it from pain killers or sedatives or whatever happened.
"I… lost my eye," he replied sadly and quietly. "It feels strange and I don't like it." He was scared still, which was why he was talking to Robin. If he spoke, people would notice if he was suddenly quiet and gone.
Zoro couldn't bring himself to look Luffy in the eyes - eye. If he had protected his love then he would be fine.
"Can I talk to Zoro alone?" Luffy asked. It didn't offend Robin at all. She knew what Zoro needed to hear from Luffy based on what he had said to Robin earlier.
"Sure," she said and walked out of the door.
"It's not your fault," Luffy told him, pulling his hand out of Zoro's so he could touch his face. Seeing Zoro cry was surreal. He'd seen him devastated, like when Luffy had told him why the words "I'm fine Luffy!" had scared him. But never cry.
"If I had just used the bathroom in your room, I would have found him and he wouldn't have hurt you!" Zoro said angrily, but Luffy knew it wasn't anger at Luffy. It was anger at himself.
"Or he could have killed you. I'd rather lose an eye than lose Zoro," Luffy said firmly. Zoro sniffled at his words and just laid his head on Luffy legs, which were under a blanket.
"I promised you I would protect you," Zoro replied miserably. "I broke the promise."
"Then protect me from now on," Luffy told him gently. He didn't really know how to handle Zoro when he was upset like this. He changed the subject away from Zoro's broken promise. "The lady said I get to have a new eye in at least a month. If I can live that long, then I won't need an eyepatch." Zoro looked up at Luffy's casual but morose words.
"What do you mean?" he asked seriously. Luffy sighed. He didn't mean to say that. It was just hard to hold things back from Zoro nowadays.
"He told me he didn't want to kill me now. He said he might come back later but I wouldn't know until it's too late…" Zoro growled to himself. He didn't want to shout his anger out at the moment. He didn't want to scare Luffy more than he already was.
"You'd all be safer without me. I can't go home…" Luffy said, looking Zoro straight in the eyes. He was serious about this.
"Don't you dare think like that," Zoro said menacingly, making Luffy a little uncomfortable. He looked away with his eye. "Don't think like that, Luffy, please," Zoro said, more gentle now since he hadn't missed the uncomfortable look in Luffy's eye. "I overheard the police telling mom that they were going to be patrolling the neighborhood and stationed in front of the house, and even behind the house. We will be safe. We will do anything to keep you safe. I even suggested putting bars on all the windows. Only for a short time, though. And who cares about nail holes in the wall after this whole nightmare is over. You will be safe this time. I know it doesn't mean much to promise anything anymore," Zoro said dejectedly. "But I promise to do anything I can to keep you safe with me. I won't let you out of my sight, even at home."
Luffy gave a small smile, but Zoro could tell it was a false smile. Just to make Zoro feel better, but Luffy was easy to read most times. And Zoro can recognize a real Luffy smile from a mile away, so it was easy to tell this one was forced.
Luffy was then distracted by the feeling of his fake eye when he scrunched up his lower lids when he gave the smile. He hated it already. It probably looked really creepy. He wanted a nice one soon so it looks like how it used to look. How it should look...
The nice doctor from before entered with Robin. She was both a regular doctor and an eye doctor. Robin spoke first. "Luffy, a prosthetic eye must be cleaned regularly. She's going to tell you how to clean it, and we will stay in here in case you need help remembering."
Through the whole explanation, Luffy looked disgusted and horrified. He'd have to pull his new eyeball out?! That's horrible! The doctor noticed Luffy's expression. It was how many patients looked when this was explained to them. Even Zoro looked somewhat disgusted. He did not want to help Luffy for once. Watching his fake eye fall into his hands would probably make him want to vomit. But he'd help Luffy as best as he could without looking.
Luffy was dreading cleaning it. He was told to practice taking it in and out. Oh god what would the rest of the kids say? No, he'd barricade himself in the bathroom and not open it until his new eye is successfully clean and back in.
"It will be hard to get used to at first, but after a while, it will be easy and quick. I know you must be embarrassed about it, but if you need help, ask, because it is very important to do it correctly," the nice doctor said. She'd seen this reaction many times. "This reaction is very normal. Most people think it's awful and disgusting, but it's important for your health. Okay, now it will get a little grosser. Discharge may come out when you extract the prosthetic…" then she went on to explain what to do to clean the discharge and gave Robin a manual on how to do this correctly. Then she told Luffy to memorize the manual. She stressed again that the process is very important.
"If anything is out of the normal, contact an eye doctor. If you can, contact me specifically."
Zoro spent the night again, his third night staying at the hospital. Luffy was exhausted by the time it got dark, when when Robin pulled the blanket over his shoulders and said goodbye he said, "Thanks mom…" and fell asleep. Robin gave a small genuine smile at his words. Yes, she was his mother. As long as he wanted her, she'd be his mom. And she was happy to be.
Zoro was also touched by the moment. If only Luffy had seen Robin's reaction, he might just come out and say it. Zoro had seen Luffy address Robin as mom on his whiteboard, no matter how quickly he'd tried to erase the mistake. Zoro knew it was his insecurities that kept him from outright addressing her as his mom. Someday he'd be courageous enough.
For the next two days, Luffy felt he was living in a nightmare. A different nightmare than his past had been. This nightmare, he was afraid of the future. He had been questioned by the police, eventually crying while he talked. It embarrassed him greatly, but the officers were very understanding and patient, since they'd been informed that Luffy and his father's relationship was… not a normal father-son relationship. Robin also told them about Luffy's scars, and if they hadn't believed the story before, they did now. A guard was stationed outside the door, in the hall, and some patrolled the premise.
Police guarded the house, which Robin visited and stayed the night there. She felt uneasy leaving the kids there, even if the baby sitter was reliable. But Kureha had no idea what to look for now. Luffy had drawn what his abuser now looked like. It was very different and remembering his current face was very difficult.
Luffy had locked himself in the bathroom attached to his fancy room. The bathroom here was much nicer and larger than the regular rooms' bathrooms. He spent over an hour trying to clean his eye in practice, and eventually asked Zoro to find the eye doctor lady. Not long after he asked was the kind woman let into the bathroom. Luffy was shown how to do it properly, even though it felt very wrong to have someone put something in his damaged eye socket.
By the end, when he exited the bathroom, his face was more red than Zoro had ever seen. He also looked miserable and when he sat on the nice mattress, he curled up in a ball and hid his face. He had an eye patch now. One that was a square over his eye and wrapped across his face and was held in place by his ears. It was better than a pirate eyepatch. Luffy didn't go into details with Zoro because he was so humiliated with it. Seeing his eye without the prosthetic in it in the mirror looked like something you'd see in a horror movie. He wanted to go home now, but he was also scared…
So that's the end of part 1. Poor Luffy.
Chapter 7: A Bad Dream
Part 1 is over now. There are three parts. This chapter might end abruptly because I forgot to make chapter breaks in a long chapter, so I split it into 2. (Bring on the Zoro angst!) Please review.
The day that Luffy was able to go home was scary. He was escorted in a police cruiser. They were really taking Luffy's case seriously. Luffy felt like a massive inconvenience. A bother to the whole police force. They could be catching bad guys, but now they're guarding a stupid kid who can't do anything right. He couldn't even run away successfully even though he had been the first to hit the ground. He couldn't even defend himself one bit, and paid the price with his own eye. What a useless person. Unwanted from the start by his parents. Unwanted even by the time he was conceived. He was only kept alive because they liked money. Would it have been better if he had died? That question popped into his head a lot on the drive home.
Luffy was shocked to be walked up to the front door and see all the windows had thin bars against them. He could also hear construction going on from the back yard. It was Luffy's fault that the house had become prison like. When he walked in, there was also a big technical device on the wall with many buttons. A security system. Zoro had been driven home by Robin, following the police car with Luffy inside. Zoro hadn't been home much since the day Luffy went to the hospital, and after the attack, he had refused to leave at all. But he was glad to be home. He'd been told by Robin about the bars, but it was still a strange sight. He wondered what the neighbors thought.
Zoro walked into the house shortly after Luffy did. Luffy looked shocked and guilty. Zoro hugged him from behind tightly. "We'll keep you safe. We will all be safe," he said. He finally got to touch Luffy other than holding his hand. Luffy was happy about this as well.
"Can I be on your back?" Luffy asked quietly. Zoro grinned and crouched and carried Luffy around for a while as he showed Luffy what protection had been added. He carried Luffy outside to where a massive box was being made. Not metal, concrete. And it was close to being done. Neither went inside because it wasn't ready yet.
"What is it?" Luffy asked.
"It's a panic room," Zoro said. When Luffy was confused, Zoro patiently explained that it was a room to stay in in case of an emergency. The doors were unable to open from the outside if someone was already inside of it. When Luffy looked down in shame of having the need for it to be built, Zoro said, "Hey, if there ends up being no problem, we can turn it into a lounge of some sort. Bean bag chairs inside with a TV. It could be your new walk-in-closet if you want it to. But until we know that psycho is in jail, it's a safe space for all of us." Zoro had sounded bitter when he called Luffy's dad a psycho. Luffy nodded against his back and nuzzled his face against Zoro's hair. Sadly, Zoro still smelled like the hospital.
Zoro smiled. "Wanna go take a nap? A real one?" he asked. Luffy knew Zoro wanted to cuddle, and Luffy hadn't been able to be near him much at the hospital so he nodded again. Zoro happily walked up the stairs with him and carefully put him on the bed to not hurt his arm. Luffy laid down on his good side, adjusting his eyepatch to keep it hidden from his partner. It really was creepy looking. It scared Luffy to see it on his own face. He missed his real eye. He was glad he never saw it after it was out. It must have been deformed terribly. Another injury that was left on him by his abuser.
"Are you gonna keep the patch on for over a month?" Zoro asked as he laid next to Luffy, who nodded.
"It's scary looking. I don't want anyone to see it." Zoro nodded at his words. It was Luffy's decision. But Zoro still had his right eye to get lost in, so that was good.
Zoro faced Luffy as they slept, his arm wrapped around the smaller one's waist, but Luffy's broken arm resting above Zoro's.
"Bye, see you soon. I look forward to seeing your new eye," Zoro said, giving Luffy a kiss outside where anyone could see, causing the black haired teen to blush.
"Bye," he said simply with a smile. He was happy he could get rid of the eyepatch finally. He won't be scared of his own face any more.
Zoro watched from the porch as Robin was getting something out of the trunk to hand to Zoro. She had gone out earlier for a present for Luffy to celebrate his new eye, and had gotten Zoro some new weights.
"You've gained some weight," she said teasingly, since Zoro hadn't been exercising as much anymore because his obsession of being around Luffy all day every day. Luffy had walked to the car and opened the back seat door, having to reach up to the handle on the room of the interior to pull himself in. Once he sat in, he waved to Zoro with a happy smile and closed the door.
Suddenly the car burst into flames and exploded the moment the car door shut. With Luffy inside.
"Luffy!" Robin and Zoro screamed. The car was decimated, but Luffy's body wasn't inside. Zoro wasn't reassured by this though. He had to be somewhere. He ran around the front yard, out of the reach of the flames, and walked to the front. Then he saw Luffy. He was laying further down the driveway, a piece of shrapnel sticking out of his chest. He was bleeding everywhere, his one eye staring blankly upwards. His smile was gone and he suddenly had the circles under his eye he'd had for so long.
"Luffy!" Zoro screamed in anguish.
Zoro opened his eyes, gasping. He looked around in terror, but seeing he was in his room, now he knew it had been a nightmare. The worst nightmare he'd ever had. He turned around, looking for Luffy. The two had shifted positions while sleeping. He still saw Luffy's dead body in his mind, but sighed loudly in relief when he turned to the side and saw Luffy sleeping next to him peacefully. Zoro choked on a relieved sob and pulled him close to his chest. Luffy didn't wake up from this. He was so emotionally exhausted by all of the events that had happened since he tripped over that wad of clothes a week ago. So he slept deeply, not aware of Zoro crying against him.
Luffy woke up around a half hour after Zoro had his nightmare. Luffy for a moment thought he was still in the hospital, but it was a fleeting thought. Then he realized he had been pulled tightly to Zoro's body. It was somewhat uncomfortable. But Zoro looked so sad, so he said nothing about the discomfort.
"What's wrong?" he asked Zoro quietly. Zoro kissed his forehead.
"I had a bad dream, that's all." Luffy nodded. He understood what it was like to have bad dreams.
Luffy looked at the person who was holding him close. Why did he like Luffy? He can't do anything right without being injured or injuring someone else. What has he done to be remembered by? If he died, would the world forget him, and he'd only be in a few people's memories? His lower lip trembled. He never wanted to feel like this again. Those stupid words were really getting to him. He had been an inconvenience for all of his childhood. Even before that. What did his mom and dad say when they found out Luffy was going to be born? Did they curse him? Did they hate him already, telling other family members that they didn't want him? Did they ask for someone else to take him? Did anyone else even care there was going to be a new baby in their family? He had believed in a lie, that his parents wanted him, though they were just a bit stressed all of the time.
Luffy suddenly started to sob at all of the thoughts of his worthlessness. He didn't like Zoro's shocked face when it wasn't pleasant. It made him feel like he'd done something wrong.
Zoro had noticed Luffy's thinking face. Not if he was thinking on how to solve something or make something productive. It was the thoughts that werent welcome. He was right in thinking Luffy's dad said something to him, maybe more damaging than destroying one of Luffy's eyes, or breaking his arm.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Zoro asked, not looking at Luffy while he cried because he knew Luffy didn't like others see him fall apart, that it embarrassed him greatly.
Luffy did want to talk about it. But he felt weak after coming so far, and just a little new information knocked him down so far. But he nodded. Zoro waited for him to calm down and be able to talk.
"What did he say?" Zoro asked, having a feeling that's what Luffy was upset about. After seeing Luffy put his hands over his ears in that footage, Zoro knew he had heard something he hadn't wanted to.
"He said- he said that no one wanted me from the start… he said they tried to abort me over and over but I didn't die. That I was a waste of space and time, and the only thing they didn't kill me for was because family was giving them money to help with me. I don't know what they spent the money on. He said he wished he'd killed me when I was down in the basement… No one wanted me from the start. Did they curse me and ask others to take me instead? Was anyone in my family happy there was a baby on the way? I'm useless and the only thing I was good for was stress relief," Luffy finished quietly, burying his head in Zoro's chest, both eyes leaking tears onto Zoro's shirt.
Zoro said nothing for a moment. He couldn't imagine how he'd feel if his mother or father told him that he was supposed to die, and when he didn't, to try again. Those words were probably much worse than just being called a bother all of the time. Zoro knew Luffy had never known why he had been tortured all those years. He had wondered why, but now that he knew the truth, did he wish he didn't again?
"Luffy, you are meant to be alive. I don't believe in any god, but you were not only tried to be killed in the womb, you lived through three years of torture, a failed suicide attempt, being poisoned, falling down the stairs, cracking your skull, almost suffocating in blood and surviving falling out of a three story window. How can anyone say you were not meant to live or should die? All of those things happened to you and you're alive now. If you hadn't lost your eye, I'd have said you were invincible. Luffy, you've bounced back from extreme injuries with no side effects except maybe a headache every now and then," Zoro said. "You're amazing," he finished with a smile when Luffy looked up with his wide and puffy eye.
"You really think so?" Luffy whispered. He had never thought about all of that. Zoro smirked at him and nodded. Luffy gave a small smile. "...Thanks." Luffy was quiet for a moment. "Did you ever see what happened? Afterwards?"
"The security footage?" Zoro asked. He didn't really want to think about it. "Yeah, I did," he replied when Luffy nodded.
"What happened before I woke up?" Luffy asked. Apparently he'd had a guard outside the door and everything, so how did the man get inside the guarded hospital room?
"He snuck through the window at night while we were both sleeping and then hid in the mini bathroom," Zoro sighed. He hadn't wanted Luffy to ask this question, but he was the one attacked and had his eye stabbed, so he had a right to hear the whole story.
"While we were asleep?" Luffy whispered, his visible eye wide in fear. "But then he could -"
"Luffy, look at the window," Zoro said forcefully. Luffy did as he said and looked to the window. The bars were on the inside, so there was no way to pull it off from the outside. "Do you think he can get through the bars even if he tried? Even the door will have added protection. Then there are the cops nearby and the security system. You are safer here than probably anywhere else. Please trust the added protection. Even if he had a gun, or a sniper or something, with the curtains closed, how will he know where to shoot?" Zoro asked, trying to sound as logical as possible to convince Luffy he was safe. It worked a little, but Luffy was still scared, just not as much as a few moments ago.
All of the children downstairs were uneasy with the bars on the windows and the panic room being constructed. Robin had finally told them the truth. Well, leaving out some points. The kids hadn't seen Luffy since he got back because Robin thought he needed a bit of space and alone time with Zoro. She knew Zoro knew Luffy's dad had said something to him, and watching Luffy cover his ears in that awful footage proved his thought further. So everyone were strategically in other rooms where the now one eyed boy wasn't.
Robin had told them that a bad man was after Luffy. She didn't say he was Luffy's father, because that would open a whole nother group of questions. He said the man was from his past, and that was it. When she had told them Luffy had lost his left eye, they all gasped in horror. Robin then explained Luffy was embarrassed over it, which is why no one should comment on it and that Luffy would mostly keep an eyepatch over it, but that if they did see it, they would make no reaction.
They had questioned why Luffy would be embarrassed about losing an eye when it wasn't his fault. There was no way this was Luffy's fault. That was for certain. Robin had explained that Luffy was embarrassed because of the cleaning process. They all tried not to make disgusted noises when they were told the process included taking the prosthetic eye out and cleaning it, then putting it back in.
"Don't ask any questions, alright? Something really bad happened and he doesn't need people bringing it up and asking him to explain. And he's drawn a new picture of the man you call the police if you see." She then took the picture out of her bag and showed it to them each. Luffy had once again labeled the color of every feature on his face, as well as how tall he estimated how tall he was or what his body shape is. It had been dark and Luffy had been terrified, so they acknowledged that the height and weight may not be completely accurate. After all, when you're terrified of someone, they often appear bigger than they are.
The man looked very scary to the kids. Even Sanji was a bit frightened, and Sanji wasn't scared easily.
"Do not panic, we have police outside the house, as well as patrolling the neighborhood, and let's not forget the added protection everywhere and the safe space being built in the backyard. Just make sure you close the curtains at night before you go to bed."
Chapter 8: Much Needed Bonding
There's some emotional and cute fluff in this chapter, along with information people have probably wanted to know from the first fic, if you read that. Enjoy and please review~
It was lunch time when Luffy and Zoro came down. The others all saw his eyepatch and it made them sad. Luffy had lost an entire eye. So it made sense that he was bumping into things on his left hand side. It was obvious he was getting irritated with it quickly. Zoro had to help him down the stairs since his balance was so off. He didn't need to visit the hospital again so soon by falling down the stairs. Though Robin didn't resent him for it, his hospital bills altogether since he arrived here cost more than the fee for the panic room being built, along with half of the money paid for the barred windows. But no one would dare say that to him.
Luffy avoided eye contact with everyone in the room except Zoro. All of this protection and stress was because of Luffy. He had asked again earlier if everyone would be safer without him, which he received an angry look from Zoro and another harsh "don't you even think about it". It had scared him for a moment, but then Zoro's expression softened. Luffy didn't press the fact that he knew all of the kids were probably very scared. He hoped they didn't blame him. Luffy blaming himself was enough.
Luffy ate a lot of food for lunch, obviously missing solid food now that his throat was healed enough to eat it, though he wasn't allowed to eat very dry food, like crackers or bread.
Once he was finished, Zoro was still eating more servings next to him. Everyone looked at Luffy a bit sadly when he tried to be discreet of holding Zoro's hand next to him, but he couldn't see it and groped the bare table with his hand, the cast not in the way of this. He eventually pulled his hand off the table with a frown, since he couldn't find Zoro's. Zoro ended up standing up and, with Luffy still seated, moved his chair to Zoro's left, so Luffy could use his right hand to hold Zoro's left.
No one commented, but Luffy felt the stares. God, missing an eye was inconvenient. Luffy was just thankful he'd kept his dominant side uninjured. His right arm and right eye were functioning fine, though he couldn't play any video games for a couple weeks, which he had apologized to Zoro for. Zoro had pointed out it was much less inconvenient than having a leg broken, where Zoro had to be helped up and down the stairs for almost two months.
The rest of the day, Luffy didn't make eye contact with the others, and sat in a corner to read, though he couldn't focus on the words since every time it was silent, he'd hear his dad laughing at him for screaming and crying.
All day, Luffy was bumping into walls and furniture and felt very guilty when his shoulder knocked something off a shelf and it shattered on the hardwood floor beneath him. He'd tried to pick up the pieces himself, but Robin came from the noise and told him gently that she would pick up the big pieces and Luffy could help sweep up the small ones. He did feel better that he helped fix a mistake he made, even if he could only use one arm to do it.
Neither Zoro or Luffy had a bad dream that night as Luffy slept on top of Zoro's chest. It was close enough to each other to fight off the night time demons floating around in their heads.
In the morning, Luffy took a shower before Zoro woke up. He kept his prosthetic eye shut the whole time and only grudgingly opened it once in front of the mirror. It was truly creepy. It was still pretty red and the ball instead of his real eyeball was a murky gray. It looked like how a cartoon blind eye looked. Like there was a film over it. Luffy wanted to break the mirror just so he didn't have to look at himself. The scars on his legs were no longer the place on his body that he couldn't stand. It was that eye. The one that his dad destroyed in glee and just left him to writhe on the ground, alone in the dark. It had bad memories on it now.
Luffy walked out of the bathroom and kept a hand over his bad eye, hiding it from Zoro, who had woken up while Luffy was in the shower.
"Please don't hide, Luffy," Zoro said sadly as Luffy hurriedly used his arm to try and dig out a fresh eyepatch since his first had gone wrinkly from the tears earlier. He wasn't having much luck with one arm that was hurrying to get it done.
"It's creepy, I don't want you to see it," Luffy said. He felt that without something in front of it, the thing would just pop out and roll across the floor.
Zoro stood up and opened Luffy's bag with both of his hands and pulled out the little box of the white patches to get one out for him. "Please show me," he said as he handed Luffy a patch. He wasn't going to force Luffy to show him, but Zoro needed to get a point across to him. Luffy looked at the patch in Zoro's hand and took it. He gave a big sigh.
"Promise you won't throw up," Luffy said, his voice shaky.
"I promise I won't throw up. Please, show me," Zoro repeated. Luffy frowned and pulled his hand down, but still had his eye shut. Just the eyelid was swollen and red. "Open it," Zoro said gently. Luffy shook as he opened it slowly. Zoro was upset with the eye, but not because it was creepy or gross. He just knew Luffy now hated his face.
Zoro made no reaction but a small, reassuring smile. Luffy quickly closed it and moved to put the patch over it, but Zoro gently grabbed his good hand, stopping him from putting it on. He did something Luffy didn't expect him to do. Zoro pushed up his wet bangs and kissed Luffy's injured eyelid softly, then put the eye patch around his ears and in place on his face for him.
"I love all of you," he said simply. Luffy blushed and gave a slow watery smile and hugged Zoro. He had been so afraid of what his reaction would be, but he honestly should have known Zoro wouldn't care. But Luffy did. Even if Zoro was fine with it, Luffy was not, so he would keep it covered. But he wouldn't forget what Zoro just did. Zoro leaned down and kissed him on the lips, something they hadn't done in a while in the hospital. Luffy wrapped his arms around Zoro's neck and enjoyed the kiss, not bothered by his poor performance for once.
Luffy could smell breakfast from the top of the stairs and it smelled good. After he was helped down the stairs by Zoro, Luffy walked ahead of Zoro to see the abundance of breakfast dishes laid out across the table like a buffet. All of the kids were already there and eating.
"Hi Luffy," Nami said happily. She had missed Luffy. Luffy gave a small smile. But Nami frowned. That blank look crossed Luffy's face before he seemed to catch himself and make a smile when he turned to Zoro, who had made sure to sit on Luffy's right this time.
Luffy ate fine, but when he finished his food and turned around to put his plate in the sink, he saw that the windows in the front of the house had the curtains closed. Those curtains were never closed during the day. Though it was something small, and most wouldn't even pay attention to it, it felt like he was punched in the stomach with guilt over the whole situation. Luffy didn't want to leave and be killed, but he also didn't want his family to be scared and have their lives at risk. He was so scared of everything in this awful situation. Scared for himself and others. He wanted Zoro to hold him suddenly.
Luffy had waited for Zoro to finish his food before writing on his whiteboard Can we go to the room? Zoro nodded and said "Of course" and the two walked up the stairs. Robin was a bit disappointed Luffy wasn't going to continue to talk out loud. But she had a feeling Luffy was only speaking out loud to everyone and Zoro because he had been scared in an unknown place. Here, yes he was scared, but he was at home. The hospital and home are very different after all. Everyone at the table watched Zoro walk to Luffy's left, making sure the smaller teen doesnt bump into anything or knock something down. Later Robin would remove all glassware from where it could be knocked down and broken.
"What's wrong?" Zoro asked Luffy the moment the bedroom door closed.
"Can we cuddle?" Luffy asked, sounding desperate. Zoro said nothing but sat on the bed and pulled him onto his chest and wrapped his arms around him after pulling a blanket over the two and rubbed Luffy's back.
"Did the closed curtains bother you?" Zoro asked softly. He had seen Luffy's face fall when he looked to the living room, and the only thing that had been out of place was the curtains were closed when they usually weren't. Luffy nodded against Zoro's chest. "This isn't going to last forever, you know," Zoro said patiently. He had never been a patient person, but then again, before Luffy, he'd never been a lot of things. He liked who he was when he was with Luffy.
"... Zoro? What would you do if I died?" Luffy asked seriously, not making eye contact with Zoro.
"I don't even want to think of that possibility. But, I'd be broken. That's as simple as I can say without thinking about something I never want to think about. And you're not going to die. We'll protect you, so don't worry." Luffy nodded slowly. He didn't want to talk about it anymore either, even though he was the one to bring it up in the first place.
"Luffy, there's something my dad did when I was very young and it made me feel really relaxed. Can I try to on you? If you don't like it, I'll stop right away," Zoro said gently. He didn't want to make Luffy uncomfortable.
"What is it?"
"If you run your fingertips over the skin gently, it gives you pleasant goosebumps. At least it was for me," Zoro explained. When Luffy said "okay", Zoro informed him he'd have to take his long sleeved shirt off. When Luffy froze, Zoro told him he didn't have to if he didn't want to, but Luffy knew Zoro wouldn't judge him and had seen him shirtless and sleeveless before.
He slowly nodded and pulled the shirt over his head and looked at his fingers, embarrassed. But Zoro made no remark on what he was seeing, good or bad.
"Lay on your stomach, okay?" Zoro told him, so Luffy laid on his tummy on the bed, his face to the side to see what Zoro was going to do. Then he started to gently brush his fingertips across Luffy back, arms and neck. Zoro was telling the truth; it really felt good and Luffy felt himself melting into the bed already. He closed his eyes and drifted asleep easily, making Zoro smile. He'd found another action to help Luffy. He was touched that Luffy took his shirt off in front of Zoro, though Luffy had once taken his pants off in front of Zoro, so maybe taking a shirt off was easier than that was. Or he just trusted Zoro to witness his most vulnerable side. He had even shown Zoro his eye earlier.
The marks on Luffy's skin had rough textures to them, and they were all slightly raised. He started to trace the lines, sickened and saddened by their existence. The chemical burn was by far the worst injury on Luffy, besides his now missing eye. Zoro continued to trace his scars with his finger tips, while Luffy stayed asleep, until he woke up from a nightmare holding his hand against his bad eye, breathing heavily. Zoro just pulled Luffy into his arms and didn't ask what the dream was about. He could assume it was about when he lost his eye since that was what he was pressing on so hard.
Luffy dreamt that he was in that hospital room, and he woke up to Zoro lying on the ground, injured badly. When Luffy rasped his name as he was thrown out the window, he heard Zoro crying for his name, unable to reach him. Then Luffy was dragged out into the open, only suddenly it was dark and smelled bad. He was back in the basement, and though his dad said nothing, what had happened when he lost his eye replayed perfectly. His hair yanked, his arms wrenched away from his ears and then his left eye viciously stabbed, but it was over and over instead of just once. He had felt the knife get deeper and deeper in his face. But Luffy could feel it this time, and it was agonizing. Then Zoro came, but it was like he was stuck behind a glass wall and couldn't reach him again. Then Luffy woke up. Zoro held him right away, calming Luffy by running his fingers across his back again, since he was still shirtless.
Luffy's dream haunted him more because of Zoro being there and unable to help. He knew Zoro felt awful about being unable to prevent the whole incident, but Luffy didn't blame him. But he knew he wouldn't be asking Zoro to promise him to take care of him, because if Zoro couldn't, and Luffy was hurt a second time, then it would destroy him. So he wouldn't make Zoro promise him anything big anymore.
After a few long moments of Luffy calming down. He asked Zoro what he had done when he came back to the room and Luffy was gone.
Zoro flinched at the question. But he answered Luffy.
"The door was shut and locked, and I could hear all of the things being broken, but the door wouldn't open. So I kicked it down and saw you trying to get away and being chased from the window. But then I couldn't see you because of the mini roof thing. So I called for help and me and a bunch of other people ran down the stairs and out to find you screaming and crying while your eye bled. Then you were asleep and I followed with you as long as I could before they took you to examine your wounds… I've never been more terrified. Even when you fell and hit your head and I thought you might have brain damage. You hadn't really been awake and screaming like you were this time. And I wasn't there for you until it was too late... I'm sorry," Zoro finished, leaning down and burying his face in Luffy's hair.
"I forgive you and don't blame you. If we were both asleep again when he came in, he might have killed you and dragged me away anyway. I can't lose you. Yeah, I lost my eye and it sucks. But it's only an eye. It's not piece of my heart," Luffy said quietly. He was talking to Zoro a lot more than he had been before the whole mess of a night, and he didn't mind. He'd promised Zoro he would.
"I almost lost a piece of my heart," Zoro mumbled. "I will never forget seeing you like that. And the security video was awful. Seeing that you were so alone and scared and since it was the past, I could do nothing but watch." Luffy ran his fingers in Zoro's short and spiky hair, something Luffy knew Zoro secretly liked but would never admit.
"At least this time an injury wasn't my fault. I was… I wasn't able to get away even though I was first to hit to ground, but I know it wasn't my fault this happened. And… it wasn't my fault for being tortured... " Luffy said. He'd never believed it before, but after hearing how his dad hated him even before he was born… well Luffy knew it hadn't been anything he'd done to make his family hate him. And after being with Zoro and Robin, he doesn't wish he had never been born, even if someone else thought it.
"It was never your fault," Zoro told him simply. Luffy licked his lips and nodded his head. "You know that now, right?"
"Yeah. I didn't do anything as a baby, so it was them. It wasn't me." Zoro held him again. Then Luffy spoke again.
"Can I tell you about my childhood? I've never talked about it before to anyone. But can I tell you?" Luffy asked nervously.
"Of course," Zoro replied softly, sitting up enough for Luffy to get on his lap, so Zoro couldn't see Luffy's face while he spoke, which is what Luffy wanted.
"I wasn't really a bad kid," he began. "I broke something once in a while, which would earn me glares. I got sweared at a lot, and I was always grabbed on my upper arm and moved around. I had my own room, but there was nothing in it but a mattress. But I didn't know any different, since I had no friends or family to visit me. And I always thought that was how everyone was treated by their parents.
"But I still wanted them to love me, and I was stupid that I loved them, even though they were mean a lot. One day, they started drinking a lot. I didn't really notice that they were home more often, but I assume now they lost their jobs. I was never told. But they'd never hit me before.
"One day I was walking around the house, and there were beer cans everywhere. I was only eight, so it didn't really click it was alcohol. I thought they were a new type of soda. But it tasted really gross. Anyway, my dad was sitting at the table and was really mad, so I asked him if he was okay, that he seemed really stressed. Then he told me that he was fine. And I asked again, and then he yelled at me that everything was my fault, and I was a bother and shoved me down into the basement and locked it behind me," Luffy said sadly. "There were rats down there and I considered them my only friends, though it was so dark I don't know how many there were. They were just running around a lot. And when I would get a piece of bread, I would share with them because they were my only company. That was when one of my hands was still free. I don't remember what I named them, though, not that that matters anyways," he finished. He felt better after telling Zoro all of that.
Zoro hadn't interrupted once, and let Luffy know he was still listening by rubbing his back while he talked.
"But I have a new family, so it's okay now," Luffy said, sounding a little happy.
"Can I share my childhood with you now?" Zoro asked. This time it was Luffy's turn to say "of course".
Luffy watched Zoro as he spoke, because he knew Zoro made it through tough moments by being with Luffy and he said he liked Luffy's eyes. Well... eye.
"I was an accident baby. Mom would never call it that, but that's what I am. Once she had me, she and my dad weren't so great together anymore. She left to travel abroad for 'a few years', and I hated her for it. She left me behind because I was an inconvenience. I'm still mad at her for that, that she abandoned me because she didn't like my dad… Anyway, I lived with my dad until I was eleven, and it was only two years before I was in mom's custody was he abusive. I wasn't like you, I was able to move out of his way. I had a few friends, but they were never allowed over and my distrust drove them all away. I was able to eat, and go outside, only I had to have all the bruises covered. Near the end of living with him, I did start to fight back. I threw a vase at him once because I was mad he took my game station away. I had a really bad and violent temper when I was younger… But now I have you to keep myself in check," he said with a smile, and then continued his story, a far away look in his eyes.
"When I turned eleven, I was hit particularly hard since I was angry I didn't have any sort of presents or cake. Mom didn't even send anything. Not even a card. But he hit me and I lost my balance and fell, breaking my ankle. I tried to hide it, just made myself look angry instead of in pain, but I was let out of the house to get the mail and fell. A neighbor came over and looked me over and saw my swollen ankle and I was taken to the hospital and the nurses discovered all of the bruises on me.
"Once mom heard, she came back to take custody of me. I don't know why, since she showed no desire to be with or visit me before that. I was bitter through the whole mess of court meetings and shouted out during trial and was forced to go outside. I was against both of my parents. But mom got custody of me and bought this house. She gave me everything I didn't have and wanted, but I was never really happy. She must have been disappointed I wasn't child-like so she couldn't exactly be motherly, since I was so bitter at her. I hated it here, and then she became a foster parent, kids coming and going all the time. I wouldn't tell anyone but you this, but I was mad because I never got a real sibling. And most of them stayed away from me because of my scary demeanor. You know what I mean since I scared you too at first.
"But still, I'm bitter towards mom. I try to not be, but she didn't care for so long and then took me in like we'd be all budy budy and she'd have a kid to raise. I know I was a disappointment. And I can tell she favored you so much because you were like a child. You needed help and reassurance, and she was finally able to do it with someone who had no real parents who raised you. You got to start over, and so did she. I was secretly jealous of you at the beginning. You got special privileges even I didn't get. I try so hard to be nice to her, but it's just difficult sometimes. I haven't seen my dad in years. I was also angry with her for not allowing me visits with him. Yeah he was an abusive asshole for a couple years, but he was my dad. He raised me and I wasn't allowed to see him. Well, right now there's no way she could stop me, but I have no desire to see him again. So that's why I was so angry with you. I was just jealous," Zoro confessed, then touched Luffy's face and said, " I'm obviously not jealous anymore, and now you're mine, and the best thing to ever happen to me. " Luffy blushed and bit his lip to suppress a grin.
"You're the best thing, too," Luffy replied happily. He really liked that Zoro said he was his. It wasn't like he was owned or anything like that. He was Zoro's and Zoro was his.
"Thanks for telling me," Luffy said and kissed Zoro on the cheek.
"Back at you," Zoro replied and kissed Luffy on the lips. It was a soft and chaste kiss.
Once they separated, Luffy said, "You're mine, too," with a smile. Zoro leaned down to Luffy's jaw and kissed under his ear at the edge of his jaw. Luffy made a sigh, but Zoro couldn't tell if it was a good one before he looked up and saw his flaming face and embarrassed smile, like he got caught doing something embarrassing that he wasn't supposed to and liked it. Zoro quirked an eyebrow and smirked.
"Did you like that?" he asked, trying to not to laugh when Luffy face turned an even darker red.
"N- no," he stuttered, looking away.
"Hmm… are you sure about that?" Zoro asked and kissed him again. This time, Luffy let out a giggle. Zoro loved the sound of it. "I think I'll just keep doing it until you tell the truth," he said playfully, pecking Luffy's jawline with little kisses. Luffy purposely fell backwards out of Zoro's lap to get away from the kisses. He did like it, but he didn't want to risk laughing again. He hit the bed with a small "thump" and covered his face while he tried to make the blush go away.
"I think you did like it," Zoro said conversationally, though he was a little pink in the face as well.
"Did not," Luffy said, pouting.
"Oh well. Then I guess I won't do it ever again," Zoro replied. Luffy visibly frowned at this, causing Zoro to laugh. "You're still not a very good liar, Luffy." Luffy pouted again, his face finally back to the normal tan.
Zoro handed him his shirt, which Luffy forgot he wasn't wearing. He looked down in embarrassment and put the shirt on as fast as he could. "Luffy, you don't need to be embarrassed around me like this. I don't mind your scars at all. If I thought they were ugly or disgusting, would I have done what I did when you fell asleep? I continued to do that for a long time. Please don't be embarrassed about this stuff around me," Zoro told him with a gentle look in his eyes. "Like I said, whether it's a missing eye or a bunch of scars, I will never not love any part of you or your body."
"...Thank you," Luffy mumbled, trying not to cry. But after hearing his dad being proud that Luffy's scars would never fade, he had started to hate them even more. They caused his torturer to be amused and even happy. I see all your scars haven't faded. They never will.
And now his eye will never be back and he'd forever be blind in one eye. Why did they let him out of jail? Everyone in the house wished that the jailers were feeling guilty about releasing that monster into the world outside of his prison.
Zoro saw Luffy's eye look distant for a moment. "What are you thinking about?" Zoro asked softly. He didn't sound demanding or accusatory, just concerned and curious.
"I don't like my scars even more now than before," Luffy replied quietly and didn't wait for Zoro to ask him to continue. "He bragged about them never fading. He just laughed about it… I get it why he laughed, and that most people would be horrified, but it still hurt." Zoro moved and sat next to him and rubbed his back. Then he spoke, saying something that surprised Luffy.
"I think your scars are amazing. I wish they weren't there in the first place, but they prove you survived through all of that. Just the fact that you can walk around with them shows you're alive despite the pain you endured that left the marks," Zoro finished, pulling Luffy's side and head to rest on Zoro's shoulder. Luffy gave a small smile. How did Zoro always know what to say and when to say it?
I hope the dash of fluff was nice. And I hope I made Zoro and Luffy's backstories interesting. Thanks for reading! Still a lot of chapters to go!
Chapter 9: Passing Time
The week passed slowly to everyone. They were all nervous almost the whole time, though just a tiny bit less with everyday that passed uneventfully. But still, Luffy had nightmares. It was usually about the recent incident, involving sometimes losing both eyes, or having both his arms snapped. Even a dream where his dad's knife was shoved so hard into his eye that it reached his brain and he died and woke up gasping uncontrollably. He didn't look forward to bedtime anymore, even though he was sleeping with Zoro.
Luffy knew something was wrong with Zoro, since he sometimes had slight circles under his eyes. Zoro had just told him he had trouble falling asleep, when it was that he couldn't fall back to sleep. He was having nightmares as well. They were all about Luffy dying in some awful way. In some dreams, Luffy's dad was there, watching from afar as Zoro found Luffy's dead body. The man was blurred since Zoro had never seen him in person, but he knew somehow it was Luffy's dad who did it and who watched it happen.
One of the dreams included Luffy hung by a noose against the side of the hospital building, with the words You are too late painted on the wall behind Zoro's favorite person in the world. He couldn't tell if the words were just red paint, or blood. That one was by far the worst dream he'd had. Mostly because of the words, the words he'd thought so many times when he looked to Luffy's eyepatch. He still blamed himself for not being there quick enough. He felt so guilty every time they were both in the bathroom brushing their teeth and Luffy purposely avoided looking at his own face. If Zoro had just gotten there faster… If he had protected Luffy like he said he would… then he wouldn't hate his own reflection. Not just hate, but fear it.
Zoro did keep his promise of not letting Luffy out of his sight, even bringing Luffy to the garage with him so he could exercise. He'd taken a long break during the time Luffy was in the hospital and it was a good stress reliever, like he was sweating out his inner turmoil. But it would take a lifetime of sweating to get even half of the turmoil away.
Luffy didn't mind being in there with Zoro, he just made sure something heavy was against the door to the side yard, even though this door had locks and bars as well. That had taken a few days to get used to, and everyone had noticed him looking at them guilitly.
Finally, one day Nami came up and told him they felt safer with them on for anything, not just the scary man, and that it wouldn't be for long. Luffy had automatically nodded and stopped showing that he was still upset about the whole thing.
Everyone had noticed Luffy had seemed to start distancing himself from the others besides Zoro and sometimes Robin. It hurt Nami's feelings, but she could tell something really bad happened when he was at the hospital, and assumed it was part of the reason he'd lost his eye. He still hadn't taken the eye patch off besides when he showered. Not even in front of Zoro, because though he still loved how Zoro reacted, when he saw it in the mirror, it scared Luffy. It just looked like something out of a nightmare to him. He just couldn't get used to it, so he avoided it altogether. And he tried to pretend it wasn't causing other problems.
The second time Luffy had broken something because of not being able to see half of his vision, everything was either glued down or put away so there wouldn't be any more messes to clean up. And not being able to use an arm was also causing problems. Luffy wasn't a very strong person physically. So it was hard to carry some things with only one arm. Even carrying a large plate after eating was difficult, not to mention showering. He still had over a month for his arm to heal, and over a month of using the scary eye and not a nice one. He was looking forward to that more than his arm getting better.
Luffy didn't talk much about how much psychological damage was being done by missing an eye. It was tanking his self-esteem even lower; everyone would think he was creepy if they saw it. He can't even walk around without breaking anything or tripping over tiny things. And he cant even be brave enough to face the mirror and god forbid when he has to clean it.
He was also feeling weak for having this happen in the first place. One of the worst feelings was inadequacy. He'd hit the ground first while his dad had to climb down after him. He should have gotten up sooner, ran away faster, fought back harder. But he'd failed at each of those and it cost him so much. Not just the eye, but he'd be avoiding all of these feelings altogether if he had just gotten away or been able to call for help. How useless he was.
Everyone had noticed how careful Luffy was being, despite inevitably running into things on his left. But he looked at the floor when he walked, making sure to not trip, he all but crawled up the stairs he went so slow and low, and making sure to pick up the right things for the right uses. He wasn't going to drink poison again. He kept all of the lights on in the house until he went to bed and just did everything as carefully as he could. He also knew his hospital bills had been very expensive and didn't want to go to the hospital and waste more money because he was clumsy. He also didn't want to scare Zoro anymore. He never wanted to see Zoro cry again. It had been heartbreaking.
The panic room exterior was finished, but the interior devices were still being installed a couple days later. The day it was officially done, Robin was taught and then taught the others how to use all the mechanisms in an emergency. Luffy couldn't keep up at all and just pretended to because he was embarrassed to ask her to slow down. Zoro looked to the side and saw Luffy's face was red and his eyebrows were pulled together. Then he started to bite his lip. All signs of embarrassment that he's trying to hide. Zoro leaned over and said, "I'll teach you again later," and then pretended like he said nothing and Luffy wasn't embarrassed.
After that, Luffy did his best to listen and not worry about not keeping up since Zoro said he'd teach him later. Luffy did better with one-on-one time. That's why he didn't like to be in big groups, which is the reason he doesn't like to be with everyone at the same time. Not only was it overwhelming to just have so many people, he felt ignored when he wasn't talked to. Though he knew it wasn't personal if someone was talking somebody else, he couldn't help the feeling of not being good enough to have focus on him. That's a reason why being alone with Zoro felt so good. It was also a small reason why he avoided people for so long. He didn't want to feel ignored, so he'd try and ignore them. It never really worked out, though.
When Luffy wasn't being scared or lamenting about his eye, he would just lay with Zoro and the two would try to nap during the day since they were both having nightmares at night. They didn't really talk about them because for Luffy, they were all the same, and for Zoro… well he didn't want to voice his dreams in case it scared Luffy. And he just didn't want to think about them too long. He just wanted to forget it as soon as possible, but it was hard to do when he was with Luffy 24/7. Not that he didn't want to be, but when he looked at him sometimes, he'd see Luffy like he was in Zoro's dreams: dead and mutilated in some way.
The dreams for both had gotten so bad that now both of them were taking Xanax. Luffy was now taking Xanax regularly with his nightly medications. Poor Luffy couldn't catch a break. He was either asleep having bad dreams, or awake having bad fantasies. In his mind, when he looked at everyone at the dinner table, he could picture them all dead, laying on top of each other like layers.
Zoro had been taking the pills in secret, too prideful to ask for help or tell anyone.
Luffy had even thrown up after one of the dreams, but Zoro said nothing of it and when Luffy came crying back to bed about whatever he had dreamt, Zoro kept his eyes closed and just pulled Luffy to his chest. Zoro knew Luffy wouldn't want him to see him so "weak and pathetic", as the small teen put it.
One day, Luffy asked Zoro a question that had been bothering him.
"Do you think the others want me to leave so they can be safe? I know they know the 'bad guy' is after me. And I know they are scared. Do you think they blame me?" Luffy asked as he sat in Zoro's lap in their bedroom.
"I don't know how they think really. I do know they're nervous sometimes, but I think that, after a couple days of everything being calm, they aren't taking the situation as seriously as they had when they heard about your eye. If they did blame you in the first place, it wasn't personal. But I don't think they'd want you to leave or any bullshit like that. Besides, Robin has them convinced that even if something did happen, we have enough added protection here to be alright," Zoro said, then realized his poor wording. "It's true, that's why she was able to convince everyone," he added. Luckily Luffy didn't really catch his not-so-good wording. Luffy just nodded.
"I hope so," Luffy replied softly. Then he changed the subject. "Can we watch a movie? It's been a while," he asked. Zoro nodded and, keeping Luffy on his lap, reached for the TV remote.
By the beginning of the next week, even Luffy was starting to relax a bit. He was fine until he saw the bars on the windows, which was when he would hear his dad again in his head. I might come back, but you will never know until it's too late…
Despite thinking about it less whenever he made sure not to glance at the windows, when he did think about it, he started to get flashbacks. He blamed his nightmares, though there was no proof to support that theory.
He was angry they just showed up out of nowhere after months of none of them happening. He was so sick of feeling like this. So not only was he having constant nightmares, he was also having PTSD flashbacks. It was all the same. Every single one was the whole scene at the hospital played over. He snapped out of it when he was sedated, which was the last thing he remembered before he woke up with his eye gone and a broken arm.
Some of the flashbacks had pain accompanied with them, though Luffy couldn't tell if it was accurate since he hadn't felt any of it for real. Zoro had always been with him during his flashbacks since he really didn't like being in separate rooms at the moment.
Robin had taught Zoro how to handle Luffy's flashbacks and had only messed up once by accidentally taking his hand. He'd felt immense guilt when Luffy started to scream and hold his eye. Then Robin had to help calm him down. Luffy was humiliated with the scene after he came back to his senses. He knew Zoro didn't judge him for them, but he wished he could do it how he used to.
Before he was here, he handled them himself and was fine. Now it seemed his mind had started to depend on others helping him, so couldn't just fix it himself anymore. He depended on too many people for too many things. He couldn't even get away properly. That's the thought he had quite a lot. That he should have been able to get away because he hit the ground first. He'd had the thought so many times it was getting irritating. Yes, he already knew he felt that was true. He didn't need it repeated over and over.
Luffy was on the bed with his shirt off, Zoro doing goosebumps on his stomach this time instead of his back. Luffy was drifting off to sleep under Zoro's gentle administrations. He still kept the eye patch on, when he slept and now even when he showered. He had wrapped scotch tape around the fabric of the part that hides the eye so it was waterproof.
While Luffy slept, Robin knocked on the door quietly. Zoro set a blanket over Luffy's chest and took his hand away and walked to the door to unlock it. Robin saw Luffy asleep peacefully, his shirt next to him. Robin's eyebrows drew together.
"Why is his shirt off?" she asked Zoro quietly, who didn't miss the accusatory note. He hadn't heard it in a while, but he could understand it in this situation.
"I'm able to get him to sleep when I brush my fingers on his back or stomach," Zoro replied just as softly. "Did you need something?" he then asked somewhat rudely when her eyes narrowed again.
"Luffy has an appointment with the eye doctor to see how things are going. Has he cleaned it yet?" she asked, ignoring Zoro's rude tone of voice.
"No, he only has to do it once or twice a month."
"Has he practiced taking it in and out?" But she got her answer when Zoro raised his eyebrows. It was obvious that Luffy hadn't attempted to do it. "Okay, well, when he wakes up, tell him he has an appointment tomorrow afternoon."
Zoro had just started to answer "okay" when his nightmare of Luffy driving somewhere and the car exploding with him inside, killing him, popped into his head. "Can I come too?" he asked suddenly. Robin answered yes, and Zoro nodded, closing the door in front of her and going back to Luffy, who seemed to still be sleeping quietly. Even after all the scary things that had happened recently, he still looked cute when he slept. So content and relaxed. Zoro wished he was like this when he was awake. He took the blanket off of Luffy and resumed running his fingers over his chest.
Luffy was actually awake for some of the goosebumps (which was what he called it when he asked Zoro for him to do it). He heard the door open and Zoro whispering to Robin. Then Luffy heard Zoro ask to come with him desperately. Luffy had just assumed he'd come anyways, since he promised to not let him out of his sight, and Luffy was a bit scared to leave the house. But the police were still watching the house, so he assumed they'd take him in a police car or something. He felt so bad about taking up their precious time. Maybe they felt bad for him or something, so they were giving him extra protection. Though they couldn't do a thing to help Luffy in his greatest time of need, he didn't blame them. But police officers are meant to uphold laws and protect citizens, right? So they must feel bad that Luffy had lost an entire eye and had psychological damage inflicted on him on their watch.
Zoro came back after the door shut and resumed the goosebumps, putting Luffy back to sleep.
The next day came, and both Luffy and Zoro were exhausted. Neither could sleep well last night, but they didn't know it was for the same reason. They were both scared of leaving the house. Luffy for himself, and Zoro for Luffy. All of Zoro's nightmare scenarios had taken place in public somewhere. He couldn't really pinpoint locations since he absolutely hates going out in public, but he knew they took place at restaurants, grocery or convenience stores, and the worst were the alleyways, where most of the time Luffy's dead body was with a pile of garbage bags. He had these nightmares every night, sometimes waking up from one to fall into another. He didn't know what to do since he never told anyone about the problem. But Luffy knew something was wrong, since sometimes he woke up to Zoro having tear tracks on his face, asleep or not. Not to mention waking up tightly in the old teen's arms, in a position Luffy knew he hadn't fallen asleep in.
Luffy was correct in assuming a police escort would be accompanying them. Luffy sat in the back of the cruiser, listening to the two cops in the front talk about the new police dog that wasn't doing too well because it was too nice for its own good. Luffy gave a small smile. He'd take that dog. Then it could be fun and sweet and, with police training, could protect him. But he was too nervous to say anything, plus these were complete strangers.
When they arrived at the hospital, Luffy was walked to the smaller lobby on the side of the massive building but a tall officer next to him. The guy didn't say anything, but Luffy recognized him from when he had been sedated by the nurses who found him. If he saw any of them, he could probably recognize them, even though he'd seen them for only a second. Luffy wondered if this officer pitied him. Everyone who found him probably pitied him. Luffy didn't like that.
Luffy had nothing but terrible experiences in this place. His old injuries and what had happened over two weeks ago. It felt like so long ago. But his prosthetic eye felt new to him every time he woke up. He wondered if he would get in trouble for keeping it covered all the time.
He sat down on a chair to wait the few seconds for Zoro and Robin to come in. Luffy was really scared, but was trying his best not to show. He thought he was doing a pretty good job, but, like always, Luffy was easy to read. But neither Zoro nor Robin said anything about it. Zoro did grab Luffy's right hand, since his other was in it's cast, resting in a sling. Luffy was self conscious about his eyepatch, but his hair wasn't long enough to cover it, so he just looked at the floor, not wanting to see if others were staring at him. What if they laughed? He bit his bottom lip, trying not to cry, his face beet red. He just felt so embarrassed.
They walked to the receptionist and Robin told him that they were here for an appointment for Luffy. Luffy didn't hear Robin tell him that they were here for him using Robin's last name because he was so flustered with all these people around him. Robin was told they should go have a seat, so they sat in the furthest corner, where Luffy had headed for instinctually.
"Luffy," Robin said quietly, "I don't want to scare you, but don't eat or drink anything given to you unless I say it's alright, okay?" She gave him a reassuring smile after her words, knowing it must have scared him even a little, but he nodded. Zoro nodded, too.
"Don't worry, we're here with you and there are some police here too. I know you haven't noticed them, since you won't look up, but over there," Zoro said, pointing to the double doors and to the outside, where an officer was sitting next to the entrance. "And over there," he said and now pointed down the hall, where another officer was talking to a doctor or nurse, also eating a bagel. "So we'll be fine," Zoro finished. Luffy nodded his head, but still wouldn't look up. He tapped Zoro's arm and he leaned down and listened as Luffy whispered to him.
"No, no one is staring at you," Zoro told him. Luffy finally looked up and around. Nobody was watching him. He sighed out. Maybe having an eyepatch isn't that big of a deal… there was a lady with no arm over there. So he was okay. Luffy would be fine. As long as he didn't look out the windows, or go anywhere by himself, or eat or drink anything he wasn't allowed to.
Robin would never let Luffy know, but she was deeply concerned about the fact Luffy couldn't remember the face of his biological mother. She was likely to be an accomplice. After all, after his father attacked Luffy, he'd gotten away somehow, meaning that he had a getaway vehicle. Robin couldn't think of anyone helping him so soon after getting out of prison. So she was nervous and wary of any woman near Luffy. She looked at them, seeming to dare one of them to look at her son. Her son. He was Robin's, not that other abusive woman who wouldn't stand up for her own child. Robin didn't know about Luffy's mother not wanting him from the start, so she just assumed that the woman had been a mother to Luffy before, and was just corrupted by her husband. It had happened before.
Robin didn't know Luffy felt the same way. It was scaring him as well that he didn't remember what his biological mom looked like. She could be anywhere. She could be that armless lady across the room, or the woman who just walked in. Even if Luffy did suddenly remember her appearance and was able to draw her, she could have changed drastically, like his dad had. His dad had new scars and burns, different hair, weight and height. She could be anyone, anywhere. He hated this. And wanted to go home now.
All three were silent for the next half hour before Luffy's name was called, and the three got up and walked to the woman who called them. The walk down the hall was relatively short, since this part of the hospital was tiny compared to the rest. Luffy wondered, in such a big building, how everyone had gotten to him so fast after the attack. It had felt long, but in reality, the whole thing went by very quickly.
The three entered a room and all sat down, Luffy on the bed and the other two on two chairs in the corner, and they waited another ten minutes or so. Luffy was getting impatient. Why couldn't they just be on time? He wanted to go home now.
When the nice lady from a couple weeks ago came in, Luffy made no reaction, but Robin smiled to her and greeted her politely. For the next half hour, the three talked, besides Luffy, who wrote. Zoro was with him all the time, so he had observed some things, and when Luffy didn't want to answer a question deemed embarrassing, Zoro would say it for him, sparing him having to write it even though it was necessary information.
When Luffy was asked if he had practiced removing the thing, he shook his head no. The doctor tried not to frown. "Do you want me to walk through it with you again?" she asked kindly. Luffy honestly didn't know how to do it anymore, so he grudgingly nodded. He walked away to a nice bathroom for patients that need sanitary space and was walked through it again. He was thankful the woman wasn't acting disgusted like he felt she should be. He did his best not to cry during the whole thing because, not only would it be embarrassing, it might be difficult and interfere in some way. He didn't want either to happen.
When the two got back to the room with Zoro and Robin, Luffy picked up his whiteboard and asked the doctor, Can I just come to you when it needs to be cleaned? He really didn't want to have to do it himself, by himself with no help. But he couldn't ask anyone else to help him or he'd die in embarrassment. The doctor smiled kindly at him.
"I think it would be best if you learned how to do it yourself, but maybe the next time, I can walk you through it again. I know it must seem gross to you, but having the eye become infected would be much worse."
Luffy turned red in shame that he had asked something that had been denied. If someone says no to something, then you shouldn't have asked in the first place. But he was scared to do it on his own! What if he messes up? What if someone has to come help him and is scarred for life? He hated this! He missed his real eye. He had taken for granted how great seeing from both eyes had been. Luffy was sick of bumping into things and needing Zoro be be a crutch on his left side to keep him steady or not fall down the stupid stairs. He was sick of being injured and being a pain to others. He was so tired of this place. He never wanted to come to the hospital again.
Ever since he'd been living with Robin and Zoro, he had injured himself in big ways. At the other places, he'd injure himself in minor ways, like cuts and stubbed toes or a jammed finger. But since he moved to his home now, he'd fallen down stairs, sprained his ankle, cracked his skull, drank poison, had cut himself, and then the whole thing with his throat. Not to mention losing a damn eye. It was like, since he knew he'd be taken care of, his body was just clumsier because, even if he did get hurt, he'd be cared for. He was just taking their kindness for advantage! He was so useless and a bother.
Zoro was watching Luffy's emotions play out on his face. He was obviously not thinking good thoughts, and Zoro wanted to help in some way, but he didn't want the doctor to notice that Luffy wasn't feeling well because he would be humiliated if he was asked what was wrong by a stranger. Luffy already hated it enough when he was asked by family members. His real family, not his old joke of a family.
Zoro said nothing but took Luffy's hand and rubbed circles across the back of his hand with his thumb. It started Luffy a bit because Zoro was on his left, but when he turned his head to see, he gave a flat smile. Like it was saying, "Thanks but it's not helping".
Zoro frowned when Luffy turned his head back to the front, leaving him out of view. Zoro didn't take this personally of course. Luffy was obviously not feeling so great. But Zoro didn't let go of his hand.
As Luffy watched the two adults talk, he wasn't really hearing anything. He didn't know if the others hadn't had another choice or just didn't notice that Luffy could see the expanse of grass he knew the incident took place at. He did his best not to look out of the window, but every time he did, he pictured what he must have looked like, screaming and crying under his dad. Did anyone see it from this building? Did other patients see if from their windows? He was still embarrassed the whole thing had happened. He looked to Zoro to see him looking out of the window with a frown as well. Luffy looked down at his fingers again. He wanted to go home, but he also wanted to go far, far away, not telling anyone so they couldn't follow him and risk getting hurt by his dad. But he wasn't brave enough and didn't want to enough to actually do it. Plus he didn't want to break Zoro's heart, or his own for that matter. So he tried his best to push that thought out of his mind at the moment, accepting the fact that it would come back sometime later, most likely when it is quiet around him.
Luffy asked for some water, forgetting he was supposed to not drink or eat anything from the hospital. The doctor left to get a cup of water, and when Luffy almost drank it, Zoro quickly stopped him and reminded him of what Robin had said. Luffy put the cup back down and Zoro asked for his mom to go get a bottle of water. Luffy turned red. How could he forget something like that? Stupid.
The three left the hospital, walking to the police guard that was waiting outside. They were in the separate cars driving home before the alarm went off in the hospital. Someone had suddenly dropped to the floor and began to seize, before becoming still, water spilled next to her.
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Chapter 10: Looking Up For Now
looks like italics aren't working on this chapter. Sorry about that.
"Luffy, I have some good news," Robin said as she walked into the two's room. It was the fifth week after Luffy had gotten his fake eye, still keeping the patch on all the time. She was glad missing an eye was no longer affecting him how it had in the beginning. Luffy was now able to walk without bumping into things all the time. He still did occasionally, but he didn't need Zoro's help anymore.
What is it? he wrote.
"Your new eye is done," she said with a smile. Luffy beamed. Why so soon? he asked.
"Since the injury happened at the hospital, I sort of blackmailed them into hurrying up or I'd sue them," she replied nonchalantly. Luffy smiled. "So they put you in front of others on the waitlist. The color should be identical to your iris, since they had multiple pictures to reference. We can go get it tomorrow if you'd like," Robin said. Luffy nodded vigorously. He turned to Zoro, who was on the bed next to him, with a grin.
"It won't look creepy any more, right?" Zoro asked him, smiling at the unrestrained happiness radiating off of Luffy. Luffy nodded quickly again. Robin left the room, still smiling. She was glad she got to see that reaction. Usually smiles like that were only for Zoro. Luffy was extremely happy for the rest of the day.
The next day, Luffy was laying on a bed, sedated as his new transplant was put in place. He hadn't denied the sedative this time, which the surgeon was happy with. It wasn't Law, and the woman had been warned ahead of time of Luffy's behavior. But Luffy wanted it as soon as possible, so he cooperated amazingly.
Robin had brought everyone along this time, thinking if Luffy had multiple positive reactions, he'd be even happier. Zoro sat next to his mom on a couch in the waiting area, the others all watching the TV. Zoro was also excited for Luffy's new eye, because then Luffy wouldn't hate his face anymore, and Zoro missed seeing Luffy with two beautiful eyes. So he waited patiently and quietly, not talking to Robin.
A while later, Luffy stood in front of the others with his eye closed. He was nervous, though he'd seen how it looked before hand, and how it moved along with his real eye. He was so happy he had started to cry, which he was told to try not to do by the doctor. He was so happy he didn't even blush in shame of being told not to do something.
He slowly opened his eyelids and looked at everyone. Each one of them smiled, and Zoro gave a true grin, something he didn't do much. Luffy looked at each one of them, studying their expressions.
"It looks so real!" Nojiko exclaimed. Luffy looked to her, both eyes moving at the same time.
"It's gonna be hard to remember you can't see out of one of them," Sanji said, sounding a bit bored. "Maybe you should tape something to your sleeve saying you're blind in one eye. Until we get used to it."
"I'm glad you'll finally not be wearing that eye patch anymore," Usopp said. "Looks too much like a character from this anime I'm watching," he added.
"Robin told you you weren't supposed to watch that one any more," Nami whispered to him, but Robin didn't notice or didn't care at the moment.
"Do you like it?" Robin asked. Luffy nodded to her. Finally, Luffy looked to Zoro. He was still grinning and walked over to him, not caring that he was in public in front of the rest of his family as he kissed Luffy. Everyone looked away except Nami who giggled. Usopp turned a vibrant red and Sanji sighed as he looked at the wall across from him. He'd never get used to that. Nojiko just turned away because the others had.
Luffy's face was bright red, looking at everyone in the room who had either looked away, or stared. Apparently the staff and patients weren't expecting that. But Zoro didn't care.
"I hope you're not going to hate your face anymore," Zoro said softly. Luffy smiled and shook his head. He knew that everyone would be forgetting his left eye is blind because the new one looked so realistic. And now that it looked the same, he couldn't feel it as being weird. He assumed it had been a psychological thing, since his doctor told him it shouldn't have felt any different, even the old fake eye.
When they all left, everyone was happy to see Luffy with a real unrestrained smile. They hadn't seen that in a while. Zoro held his hand and Luffy swung it. Something he hadn't done in a long time. He was so glad Luffy was like this. Luffy looked like a different person than he had been just a few hours ago. Zoro hoped this would last for some time. The longer the better, because Luffy deserved to feel like this after what happened. Maybe his nightmares will stop when he feels like this. And maybe Zoro seeing Luffy so happy will stop his constant nightmares as well. He still hadn't told anyone or tried to get help. He had too much pride. He needed to be strong for Luffy, although it was selfish towards himself. But he knew Luffy would be upset and concerned if he knew that he was the subject in all of Zoro's nightmares. He might feel guilty and ashamed, and Zoro hated when Luffy felt ashamed.
During the drive home, Luffy didn't interact with any of them, but had a content smile on his face as he looked out of the window. He listened to everyone chatting, except Zoro, who was watching Luffy. Zoro took Luffy's hand and squeezed it, but said nothing. Luffy smiled just a little wider, causing Zoro to smile slightly.
The police cruiser wasn't far behind them, and Luffy was thankful he could ride with everyone instead in the back of the cop car, feeling like he'd done something wrong, being behind the mettle mesh separating the front and the back of the vehicle.
Dinner that night was the best they'd had in a while. Luffy ate with all of them, without the eye patch, and though he didn't contribute to any conversations, they could tell he was happy to be at the table with them. None of the kids had realized just how insecure Luffy had been about his missing eye.
Throughout dinner, everyone noticed how Zoro kept sneaking glances at Luffy, glad to see how content Luffy looked. He looked like a completely different person than he had been for the last couple weeks. They all hoped this feeling lasted for Luffy. They didn't want to see him miserable anymore. They had seen enough of that when luffy first came. That felt like so long ago, when really, it'd only been a few months.
After dinner, Luffy and Zoro went to their room, Luffy immediately heading to the bathroom to look at his reflection. He just smiled as he looked at his new eye. It really looked like his old one. It felt strange to look so normal, but still only able to see out of one eye. He had accepted the fact he was blind, though he didn't like it, because there was nothing he could do about it. And Zoro was right. Luffy didn't want to give his dad the satisfaction of having this whole thing ruin him.
Zoro came up from behind him and Luffy watched as he wrapped his arms around luffy's waist and put his jaw on top of his head. "Do you like it?" Zoro asked with a smile. Luffy returned the smile.
"Yeah…" he replied.
"I was getting tired of the eye patch. I missed seeing all of your face. Your beautiful face," Zoro said, causing Luffy to blush and bite his lip, trying to suppress a grin.
"C- can you do the kisses?" Luffy asked, his face red. He still got flustered about asking this, since Zoro always looked amused and wore a smirk. Like he was in on something Luffy wasn't.
"Sure," Zoro replied. He liked doing the kisses because of Luffy's reaction. He always closes his eyes, smiles and sighs happily. And it was hot to Zoro, though he had no problem with Luffy not seeing it in the same way Zoro did. He was just glad Luffy didn't think it was bad or uncomfortable. He remembered all too well when he had first done them and Luffy had been very uncomfortable. That had been bad.
They walked to the bed and Luffy sat down in Zoro's lap, this facing away, surprising Zoro. "I thought you wanted the kisses," he said.
"Well… I was thinking we could try it the other way… is that okay?" Luffy asked nervously. Zoro smiled behind him. Luffy usually never changed things. He hated change and liked to stick to things he was used to. Zoro was happy Luffy was willing to try something different. And he brought it up himself too!
"Yeah that's cool," Zoro said, then leaning down and kissing Luffy's neck and back from behind. He was a bit bummed he couldn't watch Luffy's face while he did it. But he heard the tell tale sigh and smiled around the kisses.
This went on for a few minutes before Zoro got a bit carried away, something he could control most of the time. His tongue came out and he slowly licked up Luffy's spine. Luffy wasn't expecting this and jumped out of Zoro's lap.
"No!" he said, turning around with a grumpy face.
"I- I'm sorry. I got carried away, I won't do it -" Zoro rushed, panicking. Crap, had he seriously fucked up?
"That tickled! No licking," Luffy said, shocking Zoro. he wasn't expecting that to be the reason Luffy freaked out. Zoro's heartbeat finally slowed and he sighed in relief.
"Okay, I won't do it again," Zoro said, smiling in relief. Phew. He didn't scare Luffy away. "Sorry. Did it make you uncomfortable?" he asked, curious to how Luffy thought it felt beside tickling.
"No, but I just don't want to laugh," Luffy explained simply. "Can we play video games? I think my arm is good enough to play," he said.
"You only just got your cast off, so you shouldn't push it. And how would you know your arm is fine if you can't feel if it hurts or not? We can watch a movie though," Zoro told him. Luffy briefly pouted, but agreed to watch a movie. This time it was Zoro's turn to pick out a movie. "Do you want a movie marathon? I think you'll like the series I'll pick."
"Okay, what is it?" Luffy asked, somewhat excited.
"Well, you haven't seen the Harry Potter movies yet, right?" Zoro asked, smiling when Luffy's face lit up and he happily agreed to watch them. Zoro couldn't get over the complete 180 that Luffy had done. All because of his new prosthetic. Zoro wished that this had happened earlier. It had been hard to see Luffy digress into how he used to be.
The two stayed up all night and then put the movies on the moment they woke up the next day.
Luffy had a great day, even staying in the living room with the others for a while. Lately, he'd been staying in the bedroom all day, sometimes completely skipping meals. True to their words, a few of the kids kept forgetting he was blind in one eye. Usopp tried handing him something on his left side, getting irritated when Luffy made no move to take it. Nami reminded him that Luffy couldn't see out of that eye, which crushed Usopp's irritation immediately. Luffy hadn't even known that happened when Usopp gave him the thing from his other side.
Nojiko was worse. She became upset when Luffy paid no attention to her when she was trying to show him a drawing she made. She also got upset again that Luffy wouldn't take a drink she was offering him. Everyone was trying to include him in things today. They had a feeling he'd been feeling lonely recently. They didn't know how spot on they were. Luffy had been feeling very isolated, which he was doing to himself. It was like when he first came here, and he just stayed in Robin's closet all day when he actually wanted people to pay some attention to him. Back then, he had only been getting negative attention, like when he cut himself at dinner one night and didn't notice it. Or when he'd just sit somewhere and stare at nothing for hours. He knew that everyone had looked at him strangely, which was why he had never made eye contact.
So Nojiko was reminded multiple times by Robin to not try and get Luffy's attention from the left. Luffy heard Robin remind someone that he couldn't see and it embarrassed him. He couldn't help that he was blind in that eye, but it made him feel guilty. He blushed in embarrassment, but tried to hide his expression. Zoro noticed next to Luffy and wrapped his arm around Luffy's shoulders, who automatically leaned his head onto Zoro's shoulder. Nami giggled, causing Zoro to glare at her. But she smirked in response. They were just too cute.
Not long after Luffy leaned against Zoro, he was getting exhausted being around everybody. Luffy leaned closer to Zoro, his brows furrowed and biting his lip. Too much time around too many people. Zoro noticed his body language and expressions and knew Luffy was getting overwhelmed.
"We're gonna go back to our room for a while," Zoro said to everyone, making Luffy sigh in relief. He was glad Zoro knew him so well. At first he had hated that the green haired teen could read Luffy like a book, but now it was really convenient. The two walked up the stairs, Luffy still walking very slowly and carefully so he had no chance of falling.
The two sat on the bed, closing the door and locking it behind them. Luffy spoke as soon as he was in Zoro's lap. He looked a bit flustered, not really knowing how to bring the topic of what he wanted to say up without it being really sudden. Plus he felt it was a lot to ask, but he knew he'd feel better and safer if he did.
"What is it?" Zoro asked, noticing Luffy's obviously flustered expression.
"Remember when you suggested… self defense class a long time ago…? I… kinda want to," Luffy said. Zoro was shocked.
"Really?" he asked. "But you'd have to go out in public."
"I don't want to feel helpless ever again. I don't want to be too weak to fight back. And I don't want to lose another eye," Luffy said, with an uncharacteristically serious and intense voice. Zoro smiled proudly at his determined face. "Do you think Robin will be okay with that?" he asked, back to his quieter and more timid voice. Zoro kissed Luffy's cheek.
"I don't see why not," he replied. "I think she'll be very happy. I know she tries to act like she's not stressed, but to me it's obvious she doesn't think we're in the clear. So I know she will say yes. Do you want to go ask her now?" Zoro asked. Luffy shook his head. "Too many people down there?" Zoro guessed, receiving a nod from Luffy.
"Can we play video games?" Luffy asked, changing the subject to something less dark.
While the two played, it was obvious that Luffy was thinking about things other than the game. He was thinking about how, if he had done what Zoro suggested before Luffy got attacked, he might still have his left eye. If he had agreed to take self-defense right away, before he ended up in the hospital, would he have been able to fight back? Part of him wanted to say yes, but the other part, the one still trapped in his dark past, knew that he wouldn't have been able to overpower his dad because he was sick. If he had been taking classes, and hadn't been sick, he could have shouted out or he could have fought back in some way. What horrible timing that he had been sick and couldn't talk and therefore couldn't call for help. If only he had been stronger…
"You okay, Luffy?" Zoro asked when Luffy became so distracted by his thoughts his fingers completely stopped playing the game and he just sat there, staring off into space. "Luffy?" Zoro repeated.
Luffy was brought out of his pitiful thoughts going on in loops. "What?" he asked, looking at Zoro who looked concerned.
"Are you okay?" Zoro asked once again.
"Oh, yeah I was just thinking," he said, sounding a bit sad.
"Wanna talk about it?" Zoro asked. For once he really couldn't tell what Luffy was thinking about.
"I'm just wondering if I could have been able to fight back if I had done what you asked and started the class a long time ago. I - I know I act like I'm fine and all, but even having the new eye, I feel creepy and gross... I just feel wrong since that whole thing happened," Luffy confessed. "And my nightmares are still here. And those stupid flashbacks, too. I just… it's overwhelming sometimes. I feel like I'm always a ticking time bomb, and that I'll suddenly have a flashback and go crazy," he said sadly. "And I know they scare you. To see me like that," Luffy finished.
Zoro frowned at him sadly. "Yeah, the flashbacks and panic attacks scare me, but not as much as I know they scare you. I try my best to be there for you when they happen. I hope you know that. Someday I want you to be able to fight your demons off, with me by your side. Someday, you'll be free from your self-destructive thoughts. I know it," Zoro said and kissed Luffy's forehead. "I know you can do it. And there's no point for wondering what could have happened. Nothing can change the past." Zoro then hugged Luffy to his chest and then laid down for them to take nap, the game forgotten. Luffy had been feeling more exhausted during the day for a while. Especially today since he had to socialize what he considered a lot. They then both fell asleep, thankfully, for once, neither haunted by a nightmare.
Around an hour later, Nami knocked on the door and told them lunch was ready. Usually if the two were napping, everyone would let them sleep and have them eat afterwards. But Robin had made a huge lunch meal mostly because she had not made breakfast, having the others eat random things like cereal or yogurt.
Zoro woke up from the knock and gently moved Luffy to the side of him and walked over to open the door. "What?" Zoro asked, sounding a bit sleepy. He'd finally slept peacefully, and it was great.
"Robin made a big lunch. Luffy's favorite, so you should wake him up," she explained, looking fondly at Luffy sleeping deeply. He looked even younger than he already did when he slept. Maybe not younger in age, but in demeanor. It was hard to explain but he looked like a little kid with his face completely relaxed, which was rare. Nami smiled at him and walked away and down the stairs to the kitchen.
Zoro walked over to Luffy and said, "Luffy, lunch is ready," waking him up. "It's breakfast for lunch," was all Zoro needed to say to get Luffy jumping up and hurrying to the door without a word. Zoro chuckled. He still found it funny and endearing with how much Luffy loved breakfast food. Luffy had explained to him when Zoro asked why that his first real meal here he enjoyed was waffles. He then just happened to like the other breakfast food.
On his way down the stairs, Luffy was thinking of ways to ask Robin to let him take the self-defense classes. Like when he wanted to ask about buying his Kindle, he wanted a plan. But he couldn't ask Nami for help on this because he didn't want to involve her in the situation more than she already was. But he wanted to be brave enough to ask by himself this time. He just didn't know how.
He thought up different scenarios as he ate the meal enthusiastically. He had begun to eat at the edge of the corner of the table so he could see everyone with his right eye. He watched everyone talk and eat. They didn't seem so scared and werent looking suspiciously at the windows or doors. Luffy was happy that nobody was super scared anymore. He had felt guilty that is was Luffy's connection to the crazy man that exposed them all to danger. He ate slowly, and like always, ate nowhere near as much as Zoro did. Sometimes, to Luffy, Zoro's eating was a bit… weird. How could anyone eat so much and not get fat? When Luffy started eating healthy and bigger servings because he was told to by a doctor, he didn't gain weight very fast. He was only just now a more average size. His body proportions were still very small for his age, but now, when Zoro held him, Luffy's bones werent felt through his clothes.
Luffy had never been happy with his size until got together with Zoro. He liked that he was small enough to fit into Zoro's lap easily. He liked that Zoro could rest his chin on Luffy's head. He also liked being small enough to sleep on top of Zoro comfortably. He just liked being protected from the world by being small for Zoro.
Once lunch was over, everyone left the table and cleaned their dishes, and then they all went to do separate things. Only Luffy and Zoro stayed. Luffy was biting his lip, still not sure how to do this. He looked to Zoro, who had been watching, and was given an encouraging nod and smile. Luffy took a deep breath and walked over to Robin, holding his whiteboard in both hands.
"What is it, Luffy?" Robin asked nicely. She could tell from his body language that he was nervous. It was similar to how he acted when he asked for a Kindle so long ago.
Luffy uncapped his pen and wrote I was wondering if I could take a self-defense class. Robin was surprised. On habit, she looked to Zoro, who smirked at her. She assumed that meant it wasn't his idea. When Robin didn't respond right away, Luffy wrote again.
I don't want to feel helpless anymore. He was starting to look desperate, like Robin's silence was a bad sign. But then Robin smiled at him and told him "Of course you can take a self-defense class. But we have to find you a good one that can do one-on-one. You don't want to be in a big group, do you?" Luffy shook his head no. He surprised both Robin and Zoro by writing I want to do this by myself.
He wanted to learn by himself. Sure it would be easier for him to relax if Zoro was in the room, but he had to get used to if Zoro wasn't. The fact was that Zoro couldn't help him at the hospital because Luffy was all alone. Luffy didn't resent or hold a grudge with Zoro's absence, but it made him realize that no matter how much Zoro was with him, there was always the possibility of somehow being alone. He had to deal and acknowledge that possibility as a fact. Anything could happen.
Though everyone were basically feeling safe at the moment, since many weeks had past, something could still happen. When they least expect it. At least that was how it went when Luffy was in the hospital. He and Zoro had both not noticed a man snuck into the room. And now that Luffy couldn't see through one of his eyes, it had become more real that Luffy needed to be able to fend for himself, especially with that handicap.
I have to do this by myself Luffy wrote with a determined face, trying to get his point across nonverbally. Robin grew serious with Luffy's expression. "Alright," she said. "I'll look for some nearby trainers, and we will go meet them beforehand. That means you will have to go out in public, Luffy. And meet strangers. Are you prepared for that?" Robin asked.
On instinct, Luffy began to back out. He didn't want to go out in public. But the cowarace lasted all of two seconds before he convinced himself, forcefully, that it was unavoidable to meet new people. So he nodded, swallowing loudly. He couldn't see Zoro frowning behind him.
Robin told him she'd go online that day and search around. She was very impressed by his determination, and a bit confused as to why Zoro wasn't. It was very apparent on his face that he wasn't happy about something. But she let the two be and didn't say anything about it as the two walked to their room.
Luffy knew Zoro, and right now he could tell something was wrong. So the moment Zoro closed and locked the bedroom door behind him, Luffy asked, "Are you mad?" He really hoped he didn't upset Zoro, but he just knew he had to do this himself.
Zoro sat down next to him, Luffy automatically scooching over to his lap, laying his head down in the fold between Zoro's legs and looking up at him. Zoro looked down at him and gave a smile. "No, I'm not mad. Just a little confused. I don't want to sound needy or conceited, but why don't you want me there with you?"
Luffy was silent for a moment. He didn't want to hurt Zoro's feelings because Luffy knew how guilty Zoro felt about not being there for Luffy in his time of need.
"You're not gonna always be around. I want to know how to do it if I'm all alone again," Luffy said simply. Zoro inwardly flinched at the word again. "wouldn't you like to know i can help myself even if I'm all alone?" Luffy asked softly. Zoro got his point.
"Yeah, I'd rather you be able to save yourself if you have to. But if you're with me, I'll save you from any harm. I know… since last time we might get separated, but if you're with me, I'll do everything I can to save you or get you away. Okay?" he asked, his fingertips tracing Luffy's face. He almost giggled so he pushed Zoro's fingers away.
"Okay. I'll save you too," Luffy promised.
Robin spent a few hours on the computer and phone, looking for suitable defense classes with someone who has a good reputation. Luffy needed specific traits in a person. They have to be patient, understanding, empathetic, and to know when to stop. Robin knew all of the signs Luffy was feeling embarrassed. It was obvious to her and Zoro. the red face, furrowed brows, and biting lip were the giveaways.
She called places again and again. She also wanted someone who wouldn't meet once a week. She wanted a place with at least twice a week sessions, if not more. She knew Luffy would want to learn quickly, because there was a phantom time limit of his safety. Robin would never say it, but she was still uneasy about the whole situation. It had been over a month and nothing had happened, but his biological parents still hadn't been caught and could be anywhere.
Chapter 11: Reighley
Sorry, this chapter is pretty short. Luffy you can do it! Enjoy~
"I'm bringing the kids with us while we go visit different places," Robin told luffy as he sat on the couch, shaking slightly. Robin had found many places just yesterday. Luffy hadn't been in public for a few months, and that had been scary. And he was embarrassed now that everyone would be able to see him shaking in fear. Zoro walked down the stairs, dressed with his hair still a bit wet from taking a shower. He could see Luffy's slight tremors from behind the couch.
"No one is gonna make fun of you or say anything because you don't like going out in public. You should know by now that no one here judges you for anything, right?" the green hair teen said. Luffy nodded in response. But he was still embarrassed. And he would hold Zoro's hand this time, unlike last time when he held Robin's. Like a small child. It had been embarrassing but necessary at the time.
The other four kids soon came down the stairs, talking. They rarely went anywhere because the whole house seemed to be hermits. No one liked going other places. But definitely not as badly as Luffy did.
Robin adjusted the security system beside the front door and locked it behind her. Nami was the one sitting in the front of the van since Zoro wanted to sit next to Luffy, on his right side of course. Luffy was thankful he didn't have to ask Zoro in front of everyone. He did his best to not shake in the car on their way.
The first place they were going to try was relatively close. The others were a bit away from their neighborhood. The building looked nice enough. It looked very professional and official. It intimidated Luffy already.
The group left the car and walked into the building, seeing a class was already going on. There were many people, so Luffy did his best to hide behind Zoro, only being seen by the right side of his face so he could watch. He noticed some people coming up behind them and walked past the big group. When a girl looked at Luffy which she passed, he turned red. She looked like he was weird. She obviously wasn't used to seeing someone so tiny. That's what Luffy thought. He wished he was wearing a jacket, but then his attention was brought back to the class they could see.
The man teaching the class was an older man with gray hair and sideburns. He was very buff for his age and had a smile Luffy couldn't help but be afraid of. It didn't look like a friendly smile. Then Luffy heard his booming voice. He immediately got Robin's attention and shook his head quickly. He didn't like this guy. He was scary.
Robin wasn't in the least surprised that Luffy wanted to leave. Even if Luffy hadn't said anything, Robin would not let him learn from this man. She smiled down at him and they all walked out back to the car to go to the next place on the long list. Luffy knew that he'd be out in public for a while that day. But it was necessary.
The family checked out three other places. Each instructor was bad in their own way. Luffy was starting lose hope. One sounded bored with everything, then, in a monotone voice, ridiculed one of the students. Then there was one who fell asleep with a sleep mask on and everyone was practicing themselves. Then there was a man he saw that he wouldn't go into the building after seeing him through the window. He looked terrifying, and scared Luffy so bad he almost ran back to the car without making any indication that this man was a no-go. Again, people entering the buildings looked at him. He was starting to think something was on his face, but Zoro told him there wasn't when he asked. Luffy felt awful.
So they drove to one at the edge of the city. It was an older looking place that didn't have many cars in front and a chinese restaurant was across the parking lot. For some reason, Luffy liked this building more than the others. It wasn't intimidating at all. Luffy and Zoro walked in the front of the group, who were all very bored.
They opened the building's doors and walked in to the small waiting room. There werent any staff here to greet them and the room had random pictures on the walls. Some were just rainbow bubbles and others were strange forests or pictures of the ocean. Very random.
They walked up to the desk, which had a sign saying In class with a student, will be back soon. Luffy smiled. This meant that private classes were somewhere where other people couldn't watch. Zoro saw Luffy's smile. Truthfully, Zoro thought this place looked boring. The other places had looked expensive, with good equipment. This place was kind of run down looking. Luffy sat down on one of the comfy chairs. He really liked this place already. It felt… cozy. The other places were too big and intimidating. Plus classes were held in front of windows, where anyone could look in.
The others were thinking like Zoro. That this building looked old and boring. But they sat down after Luffy, Zoro and Robin on either side of him.
Luffy didn't know why he liked this place so much already. He liked it even before he opened the doors. It was a bit unprofessional looking, but it somehow looked like it had personality. The others had all looked the same. He waiting patiently for the half hour wait that was on the sign on the front desk.
Finally, a young man maybe in his early twenties came out the door leading to a hall. He laughed as he walked out with an older man with long white hair and beard. He wore round glasses and looked like he had smile crinkles on the sides of his eyes.
The young man left the room, nodding to the group of children, as he called a goodbye to the man.
Instantly, Luffy liked him. There was something about him that radiated kindness and humor in some way. He was a bit surprised to see so many children.
"Hello. I don't usually have many children here. Sorry there's not much to be interested in here. My ability to make the place look interesting isn't too sharp. My name is Reighley. How can I help you?"
Surprising everyone, Luffy "spoke" first. I want to take self defense classes he wrote simply. For once he wasn't uncomfortable around a stranger. Zoro and Robin looked at Luffy in surprise.
"I see. Let me tell you now I won't go easy on you!" the man said and laughed. Luffy gave a small smile. He nodded. "What kind of things do you want to learn?" he asked. Luffy didn't want the others to see, so he faced away from them.
How to get away from someone, disarm them, fight back, not let my missing eye be a handicap and keep myself safe. Reighley said nothing about and saw nothing strange with the fact that Luffy was talking to him over a whiteboard.
"Well, that's what any basic self-defense class teaches," he replied. "How often are you looking to have sessions?"
Two or three times a week.
"You sound dedicated. You will be sore at the beginning if you have so many classes back to back. Are you prepared for that?" Luffy nodded. "How did you find this place? Usually people go for the more professional looking buildings, not that I'm complaining. I'd be out of business if I didn't have strange ones coming here," Reighley joked.
The other instructors were scary.
"I can see that. They sure are loud, too. I don't really like when private classes are shown through the windows myself. Private goes hand in hand with privacy." Luffy nodded.
While he conversed with the man he just met, the others were looking at him like he was an imposter. Luffy never acted like this other than with Zoro. He seemed even more comfortable conversing with this man than he did with Robin a lot of the time.
Luffy liked that Reighley hadn't asked any questions. Did he have mute, half blind people often? It clicked with Robin suddenly why this man was being so nice and not intrusive with Luffy. She could see more disabled or timid students coming here, based on what the family had seen of the other teachers.
"When would you like to start? What is your name?" the older man asked.
Soon. I'm Luffy.
"Hello Luffy. Well, I have openings on Tuesdays and Fridays from eleven to two. I'm pretty expensive though. Forty dollars each month. Though that's nothing compared to Garp's place is it? A hundred dollars for four classes? Self-defense should be available to anyone if you ask me," he told them.
Now Robin and Zoro were starting to like this guy as well.
"We can start next Tuesday. It gives you four days to try and get ready," Reighley reasoned. Luffy nodded and looked behind to Robin for permission. She smiled at him and nodded. Luffy gave a small smile.
"Then it's set. I will see you in four days, be prepared. Like I said, I won't go easy on you," the older man said with a smile, making it difficult to see if he was serious or not. Luffy gave a sharp nod and turned around, reaching for Zoro's hand. Robin told them she'd be right after them and to go to the car. The car was parked right outside of the doors, so she wasn't worried about being separated from them for a few moments.
"Let me warn you. Luffy doesn't -" but Reighley held up his hand.
"It is none of my business unless it interferes with the training, miss. Or if he'd like to tell me. I've met many like him, so you don't have to worry about anything," he told her with a smile. Robin returned the smile and thanked him, leaving the building and getting in the car. She looked in the front view mirror, happy to see Luffy with a content smile on his face. Zoro was smiling next to him, occasionally looking to his left, loving the expression on his face. He was happy Luffy found someone he liked. Now Luffy just needed his first lesson to see if he really did like Reighley, but Zoro didn't doubt that. Though Luffy hadn't met many people in public, Zoro had a feeling he could sense a good person vs a bad person.
I love Reighley. I was considering using Shanks but Reighley was actually the one who trained our favorite rubber idiot, so I stuck to him. Review!
Chapter 12: A Dash of Insecurity
Like everyone else in the car, Luffy was tired. He hadn't been out in public like this in a while, and it was tiring. Plus the drive home would be longer, the only drawback of the place he chose so far. He couldn't explain why he liked Reighley when he first saw him. It wasn't because he reminded Luffy of anyone he liked. He just thought he looked like a nice person. And didn't seem to mind that Luffy communicated over the whiteboard.
Luffy ended up falling into a light sleep, leaning against Zoro's shoulder. Nami looked at Luffy fondly. She, like the other children, didn't know why he suddenly wanted self-defense training. Again, Nami thought it had a connection to the whole thing that messed up his left eye. It was still hard to tell he was even blind in that eye because the prosthetic was so realistic looking.
And though the bars had been on the windows for quite a while now, he still looked immensely guilty when he focused on them, which it is clear he tries not to. None of the kids knew the relationship between the "bad guy" and Luffy. At first, Robin had said Luffy was afraid of the bad guy because he'd seen a lot about him on TV. But then the police started monitoring the house and the panic room was constructed. Nami, at least, knew that those things would not be put in place unless there was direct contact between the "bad guy" and Luffy.
Nami had also not missed how Luffy would check every single entrance and exit in the house before going to bed, even after the bars, locks and security system were assuring them they'd be protected. She knew it was none of her business, but she was so curious it was painful. She hadn't stooped so low to listen outside the two teens' room, but she wanted to know so bad. And she felt hurt Luffy didn't tell her. Ever since the hospital visit, when he had hurt his throat, he'd been distant with everyone except mostly Zoro. And after the two returned from the hospital with Luffy dorning a eyepatch, he didn't let the black hairs teen out of his sight. Ever. it would be ridiculous if Nami didn't know something was up. But she couldn't bring herself to just ask Luffy. She knew he'd turn red and look uncomfortable and embarrassed that he couldn't tell her.
Nami had also actually heard Luffy through the door. She couldn't tell what he had said, but she heard a voice that was not Zoro's and there was only one other person in the room and that was Luffy. Nami felt hurt by this. She had been close to him before Zoro had been. It didn't seem fair. She could only hope that one day, he'd open up to her as well.
Luffy was still deep asleep when they reached the house. Zoro got out from the right side and walked around the car to unbuckle and gently pull Luffy out and carry him bridal style, still dozing quietly against Zoro's chest. Luffy only woke up when he was set on their bed, having been carried up the stairs.
"Sorry I didn't mean to wake you up," Zoro said softly. Luffy was still sleepy. He still found it strange that he could fall asleep so easily nowadays.
"Hey, why do you think I can sleep so much now?" Luffy questioned, followed by a yawn. Zoro pulled Luffy to his lap.
"Maybe your body is making up for all those sleepless nights," Zoro replied. It was possible.
Luffy had been wanting to ask Zoro a question, but he was nervous about the answer he'd be given. "Can I ask you something?" he asked, situated in Zoro's lap, chest to chest like usual.
"What is it?" Zoro questioned back.
"Why do you love me?" Luffy, though he wasn't heart crushingly insecure all the time anymore, he couldn't forget those feelings of inadequacy completely so quickly. Zoro made no pause before he replied.
"You're kind, listen to me when I need to talk to someone, you don't seem to get bored with me. You make me laugh and smile. I like who I am when I'm with you. You're not shallow. And you're not perfect, which is what makes you perfect to me. Plus your cute. But that's just a bonus," Zoro said with a smirk. Luffy bit his lip and nodded with a smile. "There's no one else like you in the world. You also inspire me. How you could move on past everything that has happened to you," Zoro continued. "Why do you ask?"
"Just wanted to hear it," Luffy said with a smile, reaching up the short distance to shortly kiss Zoro. He ran his hand up and down Luffy's back.
"So what did you think of today's little outing?" Zoro asked.
"It was scary, seeing so many people everywhere. I felt really insecure… and all of the teachers were really scary, so I thought I'd have to settle with a bad one since I'm really serious about learning to protect myself," Luffy confessed. He decided not to mention people staring at him. "But then we went to that last one and I really like Reighley. I don't know why. He just seems nice. And he acted like there was nothing weird with me not talking! I was surprised, but happy. Then I assume I fell asleep in the car."
"Yeah he seemed like a cool person to me, too. So, how are you going to prepare for the lessons? He said you'd be sore afterwards and a three hour session is really long," Zoro said.
"I guess I can exercise with you," Luffy said, but was surprised when Zoro frowned at that. Luffy was a magnet for injuries. There are so many things in there than Luffy could somehow trip or drop on himself. "Is that a problem?" Luffy asked nervously. Maybe Zoro didn't want to exercise with Luffy? He hoped that wasn't the case because that would hurt Luffy.
"No, it's just… you get hurt a lot. There's a lot of dangerous equipment in there. At least for someone as clumsy as you. No offense, but you know it's true," Zoro told him. "I mean, the safest thing for you to do probably would be the treadmill, but you could fall on that and hurt yourself by slamming your head into the machine. You don't need another cracked skull." Luffy frowned, but knew Zoro's logic was right. Luffy hated being so clumsy. He didn't do it on purpose.
"Well, then what do I do?" he asked.
"Maybe walk on the treadmill until you get used to how it works. Just be very careful. I know I don't have to tell you that, but I bet something would go wrong if I don't," Zoro said.
"That's the attitude," Luffy said, a bit frustrated. He knew Zoro was right, but he hated feeling so dependent. He liked being protected and all by Zoro, but he couldn't really even do simple tasks. He still hadn't been able to cook anything and tripped up the stairs half the time. He hoped that someday he could be more independent. Maybe that's part of why he wanted to do the self-defense class by himself. He wanted to be able to get through something by himself. He hoped he wouldn't annoy Reighley. How embarrassing it would be to get injured right away. Now that would be him being a bother, no matter how you look at it.
After lunch was made, Luffy followed Zoro into his gym. Zoro then began to point out which machines he was not allowed to touch. He was embarrassed that Zoro would even need to tell him this. So he was prohibited to use any of the weight machines, the stair climber, and of the dumbells and not even the punching bag because he might break his hand. Luffy was extremely frustrated with this. He didn't usually make negative faces, but he was wearing a scowl, which slightly unnerved Zoro. Luffy looked... wrong being angry.
"I'm sorry, Luffy, but I don't want you to touch anything until I have taught you how to use it correctly. I don't want you to touch the wrong thing and have your fingers crushed, not that you'd feel it. Just start with the treadmill. Okay?" Zoro asked. Luffy pouted and then mumbled "okay…"
After Zoro showed Luffy the controls on the expensive machine, Luffy began to walk. Only then minutes went by before Luffy was very bored. He couldn't even watch Zoro work out because he was to Luffy's left, and not to trip and prove Zoro's point, Luffy had to look straight forward.
Luffy pressed the button to speed the treadmill up so he could run, only to be warned by Zoro that he didn't want Luffy to run yet. Luffy felt like a child. He was very embarrassed and his face was bright red. He felt so stupid and his lower lip began to tremble. He finally couldn't hold it in anymore and quickly and quietly excused himself from the garage, trying to hide his red eyes from Zoro. He walked quickly up the stairs and to Robin's walk in closet. He never came in here anymore, but he felt he needed to. He didn't cry, just curled in a ball and had sniffles. God, he was pathetic. He knew Zoro wasn't meaning to make him feel stupid, but he was acting like Luffy couldn't do anything by himself.
He thought he could do things by himself now, but apparently not. Did Zoro not approve of Luffy doing things by himself? Luffy was too dependant on others. He was like a leech with Zoro. He knew Zoro loved him, but he couldn't get over the fact that he completely disregarded Luffy's feelings by making him feel like a total idiot who couldn't do anything right. Yes, Luffy broke things and injured himself a lot, but… but…
He couldn't find a counterclaim.
Zoro swore to himself when Luffy sadly left the garage. He knew he screwed up. But he was just so worried about Luffy hurting himself again. Of course, Luffy was worried about hurting himself, too, but he didn't seem to understand how clumsy he was. For a regular person, Luffy would constantly be bruised and in pain. Zoro saw every time Luffy stubbed his toes and when the small teen was barefoot, he didn't even seem to notice how badly bruised they were a lot of the time. And he was still bruising his fingers all of the time. Zoro really had no solution to Luffy's clumsiness.
He put his weights down and entered the house. He had a feeling that Luffy would go to the closet, no matter how long it's been since he went. Zoro headed up the stairs, thankful Robin wasn't in her room at the moment. He knocked softly on the door, but got no response. But he opened it anyway because Luffy needed this talk.
Zoro felt guilty when he saw Luffy in a ball in the corner with red eyes, but no tears or tear tracks. Zoro didn't wait to walk in and close the door behind him, sitting next to Luffy. He put his arm around Luffy's shoulder and pulled him closer, thankful Luffy didn't pull away.
"I'm sorry I made you feel stupid," Zoro said simply and sincerely. "I basically rubbed it in your face that you are clumsy. I know you try not to be. Sometimes I wish you could feel pain so you knew when you were doing something damaging to yourself. But that doesn't excuse me treating you like a child. I'm sorry, Luffy," Zoro finished seriously. Luffy didn't look up at him from staring at his fingers. His bruised fingers. He nodded to Zoro's apology.
"I hope I don't hurt myself in front of Reighley. That would be embarrassing and he might think I'm stupid. Why do I only have good coordination in video games? I wonder if I'll learn anything at all. I'm glad it's cheap or I'd be a bother if I suck at it…" Luffy said sadly. Zoro inwardly groaned. He hated when Luffy used that word, though it wasn't often nowadays.
"What can I do besides walking? It's boring and doesn't help much…" Luffy said sadly, still feeling bad despite Zoro's sincere apology.
"I guess I can spot you if you do basic weights," Zoro caved. He didn't like seeing Luffy like this. Luffy looked at him in question, not recognizing the way the word was used. "It means I help you if you need it. Like if you start to drop a weight, I catch it for you," he explained. Luffy nodded and both got up to go back to the garage.
By the time Luffy was tired of doing the weights, only getting to twenty-five pounds, he was hungry as well. He was happy he wasn't sore. But that meant he might not feel sore at all after the classes! Zoro saw Luffy's face suddenly light up.
"What are you so happy about?" he asked curiously as the two entered the kitchen for snacks.
"I don't feel pain, right? That means I probably won't feel sore after the classes! That's so convenient. But I bet Reighley will think it's weird… but it will be handy, right?" Zoro nodded. It would be nice for him not to be sore. When Zoro first started doing weight training, his back and neck hurt all of the time.
"Do you like not being able to not feel pain?" Zoro questioned.
"Well, I don't like what caused it, but since I get hurt so much, it's nice not feeling it. I can't imagine how painful it must have been to have my eye stabbed if I could feel it," Luffy replied, and then instantly stopped talking when Nami entered the kitchen. Luffy didn't have his whiteboard with him at the moment, so he left the kitchen to go upstairs and get it.
"What were you two doing?" Nami asked curiously after a moment.
"Luffy was attempting to work out," Zoro said, making two protein shakes. He was making one for Luffy also.
"Attempt?" Nami asked. "Does that mean he sucked at it?"
"No, he was able to do twenty-five pounds and walked a quarter of a mile. Apparently walking is boring," Zoro said with a slightly amused smile. Luffy wasn't picky much or complained often, so it was a bit strange to see him like that. But Zoro could understand why he wanted to hurry with the exercising, despite the mutual worry he'd hurt himself. Luffy wanted to be good enough to not totally suck in his first class and feel humiliated. Zoro knew he was worrying about if he'd be a bother and make things difficult for Reighley and not learn well.
Luffy was in the hallway headed back to the kitchen when he heard Zoro say he "attempted" to work out. Luffy's face turned red and he was about to turn away when Nami asked if he had sucked. Luffy's face fell because he felt Zoro would say he didn't do too well, but then Zoro said he didn't suck, so he walked into the kitchen with a small smile. Even when Luffy wasn't around, Zoro still stuck up for him. Not that he really thought any different, but he was still insecure and the work out hadn't exactly gone as Luffy had hoped when he first asked Zoro if he could.
Zoro saw Luffy walk in with his whiteboard, smiling, and handed him the shake. Zoro had two kinds. One that was chocolate flavored, and one that tasted like a smoothie. Luffy wasn't allowed to eat super sugary food so he got the smoothie one, not that he complained. He wrote thanks on his whiteboard.
"Why are you smiling? You only walked into the room and came back," Zoro said. Luffy shook his head, that it was nothing. Luffy felt if he told Zoro, Zoro would be slightly offended that Luffy had doubted him, even if it was for less than a minute.
Chapter 13: A Flood of Insecurity
Longer chapter this time. The angst is coming back, but gotta love the dashes of emotional fluff. Enjoy~
On the Saturday before Luffy's first class, Luffy had finally able to use the treadmill, but Zoro was still worried about him so he stood against the side railing of the machine, on his phone, though he still was paying attention the the sounds. He'd hear if Luffy's foot tripped or his little surprised noise he sometimes made when he was about to or did hurt himself.
Luffy had a limit of twenty minutes in the gym, either the basic weight machine or the treadmill or both. He had protested at first until Zoro showed him the facts online, that a twenty minute workout is best for every day. Luffy then agreed. He wasn't being super picky or complaining anymore because it was set, and Luffy didn't like change much. He also did better with strict routines that don't change.
Robin walked up to Zoro and Luffy when they came out of the garage and told Luffy, "We need to get you appropriate clothes for your class. Don't worry," she said quickly, when she saw his eyes widen in panic. "We've already bought you clothes, so we know the sizes." Then she said more kindly, "I do not mean to be insensitive, but do you still want to wear a long sleeved shirt during these classes?"
Luffy blushed in embarrassment. He still wanted to hide his markings. Just like his eye, he didn't want anyone to know how messed up he is. He wants to look normal, and he does when he wears long sleeved shirts.
He nodded, feeling ashamed that he still couldn't show his skin to anyone but Zoro. but at least it was getting closer to winter now and the weather was steadily getting cooler. And Luffy never really seemed to sweat much. He liked to think his body was so used to the heat that he doesn't sweat anymore, but he knows that's not true. It's another weird thing about him. But at least he doesn't get pit stains.
"Alright, I will get some work out long sleeved shirts. And some shorts. What are your sizes again?"
Small on both, he wrote, a bit embarrassed about his size once again. Even when he gained weight, his clothes still fit the same.
"Okay, I will be back in a while. Any particular color you want?" They both knew he'd say red before he wrote it. "Okay," Robin said again and walked to the door before Zoro noticed something.
"Mom, you're leaving us without an adult?" he asked in surprise. Robin perked up.
"I can't believe I forgot that," she said, shocked and feeling stupid. She knew it had been months since the incident at the hospital, but she still had a gut instinct that it wasn't over.
"Mom, I think we'll be fine. It's daytime, we have a really good security system, there are neighbors around and we will call 911 if something happens. Plus I'm here, and I'm almost technically an adult. Relax about this this time. We'll be fine," Zoro told her. She looked like she was going to protest, but nodded.
"Keep Luffy in your room and stay with the other kids," she told him. "No, have everyone in their rooms and sit on the staircase. That should work. Call 911 if anything suspicious happens," she said seriously, and turned to leave after Zoro nodded.
The moment she closed the door, Zoro went around the house telling the kids to get in their rooms. They whine about it, but Zoro snapped at them the mom had said so. They all went quickly after that, most likely noticing Robin had left the house. They werent afraid anything would happen anymore, but they took Robin's decisions seriously, and as long as she wanted them to be extra careful, then they would be.
Luffy walked into his and Zoro's room and sat in the doorway, pulling his metal bat out from under the bad and resting it in his lap. He was less afraid when he had the bat with him, though he didn't carry it with him everywhere.
Zoro got bored quickly, and since the others' doors were open, he couldn't even talk with Luffy. Luffy was looking bored too. He couldn't wait for his dad to get caught. He had to someday, right? And then Robin wouldn't be worried all of the time and Luffy wouldn't feel guilty every time he really looked at all the added protection.
Robin really didn't take long and knocked on the front door with their secret code and unlocked it. She hurried to the stairs and saw Zoro sitting at the landing, obviously bored out of his mind.
"Everyone is fine, can I get up now?" he asked, slightly irritated.
"Yes, thank you," Robin said, heading up the stairs to Luffy to give him his clothes. Luffy put his bat away and took the bag from her. He was told to try them on and see if they fit comfortably or she could go back and get different ones and told him directly that a second trip would not be a bother. He thanked her and walked into his and Zoro's bathroom to try the clothes on.
When he looked in the mirror, he thought he looked a bit silly. The shirt had a slight V-neck, which he wasn't used to, and it felt weird. He felt cold in it. But it wouldn't bother him when he used them not in front of a mirror. And what other choice did he have? He bet that most long-sleeved work out clothes looked a bit strange, especially accompanied by shorts. Oh well.
He walked out, looking at his feet. If he felt it was silly looking, maybe and Zoro and Robin might feel the same, but neither said anything negative.
"Do they fit all right?" Robin asked. Luffy nodded and immediately walked back into the bathroom to change back into his regular clothes. By the short time Luffy was in the bathroom, Robin had left the room.
Zoro frowned at luffy when he came out with a red face. "You know, if you really didn't like them, you could have said something," he said simply, sitting on the bed. Luffy didn't say anything and didn't want to. There really wasn't anything with the clothes when they werent on him. He then changed the subject and laid on his stomach on the bed across from Zoro.
"How are you not tired all day after exercising?" Luffy asked curiously.
"I'm used to it. And are you saying your tired after only 20 minutes?" Zoro questioned.
"No, but you work out a lot, so it would make sense you were tired all the time. Is that why you nap so much?"
"I only nap when it's with you if you haven't noticed," Zoro replied with a smirk. This made Luffy frown.
"So I make you tired or something?" he asked.
"No, it's just not worth napping when you're not with me," Zoro replied casually. Luffy blushed.
"I physically can't sleep without you so I guess it's lucky you like sleeping with me," he said and crawled over to Zoro.
"Guess so," Zoro said and smiled as Luffy crawled into his lap. Zoro leaned down and kissed Luffy deeply. But Luffy messed up and his teeth got in the way, actually splitting Zoro's lip when their front teeth clashed. That hadn't happened before, even though Luffy was never a good kisser in the first place. Luffy pulled away to see Zoro's lip had a bit of blood on it. But he made no show that it hurt or that it had even happened. Luffy pointed to Zoro's lip, unsure if he even knew it happened.
"...Your lip is bleeding…" he mumbled, turning beet red in embarrassment and shame when it clicked that it was Luffy's fault. He did his best not to cry but wouldn't look up at Zoro or attempt to make eye contact. "S - sorry…" he mumbled sadly.
"It's okay. It's not your fault. It didn't even hurt. I promise," Zoro said kindly and patiently. It was true that it didn't hurt. It stung for a second at the very beginning, but it wasn't a very big cut in the first place. He felt more sorry for Luffy than his own bleeding lip. He knew Luffy was still very insecure when it came to kissing, because he couldn't seem to catch on to how to kiss successfully, no matter how many times they did. Nowadays, Luffy would barely move his lips at all, he'd just let Zoro do all the work. "Really, Luffy, it's not a big deal. It shouldn't be embarrassing to not know how to kiss well. I know you've never kissed anyone before. Just give it time, I'm sure we'll get there," Zoro said kindly, not putting emphasis on the fact that it was Luffy who couldn't kiss. No, he wanted Luffy to feel like this was on obstacle for both of them, not just for him doing something wrong and needing to figure out how to do it right.
"You've never kissed anyone before me either and you don't suck at it. Sometimes I feel like a disappointment…" Luffy confessed quietly and dejectedly, looking at his hands in his lap.
"You are not a disappointment," Zoro replied strongly. "Not to me or anyone here. Please don't think that. I love you, whether you can kiss or not. Remember how you couldn't even talk to me for a while? You were able to clear that obstacle, so who says you can't overcome not kissing perfectly? In the grand scheme of things, do you really think I care enough to have it mess anything up between us?" Luffy looked up, but still had the prominent frown that he wore when he was trying not to cry and let his lower lip tremble.
"Okay…" Luffy replied. He knew the only way that he could learn and understand how to kiss effectively was to kiss more often, but everytime they did, Luffy felt like crap, so they didn't do it as often than they should to overcome this little hiccup (as Zoro sees it).
"Try again," Zoro said softly. Luffy looked hesitant. "We can't ever get over this if we don't practice," Zoro reasoned slowly. Luffy finally nodded and tried again.
By the time Zoro decided they had enough "practice" for now, both of their lips were a bit swollen and their cheeks pink. Luffy was, sadly, humiliated. The practice did nothing. He felt so insecure about it that he just wasn't up to par. He knew that he might do better if he had any shred of confidence, but he just couldn't grasp one.
Zoro was sincere when he comforted Luffy about his kissing dilemma. He didn't love him any less or think badly of him just because he sucked at kissing. He knew it wasn't Luffy's fault. As he was now, there was just little hope of him finding confidence to really get into a kiss. So, until that day, Zoro didn't mind leading the kiss, and by leading being the only one to move his lips at all. Sure it would be nice to have a real good make-out session, but Luffy wasn't there yet, and there was nothing wrong with that. Not one bit and to Zoro, there never would be. Luffy was Luffy, expert kisser or not. He just wished Luffy would believe him.
"You should treat your split lip. Kissing so much must have hurt... I'm sorry," Luffy apologized again. He looked away from Zoro, feeling inferior in every way. But Zoro ignored Luffy's words and pulled him to his chest. Luffy was now squished awkwardly against Zoro's chest, being trapped by both of his arms.
"I love every part of you, even the parts you think are bad. Please believe me," Zoro said against Luffy's black hair.
Luffy honestly tried his hardest to see himself how Zoro did, but years of neglect and abuse made him feel worthless. He'd been doing much better lately, but he still had random bouts of depression, some only for a few minutes, but others could last hours. He did his best to hide them from Zoro, but most of the time Zoro noticed. Yet he wouldn't say anything because Luffy wanted to seem strong, but sometimes, "in passing" brought the subject up and he was able to briefly convince Luffy he was worth something. Worth everything to Zoro. But they still came back. Still, Luffy refused to even think about going to a therapist and he didn't want to tinker with his medication for something stronger because he was afraid of the side effects. They'd tried adding new medication in, but they were a flop.
One of the effects when he had increased a dose of one of his medications was that it made his vision blurry sometimes, and only seeing out of one eye that was blurry scared him.
So most of the time, trying to disguise his affection and comfort as a coincidence, Zoro would just hold him or lately give him the goosebumps.
Zoro caved and let Luffy go, heading to their bathroom and putting some cream on his lip. It wasn't exactly "treating it" because there really was nothing to treat. It was small and didn't bleed much. He assumed it split because his and Luffy's front teeth collided, causing the skin to rip a bit. He knew Luffy would still feel guilty, but the truth was it was both of their faults. He didn't want Luffy to take all of the blame for something he didn't do.
"Luffy-" he began when he walked out of the bathroom, but stopped when he saw Luffy sleeping, curled up, how he naturally slept when he wasn't with Zoro. Zoro smiled at him fondly while he looked so content. It was a nice change from his expression not one minute ago. Zoro hoped he woke up in a better mood than he went to sleep in.
Zoro turned the light off to make the room darker and adjusted Luffy's small body until he was comfortable position being the little spoon.
"I'm sorry I can't kiss right…" Luffy said sadly. Zoro gave him a strange look. Then Luffy recognized it. It was pity. Zoro had never pitied him, or at least shown it. But here it was obvious. "I'll get better. I swear," Luffy said forcefully. Zoro pursed his lips.
"Luffy, I don't know how much longer this can last. You can't do anything right and I have to constantly worry about you hurting yourself. I can't even go do other things while I'm stuck supervising you. It's just too much. I'm sorry," Zoro told him, shattering Luffy already broken heart. His lower lips trembled.
"O- oh… okay. I see. I - it's okay. Thanks for it in the first place," Luffy stuttered out, quickly excusing himself from the room to go to his closet and fall apart.
"You can't sleep with me anymore. We aren't really together anymore so it would be strange," Zoro told him at bedtime. Luffy frowned and nodded. But he didn't go up on the top bunk. He went downstairs to the couch and buried his face into the cushions. He wanted to fall asleep and never wake up. The only good thing - the best thing- in his life had kicked him out. He didn't know what to do now. He was all alone, even if there were six other people in the house.
Luffy had nightmare after nightmare, and when he did wake up, he wasn't on the couch, he was in the basement.
"Your boyfriend dumped you. There's really no point in going back, right? He doesn't love you and probably never did or ever will. I bet he just felt bad for you. You're such a bother after all. Pathetic. Well, you have a use now, right? My stress relief. Welcome back brat." And Luffy was whipped across the cheek.
Luffy woke up sobbing, having already been crying quietly in his sleep. Zoro was there, and Luffy hugged him while Zoro looked at him in bewilderment. He must have had a nightmare. A bad one it seemed.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Zoro asked, rubbing circles on Luffy's back, who had turned around so they were back to chest and now Zoro was holding him close.
"You - didn't - want -m- me - anymore - and then - then -he took - me- a- and I was all - alone! I'm sorry I - can't do - anything- right!" Luffy sobbed. Zoro, even after nightmares about being stabbed in the eye, had never seen Luffy so upset after a bad dream.
"Luffy, I would NEVER not want you and let him take you! I don't care if you can mess some things up, or if you can't kiss. I don't care if I am with you 24/7 because I enjoy it. I love you, all of what you see are problems included. Never would I give you up to anyone and especially not him!" Zoro said loudly and forcefully, knocking Luffy out of his sobs. He tried to keep the hurt out of his tone of voice. Did Luffy see him as someone who would just throw him away? "I swear on my life that will never happen. I love you and it hurts seeing you think you're not good enough for me. You're imperfectly perfect and I wouldn't want anyone different."
Luffy fell silent. He could tell Zoro was angry at the dream, but also hurt that Luffy had a dream about him like this.
"Is this a recurring dream?" Zoro asked seriously, hoping it wasn't. And Luffy was a terrible liar, so it would be obvious if what he said next was a lie.
"No… I've never had this dream before," Luffy said quietly and truthfully. Zoro felt immediate relief.
"Will you please consider a counselor? Please, I don't want you feeling like this anymore, since you won't up any of your medication doses. It's not going to get all better if you aren't more proactive."
"No, I'll be okay. I don't need a counselor," Luffy said quickly. Zoro knew he was convincing himself and it was hard to watch. "I'll be okay," he repeated. "I am okay."
Luffy didn't want to argue. Arguing with anyone, even Zoro, made him feel guilty. He had only argued with Zoro about the exercising because he felt Zoro thought he was stupid and he didn't want him to think that. His plan didn't go very well, since he ended up in the closet anyways, his go to escape room.
Part of the reason Luffy had never argued was, of course, because he never spoke. But even getting in an "argument" over the whiteboard made him ashamed, even when most would agree with him. He didn't like to be a pain for others. A bother. While he was thinking this, he moved his hand to touch his upper thigh, where the carving of the word was. He didn't notice he was doing it, but Zoro did.
"Stop thinking you're a bother, Luffy," Zoro said softly. Luffy looked surprised that Zoro knew what he was thinking. But Zoro didn't tell him how he knew what he was thinking because they had already had a talk about Luffy's telling body language a long time ago and that conversation wasn't very good.
"Luffy?" Zoro began. "Are you only feeling very bad because of the kiss and bad dream? Or is something else bothering you?" Zoro ran his thumb across Luffy's cheek as he held in in his hand. Luffy looked down. He was embarrassed about his insecurities for the last couple days. He really didn't want to make a bad impression on Reighley, but the more he tried to make sure he wasn't going to, the more things he found wrong with himself. The looks he got in public didn't help...
It was his body that was bothering him. He started seeing himself different in the mirror for the last couple days. He saw himself as super skinny and unhealthy, like he had been. But he knew that couldn't be true because his clothes still fit him normal and werent baggy. And no one had said anything about him losing weight, because he hadn't. He thought it would pass which was why he didn't say anything. But it wasn't passing like he wanted it to.
He was worried he'd develop an eating disorder, but he didn't want to tell anyone because he was ashamed. But he should tell Zoro. No, because then Zoro would bring up a counselor again and it would just add to massive pile of "things Luffy needs to fix". Luffy stayed quiet, debating whether to come clean.
But then his nightmare came back. Zoro had left him because he was sick of worrying about Luffy. But that wasn't the real Zoro! The real Zoro wouldn't leave! He wanted Luffy to talk to him. Luffy's face scrunched up while he was trapped in his inconsistent rollercoaster thoughts.
"Hey," Zoro whispered, holding Luffy's face in both of his large hands. "Share your burden with me." Zoro looked at Luffy with a sincere reassuring smile. "I am not what you dreamt of. I would never leave you for any problem you have or think you have. Okay? Tell me what is wrong," he said softly.
"I'm seeing myself wrong," Luffy said, looking at his fingers again.
"What do you mean?" Zoro asked quietly.
"I see myself different in the mirror, but I don't look like that…" Luffy looked up, receiving an encouraging smile and a nod, telling him to continue. "When I look in the mirror I look like how I used to. I look boney and skinny and unhealthy. But my clothes still fit right and no one has said anything about me losing weight, so I know it's not true. But I hate what I'm seeing! And sometimes, when I look at my arms directly, not in sleeves when I'm showering or something, I look sickly and way too thin. And it's making me want to exercise a lot and eat more. But I don't want to get super big or anything. I just want to look healthy. I'm gonna start seeing the circles under my eyes again, I bet. I compare myself to you too much," Luffy said lamely.
Luffy wished he could take that last part back in case it made Zoro feel bad. There was nothing he could do about his looks. Zoro was fit and buff and Luffy was tiny and skinny. They couldn't exactly alter their frame or the sizes of their bodies. Luffy looked up at Zoro trying to hide his eyes under his bangs. Zoro just looked sad. He didn't look offended or guilty, just very sad. Like he'd heard something he really didn't want to but knew he would. But he had asked, so Luffy had replied.
"I'm sorry," Luffy said. "I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable."
"Luffy, do you really care so much about your looks? Do random people's opinions matter that much?" Zoro asked gently.
"If I don't look good on the inside, I want to at least look good on the outside," he replied simply. Like his statement was a fact. It was right. He looked bad on the inside, therefore he has to look good on the outside. Zoro wanted to cry for him because he felt so sorry for the way Luffy thought of himself. It wasn't exactly pity. Just intense sympathy.
"Does it matter if I think you're beautiful on both?" Zoro asked.
"I don't look normal, though. I'm supposed to fit in the right sizes. There were barely any clothes that fit me and everyone else on the pictures looked better in the clothes than I did."
"What are you talking about?" Zoro was confused.
"When we went shopping," Luffy replied. Zoro was shocked. That was months ago. Luffy had never brought it up before now. He only brought it up after they went… in public again. Crap.
"Did something happen when we went looking for teachers? A couple days ago?"
"People looked at me funny. Like I was weird. And it wasn't even like I had an eye patch on, or my scars showing. It was just me," Luffy said sadly.
"Luffy, who cares what other people than you or I think?" Zoro asked a bit forcefully, only to feel bad when Luffy looked hurt by his words.
"I do…" he said, sounding ashamed. Zoro was acting like it was bad that Luffy cared about what others think. But Luffy needed validation in himself. Zoro wasn't enough because he loved Luffy. You never tell a loved one they're ugly or stupid. Even he knew that it was wrong to say things like how his dad had said to family and friends.
"Luffy, who do you want to look good for? There's no one who would judge you for your looks here." Luffy then looked away uncomfortably. If that's how Zoro felt then there was no point to answer his question.
"It doesn't matter," Luffy said. Zoro caught his blush and the way he wouldn't make eye contact with him.
"Luffy, are you wanting to look good for me?" he asked. Luffy looked down, feeling stupid. He was embarrassed right now. Like his want to look good for Zoro was stupid. But he wanted to look good for the person he loved. If Zoro was gonna love a mess like Luffy, he should at least get to see someone who looks nice. It's not like Luffy could do well. He didn't wear fancy clothes or show skin. He wore the same things every day. He was boring.
"N- no," Luffy lied awkwardly. He knew he was lying horribly, like usual. He didn't want to see Zoro's face. He thought that there'd be pity. He didn't look up when Zoro reached down to his hands and kissed one of them. Luffy still didn't look up even as he was kissed gently on his hair before Zoro began to talk.
"Luffy, I love how you look. I love everything about how you look," Zoro said sincerely. "I love that you're small and skinny. Then I can hold you in my arms easily, and you're not too heavy to carry and sleep on my chest. I love your small hands because they fit in mine perfectly, and your feet because they're soft and smooth and cute. And I love your eyes. I don't mind if there's only one real eye left because they're both your eyes, and they're nice and big and dark to get lost in. Your lips are plump, and even if you can't kiss back, they're not so thin that I eat them. Your hair is soft and fine and always smells good. I love everything about you. And I don't mind you wear really concealing clothes. I've never asked for you to go shirtless because I don't want you to unless your comfortable about it," Zoro explained and kissed Luffy's head. "I don't care if you only wear one color because it's your favorite, and the bright red highlights your eyes and hair. You are beautiful to me, and fuck people who think otherwise. It would be strange for you to be buff. I don't want you to be unhealthy skinny, but I like you being lean. If you are healthy, I am happy."
Luffy was sitting with his back against Zoro's chest, but Zoro could feel the little drops of water dripping onto his arms. Zoro hugged him tighter.
"But, I'm boring," Luffy said quietly.
"Not to me you aren't. And you never will be," Zoro said softly. He looked forward to the day Luffy gained confidence in himself. He would wait patiently with Luffy for that day as long as he needed to, and he would do it gladly.
"I know it's not your fault for being insecure. And I know it's not your fault for being scared to go to a counselor. Especially for the last few months. If you truly don't want to go anywhere to see someone to help, no matter what, then I'm sure there are other ways. Maybe there are some online programs. Then you can talk to a professional without having to even let them know you don't speak. It will be anonymous. That would be nice, right?"
"But I have you to talk to," Luffy said simply. He still didn't understand why he needed to see a stranger when he already had someone to talk to.
"I'm not a professional. I can't help as much as they can. Or just not in the same ways."
Luffy sighed. If it didn't work out, he could always quit, right? "O-okay," he replied simply. He didn't know what he would talk about with a person, though. He told Zoro everything, so would he have to tell another person everything? What if what they say conflicts with what Zoro would tell him? Who would he follow for advice?
Zoro smiled and hugged Luffy tighter. "Do you want to watch a movie or play video games?" Zoro asked, wanting to give Luffy a distraction from his sad thoughts. Zoro hoped his view of Luffy got across to him. That he loved Luffy just the way he was. He had told this to Luffy countless times, but this time was different because Zoro went into such detail. He had had no idea how much Luffy cared about his looks. It was sad and made him sad as well. Yes, he had said to Luffy he thought he was beautiful, but maybe that just wasn't enough for him.
"Okay," Luffy said to the movie idea.
"What do you want to watch?" Zoro asked.
"I don't know. You pick," Luffy replied. The two had already watched the Harry Potter movies and most of the recommended animated movies that were available online. They had watched some romance movies that made Luffy blush and Zoro laugh because they were so unrealistic, at least compared to his and Luffy's relationship.
"Do you like superheros?" Zoro questioned. Luffy looked behind him, confused. "Like Superman and Spiderman."
"I don't know, I've never seen any movies of them. Why?"
"Well there's a shit ton of them. There's like, 19 of them in one series. They're really fun to watch. Do you want to try one? We don't have to watch them or order or anything, but it will keep us busy for a while, right?" Zoro explained.
"Okay. What are they about?" Zoro then looked up each movie and explained the premise. He'd already seen most of them, but he wanted to watch them with Luffy. He knew he'd start off on ones that weren't too violent or dark.
"Let's watch the one with the robot," Luffy said.
"He's not a robot. You'll see," Zoro said, and then warned him there was some violence. Zoro skipped past the whole scene where the main character was basically tortured and to the part where he designed the first suit.
Luffy was silent the whole movie, so into it that he was distracted from all negative thoughts that had bothered him today. Once it was over, Luffy said, "Next one, please," and they binged on them the rest of the day, except when they went down for lunch, but brought the food into their room with them.
Over six hours passed and they finally finished the Iron Man trilogy. "Wow, those were so cool!" Luffy gushed happily. His eyes were bright as he discussed what he thought was cool about the movies. "And they're made from books?"
"Comic books," Zoro corrected. Luffy "wow"ed again.
"C- can we watch more?" Luffy asked timidly. They were really long and Luffy didn't want to waste any of Zoro's time.
"Sure," Zoro replied, amused. Luffy seemed to like every movie they watched. He loved the Harry Potter movies and all of the animated one they'd watched. Zoro assumed it was because, before now, he'd never seen a single movie in his life. Seeing these kinds of things were amazing to him, even though movies have been around for a very long time.
"Which one do you want to watch next?"
You can tell what kind of fandom I like through my stories... but shhh. Don't tell Luffy.
Chapter 14: The First Class Session
"Luffy, we have to go to bed now. You want to be awake for Reighley tomorrow, right?" Zoro asked, causing Luffy to pout.
"Just one more," Luffy practically pleaded. It was late Monday night, and the two had spent all day watching movies. Luffy had become slightly obsessed to say the least.
"Luffy, they are each over two hours. No more tonight. If you really want to watch more, get up earlier tomorrow. The class starts at eleven," Zoro said to him. "C'mon, time for bed."
Luffy blushed. He knew Zoro was right, but the movies inspired him so much and made him feel better. The hero's all could protect themselves and others. Luffy couldn't do either as of now. He gave up and laid down next to Zoro, both of them already in their sleep clothes. Though Luffy enjoyed sleeping with Zoro, he was usually a bit uncomfortable going to bed lately. He was really hot in a long sleeved shirt, under a blanket, and with Zoro holding him. At night he sweat a lot. He usually didn't sweat but having another very warm body all around him made him very hot. He didn't tell Zoro, though. He felt better sleeping with him. But he was too scared to wear a short sleeved shirt, even going to bed. So he suffered in silence at night.
Luffy stood in the small lobby area of Reighley's self defense dojo, trying to not be embarrassed in his clothes. He pretended that what Zoro had told him had sunk in, but he still had his doubts. He wasn't a good liar, but he was better at pretending. He did that often.
Everyone sat the the chairs, the kids having all come. Zoro had refused to stay at the house as a babysitter while Luffy was nervous enough as it was.
Reighley came out finally, a happy female student coming out with him. She said goodbye and smiled at Luffy and then left. Reighley then turned to Luffy.
"You ready to start?" he asked with a smile. Luffy nodded, holding his whiteboard next to his side. Zoro kissed him on the forehead and quietly wished him good luck. Luffy gave him a smile and nodded, following Reighley into a big open room with mirrors on the wall that were all covered up for some reason. He asked no questions of Luffy as the small teen took his shoes and socks off and put them near the door. The floor was padded and black. Various weapons were against the walls. Most seemed to be props.
"Is there anything you want me to know before we begin?" Luffy shook his head. "The whiteboard might get in the way, so I will ask you only yes or no questions if you'd like," he said kindly. Luffy nodded and set his whiteboard next to his shoes.
"Okay. First thing to always remember. The order is run, hide, fight. Fighting is always the last option. Remember those three words in that order. You want to get away and keep away from your attacker. Run, hide, fight." Luffy nodded that he understood.
"Since you are small, you might feel like anyone could best you, but that's not true. Just know that a small person can take down a bigger person if they know what to do. Self defense will always lead to having the possibility to escape. Only fight if you cannot escape or it would not be safe to, for example if someone has a gun. In that situation, if you are attacked by someone with a gun, do what they say. Only try and fight back if they are going to shoot you anyway. This is why I will teach you how to disarm weapons, including a gun or a knife. Always fight to protect yourself. Self-defense is not for picking a fight. No form of martial art is for picking a fight. You don't learn to hurt others. Only to help yourself. If hurting someone else is the only way to help yourself, then sobeit," Reighley explained as Luffy stretched.
"Today will not be complicated. I will teach you how to dodge in any way. If you are uncomfortable with something, tell me. For starters, I am going to use this glove and try to hit you. It will not hurt, as I will not be aiming to injure you. Just try to stay out of my reach. Ready?" he asked. Luffy nodded.
What followed was basically Reighley trying to touch Luffy at all, but he was unable to. Luffy darted away back and forth, ducking easily, and staying a step away from Reighley at all times. Luffy was surprised at how well he was doing. He wasn't getting tired either, since his movements were small. A step to the side here, a step back there. He had a feeling this would be the easiest part of the course, which he was told would last two months, so 16 classes.
After an hour, Reighley's movements became faster, but still Luffy was able to dodge. He fell once, but hopped back up and ducked away. He had fallen hard, and his instructor was surprised when Luffy made no expression that it had hurt in any way.
During the short break where Luffy could drink water, Reighley said, "I'm surprised you can dodge so well on the first day." Luffy picked up his whiteboard and quickly wrote I've been trying to stay out of everyone's way for five years. Reighley laughed at that, confusing Luffy. He didn't think it was funny...
"Then you have had great practice. Now I'm going to be chasing you around the room, once you reach a wall, evade me and run the opposite way. It may get tiresome and hot, so be prepared to sweat in that long sleeved shirt," he warned.
Luffy actually enjoyed himself. As long as he kept Reighley where he could see him, not on his left side, he did fine. He felt good when Reighley praised him at his quick movements. What Luffy had said was true. Staying out of everyone's way was moving away before they got close to you and would cause you to be a bother.
"I'm going to step up and use a weapon," the instructor said and picked up a two foot long wooden stick, a fake sword. "Now, I highly doubt you will be attacked by a sword, but we're starting with this before the smaller knife prop. Ready?" Luffy nodded again.
This time, he wasn't perfect at dodging. It was hard to get used to what exact distance it was from him to the stick to how ever long Reighley's reach would be. He only got hit a few times, and Reighley was surprised he made no move of discomfort at all. It's not like he hit hard, but Luffy made no impression he had felt it at all.
During a second break, Reighley asked if anything he had done had hurt, because he was very curious. He knew it wasn't really his business but it might be important information later. Luffy had responded truthfully since he felt it was okay to tell him.
I can't feel pain he wrote. Reighley said what Luffy had said to Zoro and it made Luffy like him even more.
"Well I guess you won't be sore next time, huh?" he asked in good nature. Luffy smiled and nodded.
Luffy did better with the simple knife dodging, confident that he could stay away. But Reighley told him that this was beginning practice and at best, he was acting as a person who wasn't skilled at using a knife for combat. Luffy kept that in mind.
By the time the class was over, Luffy was sweating a lot. His shirt was nice because it seemed to cool him down some. It was airy, more so than his usual day shirts. He wasn't sore at all, just tired and sleepy. He had gotten a good exercise for a good cause and it made him feel not worthless. He was right to like Reighley. He didn't ask many questions or act like Luffy's silence was abnormal or strange.
Zoro waited nervously in the waiting room with everyone else, who were sick of traveling back and forth. But Robin reminded them that it couldn't be helped since Kureha was out of town at the moment.
When Luffy walked into the room, Zoro was relieved he wasn't looking at his feet, his face red. That would mean he was embarrassed. But Luffy wasn't embarrassed at all. That meant it had gone well. Zoro smiled at Luffy as he walked up to him and hugged him.
"Did it go well?" Zoro asked. Luffy smiled and nodded. "Good. Now we can go home and watch some movies, right?" Luffy then again nodded, though much more animatedly.
"Good work, Luffy," Reighley said. "See you Friday." Luffy nodded and gave a small wave, walking with Zoro out to the car. Robin stayed behind to talk to the instructor.
"How did he do?" she asked quietly.
"He did great. Better than I expected of a first time student. We focused mostly on dodging and evading. He can't feel pain?" he asked.
"No, he doesn't feel any pain," Robin answered. All Reighley responded was a curious "hmmm".
"I will see you Friday, miss. Have a nice day," and he walked back into the hall. Robin smiled at the man and turned to follow the others to the parking lot.
No one was really surprised when Luffy immediately fell asleep as they drove the semi-long drive home. Robin was very pleased and happy for Luffy that his first class went well. She wondered what exactly they did. She had been very concerned that the first time would not go well and Luffy would feel like pulling away from this idea. But she could see that Reighley seemed to get Luffy well.
Like he had last week, Zoro carried the sleeping Luffy into their room, but Luffy didn't quickly wake up once he was laid down on the bed. Zoro brought the revolving fan in the corner and turned it on towards Luffy, since he was a bit sweaty from the activities. He was curious to what they did for three hours that made Luffy happy.
Zoro wasn't very tired, so he didn't nap with Luffy this time, but he stayed on the bed next to him. He didn't want to risk ruining luffy's good mood by inviting a nightmare if he wasn't near his favorite person in the world. So he went on his laptop and waited for him to wake up.
Luffy woke up around an hour after they got home. When he realized he was on the bed, he knew Zoro must have carried him up. It was nice that Zoro was so strong and that Luffy was light enough to be easy to carry.
Luffy moved his head minutely to see Zoro on the computer next to him, leaning on the headboard of their bunk bed. He just watched his love for a couple minutes. Zoro's expression didn't change much as he did whatever he was doing on his laptop.
He finally noticed Luffy was awake when Luffy gave a cute and small sneeze. "Hey," he said, closing his laptop without turning it off. Luffy smiled and returned a "hi". "So, how did the class go?" Luffy then excitedly and animatedly gushed about what they did and how he did such a good job, according to Reighley.
"And then he told me that next time we'll do more dodging but faster and then learn how to disarm someone! And he said it didn't matter if I was small and the bad guy was bigger. He said the best case scenario was being able to escape, and only fight if you can't get away safely. I like him! He's nice and didn't ask why I don't talk! And he told me he'd try and use yes or no questions. I told him that I was probably good at dodging because I've been trying to stay out of everyone's ways for five years. So I guess being so antisocial was good! I can't wait until Friday," Luffy said happily. Zoro was smiling while he talked because Luffy was truly very happy. Zoro was so relieved.
"I assume you're happy you went?"
"Yeah! And I did it by myself, too," Luffy answered.
"Are you proud of yourself?" Zoro questioned with a smirk. Luffy looked surprised for a moment. He was really only proud of himself when he'd draw a good picture or finish a book sometimes. He was very rarely proud of himself. But, yes, he was proud of himself, so he grinned and nodded. Zoro leaned down and kissed him gently.
"I'm glad. Want to watch some movies?" Luffy grinned even wider, nodded and immediately sat in Zoro's lap, his favorite place in the world.
"Like I told you Tuesday, today we'll focus on more intense dodging and then disarming. Ready?" Reighley asked during their second class. Luffy nodded, a serious and determined look on his face. He would do as good this time as he had last time.
Luffy had more trouble with the dodging when Reighley was really serious, but he was able to stay out of the way for the most part. Reighley had to remind him many times to not turn his back if he's this close to someone with a weapon. Especially since he can only see through one eye. If he turns his back too soon, then he loses vision behind him and to the left of him. Luffy practiced ducking over and over. This was what made him tired. The up and down motions made him a bit dizzy. Reighley could see this, so they took a short break and Luffy went to get some water.
Though he'd never say, Luffy was getting bored of dodging. It was monotonous and getting old quickly. When Luffy went back onto the mat, no longer dizzy and refreshed from the cold water, Reighley still had the knife prop, but this one was made out of a softer material. Luffy stood in front of his teacher, waiting to move out of the way.
"We're going to stop the dodging for the time being. It's very tiring," Reighley said, not commenting on Luffy's slight blush. "Now, like you requested, we are going to move ahead to disarming. First, we're working with a knife.
"Here, you hold the knife so I can demonstrate," he said and handed Luffy the silicone knife. "The ultimate goal is to keep the knife away, which is why you focus on getting the knife away before anything else. If you're in an alleyway or anywhere with junk, look for a weapon. Look for something to block, like the lid of a trash can. Don't attempt to have a sword fight between the knife and a plank of wood.
"First thing to do is to target the attacker's arm. Try to hurt it as best as you can. Always try to stay perpendicular to the attacker. Because you only have one good eye, try to keep them on your right hand side."
Reighley then told Luffy to move his arm certain ways, and where to target on the arm to keep the knife away. He reminded him that that was the ultimate focus, not hurting the attacker anywhere else but the arm. He recommended maneuvering his body so he can slam the attacker into the wall to make his drop the knife. Then he was told to keep the knife away. Kick it as far as he could. Then incapacitate the enemy and get away from the scene and call the police, if they haven't been called already.
This was much more difficult than just he dodging, but Reighley reminded him this was one of the hardest things people learn because you have to think fast and your body has to follow the thoughts quickly. Luffy also wasn't very strong, so he didn't have much luck hurting his instructor's arm enough for him to drop the weapon. Reighley recommended lifting weights for this subject. That's convenient for Luffy since a certain teen has an obsession with them.
By the end of the second hour, Luffy knew how to disarm an average size knife, but he just wasn't strong enough for it to work. He knew the movements, but didn't have the strength to follow through completely. This frustrated him immensely. When he made a sour face when he, once again, could not get the knife away, Reighley told him it was fine. That he was making progress and they still had fourteen classes to go. He told him to not rush or stress out.
Then they moved on to dodging the knife for the next hour after a short break. Sidestepping was important. A knife is not very good for ducking because people don't usually slash a knife sideways, they stab from the front. Luffy was happy he was good at this type of dodging as well. He didn't feel so useless for the rest of the class. He really liked that reighley would praise specifically. Not just "Good job", but "That was a great dodge" or "Very smooth movements, keep it up". He liked this man. The first male role model he'd ever had.
Once the three hours were up, Luffy sat down to put his shoes and socks on, and noticed the mirrors were still blocked. Reighley turned to see Luffy was writing on his board.
Why are the mirrors covered up? he wrote.
"I keep them covered the first couple of classes since many people don't like seeing themselves not doing well. Once you get much better, I'll take the covers off so you can see yourself succeeding. I do it for everyone," he explained, making Luffy smile, glad it wasn't just him that Reighley was doing this for.
When Luffy walked into the waiting area, he saw only Robin and Zoro, since Kureha had come back into town to babysit the kids. Robin was pleasantly surprised when Kureha no longer thought of babysitting as a chore. She seemed to like helping in this dire situation. Like Robin, she had a feeling it wasn't over as well, even though she didn't know every detail. It would be strange for whoever attacked poor Luffy to give an injury like that and not come back for more.
Robin had spoken to the old woman about the whole situation going on in detail, about her worries and concerns, because Robin didn't have many friends, and Kureha being just next door was convenient to talk to someone. The only real thing Robin left out was the relationship between the attacker and Luffy. Still, no one but Zoro and Robin knew the man was Luffy's father.
Zoro was happy to see Luffy wasn't upset again. He was very thankful that Luffy chose this place. If he'd settled for any of the others, Zoro knew he'd have been miserable. He could just tell based on his visible reactions to the other teachers. Luffy would have been scared, and when he's scared, he's clumsier than usual. Thankfully, he was no longer injuring his fingers as much as he had been when he first found out his parents had been set free. Luffy had been so distracted by other things that he didn't think about it much anymore. Even if some of his distractions were from bad thoughts, he wasn't terrified of every closet and window in their house.
Luffy bid farewell to Reighley and was told to have a good weekend. Luffy smiled and nodded, taking Zoro's hand to walk back to the car. Like it was routine, Luffy fell asleep and was carried to their room and laid on the bed. He smiled in his sleep and made Zoro feel warm inside that Luffy was so happy and content. God, he loved him so much.
Chapter 15: The Calm Before The Storm
Some fluff to give before the onslaught of angst and action in the next chapter.
Weeks went by and there was a visible change in Luffy that made Zoro ecstatic. He seemed to be gaining more confidence in himself. Every time he had a successful class, he started to be more open with himself and when Zoro would compliment him, it finally sunk in. He was confident enough to trust what someone said about him. That those words might be true.
He smiled more than he had been and was even more affectionate with Zoro because he had finally improved a bit in the poorly kissing issue. Having more confidence in himself made him feel that he would get better some day, and he was. He hadn't split Zoro's lip again, and he still wasn't perfect at it, but the big thing was that he continued to try.
Zoro found himself grinning more around Luffy. He was so proud of him. He wished he had started a self-defense class long ago. Reighley had been a great influence. Luffy talked about him a lot. Zoro was happy Luffy had a role model in someone. And someone who was kind and just a good person altogether.
Luffy had also been exercising more. At first, when Luffy started using weights, it made Zoro very nervous. Luffy had convinced him of letting him use the weight machines because Reighley had recommended it to help Luffy with his strength. Luffy was also running on the treadmill, and Zoro found himself enjoying exercising with Luffy. He liked when Luffy's face was pink from the exercise. He didn't know why he loved it when Luffy's face was red, even if it wasn't from a blush. It was just adorable.
The best thing that Zoro thought had come with Luffy's self-esteem improvement was that he laughed. He actually really laughed. The first time he had, he'd blushed and then went silent, but only for a little bit. Then when he did it again, Zoro honestly wanted to cry. Luffy was finally learning that he wasn't worthless. Even his medication hadn't helped him with much. He hadn't done the online counseling because he felt he didn't need to for now. And Zoro agreed with him.
The others didn't notice as much as Zoro did since Luffy didn't laugh around or kiss them of course. They also were never around him when he let his guard down like he was with Zoro. They couple had finished all of the movie series that luffy had been obsessed with. Then they moved on to other movies, which Luffy was happy about. He got a bit weird when he tried to make something move with his mind and then loudly and disappointedly complained that it hadn't worked. Zoro busted up laughing, causing Luffy to blush.
"You know it'd be cool," Luffy pouted. Zoro agreed with him, still chuckling. He then pounced on Luffy and kissed him roughly. Zoro wouldn't do this when Luffy had still been very insecure. Sure, they'd done it sometimes before, but afterwards, Luffy always looked somewhat awkward. Zoro hadn't asked why, he'd just stopped doing it. They had been okay kissing roughly when Zoro wasn't on top of Luffy, though that wasn't often because of the fact Luffy couldn't kiss at all.
Zoro didn't think he could ever love Luffy more than he had a couple weeks ago, but he was proven wrong. Luffy glowed now. And Zoro felt so lucky every day to have Luffy for his own.
The day he needed to clean his eye came. He cried while he did it alone in the bathroom, but he wasn't sobbing like he had. Last time he did it on his own had lasted for around four hours, including much sobbing and embarrassment. But, though he was repulsed by what he was needing to do, he didn't want his nice realistic looking eye to be damaged. He didn't want Robin to have to pay any money for a new one of fixing this one.
Zoro waited silently for Luffy to come out and was prepared to comfort his crying partner. It was around an hour when he walked out, his face bright red in embarrassment. He walked to Zoro and needed a hug, so Zoro comforted him quietly while Luffy sat in his lap.
Though he had gained confidence, he still had sudden bouts of insecurity and depression, though much, much less than before. And Zoro was always there comfort and listen to him talk out what he was feeling.
"Do you still love me though I'm acting different now?" he asked one day, feeling like changing so drastically in such a short amount of time was a bad thing. He wasn't looking at Zoro's face while he asked.
"Actually, I love you more," Zoro replied. Luffy looked up at him. "I never thought it was possible, but every day I love you more than the last. Seeing you so happy in your own skin makes me so happy. I feel all warm inside every time I hear you laugh and do something you wouldn't have been comfortable with a while ago. I'm just so happy for you. I don't know how I can convey how happy I am that you are happy. I'm so proud of you. Look at how you did your eye a few days ago. The first time you cleaned it yourself, it took four hours of non-stop sobbing. Now it took maybe an hour of moderate crying. Can you see how much better you feel? And you're not as clumsy anymore, which helps me not worry. You've amazed me once again," Zoro said sincerely, with a smile. Luffy returned the smile.
"Can you do the kisses?" he asked shyly, but without stuttering. Zoro continued to smile and nodded, kissing Luffy along his neck and jaw and collarbone. Once Zoro got to a spot that always tickled, directly under his chin, Luffy giggled cutely. Zoro waited for him to pull away, but he didn't. Zoro grinned through his kissing. Luffy was healing faster, and it made Zoro's heart warm to be able to witness it.
Now that Luffy was learning to defend himself, Robin felt a bit better about leaving everyone at home when she went shopping. Kureha didn't have to come over all the time, but was asked, if she was gone at night, which she very rarely was, to check on them. She knew the secret knock code.
Robin had seen Luffy's change, but not as drastic as Zoro had. Everyone noticed something different. He didn't walk timidly anymore. He walked in a posture with an air of comfort in his surroundings. Like he wasn't uncomfortable at all anymore. He had also completely mastered not having his left eye. They all still occasionally forgot it was missing in the first place.
Luffy was also showing the results of his daily exercising. They could only tell any change by his calves being noticeably toned. Zoro still basically went everywhere with him, but not as a protection anymore. It was a habit of not wanting to not be in Luffy's company. Zoro found himself comparing Luffy to a drug for him. He got his daily happiness and love from being in Luffy's company. The feeling was mutual. Luffy didn't like being separated from Zoro at all. It felt wrong. Like they were willingly handcuffed to each other, unable to go to somewhere without the other.
To Nami's joy, Luffy began to talk with her again. Over the whiteboard. When he talked to her, Zoro wasn't far. He didn't eavesdrop or anything. He would sit a few yards away from them on the recliner on his computer while Luffy and the redhead hung out on the couch. Luffy drew her again, more confident in the drawings he made. He gave the drawing to her with a smile and drunk up her praise. Everyone then came over to see. Luffy did start to feel uncomfortable, which Zoro noticed, but he said nothing. He knew Luffy would want to be able to handle this. And he knew he could.
Luffy was then requested and begged to do portraits of each of them. He bit his lip. A feeling of insecurity was suddenly plaguing him. Then Nami came to his rescue, like the old days.
"How about not everyone right now? Luffy needs to have breaks between drawings," Nami said confidently. Like she knew she was right, which she was. The other children agreed and filed away. Luffy wrote a thank you to Nami, who smiled in response.
All the residents were glad Luffy had finally come out of his shell. They hoped it'd last even once the classes were over. Robin was wondering if he'd ask to take another class, maybe martial arts in some way. If so, she would gladly oblige. She loved how he was feeling and acting. Now, all he needed to do was start to talk. She wondered if he'd even bare his scars to anyone but Zoro. Well, and Robin. He'd shown her once. She really had no idea what the others' reactions might be if they saw the violent scars all over his upper body. She was still unaware of the carvings on each thigh.
Speaking of the carvings, he paid no attention to them anymore. Zoro had finally convinced him he was not a bother. Everyone loved him. Would they love him if he bothered all of them? If he got in their way with everything he did, would they want to spend time with him? While Luffy was feeling more confident those first few classes, he started to change because of what Zoro would tell him. He was finally believing what Zoro had been saying to him all along. That was what was helping him so much.
As for the other scar? He never really cared about the carving calling him a retard. Yes, it was cruel, but it hadn't even come close to being as hurtful as the other word.
He would never forget all those holiday visits he was dragged to with his "family". None of them were kind to him. He never had any gifts at Christmas or his birthday. He wasn't allowed to eat with everyone at Thanksgiving. He'd sit in the corner and sadly eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, trying to ignore the smell of the delicious food he wasn't allowed to touch. He had had cousins his age, but they were cruel to him. They would make fun of him for his size and ignore his requests to play with them. He remembered once his uncle spat chewing tobacco on him. He had left the room to go cry.
But despite all of this neglect and abuse, he loved his parents. They were all he had, so he had to love them. They were mean, but they fed him and clothed him, although the food wasn't good and the clothes were all from the thrift store. But still, he had a room as well. It didn't matter he had a plain mattress with a single blanket and pillow. He still had a roof to sleep under.
He used to wonder if any of his extended family knew of his torture while it was going on. Surely they had thought something was up when his parents would leave to go spend holidays with them. During those vacation trips, he was given a loaf of bread and a couple bottles of water to eat and drink while they were gone. It was one of the only times he was unchained for one arm. Of course, once the bread got old and moldy in the damp air, he gave it to his rat friends. He had learned that eating mold was not good the hard way.
But during these absences, it gave Luffy a break from the abuse. He was able to have the cuts scab over and the bruises fade slightly without having some replace them.
Luffy was secretly looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas with his new family. And he was sure they werent going to exclude him and refuse him good food. He didn't mind not getting presents, but he just wanted to be included in the festivities. They already gave him a birthday party and it was great, though he couldn't fully enjoy it back then when he was still so broken.
Luffy made sure not to think about those awful days before he was tortured. He wanted to completely forget they even happened. And if he one day did think about them, he chase them away by comparing those days to now.
"Want to take a break and go upstairs?" Zoro asked Luffy, who nodded. Luffy left his drawing supplies on the coffee table, confident none of the kids were going to invade his privacy and peek in his sketchbook.
Both teens plopped down on the bed, lying down facing each other.
"Zoro? How come you don't like going places? In the five months I've been here you've never gone anywhere? Even when we weren't friends," Luffy asked curiously.
"I just don't like going places. People in public are annoying and there's not really anything interesting in this city. I'd have gone to an amusement park or something if there was no one there. But that's unrealistic," Zoro said.
"Unless there's a zombie apocalypse," Luffy said, surprising Zoro.
"How do you know about zombies? We've never watched a movie about them."
"A book. I didn't finish it, though. It was scary," Luffy replied.
"Well I hope you don't actually believe one is going to happen," Zoro said, an eyebrow raised. Luffy gave a small giggle behind his hand before replying, "No it won't happen. Dead bodies decompose right?"
"Let's stop talking about this. It's gross," Zoro told him. Luffy nodded. Was Zoro scared? Like he could read Luffy's mind, Zoro told him he wasn't scared, it was just gross.
"Okay," Luffy said. Changing the subject, he asked curiously, "Zoro, have you ever had any friends?"
"Yeah, when I lived with my dad. But I chased them away. I didn't trust any of them. And after I started living with mom, I never made friends with any of the other foster kids. I was sure they'd bug me all the time or come in my room and touch my stuff. I wasn't very trusting," Zoro explained.
"So I'm your first friend in a long time?" Luffy questioned.
"And so much more," Zoro replied and kissed Luffy's forehead.
"I'm glad you don't hate me anymore," Luffy said with a relaxed smile. Zoro frowned.
"I still feel horrible about those weeks I made you feel miserable. I can't get some of the words I said to you out of my mind… I hope that your forgive me for them."
"Of course I have. And even if I didn't, you've made it up to me a lot," Luffy scooched closer to Zoro so he could put his arms around the small teen. "I'm glad our nightmares have gone away… I was thinking... I want to stay in contact with Reighley after our classes are over. I've never known a good old guy. Like, a real role model. I had older guys in my extended family, but they were mean. I still don't know why nobody liked me. Maybe it was because my parents trash talked about me. But it was always nice when they were gone over holidays and I could eat the bread and the scabs would start to heal," he said conversationally.
"That's really depressing. Do you still think about those days a lot?" Zoro asked quietly. Luffy shook his head.
"That was a long time ago. Even when I do think about sad stuff like that, when I think of where I am now, the thoughts go away." Luffy then paused, knowing this next question was very personal. "Zoro? What did you have nightmares about?" Luffy asked quietly, looking straight into Zoro's eyes. He cringed. He didn't want to think about those. The images from them would haunt him for the rest of his life. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to."
Zoro breathed in deeply. "In all of the dreams, you were dead in some way. That's why you woke up with me hugging you in some position. I had to make sure you were with me and alive. They were the worst dreams I've ever and probably ever will have. I know they started because I wasn't there for you when you were attacked at the hospital. That I couldn't protect you like I said I would. They were awful, and your dad would taunt me about it. But I havent had one of those nightmares in a while," Zoro finished, a bit pink in the face.
Luffy looked sad. "I'm not gonna die. I can defend myself, right? I'll be okay. And there's lots of stuff here to keep me safe," he said to Zoro, who was still looking pained. He nodded and tightened his arms around Luffy. "Let's nap," he said. Luffy nodded and quickly fell asleep. Neither had any nightmares.
Bits of fluff. Next chapter is a BIG one. The start of part 3.
Chapter 16: Defeating Demons
This is honestly one of my favorite chapters because it's so dramatic. Everyone knows I enjoy putting Luffy in the hospital (the drama!), so warning! It's longer than the other chapters. I hope I made the suspense good and the action enjoyable to read. Enjoy~
"Hey, Zoro?" Luffy asked as the two played a video game. "Have you ever had a crush before me?" Luffy was curious. "Even a celebrity crush or something? Y'know cause apparently girls and guys like good looking actors. Well, according to Nami."
"No. Never had a crush on a girl or guy before you. I've never even been attracted to anyone but you," Zoro answered casually.
"Do you think I'm prreeetttyyyy," Luffy asked with a smile.
"No," Zoro said bluntly. This made Luffy feel horrible for a second before Zoro said, with a smirk, "I think you're beautiful."
"That's mean, you made me feel bad," Luffy pouted. He punctuated the statement with him beating Zoro at the game.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you upset," Zoro said with a smile. He was liking Luffy being playful. His classes with Reighley were almost over. The two months had really flown by. Mostly because of how happy Luffy was. Zoro couldn't appreciate Reighley anymore than he already did. The man truly changed Luffy's life.
New sides of Luffy were showing up. Zoro liked the surprises Luffy was giving him. He was still his Luffy, sensitive, loving, emotionally deep, unique, considerate, kind and dependent on Zoro. But now he was also playful, a bit more social, and happier in general. But Reighley wasn't really the one who changed him. Zoro didn't know this, and Luffy hadn't thought to tell him because it didn't cross his mind that Zoro might not know what really changed him.
"I'm so glad Reighley helped you like this. You've changed so much from him," Zoro said with a smile.
"What are you talking about?" Luffy asked. Zoro looked at him strangely.
"Once you started taking classes with him, you became happier and more confident. It's thanks to him," Zoro said, confused at Luffy baffled face.
"No it's not. It's thanks to you," Luffy replied.
"Wait, what? No, you only started acting like this when you started your classes. Just before, you were scared of everything…" Zoro argued, trying to understand.
"Taking his class only made me more confident in my skill. And that made me more trusting I guess… maybe? But I only really felt better when I finally started believing everything you said about me," Luffy told him. Zoro was in shock. All this time he'd been thanking Reighley. But it was him...
"Really?" he asked quietly. Luffy nodded.
"I only started to feel better about myself 'cause of you. You thought it was Reighley this whole time?" Luffy asked, laying on his back looking up at Zoro, who was grinning like a mad man.
"It's because of me?" Zoro asked happily. "I made you so happy and relaxed?" Luffy nodded. Zoro pounced on Luffy, still grinning. "I made you more outgoing?" Luffy nodded. "And made you laugh?" Luffy nodded again. "I caused this huge change in you?"
"Yeah," Luffy said, before he was attacked by Zoro's lips. Luffy turned red as Zoro kissed every part of Luffy's face and neck. It tickled, but Zoro seemed so happy so Luffy just let him assault his face with kisses. "I take it you're happy?" Luffy gasped after Zoro went after his lips.
Zoro nodded, feeling drunk with pride. "I'm so happy it was me. I felt bad that I thought it wasn't me who helped you like this. I felt like that was selfish to be jealous of Reighley."
"Yeah, I mean, I only just met him. I feel more confident in my skill from him, but you made me more confident in everything else."
Then Zoro frowned. "Wait, so until a couple weeks ago, you didn't believe anything I said about you?" Zoro asked. Luffy turned red and nodded, wearing a frown. "But you've acted like you understood everything I said about you. All this time, you didn't believe me?"
"Not… not for a lot of it. B- But... I do now. That's what matters right?" Luffy asked quickly, averting his eyes. Zoro smiled softly and brushed Luffy's cheek lightly with his fingers.
"Yeah. Now is what matters," he said gently. "I love you. I'm so glad it was because of me. Is that selfish?" Zoro asked.
"I love you, too. And no. You've tried to help me so much. If it were the other way around… I guess I wouldn't be jealous, but maybe resent him. Like none of what you did mattered, but then suddenly he fixed everything. But that's not true, though. You made me into a better person. I like who I am because of you."
"I guess that's true for both of us," Zoro said. He rolled over so Luffy was now laying on top of Zoro, their game forgotten. "I think we were meant to be together," Zoro said. He knew Luffy felt the same way even before he nodded.
"We're puzzle pieces," Luffy laughed happily. Zoro laughed, too.
"That's a good way to put it. I'll love you forever. I promise." Zoro was smiling so warmly at Luffy it made him feel fuzzy inside.
"Me too. Forever and ever," he replied, laying his head over Zoro's heart to listen to it beat, smiling when it sped up at his words.
"Mom, are you sure about this? You'll probably be really worried if you don't come home until after dark," Zoro said as all of the kids were getting into the car. They usually all went to get their vaccines at the same time. Luffy refused to go because, though he'd come very far in a short amount of time, he still didn't want to be injected with something by a needle, regardless of what was in it. Of course, Luffy couldn't stay home alone and Zoro refused to leave his side, so Zoro would be staying as well. His argument was that there was no way he could get sick if everyone else had their vaccinations for that year and he never went anywhere. Same was for Luffy. Well, for Luffy, he had zero vaccinations up to date. But she wasn't going to shatter their trust by forcing him to be vaccinated when he didn't have and couldn't catch any virus at the moment.
"Kureha is coming to check on you once it gets dark. And you were right about this being over kill. It has been three months and nothing has happened. It should be fine," Robin said. "But don't leave the house, which I doubt you would do in the first place. Both of you stay together. I'm gonna turn the alarm on, so don't open the front door, the laundry door or the sliding glass door. We'll be back in a bit," she said and set the alarm, locking the door behind her.
"Guess we're going back to our room," Zoro said, taking Luffy's hand walking up the stairs with him. When the flopped onto the bed, Zoro asked if Luffy was scared to have it be just them in the house. Luffy shook his head. He knew he had the chance to defend himself and escape, but he also acknowledged he wasn't a black belt in karate. He would have to think only about his safety and not revenge or anything if something did happen. If something did, then Luffy would be mad that he had finally been convinced that nothing would. If he saw his dad again, what would his reaction be now? He felt he had changed a lot since the hospital. In a good way. He hoped he never found out how he'd react to seeing his evil dad again.
Luffy still hoped he'd do something bad somewhere else and go back in jail. But something really bad. Something worth a lifetime of jail. He wasn't asking for his dad to murder someone or anything. Not to hurt anyone. But what else could he do to get jail time? Threaten people while he robbed a bank? Luffy felt selfish, but he thought anyone would understand his thoughts on this subject.
"Can you do the goosebumps?" Luffy asked Zoro, laying on his back looking to the right to see Zoror laying next to him.
"Sure," Zoro said, sitting up. He smiled when Luffy took his shirt off without looking awkward. He didn't hesitate. Zoro assumed that when he'd finally started believing Zoro's words, he believed everything he had said to Luffy about them had sunk in. Luffy put his shirt beside him and laid on his stomach and closed his eyes and melted into the bed as Zoro ran his fingertips across Luffy's soft skin, tracing the scars once again. The younger teen quickly fell to sleep quietly, his face relaxed and content. Zoro loved seeing Luffy sleep. He was adorable and it made Zoro feel warm to see him looking so vulnerable with him. Not in a creepy way, but that he had trusted him enough and was comfortable to let down his guard around his green haired partner.
The man watched as that bitch pack up a bunch of kids and drove off to somewhere. He waited until it got dark to move. He had spent a long time watching the house after he knew the police left. He came over most nights and watched from afar, where no one could see him or his car. His wife had been doing the same. They took turns and sometimes came together. She had refused to come help him take care of the brat, but she was at the rendezvous to switch cars and drive off. They had stolen the cars relatively easily from another town.
Luffy's dad grabbed the hand gun and put it in the holster. He had a beanie on with a thick jacket to make him look overweight. He had a hammer attached to his belt and some lock picks in his hand. He approached the front door. He'd get this over with quick. He'd been dying to kill Luffy and had regretted not doing it at the hospital. This was because, when Luffy's biological mom had gone to the hospital and had seen her son, he looked not completely broken. He looked sad, but she noticed whenever he held a green haired teen's hand, he visibly felt better. The two contemplated killing him in front of Luffy, but that idea was snuffed out quickly. Killing two of them might take too long. He was only going to go after the green haired guy if it was necessary. Plus, they didn't want to waste any bullets. They'd need to defend themselves from any cops if they were pursued.
He looked around, seeing if anyone was watching. He'd moved after an old woman had checked on the two and walked back to her house, closing her front door. He quickly walked up the the front door and stuck the metal picks into the keyhole and quietly unlocked the house's many locks. Talk about overkill. He had seen the bars on the windows. He also assumed there would be a security system somewhere. He had only a few seconds to destroy it before it went off. But luckily, he had seen through the open door the woman who took care of the worthless kid touch something right next to it. He assumed that's where it was and that was the reason he had a hammer with him.
He entered the house by picking the locks expertly in no time and smashed the security box as hard as he could, getting rid of any chance of it going off.
Zoro heard something from downstairs, and he hadn't heard the secret knock. It was a smashing sound, and the front door closing. He shook Luffy awake and put his finger in front of his mouth. Zoro hurriedly locked the bedroom door's two locks and ushered Luffy into the bathroom, looking for his phone. He swore as he couldn't find it. And he couldn't exactly call it to find it. He didn't know it had been moved under a pillow by accident. He gave up and quickly walked into the bathroom with Luffy, who had put his shirt back on, locking the door behind him. Luffy was trying to calm himself. He was with Zoro. They'd be okay. But they had no phone to call the police, and that was a big problem. That was what you were supposed to do first if you could.
They moved into the big shower and sat down in it, pulling their knees up to try and stay as small as they could. Luffy couldn't help his shaking. This wasn't a situation he could really do anything. They were hiding. They couldn't run, and they couldn't fight. So hiding was the only option.
They heard a gunshot and wood splinter. He was in their room. He was going to come in the bathroom at any moment. Zoro was shocked when Luffy headed to behind the door and unlocked it. He had a plan, and Zoro hid more behind the shower wall. The moment the man opened the door and walked in about a foot, Luffy slammed the door against his body hard and knocked him off balance. Luffy and Zoro ran out of the room and past him as he gained back his balance. Now he was irritated.
The distraction had only gained them a few seconds, but it was better than being shot in the bathroom. They ran down the stairs. Zoro shouted to Luffy to get to the landline and call 911. Luffy ran down the stairs like the speed of light, but was still in range of his dad's gun.
His dad ran to the landing and saw Luffy get closer to the end table with the phone. Everything would be ruined if Luffy called the police already. So he aimed and shot Luffy in the back, right below his ribcage. He made a choked sound, surprised, and fell to the ground. He didn't feel any pain, though. Zoro screamed his name in horror. He knew Luffy was alive, so they only thing he could do that would help was get to the phone. Get to the phone now.
But Zoro had paused too long on the stairs when he was horror struck at Luffy being shot and was tackled to the ground, a bit in front of Luffy, who was laying still. He had to stay calm and think. He was starting to panic, but no, he had to stay calm. If he freaked, it'd be over and it would be obvious that the gunshot hadn't slowed him. He could feel blood leaking down his skin, but it wasn't bleeding as much as it could be. He hoped that was good.
He felt terrible for using Zoro as a distraction for him to go get a weapon quietly. He silently ran with his bare feet not making any sound as he headed for the downstairs closet. He quickly and quietly opened the door while he could hear Zoro struggling and yelling at the man to "Get the fuck off of me!"
Luffy picked up the dented metal bat and ran to the two struggling on the floor. Zoro had been shot in the leg as he was taunted about Luffy screaming for him at the hospital, but he wasn't there for him. Luffy stopped his awful words by swinging the bat as hard as he could against his dad's head, hitting him in the temple, either knocking him out or killing him instantly. Luffy had made no battle cry like in movies. That would have given him away.
"Don't hurt Zoro!" he screamed at his dad, who was lying still on the carpet. Zoro groaned as he tried to stand, but he could tell the shot in his leg had been deep. "Zoro! Are you okay?!" Luffy asked, hating the blood on Zoro's leg. But he was bleeding worse.
"Get to the phone!" was all he said. Luffy grabbed the phone and dialed for 911.
"This is 911, please state your emergency," a voice said on the other line.
"There's a bad guy at our house and he shot us!" Luffy said, finally starting to panic as he saw the red stain growing on his shirt. The red from the blood was much darker than the light red color of his shirt.
"What is your name and address?"
"Luffy!" and then he gave her their address. Then he heard Zoro call his name in horror Luffy's livid father grabbed him from behind. But Luffy hit him so hard! He should be unconscious! "Hurry!" Luffy screamed into the phone, dropping it when he was in a headlock. He tried to remember what Reighley had said.
"If you're ever caught from behind, go for the crotch and the feet. Move your hips to the side to reach behind and hit the crotch, your hand open. Don't turn it into a fist. Using your palm has more room and is less likely to miss.
"Also, stop on the foot as hard as you can. If they bend over, elbow him in his side. If you can't look down to see their foot, follow your own foot down their leg until you reach it. Then stomp as hard as you can."
But Luffy was lifted into the air, his arms in a position where he couldn't elbow or hit the crotch of his attacker. Crap, this was bad. So he wanted to stall as long as he could until the police arrived.
"You're coming with me you little shit! I was gonna kill you, but now you'll be my stress relief again!" Then the worst possible thing the could have happened happened. At those words, Luffy had a flashback and stopped resisting. It was to the first moment he was chained to the wall. He had been so confused at that moment. Why would he be chained to the wall? What was the point of that?
Luffy started screaming, but his mind was somewhere else. He was easily dragged out of the house, Zoro screaming his name and limping as fast as he could to Luffy. He was being taken away! No, Luffy can't be taken away from Zoro! Never, they were supposed to love each other forever! Where the fuck were the police?!
Luffy finally came out of the flashback when he was locked in a car. He had been carried under the arm in a daze across the street into a green Volkswagen. Then the car started to drive, Luffy finally came back and started screaming for Zoro from inside the car, but of course Zoro couldn't hear him and then he was out of sight.
It took Luffy all of three seconds to start thinking about how to escape. He noticed the car's backseat doors had locks that were embedded into the door, unable to be pulled up, and the window button wasn't working. So Luffy did the only other thing he could think of.
"YOU HURT ZORO! AND I WILL NEVER BE YOUR STRESS RELIEF AGAIN!" he screamed as he kicked against the window with his heels as hard as he could. The car was moving fast, passing lights of stores around them, since they were quickly out of the nice neighborhood Luffy lived in. Luffy was paying no attention to the surroundings as he tried to break the window.
"What are you doing you little shit?!" his dad shouted from the front seat, but Luffy didn't reply. Then, cutting his feet badly, the window shattered. Luffy turned his head away and closed his eyes to keep the glass out. He sat up and broke the shattered glass away that was around the frame with his hands, cutting them badly. He knew this was a bad idea, but almost dying, in his eyes, was much better than being chained to a wall and tortured again. No, he'd never have that happen to him again. Ever.
Reighley how do you jump out of a moving car?
"What? Why would you ask that? You should never do that. You would most likely die," he said, surprised at the question. No one had ever asked that.
Hypothetically, Luffy wrote.
"Well, hypothetically, you want the car to be slow. If it's speeding, you need to slow it down or you will die. Distract the driver somehow. Surprise them and they might take their foot off the gas pedal. Then pad yourself with anything. Put something in your shirt as a cushion. If you can, jump out during a turn, and try and land on grass or dirt, never pavement. That is the worst thing you could do if you did get out of the car alive. You will get severe road rash, and that can be very bad.
"When you jump out, land on your back. If you try and break your fall, you will break your wrists or another part of your arms. Curl up into a ball far enough so you wont get hit by the car. It will hurt, Luffy. Even if you can't feel pain, you could break limbs. And roll if you can. don't stay still or you can slide across the ground, injuring yourself by cutting yourself. Luffy, never jump out of a moving car unless it's the best thing or only thing you can do in a dire situation."
Okay, Luffy wrote.
Reighley, this is a dire situation. I'm going against your words, Luffy thought. He started screaming loudly to distract his dad, but kicking out the window was good enough as the car was slowing. But there was no dirt or grass, and they were now in an area that had no building lights. Everything was concrete around him and dark. He would have to hit the pavement. Crap. He climbed out of the window, perching on the edge while holding onto the hand hold on the inside of the car on the roof of it. He cut his feet worse, small pieces of glass being embedded into them. He was so lucky he couldn't feel any of this. But he knew things were getting bad because when he looked back he could see the blood stain on his shirt was growing at a fast pace and going down towards his butt.
He took a deep breath and propelled himself out of the car, curling into a ball. He hit the pavement with his back, but close to his side. None of his limbs broke, but a few ribs did. He didn't roll perfectly and skinned his legs and his cheek a little bit. He quickly got up, his poor feet bleeding more as he ran on the pavement.
The car swerved ahead of him and stopped. He knew he couldn't run while his dad had his gun, and he couldn't hide well since all of these abandoned buildings were in terrible shape and could fall any moment. But, hiding was what he needed to do to pull this off. The thing that mattered the most was that he couldn't run with a gun after him. He'd be shot in the back a second time.
There was a brick wall ahead of him so he ran straight, out of his dad's view, who was shouting obscenities at Luffy as he sprinted away. He was glad he had taken up running. He hid behind the wall, near the entrance, waiting for his dad to pass by. When he did, Luffy stuck out his foot, tripping him. He fell to the ground, Luffy on top of him trying to wrestle the gun from his hands. But, being as light as he was, Luffy was easily thrown off.
"Since you are small, you might feel like anyone could best you, but that's not true. Just know that a small person can take down a bigger person if they know what to do."
Remembering these words gave Luffy hope. His dad stood up, pointing his gun at Luffy's face right in front of him. Luffy held up his hands, shaking in terror. "I - I won't run again," he stuttered fearfully. This earned a laugh from his dad, which was when Luffy's face went back to serious and he smacked down hard on his dad's wrist with one hand, twisting the gun barrel from the side and yanking it out of his hands into the other and holding it up, now pointed at his dad. Luffy backed up a few feet. To say his dad was shocked was a massive understatement.
Luffy held the gun in the correct way, but didn't want to shoot it. He didn't know how. So, still looking at his dad, Luffy remembered the action movies he watched and how the characters in his video game reloaded their guns and pulled the ammo out from the bottom of the gun and threw the bullets all around, chucking the gun up to the roof of one of the buildings. He didn't wait for his dad to come back and ran at him.
He was going against what Reighley said to him. Self-defense is not for picking a fight. But this is for keeping him safe for the rest of his life. After this, his dad could come back after him again. He wasn't going to let that happen. He didn't care if Reighley was mad at him because that would mean he was alive in the first place. But he didn't know how much longer he'd last because he was feeling dizzy from blood loss.
He ducked under his dad's arms as he tried to punch the boy. Luffy kneed the man in his crotch as hard as he could, and when he bent over in sudden pain, Luffy thrusted the heel of his wrist upwards into his opponent's nose. When he fell to the ground in pain, his nose bleeding, Luffy jumped with both feet and landed on the man's kneecap, breaking it and making him scream in pain. While he was in brief agony, Luffy searched his pockets for a phone. He found one!
Now he just had to get to the car and then he could run away. When he got back to the car, he didn't notice the glass and stepped on it again. He took the keys out of the ignition and threw them off to somewhere. Luffy just noticed there was a bunch of trees next to the road, on his left side. He was glad he was able to keep his dad on his right side the whole time. That was lucky. Luffy then cut his hand while picking up a large shard of glass he finally noticed and stabbed the tire with it until it popped and deflated. Now his dad couldn't get away. He finally ran back the way they'd come, dialling 911 for the second time in the last 15 minutes. The whole thing had gone very fast, though at the time it seemed in slow motion for Luffy.
"I - got -shot and - hurt," Luffy said to the operator as he ran, having trouble not falling from the lightheadedness of blood loss. The stain was all the way to down to his upper thigh now, having dripped down a lot from below his rib cage. "I - stopped - the- bad -guy," he choked out. "He's - down - the - road."
"Where are you? What is your name?"
"Lu- Luffy. I don't - know - where - I am. Trees - next to - the - road. Abandoned - buildings - all over. I- I'm really - hurt. Help - me," Luffy said, finally falling to the pavement. He hadn't run very far, and still didn't see any lights from the city. "I - think - we - passed - a gas station."
"Help is on the way, stay on the line Luffy," the operator said.
"I'm - going - to - die - all by myself," he said quietly and felt numb. He was going to die and never see Zoro again. Zoro would never forgive himself for the rest of his life. He broke another promise and would hate himself. Luffy hoped he was okay.
"Luffy, you are not going to die. You need to stay awake. Don't sleep. Help is on the way. Good job defeating the bad guy. Police cars are coming as well. Just hang on. You will be helped."
"I'm scared," he whispered, tears finally streaming down his face. He was all by himself. If he was going to die, he didn't want to die alone.
It felt like forever before he heard multiple sirens and lights flashing. He was struggling to breathe now. Many people came running towards him and, faster than all the other times, got him on a stretcher and in no time was in the ambulance. He finally fell unconscious and soon stopped breathing altogether.
He couldn't feel being brought back by a defibrillator because he didn't wake up. But he was breathing again. The paramedics were worried. They had rarely seen someone this badly hurt. They cursed that they were so far from the hospital.
The police cruisers followed Luffy's instructions that the bad guy was down the road. His dad hadn't even gotten up before he was cuffed and put into a cruiser. Some stayed behind with flashlights and inspected the car. There was a broken window, with blood on the shards.
"Holy shit, the kid jumped out a window," one of them said in shock.
"And look at the tire. He stabbed it to deflate it. This kid deserves a fucking medal. He was bloody as fuck and he still did all this? Damn," another replied. He hoped the kid lived. After what they saw, he more than deserved to live.
"Did you see the guy when we found him? Had a bloody nose and a broken knee. Damn, the victim was a badass," the first man who spoke said.
Zoro was sobbing in the emergency room, having his leg fixed. The wound wasn't as deep as he felt it was at that moment. He hated himself. Luffy was kidnapped to be tortured. He was probably in some other city by now. He couldn't stop crying, and Robin stood next to him, her face showing extreme fear. All the other kids were worried and Nami and Nojiko were crying. No one said anything. There was nothing to say. They could only hope.
They noticed the room fell quiet when someone was being brought in on a stretcher, the paramedics running alongside him, doctors now following, shouting orders of where to bring him. The staff and patients murmured about how badly injured the boy was, but stayed quiet, except those who might be crying in pain from their injuries.
"Luffy!" Zoro screamed as he saw him rushed past on a stretcher. He could see Luffy's face had ripped skin, his entire lower back and side were drenched with blood, his legs were bleeding and raw, and his bare feet were covered in blood. He even had some blood dribbled down his mouth. He looked awful. He was unconscious, and breathing quickly while he had an oxygen mask over his face.
Robin called his name as well, but the paramedics didn't slow their running. The kids all gasped. None of them had seen Luffy when his throat was injured, or when his skull was cracked, so they'd never seen him drenched in blood before now. Nami felt like she was going to throw up. Was Luffy going to live? What had happened to him? What caused his skin to tear like that? None of them, including Zoro and Robin, could even have guessed that he jumped out of the car window. It just seemed like a ridiculous thought, so it never crossed their minds.
Zoro continued to cry as he watched the place where Luffy disappeared.
BAM! BEST CHAPTER EVER! Review! (Don't look up images of road rash. It's TERRIBLE.) And wow Luffy's a bad ass!
Chapter 17: Recovery
I got some good reviews from the last chapter, which made me really happy. So here we go, another chapter. Enjoy~
Luffy laid in the hospital bed, covered in bandages to protect the road rash from getting worse. He had his ribs put back in place, only one of them punctured a lung, so he had had a fluid bag attached to his side, draining fluid from his lung. He was getting water and nutrients from IV drips. And he didn't wake up. It had been nine days since he was kidnapped and he still didn't stir.
His family had been told that he had died and was brought back with the defibrillator, and he might wake up in a few hours, or days, or not at all. Or he might die in his sleep. Zoro honestly wanted to hurt himself. Luffy had saved him with the bat and Zoro couldn't save him back. But if Luffy woke up, he'd saved himself. They didn't know what happened after he was kidnapped, since the police hadn't come to ask for him to tell them the story because he was still in the coma.
After the fourth day, Zoro had to come sleep at home. He had been sleeping with Luffy in his room, but seeing Luffy like that every second was taking a toll on him. So no one was there when he woke up.
Luffy opened his eyes slowly. It was dark even on his right side. He was groggy so couldn't read the clock but looked out the window to see it was night time. He felt his hands were in bandages and remembered they were from the car glass. Then the whole incident came back to him. It was horrible. But, he had to say, though he was gravely injured, the eye incident was much worse. Luffy had defended himself and had incapacitated his dad. He hoped they'd caught him. It was scary to think about what might have happened if he hadn't been taught by Reighley. He needed to thank him with all his heart.
Then Luffy grew frustrated with himself. Jeez, what a terrible time to have a flashback. Though he shouldn't be surprised considering the words that had caused it. Luffy moved his feet and could tell they were bandaged as well.
Luffy closed his eyes again and drifted back to sleep. No one had known he'd woken up. He didn't have nightmares for once, even though Zoro wasn't with him.
The next morning, Luffy woke up by the sunlight streaming through the open window. He could see better now, and saw the call nurse button and pressed with his stiff hand. A nurse immediately came in and smiled.
"You're awake! How do you feel?" she asked kindly, truly glad to see he was awake. Many of the staff thought he'd never wake up again.
Luffy knew, even if he had his whiteboard, that he couldn't write legibly with his hands so injured. The cuts had scabbed over, but still was injured since some had been deep.
"Groggy. And stiff," he answered, slurring just a little.
"I can see why. Luffy, this is the tenth day since the incident that injured you so badly." His eyes widened. Ten days?! That's so long. That means he'd been scaring his family for a long time. "Do you hurt anywhere?" she asked.
"I can't feel pain," he replied. The nurse believed that, considering how he wasn't in discomfort front the wounds that should still be aching a bit. "Do you want me to call your family or wait for a bit?"
"Please call them," he said. When she began to walk away, he called her back.
"Yes?" she asked nicely.
"Can you wrap my arms? I don't want my family to see them like this," he said, blushing. But she smiled and came back with some ace bandages and gently wrapped both arms. He was glad he'd been wearing a long sleeved shirt or his arms would have torn as well. Oh, he was going to have more scars. But these were different. All of these scars were from him fighting back, not stuck to a wall being tortured.
He thanked her and relaxed back into the comfortable mattress. He hoped all of this was over. That they could take the bars off the windows and not be scared anymore.
Robin's phone rang while everyone was eating breakfast, except for Zoro who just stared at his food, moving it around with his fork. He hadn't been eating much since Luffy was hospitalized. Robin looked scared for a moment before excusing herself from the room. She was terrified she was being called saying Luffy had passed away peacefully.
"Hello?" she asked timidly.
"Hello Robin. This is Terri from the hospital. Luffy has woken up and wants to see everyone. And he has asked for a whiteboard," the nurse said.
Robin burst into tears, getting out an "Okay we'll be there soon," and hung up. The nurse smiled. She had that reaction a lot everytime she called a family to give them the good news. She turned back to Luffy to see him fighting sleep. He didn't want to sleep without Zoro and get nightmares.
Robin walked into the kitchen with tears on her face. Everyone tensed, terrified they'd learn Luffy was dead. Gone forever. Zoro's heart was beating faster than it ever had before. Robin wiped her tears and said, "Luffy woke up and wants to see us." The room erupted into loud cheers, Zoro crying into his hands in relief. They all got dressed immediately and were out the door in five minutes. Nojiko had taken some flowers out of her garden to bring to Luffy's room for him while Zoro carried his whiteboard. He still limped a bit, but he leg felt better than it had at first. He was told to use crutches, but he refused. So he limped.
Luffy was awake and eating Jello carefully when everyone came in. He didn't see them at first because they were on his left side. Zoro was the first to be seen. He sat down next to Luffy and started crying. He handed Luffy his whiteboard. Luffy smiled at him and, with the back of his hand, ran it through Zoro's hair.
Chairs were brought for everyone to sit around him. Usually, this many people wouldn't be allowed in the patient's room, but with this case, they knew none of them would stay behind.
"How do you feel?" Robin asked. Luffy uncapped his pen, the tool feeling awkward in due to the bandages, but then stopped before writing something. Suddenly, having this whiteboard felt… wrong. Everyone was confused as he stared at it for a moment, before capping his pen and simply saying, "I'm tired."
Everyone's eyes widened as he spoke to them. Robin and Zoro gave watery smiles while everyone else was still in shock, causing Luffy to blush and look away. Nami then broke the silence.
"How can you be tired when you've been sleeping for nine days?"
"Sorry about that. I didn't mean to scare everyone," he replied with a small smile. "And I got a lot of injuries, too, didn't I?"
"A lot of injuries, yes. Can I ask what they're from?" Robin asked.
"Don't get mad," Luffy said seriously, changing to feeling in the room. Robin nodded that she wouldn't get mad. "I broke and jumped out the car window while he was driving." The others gasped. "I had to or I'd be taken back. It was the only choice. I'm just happy I asked Reighley how to do it or I'd be dead," he said, feeling bad when everybody visibly cringed at his words. "Sorry."
"That is badass. What else happened?" Usopp asked. Luffy found himself wanting to tell them. He was proud of himself and wanted others to know. He wasn't bragging but he wanted to make them not worry that something like this could happen again. He took a breath before he began.
"I was locked in the back seat of the car so I kicked the window open and climbed out and jumped backwards. I think I skid across the ground, which is why I have the big scab thingys. Then I ran away and he followed. I tripped him and pretended to be scared of the gun and then took it away from him and got rid of gun and bullets. Then I kicked him in the crotch and hurt his nose and broke his knee. I took the phone and then ran to the car 'cause I didn't want him to get to escape and threw the keys away and used glass to pop the tire and called 911 and then ran away. I don't really remember after that," Luffy finished.
"That is badass!" Sanji said. "I want to take self-defense training!"
"Me too!" Usopp exclaimed.
Luffy looked to Zoro, who was smirking at him. But Luffy could see the guilt and shame behind his eyes. "Can I talk to Zoro alone?" Luffy asked. Everyone knew why. Nobody had missed out on Zoro crushing depression and palpable self-hatred. So they all filed out until it was only Luffy and Zoro. He just gave Zoro a smile.
"Please don't apologize," Luffy said once Zoro opened his mouth to talk. "I don't blame you. I'm the one who had a stupid flashback at the worst possible moment. Besides, I'm not dead, Zoro. I'm not dead," he repeated and touched Zoro's face with his bandaged hand. "See?" Zoro kissed the hand, though he couldn't touch his skin.
"And just think about it. If I hadn't been taken, he would never have been stopped, right? I would not be brave enough to talk in front of everyone else…"
"But you wouldn't have been so terrified," Zoro replied sadly.
"I wasn't. I couldn't be. If I had been, I wouldn't be here. Who knew a regular self-defense class could be so helpful? I have to thank Reighley," Luffy said. "And I kept my promise. I protected you," Luffy laughed. "We should make a trophy out of the baseball bat or something." Zoro smiled at him. Luffy was in such good spirits considering what happened. Zoro leaned over him and kissed him deeply, making Luffy blush a bit, but he gladly returned the kiss.
When Zoro pulled away, he asked, "So, why are you talking to everyone now? What changed?" Luffy heard no source of a negative mood. Zoro wasn't jealous or irritated he wasn't the only one Luffy was talking to. He sounded curious and proud.
"Writing on the whiteboard felt wrong for some reason. I don't know how to explain it," Luffy replied, sounding a bit confused himself. Then he looked a little down. "I wish it didn't happen like this. I wish that I had been able to talk without having to get kidnapped. I'm kinda embarrassed. That I had a flashback at that moment. It just made things so much worse. I'm sorry I scared you so bad," Luffy said, sounding ashamed.
"Remember, he said he was going to kill you before you hadn't pissed him off so badly. Hitting him with that bat was a good thing. I… I thought I'd never see you again. Or one day I'd watch the news and see a story about an unknown teenager found dead in an alleyway, or dead in a basement. I'm so… happy you're alive," Zoro said, choking up a bit.
"Me too. I didn't want to die and never see you again. And leave you all alone with awful guilt. I'm sorry I slept for so long. I didn't know I was that tired," Luffy said. He wasn't joking.
"You were in a coma, Luffy. You died. They said so, in the ambulance. They had to shock you alive. That's why you didn't wake up for so long. I thought that you'd lie in a bed forever. And I'd always see you, not knowing if you were gonna be gone the next day. It was worse than all my nightmares because it was a reality. Yeah, you had a small chance of dying somewhere else, but everyone has a chance at dying somehow. But this… this was real and plausible. You could have just slipped away in your sleep. But I should have known you were stronger than that. Sleeping to death is nothing compared to tortue everyday for three years," Zoro finished.
Luffy just smiled. "Sleeping to death sounds like a nice way to go. Just not right now." Zoro smiled.
"I'm proud of you for talking. It surprised me," he said.
"I hope they don't think I'm all better. I know I'm still not normal. I… I'm scared right now. I wasn't scared then, but I'm scared now. What if he doesn't go to jail? I kicked him in the crotch and broke his knee. Not to mention his gun and car. He must be furious…"
"If he's not put in jail, we'll do something somehow. Take it to court or some shit."
"I honestly don't know right now if I'll go back to using the whiteboard with everyone but you. It felt special when it was just with you," Luffy said.
"I want you to be able to talk to everyone. It was special when it was just us, but we're still special, right? But I do want you to still tell me everything. I can't let you go that easily," Zoro joked. Luffy gave a small smile.
"I will. I'm so happy I met you. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me, and probably will ever happen. No, it will be the best thing that's ever happened to me. I couldn't have improved even a bit if I didn't have you. You're my rock, and I'll stay on it forever," Luffy swore.
"Back at you. I don't want you jumping out of any car windows anymore, though," Zoro said sternly.
"No way. Look at all the scrapes I got. I don't even think they'll let me walk because my feet are so injured. I walked on glass and didn't notice."
"You should be thankful you don't feel pain or it would have all been over for you at the beginning. Ironic thing is that it's technically your dad's fault you beat him. He's the reason you can't feel pain."
"Yeah… I want to cuddle," Luffy complained with a pout. "How much longer do I have to be here?" Zoro smiled.
"When you come home we'll cuddle and sleep all day, and I'll kill whoever tries to wake us up," Zoro said with a smirk.
"That's not very nice. What about meals? And speaking of food, why haven't you been eating?" Luffy asked seriously.
"Wait, how can you tell?" Zoro asked, pink in the face for being caught. "I'm wearing a jacket!"
"I don't know. I can just tell. Is it because you were worried about me?" Luffy questioned, feeling guilty.
"Yeah," Zoro told him truthfully. "I felt like I was going to throw up everytime I saw you in my mind, so still on this bed. So I couldn't eat much if I was just going to throw it all up. Now that I think about it, it's really embarrassing how much I cried in front of everyone. I know they understood why, but still… I have never cried in front of anyone before you," Zoro said.
"Sorry…" Luffy murmured, feeling like it was a jab at him.
"Don't be sorry. It means I've never cared more about anyone but you. If loving you brings some tears, sobeit. Just wish it wasn't in front of everyone. I slept on the couch because it felt wrong to be in our bed without you there. I was really messed up. But you're awake and alive, so everything is good now," Zoro told Luffy with a soft smile. "I love you."
"I love you, too. All I could think about was that I was going to die all alone, without you. I fell on the road and couldn't get up because I was so exhausted, but I didn't think about how injured I was, or even what had just happened. All I could think about was that I was going to die and leave you alone and feeling guilty for the rest of your life. I felt so guilty I got caught."
"I still feel guilty, but for another reason. What your dad said to me… was it true? That you were screaming my name when he took you the first time?" Zoro asked, hurt showing on his face. But Luffy didn't lie to him.
"Yeah. I was screaming for you," Luffy confessed. "So inconvenient that no one could hear me because of my stupid throat injury. Really, the first thing I thought about when I saw him in the hospital was that he was going to kill me right there and you'd come and find my body. But that was a long time ago and won't ever happen again. Cause I won't be so vulnerable and not know what to do. I can't leave you alone. You have to promise you won't leave me alone. I don't mean leave me alone to get kidnapped or anything. Don't leave me permanently. If you ever die, I won't forgive you or myself. So stay alive, okay?" Luffy asked simply.
"Never. I'm not gonna die and leave you. Promise. And this is a promise I can keep myself," Zoro swore.
"I wonder what's happened with my biological mom. I have a feeling she's been involved from the sidelines. I just can't see her leaving my dad. Not because she loves him or anything. I don't know, it's just a feeling," Luffy said.
"You used a phone, right? Maybe if the police look through texts or anything, they'll find something out. I hope so, because then the whole thing will be over. For good. And we have to make sure that they're in a prison far away from here," Zoro replied, forcefully at the end.
"So… you gonna like my battle scars?" Luffy asked with a sly smile. "You like my torture scars."
"Probably. Though I might be mad when I see you're scars from jumping out the window of a moving car," Zoro replied grumpily. "I can't believe you did that and survived. On pavement!"
"Hey, don't be mad. There was no other choice! I know you hate to hear it, but I'd rather die than be tortured again," Luffy said. "And I wasn't planning on dying when I jumped out, you know. I wanted to get away."
"What would you have done if you broke your legs?" Zoro asked somewhat coldly.
"But I didn't. Aren't you happy I made it out? The only other option I could think of was jerking the steering wheel and making the car crash. But jumping out the window is safer than the other option, so you should be happy," Luffy said with a pout. Why was Zoro so mad? "And you basically fell down the stairs on purpose a while ago!"
"That was to save you," he replied, knowing he was losing this argument.
"And I was trying to save myself. It was the only thing I could do. It's not like he would have stopped if I asked him to. Why are you so mad?" Luffy asked, feeling hurt. "Aren't you glad I was able to get away?"
"Of course I am," Zoro replied softly, noticing Luffy's red face and deep frown. "I'm sorry. It was just so reckless. I don't want you doing stuff like that again."
"I'm never going to purposely put myself in a situation where that would be necessary. What would you have done?" Luffy asked. He was still a bit hurt that Zoro was mad at him about doing something to save his own life. "To save yourself, what would you have done?"
Zoro couldn't come up with something. "I don't know. I don't know what I would have done. I wouldn't be calm. Were you calm? How did you think straight?"
"I wasn't calm. I was really angry. He shot you and wanted to torture me again! I was yelling at him when I kicked the window open. What kind of car has locks embedded in the door?" Luffy said, irritated. Opening the door would have been safer and he wouldn't have been so hurt by the glass. "I was only calm when I got out and ran to the buildings. Holding the gun was scary. And you know what's funny? I only knew how to take the bullets out from playing our game so much," he said with a small grin. Who said video games were bad for you?
"How long did the fight last?" Zoro asked, running his fingers across Luffy's bandaged hand.
"Only a few minutes. The car ride was longer. It took a while to break the window. It only broke once everything was dark. We ended up next to some ditch with a bunch of trees and these abandoned buildings made out of brick and concrete. And there were barely any street lamps, so it was hard to see. But Reighley is a big man, like my dad is. I practiced with Reighley a lot, so maybe I just knew where places were to target," Luffy pondered. "I got to use my ducking skill. His face was so funny when I got the gun. He looked scared.
"Reighley told me to not fight back if I could avoid it. I didn't listen to him. I didn't attack him for revenge or anything. He wasn't going to stop if he got away. That's why I broke his knee and made it so he couldn't drive away. I'm… proud of myself. But I don't want to be conceited…" Luffy mumbled, frowning.
"You're not conceited if you're proud of yourself, Luffy. I've said this before. I have a feeling you haven't felt proud of yourself much in your life. Am I right?" Zoro asked kindly. Luffy nodded.
"When I was little, when I did something I was proud of, it was always shot down by them. Like, when I first started to like drawing, I would draw them something and was happy about it. Then they'd crumple it up and said they didn't want anymore crappy drawings. It wasn't very nice," Luffy confessed quietly. "The rest of them were like that, too. So I just stopped trying, which made me not proud of myself. Then everyone in my old foster homes were mean. I mean, some were nice, but overall, no one liked me. I know I didn't make it easy because I hit them sometimes on accident and wouldn't talk to them. Then, I didn't defend myself because I didn't talk. That's why I got kicked out."
"What shitty people. Jeez. It's so unfair how you've been treated. Like the world was against you for so long," Zoro said, still rubbing circles on Luffy's hand. Luffy nodded sadly. "Don't worry, we'll fight off the world for you now." Luffy smiled at him and nodded again.
"Do you think they'll let me get up? My legs are stiff," Luffy said. He didn't want to be in this bed any more, no matter how comfortable it was.
"I don't know. You're feet are still injured. Maybe they'll let you use a wheelchair," Zoro replied. Luffy frowned.
"But I can't feel it, so I'll be fine," Luffy said. Zoro shook his head.
"No, because if you think like that your injuries will never heal," he said sternly.
"What about you? Should you be walking by yourself after being shot in the leg?"
"I'm fine. The wound wasn't that bad after all," Zoro said. "I'll be right back, I'm gonna go ask a nurse," and Zoro left the room, both forgetting about the call nurse button.
Next chapter shows what happened to Zoro after Luffy got kidnapped. Prepare for angst! Review!
Chapter 18: The Other Side
Time for Zoro's story! Beware angst. Enjoy~
While the couple talked, the kids had some questions. They hadn't asked while Luffy was in a coma because they just didn't want to talk about him at all. They didn't want to jinx anything. So they asked now.
"Why did the bad guy take Luffy? Robin, who was he really?" Nami asked seriously. The other three waited for Robin's answer as well.
"The man was Luffy's father. Luffy has been scared because he wasn't a very nice man during Luffy's childhood."
"Does that have something to do with his problems?" Sanji questioned.
"It was never my business, and it is not yours. I intruded on his privacy, and I feel guilty about that. So I'm not going to answer that question."
"What about his mom?" Nojiko asked. Robin answered that she didn't know. That none of them had a clue about his biological mother.
"I don't understand why he started talking. It's so out of the blue. And why was he so convinced he had an awful voice?" Usopp asked.
Nami thought for a moment. "There has to be another reason he didn't talk." But then she saw Robin's stern look and dropped the topic. They all waited patiently as Luffy and Zoro talked. They hoped Luffy was helping with Zoro's guilt. They knew Zoro would never forget Luffy in that bed. Empty and still, not conveying he was alive other than his steady breathing. None of them would forget it, but Zoro had been with Luffy when the bad thing started. When Luffy was snatched away from his love.
When they had arrived home, the police were outside the house, Zoro sitting on a stretcher, his leg bleeding. He was sobbing and wouldn't look away from the direction Luffy was heading in.
Robin had run out and to Zoro, but he was inconsolable and couldn't talk. This wasn't like when he was over the phone when Luffy was first attacked by his dad. No, Luffy was alive then. Zoro had sobbed, but was able to speak. This time, he couldn't talk around his heartbreaking sobs. The other children were all scared.
"Zoro, where is Luffy?" Robin asked in panic. There was no way Luffy would ever leave Zoro to cry like this, and Zoro would never cry like this unless it involved something bad with Luffy. But Zoro didn't answer. Robin rushed to an officer, watching as talked in the radio, sitting in the car. The woman explained as much as Zoro had told her to Robin, whose eyes got bigger and bigger as she heard that Luffy was abducted.
Zoro had refused to get in the ambulance and would wait for Luffy at their home, but Robin convinced him that Luffy was more likely to end up in the hospital than come back home. Just in case, a cop car was staying at the house.
So Zoro rode in the ambulance while Robin and the kids followed in their car. The kids were panicking in the back seat about where Luffy was. All they got was that he had been shot and kidnapped. Robin felt crushing regret. She should have trusted her instincts and not left the boys alone at night. Robin hadn't even entered the house when they got there. She knew the police had been inside, but Robin was more concerned about Zoro's leg than what happened inside.
Zoro had cried the whole way to the hospital, earning some pitiful glances from the paramedics. But he didn't care. All he could think about was Luffy.
They finally made it to the emergency room and Zoro was seen immediately. Only 15 or so minutes had passed since luffy was abducted. Robin had come just a few moments too late. But then, she would have put the entire family at risk if she had walked in on the attack.
Zoro was being treated and had something for the pain as the bullet was being taken out of his thigh when they heard everyone quiet around them. Except of course Zoro, who was absolutely inconsolable. They heard shouting and the skidding sound from the wheels of the stretcher and watched as poor Luffy was brought back to have immediate surgery. Zoro had stopped sobbing but was still crying as he wanted the man to hurry up getting the bullet out. He wanted to see Luffy now.
Zoro was on crutches while the family hurried over to one of the doctors and Robin informed her that one of their patients was in fact Robin's son. She was told that they'd have to wait until Luffy was out of surgery. He was having the bullet removed and his insides fixed where the bullet had struck. Then he was treated for the glass embedded in his feet and hands. And then his road rash was treated. It took a few hours before Luffy was stable, but they didn't let the family in with him right away as he was being closely monitored and blood bags set up. He had lost a lot of blood. He was very close to slipping away even after he was brought back. The blood loss was incredible. It was a miracle he lasted long enough to make it to the hospital.
Finally, after what felt like forever, Luffy's family was let in. He was laying silently on the bed, under a blanket, so none of the kids saw his scars on his arms. The doctors who took care of him grew furious, even though they didn't know his situation, when they took off Luffy's bloody shorts and saw the carvings. Poor kid.
They had all just stared at Luffy, who had a bandage taped to a large expanse of the right side of his face. Zoro staggered over to the side of the bed, dropping his crutches, and sat in a chair, touching Luffy's face, making sure he was actually here.
Luffy's main doctor this time grimly told them he was in a coma and made no response to any of the doctors while they treated him, even after the sedative wore off, he didn't respond at all to physical touch or being spoken to. They didn't know if or when he'd wake up.
The moment they heard the "if" part of the man's statement, they froze in horror.
"What do you mean?" Robin asked sharply. The man sighed.
"He may wake up an hour from now, or a day, or a week or he may never wake up. He may also slip away while he sleeps. A coma is unpredictable. I'm sorry."
"What were his injuries?" Robin asked as calmly as she could, trying not to look at Luffy lying so still in that bed.
"He was shot in the back, very close to his kidney, he seems to have road rash, he broke three ribs, one that punctured his lung, and had glass stuck in his feet and cuts all over his palms. He was very lucky to survive. The main problem he had had was the extreme blood loss. A big part of Luffy's coma is the fact that he died and had to be brought back with a defibrillator after losing so much blood. He would have been better if he'd been treated right away, but he went at least twenty minutes before he reached here. He is lucky he made it here before he lost all the blood in his body. If he wakes up, he will be a miracle. I'm sorry. We will make him as comfortable as possible," the doctor said kindly but didn't leave the room. He didn't want his eyes off of this boy yet. He was still in critical condition, though they could do no more for him at the moment but let him sleep in comfort. He was also on pain medication, though he didn't need it. But none of the staff knew that.
Zoro had stopped crying and just stared at Luffy's pale face. He felt empty. He was glad Luffy wasn't kidnapped and tortured, but he might never wake up. Or someday, he'll learn Luffy passed away all alone and Zoro didn't even get to say goodbye.
For four days, Zoro stayed with Luffy at the hospital except for showering at home and getting meals. Robin forced him to come home and eat, though he didn't eat much. When he was at the hospital, he read to Luffy even though he had a feeling Luffy wouldn't remember when he woke up. If he woke up.
Finally on the fifth day, Robin forced Zoro to come home, telling him it wasn't healthy for him to be with Luffy all the time like this. So Zoro was miserable at home, making sure to keep Robin's phone near him in case the hospital called. He wasn't embarrassed at all when he cried over Luffy. Not knowing if his love was ever going to wake up was really taking a toll on Zoro. He rarely slept and not in their room. He barely spent any time in there and mostly stayed on the couch watching TV.
Six miserable days went by where Zoro acted like a shell of himself. It was painful for Robin to see her son like this. She never would have imagined he'd ever find someone he cares for enough to cry over them. Robin had a feeling Zoro wouldn't cry for her nearly as much as he had been for Luffy. It was a sad thought.
The hospital made no calls until the morning of the tenth day, the day Luffy woke up and Zoro came back to himself.
Zoro walked past everyone sitting on the couches in the waiting area. They were on the fourth floor, were Luffy had been last time after the attack. He wasn't in one of the super fancy rooms again, but no one really cared. The bed was comfortable enough for Luffy. He didn't need anything fancy. He'd had a room with a single mattress for much of his life after all. He wasn't picky.
"Where are you going?" Robin asked Zoro when he walked past her. Well, limped past her.
"Looking for a nurse. Luffy wants to walk around," he said simply.
"Why don't you use the call button in the room?" Nami asked. Zoro froze and then walked right back the way he came and into the room to find the call button.
He was surprised when he saw Luffy dozing. Luffy fell asleep when he was in the other room for a moment often. Guess he didn't actually want to get up and go somewhere. Zoro smiled at him fondly, though he didn't particularly like him being so still as he slept. It looked too much how it did just yesterday. He realized how Luffy had fallen asleep before he could even spend much time with the others. His and Zoro's talk had been a long one. Long and meaningful.
He walked back out, not having pressed the button. But he didn't stay away long. He didn't want to risk Luffy getting a nightmare. It was lucky he didn't have constant nightmares or anything during his days in the coma.
Zoro informed the others that Luffy had fallen asleep and Zoro would be staying with him if any of them wanted to go in but stay quiet. Nami and Robin wanted to, but robin couldn't just leave the other kids out in the hall, so she had them sit right next to Luffy's door on plastic chairs while she sat a little ways away from Luffy's bed. Nami and Zoro were on either side of him as he slept quietly. He turned his head minutely, relieving both Nami and Zoro. They liked knowing he was only asleep. Not slipping back into his awful coma. Zoro touched Luffy's hand and held it gently, not wanting to bother the still healing cuts across his small hands.
"You really love him, don't you?" Nami asked Zoro. He turned to her, surprised at the question.
"More than anything," he answered truthfully. He wasn't embarrassed of loving him. He didn't talk about it much because there was no reason to talk to anyone else about his feelings towards Luffy. Nami smirked and said nothing else.
Nami was happy that Luffy had talked to them. Based on Zoro's reaction, Luffy had been talking to him before he spontaneously did not long ago. She wasn't mad, just a bit jealous. She had been Luffy's friend before Zoro, but she just shut her out after he lost his eye months ago. She never knew why or what had happened to break him so badly. It was awful seeing him after the hospital incident.
"Luffy lost his eye to his dad, didn't he?" she asked seriously. She was surprised when Zoro answered her.
"Yeah. That's why he was so messed up when he came home. His dad stabbed his eye outside with no one else around. Don't bring it up with him, not that I think you will," Zoro said, running his hand through Luffy's hair. "Don't tell the others either."
"His problems all have to do with his dad, don't they? How he was mute and scared of everything. And why he wears long sleeved shirts," Nami said. She got no answer, but that was answer enough. "Poor Luffy," she whispered.
Zoro convinced Robin to let him stay with Luffy while he was still in the hospital. Luffy hadn't said anything, but he really didn't want to be alone here. He'd have nightmares, and he knew those nightmares would be about what happened. He had a feeling it'd be like it was for Zoro. Zoro had nightmares about Luffy dying. Seeing Zoro shot because he was affiliated with Luffy would stay in his mind for a very long time. So she let Zoro stay and the hospital staff gave him a nicer chair to sleep in. They knew it was a moot point to even ask him to leave, and based on what they knew happened to Luffy, like last time, they let him stay with the poor boy.
Luffy had no nightmares while Zoro slept, holding his hand.
Luffy was allowed to be in a wheelchair and go around the floor. He couldn't do it himself because they wanted him to keep his hands relaxed just a bit more, until they were good enough to use regularly. It was hard for Luffy to eat food, so he was wishing the bandages would come off already. Those cuts didn't seem that bad during the incident. He didn't know how bad they were after using the big shard to pop the tire.
So Robin wheeled him around since when Zoro tried, it was poorly coordinated with his limping. So he walked next to Luffy while he was wheeled around.
While the three were out of the room, a few officers came to his room for questioning. It had been eleven days and they needed a police report. So the two officers waited for him after a nurse explained where Luffy was.
When Luffy was brought back to his room, he saw the officers sitting outside the door. Luffy looked worried. What if they were here to tell him his dad got away? Luffy hadn't known if the police had even found him out there.
"Hello, Luffy," one of the officers said kindly. "We need to ask you some questions. And you too, Zoro."
Zoro had given what he remembered from the scene, but they needed more specifics other than "we both got shot and Luffy got kidnapped". That's all he had said because he didn't even want to think about what happened.
"Okay," Luffy said, knowing it would be troublesome for the cops if he wrote everything on the whiteboard since his handwriting was crappy right now. He was lifted onto the bed to sit down by Zoro to not aggravate his feet.
"We'd like to know what happened eleven nights ago. In detail please," the other officer said, pulling out a tape recorder and notepad.
"Me and Zoro were in our room when Zoro heard a noise from down stairs, so we went into the bathroom and locked the doors. When he walked in, I slammed the door against him and we ran to get to the phone. I was almost there when I got shot in the back and fell down. I was out for a second and Zoro was tackled and shot in the leg. I got a baseball bat and hit him in the head with it and got to the phone. I was on the phone when I got caught. I… I had a flashback right then," Luffy said, embarrassed, but continued when the cops said nothing. "Then when I came back I was in the car and he was driving away, saying he was going to torture me again. I kicked out the window because none of the buttons were working and I couldn't unlock the door.
"When I got the window kicked out, I cut my hands and feet jumping backwards out of the car. I scraped my skin and broke a few ribs I guess. But I ran away to the broken buildings everywhere and hid to the side and tripped him when he came looking for me. He threw me off and pointed the gun at my face.
"I pretended to be scared and then disarmed the gun and threw the bullets everywhere and tossed the gun onto the roof of one of the buildings. I… I didn't want him to get away. My teacher said to always try and get away, but I knew he was just gonna come back if he got away. So I kneed his crotch and I think I broke his nose and hurt his knee so he couldn't walk. He had a phone on him, so I took that.
"I went back to the car and threw the keys away and popped one of the tires with a shard of glass and called 911. I ran away but don't remember much after I fell down. Then I woke up here," Luffy concluded. The man had been taking notes while Luffy talked, and nodded to him. He then turned to Zoro and asked for his story.
"Everything was the same as Luffy said until he got caught and dragged away. I… I tried following but my leg was injured and it was hard to walk. It was only around thirty seconds before the cops came after he drove off. I didn't know what to do…" Zoro said sadly.
"What happened? Is he in jail?" Luffy asked desperately, his eyes pleading the officers to say yes.
"He is in custody now. He won't get you again. You beat him. Congratulations. And we'd like to apologize for not getting there in time. We came too late to keep him from abducting you," the woman said sadly, then standing up to leave. "Get well soon, Luffy. You'll never see that man again," she said and left, the other officer following.
Luffy finally felt like a huge burden was off his chest and started to cry. It was silent, like most of the time. Zoro sat next to him and gently put his arm around Luffy's shoulders.
"It's finally over, Luffy. You're safe again. And we can finally take the bars off the windows now. Right?" he asked Robin, who was smiling at the two warmly. It was so nice for both of them to see Luffy crying not in fear.
"Yes, we can take the bars of the windows."
"Wait!" Luffy suddenly shouted. "Go bring them back! What about my mom?!" Zoro knew what he meant and sprinted after the officers down the hall. He got some nasty looks far shouting at them to stop from a distance. The two looked back and saw Zoro running for them.
"What about Luffy's biological mom? Did you find her?" Zoro asked, not out of breath at all from his short sprint that made his leg hurt a bit. "Can you come back and tell him? He's gonna keep being scared unless he knows what's happening," Zoro pleaded. He wanted that happy expression to stay on Luffy's face. He didn't want to see him scared at all anymore. Both officers nodded and the three walked back to Luffy's room, where he was waiting with wide eyes.
"What about my mom? What happened with her?" Luffy asked. Robin hated even acknowledging that woman was Luffy's mother.
"I'm sorry we forgot to say anything," said the female officer. "The phone you used had texts on it between your mother and now detained father. From what we've read and questioned, they have been waiting outside of your house for quite a while. The messages don't exactly outline what their plan was all along, but we know where the woman was not long ago. She wasn't in this city anymore, though.
"We police aren't involved much in the investigation part, so we can say your mother is on the run. But don't worry, we really doubt she will come back. When she's caught, we'll tell you. You deserve to know," she said to Luffy with a smile. Luffy was biting his lip. People said they doubted his dad coming back, but look at what happened.
He nodded to the two and they left for a second time. "Luffy," Zoro said. "It's not like how it was for your dad. Your mom never took part in any of the torture, right? So she can't be dangerously violent, since she couldn't hurt you in your home in secret, I think that there's no way she'd be stupid enough to try and hurt you on her own in public, with the cops after her. It's okay," he tried to convince Luffy.
Luffy knew he was right. All of this time, it was his dad that was doing all of the work. His biological mom was probably just a stupid chauffeur. Luffy nodded and let out a heavy sigh. He wondered how the kids were doing. He knew they had been worrying about him, like Robin and Zoro, but what were they feeling now that they knew what had happened with Luffy? He was honestly embarrassed he got caught and injured so horribly. He wondered how much everything cost. Zoro's injury included. And it was his fault it all happened. It was indirectly his fault for even being near them. But he was too scared to leave them, and now he was grateful he didn't.
"How are everyone else?" Luffy asked, looking up at Robin.
"They are happy you're okay. Nami is still worried about you, though she shouldn't be since you'll be coming home soon."
"What did you tell them? They must have asked why I was kidnapped by the bad guy. I assume you told them it was my dad," Luffy said. He frowned a bit when Robin nodded. "What else did you tell them?"
"That it wasn't their business. I also told them I would not invade your privacy more than I already had," she sighed. Luffy deserved to know.
"What do you mean?" Luffy asked, confused with her expression. She looked guilty, but Luffy couldn't come up with any reason why she would be. Zoro knew what she was talking about.
"When I got sent your photo before you came to our home, you looked horrible. You just looked like you were miserable, so I spent all night trying to find out why and found an article form when you were found after the three years. I'm sorry I was so nosey. It was not my place," Robin said, her head down.
"I didn't know they wrote an article… they said I wouldn't end up in the news," was all he said. He wasn't mad at Robin. He would have ended up knowing eventually anyways. "Is that why you were so understanding? 'Cause you knew what had happened?"
"Yes. Again, I apologize," Robin said, looking at him sincerely.
"It's okay. I would have ended up telling you anyway and you knew how to welcome me by knowing. I forgive you," Luffy told her, making her give a small smile.
"Thank you," she said kindly.
"Can you get a nurse? I want to know when I get to go home," Luffy said. He didn't know how long it took for deeps cuts to heal, but it had been over eleven days, so he should be good right? They only thing he could think of that would make him have to stay longer were the cuts on his feet, which had become fresh scabs. Since their house was two stories, there wouldn't be a way for him to get up the stairs in a wheelchair or even crutches. Zoro could always carry him, but he'd have to walk or stand sometime. He wasn't going to ask Zoro to carry him in and out of the bathroom. He wished he had shoes on when he was taken. That would have been so much more convenient.
"Alright," Robin said and walked out. There was no reason to use the call button when she knew the nurse wasn't far.
Robin came back shortly and said that Luffy was allowed to go home the next day, but he had to walk slowly and carefully. No running for now, which he agreed to sadly. He liked running on the treadmill now. But he got to go home, so that was good. And Zoro would finally have Luffy to sleep with again, which made Zoro very happy. He was finally coming home.
Part 2 is over. Review!
Chapter 19: Things Were Supposed To Be Better Now
Angsty again, but who can blame him? Welcome to part 3.
Zoro and Luffy sat on their bed playing video games a couple hours after Luffy was able to come home. There was something that was bugging him, though.
"Zoro, I want to ask Robin something but I don't know if I want to talk or not. I don't want to disappoint them by using the whiteboard, but I'm not feeling as confident as I had been when they first heard me. My confidence has dissipated a bit," he said a bit sadly.
"Do you remember their reactions when you first talked? They were shocked, but happy. No one thought your voice was stupid," Zoro replied.
"I know… but still. I'm just uncomfortable with it now," Luffy confessed. "I was just really happy after what had happened, though it was really scary in hindsight. I… I know the kids think something else happened. That thinking my voice was annoying wasn't the only thing stopping me from talking. They don't know it was from the torture, I know, but still. I see them looking at me really curiously and I don't like it. I wish they wouldn't look at me at all."
Zoro looked to him briefly, but didn't stop the game. "I think they are confused about the whole situation. Some things just don't add up now that they know he was your dad. The lies we told beforehand are confusing them." Zoro paused. "And I think they are also worried about your wounds. You have clear bandages on your legs, so they can see the damage. The ones on your face don't have any bandages on them. They are gruesome, Luffy. If I suddenly had wounds that that looked like that, would you stare?"
"No. I don't stare at people," Luffy answered simply.
"Okay, well most people would stare," Zoro said patiently. "But know they are staring in concern. It's hard not to constantly look. They're even difficult for me sometimes."
"I don't want anyone to worry about me, though," Luffy replied.
"Family worries about each other when they are injured or hurt. It's just how it is," Zoro explained. Luffy then looked a bit sad.
"Oh. I guess I'm not used to it yet. I had people not care about my injuries for a long time... No one stared with my missing eye, though," Luffy pointed out, moving away from his sad sentence. He'd been hurt multiple times, but he still wasn't fully used to it from the others. He was used to Zoro worrying about him, but the kids were different. They didn't see all his injuries and suffering.
"You had an eye patch on and they were specifically told not to stare. You didn't need that added to your stress and insecurity," Zoro explained, ignoring the depressing statement Luffy had spoken.
"It's like I was meant to be injured often. Since I'm not tortured anymore with those injuries, it's like I'm making up for the lack of them in my own stupid way," Luffy grumbled. Zoro paused their game and put the controller down. He took Luffy's hand.
"This time had nothing to do with you. It was in no way your fault that you got injured. Yes, you were the one who decided to jump out a moving car, but like you convinced me, it was necessary. What did you want to ask Robin?" Zoro asked.
"I want to know about my lessons with Reighley. Since I can't do anything strenuous on my feet or legs yet, I don't know what we would even do. And I was sad he didn't visit at the hospital," Luffy said sadly.
"You were only awake for three days and he might not have had time or simply forgot. He seems like a busy person," Zoro said. This made Luffy feel bad. "He might have family issues or something happened that occupied his mind a lot. I'm sure it's not personal."
"What if he's mad about what I did? I went against what he said…"
"Luffy, he'd have no way of knowing what you went through. The news thankfully didn't cover the whole story."
"Oh yeah," Luffy said. "That was a stupid question wasn't it?" Zoro smirked.
"Just a bit," he laughed. Luffy knew he wasn't being mean, so he smiled back. "If you don't want to speak at the moment, that's okay. And it's mom. You spoke to her before you spoke to me. And you can always ask to talk to her in private." Luffy nodded.
"I'm gonna go ask now. I'll be right back," he said and walked to the dresser. Zoro watched Luffy as he started intently at the whiteboard resting on top of the furniture. Luffy reached for it multiple times and stopped, obviously at war with himself. He frowned and picked it up and left. He lost the war.
Luffy walked downstairs to Robin slowly, to not hurt his scabs, who was thankfully away from everyone else. She looked up when he walked in front of her. He opened his mouth before he closed it and stared down at the whiteboard. He didn't know what to do. He didn't want to talk, but he also didn't want to use the whiteboard. He was frustrated with himself. Just talk.
Robin waited patiently before speaking. "Don't force yourself to speak Luffy. Talk when you feel like you're ready. You will someday, and you're getting closer. Don't push yourself. Take your time. You have a lot of it before you," she said kindly. But this just made Luffy feel guilty. He had spoken to all of them so easily, so why was he having trouble now? He opened his mouth to speak again, but he just couldn't get words out!
So he left without asking his question, confusing Robin. Luffy wanted to go outside, but the ground would hurt his feet and he didn't feel like putting shoes on. So he went to Robin's room and walked into her closet. He looked at his beanbag chair. This room was his hiding place. But he didn't want to hide anymore. He looked down at his whiteboard and pen, glaring at them. He finally chucked the pen at the chair angrily. What was wrong with him? He had spoken to them! Why couldn't he do it again?!
He closed the door hard, almost slamming it, and flopped down on top of the pen and put his head in his hands. He thought he was better. He knew he wasn't completely normal, but he thought he'd improved. But now he felt like there was a heavy weight on his shoulders he had to carry and didn't know when or where to put it down. He looked at his palms that still had faint criss-crosses from the glass. All theses wounds did was remind him how he had accomplished something. And then reminded him that now he couldn't seem to gain it back. That he'd made an improvement that he couldn't keep. He thought he had defeated his demons, so why was he having so much trouble? This was embarrassing.
He laid his head back against the wall and looked up at nothing. What was wrong with him? He should be better now. He had been better, for a very short amount of time apparently. Ugh. Sometimes, still, he hated himself. He felt weak. Not in body, but in resolve. That he just wasn't trying enough. But forcing himself to talk sounded horrible. It really made no sense to him, what was happening. He was thankful he hadn't retracted with Zoro. That he still could talk with him easily.
Robin frowned in confusion when Luffy's face suddenly became blank and he walked away without saying or writing anything to her. She could faintly heard the sound of his closet slamming shut. She could guess what he was upset about. She assumed that he hadn't been completely ready to speak out loud, and now he felt obligated to do so. That he would disappoint everyone. She knew he didn't like the stares he got from the kids. Nami was the only one who had caught on that he didn't like it. The glances were brief in hindsight, but then, even looking at Luffy for more than a second was staring to him.
She put her book down on the table she was sitting at and walked up to talk to Zoro. She knocked on the door, though it was open, to tell Zoro she was there.
"Yeah?" he asked, and Robin walked and closed the door behind her. "What's up? Did Luffy ask you about Reighley?"
"No, he didn't ask at all. He walked away without saying anything." Zoro sighed.
"He's having trouble. He doesn't want to disappoint the others by not talking, but he's just not ready. I think he feels obligated to speak now that he's done it before. I honestly don't know how to help him with this," Zoro told her sadly. He ran his hand through his hair. "He hates himself at the moment."
"I thought so. He slammed the closet door shut," Robin said.
"I know. It was pretty loud. He's angry, and when Luffy's angry, he isolates himself. He's rarely angry, but he's hidden in there from me when I pissed him off once," Zoro told her. She was a bit surprised to hear that Luffy hid from him once when he pissed the boy off. Well, for Luffy it was anger, but also hurt.
"I'm letting him cool off for a minute before I go in. Can you talk to the others about this? To not push him to talk or look at him weird if he uses the whiteboard in front of them?" Zoro asked his mom.
"Yes, I was planning to do that anyway. I wish he'd talk to me about his problems like he used to. I know it's partly my fault after all. He only stopped really communicating with me when I separated you two… before, he'd been talking to me less because he had you, but after the whole mess I caused, he doesn't talk to me anymore about personal issues. And I don't think he even realizes it, though I've never confronted him about it. That'd just make him feel guilty," Robin said sadly. Zoro felt for her. He didn't feel guilty that he had replaced her, but he did feel sad that she lost that mother-son super bond they had had.
Robin had run out of things she could help him with. Zoro was perfect because he knew almost everything about Luffy. Much of his past, his thoughts and insecurities, all the physical tricks he could pull to help him, and of course the love he could provide that Luffy seemed to live off of.
"I'm gonna go talk to him now. Please talk to the others," Zoro said and walked out and down the hall to Robin's room. Robin nodded and left to go talk to everyone else, wherever they might be.
Zoro knocked on the closet door. He got a "hmm?" noise and opened the door, shutting it behind him and locking it so Luffy felt they had more privacy. Zoro sat cross legged across from him on the carpet and opened his arms, waiting for Luffy to move into his lap, which he predictably did.
"You cooled off some?" Zoro asked, running his hand down Luffy's back. Luffy nodded. "Wanna talk about it?"
"I think you know what's wrong," Luffy mumbed on Zoro's shoulder.
"I want to hear it from you," Zoro replied in a soft voice. Luffy readjusted himself to sit more comfortably by wrapping his legs around Zoro's abdomen and his arms around Zoro's neck, more now like Zoro was carrying him while he hung on instead of just sitting with him.
"I know I only just got back, and I talked to them only a couple days ago, but I couldn't even ask Robin my question because I couldn't talk and it felt wrong to write on the whiteboard. I don't know what I'm supposed to do," Luffy said sadly. He sniffled once, but didn't cry. Zoro stayed quiet, having a feeling Luffy had more to say. He let him know he was still listening by continuing to run his hand along Luffy's spine.
"I feel weak. Like I'm just not trying hard enough. But I am, I'm trying really hard, but I just can't talk. I just talked to them! Why can't I again?" he said loudly, very frustrated. "I'm disappointed in myself and it's a terrible feeling. I'm… lately I'd been so much better and more confident, and I feel like being unable to talk is letting myself down. Like I'm looking down on myself. My confident side is looking down on how I'm acting right now… does that make sense?" Luffy asked, sounding mopey.
"Yeah, it does. But Luffy, you don't have multiple personalities. You're the same person. You can't have some of you look down on the other part of you. You are the confident side and the side you feel that is disappointing. You should accept that they are both you, and that this is only temporary. Even if you don't feel it's temporary, it is. I know you felt so strong when you spoke to everyone, and you are. Not were, you are still strong. Maybe you don't feel it at the moment. If you're not ready to talk again, then they will have to understand and deal with it," Zoro told him. "I know Nami understands you. She'll get it if you don't talk anymore. Robin will understand as well. I asked her to tell the others not to push you. So don't worry about that.
"I'd like to point out something very important," Zoro said, pulling back to look Luffy in the eyes. Luffy gulped. He didn't know what Zoro was going to say. "A little over five months ago, you were mute. You didn't talk to anyone, make eye contact, hang out, sleep or eat. You refused to show anyone your scars. You didn't socialize at all, and were afraid of everything. You hurt yourself constantly in secret, and had no one to turn to. Robin was there for you, but you didn't have me. But look at yourself now. It's only been less than six months, Luffy. Look at how you're improved," Zoro said with a smile, pushing a stand of Luffy's hair behind his ear.
"Now you sleep. All the time. You talk, and even if it's just to me, it's a huge improvement. You socialize more and eat. You exercise and draw and read and play with me. You make eye contact, and you even take your shirt off in front of me. And you've mastered losing an eye in an attack, you beat someone much bigger and who scared you for all your life. You were brave enough to go out in public multiple times, and were brave enough to fight back against your worst enemy. Alone. You did it all alone, Luffy.
"And you made me fall in love with you. To me, that is the best thing you have done. You opened my heart and changed me into a better person. You remember how I used to be, don't you?" Luffy nodded. He had tears streaming down his face by now. "You captured my heart all on your own, and have held it for me.
"Five months is nothing compared to how long a lot of people take to heal even a little. I've said you were amazing before, but you're incredible. You're your own superhero. Don't beat yourself down for feeling a little bit of weakness. No superhero can be strong at all times, right? And you saved me remember? I might have died without you there. Don't beat yourself down. And remember, I'm always here for you. Always," Zoro finally concluded. Luffy buried his head in the crook between Zoro's shoulder and neck and cried quietly.
Zoro completely improved Luffy's mood, though the rest of the day he didn't talk to anyone. Robin had passed along the message Zoro wanted her to and no one acted like it was strange Luffy wasn't speaking. They also stopped staring at his wounds, though it was difficult. He looked truly awful. It seemed Robin had noticed the stares and did her best to put a stop to them. Sanji, Usopp and Nojiko couldn't understand how Zoro could be so close to the injured teen and not cringe at the sight of his road rash. Nami understood because she could tell Zoro truly loved Luffy. The others could see it, but Nami had known about their relationship since the beginning and could see just how deep it was. That Zoro was always there to try and fend off Luffy's demons while he got ready to fight them himself.
For dinner, to celebrate Luffy's health and return, it was breakfast for dinner. Luffy was happy with this. Lunch had been boring, some bland hospital food. Everyone enjoyed dinner, and Luffy was glad he didn't catch anyone staring at his cheek, since they couldn't see the wounds on his legs. His skin honestly looked raw and it was painful to see.
Everyone was stuffed by the end of the meal. Even Luffy was, though he still had relatively small servings. After everyone put their plates in the sink, Zoro all but dragged Luffy up the stairs and into their room, closing the door behind them. Zoro pushed Luffy to the bed and he sat down after him.
"We were supposed to cuddle and sleep forever today. Still up to it, though it's pretty late?" Zoro asked with a smile, happy to be able to be so close with Luffy after what felt like forever sleeping alone. Luffy nodded.
"We can always sleep in tomorrow," he said, laying down on his side, pulled against Zoro's chest. Neither fell asleep for a while, just enjoying being close with each other. Luffy was first to fall asleep and Zoro listened to his quiet breathing. Then Luffy did something Zoro has never heard him do. He made a light "hmmm" sound. It was very quiet, but Zoro could hear it. He wondered what Luffy was dreaming about. He was slightly worried that Luffy would once again have nightmares, but all that night, Luffy didn't wake up, and Zoro had no nightmares as well, like he had been having while Luffy was in the coma.
No one woke them up in the morning because Robin told them not to. To let the two sleep together as long as they wanted. Nami giggled at this, and it reminded her of how things were before.
Zoro woke up around noon but didn't move to bother Luffy. They were still in the same position since luffy never moved while he slept, and Zoro waited patiently for his partner to wake up, looking at his relaxed face. Luffy was on the side his injured cheek wasn't on so it didn't touch the mattress and get irritated. Every time he looked at Luffy's wounds, it made him furious that Luffy even had to jump out of the car in the first place. But thankfully, Zoro didn't feel as crushingly guilty about it, like when Luffy lost his eye, because Luffy wasn't broken from the recent experience. The injuries were battle injuries. The wound on his stomach he knew was still visible also bothered him, though Luffy hadn't taken his shirt off infront of Zoro yet. But knowing it was there bothered him. He looked down at his leg. This wound was nothing compared to what had almost killed Luffy.
Luffy woke up slowly, his eyelids still heavy in sleepiness. He yawned cutely, well, to Zoro. He rubbed his eyes and smiled at Zoro, who was smiling warmly at him.
"Hi," he said quietly.
"Hey," Zoro replied with a smile.
"Did you sleep okay?" Luffy asked. Zoro nodded in reply. "Good." Zoro then asked how he'd slept and he replied with the same answer Zoro had given.
"It's kinda late but thanks for the talk yesterday. It really helped," Luffy told him with a slight blush. "It was kinda embarrassing though. I feel guilty when I get mad. It's a weird feeling a lot of the time and I throw things sometimes. But little things. Like the pen but at the beanbag chair," he said, sounding ashamed.
"Remember when I told you I threw a vase at my dad 'cause I was angry? A pen is nothing," Zoro said, laughing slightly.
"I guess so…" Luffy said in uncertainty.
Zoro moved his hand to run it through Luffy's hair. "You're allowed to feel different emotions you know."
"Yeah. I'm sorry I turned all moody again. I had been really happy for a long time and now I'm all mopey," Luffy mumbled. "I thought I had made progress."
"Luffy, you went through serious trauma not two weeks ago. It was scary, so of course you're going to be down. I think you were on a high at the hospital. It's understandable. Just give it some time. I think you should ask Robin about Reighley now. I think he'd want to hear the story. I'm sure he'd feel good knowing what he taught you saved you. don't you think?" Zoro asked with a smirk. Luffy gave a smile and nodded. He actually wanted someone other than family to praise him. He tried telling himself that wasn't being conceited.
So Zoro let Luffy out of his arms and off the bed, picking up his whiteboard off of the dresser the two shared.
Luffy tapped Robin's arm in her room to talk to her. "Yes?" she asked with a smile. She always liked talking to Luffy, though it didn't happen much anymore.
Can I go see Reighley? Luffy wrote with a very small smile.
"Of course. I can call him and ask when a good time would be. I know you can't do your last two classes at the moment because of your wounds, but I'm sure he'd like to hear the story," Robin said with a kind smile. She then looked down at his legs. It was obvious the band aids needed to be changed.
"Do you want me to help you change your bandages?" she asked. Luffy looked down, a bit red in the face. He shook his head.
Zoro will help me. Robin looked very sad at the answer. Luffy looked guilty at her expression.
"Luffy, are you ever going to really talk with me? I don't mean speak out loud, but talk like we used to? Before I separated the two of you?" Robin asked sadly. "I don't think you have noticed it, but after that incident, you completely stopped sharing things with me. Are you still upset about that?"
Luffy looked slightly surprised. He hadn't really noticed. But he didn't want to tell her the truth. That she just wasn't the same as Zoro. That she couldn't basically read his mind or hold him in her lap like Zoro does. She doesnt know everything that Zoro does, and Luffy just doesn't want to tell anyone else about more of his past and overall recurring problems. He didn't know what to say. So he stood there awkwardly, trying to think of how to reply. Finally he settled with something true.
I don't know what to talk about. He looked at his feet, feeling guilty.
"Because you already tell Zoro everything?" she asked, trying to banish the sadness in her voice.
It's different with Zoro, he wrote. He can do other things to help that only he can do.
"You mean physical things?" Luffy nodded sheepishly.
I'm sorry Luffy wrote, trying to not make it obvious he was about to start crying in guilt. He wanted to leave the room, but didn't want to make Robin feel bad.
"It's okay. I understand. I just hope one day you have things you want to talk about with me," she said with a sad smile. Luffy nodded and left the room quickly. He couldn't go in his closet and cry because Robin was in her room, so he went to the next best private place. He walked down the stairs and put shoes on softly to walk into the backyard and sit behind the tree. And cry.
Robin could see Luffy's face turning red in embarrassment, but then the red around his eyes were prominent and she felt guilty for putting him on the spot like that and unintentionally guilt tripping him. She wanted to go apologize, but Luffy probably wouldn't do well with that. She sighed and got up off the bed and walked into the couple's room. The door was semi-open since Luffy was going to come right back, but Luffy wasn't in there. But Zoro was.
"Can you go talk to Luffy? I made him upset," Robin said sadly.
"What did you do?" Zoro asked, automatically suspicious. He didn't like when Luffy was upset, and when someone else did it, Zoro would get really mad at them.
Robin sighed and sat on their bed next to Zoro. "I put him on the spot and guilt tripped him. I didn't mean to, but I could tell on his face he was upset and felt guilty for not talking to me. I asked him and he said he didn't know what to talk about with me. Then he said only you can help him in some ways. I asked if they were physical things and he nodded. His face was red and red was forming around his eyes. He's probably crying somewhere," she finished, looking miserable.
"I'm sorry. I know you thought of him as your son -" Zoro began.
"He is my son," Robin interrupted him.
"I know he's special to you. I'm sorry he only talks to me now. I stole him in some ways. I'm sorry," Zoro told his mom sadly. He wasn't sorry Luffy talked to him. He just felt sorry for her. He liked that he was Luffy's confidant, but he wished he would at least talk to Robin a little bit.
"Yeah, he is. I thought, since he had no real parents, I could be his mother figure. But I guess not. He doesn't really need me when he has you."
Zoro paused for a moment. It was Luffy's business, but his mom needed to hear it. "Multiple times, before he started talking out loud to me, when he talked about you he had to erase 'mom' and write 'Robin' for a long time. He wants you to be his mom, but he's afraid you'll reject him or correct him that your name is Robin, not mom. Don't tell him I told you," Zoro said before he went downstairs looking for Luffy.
Robin smiled at his words. If that was true, she wasn't going to give up hope. She'd make sure he knew she was his mother. He had called her mom in the hospital a while ago. She was his mom, not that woman who abused him. That was not a mother, that was a monster. Robin really wanted that woman to be caught and go back to jail, where both of those horrible people belong. Luffy was her son, and if he wanted her as a mom, that was even better. She had noticed how much it hurt to imagine Luffy not with them in those moments they didn't know where Luffy was or if he as okay. It was then that she realized that she couldn't stand to be away from him. She loved him as her son.
Since Luffy wasn't anywhere inside, there was only one other place he could be. Zoro walked out the back door and to the single tree, which Luffy was sitting against, crying. Zoro sat down next to him.
"What happened?" Zoro asked. He didn't want Luffy to know he and Robin had been talking about him. Luffy looked away, embarrassed. He then wiped his eyes with his shirt sleeve.
"I feel bad. I made Robin upset and I don't know what I'm supposed to do about it…" He paused for a minute while Zoro waited patiently. "I just don't want to talk about my problems with anyone but you."
"Why?" Zoro asked kindly.
"Because no one else knows what to do for me… I can't sit in Robin's lap or be close to her in ways I am with you. I told her that. And that I don't know what to talk about with her without embarrassing myself. I mean, why does she want to be so close when it's temporary?"
"What's temporary?" Zoro asked, confused. Luffy turned red. Zoro was gonna be mad at him. "What do you mean?"
"You said you've had a lot of kids come and go. I'm a foster kid, too," Luffy said sadly. "We're all looking for forever homes. I've been in multiple foster homes and, no matter how attached to someone a kid is, they are expected to leave one day. And I don't… want to go to a fifth foster home. I want to stay here. Nobody will want me. I want this to be my forever home... With you..."
Zoro was very upset with what Luffy was feeling. But he did have a point. Foster kids don't stay forever. He'd learned that many times. But Luffy was different. He was Zoro's. And Zoro knew, though it was sad, no one would take Luffy in. Luffy won't have a forever home besides this one. Zoro wanted this to be Luffy's forever home, too.
"How long have you been thinking this?" Zoro asked, trying to keep his voice calm. No, he didn't like this subject at all. He didn't want Luffy thinking about this subject.
"What caused it?"
"I saw some pictures of other kids on the walls. I've never really looked at all of them. Only the ones I walk past a lot…" Luffy looked up at Zoro with big eyes. "Zoro, am I going to be in one of those pictures?"
"No, I would probably be in a picture in your room," Luffy muttered, having interrupted Zoro when he tried to talk. Luffy continued to look at his fingers with a frown.
"Luffy, you won't be on one of the pictures and it's our room. You are not temporary. I won't let you be. You're staying here. Okay? You are not temporary. This is your forever home," Zoro said forcefully. Luffy thought he was in trouble and looked down, his lower lip trembling.
"Sorry. It's just a thought I had…" Luffy said, doodling on his shorts with his finger. Zoro looked at him sadly.
Oh Luffy, where did your confidence go?
Hope you enjoyed! Review!
Chapter 20: Forever Home
This chapter tugs at the heartstrings, but not in pain, like I'm so good at doing. Enjoy~
Edit: It seems that italics isn't working for Luffy's dialogue no matter what I do. So you'll have to infer by context when Luffy is "speaking" on the whiteboard to mostly Reighley. It should be relatively easy. Again, sorry about that. Enjoy~
Luffy stood in front of Reighley’s dojo, not in his work out clothes. He still wasn't allowed to exercise of move around a lot with his road rash still so bad. So he was just here to talk. He tried his best during the outing to not take stares personally. The big scab on his face was noticeable from a mile away. Then once people were looking at him, they would notice the even larger scabs on both of his legs. His face was still red the whole walk into the building.
Since there was a restaurant across the parking lot, people there could easily see poor nervous Luffy. He had Robin on one side and Zoro on the other. They did their best to keep others on Luffy’s left so he couldn't see them easily.
The three waited in the waiting room/lobby for Reighley’s class to be over. They had come a few minutes early. Luffy was doodling on his whiteboard, sitting on the carpet against Zoro’s legs while he was running his fingers through Luffy’s hair while they waited. Robin watched the two with a fond smile. Gosh, they were cute together.
Luffy looked up to see someone come out with his teacher and say goodbye. The guy stared at Luffy’s face for a moment before averting his eyes and leaving the building. Luffy tried to keep that from bothering him. He really couldn't understand the concept that it was natural to stare at something like this, when Luffy didn't stare at people. He just didn't. There was no reason for him to do it because it was disrespectful and he didn't want to get in trouble.
Reighley walked out and greeted the three with a smile and didn't comment on Luffy’s injuries. Reighley jerked his head with a smile for Luffy to follow him. The small teen smiled and waved goodbye to his lover and mo- Robin - and walked out of their view.
“So, what do you want to do today?” Reighley asked curiously. When Robin had called him telling him Luffy wanted to see him, he was confused. Luffy was still recovering from his fight. He hadn't gotten the specifics, only that Luffy was unable to continue his lessons for a while. “The injuries on your leg won’t let you kick or run around obviously.”
Just want to talk Luffy wrote once the two reached their usual room. Luffy sat down and took his shoes off. He was wearing really fluffy socks for cushioning on his still sensitive feet.
“So, what happened?” Reighley asked.
The bad guy was my dad. That’s why I was coming to your classes. He was let out of jail and was after me. I did what you told me to do. I even disarmed his gun. I kicked him in the crotch and broke his nose and his knee, but I got shot and lost a lot of blood. They told my family that I died in the ambulance and they had to bring me back Luffy explained, having to erase his whiteboard many times.
“And how did you get your scrapes?” the man asked. He wasn't suspicious or anything, just curious. Luffy turned red. He hoped he wasn't in trouble.
I jumped out the car window. I had to or I’d be gone. He wasn't going to stop if I just asked him.
Reighley looked at him strangely. “Did you do it how I told you to?” he asked. Luffy nodded. “I’m glad you asked then. Did you stay calm?” Luffy nodded again. “I am proud of you. Usually, for my last classes, I spar for real with my student, but you don’t need that obviously. And it’s also plain you can’t do it with your injuries. Did you get hurt in other ways?” the man asked curiously, wearing a proud smile as he spoke.
Luffy nodded and held out his hands to show the pinkish lines. Then he gently and slowly removed his socks, showing his small, bare, and scabbed feet.
“Did you walk through glass?” he asked, and Luffy nodded.
I also got shot in the back. The bullet was close to my kidney. Reighley nodded solemnly.
“I’m very proud of you. The man was caught, correct? He won’t be coming after you again?” he asked seriously.
I made it so he couldn't get away. I broke his car.
“Impressive. I’m so glad my teachings helped,” Reighley said with a wide smile. “It’s always nice to hear you’ve made a difference.”
They saved me. Thank you. Can I finish my classes when I’m all better?
“Of course! I can’t let you go without having you complete the classes or I’d be conning you for your money,” the man said with a laugh. Luffy smiled at him and the two talked for a while longer.
The minute Luffy went back with Reighley, Zoro tuned to his mom. “I need to ask you something,” he said seriously. Robin sat up straighter and nodded.
“I want you to adopt Luffy,” Zoro said bluntly. “I want him to stay, and you and I both know Luffy will never find a permanent home besides ours. He has started thinking he’s temporary. I don't want him thinking that and I don't want it to be true. I’ve never asked you to do something this big, but I will not let Luffy leave. He is special to both of us.” Zoro then waited for her reply silently, still wearing a very serious expression on his face.
Robin smiled. “I was already considering it,” she said, making Zoro grin.
“For how long?” he asked.
“Since he went missing when his dad took him. When I realized how hard it was for him to be away, I never wanted him to leave again. I just wasn’t sure yet. And I didn’t want to overwhelm him. I was also going to talk to you about it,” Robin explained. When Zoro asked what she wanted to talk to him about, she continued. “I know you love him with all your heart, but if something goes wrong between you two, I don’t want him to feel trapped and miserable since you two will have to stay together anyways. I don't want him to be under such stress if something like that does happen.” Zoro looked furious at her words.
“How can you even think I would do that? Even if by some tiny chance that we are not romantically together anymore, I would never make him intentionally miserable. I’m not going to leave him or abandon him in any way. I'm not going to be how I used to be if we don't work out.
“I know we’re both young, and it might seem that we are getting ahead of ourselves with thinking we’ll be together forever, but I’m a better person when he’s around. And I’m not going to leave him. He needs me and I need him. You can see that can’t you?” Zoro asked her, still a bit irritated with what she had implied.
Robin nodded her head. “I don’t know what the others will feel like. They may feel I’m playing favorites-”
“Well, you are,” Zoro interrupted.
“I know. But I hope they will understand that Luffy is a special case. That he’s not going to find another forever home. Has he ever talked to you about what went on in his other foster homes? When kids were adopted?” Robin asked. She wanted to know how Luffy might feel about this.
“No, he hasn’t. I can ask him and tell you afterwards. Or you could ask him. He feels upset with himself because he can’t think of things to talk to you with, so if you bring something up, he might talk,” Zoro offered. Robin nodded okay. “How long does the adoption process take?”
“If he’s been in my care for over six months, it will take much less time if I wasn't already his foster mother. Only a couple months for the whole thing to happen, though it will be much easier since his biological parents will not be able to be involved in any way and have no chance to take him back. I’m going to ask him about this. I’d like it if I could talk to him alone. Is that alright?” she asked her son, who nodded.
“Yeah, that’s fine. I think he’s going to love not having his parents’ last name anymore. We’ve never talked about that before, but I can see him hating his name. When he draws and signs his name, it’s only his first. I’ve never heard him address himself with his own last name,” Zoro said.
“I don't mean to be pushy or anything, but can you talk to him about this soon?” Zoro asked. “I don’t want him secretly thinking about how long he’s going to stay before being moved to his fifth foster home. He told me he doesn't want to go to another foster home. Since he wants our home to be his forever home, there is no chance he’d say no,” Zoro explained. He couldn't remember having a conversation like this with his mom ever before. Usually, they don't talk long. He hadn't noticed this, but since he’d been with Luffy, his and Robin’s relationship have improved. Luffy’s presence was all around better for their whole home.
“I will talk to him soon. Please let me know when he is in a good mood. I don't want him to be depressed when I ask him to be my official son. He’s not my foster child, he’s my child. I want him to feel like that,” Robin said with a smile.
“I know hearing this will help him. He’s lost a lot of his confidence since he left the hospital and doesn't know why,” Zoro told her. He looked at his hands sadly. Poor Luffy. Zoro missed his confidence, and he knew Luffy missed it more.
Robin sighed. “I think I know why,” she said. Zoro looked up at her questioningly. “He’s lost a goal. He had been striving to protect himself from his father. Now that that’s over, what is his goal? He’d hung on to protecting himself being his purpose. Now he feels he has none. I don't talk to him like you do, but I just have a deep feeling that is what he has been upset about. He just doesn't know it.”
Zoro looked at his hands again. “He told me he’d try counseling a few months ago. He refuses to see someone, so we were going to look for online sources. Then he doesn't have to worry about being in public or judged by his appearance or voice. But that was before he gained confidence in himself after the classes,” Zoro said, suddenly grinning. He knew this was not a conversation to grin about, but he remembered when Luffy told him he’d changed because he was believing what Zoro had said about him. Zoro didn't know how to have that happen again. He could tell when Luffy said “yes” but obviously thought “no”. When Zoro had told Luffy he wasn't leaving, Luffy had blushed and looked at his hands guiltily. He didn't believe Zoro at that moment.
“Zoro?” Robin asked as he smiled to himself, like he’d forgotten she was there and that they’d been having a conversation.
“Hmm?” he asked, broken out of his reviere.
“When was the last time we talked for this long?”
“I can’t remember a time before now,” Zoro answered truthfully.
Then Robin asked something that had been on her mind for a while but hadn’t found the right time to bring it up. “When Luffy first came, were you upset I played favorites with him?” Robin asked sadly. She knew Zoro might shut down because he hated showing weakness to anyone. But he answered truthfully.
“At first. I told Luffy that. I was jealous you gave him a ton of privileges. But I know now that he needed and deserves those privileges. Besides, I’m more thankful that you got him. I’ve hated you being a foster mother,” he said. “But I will be forever thankful you are one because I’d never have met Luffy if you weren’t.” Then Zoro paused. “You know what? I don't think we’ve ever talked like this before. Ever since Luffy came, we’ve been friendlier. Well, except when you made a dick move and separated us, but that’s in the past. If Luffy has moved on, then I obviously have, too,” he confessed.
Robin smiled at Zoro. “I guess Luffy is good for many things,” she replied. Zoro agreed.
Luffy walked into the room where Zoro and Robin were waiting, their talk over. Luffy looked happy and smiled when he saw the two. Reighley walked up to Robin while Luffy headed to Zoro. Luffy sat down next to him and automatically reached for his hand. As Zoro looked at his favorite person in the world, he thought of what Robin had said. Zoro could never see his future without Luffy there with him. He just knew Luffy was the one, though he was only seventeen, almost eighteen. He knew it was cliche, but he just had the feeling in his heart that he’d never let Luffy go.
Luffy smiled at Zoro happily. He really did like getting praised and spoken to about the recent incident with someone who wasn't family. Reighley wasn't biased.
“Did you have a good talk?” Zoro asked, smiling when Luffy nodded his head happily. While the two were next to each other, Reighley was telling Robin to call him when Luffy was healed enough to finish his last classes. Robin agreed and thanked him for seeing Luffy. That he had needed this. Reighley laughed it off and said “any time”.
“Ready to go?” Robin asked Luffy with a smile. Luffy nodded and the three left the building. Luffy looked at the ground as he walked. If there were people around, he didn't want to see them stare at him.
The drive home was silent, but Luffy continued to smile softly, looking out the window as buildings and houses passed out of view. He was still holding Zoro’s hand, their fingers intertwined.
It was nice for Zoro and Robin to see Luffy with a genuine smile. Based on what Robin had said, the two had an idea of why Luffy was so relaxed and happy. He had something to look forward to. A goal: to finish his classes. Robin would make sure to have him always have something to look forward to.
“Luffy, would you ever want to take a martial arts class?” Robin asked, looking in the rear view mirror to see him nodding. Since he couldn't write to Robin while she drove, Luffy whispered his question to Zoro.
“‘The teachers are scary’,” Zoro repeated. “Luffy said that,” he clarified.
“How about the next time you see Reighley, you can ask for recommendations? I’m sure he would be happy to stay in touch with you,” Robin told him, looking in the mirror again to see Luffy nod, still wearing a relaxed smile.
Robin was happy Luffy was in a good mood. If he was still in a good mood when they got home, she’d have the life changing talk with him. She couldn't wait to see his face as he was told that this would be his forever home. She was so glad he came under her care.
For once, Luffy didn't sleep on the semi-long drive home. Of course, he didn't exercise, but still, it was routine, so Zoro had assumed he’d fall asleep.
When they got home, Robin paid Kureha for her baby sitting. Robin had started paying her again since the situation had changed back to safe, though the bars had not been taken off yet. They were obviously still going to keep the panic room and locks. Robin was planning on turning the panic room into a movie room. She knew Luffy and Zoro would love that. There would be pillows and blankets and a padded floor. Well, that was what she was planning.
Luffy was taking his tennis shoes off in front of the door when Robin approached him.
“Luffy, can I talk to you in private?” she asked. “You’re not in trouble. I think you will enjoy this talk,” Robin said kindly, with a genuine grin. Luffy nodded and followed her up the stairs, both going slowly for keeping Luffy’s feet gentle.
Zoro stood against the wall in the hallway, grinning at Luffy. He couldn't wait for Luffy to come crying in happiness to him. Luffy smiled back, wondering just what this talk would be about. But if Zoro was smiling about it, Luffy wasn't worried.
Robin closed the door behind the two and sat on the bed, patting it next to her for Luffy to come over. Luffy took his whiteboard off his neck and laid it on the bed next to him.
“Luffy, you like it here, right?” she asked. Luffy nodded. “You like me and Zoro, right?” Luffy nodded his head again. “Well, I was thinking about something. Both Zoro and I love you. We both don’t want you to leave. We don’t want you to feel like you’re not going to be here one day. That you’ll leave and feel it’s your fault,” Robin told him. “That is how you’re feeling lately, correct?” Luffy nodded, wondering where this conversation was going.
“We don't want you to leave. So, I want to adopt you. I want you to be my son permanently. We can’t imagine life without you anymore. It hurt both of our hearts when we didn't know where you were or when you’d come back. We can't be without you anymore. You are special to me, and obviously Zoro as well,” Robin explained. By now Luffy’s eyes were becoming pink and he was trying to hide his smile.
“Would you like to be adopted?”
Luffy started crying and spoke, ignoring his whiteboard. “You’ll be my mom?” he asked through the tears.
“Luffy, I’m already your mom. I always will be,” she said, touching his face gently. “Would you want to be in our family permanently?” she asked softly. Luffy nodded, sobbing now.
“You… you won’t change your mind, right?” he asked loudly, wiping his tears away. For once, he wasn't embarrassed to cry in front of someone else.
“I will not change my mind. I swear on my life. This is your forever home. I love you. You are my son. Since you first came here, you have been my son,” she said and returned the tight hug she was given. He cried into her shirt. She shed a few tears as well.
“I love you, too. I… wanted you to be my mom so bad! But… I didn’t want you to reject me,” he cried.
“I would never have rejected you. If you’d like, you can call me mom. Since I am your mom, it’d make sense for you to call me that, wouldn't it?” Robin asked, running her fingers through his soft hair. Luffy nodded again.
He sniffled, trying to control his tears and asked, “Will the others be sad?” he didn't want the others to dislike him.
“I’m sure they will understand. Everyone will find a family. It just so happens that this one is yours,” Robin replied. “I just want to tell you something. Like Zoro has probably told you, many have come and gone. It will be sad when the others leave. But they will be finding homes, like you have. I’m sure Nami would keep in touch. Just think, you’ll make more friends as others come,” she offered.
Luffy completely understood. He’d been in the foster care system for years. He understood that kids came and left. It was how it was. He was glad that he’d not be leaving again. Robin loved him. And she said she was his mom. Mom… it was a wonderful word now.
Luffy nodded, still sniffling. “I’ve been in the system for a while, so I understand.” Then a horrible thought crossed his mind. “Me and Zoro… can we still stay together?” he asked desperately. Wouldn’t they technically be brothers?!
“Of course you can. Just don’t address yourselves as brothers. You can stay together as long as you want. And you can obviously still share your room,” Robin replied kindly, still smiling. She was so happy that Luffy had thought of her as his mom for all this time. She hoped he’d talk to her more now.
Luffy nodded at her words, immensely relieved. “Does this mean I can participate in holidays?” he asked sheepishly, remembering those awful days of exclusion.
“Of course. Were you not allowed at the other homes?” Luffy shook his head.
“Before the basement, I wasn't allowed to be in holidays. People at my other foster homes thought I was being rude by not being happy about them. Can I eat with you at Thanksgiving? The real food? Not the peanut butter sandwiches?”
“You can eat anything you want as much as you want. Promise,” Robin told him.
Though Luffy was remembering sad days, it didn’t dampen his mood. It actually made him happier. Comparing the future Robin was going to give him to what his past had been was making him even more relieved and thankful.
“Will you share your thoughts with me again?” Luffy nodded. He had stopped crying, but the tears returned by the end of his reply.
“Yeah. People should talk to their… moms,” he said, tripping over the word he’d never used without it being accompanied with terrible thoughts. “I was telling the truth when I said Zoro can do other things, but I was also worried… you’d look down at me because of how messed up I am…” Luffy confessed, blushing.
Robin touched the side of his face again and asked softly, “Do you now know I would never think that?” Luffy nodded. “Thank you for speaking to me,” she said gently. She didn't know if he’d even noticed he was.
“Ye- yeah,” he replied. He smiled a watery smile at her before running out the room to see Zoro.
Zoro waited patiently outside of the door. He couldn’t hear them talk until Luffy started sobbing. Zoro grinned at the reaction, though he expected it. He was so glad Luffy loved it here. His forever home. He wondered what the others’ reactions would be. They better not be negative and make Luffy feel bad. That was not what he needed at the moment. Or ever.
He waited a while longer, leaning against the wall. The door then suddenly opened and Luffy ran out and jumped on Zoro, clinging to him like a monkey. Zoro supported his back and walked into their room, kicking the door shut. He tossed Luffy onto the bed, who gave a little giggle. Zoro plopped down after him, laying next to him.
“So you seem happy,” Zoro said casually. Luffy rolled over onto his back, Zoro to his right so he can look sideways at him.
“Don’t act like you don’t know. I know it’s partly your fault, too. Sheesh, sharing my secrets. I hope you haven't been doing this all the time,” Luffy said, actually making Zoro blush in embarrassment. “I forgive you this time,” Luffy joked.
“Sorry. I just had to tell her how much you loved it here. Not that it was only my decision. She was already thinking about it when I asked,” Zoro replied. He grinned when Luffy rolled over so he was laying on top of Zoro. He gave a short kiss to Zoro’s lips. Then he rested his head against Zoro’s chest.
“Thank you,” Luffy said softly. “But we’re definitely not brothers. Right?” Luffy actually seemed uncomfortable.
“Nah, I’m not too into incest, even though it’s not biological,” Zoro said casually, making Luffy shiver in discomfort. Zoro noticed this. “Let’s never speak of this topic again.”
“Agreed,” Luffy replied with a curt nod of his head. “I can’t wait for holidays to spend in a family that includes me.”
“We’ll never be like your biological family. Did they ever try and reach you after you were freed?”
“No, they were deemed unfit to take care of a child immediately since a lot of them were in jail and others had criminal records,” Luffy replied casually.
“How could you come from such an awful family and be so amazing and kind?” Zoro wondered. Luffy just shrugged and then relaxed on top of his best friend and lover, who wrapped his arms around Luffy’s back. He said nothing while Luffy cried quietly because he could feel his smile above his heart.
After Luffy ran out of her room and he and Zoro went to theirs, Robin gathered the kids from their rooms and the living room to tell them the news. She hoped they’d be okay with it and wouldn't feel hurt at all.
They all sat in the living room, on the couches and floor wondering what Robin was going to tell them that she wasn't going to tell the other two. Robin took a deep breath.
“I’m going to tell you all something big, and I don’t want your reactions to be too loud, whether they be good or bad,” she said, causing the kids to gulp in anticipation. “I am adopting Luffy.” She waited for their reactions, not knowing what to expect.
Nami smiled. “I’m so happy for him,” she said, surprising Robin.
“Did you think we’d be upset?” Usopp asked. Robin slowly smiled. But Nojiko was upset, so Robin walked over and sat next to her.
“Do you love Luffy more than us?” Nojiko asked sadly, but thankfully was quiet.
“Nojiko, I love all of you. You know Luffy, Nojiko. He would never find another forever home. I love him, yes. And I can’t separate him and Zoro of course. He is the son I’ve always wanted. I know you four will find homes. Nojiko, you are still very young. Luffy is not. I am not adopting him out of pity but love. I just clicked with him, as did Zoro. Luffy needs us, and we need him,” Robin explained as kindly as she could, while still staying honest. Nojiko nodded, though she was still a bit sad.
Nami chimed in. “Nojiko, do you remember when we first got Luffy?” she asked. They all remembered how messed up he was when he first came. “Can you see him now? Do you think anywhere else would cause him to make such progress? If he had to be taken somewhere else, he’d have to start all over and would have none of us, and especially not Zoro. Can you imagine how much he would suffer? He loves it here, and he deserves to stay,” she said, trying to convince Nojiko why Luffy was staying permanently.
“We will all find homes, Nojiko. Everyone always does, except for those like Luffy,” Usopp added. Finally, Nojiko was calmed down and grasped what the others were saying, giving a nod.
“How do you feel about this, Sanji?” Robin asked, since he hadn’t spoken.
“What’s to say? It is what it is. I know Luffy needs to stay here. None of us know the exact details of why he is like he is, but he’s obviously improved since getting here,” he said bluntly, sounding a bit bored, like most times.
“I’m so glad you all are taking this well,” Robin said. “I was worried you would hold grudges against Luffy. I’m very happy that you all understand. It is not as if I am kicking you all out just because I am adopting him. And you know Zoro. He’d never let Luffy leave,” she finished with a small smirk.
Nami giggled. “He’s infatuated with Luffy. And he’s changed a lot since Luffy came. For the better, in my opinion,” she said. Everyone agreed. Zoro had been a grade A asshole since they first came up till a little after Luffy arrived.
“We are having breakfast for dinner tonight in celebration, since it’s Luffy’s favorite.” The others nodded and then went back to what they had been doing before Robin came to get them.
Yay! Luffy has his forever home! One chapter left! I can't believe it's almost over. Next chapter is short but fulfilling in my opinion. Review!
Chapter 21: The Weight Finally Lifted
Here we are with the last chapter! I think this ending is much more satisfying than the first story's final chapter. There will be no third part of the series, so I hope this ending is satisfying and liked. I'm sad it's over! I have so many fanfics going on right now but once I reach 20,000 - 30,000 words it dies on me! I hope you really liked this fic! Enjoy~
Three days later and Luffy was still in a great mood. It was like his whole couple days of depression hadn't happened. Luffy had been talking to Robin more than before. It wasn't the deep talks he had with Zoro that involved cuddling, but they talked about Luffy's old family. Robin had told Luffy that, when he was ready, Robin would have some of her and Zoro's relatives come over, but only when Luffy was ready.
Robin had to assure him that her family was nothing like Luffy's was. That they supported her being a foster mother and would bring presents for the kids on Christmas, which Luffy was looking forward to, even if it was a couple months away.
Luffy had been told his last name was going to change and he couldn't have been happier, though he hadn't cried. He was working on being happy without crying because he felt embarrassed every time he cried in front of Robin, though she assured him she didn't look down at him for it.
Overall, the house had a happier aura. Luffy was socializing more, like he had before the kidnapping and attack. But still, he needed breaks with Zoro like he always had.
The kids still doing well with not staring at Luffy's scabbing wounds. He still had them dressed and covered from the outside air. He was becoming irritated with the scab on his face. He was glad it was the smallest road rash compared to his legs. It wasn't as bad as when he was afraid of seeing his eye, but he felt bad that Zoro had to see it up close all the time. But he assured Luffy it didn't bother him too much. He said it was hard to see him injured, but he had gotten used to it.
It was bedtime and Zoro was already in bed waiting for Luffy, who was taking a while in the bathroom. Zoro wondered what he was doing since the door was open. But he waited for him to finish whatever he was doing.
Luffy was using small scissors so cut the sleeves of his pyjama shirt off. He felt more confident again and he was tired of being hot at night. He knew Zoro had seen him with his shirt off many times, so showing his arms wouldn't be a big deal, right?
But when he walked out, his heart was still beating fast and he didn't look at Zoro's face when he headed to the bed, blushing. Zoro made no move that anything was different and got in a comfortable position with him to go to bed, though he was smiling warmly at Luffy, who couldn't see his face. Zoro pulled his against him a bit tighter, absentmindedly running his fingers over Luffy's bare arms. Luffy's skin had always been soft, and he could feel the slightly raised lines and bumps across the arms. Luffy shivered at his touches and scooched himself even closer to Zoro's body. They both fell asleep easily.
Luffy woke up first in the morning, deciding whether he was ready to do what he had thought about doing last night, when he was getting rid of the long sleeves. He stared at his arms for a while, looking at the ugly scars the criss crossed the limbs. He was upset that now he had no limb that was undamaged by his dad. Granted, he was the one who chose to jump out of the car window, but he had to because of his dad.
Luffy knew the kids had heard Luffy say "take me back" when explaining the kidnapping, so they had to know something bad had happened before. And maybe, if they saw the scars, they'd understand him more. Why he was like he was. He knew Nami had always wanted to know why he was so broken. He just didn't want to see pity. He'd seen it before and he didn't like it.
But, if they others saw the scars, maybe the pity would only happen once and then things could go back to normal. He would finally be able to not be so hot a lot of the time. If… if this was going to be his home and official family, then he can't lie to himself or the others anymore. He didn't know what to do and was at war with himself while Zoro continued to sleep with his arm over Luffy.
By the time Zoro woke up, Luffy had made his decision.
"Luffy, what are you doing to your shirt? Isn't that your favorite?" Zoro asked as Luffy worked on it. He was going to do this all at once. He cut off all of the sleeves until it was basically a tank top with a tight collar.
"Luffy, are you sure about this?" Zoro asked seriously after Luffy turned around, wearing one of his shirts but showing all of his arms. "Are you sure you're ready to show them? Think hard about this. You can't take this back if you show them."
"I'm ready. I know I can't take it back. Maybe after showing them… I'll feel like I've broken out of my cage. I don't want to hide it anymore. I'm sick of feeling hot and itchy. I - I'm never gonna move forward unless I try and let my past go. Right? I'm having a new future and family. I…" Luffy trailed off, looking uncertain. But Zoro grinned.
He swooped down on Luffy and kissed him passionately, surprising the smaller teen, but not upsetting him. Luffy wrapped his arms around Zoro's neck and when they separated, he was breathing heavily, his cheeks red.
"Wh- what was that for?" Luffy asked, somewhat breathless.
"Just proud. Now let's go down there and break you out of your cage," Zoro said and grasped Luffy's hand. The two left their room and walked down the stairs, assuming everyone was down there.
They were right since three of the kids were at the kitchen table and Usopp was on the couch playing his handheld game. Luffy was hiding behind Zoro, already having doubts. But he'd come this far. He could do this. No one looked up when the two reached the table, the three talking to each other. Luffy took a deep breath and stepped out from behind Zoro, his face bright red. He was planning on talking too if they asked any questions. Might as well take care of his problems all at once.
Robin walked in behind the couple and got everyone's attention.
"Luffy. What are you doing?" she asked, shocked that he was sleeveless, baring all of his scars on his arms to anyone and everyone. Sanji, Nami and Nojiko all gasped. Usopp heard this and got up from the couch to see what was going on, seeing Luffy's long since healed injuries from the back.
"Holy crap," Sanji said. Luffy was shaking as he sat down at the table and looked at his hands. Nami had gasped.
"Luffy… what happened to you?" she asked in horror. Luffy gulped and took a deep breath.
"I-" he started, stopping before he confessed. Luffy drew comfort and strength from Zoro when he put his hand on his shoulder. He started again. "I was tortured for three years by my dad," he said, his voice surprisingly strong. "That's why… I was so scared. And why I jumped out of the car to get away. I… didn't want to be tortured again. Ever again…" he trailed off. Robin smiled behind him, proud, like Zoro.
"I was so messed up before because of the trauma. I have scars all over my body, but I don't want to show all of them…" It actually felt good to get all of this off of his chest, to his surprise. So he continued. "I wasn't not talking just because I didn't like my voice. I got hit or cut or burned… when I made any noise. And I can't feel pain from the- the drugs he gave me." As he spoke, his voice got stronger, though he tripped over a few words. Thankfully, no one interrupted him.
Nojiko hadn't interrupted because she could tell it was an important moment, but she didn't know what torture meant. She assumed it was bad if Luffy was so messed up and scarred from it. She didn't want to be insensitive and ask what the word meant with Luffy there, so she decided she'd ask someone later.
"Thank you for telling us," Nami said gently, being the first to break the dark silence. Luffy nodded to her. No one else spoke about what they'd just heard, though they thought about it as everyone ate. Poor Luffy.
Luffy ate cereal, holding Zoro's hand as he ate next to him. Luffy had never felt so proud of himself, even after he had defeated his dad. He felt… free. Like he'd finally put down the heavy weight on his shoulders he'd been carrying for all these years. He couldn't help but smile as he ate.
No one was very surprised that Luffy left the room after he finished eating, Zoro following immediately, and the two walked up the stairs. Luffy no longer wore soft socks because his feet were healed. He only had to wear the giant bandages for a little while longer before he had to go back to the doctor to see how well they were healing.
The minute the two entered the room and Zoro locked one of the two locks, he picked up Luffy and threw him playfully to the bed, like he had not long ago. This time he crawled on top of Luffy, making the smaller teen feel warm and cozy underneath his lover and best friend.
"I am so proud of you," he said, running his fingers through Luffy's hair as he was propped up by his forearms. "You told them the truth and talked out loud. How do you feel?" Zoro asked softly.
"Good," Luffy answered simply. "Sorta like when I told you everything. Lighter. Do you think they're talking about me downstairs?" he asked. He assumed so.
"Probably, but you can't blame them," Zoro replied. "They just heard something very tragic. I would not be surprised if they were talking about what you said. I bet mom is telling them to not bug you or pity you."
Zoro sat up more and ran his hands along Luffy's exposed skin, making Luffy shiver from the goosebumps it gave him. He watched Zoro trace the pink lines across his soft arms and around his skinny wrists, holding one and bringing it up to his lips to kiss around the ring, making Luffy blush.
"I love you so much," he said, kissing his other wrist. Luffy gave a wide smile.
"Love you, too," he replied, leaning up and kissing Zoro's forehead.
The days following Luffy's confession were comfortable for everyone. No one stared at Luffy or showed any pity, and not because Robin had told them not to. They just knew by now that Luffy wouldn't handle such things well.
Luffy spoke out loud to them, not even considering using the whiteboard. He also cut the sleeves off of another shirt to wear. It was nice to not be so hot. Robin told him she'd go to the store and get him some short sleeved shirts, which he was thankful for.
He socialized more, taking less breaks with Zoro because he wasn't as easily overwhelmed. He smiled more and listened to the others talk about their lives before they became foster children. They werent all chipper stories, but for foster kids, they rarely are. They felt that they owed Luffy to talk about themselves. Luffy had told them they didn't have to if they didn't want to, but they did anyway. None were as tragic as Luffy's, thankfully for them.
The now happy teen even spoke with Robin about Luffy's very private scars. It just felt right to finally tell her. He wasn't at all surprised or even bothered when she was visibly livid. He knew his mom would feel that way. He finally addressed her as mom, and it felt great as the word left his lips.
Luffy had over all become a happier person. He had felt even better when the family was notified that Luffy's biological mother had finally been caught in a town over. Luffy had felt such relief. It was finally over and the bars on the windows can go away. Now that only needed to happen was his wounds to heal, which he was told they were healing nicely when Robin took him and Zoro to the doctors'. Luffy was still very uncomfortable with being in public, but still, not everything would be perfect all at once. Luffy still had things to work on.
When Luffy became more comfortable wearing short sleeved shirts at home, he went even further and walked around his and Zoro's bedroom shirtless sometimes. Secretly, Zoro really liked this. Luffy wasn't muscular or anything, but he had a flat stomach and his torso was smooth.
Luffy didn't feel the same feeling that Zoro did while he was shirtless. The small teen was a bit clueless when it came to things like this. Zoro was good at hiding his staring when Luffy wasn't looking at him. Luffy still sat in his lap and liked when Zoro ran his hands up and down Luffy's back. He'd never felt Zoro's skin while doing this, since he'd always had his shirt on.
Eventually, due to Luffy's embarrassment, Zoro would go shirtless as well. Luffy was embarrassed being the only one showing so much skin. The two made sure to put their shirts back on when someone knocked on their door.
"Zoro? Why do you trace my scars so much?" Luffy asked one day, in Zoro's lap.
"I don't know. I don't really notice it when I start to do it. Do you not like it?" he questioned, worried it had been bothering his partner without him knowing.
"No," he replied. "I wish they weren't there and the scars were from something else, but it doesn't bother me when you touch them," Luffy said with a small smile directed at his lover.
"I'll give you a love mark. Is that okay?" Zoro asked nervously. Luffy furrowed his brows but nodded. It would be nice to have a mark from someone he loved, not an abuser.
Zoro moved his face to Luffy's collar bone and made Luffy shiver when he started to suck on the soft skin and left a hickey. Luffy looked down and saw the smallish red mark.
"Will it last long?" Luffy asked, thankfully not at all bothered by what Zoro had done.
"No, but we will," he said, grinning. Luffy laughed. "What?" Zoro asked curiously.
"That was kinda cheesy. Nami told me what that word meant yesterday."
"Cheesy, but true, and you know it," Zoro said giving Luffy the neck kisses without Luffy asking.
"Yeah," Luffy agreed happily, closing his eyes and enjoying Zoro's closeness.
Tah da! Please review!