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Something Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts

Chapter Text

The first time Zoro and Luffy fused, was an accident. It happened back when it had been just the two of them, before they’d even met Nami. They just happened to bump into each other on that tiny little boat, and before they knew it they were a fusion.

Luffy was thrilled about it, of course. He loved the idea of being able to fuse with his new friend. He’d only ever fused with his brothers before, and he was excited to have the chance to explore the possibilities of fusion further, with other people.

Zoro, however, was not quite so excited. Back then he had been very careful with his trust, and very reluctant to let himself develop emotional ties to others. He’d been burned in the past, and he prefered working alone whenever he could.

Needless to say, that fusion had fallen apart pretty quickly.

Luffy seemed to get an idea of Zoro’s feelings from it, though. Even though it had barely lasted a few seconds. And he never bothered Zoro to fuse with him again, even though sometimes Zoro could tell he wanted to. He respected his boundaries, which Zoro very much appreciated.

But then, something unexpected happened. The Strawhats became his family. He couldn’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but one day he suddenly realized that they had sucked him in beyond any hope of escape. He was deeply emotionally attached to each one of them.

That thought was scary. Very scary. But in time- a lot of time, really- he learned to be ok with it. He guessed he had a family now.

He and Luffy started fusing on purpose. Not often, just every once in a while. Luffy continued to wait until Zoro indicated that it was ok, which was good. Made the whole thing a bit less scary.

Whenever Zoro had something on his mind that he couldn’t quite put into words, or was feeling particularly low on himself- or sometimes just whenever he needed an extra energy boost- he would go find Luffy, and offer him a hand. That was really all it took. As long as they were both touching each other with intent to fuse, that was what happened.

And they could stay like that as long as they needed.

 

“Guys! Hey, guys, we need a plan!”

Everyone looked up from what they were doing as the fusion burst out onto the deck, their expressions ranging from surprised to mildly concerned.

“Hello, Zolu,” Robin said, setting aside the book she’d been reading. “Long time no see.”

“Hi, yes, hello. I think we need to make a plan.”

“About what?”

“The future.” Zolu gestured vaguely off towards the horizon. “All the battles and the dangerous stuff we’ll have to deal with in the future. And the whole becoming-the-pirate-king bit, too, that’s important.”

Usopp frowned. “Can you, uh...be more specific?”

“Yes. Wait, no. I don’t know, I just want us to be ready for anything. Like, we keep getting separated, you know? We’ve been lucky so far, but that might not last forever. What do we do if it happens again like it did with Kuma, but we can’t communicate with each other? What then?”

“You know, that’s a fair question, actually.”

“We could just agree to meet up at the last island we landed at before getting separated. How’s that sound?”

Zolu nodded, a very serious look on his face. “Ok. Ok, yeah. Did everyone hear that? Last island. Good.”

“Is that all?”

“No. No, it’s not. We gotta...I mean...grragh. I’m not sure what I mean.” Zolu scowled, tossing his head to keep his hair- the color of a dark, mossy cave wall- out of his eyes. “I just...you know whenever something happens and we have to fight our way out? You know? It’s like, the moment that happens, people start throwing around stuff like self-sacrifice, and the ‘greater good’, whatever the hell that is. Very un-piraty stuff. I don’t like it. Neither of me likes it either. We gotta cut that out.”

“Hold on a moment,” Nami said. “I’m sorry, but you lost me. Self-sacrifice? What do you mean by that?”

“Mmmmmmmm. It’s hard to put it into words. Mostly, the idea of dying to protect the rest of the crew. You know what I mean? No one should have to die to keep the rest of us safe. That’s stupid. None of you are allowed to think that way.”

“Zolu-”

“Sanji, don’t argue with me. I am putting my foot down here.” He stomped his foot. For extra emphasis. “None of you are allowed to die for the rest of our sakes. And you’re not allowed to leave the crew either. All of which I have said before, but this time I mean it.”

“I’m not sure we can make that kind of promise, though. We have no idea what we’re up against. The Grand Line is a dangerous place. Sometimes people die.”

“I’m living proof of that!”

“Yeah, what Brook said.”

“No! No one is dying.” Zolu shook his head vehemently. “If not all of us are going to live to make it to Raftel, then I would rather quit right now. So, if we’re gonna make it, we’ll just have to get better at protecting each other. Is that clear?”

“...Yeah, I guess so.”

“Thanks for thinking about us, Zolu. Sweet of you.”

Zolu smiled, looking proud of himself. “You’re welcome. Glad we got that straightened out.”

“You can unfuse now, you know.”

“In a bit. I want to do some training. I wanna see how far I can stretch! Could be useful in a fight.”

“Alright, well, just don’t overdo it. We don’t want a repeat of last time.”

“Relaaaaax, I’ll be fine. Thanks for listening, you guys are the best!”

With that, Zolu bounded back the way he’d come, leaving the rest of the crew to watch the door swinging behind him.

“I never quite know what to expect from him,” Franky remarked. “Sometimes he comes up with some pretty deep stuff.”

“He does, doesn’t he. Well, I suppose we’d better do as he says.”

“What, and not die? Hasn’t that always been the plan?”

“You’d think so, wouldn’t you.”

Nami shook her head. “Will one of you please go and keep an eye on him? He may be a deep thinker, or whatever, but I still don't think we should leave him unsupervised.”

Chapter Text

It’s virtually impossible to predict how Devil Fruit abilities will manifest themselves in fusions. Sometimes they stay the same, but most often they don’t, and become modified somehow. Sometimes they disappear altogether. In fusions between two Devil Fruit users, the two abilities might merge to create an entirely new power. Or they might not. The only real way to find out what’s going to happen is to give it a try and hope for the best.

Franky’s cybernetic alterations are technically not a Fruit power. But they are part of him, and thus part of any fusion he takes part in. In his experience, they don’t tend to mesh well with other people’s powers. But that’s not to say that there aren’t exceptions to the rule.

When Robin and Franky first fused, they discovered to their amazement that they gained the ability to generate small machinery parts, much the way Robin is individually able to self-replicate parts of her body. These creations don’t last long- usually disintegrating into dust after a few minutes- but in those few minutes they can create fully-operative mechanical gadgets.

It’s really quite the interesting phenomenon. Not to mention useful. In fact, Franky and Robin actually started setting aside time to fuse at least once a month, the better to try to understand the full scope of their abilities.

Their fusion goes by the name Frob, and there’s nothing they love more than pushing the limits of what they can do.

 

“Alright, alright, everybody settle down. Let’s get to work here, shall we?”

“Yeah!” Luffy yelled, practically vibrating with excitement in his seat in Franky’s workshop.

“What are you going to do this time?” Usopp asked, scooting his chair a little closer.

“Good question, Usopp. I’m thinkin’ we’re gonna do gears.”

“Gears?”

“Yep, gears. Last month we did hinges, so I figured it’d make sense to stick with the theme of mobility. I don’t know how it’s gonna go, but we’ll see!”

“You say that every month,” Chopper said.

“Yeah, well, that’s the beauty of science! Experimentation and subsequent discovery! That’s how we learn things!”

“I know, but you don’t have to say it every time.”

“Hah, I guess not. I just feel very passionate about it is all. Ok, enough said!” Frob reached back to tie up their straight, glossy dark blue hair, the smooth silver metal of their arms glinting under the lights. “Are we ready?”

“Yeah!”

“Alright, here goes!”

They held their hands out in front of them, and concentrated. After a moment, the metal on their palms began to ripple and shift; another moment later, they held up a single spoked cog for inspection.

“Hm. Little irregular, but that’s what you get for a first try, I suppose.”

“What do you do with it?” Luffy asked, leaning in and peering at the gear.

“You can put a bunch of them together to make certain things move,” Frob explained. “Anytime you see a machine with moving parts, chances are pretty good that they’ve got some of these inside them.”

“Cool!”

“It is cool! This simple little thing revolutionized industrialism with its introduction into standardized parts, almost a hundred years ago. The earliest records we have of gears like this come from the South Blue, but the concept soon soon spread to the other corners of the globe.”

“How do you know all that?”

“I read a lot. You can be passionate about more than one thing, you know.”

“Do you think you can make more of them?”

“Sure!”

First, they created a whole handful of increasingly regularly-shaped gears. They experimented with the number and length of spokes they could make, and they played around with various sizes. Then they made some little pegs to anchor their gears in place and showed Chopper and Luffy how they interlocked and all moved together. They even tried making a little crank to attach to one end, for demonstrating purposes.

A knock at the door of the workshop interrupted them. “Hey guys,” Sanji said, sticking his head inside, “food’s ready in the galley, if you want some.”

“Yeah!” Luffy exclaimed, springing excitedly to his feet.

“Now that you mention it, I am really hungry.”

“What’s for dinner tonight?”

“That grilled fish and vegetables dish we had once before, a couple of weeks ago.”

“Awesome! Thanks Sanji!”

“Sure thing.” Sanji stood back to let Luffy, Chopper, and Usopp past him out the door. “You coming, Frob?”

“In a bit. I’d like to work a little bit longer.”

“You need to eat.”

“Don’t worry, Sanji, I will. Just a few minutes, I promise.”

“Well, ok. I’ll prepare a plate for you.”

“Thank you.”

Frob smiled at Sanji before turning back to their work. Outside the window the sun was just beginning to sink beneath the waves, filling the room with orange-tinted light.

“How the time seems to fly by…” Frob hummed to themself, imitating a melody that either Robin or Franky had heard long ago, as a child.

A handful of hollow cogs rose from their palms, linked together in an endless mobius. Not a very functional creation, but certainly a pretty one.

They wondered if they could make a working clock. In theory they could easily produce all the individual parts- it was putting them together that would pose a challenge.

But that was fine.

That was just the way they liked it.

Chapter Text

“You know what I hate?”

“What?”

“Abstract art.”

It was a warm, summery day outside, and the crew were lounging about on deck, enjoying the sunshine. Robin sat in her usual place with a book in her lap. Luffy and Chopper were fast asleep in the shade of one of Nami’s mikan trees. Nami lay in a lawn chair spread out on the grass. Zoro lay spread out next to her, on the lawn itself.

Ussan stood leaning casually against the railing, watching the waves roll by beneath them. His golden curls waved gently in the breeze that filled their sails.

“Where’s this coming from?”

“The last island we were on...remember? There was a museum on the main street. We didn’t go in, but there was a poster outside that showed some of the paintings on exhibit. Abstract stuff. I don’t like it.”

“What do you have against abstract art?” Robin asked, lifting her eyes from her book. “I rather enjoy it, myself.”

“Listen, it’s not so much the art itself that bothers me, as it is the subject matter. Red circle on a yellow background, I’m thinkin’, I don’t know...sunshine? Maybe? Window in someone’s bedroom? Round fire? Something warm. But noooooo, the title says ‘Ice Fishing’. Like…? How the hell was I supposed to know that that was about ice fishing?”

“By reading the title,” Brook pointed out.

Ussan scowled. “Well, I want to be able to know what it’s about without having to look at the title. You should just be able to look at it and know what’s going on.”

“So, your saying that realism is the only valid form of artwork.”

“No. Stop putting words in my mouth Nami, you make me sound mean. Realism is great, sure. But even if you show me a picture of a blue-skinned girl with purple wings flying over the heads of some jealous-lookin’ people beneath her, I’m still gonna get a general idea of what’s going on. In that kind of case, you can form your own interpretation. And the title should only serve to augment that interpretation, not change it.”

“I’m with Ussan on this one,” Franky chimed in from his place at the helm. “Same thing goes for sculptures- a twisted hulk of metal called ‘Sunflower’ still looks like a twisted hulk of metal to me.”

“Fair point. How do you feel about minimalism, hm?”

“What’s that,” Zoro asked, “you just make really small paintings?”

“No, Zoro. You use minimal amounts of lines and colors.”

“I don’t get it. That sounds like the thing we were just talking about, with the red and yellow.”

“Well, you’re not wrong.” Ussan shrugged. “There is some overlap between genres sometimes. But minimalist works still typically have a readily identifiable subject, whereas abstract stuff is just shapes and lines and color.”

“I still don’t get it.”

“It all has to do with the social and cultural norms and expectations at any given point in a particular society, which style of art becomes popular,” Robin explained. “There are many different styles because there are many different time periods in history. As society changes, so does art. And sometimes they tend to overlap because more modern artists draw their inspiration from past works. It’s a fascinating subject, really, art history. I wouldn’t mind studying it a bit more myself.”

“...Uh-huh.”

“Don’t worry, Zoro. You don’t have to understand any of that to properly appreciate art.”

“I’ll just take you guys’ word for it.”

“Maybe we really should go to a museum someday,” Ussan said. “Give our swordsman a little culture.”

“Are you really sure that’s a good idea? To bring Luffy and Chopper to a museum?”

“Yeah well, we don’t have to bring them. It’ll be strictly an art appreciators field trip only. Nami can come only if she promises not to steal anything.”

“Rude! I wouldn’t steal anything! Besides, everyone knows not to steal from art museums. Too difficult to fence the loot.”

Ussan laughed. “Ok, ok, I believe you.”

While they talked, Luffy sat up and stretched his arms, blinking sleepily. After a moment he got to his feet and moved over to where the rest of the crew were gathered, leaving Chopper to the rest of his nap.

“Hey there, Luffy.”

“Good morning.”

“It’s mid afternoon.”

“Good mid afternoon. What are you guys talking about?”

“Art.”

“Why?”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know.” Luffy shrugged, taking a seat in the grass next to Zoro. “I’m hungry.”

“Want me to make you some food?”

“Ussan, can you cook?”

“Kinda. I can make easy stuff, no problem.”

“That’s interesting. Most of Sanji’s fusions have no interest in that kind of thing.”

“I like working with my hands. I think it’s fun.”

“Can you do grilled cheese?” Luffy asked.

“Sure, I think so. Seems simple enough.”

“I want grilled cheese!”

“Alright, the captain has spoken. Grilled cheese sandwiches it is then.”

Chapter Text

“There’s going to be a storm tonight,” Brami announced. “A pretty bad one, I think.”

Usopp frowned, glancing around the aquarium room. “You can’t even see out any of the windows from here. How do you know it’s going to storm?”

“I can feel it. In my bones.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

“Usopp, you should know better. If Grandma Brami says there’s going to be a storm, then there’s definitely going to be a storm!”

“Luffy, for the last time, stop calling me Grandma!”

“Would you prefer Grandpa?”

“No, Franky, I would prefer you to get out on deck and prepare for a storm.”

“Alright, alright, I’m going. Luffy, come give me a hand?”

“Sure, ok.”

“Thank you.” Brami rolled their eyes and took a sip of their wine. “Jeez. No respect on this entire ship.”

“They’re just teasing you, Brami.”

“That doesn’t make it any better.”

Brami sat on the couch that ran along the curved edge of the room, their long legs folded up beneath them. Sanji sat on one side of them, Chopper on the other. Usopp sat at the small table in the middle of the room, busying himself with his sketchbook.

“You know, to most people, ‘Grandma’ is a term of endearment,” Sanji pointed out.

“Oh, so you’re saying you wouldn’t mind being called Grandma then, hm? Grandma Sanji?”

“No! I wasn’t talking about me, I was talking about you.”

“Maybe you should try it for a while, before you try to rationalize it, Grandma Sanji.”

“Ok, ok, I get the message already,” Usopp said, throwing his hands into the air. “If it bothers you that much, I’ll stop. Happy?”

“No. But it’s a start.”

“If it makes you feel any better, we weren’t calling you that because you look old. It’s because of the way you talk.”

“You do kind of talk like a grandma.”

“Be quiet. I will talk however I wish, and you will call me by my name. Understood?”

“Yeah, yeah. Sorry, Brami.”

“Thank you. What are you drawing over there, anyway?”

“I’m drawing you! Since I don’t have a chance to draw any of our fusions that often. You don’t mind do you?”

“Hm. I suppose not.” Brami shook their head, their frizzy halo of dusky orange hair bouncing side to side with the motion. “I want to see it when you’re done, though.”

“Sure.”

A noise from the door drew their attention; Zoro entered the room, and walked over to their side of the couch.

“Hi, Zoro.”

“Hi. Anybody know why the sails are furled?”

“There’s going to be a storm. A rough one.”

“Oh, is there. Well, I guess if anyone would know you would.”

“You’re darn right, I would.”

“What are you doing here, anyway?”

“Do I need a reason to sit in the lounge and drink wine, all of a sudden?”

“No, no,” Zoro assured them quickly, taking a seat next to Chopper. “I was just wondering. Fusions usually think about stuff that we as individuals don’t. Or at least, that’s how Robin describes it. So what’s on your mind?”

“Mmm. Now that you mention it, I guess I’ve been kind of thinking about...people.”

“What kind of people?” Sanji asked, reaching out to hand Zoro a freshly-poured glass of wine.

“People we know,” Brami said musingly, closing their eyes. “And how they know each other. Also people we don’t know, and how they might have some kind of idea of us in their minds even though we’ve never met. Through what they’ve heard someone say about us, or what they’ve seen printed in the newspapers.”

“Ooh, I never really thought about that before.” Chopper frowned. “Lots of people probably think we’re all terrible, because of what the marines have printed about us.”

“You’re probably right. They have said terrible things about us. But I like to think that actions speak louder than words. Hopefully the people who do know us have managed to spread stories of the good amongst the bad.”

“Hopefully.”

“I suppose it just goes to show, that have to live your life the way you want to be remembered. Even if we never make it to Raftel- god forbid Luffy ever hear me utter such slander- we’ll still have people to tell good stories about us.”

“Well said. I still hope we do make it, though.”

“Oh, but of course.”

Usopp turned in his chair and held up his sketchbook showing the rest of them the pencil sketch of Brami he’d been working on. “How’s that look?”

“Pretty good, Usopp.”

“You make me look so thin!”

“You are that thin! Have you even looked at yourself recently?”

“One might even say,” Sanji said, clearly struggling to keep a straight face, “skeletally thin.”

Brami chuckled. “Ok, ok. You win this round, Sanji.”

“Draw me next, Usopp. Put me in the picture with them.”

“Alright.”

They lapsed into silence for a moment, as Usopp turned back to his work and the rest of them drank from their glasses. From outside, the sounds of strengthening winds reached their ears- a distant, eerie howl that rattled the glass of the portholes.

“Seems like you were right, Brami,” Zoro said. “Sounds like a storm picking up out there.”

“Do you have any idea how long it’ll last?”

“Nothing concrete. But I get the feeling it won’t be long. I get the feeling that it’ll be a clear night, for the most part.”

“So, we should stay here and drink more wine while we ride it out? Is that what you’re saying?”

“Precisely. Cheers, everyone!”

Chapter Text

“For the last time, Chopper-ya, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“It’s a basic medical procedure! I’ve seen you do it!”

“So you keep saying, but I still don’t know what you mean! I’ve never heard that terminology used before, let alone for any basic procedure!”

“That’s what Dr. Hiriluk and Dr. Kureha called it. What else am I supposed to say?”

“I don’t know! That’s kind of the point! Did you read the notes I left, about the case?”

“I tried. Your handwriting is terrible, I couldn’t read any of it!”

Law sighed and put his face in his hands. “This is getting us nowhere.”

“Why don’t you just-”

Thank you, Mugiwara-ya, but I already told you, this is a medical matter. Chopper-ya and I need to work it out by ourselves.”

“You just said it yourself, Torao- we’re not getting anywhere. Let Luffy speak.”

“I was just gonna say, why don’t you guys fuse? Then you’d be able to understand each other better.”

Chopper nodded, a ‘that sounds like a reasonable suggestion’ look on his face. Law, by contrast, looked as if someone had just put an ice cube down the back of his shirt.

“You want us to...but...we couldn’t…”

“I think it’s worth a try. What do you say, Torao?”

“Huh? Wait, wait, this is...did I miss something? When did this become a fusion situation?”

“Well, you’re having trouble understanding what Chopper’s trying to tell you, aren’t you?”

“But...but…”

“I don’t think he’s understanding you either, Luffy,” Chopper said, smiling. “Remember, Robin said that some people don’t fuse that often. We do it all the time around here, Torao, it’s no big deal.”

Law still didn’t look convinced. “Would it, like, even be possible for the two of us to fuse?”

“Mm-hm. Like I said, we do it all the time. But it won’t work if you keep freaking out about it.”

“I’m not freaking out, I just-”

“You’re freaking out a little, Torao.”

“I’m not!” Law closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I’m not freaking out.”

“Well, go on then! I wanna see you fuse with Chopper!”

“And I wanna get this disagreement cleared up. Come on Torao, at least try it!”

“Alright, alright, fine! Jeez.” Law cautiously held out his hand to Chopper.

There was a moment of silence as the two concentrated hard, both of their eyes squeezed tightly shut. Then another. Then another, and Luffy began to think it wasn’t going to work after all.

But then, quite suddenly, there was a soft flash of light and standing in front of him was one person rather than two.

“Oh my god,” the fusion said quietly.

“You did it!” Luffy cheered, clapping his hands.

“Luffy-ya, I think I’m still freaking out…”

“Oh, calm down. Look, see! You’re stable!”

The fusion slowly held up his hands in front of his face, staring down at the human-looking fingers with their soft reindeer’s paw pads.

“Gimme a moment,” he muttered, hurrying over to the small infirmary’s only mirror. He leaned in close to his reflection, prodding gently at his cold, wet nose and pulling at his long, fuzzy ears.

“This is weird.”

“But you’re still stable,” Luffy pointed out, popping into the mirror over the fusion’s shoulder. “Hey, what should I call you?”

“...Huh? My name? I don’t know. I have no idea.”

“Hmmm.” Luffy considered for a moment, then grinned. “How about Lawpper? I like that. What do you think?”

“It sounds a little silly, Luffy-ya.”

“Do you have a better idea?”

“...Not really.”

“Alright. Lawpper, then. How are you feeling, Lawpper?”

“Um...I think I’m ok. It’s still weird, but it’s ok.”

“Good! Ok, come with me.”

“Wait, where are we going?”

“To see the rest of the crew! They have to see you! It’s the first time Law has fused with any of us!”

“You expect him to fuse with the rest of you, too?!”

“Yeah! Or, well, only if he wants, to, I guess. Doesn’t really matter now, but you still have to meet the rest of the crew.”

“No, Luffy-ya, stop! I’m not going to go out and meet anyone.” Lawpper pulled his arm out of Luffy’s grip. “I have work to do. I’m here to get to the bottom of this case, remember?”

“Hmph. Alright, fine.”

“Thank you.”

“Then I’ll just bring the rest of the crew to you!”

Luffy bounded happily out of the room, before Lawpper could do anything to stop him. He sighed and shook his head. He might not know much about himself yet, but he did know Luffy, and he knew that there wouldn’t be much point in trying to get him to change his mind.

Lawpper sat down in Chopper’s desk chair, staring down at his hands again. They looked so strange, but they felt normal enough. Whatever ‘normal’ is when you’re half human and half talking reindeer. Normal enough to hold a pencil, probably.

It was time for him to get down to work.

Chapter Text

Once the Strawhat pirates had discovered Vivi’s true identity as the princess of Alabasta and she had begun travelling with them, they had welcomed her as they would one of their own. That included giving her the option to take part in their friendly fusions, if she wanted. At first she had been very hesitant to take them up on that offer, but her hesitance didn’t last long at all. Within a few weeks of her joining them, she was fusing with the rest of them as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Looking back, the crew would eventually come to realize that they had learned a lot from their fusions with her. She had given them access to a completely different perspective- that of someone who’d lived in the Line her whole life, and who knew a thing or two about going through hard times.

And though she’s no longer with them, they still carry those lessons wherever they go.

 

“Vivi-chan? Marimo? You guys out here?” Sanji pushed open the galley door and stepped out on deck, looking around for some sign of his crewmates.

“Over here!”

“Oh, Zovi! Hey there. What are you doing?”

“Training. Zoro wanted to switch things up a little, and Vivi wanted some experience. This way they get the best of both worlds.”

“Is that so.” Sanji leaned against the railing, watching Zovi weave their arms very slowly through the air, empty handed and open palmed, their bare feet sliding smoothly across the wood of the deck beneath them. “This is training?”

“In a way. This is tai chi.” They smoothly extended a leg behind themself, balancing on one foot while stretching their arms up towards the sun. “It’s a good cool down.”

“I thought it was a warm up,” Sanji said.

“It can be that, too. But I like it better this way. Zoro needs a reminder, every once in a while, to set aside time for a cool down. To take care of himself and not to push his body too far.”

“Oh, I can definitely see that.”

In a way, Sanji was glad that Zovi was there. At that point he had still had a really hard time figuring out how to talk to Zoro in a way that didn’t end in a fistfight.

“So when did Vivi learn tai chi?”

“Oh, she never did. It was Zoro who studied it, in the dojo where he grew up. He just never does it. It can get to be a pain sometimes, you know? Even if he knows it’s good for him.” The fusion spun lightly on the balls of their feet, their long ponytail of aquamarine-colored hair fanning out behind them. “Vivi studied dance, instead. And history. And geography, and literature and art. What little martial arts instruction she did get was something of an afterthought, really. For self-defense.”

“I see.”

“Granted, at the time, she never expected to put that knowledge to use, even if it was for self defense. How times change.” Zovi brought their feet together and slowly lowered their hands back to their sides, exhaling softly. “Anyway. I didn’t mean to go off on a tangent like that. You were looking for me?”

“Oh, yes, that’s right. I came to ask if you were coming for lunch. Everyone else is waiting in the galley.”

“My, lunchtime already! Alright, I’ll take you up on that.”

“Are you good with grilled fish sandwiches? Or do you have another request?”

“Grilled fish sounds great. Ooooh, you know what else sounds great right about now? A mimosa! Sanji, do we have mimosa ingredients?”

“Wha-it’s the middle of the day! I’m not making you a mimosa for lunch!”

“Well, suit yourself. Luckily, making drinks was actually a part of Vivi’s rather comprehensive education. I’ll do it myself.”

“Zovi, I’m not gonna let you drink alcohol in the middle of the day!”

“I’d love to see you try to stop me,” Zovi said, grinning wickedly as they passed Sanji on the way to the galley. They were a whole head and shoulders taller than him. He had to admit that they could be pretty intimidating when they wanted.

“Argh, alright, fine! You’ll get your stupid drink.”

“Why, how very kind of you! Thank you, Sanji.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Hey, do you want to join me for some sparring after lunch? I’ll take it easy on you.”

“I don’t need you to go easy on me!”

“Careful, Sanji. Underestimating me will get you a black eye.”

Sanji heaved an exasperated sigh. “Ok, ok, fine. I’ll spar with you. Provided you’re sober enough to stand on your feet by then, of course.”

“There you go underestimating me again.” Zovi clapped Sanji hard on the shoulder, hard enough that he almost lost his balance. “Your concern is unnecessary, I assure you. I’m tougher than I look. So! Where do we keep the orange juice around here?”

Chapter Text

Robin followed the sound of someone crying loudly into the galley, where she found Lusan, sitting at the table with his face in his hands, and Chopper, evidently trying to comfort him.

“Chopper! What did you do?”

“Wha- hey, I didn’t do anything! He was like this when I got here, and I can’t get him to tell me what happened.”

Robin walked closer and put a hand on the fusion’s shoulder. “Deep breaths, Lusan. That’s it, just like that. Can you tell me what’s wrong?”

Lusan pointed over his shoulder. “The c-cookies…”

“Cookies?”

Robin glanced over at the counter that separated the kitchen part of the galley from the dining area. Sure enough, sitting on the countertop was a silver cookie sheet. But she wasn’t sure if the charred, blackened lumps on the sheet could really be accurately referred to as ‘cookies’.

“I got distracted,” Lusan groaned, still hiding his face in his hands. “Now they’re all burned and no one can eat them…”

“Oh, Lusan, sweetie, it’s ok! Look, don’t cry, we’ll help you make some more cookies. Right, Chopper?”

“Sure!”

“But I wanted to make them for you!”

“I know. And I really appreciate that. But hey, it’ll be more fun if we all work together, right? And we can keep you from getting distracted, so they won’t get burned.”

“And we can all eat them together when they’re ready,” Chopper put in.

Lusan slowly lifted his head to look up at Robin and Chopper. “...You wouldn’t mind helping?”

“No, of course not!”

“Come on Lusan, it’ll be fun!”

“Ok!” Lusan smiled, all traces of sadness immediately banished from his face. “Thanks, you guys are the best.”

“Yes, yes. Come here, let me fix your hair.”

Robin put one hand on Lusan’s shoulder to keep him from running off, and with the other she gently brushed his shaggy, tawny-colored hair away from his bright, dark eyes. The crew had learned their lesson about letting the excitable fusion run around without supervision the hard way, when he’d nearly drowned himself falling from the rigging on one particularly memorable occasion. ‘Easily distractible’ was a bit of an understatement in Lusan’s case.

“Lusan, I don’t know how to make cookies,” Chopper called from the kitchen. “What do we need?”

“We need sugar, and butter, and chocolate chips, and measuring cups, and eggs, and all the little bottles and powders in the lower left hand drawer.”

“And flour.”

“Oh yeah, and flour! We put together all the boring, non-tasty ingredients, and we put it in the oven for a while and bam! Cookies!”

The three of them spent the next hour and a half or so in the kitchen. Lusan did his best to explain to Chopper all the particulars of what they were doing, but his explanations seldom made much sense. Robin ended up doing most of the actual cookie dough preparation herself.

She didn’t mind, though. Baking is an easy task for someone who can create extra helping hands.

“...and you just ball it up in your hand, nice and round. Yes, just like that. Well done, Chopper.”

“Thanks. And then put it on the cookie sheet?”

“Yes. Just make sure you don’t put it too close to the others, or the cookies will run together in the oven.”

“Yeah, they’ll become one huge cookie! And then you have to chop it into pieces so you can actually share it with people. And the pieces start breaking and get all crumbly and then you have to mop again.” Lusan made a face. He’d managed to get flour all over his face somewhere in the baking process. “Sanji hates mopping. Luffy doesn’t like it either. Mopping is everyone’s least favorite.”

Robin frowned thoughtfully. “Do we need to rethink our chore roster? I don’t mind mopping, I can take that over if you want.”

“Oh, no!” Lusan shook his head vehemently. “No, nope, nothing like that. Robin, you already do so much for the crew, I would never ask you to do more! Luffy and Sanji don’t like mopping, but they’ll do it when they need to. Don’t you even worry about it.”

“Aw, thank you Lusan. That’s sweet of you.”

“You’re welcome. Everybody on this ship always does so much, and never gets thanked for it or anything. That’s why I wanted to make you guys cookies in the first place. Well, really that was all I could think of, but I think it’s ok.”

“Me too,” Chopper said, placing another ball of dough on the cookie sheet. “I think cookies are always a good idea.”

In the corner of the room, the oven made a high-pitched ‘ding’ sound, indicating it was fully preheated. Robin dutifully picked up the one sheet they had filled up with cookie dough and carefully placed it on one of the racks inside.

“There, now all we have to do is wait,” she told Chopper, who was curiously peering into the oven.

“Cool,” he said. “What should we do until they’re ready?”

“Oh! I know! We can go out and-”

“Lusan, you remember what happened to your first batch of cookies today, right?”

“...Oh. Right. We don’t want these to burn. I know! If we stay here and get the cleaning up done now, then we’ll still be here when they need to come out of the oven! And we won’t have to do it later!”

Robin smiled. “Very good idea.”

Lusan beamed at her. “I’ll go get the mop.”

“This was fun,” Chopper said, handing Robin the carton of sugar to put back where it had come from on one of the kitchen’s taller shelves. “We should do it again sometime.”

“We should.” Robin glanced back at the mess of spilled flour and sticky vanilla extract all over the counter, and the discarded burned cookies. “...For Lusan’s sake if nothing else.”

Chapter Text

“Check.”

“Dang…”

“Mate in four turns.”

“Stop saying stuff like that! I’m trying to concentrate.”

Usami grinned, leaning back in their chair, a look of complete confidence on their face. “Suit yourself.”

“You can do this, Franky,” Luffy said earnestly. “Don’t let them intimidate you! You got this!”

“I dunno, man,” Zoro said, staring down at the chessboard. “I still don’t really understand this game, but if Usami says they’re going to win, then they’re probably going to win.”

“Shut up, Zoro! I just said I’m trying to concentrate!”

Franky carefully considered the board for another moment before moving his white king one space to the right.

Usami reached out and slid their queen forward two spaces. They didn’t say anything this time, but the smug, confident look never left their face.

The two of them played out the rest of the game in silence, Luffy and Zoro watching vigilantly over Franky’s shoulder. But sure enough, three turns later, it was over.

“Checkmate,” Usami said, flicking Franky’s king over on its side. “Good game, Franky, but you’ve still got a ways to go. Pay up.”

“Argh, I really thought I had a chance that time!”

“Don’t feel too bad, dude. Only Robin has managed to last more than like ten minutes against them so far, and even she lost.”

“Welp. Guess that’s what I get, huh?” Franky shook his head, smiling ruefully, and handed over the money he’d bet at the beginning of the game. “I guess there is a reason you’re called ‘the Greatest Tactician’ after all. Good game, Usami. I’ll get you one day, though.”

“In your dreams, hon,” Usami said cheerfully, pocketing the cash.

“Can I play again, Usami?”

“Have you learned the difference between a bishop and a rook yet, Luffy?”

“Ahhh….no. But Zoro can help me!”

“Uh-uh, I’m not helping. I got scammed out of enough money already today, thanks very much.”

“Aw, come on!”

“Better luck next time, Luffy.”

At that moment, the door to the girls’ room swung open, and Brook walked in.

“So this is where you’ve all been hiding out,” he said. “What’s going on in here, hm?”

“Usami’s been beating everyone at chess.”

“Oh, so is that how it is. Didn’t we buy that chess set so that Nami and Usopp could play against each other?”

“Yes, we did. And they do.” Usami shrugged, leaning back in their chair once more and casually folding their arms behind their head. “They just wanted to do something a little different this time. Something that doesn’t involve people shooting at us, like most of the other times they fuse.”

Luffy scooted his chair out of the way for Brook to pull up a seat at the table. Zoro reached out and picked up one of the little white chess pieces, studying it carefully.

“Your escape from your usual routine of running from armed pirates and marines...is a game of warfare?”

Usami chuckled. “I guess. When you put it that way you make me sound like some kind of psychopath.”

“I don’t think you’re a psychopath. I think you’re putting your talents to a constructive and harmless use.”

“Thanks, Brook. You want to play? First game’s free.”

“Well, I confess I’m not a very good player. I haven’t played in decades. But if you don’t mind that, then...”

“It’s fine, man! It’ll be good practice for you, then.”

Usami began moving all the chess pieces back to their starting positions, gently nudging them around to face the opposite end of the board.

“How come you always play black?” Luffy asked, resting his elbows on the table and his chin in his hands.

“Because white always gets the first move. And I play with more of...let’s call it a reactive strategy, as opposed to a proactive strategy.”

“I don’t get it.”

“I like to get a good idea of my what my opponent’s thinking before I decide how I’m going to react.”

“You can tell from just one move?” Zoro asked, looking skeptical.

“Not always. Most of the time it takes a little longer than that. With you though, I knew you’d be an offensive player before you even touched any of the pieces.”

“...I’m not sure if I should be offended by that or not.”

“I feel that I should tell you, Usami, that I usually play with more of a reactive style myself. It might not be that exciting of a game if both of us are constantly on guard, waiting for the other to make the first move.”

“Oh, no worries! I can play aggressive if I need to.” Usami grinned, setting the final piece in its place and spreading their hands in a gesture of invitation. “Your move, Brook.”

Chapter Text

“Lawbin.”

“...Mmmm?”

“Lawbin, wake up. Come on now, it’s morning.”

“Mmm…”

Nami stood back a little, watching as the fusion sat up, blinking blearily in the morning light coming through the library portholes.

“What time is it?” Lawbin muttered, rubbing their eyes with the back of their hand.

“I don’t know. Sometime after nine by now, probably.” Nami frowned, glancing around at the scattered papers and open books. “Wait, were you here all night?”

“Ahhh...yeah, somethin’ like that.” They yawned, stretching their arms above their head.

Nami sighed. “Wait here, ok? I’ll be right back.”

She left the library and made her way to the galley. “Hey, Sanji,” she called, “you in here? Do we have any coffee?”

“Here, Nami-san! And we do, actually, yes.”

“Can I get a cup, please? Or...make it two.”

“Sure. I assume you found Robin then?”

“Not exactly. I found Lawbin, asleep on the couch in the library.”

“Lawbin?” Sanji raised his eyebrows. “That’s...unusual.”

“I know, tell me about it. I’m gonna talk to them, make sure they’re doing ok.”

“Well, ok. Send them over if they want some food, or something.”

“I will. Thanks, Sanji.”

Nami took the two cups of coffee that Sanji offered her, and held them carefully in front of her all the way back to the library. When she pushed open the door she found Lawbin exactly where she had left them, waiting obediently on the couch that ran along the circumference of the room.

“Here,” Nami said, holding one of the cups out to them. “Hope you don’t mind your coffee black.”

“I don’t mind. Thank you Nami, that’s very kind of you.”

Lawbin wrapped both hands around the coffee cup and took a sip. Nami watched them, wondering how best to phrase the question she wanted to ask. Sometimes Law fusions could be a little unstable, and she didn’t want to say anything out of turn that would cause them to fall apart.

“Lawbin?”

“Yes, Nami?”

“Can I ask why you spent the night here?”

“Hmmm. Do you mean, here in the library, or here, as in, as a fusion?”

Nami shrugged. “Both, I suppose. If you don’t mind my asking.”

“I don’t. Robin found Law in here last night, during one of his insomniac episodes. On nights that he can’t sleep he likes to try to keep his mind busy. Make use of the time somehow, you know. She thought he could use the company.”

“But, why stay here? Why didn’t you come to bed?”

“I just thought it would be a little uncomfortable for you, to wake up and find me there in the room instead of Robin. I didn’t want to intrude.”

Nami sighed. “Lawbin, you wouldn’t make me uncomfortable. I appreciate you thinking of me like that, but really...you don’t have to sleep on the couch. Please, just come to bed next time.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Really.”

“Ok then.” Lawbin smiled sleepily at her. “I’ll remember that next time. Thanks, Nami.”

“Yeah, of course.”

There was a moment of quiet as both of them drank some of their coffee. Outside, the wind was steady and the waves gentle- good conditions for sailing.

“What is all this, anyway?” Nami asked, gesturing to all the papers and books Lawbin had evidently fallen asleep in the middle of reading the previous night.

“Oh, you know. This and that.” Lawbin set aside their coffee and reached out to pull one of the open books beside them on the couch onto their lap. “Chopper has some old medical journals from Drum Island that are very interesting. Brook has a collection that includes a fascinating few chapters on the history of certain musical genres. Zoro actually has a few books in here with techniques Law has never seen.”

“All that, huh?”

“Mm-hm. And there’s still a lot just in this room that I haven’t even looked at.”

“Well, I’m sure Franky will be happy to know that putting in a library turned out to be a good decision, after all.”

“Oh, I hope so. Libraries are always a good decision. At least in my opinion.” Lawbin smiled, trailing their fingers gently over the cover of the book in their hands. “After all, if we don’t educate ourselves, all the way out here, who will?”

“That’s a good point. But isn’t it kind of, oh I don’t know...like, I’m the navigator. That’s my area of expertise, I guess you could call it. If everyone on this ship read everyone else’s books we could get kind of good at each other’s jobs, but we’d be neglecting our own specialties, right?”

“Oh, absolutely. A diverse crew with a variety of unique skill sets is always preferable to a crew where everyone is just an amateur at everything.”

“Then...why are you in here reading all this…?”

“I agreed that having your own specialty, Nami. I never said that it should be the only thing you ever study. Learning doesn’t end there. Learning doesn’t end anywhere. You just have to balance your main focus and your other interests.”

“Hm. I guess I can see where you’re coming from on that.”

“Good, I’m glad to hear it! Incidentally, speaking of which, do you keep any books in here? I don’t know much of anything about navigating, but I’d love to learn. It’s such an intriguing topic, really.”

Nami laughed. “Yes, actually, I do. Here, let me show you.”

Chapter Text

“The people here aren’t all that friendly, are they?”

“That’s not it, Zorrook. They’re just scared of you.”

“Of me? Why’s that?”

“Have you looked at yourself recently?”

“What’s wrong with the way I look?”

Usopp rolled his eyes. “Nothing, Zorrook. It’s just that sometimes, to people who don’t know you you can come across as kinda…”

“Creepy,” Nami supplied.

“Unsettling,” Franky put in.

“You look like a zombie!” Luffy said enthusiastically.

“Yeah. What they said.”

“Hmph.” Zorrook crossed his arms, frowning. “It’s rude to judge based on appearances, you know.”

“We know, we know. But, when your appearance is as...unique as yours is, sometimes it becomes a factor for judgement anyway.”

Zorrook was one of the crew’s more interesting fusions. His stature and facial features were very similar to Zoro’s- perhaps his skin was a little darker, his hair a little more wiry, but still unmistakably Zoro.

The weird part came in the form of the faint white lines on his skin, displaying the bones beneath for all to see. Even his jawbone and all his teeth were visible, which made the strong contrast of the empty space around his eyes stand out even more. None of them were really sure what purpose the bone map- as Luffy called it- really served, if it had one at all.

Regardless of what caused it or why it was there, the end result was undeniably strange. And, as usual, Zorrook seemed oblivious to just how creepy it actually was.

“Why are you here, anyway?” Sanji asked. “We’re just here to grab some supplies.”

“There are too many buildings here. And they all look alike! Zoro would get lost.”

“...That’s a good point, actually.”

The crew kept walking, down the island’s busy main street, until they spotted what they were looking for- a general store, advertising everything from food to fish nets, and everything in between that visiting sailors might need.

“Alright, this is us. Everyone remembers what they need, right? Let’s try not to go over budget this time, please.”

“Uh, I think I’ll wait for you guys out here,” Usopp said quickly, stopping short. “It’ll be a little crowded with all of us in there. Zorrook, wanna keep me company?”

“Ok, sure. As long as one of you picks up some good booze for me.”

“Gotcha. We’ll be out in a few minutes.”

Usopp breathed a quiet sigh of relief as the rest of the crew trooped through the store’s door. He knew Zorrook had good intentions, but he still wasn’t sure if turning him loose in the alcohol aisle of a small store on an unfamiliar island was the best idea.

The fusion leaned casually up against the side of the general store, arms folded over his chest. “It’s warm here. I should have left my jacket on the Sunny.”

“You could just take it off,” Usopp pointed out, moving to stand beside Zorrook and mimicking his posture.

“Nah. Then I’d have to carry it. Can’t use a sword while carrying a jacket.”

Usopp frowned. “Are you expecting to have to use a sword?”

“Maybe,” Zorrook said, his expression unchanged. “You never know.”

“Dude. We’re just here to buy a few things, not start a fight.”

“You never know! You have to be ready for anything, Usopp! Especially with Luffy around.”

“Ok, maybe you do have a point there…”

“I don’t mind if he does, I just want to be ready.”

“How good are you with a sword, anyway? Don’t your two different styles conflict with each other?”

“Nope, not really. Honestly, they sort of compliment each other. I’m probably better like this than Zoro or Brook are by themselves.”

“Wha- really?!”

“Yes, really.” Zorrook grinned smugly. “I’ve fused for enough fights by now to know what I’m capable of. I could probably play the game at Mihawk’s level, I think. Probably.”

“Wow.” Usopp blinked, caught by surprise. “That’s...wow. I didn’t think you’d be that good.”

“Me neither. Pleasant surprise, I guess.”

“Do you think you could actually beat Mihawk though? Zoro knows how he fights, you could train to beat him.”

Zorrook shook his head. “Nah. The one to beat him has to be Zoro, not me. Brook has nothing to do with it.”

“Oh. Ok. If you say so.”

“Besides. I don’t even like fighting.”

“You don’t?”

“Mm-mm. Takes too much energy. I’d rather just chill. Like this. This is nice.”

“Hm.”

Even after all his time with the Strawhats, Usopp found that they could still surprise him. A fusion of Zoro and Brook, who compared his skill level to that of the widely acknowledged best swordsman of the age, but who preferred not to fight? He never would have expected that. And yet, he didn’t doubt Zorrook’s word.

The two of them were quiet for a time, watching the pedestrians pass by on the street. Zorrook stood calmly, their stares and anxious glances back over their shoulders seeming to roll right off him.

“I think I might try my hand at music, once we get back to the ship,” he said musingly. “I don’t know if I’d be as good at that but...I don’t know, seems worth a try.”

“Well, you’re apparently a pro swordsman. Maybe you have hidden musical talent, too. What would you play?”

“.....Sing.”

“Sing.” Usopp held back a laugh, not wanting to seem insensitive. “Alright, sure. That sounds like something I’d want to hear.”

“Well, you have to let me practice first. I might be terrible.”

“I’m sure you won’t be terrible. But yes, you should practice first and get comfortable with it. Then, will you give us a concert?”

“If it comes out good, yeah.”

“Awesome.”

At that moment, the door opened once again, and the Strawhats came spilling out back into the street, laden with bags and packages.

“Ready to go?” Luffy asked.

“Yep,” Zorrook said, taking a heavy-looking load of books from Nami. “Lead the way, captain.”

Chapter Text

Just when Luffy opened his mouth to ask if anyone knew where Chopper and Franky were, Chonky opened the galley door.

“Hey, everybody,” he said, ducking slightly so as not to scrape his sharp metal antlers on the doorframe. “Sorry I’m late.”

“Oh, hey Chonky. Let me get you some food,” Sanji offered, pushing back his chair from the table.

“No, no, I can get it. You sit down, Sanji. Goodness knows you do enough work around here as it is.”

“Can you pour some more water while you’re back there?” Nami asked, holding up the empty pitcher.

“You got it.”

“We weren’t expecting you this evening, Chonky,” Robin said. “What brings you here?”

“Oh, nothing much. Franky just wanted some help deciding what to do for his next project.”

“Ah, I see.”

“He could have just asked,” Luffy pointed out around a mouthful of food.

“Yeah, I guess he could have. But it just feels like it makes more sense this way.”

Chonky returned to the table, a plate of food for himself in one hand and a freshly filled pitcher of water in the other.

“Dinner smells great, Sanji, thanks.”

“Sure, of course. Have you managed to come up with any project ideas?”

“A few.” Chonky shrugged. “Or rather, more like I have tons of ideas, but not a lot of plans. You know?”

“Uh...no, sorry, you’ve lost me.”

“There are lots of things I want to make. But most of them are just vague ‘that would be cool’ thoughts floating around the back of my head. I don’t know how I would make them. I don’t really even know why I would bother figuring some of them out. They might not ever lead to anything, but I keep them all there in one place anyway, just in case.”

“I get where you’re coming from with that, actually,” Usopp said. “I do something similar with my invention ideas. I usually write them down, though.”

“I’ve got a good memory. That’s not the issue. The issue is that I have trouble sometimes picking out the good ideas and turning them into plans. Schematics and raw materials and all the little moving parts. Or, Franky has trouble. Chopper helps. Chonky knows what he’s doing. Sort of.”

Nami shrugged, looking bemused. “I guess fusion is like that sometimes.”

“Yeah, it is.”

Franky took a bite of his dinner, a thoughtful look on his face.

“Chopper has his own ideas, too. Sometimes they don’t exactly line up with Franky’s capabilities, but they’re interesting to think about.”

“Ideas about what, exactly?”

“Well. Things that medicine can’t fix, most of the time. Things would make life easier for the disabled or the elderly or the terminally ill.”

“Oh, that’s sweet of him.”

“Magnetic bandages that would stop patients from getting up before they’re fully healed.”

Zoro snorted with laughter, nearly spilling his drink in the process. “That one sounds like a challenge to me.”

“Shut up, you. We’ll see who’s laughing when you’re stuck to the bed, wrapped up like a mummy, and Chopper’s free to do his job without you undoing all his hard work for once.”

“Why not just make better medicine?” Luffy asked.

“Well, that would be nice, wouldn’t it? But it’s not the same thing. Almost everything that makes medicine do its job are things that are too small to see. Making medicine is a whole different science. Neither of me could ever even begin to think about doing that. Maybe Law could, I don’t know. But not me.”

“It’s that hard, huh?”

“Yeah, it is. I’ll have to stick with my magnet bandages for now.”

“Maybe you should think up something to help with the dishes,” Sanji said slyly. “Or did you forget that it was Chopper’s turn to do them tonight?”

“...I admit, it may have slipped my mind. But, don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it, Sanji.”

“Thank you, Chonky. I appreciate it.”

“After that I’m gonna head back to the workroom for a bit. I might get back to the room a little late.”

“As long as you make sure to get some sleep.”

“I will, I will.” Chonky stood up, and began stacking his crewmates’ empty plates upon his own. “Something to help with the dishes, huh? That might just be worth looking into. I’ll keep it in mind. No promises, but I’ll definitely keep that in mind.”

Chapter Text

Before his introduction to the Strawhats, Law had never participated in fusion. It was a common enough thing, he supposed. All kinds of people did it for all kinds of reasons. Law had kind of assumed that prolonged and/or regular fusion would be something he might do with a lover someday. But he had always had more important things to think about. The topic of fusion just never came up much.

After his introduction to the Strawhats, it came up a lot. Like, a lot a lot. They were a small crew, and so comfortable around each other that they probably never even stopped to think that some people might consider their fusion habits weird, he was pretty sure. And, as with every other crazy, stupid, weird thing they did, the Strawhats pulled him right into it. Every fusion he’d ever been a part of, except one, had been with one of them.

Surprisingly, after the first few times, he found himself ok with it. Sometimes it really was nice not to have to be Law for a little while. And if he needed to be smarter, or stronger, or sneakier, or to be able to just sleep through a night peacefully for once, fusion was an easy solution.

The Strawhats were really good about making sure they had permission to fuse with him before they did it, most of the time. And whenever they sensed he was uncomfortable, they separated right away. They were always considerate of his needs, and he was thankful for that. Because sometimes he did still get a little uncomfortable, and he needed to be Law again. They always made sure to let him know that they cared about his well-being.

So, yes. Fusion with the Strawhats was fine.

But there had been that one other time. Just the one.

It happened years ago. Somehow or other, before anyone really knew who was allied to who and whatnot, he’d managed to get himself spotted by hostile marines. Way, way too many marines for him to fight off by himself. So he’d run, and they’d chased him.

At some point during that chase, he’d nearly crashed headlong into Captain Eustass Kid, who by an extraordinary set of coincidences was not only on the same island at the same time, but also in the middle of being chased by a swarm of marines. Too many for them to fight off, even with the two of them working together. So they’d run again.

They eventually hit a dead end in the form of a sheer cliff face. The marines had surrounded them, and Law had started to think that that was going to be the end of him.

But nevertheless, he got out his sword and prepared for a fight. Beside him, Kid put up his fists, too. The two of them looked each other in the eye and silently declared a truce in favor of just trying to survive.

Then Law had taken a step back, to set up a Room, and Kid had shifted to the side to cover his back, and their shoulders just barely brushed up against each other and…

...And then they were a fusion. Just like that.

Neither of them had intended to do it. It just sort of happened. Law suspected that their respective survival instincts had kicked in and somehow made it happen.

It had happened years ago. But that one time, that one specific fusion was the one that still sent shivers down Law’s spine every time he thought about it. Sometimes he woke up in the dead of night, drenched in sweat, remembering that fusion.

They’d beat the marines. It had been easy. Their fusion had been an absolute giant, and the men that had seemed like an overwhelming force mere seconds ago had become no more threatening than an army of ragdolls before him.

He hadn’t really had time to come up with a name for himself. He’d been too busy simply being.

By the time Law’s and Kid’s respective crews had managed to figure out what had happened and follow their paths out to the cliff, he- the nameless fusion- was standing alone amidst a sea of lifeless marines.

Most of the two crews had put two and two together pretty easily, and realized that their captains had fused for the fight. ‘Oh, good,’ they’d said, ‘we were worried about you. But you’re ok. You can unfuse now, and we can go our separate ways.’

‘No,’ the fusion had said. His voice was deep, and smooth, and very appropriately scary.

‘No?’

‘I don’t want to unfuse.’

‘Why not?’

‘I’m not sure yet. But I think I like this. I think I like being me.’

The pirates had been flabbergasted. Kid and Law hated each other! So why was this fusion adamantly staying fused? In fact, if they hated each other, shouldn’t he have already fallen apart? Shouldn’t he have become unstable the moment Kid and Law no longer shared a common goal?

The fusion didn’t know. He wasn’t thinking about any of that. All he knew was that all of a sudden Kid’s spontaneous temper was being cancelled out by Law’s rationality, and Law’s tendency to overthink himself into a panic was being overwritten by Kid’s belief that it was better to trust his instincts, and he felt good. Really good.

Law still remembered that feeling. It had been so strange. It sounded like a contradiction, now that he thought it out plainly to himself, but it had felt really, really good at the time. Like he and Kid sort of...complimented each other somehow. Like they each had some essential component that the other was missing, and fusing had been like putting together the pieces of a puzzle.

It hadn’t lasted long. Kid’s and Law’s crewmen had started to argue amongst themselves, and the fusion, caught between the desire to take both sides at once, quickly destabilized, dropping both Kid and Law unceremoniously to the ground.

Nothing Law had ever experienced with the Strawhats had ever been as intense as that one fusion with Kid. Which was good, because he wasn’t sure he was ready to feel that kind of intensity again. He was secretly afraid that, if it ever happened again, they might not be able to convince the fusion to unfuse ever again.

He still thought about it a lot though.

It had felt really good, at the time.

Chapter Text

“Zoro,” Nami said, marching purposefully across the deck to where the swordsman lay lounging on the lawn in the shade of one of the sails. “Zoro, will you fuse with me?”

Zoro lifted his head a little, squinting up at Nami. “Now?”

“Yes. Now.”

“Is something wrong?” Robin asked from her typical reading spot against the ship’s railing.

“No, Robin, no, everything’s fine. Zoro, are you gonna fuse with me or not?”

“Ok, ok.”

Zoro got to his feet and took hold of the hand Nami offered him. Robin closed her eyes against the typical flash of light that followed. When she opened them again, Zomi was standing there in front of her, a contemplative look on their face.

“Are you sure nothing’s wrong?” she prompted gently. She had noticed that whenever Zoro and Nami fused, it was usually because one of them was feeling lost or...or trapped, somehow. It was somewhat rare to see them fuse outside of a fight.

Zomi took a deep breath, exhaled, and smiled. “Yep. Nothing’s wrong. You worry too much, Robin.”

“Well, alright. If you say so.”

“I do say so,” said the fusion decidedly. “You gotta learn to relax more, Robin.”

Much of Zomi’s appearance was clearly a deliberate fashion statement, with influences of both Zoro’s and Nami’s preferences showing through. They wore a loose, flowy shirt tucked into high-waisted jeans. The stiletto heels on their black leather boots made a distinctive noise against the wood of the deck whenever they moved. Their shoulder-length hair, in alternating strands of both orange and green, was tied back in a high ponytail.

“It’s such a beautiful day,” they said, click-clacking their way over to the starboard railing and leaning over rest their elbows on it. “The sun is shining, the wind is in our favor, and the seas are clear. Perfect for sailing.”

“It is.” Robin got up and crossed the deck to join the fusion at the opposite railing. “Are you going to tell me what’s bothering you, or not?”

“Hmm.” Zomi sighed, staring off towards the distant horizon. “Nothing’s wrong, Robin, I promise. Nami just needed some...reassurance, that’s all.”

“Reassurance of what?”

Zomi shrugged. “Luffy and Usopp are in there talking about their families, and about how excited they are to go back to them one day. And I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have my own families to go back to. But, I don’t want that to be my whole life. I don’t want to retire and just farm tangerines or teach in a dojo forever. You get me?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Sailing is my life. Both of my lives, I guess, if you wanna get technical. I don’t think I’ll ever want to go back to living on just one island. Especially without you guys.”

“That’s sweet of you, Zomi. I’m sure Luffy and Usopp didn’t mean to make it sound like they don’t want to be around you once this grand adventure of ours is over.”

“Yeah, well. Like I said, I just needed a little reassurance.” Zomi absently traced one of the rings in the wood of the ship’s railing with their finger. “Do you think there’ll ever come a time when we won’t be together? When we won’t be able to just walk through a few rooms and fuse with each other, just like that?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. Who knows what might happen, out here. But, even if such a time does come, I’m sure it won’t last long.” Robin smiled encouragingly. “You have my reassurance on that score, as well.”

“Thanks.”

“Ah,” said Sanji’s voice from behind them, “Zomi?”

“‘Sup,” Zomi said, raising a hand in casual greeting to Sanji.

“What are you doing here?”

“Nothing much. Thinking deep fusion thoughts about the future, yada yada yada.”

“Is everything ok?”

“Yeah, everything’s fine. Why does everyone keep asking me that?”

“Uh...no reason.” Sanji shrugged. “Are you hungry? I can get lunch going a little early if you want.”

“Nah, I’m good right now. Take your time.” Zomi stretched their arms above their head, tilting their face to catch the breeze that filled the Sunny’s sails. “Actually, I think I might take a bath.”

“A bath? It’s the middle of the day.”

“Yeah, so? A bath just sounds really nice right now. I think I will do that. Good long, warm soak before lunch. Robin, will you do me a favor and let the others know I’ll be using the tub?”

“Of course, Zomi.”

“Thanks. Sanji, can we have pasta salad for lunch?”

“Oh, uh, sure. Sure, I don’t see why not.”

“Awesome! Alright, I’ll see you lot in a little bit.”

Sanji watched Zomi push through the door, heading for the washroom, before turning to Robin, looking somewhat bemused.

“What was that all about?”

Robin merely shrugged. “Reassurance, or so I’m told.”

“Is that so. Well, I guess it doesn’t really matter. I just didn’t expect to see them here, now.”

“You’d better give them what they want. You know what Zomi can get like when they’re mad.”

Sanji winced. “Yeah, you’re right. I guess I’ll go get started on that pasta salad, then.”

Chapter Text

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going to sharpen my swords.”

“Can I help?”

“No.”

“Aw, come on! Why not?”

“Because. They’re my swords, I have to be the one to sharpen them.”

“Oh. I guess that makes sense. Can I watch, though? Please?”

Zoro sighed. “Sure. Be my guest.”

Luro beamed. “Thanks!” They sat down across from Zoro, haphazardly folding their long skirt underneath themself in the process.

Zoro carefully removed his whetstone from the bag it was kept in while not in use, and set it down in front of him. Then he took the scabbarded katanas from his belt, laying them out one by one on the deck.

“Why are you sharpening them?” Luro piped up, their dark eyes following Zoro’s every movement intently.

“Wha- because they’re getting dull, obviously!”

“No, no….I mean, yes, but that’s not what I meant. Why are you sharpening them now? How can you tell when they need sharpening? Why don’t you sharpen them more often? Why not-”

“Alright, alright already! I sharpen them on a fixed schedule. I don’t mind you watching, but you gotta let me work, ok?”

“Oh, sorry. I’ll be quiet.” Luro mimed zipping their mouth closed, demonstrating just how quiet they could be.

Zoro rolled his eyes, but continued on with his work. Luro was a sweet, curious, and very enthusiastic fusion who got along quite well with everyone. But sometimes they could be a little too enthusiastic. It could get a little annoying sometimes.

Thankfully, though, they seemed to get the hint this time. They stayed quiet while Zoro worked, their gaze never wavering from the blade in his hands.

However, when he held up the sword he had been working on and nodded his satisfaction, it seemed they could no longer contain themselves.

“Is it done? How can you tell?”

“I can tell.”

“Yeah, but how?”

“It’s hard to explain. When you’ve been doing this as long as I have, you can tell.”

“Show me,” Luro said eagerly. “Show me the sharp one and one of the un-sharp ones.”

“Alright. Just don’t touch.”

“I won’t, promise.”

Zoro unsheathed another one of his swords and held it out, side by side with the one he’d just honed, for Luro’s inspection. They leaned forward, frowning.

“...They don’t look any different to me, Zoro. Are you sure you can tell just by looking?”

“Yes, Luro, I am sure.”

“I don’t think I believe you.”

Just then, the door opened and Nami, Usopp, and Franky walked out onto the deck, each blinking hard against the bright afternoon sunlight.

“Ah, it’s Luro!” Nami exclaimed happily.

“Hi guys!” Luro grinned, reaching up to accept Nami’s greeting hug. “Hey, hey, see if you can see a difference in these swords. Zoro says there is one, but I can’t see it.”

“Hm...no, I don’t see anything.”

“I’m telling you, it’s different!”

Luro laughed at Zoro’s exasperation. “Ok, ok. We’ll just take your word for it. What are you guys up to?”

“Franky and I are going to do some maintenance,” Usopp said, holding up the toolbox he carried for Luro to see. “Just a checkup, to make sure all the moving parts are working the way they should be, you know.”

“Ooh, can I help?”

“Sure, I don’t see why not.”

“Awesome!” Luro bounded excitedly to their feet. “Thanks! Where do we start?”

“Well, the plan is to work our way from the top of the ship on down, since the Soldier Dock is going to be by far the hardest to deal with. We might even have to disassemble the capstan completely to get at the-”

“The inner gear belt and the locking mechanism, right? You told me about those before.”

“Uh...yeah, those.” Franky grinned. “Do you also remember what I said about the lubricant we use on the Sunny?”

“Mm-hmm! ‘It’s specially engineered for optimum performance on sea-faring vessels, which means we don’t have to use as much as we would normally have to,’ right?”

“Yep, exactly! Good for you, Luro. Alright then, let’s get started!”

Zoro shook his head, watching as Franky led Usopp and Luro away. “They’re kind of a strange one, aren’t they?”

“Zoro, I won’t have you talking bad about Luro!” Nami snapped.

“I’m not, I’m just saying. I don’t ever know what they’re thinking. They’re never consistent. I just don’t get it.”

“You should know better than to expect consistency from a fusion.”

“Well, yeah, ok, I guess you’re right about that. But that doesn’t make it any less weird.”

Chapter Text

“...so right now the knight is searching for the missing princess, but he doesn’t know that the one who kidnapped her in the first place was the captain of the palace guard, so he’s looking in all the wrong places, and I honestly don’t know how they’re going to resolve that.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Maybe the prince will be smart enough to figure it out somehow, after all. Maybe the kidnapper will slip up and give him a clue. Or maybe! Maybe the princess will break herself out! That would be different. I don’t know, anything could happen.”

“Mmhmm. Why don’t you keep reading, and find out.”

“Ok, I will. I’ll let you know when I find out.”

Franky smiled to himself, glancing over the top of the blueprints he was working on at Chosopp, sprawled out on the library floor with his nose in a book. Their little collection of books didn’t include many works of fiction, but they sometimes picked up new ones whenever they stopped for supplies. And every time they did, Chosopp positively devoured them.

“I don’t think the princess is going to be able to get away by herself,” the fusion muttered. “The captain has her chained up to the wall. So, I guess that’s out, and the knight will have to figure it out after all.”

One of Chosopp’s fuzzy reindeer ears twitched a little as his eyes darted back and forth across the page in front of him. Franky rolled his eyes. At this point, he was pretty sure that it didn’t matter whether he actually answered or not- Chosopp was too engrossed in his reading to even notice.

“I don’t know, this knight seems kind of stupid to me. I’m not sure he’ll be able to figure it out. Kind of unreliable, really. I wouldn’t want to be left relying on him to rescue me. There’s got to be another clue, somehow. The captain’s gonna make a mistake, I bet.”

“Maybe the princess will manage to give the knight a clue somehow.”

“Huh? Did you say something?”

“I said, maybe the princess will give the knight a clue. Even if she can’t escape, maybe she can do something to let him know where she is. That sounds more likely than the captain making a mistake.”

“Maybe. I guess we’ll see.”

Franky smiled again, carefully tracing a long, straight line on his blueprint.

There was a soft knock at the door, and Robin stuck her head into the library. “Mind if I join you?”

“Sure, sure, come on in,” Franky said, reaching over to move some of his things off the seat next to him.

“Thank you. How’s the adventure coming, Chosopp?”

“Fine, fine, good,” Chosopp answered distractedly, turning a page.

“The protagonist is kind of dumb, apparently,” Franky clarified. “But he seems to be enjoying himself.”

“That’s good. But then again, I’m not sure he’s ever met a story he didn’t enjoy, at least in part.”

“You’re probably right about that.”

Chosopp made a frustrated noise and hastily turned another page. Robin chuckled, shaking her head a little.

“You know, you don’t have to sit in here if you don’t want to. Chosopp isn’t one of our more problematic fusions, he should be alright without supervision.”

“Oh, that’s ok. I just figured he could use the company. Besides, he’s got me hooked now. Gotta learn how the princess escapes her kidnapper, don’t I?”

Robin smiled. “Alright then. I know that some of our crewmates find Chosopp’s unique method of storytelling a little...let’s say trying, sometimes. But if you’re ok with it, that’s a different matter.”

“Yeah, I can see how they might see it as annoying. But I like it. Goodness knows I’m probably not going to have enough time to read that book myself, anyway.”

“Good point.”

Robin casually waved a hand, and used her powers to create a chain of arms to pass her her own book, which had been sitting on a table across the room, out of reach. For a few moments, there was silence in the library but for the sound of turning pages and Franky’s pencil scratching on the paper.

“Oh my god,” Chosopp suddenly exclaimed, startling Franky a little. “Oh my god...nooooo, don’t do it! Don’t do it!”

“What’s going on, buddy?”

“The knight is trying to get to the princess, but the whole place is rigged with traps, and he’s going to fall for this one, I just know he is. Man, he’s just so stupid! He’s going to fall for it, and then the princess will never get out!”

“Come now, Chosopp. Give the knight a little more credit. I’m sure he’ll rescue the princess just fine.”

“We’ll see about that,” Chosopp muttered indignantly, eyes furiously darting back and forth. “Ok hang on...Ok, ok, he finally remembered the clue she gave him, and he didn’t fall for it. But it was a close call, I’m telling you.”

“Is he gonna fight the captain? Good old fashioned man-to-man brawl, hm?”

“I don’t think so. I think...yes, he’s just gonna grab the princess and leave. Which means…” Chosopp gasped loudly. “Which means the ones to defeat the captain will be the rest of the guardsmen, that he betrayed when he kidnapped the princess!”

“Wow! Talk about irony.”

“I think it’s fitting.”

Chosopp sighed and sat up, stretching a little. “Yeah, the captain gets thrown in the dungeon. And it looks like the princess is going to marry the knight.”

“Happy ending, I guess.”

“Yeah, I guess. Although if you ask me, she could really do better. He was so stupid that she almost didn’t get rescued. But the rest of it was really well-written.”

“Well, I’m glad to hear you liked it.”

“Wait, wait, hold on a minute…oh! It says here that there’s a sequel!” Chosopp looked over at Robin and Franky, his eyes shining excitedly. “When can we get the next one?”

“I don’t know. It might be a while before we hit the next island. But we’ll be sure to pick it up at the soonest opportunity, promise.”

“Hmmmm...alright. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to read this one over one more time!”

Chapter Text

“Frook? Is that you?”

Luffy stuck his head into the men’s room, looked around.

“Over here,” Frook said, waving to get his attention. “I’m over here.”

“Oh, hi! There you are. Can I join you?”

“Sure, come on in.”

The fusion was sitting on one of the upper bunks, with his long legs hanging idly over the side. In his lap was one of Brook’s many guitars. He smiled at Luffy as he came in.

“I thought I heard your voice,” Luffy said, hopping up on the next bunk over. “What are you doing? Is the guitar broken?”

“I was just talking to myself. And no, no, it’s not broken. I’m restringing it, that’s all.”

“Why?”

“The old strings got worn out. It happens after a while. It’ll sound much better with these new strings on it.”

“Hm.” Luffy sat cross legged, his elbows on his knees. “Can you play the guitar, Frook?”

Frook shrugged. “I think I could maybe do a few basic chords. But no, nothing fancy.”

“How come? Brook can play really well.”

“I don’t really know. Robin’s tried explaining that kind of thing to us before, I know, but it always goes way over my head. As far as I understand it, some skills that are similar, or that compliment each other, are often present in fusions. Sometimes, the fusion might even be better at whatever it is than either of the individual components. Like with Zorook! But most of the time, they don’t keep their components’ skill sets. You following me?”

“Sorta, I think so. Fusions can’t do things as good as the people they’re made up of, because they’re new people, right? Different people.”

“Yeah. Exactly.” Frook nodded happily. Luffy was grasping the concept better than he had thought he would. “So, to answer your actual question, no, I can’t really play guitar. And I can’t build a laser canon, or whatever. But I can do other stuff. I’m really good at fixing instruments, for example,” he added, gesturing to the guitar.

“Ok. I was just wondering.”

Frook strummed the new strings quietly, and reached out to adjust the pegs accordingly. “Where is everybody else?”

“Zoro is training. Nami’s in the bath. Usopp and Chopper and Robin are all helping Sanji with dinner.”

“Hm? Are they cooking up that thing that we caught this morning...that big shark-lookin’ thing? I thought Sanji said it was poisonous.”

“Yeah, it is, but he says there’s a way to make it eatable.”

“You mean edible.”

“Yes, that. But apparently it’s very complicated, so Usopp and Chopper and Robin are helping. Sanji says it’ll be really tasty when it’s done!”

Frook laughed, shaking his head. “Well, how about that. That’s exactly what I love about the Line.”

“What, eating poisonous fish?”

“No, silly, the fact that someone went through a lot of trouble and probably some poisonings just to see if there was a way to eat it! That kind of spirit, you know. It defines the people here. I’ve always loved that, both of me have.”

“Ohhhh.” Luffy nodded. “I get what you mean. I’ve kinda noticed that too, that the people here are different than where I came from in the East Blue. In like, a general sense, I guess.”

“Yes, in a general sense. To be honest with you, assuming we ever do make it out? I would turn around and come right back, I think. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

“That’s what Rayleigh did! He told me. After about a year or so after Roger’s crew left Raftel, he came back. And so did Shanks, and Buggy. Probably more.”

“That doesn’t surprise me. It’s a special place, the Grand Line. It gets into your bones, you know? You can’t ever leave for long.”

“My grandpa wouldn’t agree with you. He always said how happy he was to be out of the Line for a while, and he always complained a lot about having to go back.”

“Well. Your grandpa’s not a pirate. Can’t expect him to feel the same as we do, I guess.”

“I guess.”

“This is our country, out here. The marines don’t really belong, not the way we do. I think most of them aren’t even from here, they’re recruited from outside.”

“I just don’t like that they want to control everything.” Luffy turned up his nose distastefully. “They’re not even trying to go further up the Line. They’re not...they have no ambition.”

“I get what you’re saying. But then, you could almost say the same thing about the Four Emperors.”

“That’s not the same thing, though. They’re pirates, at least.”

“At least.”

Frook gave the new strings- now perfectly tuned- one last strum, and nodded in satisfaction.

“Well, shall we see if Sanji needs any additional help with dinner?”

“He told me to stay out of the kitchen, though. If I mess up, even a little, we won’t be able to eat the thing after all.”

“That’s ok, the two of us can work together.”

“Oh, ok then! Thanks, Frook!”

“Of course, Luffy. Of course.”

Chapter Text

“Hey! What are you doing up here?”

“Training.”

“This is my training room.”

“Well, this may surprise you, Marimo-ya, but you’re not the only person on this ship who needs a place to train.”

Zoro scowled, but climbed the rest of the way into the room anyway. “What are you doing?”

“I don’t really know. I’m still working it out.”

Lawsan took another couple of swings at his imaginary target, and followed it up with a well-placed roundhouse kick.

“Looks pretty worked-out to me.”

“Mmm...It just doesn’t feel natural. I’m thinking too much.”

Lawsan sighed and lowered his hands, apparently giving up for the moment. The front of his shirt and his hair- jet black at the center of his head, fading out into a light golden blond at the ends- were both drenched in sweat.

“How long have you been up here, anyway?” Zoro asked, raising an eyebrow.

“I don’t know. A few hours, I guess.”

“Jeez. Do you, like...I don’t know, want some water, or something?”

“Oh.” Lawsan blinked. “I guess, now that you mention it, I probably should drink something.”

Zoro rolled his eyes, and headed over to the cooler that he always kept stocked with bottles of water in the corner.

“Here, take this.”

“Thanks.”

“Sure.” Zoro uncapped a second bottle for himself and took a sip, eyeing Lawsan thoughtfully. “Hey, you don’t use a sword?”

“No. And before you ask, I tried already. It didn’t feel right either.”

“How come? Law uses a sword.”

“Only as a secondary weapon. His powers are his most important asset, and Lawsan has no powers. I don’t know, man, nothing seems to fit.”

Lawsan sighed and sat down on the training room floor, leaned back and wiped sweat from his brow with his arm. Zoro followed suit, sitting down across from him, resigned to the fact that he wasn’t going to be able to start his own workout just yet.

“How did you come up with your signature sword style?” Lawsan asked. “What made you decide to go for a third sword?”

“I just had three swords. I didn’t think there was a reason not to use them all.”

“Figures. Of course it would be something like that, knowing you.”

“Hey! I’m trying to help you, stupid, don’t insult me!”

“I didn’t mean it as an insult! I’m just saying, you seem to be a lot better at this whole thing than I am.”

“Hmmmm….” Zoro crossed his arms, thinking hard. “Well, you’ve already tried bare-handed fighting. And, uh, by extension, the cook’s kick style, I’m guessing. And you tried using a sword. What about other weapons?”

“Other weapons?”

“Yeah, sure. I know it’s kind of unlikely, especially given your components. But hey, you never know until you try, right?”

Lawsan stared at Zoro, seemingly dumbfounded. “You know, Marimo-ya, that might be just dumb enough to actually work.”

“There you go insulting me again.”

“Well, where should I start? Should I like, I don’t know...go see Franky, ask if he has a laser gun or something?”

“Do you want a laser gun?”

“Um...no, I don’t think so.”

The two of them lapsed into silence for a moment, thinking.

“Ah!” Lawsan suddenly exclaimed, looking excited. “Knives!”

“Knives?”

“Yes, yes, knives! Kitchen knives!”

Lawsan eagerly leapt to his feet and headed for the door hatch, and Zoro followed him.

“Wait, wait! Kitchen knives? Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“It’s a great idea! I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner.”

The fusion dashed through the ship like a whirlwind, headed toward the galley. Zoro just kept on following, somehow caught up in it.

“Here we go,” Lawsan said, quickly pulling open a drawer and pulling out a long, sharp-looking blade. “I think I could really use this.”

“Hey, be careful with that!”

“You do know that Sanji handles these all the time, right?”

“You’re not Sanji, though, you’re a fusion. And you know that fusions are twice as likely as the rest of us to stab themselves in the throat doing something stupid like this.”

Lawsan grinned. “You’re gonna have to do better than that if you want to stop me, Marimo-ya. Besides, this was your idea in the first place.”

“I’m pretty sure it was your idea, actually.”

Lawsan ignored him, and hefted the knife in his hand a few times. He cautiously tried a few practice swings, seeming to grow bolder with each movement. After a moment he paused, before tossing the knife spinning upwards, nearly giving Zoro a heart attack.

But, as it turned out, he needn’t have worried. The knife’s hilt landed safely once more in Lawsan’s outstretched hand.

“Oh, I think I’m liking this. I think we’ve done it, Marimo-ya!”

“Great. Wonderful. Just please, be careful with that, Luffy and both of your components are going to kill me if you get hurt.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. Hey, can I keep using the training room for a bit?”

“No. Take a break, knife boy. It’s my turn for a workout.”

Chapter Text

Usopp went out looking for Nami and Vivi, and instead he found Navi, sitting on the beach and staring out at the ocean, hugging her knees up to her chest and looking so content that he almost didn’t want to disturb her.

“Hey, Navi.”

“Ah, hello, Usopp! Sorry, I didn’t see you there.”

“What are you doing?”

“Oh, nothing. Just lost in thought. It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, I guess it is. Listen, I came to get you because we’re almost done loading up all our supplies. It’s about time to go.”

“In a few minutes. I’d like to stay here for a bit longer.”

“But we have to-”

“In a few minutes, I said.”

Usopp sighed. Navi could really be quite stubborn when she wanted, and he had learned that it really wasn’t much use arguing with her. So instead of trying, he decided to save them both the trouble and quietly sit down beside her.

“This island has a rather interesting neap tide,” Navi said absently. “Look, you can see the watermark from the high tide. Just a few inches away. I wonder if the fishermen find it convenient.”

“What’s a neap tide?”

“Oh, just this thing that happens about twice a month. It’s the time when the low tide is at its highest, relative to the normal high tide.”

“And, uh, that’s now?”

“Yes.”

“How do you know it’s not just a normal low-ish tide?”

“Because of the moon cycle and the time of day.”

“I’ll...take your word for it.”

“Smart choice.”

A stray breeze drifted over the beach, rustling their hair and clothing. Navi sighed happily and wiggled her toes in the sun-warmed sand.

“I bet, later on in the season, you could find whelks out here.”

“Oh, those spiraly shells? We had those on my home island. The boys and I used to go out looking for them all the time.”

“They’re beautiful, aren’t they? Vivi’s dad has one that’s practically the size of his head, sitting on a shelf in the palace library. Next to the books about the other islands in the Line. But she’s never asked him where he got it.”

“Maybe she should ask, next time she’s there.”

“Maybe she will. Maybe she will. Alright, I suppose we’d better go on and find the others now.”

Navi got to her feet and stretched her arms over her head before falling in beside Usopp, walking back up the beach towards the little town they were visiting.

The fusion’s clothes were all made of some kind of light, flowy material that swirled around her at her slightest movement. Her hair hung loose around her shoulders, and she wore no shoes. Needless to say, she stood out more than a bit from the average townspeople, and attracted a lot of weird stares. But none of that seemed to bother her. She swirled her way down the street, oblivious to any of the other passerby, humming quietly to herself.

“When we get back to the ship,” she told Usopp, “I’m going to bake something. It feels like a good day for some baking.”

“Good luck getting Sanji to let you use his precious kitchen.”

“Oh, he’ll let me in the kitchen, don’t you worry about that. What should I make?”

“I don’t know. What do you want?”

“That’s a good way to go about it. Hmm...I do believe I shall bake some banana bread. With nuts, and mini chocolate chips.”

“Do you know how to make banana bread?”

Navi shrugged. “Probably. How hard can it be?”

“Don’t forget that we’ll be travelling on a wooden boat in the middle of the ocean.”

“I’m not going to burn the ship down, dummy. Don’t worry, I’ve got this. Banana bread for everyone tonight!”

After a few minutes of walking, the street began sloping down and the traffic thinning out as they approached the docks at the other end of town.

“Oh, look, you can see the others from here.” Navi waved her arm over her head, and down by the Merry Luffy answered with a wave of his own. “Looks like we’re just about ready to go.”

“You guys are late,” Zoro yelled at them as they approached. “You were supposed to be here to help with the supplies.”

“Well, too bad,” Navi said airily, sweeping past with her nose in the air. “A crew of muscleheaded boys like you doesn’t even need my help loading a few groceries, anyway, and you know it.”

Zoro raised an eyebrow. Usopp just shook his head.

“Now come on, let’s get underway,” Navi continued, making her way up the gangplank. “This banana bread isn’t going to bake itself.”

“Banana bread?” Sanji asked. “But it’s almost sundown. It’ll-”

“Sanji. Trust me dude, just let it go. Let her do what she wants.”

“Well, alright then. Come on boys, let’s raise the anchor.”

Navi took her place behind the wheel, grinning. Her smile always looked to Usopp as if she knew a secret that the rest of the world was just dying to know.

“I was right, you know,” she said.

“About what?”

“The neap tide, being convenient. We’ve got a night of smooth sailing ahead of us.”

Chapter Text

“That one looks like a treehouse!”

“Mmhmm.”

“And that one kinda looks like a dog.”

“Yeah, kinda.”

It was almost sundown aboard the Thousand Sunny, and Zoro was enjoying a quiet nap out on the deck...or, at least, he would have been, if Lupper hadn’t been laying on him.

It had been a long day of antics already, and apparently the excitable fusion had tired himself out. So when Zoro had stretched out on the lawn, Lupper had laid down right next to him and put his head on Zoro’s chest.

That was maybe a little more physical contact than Zoro was comfortable with, but he was doing his best to put up with it. After all, most fusions- especially Luffy fusions- had very childlike personalities. They were brand new people, seeing the world through brand new eyes, so it only made sense, really. Zoro had experienced it plenty of times himself.

So if Lupper wanted to cuddle, Zoro wasn’t going to say no. This was normal kiddy fusion behavior. Totally fine and not weird at all.

“That one looks like a face,” Lupper continued, pointing upwards to one of the clouds above them. “See, it has eyes, and a big pointy nose, and long hair on the side of it.”

“Uh-huh.” Zoro could actually kind of see that one, now that it had been pointed out to him. But there was no way on Earth that he would have just looked up and thought ‘face in the clouds’ unprompted. It was always interesting to see the things Lupper came up with.

“I wonder if it’s going to rain later. Since there’s so many clouds out.”

“None of these clouds are rain clouds, Lupper. Rain clouds are dark gray, not white like this.”

“I know, Nami told me. They’re gray because they’re heavy, because they have too much water in them. But the gray ones have to come from somewhere, right? What if two of the white clouds crash into each other? Would that make them heavy enough to make rain?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

“Do you think snow clouds are heavier than rain clouds?”

“Lupper, I don’t know.”

“Hm. I’ll have to ask Nami later.”

“I still don’t think we’ll have rain today.”

“That’s good.” Lupper yawned loudly. “I’m tired.”

“So go to sleep.”

“But I don’t want to unfuse yet.”

“You don’t have to. Just take a nap.”

“Hmmmmm. Neither of me has ever taken a nap while still fused before. Have you?”

“Once or twice. And no, nothing bad happened.”

“Did you have any dreams?”

“No.”

“I wonder if fusions can have dreams. I wonder what I’d dream about, if I could.”

“Well, dreams are usually just a mix-mash of what you’ve been thinking about, really.”

“Which parts would get mix-mashed, though? What Luffy’s been thinking about, or what Chopper’s been thinking about?”

“I don’t know. Some of both, probably.”

“That...sounds like it could be a disaster.”

He couldn’t see it, but Zoro could perfectly picture the thoughtful frown on Lupper’s face right now.

“Disaster how?”

“What if Luffy was thinking about some tasty meat, and Chopper was thinking about some anatomical diagrams from his doctor’s book, and...and I ended up dreaming about being chased by meat zombies?

“I, uh, don’t see the correlation, but-”

“That would be a nightmare, Zoro. A terrible nightmare! The worst, most horrible nightmare imaginable!”

“Lupper-”

“I don’t want to go to sleep fused if I’m just going to have nightmares!”

By that point Zoro was trying and not entirely succeeding to keep from laughing.

“Calm down, Lupper. You don’t know that all your dreams would be nightmares. You don’t even know yet if you can have dreams, remember?”

“But now I’m thinking about nightmare stuff, so even if it turns out I can dream, that’s all that’s going to be there…”

“Dreams aren’t that straightforward. There’s just no way to know beforehand. There’s only one way to find out what’s going to happen, and that’s to just go to sleep and let it happen.”

“Hmph. Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

Lupper let out a long sigh.

“Zoro, are you going to take a nap too?”

“I was thinking about it.”

“Can I stay here and nap with you? And you can wake me up if I have any nightmares?”

“Sure.”

“Thank you!”

“Uh-huh.”

“If you have any nightmares I will be here to wake you up, too.”

“Yeah, thanks.”

“And if you have any dreams, make sure to remember them, so we can-”

“Go to sleep, already!”

Chapter Text

“I work hard all daaaaay…”

“He works hard all day!”

“To keep the ship cleeeeeaaaan…”

“To keep the ship clean!”

“Oh, I’ve got my rag in one hand and my sudsy bucket in the other, hey!”

“Hey!”

Broosopp’s best impression of an instrumental interlude to go with his improvised cleaning shanty, with Luffy and Chopper cheering him on, was interrupted by a knock at the door. Robin walked in, her sleeves rolled up and her hair tied back.

“How’s it coming in here, guys?”

“Oh, hey Robin! We’re just finishing up. Be careful, the floor’s wet.”

“What else still needs to be done?”

“Just the bathroom and the galley, and I think the rest of us have that covered. But the library shelves could use a good dusting, if you three wouldn’t mind.”

“Not at all, not at all.” Broosopp grinned at her, wringing out his cleaning rag into a bucket of water. “We’ll make sure it all gets done, you just leave it to us.”

“Alright, thank you. When you’re done, Sanji said he’ll be making burgers for dinner.”

“Alright!”

Robin smiled and walked away, no doubt headed back to where her own soapy bucket was waiting for her.

“Alrighty, boys,” Broosopp said, with one final flourish of his rag, “let’s hit the books, shall we?”

“Broosopp, you don’t have to hit them to get the dust off them. You can just use a duster.”

“I was making a joke, Luffy.”

“Oh. Oh! I get it. Good one.”

“Thank you. Come on, let’s get going.”

The three of them made their way to the ship’s library, stopping on their way to pick up some dusters.

Luffy ran a finger down the spine of one of the books on a nearby shelf, wrinkling his nose in distaste. “Wow, it really is dusty in here.”

“I’m not sure anyone was in here during last month’s cleaning day,” Chopper said thoughtfully. “There’s probably at least two months’ worth of dust accumulated in here.”

“Well, it’s a good thing we’re taking care of that now, then!” Broosopp, smiled, narrowing his eyes. “I bet I can dust more than either of you can.”

“Nuh-uh! I can easily dust more than you and Chopper put together!”

“Hey!”

“Alright, it’s on then. Ready...set...go!”

The three of them raced to separate shelves, gleefully waving their dusters as fast as they could.

Broosopp was an unusually tall fusion, and as such it was his job on cleaning day to help with the harder-to-reach spots. On top of the fridge, up in the corners of the rooms where the cobwebs gathered, that sort of thing.

The fact that he was also something of an expert at raising everyone’s morale and making sure they had fun even while working hard was just a happy coincidence.

Chopper sneezed loudly, turning his face away from a cloud of dust.

“Bless you!”

“Thanks. I think it’s been more than two months since anyone has even touched some of these books.”

“That could very well be.”

“I told Franky I didn’t think we needed a whole room for books,” Luffy said, stretching his dusting arm up to the next shelf. “But Robin and Nami yelled at me. And in the end, we do have a lot of books, even if they don’t all get read that often. I guess it’s good that we have this room after all.”

“I think every ship should have a library.”

“Really, Broosopp?”

“Yes, of course! Knowledge is the only power capable of winning over strength. To purposefully perpetuate ignorance is to cultivate weakness!”

“...Huh?”

“Don’t worry, Luffy, you’re the exception to the rule.”

Chopper chuckled. “Hey Broosopp, if you had your own ship, what would it be like?”

“Hm, a very good question! I think it would be a long skinny one, you know, very aerodynamic. Two masts, with a...grizzly bear figurehead. It’d have its own stage, and there’d be live music every night. And of course it’d have a huge library, with a section devoted to each of the arts! Painting, poetry, theater….”

“Even dancing?”

“Oh, definitely dancing. I would make sure everyone on my crew knew how to dance.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“Yeah, I think so. We’d record all of our adventures in song, and make up dances to go along with them.” Broosopp grinned. “We’d be the happiest pirates ever to sail the Line.”

“You just want to sing and dance? That’s all?”

“Sometimes, Luffy, that’s enough. Sometimes it’s enough just to be happy.”

“Hey,” called Sanji from somewhere outside, “are you three done yet? Food’ll get cold.”

“We’re coming!”

Broosopp tossed his duster onto one of the library tables and glanced around to Chopper and Luffy.

“I’ll race you to the galley!”

Chapter Text

The powered members of the Strawhats had long since learned to be careful whenever they were out on the deck. Too many times one (or more of them) has fallen overboard and nearly drowned. They’d learned to keep a sharp eye out, to be aware of what’s going on around them at all times, especially when Luffy and Chopper and Usopp are horsing around.

Unfortunately, Law had never learned that lesson.

But, luckily enough for him, the Strawhats had also learned never to leave any of the powered crew members unsupervised while out on the deck. So, when Law accidentally took an elbow to the face and went over the side, Zoro was there to dive in after him.

Luffy, Chopper, and Usopp stood anxiously by the railing, waiting for them to resurface. It took a long time- long enough to be worrying- but finally they heard the sounds of someone climbing back up to them.

But the face that eventually emerged back into sight wasn’t the one they were expecting. The man who pulled himself up over the side of the ship had spiky hair, peppered with both green and black.

“Don’t you idiots ever do that again,” he snapped loudly.

Usopp heaved a sigh of relief. “Oh, thank god you’re both ok.”

“I’m not ok! You fools almost killed me,” the fusion said, flopping down on the deck. “I mean, almost killed Law. Ugh, new fusions are hard…”

“I’m sorry for hitting Law,” Luffy said guiltily. “It was an accident.”

“Yeah, yeah. Just don’t let it happen again.”

“How are you feeling, uh...what should we call you?”

“Laro?” Chopper suggested. “Lawro?”

“No. Rejected. You can call me...Zolaw. That’s not good either, but I guess it’s the best option right now. And I’m good, I think. I’m fine. Soaking wet, but you know. Not dead.”

Usopp, Chopper, and Luffy traded looks while Zolaw lay on the deck with his hands over his face, apparently lost in thought. They had all experienced it enough times to know that he was right- new fusions were hard, and not just for the fusions themselves. They had no idea to expect from Zolaw, which meant they had to be careful not to say something that would upset him or do anything to cause the fusion to become unstable.

“So, can you swim, Zolaw?” Luffy asked, sitting down on the deck too. “Zolu can’t. We tried, and he still sank like a stone.”

“Well, I mean, I did swim my way back over to the ship. But I don’t think I’m very good at it. I guess that’s to be expected, when half of me is an iron hammer like Law. Hm…” Zolaw sat up, staring down at his hands. “I wonder if I can...hang on, there it goes.”

The faint shimmering light of one of Law’s operating rooms appeared at Zolaw’s fingertips, forming a sphere of light about the size of a basketball.

“Whoa!”

“Wow, Zolaw, looks like you’ve got the best of both worlds, huh.”

“Mmmm. I get the feeling I couldn’t really make it any bigger. But that’s ok, I think I’d rather use a sword anyway.”

“Just the one?”

“I don’t know. I’ll have to do some training and figure it out. But not right now.” He laid back down. “Later. I’m tired.”

Luffy, with his typical disregard for personal space, reached out to grab one of the fusion’s arms and push back his sleeve, fully exposing the sharply angled designs on the skin beneath. “This is cool.”

“We should introduce you to the rest of the crew, Zolaw! They’ll be so excited to meet you.”

“Yeah, sure. Whatever. But like, later. I’m tired.”

“Well, what do you want to do, then?”

“Hm.” Zolaw thought for a second. “A lot of stuff. I want to go into the kitchen and find some booze. I want to see how fast I can run, see how much I can lift. I wanna find Eustass Kid and swing a sword at him.”

“Why?”

“Cause he’s pretty strong. He’ll be good practice.”

“Practice for what?”

“Well, to figure out what I’m capable of, first. So I can be prepared.”

“Yeah, but for what?”

“For anything, Chopper! You gotta be prepared for anything!”

“Uh, maybe you should start a little smaller first, Zolaw. Like, with some light sparring up in the training room, or something?”

“No. It’s sink or swim out there, Usopp. Real opponents aren’t going to go easy on you.”

“Jeez. You’re a stubborn one, aren’t you?”

“Where is Kid these days, anyway? Do we know? Do we have his phone number? Do we know anyone that has his phone number? Cause I’m committed to this now.”

“I don’t know. You’ll have to go check yourself.”

“Alright then, I will. But later. For now, I’m just gonna take a nap.”

Chapter Text

Occasionally, the Strawhats came upon a particular problem when approaching new islands. Whenever there were strong marine presences in the area, it was hard for them to get around without attracting unwanted attention.

Thankfully, though, there was a fairly easy solution to hand. The marines were aware of some of the Strawhat fusions, but not all of them. So they could just send one of the ones that the marines weren’t familiar with to get whatever supplies they needed.

The favorite for this activity was Romi.

Romi had a way of walking that made everyone else hurry to get out of her way, and could talk just about anyone into just about anything. And she knew it. She exuded confidence with every step, her eyes fixed unwaveringly in front of her.

Sanji trailed behind her, trying to ignore the marines mixed in among the townspeople around them the way Romi was. There were a lot more of them than he’d been anticipating, and it was making him really nervous, but she hardly even seemed to notice them.

“Sanji, dear. If you keep tugging at your wig like that, you’re going to give yourself away. The whole point of wearing a disguise is to avoid attention rather than attracting it, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Oh, uh, yeah. Sorry. I’m just anxious, is all.”

“Relax. Nothing’s going to happen. As long as you leave your hair alone, that is.”

“Sorry.”

“It’s alright. Come on, the store we’re looking for is just up ahead.”

Sanji put his hands in his pockets, away from the temptation of messing with his itchy wig, and followed her without comment.

They walked a few more blocks, and then Romi turned off down a narrow alleyway. Then another, taking them pretty far from the hustle and bustle of the main street.

“Romi? Are you sure this is the way?”

“Yes, of course I am.”

“I thought the general store would be back that way, though.”

“There’s another one over here. Ken’s Convenience, it’s called. Locals shop there, so it’s bound to be cheaper.”

“Cheaper, maybe, but also sketchier. You’re sure this is the way?”

“Yes, I’m sure. I memorized the map.”

Ken’s Convenience turned out to be a shabby little store with a sun-faded sign hanging over the door, situated between a boarded-up old diner and a really shady-looking pharmacy. The whole area was pretty shady-looking, in Sanji’s opinion. But Romi strolled right on through the door like she owned the place, and he had little choice but to go in after her.

“Rope, fishing line, paper, soap...what else?”

“Salt. And Franky wanted some motor oil.”

“Yes, that’s right. I see the cleaning supplies, they’re over on that shelf.”

“I’ll get the rope.”

The two of them gathered up everything they needed and headed to the front of the store, where they waited for the man ahead of them at the counter to pay for his things.

“Thank you, come again,” said the clerk in a bored tone of voice. “Next, please.”

“Good morning,” Romi said, dumping her armload of supplies on the countertop. “Lovely weather we’re having this morning, hm?”

“Yeah, yeah. It’s great. Your total comes to two hundred and eighty seven, ma’am.”

Romi raised an eyebrow. “Two hundred and eighty seven?”

“Yes, ma’am, that’s what I said.”

“Well, I’m afraid you must have miscounted. Could you perhaps have made a mistake with the motor oil? The price listed on the shelf over there is only thirty beri.”

“The price is two eighty seven, like it or not.”

“Well, I’m afraid that that is simply unacceptable.”

The clerk’s eyes narrowed. Sanji almost opened his mouth to say something, but thought the better of it- it was better to let Romi do the talking, he figured.

“Two eighty seven is absolutely ridiculous!”

“If you don’t like it, go somewhere else!”

“Is this how you treat your customers? Because if so-”

“Look, lady, I’m telling you-”

“Hey, hey, is there a problem in here?”

A young man in a marine’s uniform approached them, apparently having just entered the store. Sanji quickly turned his face away and tried to pretend he was invisible, but Romi squared her shoulders and said, “yes, officer, there is a problem. This man,” she snapped, jabbing her finger aggressively in the clerk’s face, “is attempting to charge me double the advertised price for a can of motor oil.”

The marine sighed and shook his head. “Ken, I keep telling you, you can’t do that. Off-islanders or not, everyone pays the same price. Let the lady have her motor oil.”

The clerk, Ken, grumbled a little under his breath, but punched some numbers into his register nevertheless. “Here, fine. Two fifty seven.”

Thank you.” Romi curtly handed over the more agreeable amount. “I suggest you reevaluate your business practices, Ken. Come on, let’s go,” she added to Sanji, passing him one of the bags of supplies before storming out of the store.

“Don’t mind him,” the marine said, hastily following them outside. “He’s really not so bad, once you get to know him.”

“Hmph. Not fond of foreigners, is he?”

“Ah...you could say that.” The marine laughed. Sanji didn’t like him. “What’s your name, miss?”

“Nicky,” Romi lied effortlessly. “My brother here and I are just passing through, with our family.”

“Well, I’m sorry to hear that, Nicky. I’d love to get to know you better. Maybe you can convince your folks to stay for the night?”

Ooooh, Sanji really didn’t like this guy.

“Sorry, but we have to leave tonight,” he said loudly, glaring at the marine. “We’re on a schedule.”

“I’ll see if I can convince them,” Romi said, ignoring him completely. “I guess you’ll find out tonight if I was successful or not!”

It wasn’t until they parted ways with the marine at the main street that Romi dropped the sweet smile from her face in favor of a vaguely disgusted sneer.

“Blech. Gross. Come on, let’s go.”

“We’re not really going to stay the night here, are we?”

“No, of course not! We’re going to leave right now. The sooner the better!”

Chapter Text

“How’s the latest project coming along, Franji?”

“Mmmmm.”

“That bad, huh?”

Brook leaned casually up against the counter, and took a sip of tea. Franji sat on the kitchen floor, dozens of pieces of paper spread out around him, with his arms crossed and a frown on his face.

“No, no, it’s not that. I just can’t make up my mind how I want to do this. I’m starting to think that neither of the plans I was thinking about will even work out, and maybe I should start from scratch.”

“But, this morning, you sounded so sure. You were convinced the plan was going to work out well, you told me so yourself.”

“Yeah, well, that was this morning. I’m reconsidering now.”

“You’ve been sitting there ‘reconsidering’ for almost two hours,” Brook pointed out. “Perhaps you should take a little break, and come back later. You’ll have a fresh eye, then.”

Franji sighed. “Yeah. I guess you’re right. I need to take a step back for a minute.”

“Would you like some tea?”

“Sure, why not. Thanks, Brook.”

“Of course.”

While Brook poured a second cup of tea, Franji moved over to sit at the table, running a hand through his hair as he went. He did that a lot; his electric green hair was always standing on end, but he never seemed to even really notice.

“Do you take your tea with milk, Franji?”

“Yeah, just a bit, please. Thanks.”

“You’re quite welcome. So,” Brook said, sitting down across from the fusion at the table, “what made you decide that you needed to reorganize the recipe book, anyway?”

Franji shrugged. “It was just time. Sanji likes to redo the whole thing every couple of weeks, just to keep it fresh, you know. It’s the same with Franky’s workshop. Which, now that I think about it, is probably due for a reordering soon. Guess that’ll be my next project.”

“Does it have to be you? Shouldn’t Sanji and Franky keep track of their own things?”

“No, not necessarily. Sanji gets bored after like five minutes, and quits, and Franky gets distracted and never finishes what he starts. But me, I like organizing things. A little indecision here and there is a small price to pay, is what I think. Or, more accurately, what Sanji and Franky think. So, here I am.”

“If you say so.” Brook didn’t quite follow the logic there, but he shrugged it off. It wasn’t for him to question fusion stuff. He knew enough from experience that that kind of futile endeavor would just give him a headache.

“You know,” Franji said, leaning forward and resting his elbows on the table, “I got to thinking earlier- while I was busy not getting anywhere with those recipes- and I realized something. Organizing things is like, one of our basic human needs. It goes beyond sorting the deserts from the appetizers, and the nails from the screws. You get what I’m saying?”

“Um...no, I’m afraid you’ve lost me, Franji. Can you explain that a bit further?”

“Just think about it. We have laws and social rules for just about everything. And at the personal level, we self-regulate and create incredibly detailed routines for ourselves about literally everything. We make a point to put our shoes in the same spot every day, for crying out loud.”

“Hm...I suppose I never really considered that before!”

“It doesn’t end there, though. Even animals have some structure to their animal societies. And, and! The laws of physics! Keeping all the little molecules neatly organized and in their right places, keeping the world from completely falling apart. We all rely on that.”

“Wow. That’s quite the theory you’ve stumbled upon, there. What are you going to do with it?”

“I don’t know. Finish the recipes, I guess.” Franji chuckled. “That should probably take priority, since, you know. They’re all over the floor.”

“Anything I can do to help?”

“Nah, nah, I got it. I think I have a good compromise between the two things I was thinking about earlier. And that was the hard part, so I’ll be done in no time.”

“I’ve heard that one before, mister. I’ll be back in another two hours for another tea break. Sound good?”

Franji grinned. “Fair enough. I’ll be expecting you, then.”

Chapter Text

Uvi was a kind, warm-hearted fusion, with soft features, smooth sun-tanned skin, and a beautiful smile. Unfortunately, they were also a bit of an airhead, and very forgetful.

Nami vividly remembered one occasion in particular, on which she had taken her eyes off them for five minutes at most, and returned to find them nowhere in sight. After a few minutes of frantically searching the ship for them, she eventually found them sitting up in the Merry’s crow’s nest with a sketchbook open on their knee, humming contentedly to themself.

“There you are! Uvi, you can’t run off on me like that. I couldn’t find you, I thought you went over the side or something. You nearly gave me a heart attack!”

“Oops. Sorry, Nami, I won’t let it happen again.”

“Yeah, you’d better not. What are you doing up here, anyway?”

“Just chillin’. Here, c’mere, sit down.”

Uvi scooted out of the way, making room for Nami to climb the rest of the way up and into the crow’s nest.

Nami had once heard someone describe being up in the crow’s nest as ‘being in a whole different world’. That had really stayed with her, for whatever reason. It was quiet and calm up there, between islands with the sea stretching out as far as the eye could see in every direction.

“What are you drawing, Uvi?”

“Oh, nothing much. Just doodling.” The fusion turned their paper so that Nami could see- it was filled with scribbly, half-recognizable sketches of various members of the crew.

“That’s...good, really good! I like, uh, the style you have going on.”

“Thanks, that’s very nice of you to say. I don’t think they’re any good at all, really, but it’s fun anyway.”

Uvi turned a fresh page and started sketching again, resuming their humming. Nami stayed quiet for a moment, just listening. A stray breeze ruffled her hair and Uvi’s bouncy blue curls.

“It’s such a nice day today.”

“It is. We’re lucky to have had such good weather the past couple of days.”

“I didn’t mean the weather, but yeah, that too.”

“What, then?”

“Hmm.” Uvi cocked their head to the side, contemplating their answer. “The way I think about it, any day that I can just sit and enjoy watching the waves go by is a good day. A calm day, no running from the marines or other pirates or killer Line fauna. Just us, and the ocean. That’s good enough for me.”

Nami smiled. “Well, when you put it like that, I can hardly argue.”

“Someday, when this is all over and we don’t have to run from anyone anymore, I’m going to buy a big house on a beachfront somewhere. And I’ll paint it yellow and spend every evening out on my back porch just watching the waves. When it storms, I’ll watch the whole thing from my bedroom window, with a mug of cider and a fire going.” Uvi laughed. “Or at least, that’s how it goes in my daydreams. Realistically, I don’t think it would work out. Usopp and Vivi are very good friends, but I don’t think either of them could stay put like that in one place forever, just looking at the ocean and not actually sailing it.”

“It’s a wonderful dream, though,” Nami said. “I’ve often considered something similar in my own daydreams. Although, my house by the ocean comes with a tangerine grove.”

“Maybe the three of us- you and Usopp and Vivi- can all buy a house together, and then whenever one goes out travelling the others will be there to take care of things.”

“Now, there’s an idea. A literal home base. I like it.”

“Me too. Just three good friends and the ocean. And, ideally, like a gazillion dogs. As big and fluffy as possible.”

“Dogs? Aw, come on, why not cats?”

“Ok, fine, we can have some cats too. And some ducks to keep Carue company.”

“Nice. And we can invite Chopper over all the time, so he can tell us what all our pets are saying.”

“Yeah! Perfect.”

Uvi turned their sketchbook paper towards Nami again, so that she could see their rough rendition of their dream home. They had given it three floors and what Nami assumed were supposed to be marble columns out front.

“Wow, Uvi, that sure is fancy.”

“Well, as long as we’re daydreaming, right? Go big or go home.”

They closed their sketchbook and stretched their arms over their head, yawning.

“What’s for dinner tonight?”

“I don’t know.”

“I hope it’s seafood.”

“Well. Given where we are right now, I’d say there’s a pretty good chance of that.”

Uvi grinned. “In our house on the beach we could have fresh seafood every day! How does that sound?”

“I think I’d get sick of it pretty quickly.”

“Not me. I love seafood. Let’s go find Sanji, see what he has planned...and if we can’t change his mind!”

Chapter Text

In one corner of the Thousand Sunny’s library, there was a small collection of board games and several packs of playing cards. Unfortunately, they didn’t get much use these days. Most of the decks of cards were incomplete, and thus unusable for pretty much any productive card game. Most of the board games were still intact, but either impossible to win or too boring to be of any real entertainment value.

But there was one that they played fairly regularly. It was just challenging enough to be interesting, and to be fun. It was a strategy game called Cross, and about once every two weeks or so the Strawhats all got together to play in the Sunny’s galley.

“Can you please explain the rules one more time,” Lula asked, a look of intense concentration on his face.

“Doesn’t Luffy know the rules?”

“He knows them. Whether or not he understands them is a different matter altogether. Explain them once more. Please.”

Nami rolled her eyes. “Ok, one more time for Lula. The objective is to make it out of the dangerous swamp before any of the other players. There are traps like quicksand and alligators and stuff like that all over the place. That’s where the cards come in. Whenever you get stuck in one of those traps, you have to use the dice to fight your way out. Following so far?”

“Yes. Is that why the game is called Cross? Because you have to cross the swamp?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“That’s funny,” Robin said, from where she sat at the other side of the table, setting up the pieces on the board. “I always assumed it was called that because of all the inevitable double crossings.”

“Double crossings?”

“I’m getting to that. Players can choose to make alliances with each other, to help each other get out of the swamp. But you can also choose to betray your ally, in exchange for a better chance at getting out of a trap. Like, you could push them over when running from a bear attack, so they’d get eaten first. Still following?”

“I think so. What happens if you both decide to double cross each other at the same time, though?”

“Rock paper scissors to see which person is more successful at pushing the other into the bear’s path. Good?”

“Um…..I’m not sure. Maybe I should just watch, this time.”

“You’ll be fine, Lula,” Sanji said, setting a heaping bowl of steaming popcorn on the table. “As long as you plan ahead, and remember to think quickly and keep your priorities straight, you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping up.”

“Sanji. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you’re just making a list of things I’m really really bad at.”

“Well then, this will be a good practice for you, Lula. You understand all the rules now, right?”

“Uh, I think so. Maybe. Probably.”

“That’s good enough for me. Alright, everybody, let’s get this ball rolling! Who won the last game?”

“Me!”

“Alright then, Usopp, you get first turn.”

 

The full game of Cross ended up lasting over three hours, which was quite a bit longer than it usually did. Much of that extra time could be attributed to Lula spending far too long agonizing over even the smallest decisions. But, even though it was somewhat annoying, the others let him have that time without complaint. They had all learned from experience that, if he was rushed or pressured into making a choice, Lula would instantly destabilize and fall apart.

Of all the many fusions that came and went aboard the Thousand Sunny, Lula was easily one of the most unstable. Luffy’s and Law’s personalities tended to conflict more than they harmonized.

Lula needed constant reassurance and validation. He often went long periods of time without speaking, if no one asked him for his opinion. He wasn’t good with expressing his emotions, and was easily frustrated with things he didn’t understand.

But, even in spite of all his flaws, he was a genuinely good person. He clearly cared very deeply about his crewmates and had a strong sense of morality. Most of the Strawhats were under the impression that, once he had had a bit more practice at staying stable for longer periods of time, he would prove to be an irreplaceable part of the crew, in his own way.

The rest were convinced that he never would make it to the status of fully stable, but that it didn’t really matter, in the long run.

 

“I win!” Franky yelled, with a celebratory fist pump.

“You got lucky,” Zoro snarled. “Next time I’ll be the one throwing you to the swamp cannibals, just you wait.”

“You wish, Zoro. You suck at rock paper scissors, dude, face it.”

“I do not!”

“He’s right, Zoro. You always throw rock.”

“What did you think, Lula?” Brook asked, ignoring the argument on the other side of the table.

“Um….” Lula frowned. “I don’t think I would have survived, if I had really been in this situation. This game is…hard.”

“You had the opportunity to double cross Chopper back there, with the mudslide,” Robin pointed out. “Perhaps you would have fared better if you had.”

“Yeah, but...I didn’t want to double cross Chopper! He’s my friend!”

“It’s just a game, Lula. I wouldn’t stop being your friend just because of a board game,” Chopper assured him. “I might be mad for a little while, because I wanted to win and you were making that harder for me, but in the end it’s just a game. You get me?”

“Yeeeeees,” Lula said, very unconvincingly.

“You’ll do better next time,” Robin said, patting Lula gently on the arm. “In the meantime, I do believe it is time for us all to be getting ready for bed!”

“I agree, it’s getting late. Lula, are you staying fused for the night? Or should I put out the extra cot for Law?”

“I, um…..I think I’ll stay like this for now, if that’s ok. I have a lot to think about. Is it ok?”

“Of course it is, Lula, of course it is. Stay as long as you like.”

Chapter Text

Zoro fused with Robin probably more regularly than he did with anyone else. Robin fused with several people often, but she never turned down a chance to fuse with Zoro, when he offered. Both of them enjoyed the experience of being Zobin, and Zobin in turn enjoyed the experience of doing nothing, and simply being.

Generally, they were a very calm fusion. Unnaturally calm, some (Usopp and Franky) would say. So utterly unfazed by everything that some (Nami and Chopper) found it a little unnerving. Zobin combined Zoro’s apathetic affectation with Robin’s serene nature in the absolute chillest way possible. There really was no other way to put it.

The vast majority of their time was spent aboard the Sunny, either decked out on the lawn or, when the weather turned colder, in one of their component’s beds wrapped up in blankets. They were rarely around for island exploration, and never really saw any combat. It wasn’t that they couldn’t fight- as some (Sanji) had found out the hard way. It was just that they usually couldn’t be bothered to do so.

They were at their most content when the sun was shining, and the sea was calm, and all the Strawhats’ worries seemed a world away.

 

“I just don’t get it,” Law muttered, staring at Zobin through the galley window. “I’d have thought a fusion between Zoro-ya and Nico-ya would be more...I don’t know, more aggressive? More active? Definitely not that.”

“Aggressive fusions are unhealthy fusions,” Franky said absently from behind the morning paper. “That’s what Tom-san always used to tell Iceberg and me.”

“You really don’t want to see them when they do get aggressive, Torao. Trust me.”

“Shut up, Sanji. You’re just mad because of that time you woke them up and they flipped you and you sprained your wrist,” Nami said knowingly.

“I am not!” Sanji snapped in a most unconvincing tone of voice.

“Uh-huh, sure.”

Franky sighed, folding up the newspaper. “Slow news day,” he reported. “Not even any new wanted posters.”

“Isn’t that a good thing?”

“For the marines, I guess. Torao, do me a favor and take this out to Zobin.”

“Uh, excuse me?”

“They said they wanted to look at it when I was done.”

“Ok, but, why me?”

“Cause it’ll do you good to get to know them a little. Go on,” Franky added, making a shooing motion at Law when he didn’t move. “Go outside and be sociable for once in your life, it won’t kill you.”

“...Fine.”

Scowling, Law picked up the newspaper, left the galley, and approached Zobin where they lay on the grass.

At first, he thought they were asleep. Their eyes were closed and they were laying very still. Recalling what Nami’s story about what had happened to Sanji upon waking them up, he hesitated.

But then Zobin cracked an eye open and asked, “what?”

“Oh,” Law said stupidly, a little bit startled. “Uh, I brought the newspaper. Franky-ya said that you said that you wanted it.”

“I did say that. Thanks, Torao.”

Zobin sat up and took the paper Law offered them, opening it up and spreading it out on the grass in front of them. “No new pirate news,” they observed, their multi-colored eyes skimming the page quickly.

“So I hear.” Law hesitated again, but eventually sat down on the lawn across from Zobin. “Is that...good?”

“It just is what it is. Neither good nor bad. I just like to keep track of what’s going on in the big wide world out there.”

“Why, if it doesn’t affect you? What’s the point?”

“Good question. Why do you ask?”

Law shrugged. “Just curious.”

“Well, it’s just good to know. Information is the greatest weapon anyone can have in the Line, Torao. Every pirate running around in here is ultimately a rival for the endgame, but between then and now they could be anything. Friends, like you. Enemies, like a bunch of other people we’ve met. In fact, I think most of the other pirates we know ended up being enemies. And when that happens, it’s good to know as much as you can about them before you meet them and the punches start flying.”

Zobin turned a page, still reading even as they talked.

“The marines put all kind of stuff in the papers. You can learn what powers people have, what weapons they use, what their ships look like and where they were last seen. Good info, about potential enemies and friends alike. And I actually process info better than either Robin or Zoro, so. I always make sure to read the papers whenever I get the chance.”

“Really?” Law asked, surprised. “You think you process information better than Nico-ya?”

“I know I do. Robin’s mind gets too busy, and there are all kinds of things that cause distractions and false associations and prevent her from being able to accurately remember stuff. But Zoro’s good at intentionally compartmentalizing stuff like that, so that helps. It’s synergy. You get me?”

Law nodded slowly. “I think I’m starting to, yes.”

Zobin smiled.

“I’ll take that. Good talk, Torao, good talk.”

Chapter Text

“Is that you, Frusopp?”

“Yep, that’s me all right. How you doing this morning, Chopper?”

“I’m good.” Chopper approached the railing where the big fusion was sitting, swinging his legs casually over the side. “I haven’t seen you in a while. What are you doing?”

“Fishing,” said Frusopp, leaning back to show Chopper the pole in his hands.

“Fishing? Why?”

“Sanji’s orders. He wants to replenish our ingredient stock.”

“Oh, I see.”

“Usopp almost caught something earlier, but whatever it was it was strong, and it got away. So he and Franky figured they’d pool their resources.”

“That’s a good idea.”

“Yeah, well, it would be if I could catch anything.”

Chopper didn’t join Frusopp in sitting on the railing- for fear that he would slip and fall over the side- but he did rest his elbows on it, enjoying the sea breeze on his face.

“I wonder what kind of fish are out there that are that strong.”

“I don’t know, but hopefully we’ll get the chance to find out. What they look like, and then what they taste like!”

You will. I don’t eat fish.”

“Oh, oh yeah. I forgot for a second.” Frusopp frowned. “You don’t have to stick around, if fishing makes you uncomfortable. Wait, can’t you understand animals? Oh god, you’d better go, I don’t want you to hear a dying fish screaming!”

“It’s ok, I don’t mind. Fishing is a normal part of a pirate’s life, so it’s fine.”

“Are you sure? Because, dude, I’m telling you, I think listening to a fish slowly suffocate to death would be traumatizing.”

“I’m sure. It’s actually harder for me to understand fish anyway, especially when they’re out of water. And humans are omnivores that require a balanced diet to be healthy, so I have no reason to oppose fishing. Thanks for your concern, though.”

“Oh, ok. Sure thing.”

The two of them were quiet for a moment, each content with his own thoughts, as the Sunny rocked gently beneath them, and the breeze filling their sails carried them forward towards their next destination.

“Ugh, why aren’t there any fish? I’m sitting out here getting sunburned for nothing,” Frusopp complained loudly, kicking his legs a little harder to emphasize how annoyed he was.

“Can fusions get sunburned?”

“If I have accomplished anything today, it is discovering that the answer to that question is undeniably ‘yes’. And it sucks.”

“Will you still be sunburned when you unfuse?”

“Uh...I don’t know about that, but I will let you know as soon as I find out. As soon as I catch enough to make Sanji happy. Which could take weeks, the way this is going.”

“Maybe the fish are just too far down.”

“Maybe.” Frusopp glared irritatedly down at the surface of the water, his lips pursed in thought. “If that’s the case, there’s not much to be done with a fishing pole. We’d have to try something else.”

“Like what?”

“I’m not sure. I’m sure there are plenty of people who use different methods. Maybe…ok, maybe we could modify the submarine with like, a net-launching function? No, there would be no target accuracy, not underwater. Some kind of manual reel system, then? That should be simple enough...I think…”

Frusopp trailed off, muttering to himself quietly, a familiar look of rapt concentration on his face- the same look he always got when thinking about a potential project.

Chopper just shrugged and let him be. He knew it was next to useless to try to recapture the fusion’s interest- once he was on the subject of building or inventing, it was nearly impossible to get him off it. But that was ok. Chopper didn’t mind.

There was another quiet moment between the two of them, while Frusopp contemplated deep-sea fishing and Chopper’s thoughts wandered ahead to the next island in their path, wondering what awaited them there.

And then, suddenly, the quiet was broken as something tugged on the end of the line and Frusopp yelped loudly in surprise, scrambling for a better grip on the pole.

“Ah! Chopper, I think I’ve got something, I think I’ve got something!”

“Pull, Frusopp! Don’t let it get away this time!”

It took another few minutes of hard work, but Frusopp eventually triumphantly managed to reel in one of the largest fish Chopper had ever seen. It had a red and green coloration, and a lot of sharp teeth.

“Good job, Frusopp, you did it!”

“Thanks! Will you do me a favor and let Sanji know?”

“Me? Wait, where are you going?”

“To the workshop- I’ve got some ideas I want to test out!”

Chapter Text

“Nami,” Sanji said over breakfast one day, “do you have plans for the rest of the day?”

“Me? No, not really. Nothing important. Why?”

“Well, if you’d be agreeable, I was thinking if it’d be nice to spend some time as Sannami for a while.”

Nami raised her eyebrows. “Sannami? What for?”

“Well, it’s been a while since we’ve done any training, and I’d like to keep their skills sharp, just in case. Robin said there are a lot of violent pirate gangs in this area, and...well, you never know what might happen.”

“Violent pirates? I hadn’t heard anything about that.”

“I wouldn’t have expected you to,” Robin said over a freshly-poured mug of hot coffee. “One of the people we met on our last stop was telling me about it- apparently they’ve had issues with both gang violence and pirate raids around here for some time. Hardly the kind of thing they’d print in the papers, given how unsuccessful the marines have been in dealing with the situation.”

“Yikes. That bad, huh?”

“I just want to cover all our bases,” Sanji explained. “You know, make sure every fusion that can fight is in a position to do so, if need be.”

“Hm. Alright, that’s ok with me.”

“Really? You sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Thank you for asking so politely, though, I appreciate it.”

“No problem. Just let me know whenever you’re ready.”

“I’m ready now, if you are.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, come on, let’s do this thing.”

Sanji obediently stood and walked around to where Nami was, graciously offering her a hand. She took it, and a few seconds later one person stood where there had been two.

Sannami had chin-length strawberry blonde hair and keen brown eyes. Their clothes were something of a study in contradictions: skintight, yet without restricting their motion, functional yet comfortable, somewhere in between formal and casual.

Luffy, emerging from the kitchen with his third plate of food, gasped loudly when he saw them. “Sannami!” he exclaimed gleefully.

“Don’t shout, Luffy, I’m processing.”

“Oh. Sorry.” Luffy sat back down at the table. “What do they mean, processing?” he whispered to Usopp behind his hand.

“You know how sometimes, when you first fuse with someone, you have to kind of take a moment to get your bearings back under you? Like, you have to mentally adjust to the change from individual to fusion?”

“Oooooooh, I get it. I’ll be quiet.”

Luffy and the others waited patiently while Sannami sorted themself out, adjusted their hair and straightened their clothes. After a few moments, they smiled.

“Good morning, everyone. How are we today?”

“Sannami, I’m glad to see you! What are you doing here?”

“Thanks, Luffy, I’m glad to see you too. Figured I’d do some training, just for kicks.”

“What kind of training?” Franky piped up. “I’m just realizing I don’t actually know. Do you do martial arts, or what?”

“Yes, in a sense. I use a mix-mash of Sanji’s and Nami’s fighting styles, both. Use every tool in the toolbox, y’know?”

“Oh, that’s...interesting. Unexpected, certainly.”

“I know. That’s kinda the point. Zoro, come spar with me.”

“Huh?” Zoro, still only half-awake, blinked blearily. “Why me?”

“Cause you’re here, and you’ll fight me seriously. Come on, chop chop, let’s go.”

“Can’t you let me finish my breakfast first?”

“Hmph. Alright, alright, fine.” Sannami dropped back down into the chair Nami had been sitting in. “Brook, would you kindly pass the tea pitcher?”

“Of course, Sannami.”

“Thank you. Robin, I don’t suppose you can tell me any more about these gangs and such?”

“Not much, I’m afraid. You’ll have to wait until we hit the next port to go looking for more detailed information.”

“I may do that. But then again, I suppose it doesn’t matter much. As long as we can defend ourselves and move on safely, that’s good enough for me.”

“It might be useful to know more, though,” Usopp said musingly. “There have been a lot of times when we intend to just restock at an island and get right on going again, but for whatever reason we end up staying much longer than anticipated. You never know what’s gonna happen, you said so yourself.”

“So I did. Good point, Usopp.” Sannami took a sip of their freshly-poured tea, a contemplative look on their face. “I could go for a couple of days on land, I think. Fights or no fights.”

“What would you want to do on an island?” Luffy asked around a mouthful of food. “Other than fight.”

Sannami shrugged. “I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about it. Never had an occasion to before. Oh, you know what I’d do? I’d go get my nails done. Professionally, I mean.”

“...Your nails.”

“Condescend to me at your own peril, Marimo. I’ll string you up by the rigging, don’t think I won’t.”

“What else, Sannami?”

“Hm, I suppose I’d go out to eat. In an ideal world, at the fanciest restaurant in town. And I’d go shopping- in an ideal world, I wouldn’t have to worry about a budget, and I’d walk away with a whole new wardrobe.”

“That sounds nice,” Robin said, smiling.

“Too bad we don’t live in an ideal world.”

“Yes, too bad.”

“Zoro, are you done yet?”

“I’m coming, I’m coming.”

“Good. Hurry it up. Everyone else, draw up a budget and make a list, I’ve decided that we’re going to go shopping regardless. Even if we only have an hour or two, even if we only have a hundred beri between all of us to spend, and even if we get attacked at the store. Sound like a plan?”

“Yeah!”

“I’m down.”

“I wouldn’t mind.”

“Wonderful, we’re all in agreement then. Zoro, come on. Daylight’s wasting, and these shopping trip-interrupting gangs aren’t going to defeat themselves.”

“Don’t just come up with weird scenarios all by yourself.”

“Don’t tell me what to do. I can and will do whatever I like.”

And with that, Sannami pushed back their chair and strutted out of the galley, leaving Zoro to trail along grumpily behind them.

Chapter Text

Broocho- a name that he and the crew had, after much arguing, eventually settled on as the best possible option- was a highly unusual fusion.

His appearance was not quite human, the differences just noticeable enough to be unsettling. Most of his bones were clearly visible under a thin, thin layer of skin and fur, and when he moved you could see the motion, see it in the rotation of a shoulder joint or the bending of the spine. Being around him took some getting used to.

As for his personality, the word to describe it best would probably be ‘quiet’. Broocho usually required no more conversation than that going on inside his own head- sometimes he went for hours without speaking aloud. But when he did, it was always worth listening. He had a lot of wisdom to share, and a very wry sense of humor.

This particular evening, Broocho was sitting in the lounge, curled up on the couch, absently watching the fish in the aquarium.

Zoro was in there too, nursing a mug of beer and feeling just a little bit out of place. Normally he didn’t mind fusion babysitting duty, but he never knew what Broocho was thinking. Did he want to be left alone? Or was he waiting for Zoro to start a conversation? Why did he need to be watched, anyway, if he was inside and not in any danger of falling overboard or anything like that?

Unable to satisfactorily answer any of those questions, he was just kind of sitting there. Like he had been for the past hour. He was just thinking about getting up and leaving, when Broocho suddenly spoke.

“Do you think the people mind much, about the sunlight?”

“...Huh?”

“The sunlight. It’s a summer island, the next one, and apparently the days are long all year round. Sunny out til past 8. You’d think people would go a little crazy.”

Zoro blinked. “Uh...well, I mean, I don’t think so. Not necessarily. Most of them were probably born on that island, and don’t know anything different.”

“Oh, that’s a good point. But even so, I can’t say I’d enjoy it much. Would you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Chopper’s home is a winter island, where the days are short and the nights are dark. Brook comes from a climate where the length of the days varies with the seasons, like I’m sure you do too. Long days all year round does not sound very fun to me.”

“I don’t know,” Zoro repeated, shrugging, thinking about all the times he had gotten lost as a kid trying to find his way back to the dojo in the dark. “Maybe it has its good points.”

“Maybe. Maybe they save a few bucks on electric lighting. I don’t think it’s worth that price, though. I’d like to be able to sleep at a decent hour, thanks.”

“Well, we won’t be here for long. Before you know it we’ll have moved on.”

“Yes, to the next extremely localized climate, with its own weather quirks for outsiders to be mad about.”

Zoro chuckled. “Yeah, I’m sure you’ll find something to complain about.”

“Bah. Listen, Zoro; change is going to come regardless of anything we do. It’s going to come whether we want it to or not, and whether or not I complain about it isn’t going to change anything either. So, seeing as it doesn’t matter, I will do as much complaining as I like.”

“That’s...certainly one way of looking at it.”

“Indeed it is.”

“You know, now that you mention it, I remember someone telling me once about an island with a really unusual weather pattern. I don’t remember who it was, but they said that they had met someone from an island where the sun shines all day long for half the year, and the other half it’s always dark.”

“What? What?! That is absolutely ridiculous. Surely no creature in their right mind, human or otherwise, would ever willingly live in such a place.”

“I’m sure there are people that do.”

“Utterly insane. It’s bamboozling, I tell you, and I don’t use that word lightly. What kind of life could you possibly hope to lead in such a place?”

“Beats me. I remember thinking, when I first heard about this, that the dark season would get kind of inconvenient after a while. Not to mention kind of depressing.”

“Oh, I don’t think the dark would bother me as much as the light. All the dark curtains in the world couldn’t block out the fact that the sun hasn’t set in months. I do believe I would lose my mind.”

“Huh.” Zoro shrugged. “Well, I guess we’ll just have to make sure that if we ever come across that place, that we don’t linger long.”

“I agree, wholeheartedly.”

The two of them lapsed back into silence for a time, each left to his own thoughts.

“I’m going to go get some more beer,” Zoro said after a while, standing up.

“Will you do me a favor and bring me back some hot chocolate, if we have any?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“With marshmallows, please.”

“Ok.”

Zoro left, and Broocho went back to staring at the fish in the aquarium.

“A land of never-setting sun,” he grumbled under his breath. “If there was ever a stranger creature than humans to walk this earth, I surely don’t want to know about it. Goodness knows that they are bad enough by far.”

Chapter Text

“Luvi! Luvi, get down from there, before you fall in!”

“Stop it, Nami, I’m not going to fall in. Look, see how far I can lean over before I lose my balan-”

Luvi stop!

Luvi giggled as Nami dashed across the deck to grab their arm.

“It’s not funny, Luvi!”

“Ok, ok, I’m sorry. Look, I promise I’m not going to fall over the side. I won’t even lean over. That good enough for you?”

Nami crossed her arms angrily. “You know, there’d be much less of a chance of you falling in if you would stop sitting on the railing like that.”

Luvi shrugged, seemingly impervious to Nami’s sharp glare. “I like sitting here, though. The wind in my hair, the sun on my face, the waves going past down below...days like this were made for sitting out on the railing, Nami!”

Nami rolled her eyes. “Uh-huh, sure. When you fall over the side and sink like a stone, I’m not going to be the one to dive in after you.”

“Well, you don’t have to worry about that, because like I already said, I’m not gonna fall.”

Luvi was one of those fusions where the distinct elements of their components didn’t quite seem to mesh together very smoothly- their hair was unevenly cut, the strands of varying length hanging loose around their shoulders, and their skin was a patchy mixture of both Luffy’s tan and Vivi’s pale. They wore loose-fitting, breezy clothes and a carefree, breezy smile.

“Alright, I’ll trust you this time. Don’t make me regret it. What are you doing out here, anyway?”

“Oh, not much. Just thinking about stuff. I was trying to make a battle plan, for when we get to Alabasta.”

“A battle plan?”

“Yep! I figure it’d be better to show up prepared, you know? Gather all the facts we have and go from there. It hasn’t really been going that well, though.”

“Oh, that’s a shame.”

“Yeah, there’s just too many things that we don’t know, that could change everything. I know there’s a word for that...what’s the word I’m looking for?”

“You mean variables?”

“Yes! There are too many variables. I think we’re just going to have to wing it, after all.”

“Back to square one, then.”

“Mhm, back to the default. Oh well.”

“It was nice of you to try, Luvi. I appreciate the thought, even if it didn’t come to anything in the end.”

“Thanks, Nami. Anyway, since then, Vivi has mostly been telling Luffy stories about her life on Alabasta.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. She’s been away for a long time- which is where a lot of the variables come from, incidentally- and right now all she wants to do is to go home and get her normal life back.”

“I can relate,” Nami said, thinking back to her early days with Arlong’s crew.

“It’s strange, in a way. Luffy can’t even imagine having such strong ties to just one place, one tiny little island. To him, a life lived in such a confined space wouldn’t be any fun at all.” Luvi made a face and leaned back over the edge of the railing, despite everything they’d just said to Nami about not doing exactly that. “Vivi kind of used to think that way too. She wanted adventure, and excitement. But now she just wants to go back home and stay put with her feet in the sand for a while.”

“Doesn’t Luffy want to go back home someday, after this is all over?”

“I mean, yeah, he does, but not to stay. He’d miss out on so much by staying in the East Blue. He’ll probably stay keep adventuring and pirating until he’s old and gray. Like that Whitebeard guy.”

“Who’s that?”

“Just somebody Vivi heard about at the Reverie once. Luffy thinks he sounds neat, like the pirate version of his grandpa.”

“Well, from what I know about Luffy’s grandpa, I could definitely see him ending up like that.”

“Vivi thinks so, too. Luffy’s told her a fair bit about growing up around him. So different from her life in the palace.” Luvi sighed. “She misses her dad, and she worries about him. He’s been alone since she left, and she really hopes he’s doing ok. Luffy doesn’t think he’d have been able to do what she did, just leaving him behind like that.”

Nami frowned. “How do you do that?”

“Do what?”

“How do you, like, sit there and contemplate all these conflicting things? All the differences between Luffy and Vivi, and still stay stable?”

“Oh. Well, it’s just conversation. It would be boring if we just agreed on everything all the time, don’t you think? It’s our different experiences and thoughts that make the conversation worthwhile in the first place.”

“I...guess that makes sense? It just seems weird. I’ve never thought about fusion that way.”

“I think fusion is for learning new things about people. And, in turn, that knowing and understanding people as best you can is what makes us better people. If that makes any sense. That’s one of the things that Vivi and Luffy both agree on, actually.”

Nami smiled. “Alright. Whatever works for you, Luvi.”

“Did you want to hear what I managed to come up with for our battle plan? You can help me workshop the details, if you want.”

“Ok. I’m all ears.”

Chapter Text

One day, a particularly rough storm blew up out of nowhere, catching the Strawhats by surprise. The strength of the wind snapped a few ropes out on the Sunny’s deck, thus loosing their sails and sending them veering violently off in the direction of the wind.

The crew, after recovering their collective balance, scrambled out to get things back on track. Chopper threw all his weight against the wheel, trying to turn them out of the path of the crashing waves. Usopp climbed into the rigging with a length of spare rope while Luffy stretched his arms up to grab one corner of the mainsail and hung on for dear life.

Amidst the chaos, Franzo appeared, catching hold of the other corner and digging his heels in, using his considerable strength to keep the sail in place until Usopp could affect a temporary repair.

Only once the rain stopped and the sky began to clear did any of them begin to breathe easy again. They were all soaked to the bone and completely worn out, but at least the ship was still in one piece.

“Well, that was exciting.”

“That’s one word for it. I’m exhausted.”

“I’ll take it from here, Chopper. It’ll take a little adjusting to get us back on course.”

“Nami, how long til we reach the next island? Do you know?”

“Oh, hey Franzo. No, I don’t know for sure, but it shouldn’t be more than a day or so.”

“Hi Franzo!”

“Hi, Luffy. A whole day? Is it gonna storm again?”

“I don’t know! I can only accurately predict the next like two hours, ok?”

“Is that Franzo down there?” Usopp called down from up in the rigging.

“Yes, Usopp, hello. Listen, we should do everything we can to prepare for another storm, just in-”

“Ask Nami about the weather, cause we gotta fix this as soon as we can!”

“I am, dude, shut up! Look, Nami, there’s barely anything holding the mainsail in place right now, and it’s gonna take time to fix it up properly. That, and we really oughta replace everything else, too, cause if one rope can break in a squall like that than so can all the others. That could take hours.”

“I get it, I get it.”

“Well, are we gonna have that time? The last thing we want to do is get ourselves caught in another storm in the middle of restringing our sails.”

“Hm. Again, I can’t exactly tell for sure, but I think we’re in the clear for at least a little while.”

“Alright, then, we should get what we can done while it’s calm.” Franzo rubbed his hands together, his keen eyes roving over the ship. “Usopp, you stay up there, and be ready to hitch a new-”

“What?”

“I said, stay up there! Someone needs to get more rope, there’s some belowdecks.”

“I’ll go!”

“Thanks. Everyone else, follow my lead, this’ll go quicker if everyone does as I say. Any objections?”

“No, hurry up and let’s get to it!”

“Alright then, here we go.”

They worked hard over the next few hours, doing the best they could to prepare the ship in anticipation of more rough weather.

But none worked harder than Franzo- the big fusion stood in the center of the deck, never more than a moment without a length of rope in his hands, directing everyone else’s efforts from the ground up.

As time went on, Nami became increasingly sure that the storm would pick back up again before nightfall. Fortunately enough, however, things remained calm long enough for them to finish up without much worry.

“Alright, that should do it,” Sanji said, tying off the last knot and dusting off his hands. “How’s it looking from over there, Franzo?”

“Good, good.” Franzo straightened up, wiping sweat from his brow. “We’re ‘bout as storm-ready as we can be now, I’d say. Good job, everyone.”

“In that case, we’d better get inside,” Usopp said, “before Mr. Lightning Rod here gets us all electrocuted.”

Franzo chuckled. Stripped to the waist as he was, it was easy to see the metal on his body, the edges blending seamlessly into his skin.

“Point taken. Let’s get going, then.”

“Head into the galley, and I’ll get started on dinner. We could all use some warm food, I’m sure.”

“Sounds great.”

The crew eagerly piled into the galley and sat down around the dining table, happy to have the chance to take a load off their weary feet and rest for a while.

“Man, I hope we don’t have to do that again for a long, long time.”

“Yeah, that was rough.”

“I know, I know. Sorry, guys.”

“You don’t have to apologize, Franzo! If not for you, it would have taken twice as long, probably.”

“Are you going to stay fused for a while?”

“Oh yeah. I’m going to stick around at least until we hit the next island. Gotta make sure everything holds up ok. After that, we’ll see.”

“You don’t have to do that. We just redid literally everything, I’m sure it’ll be ok.”

“Yeah, I know. You can never be too sure, though. You can never be too sure.”

The Strawhats passed a pleasant, companionable evening that day, holed up in the galley with good food and good company, all but oblivious to the stormy sea outside.

Chapter Text

“Jeez, Zoro,” Usopp said as the swordsman entered the galley for breakfast. “What’s got you in such a bad mood so early in the morning?”

Zoro slid into a seat at the table, a scowl on his face. “Lawmi’s here.”

Luffy gasped excitedly. “Lawmi? Oh man, that’s awesome!”

“No, it’s not awesome! I hope you realize that we’re going to have to spend all day watching them like a hawk.”

“Calm down, Zoro. We’re between islands right now; what’s the worst they could get up to all the way out here?”

“See, that’s exactly what Robin said last time. Remember, on that little island? ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ And then they wandered off by themself. When we finally found them like an hour and a half later, they were in a casino drinking wine out of the bottle and cheating at poker!”

Luffy laughed. “Yeah, I remember that. That was fun.”

“No, Luffy, it wasn’t fun! And I’m telling you, we have to keep a close eye on them, or they’ll manage to get themselves into a mess this time around, too.”

“I’m with Zoro on this one,” Sanji called from the kitchen. “Luffy, Usopp, why don’t the two of you go keep Lawmi company?”

“Ok!”

“Alright, alright, I’m going.”

Usopp quickly drained the last of his drink before following Luffy outside onto the deck. Sure enough, just as Zoro said, Lawmi was there, reclining on a lawn chair with a pair of sunglasses on and their head pillowed on their arms.

“Are they even awake?” Usopp wondered aloud as they stepped closer.

“Yes, they are,” Lawmi said, and chuckled when Usopp jumped a little in surprise.

“Hi Lawmi!”

“Good morning, Luffy, Usopp. You two got stuck with fusion babysitting duty, huh? Here to make sure I don’t jump into the sea? Or saw through the mast? Or steal all of Franky’s underwear and hide it?”

“Uh...you weren’t planning to do any of that stuff, were you?”

“Nah. Although, you gotta admit, that last one would be really funny.”

“Yeah, it would.”

“Don’t encourage them, Luffy.”

“Relax, Usopp. I’ll be good. Why don’t the two of you sit down?”

“Ok!”

Usopp dragged over one of the other lawn chairs and set it up next to Lawmi’s. Luffy simply plopped down on the grass. Lawmi pushed up their sunglasses and carefully rearranged their silky hair out of their eyes.

“So, what’s the word this morning, hm? Anything interesting going on?”

“Not really. Zoro’s not very happy you’re here. I don’t think he trusts you much.”

Lawmi snorted. “That’s fair. Trusting me would probably be a stupid move.”

“Don’t say that! I trust you.”

“Thanks, Luffy. You’re my one true ally on this whole ship. Nothing else to report, though, huh?”

“Nope. All quiet this morning.”

“Well, the day is young yet. You never know what could happen in a day, out here.”

“And what are you doing out here by yourself?”

“Just relaxing. Soaking up the sun. Contemplating the absurdities of the lives we all lead. Trading secrets about pirate warlords past and present. Making plans for the future that will benefit both the Strawhats and the Heart Pirates as much as possible. So, you know. Not much.”

“That sounds like a lot.”

“And none of it sounds very relaxing.”

“I think it’s relaxing enough. Anything doesn’t involve armed combat with enemy pirates or marines tends to fall under that category.”

“You know, you have a point there, Lawmi.”

“Yes I do, Usopp, thank you for noticing.”

“Hey Lawmi, have you eaten breakfast yet?”

“Not yet. Why?”

“Because you shouldn’t skip breakfast! You should go into the galley and eat something.”

“Knowing that Zoro and Sanji are in there? My dear, that sounds like what I would call stirring up trouble, an activity I would never engage in before noon.”

“How is it stirring up trouble?”

“Just trust me on this one. I’ll eat, and I’ll argue if it’s called for, but later. I’m supposed to be relaxing.”

“Ok.”

For a moment the three of them were silent, and the only sound on deck was the creaking of the rigging in the wind.

“Maaaaan,” Lawmi said after a while, sinking a little lower in their chair, “I really wish that idea of pranking Franky had not occurred to me, because now I do not know if I have the self control to not do that.”

“Lawmi, that would be really mean! As your babysitters, I don’t think we can allow that.”

“Yeah, that’s fair, but consider- do you really think you could stop me?”

“Uh…”

Usopp faltered, and Lawmi laughed again.

“I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Come on, I’m starting to get hungry. Let’s go pick a fight with Zoro, that should suppress any mischievous instincts for a while.”

“How long is a while?”

“I don’t know. Long enough. Probably.”

“Probably?”

“Yeah, probably. Keep up now, boys, keep up!”

Chapter Text

“Move over, Sanji!”

“Hey, don’t push!”

“Now, now, there’s enough room for everybody. Squeeze in a little, Usopp.”

“I’m trying, but Chopper’s horns are stabbing me…”

“Oh, sorry!”

Bit by bit, the Strawhats settled in on the library floor, chattering and laughing among themselves. It was a dark and gloomy night outside, with thick clouds of fog shrouding the horizon, and one of their resident entertainers had decided that it was just the night for a little fun.

“Good evening, everyone,” Rook said, sweeping dramatically into the room. “Who here is ready for a ghost story?” They sat themself down on the couch the crew had gathered in front of, amidst cheers of encouragement. “Alright, that’s what I like to hear.”

“What will you tell us tonight?” Luffy asked eagerly. “The one about the twins?”

“Or maybe the one about the ghosts telling the girl about the monster in the woods!” Chopper suggested.

“I liked the one about the haunted bar,” Zoro put in.

“Nope, none of those. The story tonight is a brand new one. Are you ready?”

“Yeah!”

“Ok, then I need you all to close your eyes, and imagine with me...picture a young man, of average height and average wit, with light brown hair and bright green eyes. Can you see him?”

“Yes, Rook!”

“This young man’s name is Patrick, and for all his life, Patrick has lived a happy life on a small island in the West Blue. But of late he has grown dissatisfied with his uneventful daily surroundings, and has decided to travel a bit, to see other lands and meet new people and try new things. On the eve of his departure, all the adults in his village gathered to wish him well.

“‘Patrick,’ they said, ‘you are a man now, and you should have the chance to explore the world as you choose. Just know this- if you ever come across an island with black sand, you must never set foot upon it, or you will most certainly be lost forever.’”

“This is gonna be a good one, I can already tell,” Franky whispered loudly from the back of the assembled pirates.

“Patrick promised to heed their words, and then he set off in his little sailboat by himself. For a time, he travelled quite contentedly, making friends wherever he went. Until…”

“Oooooh, he found that black sand island, didn’t he! He found it!”

“Luffy, shut up!

“It’s alright Nami, don’t worry. Yes, he found the black sand island. But not in the manner that he might have anticipated- you see, one night he was caught in an unexpected and vicious storm, that threatened to sink his little ship. However, at the last moment, he spotted land and desperately sailed out to it. The moment he landed safely he fell down exhausted, and it was not until morning, when he awoke, that he realized where he was.”

“Hey, sorry to interrupt, but I’m genuinely curious here- is there really such a thing as black sand?”

“Why, yes there is! It is generally found in areas with a lot of volcanic activity.”

“Did Patrick see a volcano on the island?”

“No. He did not even know to look for one. Very distantly, he remembered the old warning of his people, that he should never set foot on a black sand island. But after his rough night he was hungry, and thirsty, and in need of materials to repair his ship. So he ignored their warnings and left the safety of his vessel.

“What he found on the island, was fog. A fog so dense, covering everything, that it was nearly impossible to see ten feet in front of his own face. He also eventually came across a forest of broad-leafed trees, but no food, and no source of water. He walked for what felt like hours and still the forest surrounded him on every side- he was beginning to think that he had not been lucky enough to cheat death after all.”

Rook paused while the crew all murmured amongst themselves, reacting to the night’s protagonist’s dire plight and making predictions about what would happen next.

“Eventually, he heard a strange noise through the fog, and endeavored to follow it. It led him to one of the strangest sights he had ever seen- a man with curious, green-scaled skin, smoking a pipe, reclining on a huge pile of precious gemstones. Sapphires, emeralds, amber, tiger’s eye, even some rubies and amethysts- Patrick’s jaw fell open at the sight.

“‘Who are you, and what do you want?’ the stranger asked. ‘I am a lost traveller, and I only want some clean water and something to eat,’ Patrick responded. ‘Here, you may eat and drink of these,’ said the man, and from behind his pile of gems he pulled a pitcher of water and some food, which Patrick gratefully accepted with many thanks.”

“Ooh, I have a bad feeling about this guy. Patrick better get out of there while he still can!”

“‘Where did you get all these precious gemstones?’ Patrick asked. ‘They came to me, all of their own accord.’ ‘That is quite incredible- I had no idea there was such a valuable resource on this island. Imagine, even just a few of these stones would be enough to buy a boat twice the size of the one I came here in! I must have some for myself.’

“The green skinned man shook his head. ‘Everyone who comes here says that they wish me to show them where the gems come from, but that is never really what they want. You should not ask me that, for I am sure you will not like the answer.’ ‘You are wrong. Show me where the gems come from.’

“The two of them argued for some time, and eventually the green skinned man relented. ‘If you truly wish to see, then I will show you,’ he said. And with that, he leaned forward and plucked the eyes right out of Patrick’s skull.”

Chopper, in Zoro’s lap, positively shrieked. Nami clung to Usopp’s arm and put a hand across her own eyes. Everyone else merely sat there staring, with various expressions of horror and shock on their faces.

“In his hands, the eyes were two beautiful and perfectly identical emeralds. But Patrick did not see the beautiful emeralds- he screamed and put his hands to his face, and in a panic he ran off into the jungle. No one ever saw him again.

“Back in the clearing, the green skinned man added the new emeralds to the pile with the others and relit his pipe, waiting for the next lost traveller to find him.”

Chapter Text

“Well, well,” Nami said, sticking her head into the bedroom she shared with Robin. “Look who it is! Long time no see, Sancho.”

“Hi Nami,” Sancho said, waving. “Sorry for coming in your bedroom without asking.”

“I’m ok with it if Robin is ok with it.”

“You don’t have to apologize, Sancho,” Robin said. “You asked permission before coming in and everything.”

“If it was just Sanji and Chopper, would they still be allowed in?”

Nami made a face. “Depends if I was in the mood to deal with them or not.”

“Alright. That’s, uh...good to know, I guess.”

“What are you doing, anyway?”

“I’m doing Robin’s hair.” Sancho held up the brush for Nami to see.

“He didn’t believe me when I said I was perfectly capable of brushing out my own hair,” Robin explained, a playful smile on her face.

“There’s so much of it! There’s no way you can get to all of it. You can’t even see it, it’s attached to your head!”

Nami laughed, sitting down on the bed beside Robin. “You don’t have to be able to see it, Sancho. You can just feel it.”

“I’m still not convinced.”

“Well, it’s true that it takes time to get used to. When I first started growing my hair out, I had trouble braiding it myself, but I can do it no problem now.”

“Nuh-uh! Don’t lie to me, Nami!”

“I’m not! Look, I’ll show you.”

Nami reached up and deftly began pulling her hair into a French braid. Sancho paused his attentions to Robin’s hair to stare in awe.

“That’s crazy. You guys are much more talented than me.”

“No, we just deal with this every day. You have your own talents, Sancho, don’t sell yourself short.”

“Hm.” Sancho resumed brushing out Robin’s hair. “I don’t know about that. I’m not a very good cook, and I don’t know much about medicine. I can’t really fight, either. I’m not really much good at anything, I guess.”

“Surely there must be something, right Sancho?”

“Well...Oh, I know! I’m good at giving massages!”

“Oh, is that so?”

“Mhm! You can ask Usopp or Luffy if you don’t believe me. And I’m good at card games, much better than either Sanji or Chopper. And I can jump really high.”

Robin smiled. “See, I knew you could come up with a few things if you just thought about it.”

“I guess you were right. Thanks, Robin.”

“You’re very welcome.”

For a moment, the only sound in the room was that of Sancho carefully brushing out Robin’s long dark hair.

“I think it’s about time to redo my nails,” Nami mused, staring down at her hands. “Robin, do we still have some of that blue polish?”

“I believe we do. It should be in the top left dresser drawer.”

“Ok, thanks.” Nami giggled at the wide-eyed look the fusion was giving her over Robin’s shoulder. “Sancho, do you want your nails done too?”

“Can I? Is that ok?”

“Yeah, sure it is. Come over here and pick out a color.”

 

“Ok!”

Sancho hurriedly finished one last brush stroke before laying the brush on the bed and hurrying to join Nami for a look at their collection of little nail polish bottles.

“I’ve never painted my nails before. Is it hard?”

“Not really. I’ll show you.”

“This is turning into a whole slumber party,” Robin said, picking up the brush Sancho had put down and putting it back in its place on the bedside table. “Or, at least, from what I’ve read about slumber parties, this is what they’re like. I wouldn’t really know from experience, myself.”

“Me neither,” Sancho said absently, holding a bottle of sparkly orange nail polish gingerly in both his hands.

“I’m willing to call this a slumber party if you guys are,” Nami said cheerfully, fishing out the blue she’d been looking for. “After all, they say there’s a first time for everything, right?”

“Right.”

“Which one is better?” Sancho asked, the sparkly orange nail polish in one hand and a bright pink in the other. “I can’t pick.”

“Then don’t- do both.”

“Both? I can do that?”

“Yeah, of course you can! Come on, let’s go sit down.”

“Ok.” Sancho followed Nami back to the bed and sat next to her, all the while cradling the bottles of polish as if they might shatter if he gripped them too tight. “Thank you, Nami, and Robin too, for doing this with me. I’m having a lot of fun.”

Nami smiled. “Any time, Sancho. Now, let’s see about getting some color on those nails of yours!”

Chapter Text

“Lusopp! Get down from there!”

“What?”

“I said, get down from th-”

“Sorry, Franky, can’t hear you!”

Franky heaved a sigh and rolled his eyes. Lusopp was nothing of not predictable.

He headed for the mast and started climbing, up into the crow’s nest that also served as a training room for Zoro and whoever else cared to use it. One of the windows was thrown open- Franky stuck his head out of it, frowning accusingly.

“Lusopp, you know you’re not supposed to be up here.”

The wiry fusion grinned entirely unapologetically and shrugged at Franky from his perch halfway down the yard. “But the view is so nice from up here! Come on, it’s not like I’m gonna damage the ship, or anything like that.”

“It’s dangerous! A fall from this height could really hurt you..”

“I won’t fall,” Lusopp scoffed, as if the very notion was utterly ridiculous. “Don’t worry, everything will be fine.”

“Uh-huh. As I remember it, that’s exactly what you said last time, ten minutes before Usopp’s workshop went up in flames.”

“Hey, that was different! It was an accident. There’s not even anything flammable up here. I’m telling you, everything’ll be fine.”

Franky sighed again. He figured there was probably little use arguing; Lusopp pretty much did whatever he wanted, most of the time. Besides, he probably couldn’t get into much trouble all the way up here. Probably.

“Alright, fine. I’ll let it slide, for now.

Lusopp grinned. “Thanks, Franky. Knew I could count on you.”

“Yeah, yeah, shut up. What are you doing up here, anyway?”

“Nothing much. Just enjoying the view.” Lusopp scooted a little closer to the mast, swinging one leg around so that he was sitting facing Franky. “Hey, can I ask you a weird question?”

“Uh...sure, I guess. What’s on your mind?”

“What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t a pirate?”

Franky blinked. “Well, um...I don’t know. I’d probably still be on Water 7 with the gang, honestly, doing the same old same old. But who knows; life never really goes according to plan, does it? As evidenced by the fact that I am, in fact, currently a pirate.”

“Hmmmm.” Lusopp nodded, a serious look on his face. “That’s true. I think the whole pirate thing caught most of us kind of by surprise, except Luffy. And maybe also Brook, I don’t know for sure about him.”

“Me neither. Maybe we should ask later.”

“Yeah, that sounds like a good plan.”

“As for myself, I can definitely say it was not my intention to end up here. Even growing up in the Line, I never imagined myself as a pirate.”

Lusopp cocked his head to one side, looking thoughtful. “Huh. You did grow up in the Line, didn’t you. And you’re a lot older than me, too, which means you went a lot longer before becoming a pirate. I hadn’t really considered that.”

“Does it matter?”

“I don’t know. Probably not, not really. I’ve just kinda been thinking about us- the whole crew, I mean- and where we’d be now if we weren’t...where we are now. Does that make any sense?”

“Yeah, I get the gist of it,” Franky said, leaning his elbows on the window sill. “So? Where do you think Luffy and Usopp would be now, if they had never become pirates?”

“Well, Usopp would still be at home, with Kaya and the boys. He’d settle down and stop messing with the townspeople over time. He might have left to go travelling eventually, once he grew up, but at the end of the day I don’t think he’d go far. Not if he had a place like that to go back to.”

“Fair enough. What about Luffy?”

“I have absolutely no idea.”

Franky laughed. “Hah, really? You can’t think of anything at all?”

“Nope, not anything. Usopp’s was easy, because he spends a lot of time thinking about it. As much as he loves this, he’s still really looking forward to going home again, you know? But Luffy’s different. He’s always, always wanted to be a pirate, since he was just a kid. It was all he ever thought about, back then.”

“Because of that Shanks guy, right?”

“Him, and the rest of his crew. Also Ace. Gold Roger. For a lot of reasons. Mostly, it just seemed like the best way to get away from a tiny, boring island and a grandpa who wanted him to join the marines.”

“Maybe he actually would have joined the marines, if he hadn’t left to go pirating.”

Lusopp made a face. “Ugh, that’s terrible. I hadn’t thought of that. I don’t want to think about it now, either.”

“Well, I’m afraid I don’t have a sure answer to any of your what if’s. There’s just no way to know; that’s the nature of life, y’know?”

“Yeah, I know.” Lusopp sighed. “I guess there’s not really much point trying to puzzle it out. I’ll try to just be happy that we all ended up here together.”

“That’s more like it. I’m gonna head back down now...you coming?”

“In a little while. I just want to stay up here for a little while longer. I’ve still got things to think about.”

Chapter Text

The Strawhats always keep a large supply of extra clothes on board- mainly discarded hand-me-downs and old, worn out items that have long since been replaced- for use as disguises whenever they may need them. This ragtag collection of clothing is typically stored haphazardly away in a large chest belowdecks, out of sight and therefore also out of mind, until the need to conceal their identities arises again.

The only one who ever cared much about the costumes bin- as it was affectionately called- when it wasn’t in use was Vivi. Every couple of weeks she announced that she was going to reorganize the whole thing, and spent a few hours meticulously unfolding and refolding every article of clothing in the chest.

The rest of the crew let her do it, without comment. It did no harm to let her have her way with the bin. On the contrary, in fact, it actually seemed to do her good, to have something to keep her mind and her hands occupied.

On one such occasion, when Vivi was down belowdecks doing whatever it was she was doing, Zoro happened to be passing by and thought he heard an unfamiliar voice. Naturally, he went down to check. What he found did indeed come as a bit of a surprise, but thankfully not an unwelcome one.

“What are you doing down here?”

Chovi screeched in surprise- ‘screeched’ was really the only word for it- and threw their hands into the air.

“Oh! Oh, Zoro, you scared me!”

“Sorry, didn’t mean to.”

“That’s alright, that’s alright, don’t worry about it. Just give me a moment to catch my breath…”

The little fusion braced an arm against the nearest wall, fanning themself with the other. In their current outfit of a huge, outlandishly patterned dress and lopsidedly placed visor hat, Zoro couldn’t help but laugh.

“I thought you came down here to organize the costumes, not play dress up with them!”

“Ohhh, be quiet.” Chovi straightened up, composed once again. “Yes, Vivi came down here to organize. But then Chopper came down to keep her company and...well, I guess I got a little distracted.”

“I’ll say.”

Chovi scowled, crossing their arms. “Well, sorry for having a little bit of fun. You don’t have to make fun of me about it.”

“Wha-? No, no, I’m not trying to make fun of you. It’s just that...well, you look a little silly in that dress. It’s gotta be three sizes too big for you!”

“Oh.” Chovi blinked, glancing down. “I suppose you’re right. Why do we have this, anyway? I know there’s no way it would fit Nami.”

“I don’t know. I don’t know where any of this stuff came from, honestly.”

“Hm.”

The little fusion pulled the dress off over their head, their long hair becoming completely disordered in the process.

“You know, it would probably fit you just right, Zoro.”

“Me? I doubt it.”

“Oh yeah? Wanna bet?”

Chovi held out the dress, grinning. Zoro snorted.

“Fine, I’ll take you up on that.”

He pulled the thing over his head, the way he had always seen women putting on shirts and dresses in comics and such. However, he only managed to make it part-way in.

“Uh-oh,” he said. “Uh-oh...Chovi, I think I’m stuck.”

“Stuck? Just push your arms through the sleeves, the rest of it will follow.”

Zoro tried, but merely ended up with his arms trapped in an awkward position above his head, halfway in and halfway out of the dress’ long sleeves.

“No, it’s not going, I’m really stuck.”

“Oh dear...really?”

“Yes, really. It’s not funny! Are you going to help me or what?”

“Ok, ok, I’m coming!”

After a few moments’ struggle, Chovi managed to find a zipper on the back of the dress and pull it down, finally freeing Zoro from the uncomfortable confines of the fabric.

“Who’s making fun of who now, huh?”

“Sorry, sorry,” Chovi gasped, wiping tears of laughter from their eyes. “It’s just that...I thought you knew there’d be a zipper to unzip!”

“Why did you think I would know that! I’ve never worn a dress before!”

“I said I’m sorry!

Still giggling, Chovi zipped Zoro back up and pushed him over to the room’s tall mirror.

“See, what did I say? Perfect fit.”

“...The sleeves are a little tight.”

“Alright, slightly less than perfect. Still though, it looks good on you! You should dress up more often!”

“No thanks, I think once was enough for me.”

“Alright, fair enough. Want to help me with the rest of this stuff?”

“Sure, I guess. Just as long as you don’t try to get me to wear any more of it.”

Chovi grinned. “No promises!”

Chapter Text

“Alright, everyone make way,” Branji said loudly, backing his way out of the galley door. “Popsicles coming through!”

The members of the crew assembled on the deck cheered, hastily scooting out of the way so he could place the tray down on the grass where they could all reach it.

“Thanks, Branji!”

“You’re very welcome, Luffy,” the fusion said, straightening up and rubbing the chill from his fingers. “Just make sure you share with everyone, and don’t eat too fast, or you’ll get brainfreeze. Ah, Robin!”

“Hello, Branji.” Robin smiled, approaching from the direction of the women’s room. “What’s going on out here?”

“We’re having a party! Well, of sorts. More of a normal get-together, but with a festive atmosphere and some frozen desserts.”

“My, a party! What’s the occasion, may I ask?”

“Oh, there isn’t one, not really. But the weather is clear, and the sunset is lovely this evening, and we already had the popsicles in the freezer, so, why not. Sometimes you just have to make your own occasions, I think.”

Robin smiled. “Well said, Branji.”

“Won’t you join us? We didn’t want to interrupt whatever you were doing, but as long as you’re out here…”

“I will, thank you.”

Luffy and Nami moved over to make room, and Robin took her place in the little circle around the tray of fruity popsicles quickly thawing in the warm evening air.

“Zoro and Franky aren’t attending our little party tonight?”

“Zoro’s working out, and Franky’s got something going on in his workshop. We figured it’d be better not to interrupt them, either.”

“That seems like a wise decision.”

“Popsicle, Robin? They’re strawberry-grape flavored!”

“Strawberry-grape?”

“It tastes better than you think it will.”

“Alright, I’ll try one. Thank you, Luffy.”

“This was a great idea, Branji,” Usopp said. “We should do this more often.”

“I agree! You know, Brook’s former crew set aside time for this kind of thing every month. No popsicles, but their cook was fond of baking, so they’d have cake, or pie, or whatever, and watch the sun go down together. There was storytelling, music, dancing…”

“Oh, do you like dancing, Branji?”

“I love it! So many different styles, all of them interesting to watch and fun to learn.”

“I didn’t know you liked to dance,” Nami said. “Which ones do you know?”

“Well, between the two of me...I know how to waltz, several common jigs, the gavotte, and the basic steps of the tango, although I’m afraid I need much practice with that last one.”

“Wow, that’s a lot!”

“Which one is the one that knows the waltz, Sanji or Brook?”

“Both, actually! It’s my favorite.”

Robin laughed. “Your favorite, huh? Alright. Let’s see what you’ve got, then.”

“Robin?”

“I did a little waltzing, back in my day,” she said, standing up and brushing off her skirt. “I’m a little rusty, I’m afraid, but I think I still remember how it goes. I’ll be your dance partner, if you want.”

Branji beamed. “I’d love to! Anyone would be lucky to have a dance with such a beautiful partner as you.”

“Charmer.” Robin walked around the circle to where Branji was, and the two of them clasped hands. “Would you like to lead, or shall I?”

“I’ll do it.”

They began to dance, their every step matched stride for stride. Branji hummed a half-remembered tune, and Robin giggled.

“Oh, that was fun,” she said once their little dance was over. “It’s been years since I’ve even thought about dancing a waltz.”

“You were the very picture of elegance,” Nami assured her, gesturing with a popsicle stick for extra emphasis.

“Perhaps you’d like a dance too, Nami?”

“Oh, no, no, not me. I’d only step on your feet, Branji. Some other time, maybe.”

“I will!” Luffy said, jumping to his feet. “I’ll dance with you, Branji! Teach me!”

“Alright, alright. Come here, give me your hands.”

Luffy turned out to be, predictably enough, quite terrible at taking directions about what to do with his hands and feet. But it didn’t manage to throw Branji off. He deferred to Luffy’s lead and let him do whatever he wanted, even ducking into an impromptu spin.

“This is so much fun!”

“Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself. That’s what matters.”

“Branji, will you teach us one of those jigs you mentioned earlier?” Usopp asked. “I’ve always wanted to learn.”

“Sure, why not. Did you have a particular one in mind?”

“How about the one that goes, ‘duhh, duh-duh duuuuuuhhhhh, dun!’...Know that one?”

“You’re going to have to be a bit more specific than that, I’m afraid.”

“I think I know which one you mean,” Chopper said. “At the end it goes, ‘duh-duh-duh dun! Right?”

“Yeah!”

“That’s not exactly much help, Chopper.”

When Zoro finally emerged from his crow’s nest training room some time later, it was to find Branji leading Luffy, Usopp, Chopper, and Nami in a particularly unorganized jig lesson, one that involved a lot of almost crashing into one another.

“What’s going on out here?”

“Branji is giving dancing lessons,” Robin told him.

“Why?”

“Why not?”

“...Fair enough. Even Nami got sucked in, huh?”

“Indeed.”

“Zoro, come join us!”

“No, I’m tired.”

“Aw, come on! You have to learn this, too, so we can all do it together!”

“In a minute! Let me catch my breath, jeez.” Zoro shook his head. “Looks like they’re gonna suck me in, too.”

“Well, there are worse ways to spend your evening.”

“I guess. Ok, already, Luffy, I’m coming!”

“Alright, everyone,” Branji said loudly, still grinning from ear to ear, clearly in his element. “Make room for Zoro, now. We’re gonna start from the top, and show him everything we’ve got!”

Chapter Text

“Hey, Zoro,” Usopp said, sticking his head into the men’s quarters, “are you busy right now?”

Zoro looked up from where he was reclining in his bunk with the latest newspaper spread out in front of him. “Uh, no, not really. Why?”

“Just wondering if maybe you wanted to fuse with me? Just for a little bit?”

“Oh.” Zoro closed the newspaper. “Is something going on?”

“No, not...not really. You don’t have to, if you don’t want to.”

“No, it’s fine. I don’t have any plans for the day, anyway.”

Zoro hopped out of bed, and Usopp stepped the rest of the way through the door. The two of them met in the middle of the room, clasped each other by the arm, and allowed the bright light of fusion to momentarily eclipse them.

Uzo stood still for a moment, collecting his thoughts.

“Ah,” he said after a moment. “I get it.”

Then he walked over to Zoro’s bunk and got in, picked up the newspaper and picked up reading where Zoro had left off.

For a few minutes, everything was quiet. Then the quiet was broken by Luffy shouting from down the hallway.

“Zorooooo! Where are you!”

“In here,” Uzo yelled back.

Luffy skidded into sight in the doorway a moment later, and gasped loudly. “Oh, Uzo!”

“Hey, Luffy.”

“I didn’t expect to see you here this morning!”

“Yeah, well, I live to exceed expectations.”

“Is that Uzo I hear in there?” said Franky’s voice from somewhere behind Luffy.

“Yeah, it is.”

“What did you want with Zoro, Luffy?”

“Nothing. I was going to ask him to play a game with me, but it’s fine, I can get someone else to do it. You can keep doing whatever you came to do. What did you guys fuse for, anyway?”

“Nothing. I’m just gonna relax in here for a bit. I’ll play with you later, if you want.”

“Ok, thanks! See ya!”

Luffy took off again, and Franky ducked into the room, his eyebrows raised in suspicion.

“Is everything ok, Uzo?” he asked.

“Yeah, everything’s fine. Why?”

“It’s just not like Usopp to want to fuse out of the blue like that. Are you sure nothing’s wrong?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Don’t worry about it, I promise everything’s fine.”

“Well, alright then. Could you leave the newspaper on my bunk when you’re finished with it?”

“Sure.”

“Thanks.”

Franky left, and Uzo turned his eyes back to the page in front of him, alone in the quiet once more.

In truth, Franky was probably right to be a little suspicious. Usopp wasn’t usually one for spontaneous fusion, preferring to plan those sorts of things out in advance. But that wasn’t the way it usually went with Uzo.

Zoro was the one Usopp went to whenever he was feeling down on himself and just needed someone to talk to, someone to reassure him. Zoro was the one who was best at dismissing his worries and insecurities, and the best at reminding Usopp of how far he’d come in the time since they’d first met, how much he’d grown. He was also the best at not letting on to the rest of the crew that Usopp sometimes had these not-so-good feelings, because he understood that Usopp didn’t want to make them worry.

There was no need to trouble the rest of the crew with it, Uzo thought to himself. Because as long as Usopp was able to recognize when those thoughts were beginning to spiral out of his control, and get help, he was fine. Everything was fine.

In fact, there wasn’t even anything to worry about in the first place, the Zoro part of him chimed in. Because anyone with half a brain could see that Usopp was definitely an irreplaceable member of their crew, who always did his best for them. And that’s all you can really ever ask of anyone, right?

Right.

Uzo skipped the rest of the articles in the paper, all of which had really boring and uninteresting titles, and flipped through to the comics at the back.

Later he would go out on deck, and let Luffy drag him into whatever shenanigans he was up to today. He might stick around for a little longer after that, or he might not. All that would come later.

For now, though, he was happy enough to simply lay there, in the quiet, and the calm.

Chapter Text

“Hey,” Sanji said, holding up the lantern he was holding and squinting through the darkness, “is someone there?’

“Yes! It’s me.”

“Huh? ‘Me’ who?”

“Me, Luna.”

“Oh.”

Sanji kept moving, until the lantern light reached the railing and the shadowy figure standing there was revealed. Sure enough, it was Luna- their flyaway hair and bright eyes unmistakable even in the dim light.

“What are you doing out here, Luna? It’s late.”

“Nami couldn’t sleep.”

“Is everything ok?”

“Yeah, it’s fine. She was just having one of those nights, you know? I’m sure you have them too. When you can’t seem to get comfortable and your thoughts just keep going even though you tell them to stop, and you don’t feel sleepy at all.”

“Ah, ok.” Sanji hesitated for a moment, but then he set the lantern down on the deck and leaned against the railing next to Luna. “Does fusion actually work to cure that kind of thing?”

“I don’t know. But, remind me in the morning, and I’ll be sure to tell you if it worked.”

“Ha, alright.”

“What were you doing up?”

“Bathroom. But I saw movement over here and had to make sure it wasn’t Luffy trying to break into my kitchen.”

Luna snorted. “That’s fair. Don’t worry, I’m not going to steal any food...even though I totally could if I wanted to.”

“I’m sure you could.”

From somewhere off in the distance, the sound of some bird’s night call reached them, echoing out across the waves.

“The moon is so pretty tonight,” Luna said, sighing deeply. “I mean, it’s pretty every night, but it’s not every night that I’m out here to appreciate it.”

“It is, lovely,” Sanji agreed. “It’ll be full soon, I think.”

“Nine days from now.” Luna shrugged. “Nami keeps track of that kind of thing. Did you know that the moon basically controls the whole ocean?”

“Well...yes, but I’ve never heard it said quite like that.”

“It’s true, though. Without the moon, the entire ocean would just be some flat, motionless expanse of water. And you know, if that were the case, I’m not sure wind sailing would actually be a viable method of travel.”

“Uh, I guess so. I’ve never really thought about it.”

“Me neither. It just occurred to me now.”

“We can ask Franky for his opinion, in the morning.”

“Ooh, yes, we should. Remind me.”

“Sure. Right after I get through reminding you to share the results of your little experiment in curing Nami’s sleeplessness.

“That’s right.” Luna grinned at Sanji, but when they turned back to gaze down at the reflection of the stars in the water below them once more, their smile faded, replaced by a look of deep contemplation.

“A motionless ocean would be so boring,” they said quietly. “No tides, no waves, no...life.”

“I’m sure all the fish and everything else down there could adapt to life without tides.”

“That’s not what I meant. I mean, I agree with you, but I was talking about the water itself. The ocean is alive, you know. The moon gives it life. It moves, it breathes.”

Sanji blinked. “I...guess so? I don’t know, I’ve never thought about that that way, either.”

“Yes, well. That’s what fusion is for, right? New perspectives.”

“Yes, I suppose so.”

“Mm.” Luna yawned, stretching. “Well, we should probably get to bed, I guess. Can’t stand here all night admiring the moon, I guess. Goodnight, Sanji.”

“Goodnight, Luna.”

Sanji recollected his lantern, watching as Luna disappeared into the women’s quarters, where they could make full use of Nami’s bed for the night. Then he turned and headed back to where his own bed was waiting for him.

“Luffy?” mumbled Usopp sleepily as he put out the lantern and hung it in its’ place by the door.

“Luffy’s with Nami. They’re spending the night as Luna.”

“Oh. Were they out there talking about the moon again?”

“Yes, actually, they were.”

“Everything’s always about the moon with them. Or the ocean. Don’t they ever get tired of it?”

“Leave them be, Usopp. Just be happy they’re not as energetic as most of Luffy’s fusions are.”

“Hm. Suppose you’ve got a point there. Why do you think that is?”

 

“I don’t know. Go back to sleep, and ask me again in the morning.”

“Mhm, alright. Night, Sanji.”

“Goodnight.”

Sanji closed his eyes, and let the gentle rocking of the waves lull him to sleep.

Chapter Text

One evening when they were between islands, the Sunny was struck by a sudden snow storm, which popped up out of nowhere and sent the crew running for shelter. Most of them eventually ended up in the library, brushing the snow out of each others’ hair and wrapping up in blankets.

“Jeez.” Nami stood on tiptoe to peer through a window, and frowned. “It’s really coming down out there. Is this really going to be ok?”

“It’ll be fine,” Fraw said from where he sat on the couch, with a book open on his lap.

“Are you sure? It’s snowing pretty hard, Fraw. What if-”

“Yes, I’m sure. Stop worrying, Nami.”

“Hmpf. Well, ok, if you say so.”

“Robin sure is taking a long time in the bath,” Zoro grumbled under his breath. “I got soaked out there, all I want right now is a nice warm bath…”

“Serves you right for not wearing a shirt, even when you know we’re approaching a winter island.”

“Shut up, Luffy! You’re no better than I am, and you know it.”

“Well, in the meantime, how about a hot drink?” Sanji offered. “I could make tea, or maybe hot chocolate?”

“Can you make wildberry cider?”

“What’s that,” Luffy asked, sitting down on the couch next to Fraw.

“It’s a hot drink, silly. You’ve never had it?”

“No. I’ve never even heard of it.”

“Me neither.”

“I think it probably originated in the North Blue, but it’s popular in many parts of the Line, too. Both Franky and Law like it a lot.”

“I’m familiar with it,” Sanji said. “The thing is, there’s no one recipe for wildberry cider. Every town in the North and every island in the Line have different versions of it, pretty much, because everyone just puts in whatever combination of berries and spices that happens to be on hand. So, I could try to make some, but it might not be exactly what you want...you don’t happen to know how either of your components like it, do you?”

Fraw frowned, thought about it for a moment. “Well, I don’t know what any of the ingredients are called, but I know what they look like...Zoro, hand me that paper over there.”

Zoro passed over the scrap paper as requested, along with a pencil found lying on one of the library tables. Fraw closed his book and set the paper on top of it, scribbling away for a few moments in silence.

“Here,” he said, holding up his sketches for Sanji’s inspection. “Any of those look familiar?”

“Yes, actually. We have almost all of that in the kitchen right now. I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thank you.”

“‘Course. Just don’t get your hopes up too high- like I said, everyone’s is different.”

“Wow, Fraw,” Brook said as Sanji walked away, “these drawings are all really good! Where did you learn to do that?”

“Huh? Oh, these are nothing special. You know, between Law’s work with anatomical diagrams and Franky’s blueprints, I kind of have an idea how to make things look like they should, but I’m not that good.”

“No need to be humble,” Nami said. “I think these are great. Even I can tell what some of these are. Wow, I bet this drink is going to taste wonderful!.”

“Thanks,” Fraw said, caught a little by surprise by the compliments on his berry drawings. “And yes, it is good. Or well, at least, I like it. Law’s parents used to make it, when he was a little kid. And Franky used to go with his brother to get it from a street vendor near the shipyard…”

As he talked, he doodled. The memory of the cider salesman’s cart was so clear in his mind, even though it had been years since Franky had even thought about it.

“Dang,” Zoro said, coming over to see, “you really are good at that. Talk about unexpected fusion skills, huh?”

“...You really think so?”

“Yeah.”

“Draw me, Fraw, draw me!”

“I don’t know about that, Luffy. I don’t really know how to draw people…”

“Well, you’re not going to learn by not practicing,” Usopp pointed out. “Won’t hurt to try, will it?”

“I guess not?”

At that moment the library door opened, and Robin walked in wearing an incredibly fluffy bathrobe.

“The bath is free now,” she announced.

“Great, thanks. See you guys in a bit.”

“Bye, Zoro. We’ll save some cider for you.”

“What’s going on over here?”

“Robin, look at what Fraw drew.”

“My, that’s wonderful. I love all the little details. Oh, were you guys perhaps discussing wildberry cider?”

“Yes. Sanji said he would try to make us some.”

“That’s nice of him. It certainly is nice weather for it.”

“Robin, tell Fraw he should draw me next!”

“Luffy, that’s really not up to me, is it?” Robin looked at Fraw, deflecting Luffy’s overenthusiastic bouncing with practiced ease. “What do you think, Fraw? Do you enjoy drawing?”

“Enjoy it? I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever done it before now.”

“Well, you shouldn’t feel pressured into doing something you don’t like. But no one can make that call but you.”

Fraw thought about it for a moment, then nodded. “Alright. I don’t mind giving it a shot- at least until the cider gets here.”

Chapter Text

“Yoo-hoo,” Brook called, knocking on the Sunny’s bathroom door. “Chobin? Are you in there?”

“Yes! I’m in the bath.”

“Still?”

“Uh...Yes?”

“Chobin, it’s been over two hours!”

“What! No it hasn’t!”

“Yes, yes it has! What are you doing in there?”

“I’m just sitting in the bath!” Chobin said, laughing almost too hard to answer coherently. “I guess I just lost track of the time…”

“Well, get yourself on out of there, or you’ll be nothing more than a giant prune.”

“I’m going, I’m going.”

Brook waited by the door for a few minutes until the fusion emerged, wearing a too-big bathrobe and an embarrassed smile.

“Sorry if I made you guys worry,” they said. “I know it can be stressful having a fusion on board unsupervised somewhere.”

“It’s quite alright. After all, nothing bad happened. Right?”

“Well, nothing beyond accidentally spending two hours in the bathtub…”

“Right. Considering everything, I think you’re one of our more trustworthy fusions, Chobin.”

“Aw, thanks, Brook.”

“You’re welcome. Please, after you.”

Together the two of them descended the ladder back down to the deck. The only person out was Zoro, sprawled out facedown on a lawn chair, presumably enjoying the late afternoon sun.

“Hi Zoro,” Chobin said, sitting down on a nearby chair and shaking their head, spraying water all over the place. “How are you today?”

Zoro grunted, blearily cracking an eye open to see who was it was. “Hey, Chobin. Hey, Brook. I’m good. Tired. Why are you all wet?”

“I was taking a bath.”

“As a fusion? Why?”

“Why not?”

“...That’s fair, I guess.”

“I’m curious, Chobin,” Brook said, sitting down on the end of Zoro’s lawn chair. “What were you thinking about in there for two whole hours?”

“A lot of things, I suppose.”

“You spent two hours in the bath? I thought Fruit users couldn’t stand being in the water?”

“Well, bath water is different than ocean water, ‘cause it’s filtered and nowhere near the actual ocean. It’s true that long baths can sometimes make us feel a little woozy, but I guess it works differently for fusions. I feel fine.”

“What’s ‘woozy’?”

“Just, you know. Wonky.”

“A bit loopy,” Brook added helpfully.

“Yeah, loopy.”

“I don’t get it.”

“I’m not sure how to explain it beyond that.”

Zoro shook his head, finally pushing himself up into an upright sitting position. “Forget it, then. I’m curious, too. Why did you stay in there for two hours?”

Chobin shrugged. “Well, at first I was thinking about a novel that I finished recently. The ending was terribly frustrating and poorly written...in my opinion, at least. I thought to myself, ‘even I could have done a better job than that’. And then I did.”

“Did what?”

“Rewrote the ending. In my head. I like my version much better. I was thinking, maybe I’d make a good writer! I’ve never really tried it before, but maybe I could come up with an idea and get published, and people might read my work. I’d be sure to make the ending as satisfying as possible. But you know, it’s hard to satisfy everyone all the time. That’s why there are so many different clothing shops and flavored foods. That’s why there have been so many wars throughout human history. For all I know, some people quite liked the ending of the novel I read. Maybe those people would think I was a terrible writer. Maybe-”

“I’m beginning to understand, I think,” Zoro interrupted, grinning. “I know fusions usually have a lot on their minds, but jeez, Chobin. Slow down, will you?”

“Why should I?”

“Is this woozy? Is this what woozy is like?”

“No, no, Zoro, they’re fine. They’ve just got a busy mind, evidently.”

“That’s a good way of putting it, Brook.”

“Chobin, I think you would be an excellent writer. If you ever decide to try your hand, I’d love to read your stories.”

“Thanks! I don’t know though, we’ll see if that ever happens. There are lots of other things I want to do, too.”

“Will I regret it if I ask what things?”

“All kinds of things! At the top of my list right now, is that i really would like to try making a gingerbread house.”

“...Why?”

“Why does everything have to have a reason with you, Zoro?”

“Alright, alright, point taken. Well, go and talk to the cook then, see if he can get you the ingredients.”

“I will, but not right now. I’d like to dry off properly first. Will you guys make sure that I don’t accidentally spend another two hours dallying out here?”

“Sure, I guess.”

“Yes, that’s fine. In the meantime, tell me some of your novel ideas! I’m dying to hear what you’ve come up with.”

Chobin grinned. “Well, the story begins with a young woman in her bedroom with her dog…”

Chapter Text

“It’s soooo hoooottttt,” Luffy whined, draping himself dramatically over the Merry’s railing. “I’m going to melt into a puddle on the floor…”

Nami gave a sort of mirthless chuckle. “A puddle of rubber, then. Not a very appealing image, that.”

“It gets hot like this out in the desert,” Sanvi said absently. “But this is arguably worse, because all the water is reflecting the sunlight everywhere and there aren’t any shadows to take cover in.”

“Is it true that it’s actually cold in the desert at night?”

“Oh, yeah, very cold. Meltingly hot sun in the day, freezing cold winds at night. Turn your puddle of rubber into a rubber icicle.”

“It can’t be that bad if you’re inside, though, right?”

“Luffy, nowhere is that bad if you’re inside.”

“Oh. Right.”

Sanvi was a tall, slim fusion with a fondness for sheer clothing and gold jewelry. At the moment, they were lounging on the deck with a pair of shiny sunglasses on and a glass of iced lemonade in their hand, idly leafing through the latest newspaper.

“Nothing interesting going on,” they complained, flipping a page with a scowl.

“You don’t think those pirate raids that are happening further down the Line are interesting?” Zoro asked. “Or those new bounties that they published?”

“Nothing written by a marine is worth reading. It’s all incredibly and undeniably biased. The only reason they bother writing about pirates at all is because they know people are going to pay attention to them regardless of anything, so they try to convince everyone that we’re all such terrible people. Half the time what they call a raid is really just a stop ashore to resupply.”

“I’m pretty sure this one was an actual raid, Sanvi. They had pictures.”

“Doesn’t make the article any less biased, or any less uninteresting.”

“Well, what do you consider interesting, then?”

“Hmm…” Sanvi took a sip of their lemonade thoughtfully. “Festivals with lots of food vendors. Circuses with big dance troupes. Sculptors’ workshops. Those hunters with birds. Local restaurants that serve pirates and civilians side by side, without anyone caring. Just...people being people.”

“Aw, Sanvi!”

“I’m also really into working-class people rebelling against corrupt authority, but hey, who isn’t.”

“Alright, don’t ruin it.”

“You’re no fun.”

“Is there any more lemonade?”

“Yes, but just a little. We’ll have to make some more later.”

Luffy shuffled over to refill his glass, crunching away on the last remaining piece of ice from his previous serving.

“Is that the raid?” he asked, leaning over Sanvi’s shoulder to peer at the paper.

“Yep, that’s the raid. Nowhere near here, committed by no one we know. Don’t worry, nobody died. The marines just have to make a big deal out of everything.”

“Hm.” Luffy was quiet for a moment sipping his lemonade. “Do you think they’re jealous?”

“Huh?”

“The marines. I mean, lots of people in lots of places don’t want to do what the marines tell them, even if they aren’t actually pirates. I wonder if the marines get jealous of us, and that’s why they write all those mean things about us.”

Sanvi blinked. “I’ve never thought about it that way. But you could be on to something there, Luffy.”

“You think so?”

“I could see it. Although it’s not really the same thing, Vivi has definitely experienced her fair share of jealousy for the common folk of Alabasta.”

“I don’t know,” Nami said skeptically. “Saying that the marine campaign against pirates is motivated by jealousy seems like a bit of a stretch.”

“I’m not saying it’s the sole cause, but it might be a contributing factor. Everybody gets jealous, Nami. Everyone wants what other people have. The difference between pirates and marines is just, the pirates decided to do something about it.”

Zoro shook his head. “I don’t know if I’m totally following you, but I know that but jealousy is not why I became a pirate.”

“Speak for yourself, Zoro. For some of us, the jealousy is just closer to the surface, I guess.”

Sanvi sighed and set the newspaper aside.

“Well! That’s probably enough of that for one day. I’m gonna go make us a new pitcher. Luffy, want to give me a hand in the kitchen?”

“Sure! Can I-”

“Yes, you can be the one to squeeze the lemons. But no more ice crunching, the noise gives me a headache. Deal?”

“Deal!”

“Alright, then, let’s go.”

Chapter Text

One of the first and most important things that Law had learned about travelling with the Strawhats was that they were loud. Easily louder than his own crew, despite being a much smaller group. Shouting, banging, stomping, and thumping could be heard at pretty much every hour of the day.

He usually took refuge in the library whenever possible and tried to ignore it. But when he heard multiple people screaming and what sounded like cannonfire, he thought it best to head out and investigate.

The moment he stepped outside, something came flying directly at his head, forcing him to jump back out of the way. Moments later Luffy hurtled past, missing him by mere inches.

Law flattened himself against the wall and, after making sure there were no other immediate threats, looked around, trying to make sense of the chaos he suddenly found himself surrounded by. But there seemed to be little sense to find. There were no enemy ships, no one shooting at them. All he could see was the Strawhats running around in circles, hollering their heads off and throwing what he now recognized to be multicolored rubber balls at each other.

The faint sound of someone calling his name reached him through all the din, drawing his attention to where Robin stood in the relative shelter between the foremast and a set of stairs.

Keeping flat against the walls and railings as much as possible, he made his way over to her, occasionally pausing to dodge a flying ball, swearing under his breath the whole time.

“Good morning,” she said pleasantly when he finally reached her.

“What on earth is going on out here?” Law demanded.

“Calm down, Torao.” As she talked, Robin was used her powers to deflect rouge balls away from her and Law, back into the field of play. “It’s only dodgeball.”

“Dodgeball?!”

“Yes, dodgeball. You see, there are two teams, and-”

“I know what dodgeball is, Nico-ya. Dodgeball is what ten year olds play when their teacher doesn’t feel like having to work. This, all of this, this is not what dodgeball looks like.”

“It is, here. I think you’ll find it to be an enjoyable game for people of all ages...oh, watch out!”

Law turned his head to see what she was warning him about, but wasn’t fast enough to avoid the huge splash of cold seawater that seemed to come out of nowhere.

Wordlessly, he turned back to Robin, gesturing furiously to the wet spot on the deck.

“Some of the balls are actually water balloons,” Robin explained, looking like she was trying not to laugh.

“They’re wh-

“Hey, Law!”

One of the dodgeballers broke away from the game to join Robin and Law in their little corner- a fusion Law wasn’t familiar with, wearing a loose-fitting pink romper and their long brown hair in a messy bun on top of their head.

“Sorry,” they said cheerfully, “I didn’t mean to hit you with that. I was aiming at Zoro, but he moved.”

“And you are?”

“I’m Chomi, silly! Isn’t it obvious?”

“Uh…”

“Chomi is the one who suggested the addition of water balloons to the game,” Robin said.

“Yep, that was me! Adds an extra layer to the whole thing. But I know it can kinda suck for Fruit users to get splashed like that unexpectedly. You good, Law? Not dizzy, or anything?”

“I’m fine.”

“Ok, that’s good to hear! Wow, man, I envy you. If that happened to me, and I got hit with that much water without being mentally prepared for it first, I’d fall over right there. You’d think being part of a fusion with a non-powered person would help, but nooooo. I’ve got about as much tolerance for being wet as a newborn kitten. It sucks!”

Somewhere behind them, Usopp let out a high-pitched shriek and one of those cannon-like sounds echoed across the deck. Chomi chuckled.

“Then again, I’m not sure which is worse- being hit by a water balloon without warning, or being hit by a ball thrown by Zoro or Franky. Those guys sure hit hard! Earlier Sanji kicked one and it hit Luffy and he almost went flying over the side, haha! It took some convincing, but I bet they’re all glad they agreed to play now. See how much fun everyone’s having? I told you this would be a good idea, Robin.”

“Yes, Chomi, you did. I’m very happy to see everyone having a good time.”

“Law, you should join us!”

“I’ll pass, thanks.”

“Aw, come on. Don’t mind what I said earlier about getting hit- I’m sure you’d be great at dodging! Pleeeeeease?”

Law shook his head, determined for once not to get dragged into the latest Strawhat nonsense. “No. I’m going to go back inside now. You lot enjoy your game without me- and do try not to destroy the ship in the process.”

Chomi stuck their tongue out at Law as he walked away. “Killjoy.”

“Let him be, Chomi. Dodgeball’s not really his thing, I think.”

“Maybe not, but I’m not giving up that easily.” Chomi grinned mischievously. “Just you wait, Robin. I’ll get Law to play with us, sooner or later. Just you wait.”

Chapter Text

“Knock knock,” Sanji said aloud, pushing open the door to the men’s quarters with his shoulder. “Anybody in there?”

“Hey, Sanji! If you were looking for Luffy or Franky, I’m afraid you’re out of luck, ‘cause the only one here is me.”

“Oh, hey Fluffy! Good to see you. You want some tea? Thought I’d offer while it was still warm.”

“That sounds awesome! Thanks, Sanji.”

“Sure thing.”

Sanji set down the tray he was carrying on the low table at the front of the room, across from the fusion, and began pouring the tea.

“What are you doing, Fluffy?”

“I’m teaching Luffy to play cards!”

“Oh, uh, ok. Couldn’t you have just...told him?”

“Believe it or not, it actually works much better this way.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

Fluffy, despite the descriptive name he had chosen for himself, was all sharp angles and harsh lines. He had short, unruly hair and dark eyes that roved constantly over the cards on the table in front of him.

“Is that Dead Man’s Bargain?” Sanji asked, sliding the cup cautiously across the table.

“Yep.”

“Are you playing against yourself?”

“Yep! When you play both sides, you get to win every game! You also lose every game, but that’s ok. I’m a pretty gracious loser.”

“It’s been ages since I’ve even thought about that game,” Sanji said.

“Well, sit down and play a hand! It’ll be good practice, for both of me.”

“You know, I think I’ll take you up on that.”

Fluffy grinned, and began gathering up the cards from his previous game. His shuffling was a bit slow and clumsy, but Sanji thought it was kind of endearing how carefully he handled the cards.

“Luffy’s brothers used to play a lot,” he explained. “Luffy himself was too young to really understand the game, but he watched them play. He remembers that very clearly.”

“Oh yeah? And where did Franky learn to play?”

Fluffy snorted. “He used to tell his family he was going to work a part-time job in a respectable part of the city, and then go gabling in an underground casino instead. Only lasted a few weeks, because Ice found out and ratted him out. Got to be pretty good in that time, though.”

Sanji chuckled. “Wow, that’s pretty hardcore. I’m impressed.”

“I will take that as a compliment.”

Fluffy dealt the cards out, and the two of them began their game. Dead Man’s Bargain was a fairly complex game, with a lot of very specific rules and accompanying jargon, but Fluffy played it competently enough. In fact, he played better than his long-out-of-practice partner.

“You win,” Sanji admitted some time later, throwing down his cards in defeat. “I’m done, you win. Well done.”

“Thanks! It was a good game. Want to play again?”

“Sure. Want some more tea? It might be a bit cool, though.”

“Sure.”

“Franky’s teaching seems to have paid off well,” Sanji said, pouring more tea for the both of them while Fluffy reshuffled the deck. “Do you think Luffy will retain it when the two of you unfuse?”

“I think so. I sure hope so, anyway. But I think he will. We used a lot of memnotics, and visual associations, all that stuff.”

“All those good study tactics.”

“Yeah, exactly.”

“Knock knock,” Zoro said aloud, entering the room with his hands in his pockets. “Who’s in here?”

“It’s me and Sanji!”

“Oh, hey, Fluffy. I didn’t recognize the sound of your voice from down the hall.”

“We’re just about to start a new game of Dead Man’s Bargain. Want me to deal you in?”

“For real? Yeah, man, I love Dead Man’s Bargain.”

“Cold tea?”

“Hm? Why cold?”

“Why do you think it’s cold? I’m not getting up to reheat it, so it’s cold or nothing.”

“Fine, fine, give me the tea.”

Zoro sat at the table, and accepted cards from Fluffy and tea from Sanji.

“So, what are we betting, huh?”

“We weren’t betting anything. But I’m sure we could think of something, if we tried.”

“You sure you want to bet against Fluffy? He might not look it, but he’s really good.”

“I’ll take my chances. I’m not so bad myself, you know.”

“You don’t have to wager anything if you don’t want to, Sanji.”

“Hmm. How about, losers have to take on the winner’s turn doing the dishes for the next rotation?”

“Nice.”

“Sounds good to me.”

“Alright then, dishes it is. You go first, Fluffy, since you won the last game.”

Fluffy looked down, studying the cards in his hand. Then he grinned.

“Hope you guys like spending your free time at the sink...because I’ll be the one winning this time around, too!”

Chapter Text

“That one! That one, Rosopp, that one right there!”

“Ok, ok, I’m going! Just give me a second.”

Luffy hovered by the fusion’s side, practically vibrating with excitement. “Did you find it yet?”

“Hang on...ah, there it is! It’s a Crested Seaskimmer. See?”

“Oooh, cool!”

The Sunny was passing through a chain of islets- bits of land too small for any humans to live on, but convenient resting spots for flocks of migrating birds.

“I’m still not sure I believe you that they fly from island to island,” Zoro said. “I mean, it takes us days to get from place to place, and we have this giant ship with food and stuff!”

“What are those, Rosopp?” Nami asked, pointing. “The blue ones with the yellow heads.”

“Hmm.” Rosopp buried their nose in the guidebook again, quickly flipping through to find a picture that matched the bird Nami had pointed out.

“I just don’t get how they stay awake that long!”

“They don’t, Zoro!” Brook laughed. “They sleep while they fly.”

“They do what?

“I found it!” Rosopp announced. “That one is the Blue Dovetailed Gull.”

“Not super imaginative with the name on that one,” Franky said. “But still, it’s neat to know. I guess it was a good thing we kept that guidebook around, after all.”

“It doesn’t just have names and pictures! It has all kinds of other information, too. Here, listen to this: Blue Dovetailed Gulls can be found in the North and East Blues, as well as all throughout the Grand Line. Their diet consists almost entirely of small fish that they catch themselves-”

“They catch fish?”

“Yes, Zoro, they catch fish. And, the females lay between ten and fifteen eggs at a time! Isn’t that interesting?”

Rosopp held up the book, pointing.

“Is that unusual?” Franky asked, peering closely at the open pages.

“Yes, quite.”

Zoro shook his head. “Everyone stop telling me things about birds, I can’t keep up.”

“There are so many different kinds,” Luffy said. “It’s like a city, but for birds!”

“That’s sure one way of putting it. An annual city!”

“If a group of birds this big is a city,” Brook mused, “does that mean that the smaller flocks that travel around the Line together are like little pirate crews?”

“Well, they already catch fish, apparently. I don’t see much difference between them and us.”

Rosopp laughed. “What an interesting flock we would be! I don’t think any of us are actually the same type of bird!”

Luffy gasped, eyes sparkling. “Tell me what kind of birds we are! I want to know what kind of bird I am!”

“Hmmm…”

Rosopp considered for a moment, then flipped through their guidebook again.

“This one,” they said eventually, pointing to a picture of a small red bird with an extra sharp-looking beak. “The Scarlet Kingfisher.”

“Wow, that really does seem like what he’d be like as a bird,” Nami said, while Luffy positively cackled with glee. “Do me next!”

“Oh, you’re easy, Nami! Great Southern Magpie.”

“Wow, that was fast!”

“They collect shiny things, and hide them away in their nests! Normally they’re about this big, but in the Line they’re about this big!”

“Don’t stop there! What about the rest?”

Rosopp paused, squinting in thought, considering their fellow crew members intently for a few moments.

“Brook is a Bone Thrasher, for sure. Franky is probably a Spectacled Martin. Zoro, I’m not so sure about. Maybe a Marine Hooked Hawk?”

“I like the sound of that. Let’s go with that one.”

“What about Sanji and Chopper?” Luffy asked, pointing towards the galley, where Chopper was taking shelter from the noise and Sanji was busy preparing lunch.

“Sanji would be a Speckled Leaf Heron, definitely. And Chopper would be some kind of arctic Tern or something...something that lives in a colder climate.”

“A penguin?!”

“Haha, maybe a penguin! I don’t know, you should ask him how he feels on the subject.”

“You’re forgetting someone! What about you, Rosopp?”

“Yeah, what kind of bird are you feeling?”

“Ohh, I don’t know if it reflects how I really am,” Rosopp said, eagerly flipping pages again, “but if I could choose, I’d want to be this one!”

“Rusty Ibis,” Zoro read. “Woah, that’s one flashy bird.”

“Are there any around here?”

“No, Luffy. They’re not migratory. I just think they’re cool.”

“I think it totally suits you,” Nami said decisively.

“Really?”

“Mhm! I agree with everything you said.”

“Hey everyone,” Sanji’s voice called from the galley doorway, “lunch is ready, come and get it.”

“Sanji! Rosopp says you’re a Leaf Hairpin!”

“A what?”

“A Speckled Leaf Heron,” Rosopp corrected. “That’s what you’d be, if you were a bird! Here, look, I have pictures!”

Chapter Text

“Zoro,” Nami called from the deck, up towards the swordsman’s training room. “Hey, Zoro, get out here. I need to ask you something. Hey, can you hear me?”

There was no answer. Nami simply rolled her eyes and started up the ladder, assuming that Zoro was too focused on his training to pay her any attention.

When she reached the trapdoor hatch that led into the crow’s nest, however, she found that it was locked shut. That was unusual. She banged her fist hard against the wood, but still got no answer from inside.

Nami growled unhappily, reaching for her lockpicks. There was a pretty strong wind blowing in from the east- likely bringing a thunderstorm with it before long-and her hair kept getting in her face.

When she finally managed to get the hatch open, she pulled herself up into the crow’s nest fully prepared to give Zoro a piece of her mind. But instead, she was brought up short by the sight of someone who was definitely not Zoro, sitting cross-legged on the floor and facing away from her.

Sanzo? Is that you?”

The fusion started and quickly whipped around. “Hey! What are you doing? Get out of here!”

Nami frowned, her irritation beginning to return. “No! Don’t you know better than to lock the door? That’s dangerous! What if there had been an emergency!”

“If there isn’t an emergency, then why are you here?!”

“Because Zoro didn’t answer me when I called! Why are you here?”

Sanzo frowned, folding his arms. He was big- one of the Strawhats’ biggest fusions, actually, though no one really knew how or why that was. Nami couldn’t remember a time that she had ever seen him fused outside of a serious combat situation. Even when Zoro and Sanji did combine their forces for a fight, Sanzo usually disappeared almost as soon as the fight ended.

“Nothing,” he said flatly.

“Don’t you give me that. I know the Zoro and Sanji wouldn’t fuse without a good reason. Wait, is there actually an emergency?”

“No, there’s-”

“Are there enemies out there?!”

“No! Jeez, calm down.”

“Then, why?”

Sanzo muttered something too softly for Nami to hear, refusing to make eye contact with her.

“What?”

“I said, I’m practicing stability, ok!”

“...Oh.”

“Or at least, I was, until I was so rudely interrupted!”

“Well,” Nami said, her anger fading, “you’re still stable, even though I interrupted you. That must count for something, right?”

“I don’t think so. Go away, I’m trying to focus here!”

“No.”

“No?!”

“No, I’m going to stay for a bit. Maybe I can help!”

“I don’t want your help,” Sanzo protested as Nami pulled herself the rest of the way into the room, closed the hatch behind her, and sat down across from him.

“Nonsense, I’m sure there must be something I can do to help. Now,” she said, settling down on the floor, “talk to me. Tell me what’s going on.”

Sanzo frowned again. When he frowned, she noticed, he did so with his whole face, squinching up his mouth and eyebrows to make his displeasure as apparent as possible.

“I came up here and locked the door because I wanted to be alone. Whatever it is, I have to figure it out by myself. Otherwise, I might not ever be able to fully stabilize.”

“Why are you so concerned with stability all of a sudden? Sure, you might not be as rock solid as some of the others, but you’re able to hold it together when it really matters. Is that not enough?”

“You don’t get it. It’s a lot worse than you think it is. It’s like, the moment there’s no more immediate threat, and Zoro and Sanji no longer have an overwhelmingly pressing common interest, I fall apart. Being Sanzo doesn’t feel comfortable, the way it should. Sanji and Zoro can’t agree on anything. I mean, just look at me!”

“Sanzo-”

“I look like a toddler who dressed himself. I look like someone trying to do a jigsaw puzzle with pieces from two different puzzles.”

“Hush. I think you’re overreacting.”

“I am not! I’m being serious here. I refuse to be the only unstable fusion on this ship!”

“Alright, alright! Calm down. Getting upset isn’t going to help, that I can promise you.”

Sanzo kept doing his squinchy frown face at her, but nevertheless he took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment.

“I just can’t get this to click,” he said frustratedly. “I feel like I have to constantly tiptoe around inside my own head, so they don’t get into an argument and ruin it. I don’t...I can’t find my purpose. You know?”

“No. What are you talking about?”

“My purpose. There’s no point to this, to me. All I do is sit here and yell at myself until it all destabilizes and comes crashing down.”

“Have you ever considered that you might be looking at this the wrong way?”

“What other way is there?”

“Well, think about this. Have you ever felt that being Zomi was pointless? Or Sannami? Even when they’re just sitting around, did you ever once feel like their lack of immediate action was a bad thing.”

“Uh. No? I don’t think so?”

“Then why are you being so hard on yourself about it?”

Sanzo was silent for a long, long moment at that, his jaw hanging open in shock.

“So...so...a meaningless existence still has value? Is that what you’re trying to say?”

Nami laughed. “You don’t have to read so much into it. What I’m trying to say is, you do have a purpose, and your purpose is to be Sanzo. Not a combination of Sanji and Zoro, but a whole different person. Just be Sanzo.”

“Oh.”

“Do you think you can do that?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Well, think about it. I’ll give you some time to continue with your practice. Then, if you feel up to it, maybe you could come down and hang out with the rest of us?”

“...Maybe. Maybe not yet.”

“Ok. Take your time. Just, whatever happens, don’t stay out too late, or you’ll get caught in the rain.”

Chapter Text

“I knew this was a bad idea,” Sanji said loudly.

“How was I supposed to know he’d wander off?”

“You weren’t, you were supposed to watch him so he wouldn’t!”

“You were the one distracting me! I’m not the only one to blame here!”

“Whatever, Usopp, just keep looking!”

The two of them ran through the streets of the town they found themselves in, searching high and low for their lost companion. It wasn’t a very big town- what few pedestrians there were looked at them quizzically, but didn’t bother them. Sanji wondered distantly if strange pirates running past qualified as an unusual sight to them.

“Look, Sanji, there!”

“Where?”

“That alley, right there!”

Sanji skidded to a stop on the slippery cobblestone road, overshooting the mouth of the alleyway by a bit, but hurriedly correcting course.

“Braw?” he called as he ran, squinting in the dim light.

“Oh, hello Sanji. Hello, Usopp.”

Sanji breathed a sigh of relief and slowed down, stopping in front of where the fusion they were supposed to be escorting around town was sitting on the cold ground.

“Braw, don’t scare me like that!”

“Sorry.”

Usopp slid to a halt beside Sanji, struggling to catch his breath. “Oof...oh, thank goodness we found him...can we go back to the ship now?”

“Yeah, let’s do that. Come on Braw, let’s get you ba-”

“I can’t get up.”

“What! Why?”

“Because of the cat.”

“Huh?!”

“The cat,” Braw repeated, lifting his arms to reveal an orange tabby curled up in his lap. “He’s sleeping.”

Sanji shook his head. “Wait a minute, you came down here because of a cat?”

“Yes,” Braw said, as if it were a perfectly logical and obvious course of action.

“Oh, Braw…”

“What? The two of you were involved in whatever you were doing without me. And some people were kind of starting to stare.”

Braw was one of those fusions where Brook’s influence was displayed in a rather striking and attention-drawing kind of way: he had no eyes. Whatever inexplicable forces that allowed Brook to see evidently worked for him too, but his dark, empty eye sockets were a bit difficult to get used to. The brim of Law’s hat could only cover so much, even when pulled down.

“Don’t let them get to you,” Usopp said dismissively. “They were just surprised, that’s all.”

“I’m not ‘letting them get to me’. I really just wanted to pet the cat.”

“How did you get a stray to let you pet him?” Sanji wondered, resigning himself to the fact that Braw really was not about to move until the cat awoke from his nap.

Braw shrugged. “I just went up to him. He seemed friendly enough to me.” Gently, he stroked the sleeping cat’s fur. “I thought, maybe we could bring him back to the ship with us.”

“Ummm…”

“But then, I realized that that’s probably not the smartest idea. It’s a miracle we’ve managed to keep the plants alive as long as we have...better not push our luck, I guess.”

“Yes. Probably best not.”

Usopp squatted down, holding out a hand. “Do you think he’ll let me pet him, too?”

“Let him smell your hand first.”

The small orange cat lifted his head, warily sniffing at Usopp’s fingers before allowing him to scratch behind his ears. Then he yawned and stood up, stretching lazily before hopping off Braw’s lap and trotting away down the alley.

“Oh, sorry, I guess I disturbed his nap.”

“It’s ok. Cats are fickle like that- you just have to let them do what they want.”

Braw got to his feet and dusted off his clothing. At his full height, he stood a full head taller than both his travelling companions.

“Well, if we got what we came for, I guess we should head back,” he said, walking towards the mouth of the alley.

“This time, keep a closer eye on him,” Sanji hissed at Usopp, as the two of them followed him out to the street and back the way they had come.

Chapter Text

“Chopper? Zoro?”

Nami stuck her head out the door onto the deck and looked around.

“Oh, Choro. Alright. Hey, Choro!”

“What?”

“What are you doing out here?”

“Nothing much.

“It’s freezing out here,” Nami said, crossing the deck to where Choro stood, leaning over the railing.

Choro held out an arm as she approached, the way some people would when offering to share a blanket.

“Thanks,” Nami said, allowing the fusion to wrap his arms around her and pull her close, putting her between himself and the ship’s railing.

“Everyone else is inside, eating dinner. We were wondering where you were.”

“I just came to get some fresh air. I’ll go back in in a bit.”

“Everything ok?”

“Yeah, yeah, of course. Just...thinking.”

“Ok.”

For a moment they stood there in silence, watching the clouds go by.

“Do you remember all those people we met, who were turned into toys?” Choro asked.

“Yes, of course. What about them?”

“What do you think they’re doing now? Do you think they just went back to living their lives, just like that? I mean, they were like that for ten whole years.”

“I don’t know. Some of them stayed close to home, like Kyros. But, I guess it’s true that after ten years, it couldn’t be exactly the same. It must be hard, trying to live with something like that.”

“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. That, and the fact that not all of them did come back. Must be hard for their families, too.”

“Yeah.”

“I kinda wish we could check up on them. But even if we had a den den mushi number for Rebecca or one of the others, there’s no way the signal would reach clearly from here to there.”

“We could write them a letter, I suppose. If we had some way to deliver it.”

“We could go and see them ourselves, if we had a vivre card or log pose. But that would take ages.”

“The Line just isn’t set up for good communication. I bet even the marines, with all their resources, have a hard time with long-range stuff.”

“You’d think that someone would have come up with a better method by now.”

“Well, to be fair, I think most of the good inventors and engineers have been talked into becoming pirates. Like Usopp and Franky.”

“Hah, you’ve got a point there. They have other things to worry about.”

“Who would you check in on, if you had a foolproof way to talk to anyone, wherever, whenever?”

“My sister, and the others back home, of course.”

“Yeah, obviously. But, just them? No one else?”

“I don’t know. Give me some time to think about it.”

“Mm.” Choro rested his chin on the top of Nami’s head. “I wonder if, once we leave somewhere, that’s just...it. Like, since we’re not there anymore, all those people we met and helped and shared food with won’t remember us. Or, I guess, maybe they remember, but they don’t care.”

“They have their own lives, Choro. It’s not up to us who they spend their time thinking about.”

“But...what if it works that way for us, too? What if we eventually just slowly stop caring about everything? What if we get so caught up in what we’re doing right now that we forget to remember where we’ve been?”

“We won’t,” Nami said, putting a hand comfortingly on Choro’s arm. “Choro, we’ve met plenty of pirates much older than we are. Like Rayleigh, for example. Does he seem like the kind of guy to have forgotten where he came from?”

“Well, no, I guess not. But we don’t know that for sure.”

“Choro, I guess if you’re really worried about this, you’re just going to have to be extra careful to keep track of where we’ve been and what we’ve done. You can do that, right?”

“Yes, I can.”

“Alright, then. You really shouldn’t let it worry you too much, you know.”

“Cut me some slack, man. It only just occurred to me.”

“Choro?” Robin’s voice called from across the deck. “Is that you?”

“Yep, it’s me.”

“Have you seen Nami?”

“I’m here,” Nami called back, standing up on tiptoe so that Robin could see her.

Robin laughed. “Well, that’s something you don’t see every day. Keeping warm, are you?”

“Snug as a bug in a rug!”

“Glad to see the two of you only think of me as a heater.”

“Oh, hush. Learn to take a joke.”

“If you two are done out here, Sanji’s getting ready to cut the cake.”

“Cake? Why are we having cake?”

“Because Luffy wanted cake.”

“Oh. Fair enough, I guess.”

“I haven’t eaten dinner yet!”

“Well, get in here and eat, Choro! We’ll save you some.”

“Coming, coming.”

Choro and Nami hurried back across the deck, back into the warmth of the galley, back to where their friends were waiting for them.

Chapter Text

“I still don’t know what is going on.”

“Brooffy’s magic show.”

“Yeah, but, like...why? What’s the point? Why do we have to be here?”

“We’re the practice audience. Didn’t he explain it to you earlier?”

“No. Must have missed it.”

“‘S what you get for sleeping all day lo-”

“Shh, you two, it’s about to start!”

A table had been brought up from somewhere and placed on the deck, to serve as a makeshift stage. A sheet hung down from the upper railing in lieu of a curtain. Out on the lawn, the Strawhats sat in orderly little rows, waiting expectantly.

After a moment of rustling, the ‘curtain’ was swept aside and Brooffy appeared, wearing an even more outrageous outfit than usual.

“Prepare to be amazed!” he shouted, jumping up onto the table and spreading his arms out wide. “Tonight, I will perform unrivaled feats of sorcery before your very eyes! I assure you you will be absolutely dazzled by all these incomprehensible magics and astounded by these awesome stunts, so, prepare to be amazed!

“He said that twice.”

Shhhh!”

“For my first trick, I’m going to make this cup disappear!”

Brooffy made a big show of draping a towel over the cup and waving his hands mystically. From the audience, Sanji muttered something under his breath about not having agreed to the use of his dishes as magic props.

“And...viola!”

The fusion dramatically whipped away the towel, revealing that there was no longer anything underneath. The Strawhats applauded- with varying degrees of enthusiasm- and he beamed.

“Thank you! Now, next, I will magically change this potted plant...where is my potted plant? Where have I left it...ah. This potted plant! Into a metal sculpture!”

“This is better than I thought it’d be. Looks like your teaching is paying off” Franky whispered behind his hand to Robin, who smiled.

“Thank you, but I can’t take all the credit. He’s a natural.”

“See that? Behold! Metal!”

“Need to work on his presentation skills a little bit, though.”

“Oh, I agree. Trust me, this is already better than when he first started.”

“Thank you, thank you,” Brooffy said, bowing low as the crowd applauded again. “Now, for the next one, I need a volunteer…”

“Me! Me!”

“No, Usopp! Everyone knows that you’re supposed to pick a beautiful lady!”

“Alright, alright, I’ll volunteer.”

“Ah, thank you, Nami! Come up and stand right here, please. I promise the table won’t break.”

Nami stood up and climbed onto the table as instructed. Sanji and Franky cheered loudly. Zoro rolled his eyes.

“Ok, now, I am going to make Nami levitate!

“Ooh!”

“Brooffy, I hope you know what you’re doing.”

“I do, I promise, don’t worry. Alright, here we go…”

 

“Very well done, Brooffy,” Robin said, after the show was done and the table and sheet had been put back in their rightful places. “I thought that went very well, for a first attempt. How did you feel about it?”

“Pretty good! I think I did almost everything right. Right?”

“Well, there’s always room for improvement, but, yes, essentially.”

“Tell me how you did the plant thing!” Chopper demanded loudly.

“No! A magician has to keep secrets, Chopper! That’s like rule number 1!”

“Aww, please? I won’t tell anyone!”

“No. It’s a secret.”

Zoro raised an eyebrow. “Is it? I thought it was kind of obvious. He just-”

“Aaaaahhhhh!” Brooffy threw the plastic wand he was holding at Zoro, effectively cutting him off. “Zoro, I said it’s a secret!”

“Alright, alright, jeez!”

“All magicians have to keep their tricks secret. Isn’t that right, Robin?”

“Yes, you’re absolutely right. Shame on you, Zoro, for trying to spoil the trick like that.”

“Alright already, I’m sorry! Cut that out Brooffy.”

“Hey Robin,” Franky said, “you taught him all that, right?”

“Yes, I did. He said that Luffy and Brook were both interested in learning, so I thought we could kill two birds with one stone.”

“Yeah, but where did you learn it?”

Robin smiled and winked. “That’s a secret.”

“Robin! Next, will you teach me the trick where you cut people in half?”

“You’d need a special magic box for that, Brooffy.”

“Oh, right. Card tricks, then?”

“Sure, I know some card tricks.”

“Awesome! Can we start now? I can go get some cards!”

“No, not now. It’s late, and we should really all be heading to bed. Tomorrow, maybe.”

“Ok, tomorrow. You guys go on ahead...I’m gonna stay up and practice a little bit more.”

Chapter Text

Oftentimes, you can tell a lot about a fusion by their hair. Newer or more unstable fusions usually have uneven cuts, with distinct patches of different colors. More stable fusions tend to have clean cuts with either a smooth blend of their components’ hair colors or an ombre that fades from one to the other.

If a stable fusion has an unusual haircut- say, a flashy mohawk- with more than one color, chances are high that it is actually an intentional fashion statement.

 

“Frannami! Frannami! Can I get-”

“No, Luffy, for the last time, you can not get anything that’s white. Until you learn to eat like an actual human being, no white for you. It’s not worth the price we’ll pay in laundry detergent trying to get all the stains out of it.”

“Awww. But we don’t have to-”

“If you’re about to suggest that we let you run around with a food-stained shirt, think again. You’re the future pirate king, aren’t you? Have some self respect.”

The time had come once again for the Strawhats to go through all their clothes. Items that were too blood-stained, ripped up, burnt, bleached, or whatever other manner of unwearable were thrown away or salvaged for scraps. Items that had been outgrown, shrunk, stretched, or simply fallen out of favor were either tossed in the costume bin or donated to whatever charity they came across at the next island. And then, they all went out shopping for whatever they needed.

Frannami nearly always accompanies these types of shopping trips. They have a unique knack for managing the chaos, finding good deals, and making sure everyone comes away with everything they need.

“Sanji, don’t forget to pick up some casual stuff. Not everything is a suit and tie kind of situation, we can’t have you fainting of heat exhaustion all the time. Robin, you know I trust you, but don’t you dare leave here without letting me see you in every single one of those. And what do you want?”

“I’m done,” Zoro said, holding out a stack of clothes.

“No you’re not.”

“You haven’t even looked at it yet!”

“When have you ever accomplished this on your first try? Odds aren’t in your favor, is all I’m saying.”

“Frannami, can I have-”

“Is it white?”

“It’s got white stripes.”

“These are no good, Zoro. Horizontal stripes, Luffy, or vertical ones?”

“Uhh….up and down stripes.”

“Alright, you can have that one.”

“Why is this no good?”

“Did you even read the tag? These are skinny jeans.”

“...Yeah? Should that mean anything to me?”

“The kind that Law wears.”

“Ohhhhh.”

“Uh-huh. Bring me back bootcut.”

“Frannami, can I get a new belt and a pack of socks while we’re here?”

“If you can get them for less than thirty beri, then yes.”

“They don’t have my size…”

“Don’t worry Brook, we can let the hem out back on the ship. Just focus on finding some that fit your waist.”

“E-excuse me, um, sir?” said one of the store’s employees, timidly approaching the fusion. “Are you...finding everything ok?”

“Yes, thank you,” Frannami answered, smiling reassuringly at the young sales clerk. “Sorry for the noise. I’ll try to make sure they don’t leave too much of a mess.”

“Oh, uh...alright. Let me know if you need any help.”

“Sure. Oh, if you happen to see a guy with green hair looking confused, just point him back in this direction, would you? That’d be a great help, thanks.”

“Frannami! I’m going to the shoe section!”

“Alright, but I expect you back in ten minutes. And please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t cause another avalanche. If you can’t reach the box you want, just ask somebody taller.”

“Never gonna let me live that down, are you?”

“No, no I am not.”

“Frannami, Frannami, can I get this skirt?”

“Let me see it. No, Luffy, this is way too long for you, there’s no way you’d be able to walk around in this. See? Plus, it’s a wool polyester blend, so it won’t breathe. If you want a skirt, get Robin to help you pick one out.”

“Ok, thanks!”

“And try it on before we leave!”

 

It took at least another thirty minutes, but eventually Frannami managed to round everyone up and get them to the nearest register.

“Not too bad,” they said, watching the numbers on the screen go up as the items were scanned in. “We could have done much worse for ourselves, at any rate. Good job, everybody.”

“We should get ice cream on the way back!”

“No.”

“No! Why?!”

“Because we have to carry all this back. Your hands will be full.”

“Then...can we get ice cream later?”

“Maybe. If you behave.”

“I will!”

“Uh-huh. I’ll hold you to that, don’t think I won’t. Alright, everyone grab some bags! Back to the ship we go!”

Chapter Text

“Hello? Anyone in here?” Brook called, peering into the galley.

“Yes,” a voice answered from somewhere out of sight.

“Who was that?” Zoro asked from behind Brook.

“Not sure.”

The two of them stepped inside, and Brook bent over the counter.

“Why, hello there Rosan!”

“Hello there, Brook.”

“What are you doing?”

“Peeling apples,” Rosan said, holding up the half-skinned apple in their hand as evidence.

Zoro’s face appeared over the countertop beside Brook’s. “Hey.”

“Hey, yourself. What can I do for the two of you, hm?”

“We were wondering if there were any cold drinks to be found?”

“Oh, sure! We’ve got iced tea, if you’re interested.”

“Just water would be fine. We’ve just come from training.”

“Ah, I see. Yes, there should be a few bottles in the fridge. Here, let me just…”

“You don’t need to get up, I can get it.”

“What are you peeling apples for?” Brook asked as Zoro walked over to the fridge.

“I’m going to try my hand at apple pie.”

“Ooh, that sounds wonderful. Do you need any help?”

“Well, if you’re offering, there’s another peeler in the drawer.”

Brook took the second apple peeler and moved around the counter to sit next to Rosan, who handed him an apple.

“Rosan, did you want a water?”

“Please, thank you Zoro.”

“Ok.”

Zoro walked back across the galley, bringing three bottles of chilled water with him.

“Why are the two of you on the floor?”

“Peeling apples.”

“Yes, I can see that. But why on the floor?”

“It just seemed convenient. Is there a problem with sitting on the floor?”

“...I mean, no, I guess not. Here, take your waters.”

“Thank you.”

“Come help us with these, Zoro.”

“Oh, but I only have two peelers...”

“I have a pocket knife. Will that work?”

“Is it clean?”

“I can wash it off real quick.”

Zoro ran his knife under the sink for a moment, then sat down on the floor with the other two.

“This seems like a lot of apples.”

“Yes, well. If the first attempt doesn’t quite work out, we’ll have enough ingredients to try again.”

“What will you do with the leftovers if the first attempt does work out?”

Rosan shrugged. “We could make jam?”

“You could just make another pie,” Zoro suggested. “Then Luffy could have one all to himself and wouldn’t have to share.”

Brook chuckled. “And you’d have a chance to practice your pie-making! Win-win.”

“Maybe. We’ll see how we feel after the first one.”

“Follow-up question: what are we going to do with all these peels?”

“I was thinking feed them to the fish.”

“Do fish like apple peels?”

“I guess there’s one sure way to find out.”

“Rosan, are you expecting the pie not to go well, for some reason?”

“Eh.” The fusion shrugged. “Just being cautious. Sanji’s not as big into baking as he is into cooking, after all. And with Robin thrown in? There are any number of things that could go wrong. Pies can be tricky. But I wanted apple pie, so I’m willing to give it a shot.”

“That’s a good mindset.”

“Thank you. I really do hope it’ll go well though, because it’d be a shame if all this went to waste.”

“Do you want help? One of us could stay and help with the baking.”

Zoro shook his head. “Oh, I can tell you for sure that I wouldn’t be any help at all.”

“Alright then, I could stay and help, if you wanted.”

“Thanks, but that won’t be necessary. I can do it. Besides, you’ve just been training. You should take a break and rest.”

“Well, consider it a standing offer, if you change your mind.”

“Thanks, Brook.”

“Is this good?” Zoro asked, holding out the apple he was working on for Rosan’s inspection.

“Yes, good work. Keep it up.”

“You’d better get this right, because I’m really craving pie now, too.”

“Well, I make no promises, about pie or anything else in life. But I’ll give it a try, and we’ll see what happens. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Chapter Text

“Lawsopp?”

“Mm?”

“What are you doing in here?” Nami asked suspiciously.

“Nothing important.”

“That’s not very reassuring.”

“It’s fine, don’t worry about it.”

“Lawsopp, you were muttering to yourself alone in a completely dark room.”

Lawsopp sighed. Then he turned to look at Nami, eyes narrowed. “You really want to know?”

“Uh, yeah, I do.”

“I was talking to the spider.”

There was a brief pause, in which the two of them just stared at each other.

“The spider.”

“Yes, the spider. Right there, see?”

“No, I can’t see anything. Why are the lights out?”

“I thought she probably prefers the dark.”

She?

“Yeah, you can tell by the markings on her back.”

Nami shook her head, fighting the urge to say something rude and dismiss the fusion’s actions right off the bat. Instead, she carefully made her way through the dark room to where Lawsopp was sitting, peering up into the corner where the walls met the ceiling.

“Are you going to tell me why you were talking to the spider?”

“I was just trying to show her that I mean her no harm. I’m sure she’s very scared, surrounded by strange enormous human beings. She’s probably hungry, too. How much food do you think she gets?”

“She’d be dead if she wasn’t getting enough food,” Nami pointed out.

“But still. We can’t know if she’s unhappy or not. And if she were, it’s not like she could leave. She’s stuck on this ship, in the middle of the sea. Must be a terrifying life for a thing so small.”

“She’s a spider, Lawsopp. I don’t think she has a full understanding of big concepts like that.”

“...I guess. But I do, and I feel bad for her. I wonder if she’d be happier if we moved her, next time we stop.”

“Well, I’m not going to stop you, but I think you should stop worrying about it for now. You can make your decision once we reach land.”

“Alright, I guess, if you say so.”

He kept looking up into the corner. Nami rolled her eyes.

“Come on, bud, let’s get you some fresh air and sunlight.”

“But-”

“No, no, leave the spider. She’ll still be there when you come back. Out on deck with you.”

Nami took Lawsopp by the arm and marched him out of the room, down the hall, and through the door that led them outside.

“Hey Lawsopp!” screeched Luffy, almost immediately.

“Mm-hm,” Lawsopp muttered, blinking in the bright sunlight.

“Found this one having an emotional crisis over a spider,” Nami said, letting go of the fusion’s arm and patting him on the shoulder instead. “He could use a good distraction, you guys. What’cha got?”

“A spider? What kind of-”

“Robin, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I am literally begging you to drop the subject.”

“Well, we were just about to start up a game of volleyball,” Franky said. “Just need to get the net up.”

“If you play too, Nami, we’ll have even teams, three on three!”

“Sure, I’m game. How about it, Lawsopp?”

“I don’t know...I’m not really that good at that kind of thing. I wouldn’t be an asset to the team. What if I accidentally hit the ball overboard? Not to mention, teams of three is not really a typical configuration for this kind of game, is it? Maybe I should just- ack!”

From across the deck, the volleyball suddenly came flying at them. Lawsopp raised his arms in front of his face protectively and wildly swatted it out of the way.

“He-hey, look what you can do if you try, Lawsopp!” Zoro said, grinning.

“Are you crazy?!”

“Good enough for me. Let’s play!”

“Wait, wait, I never said-”

“Stop worrying, Lawsopp. It’ll be fine. Here, look, I’ll be on your team. And Zoro will join us, so that way you don’t have to worry about him sneak-attacking you again. Right, Zoro?”

“Sure, whatever.”

“Why don’t you take the first serve, Lawsopp?” Sanji said, shedding his jacket and rolling up his sleeves. “That way you’ll have more time to think and react the way you want to.”

“I don’t know if I can-”

Lawsopp!

“Ok, alright, ok, I’ll serve!”

Chapter Text

“I want to do some fusion training tomorrow,” Zoro announced loudly to the rest of the crew as they relaxed on the deck one warm evening. “Brook, are you up for it?”

“Tomorrow? For how long?”

“I don’t know. A couple of hours, I guess?”

“I think I’ll have to pass, Zoro. I promised I would help Usopp in his workshop tomorrow. We’ve already rescheduled two times, I don’t want to have to do it again. Sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. Someone else do it with me. Nami, do fusion training with me tomorrow!”

“Alright, as long as you give me a little time in the morning for other things. Jinbei and I were going to compare notes about the...hey, what’s wrong, Jinbei?”

“Nothing! Nothing, nothing is wrong.”

“You look like something’s wrong.”

“No, no, I just...uh...I wasn’t aware you guys had that kind of relationship…”

“Oh, we don’t,” Zoro said quickly.

“Definitely not,” Nami agreed.

“Oh? Ok? Sorry, it seems I misunderstood…”

“Around here we tend to treat fusion very lightly,” Robin jumped in to explain. “As a sort of tool, if you will. One with many uses.”

“‘A symbol of a strong platonic bond’,” Luffy recited. “That’s what Law calls it. He told me once, when we were Lula.”

“Nothing wrong with fusing with the people who are as close to you as family,” Brook said cheerfully.

“Hm.” Jinbei looked thoughtful. “Now that you mention it, I think I remember certain members of the Sun pirates fusing. But I don’t think they ever did so purely for recreation.”

“You get used to it,” Chopper said. “And once you do, it’s really nice. It helps bring you closer to everyone.”

Luffy gasped loudly. “Hey, Jinbei! Since you’re one of us now, we should try fusing too!”

“Luffy,” Franky said accusingly, “for crying out loud, give the man some time to adjust.”

“Oh, yeah, I guess you’re right. Ok, well, think about it, and when you’re ready, you should fuse with me!”

“Is...is it even possible for a human and a fishman to fuse?” Jinbei asked skeptically. “We might not even be compatible, Luffy.”

“I’ve never had a problem with it,” Chopper shrugged.

“Nor have I,” Brook said.

“Me neither,” Franky said.

“You might look different than us, Jinbei-san, but you’re still a person. I think that’s really all that matters.”

“Well, that and that you actually want to. Won’t work otherwise.”

“Yes, absolutely don’t do agree to do anything you’re not comfortable with! We don’t want to pressure you into anything.”

“You guys, shh, you’re overwhelming him!”

They all lapsed back into silence. Jinbei fidgeted, acutely aware of all the eyes on him.

“It’s not that I’m opposed to the idea,” he said carefully. “I’m just not sure I can make it work.”

“You won’t with that attitude.”

“Sorry. That’s the only attitude I have at the moment.”

Luffy laughed. Then he got to his feet and walked over to Jinbei.

“Can’t hurt to try,” he said, holding out his hand.

“...Alright.”

Jinbei put his hand in Luffy’s. For a long moment, nothing happened. Then, quite suddenly, a bright flash of light enveloped them both, forcing the rest of the crew to shield their eyes. And when they opened them again, a new fusion was standing before them.

“Whoo!” Usopp cheered. “You did it!”

The fusion blinked. “I guess so, huh? Wow…wow...this is so strange!”

“Strange in a good way?”

“Yeah, I suppose so.”

The fusion turned in a circle, studying himself. He was tall, his skin a mixture of Jinbei’s vivid blue and Luffy’s sun-tanned tone. His clothes were loose and comfortable-lookin. His hair was wild and his eyes were bright, brimming with energy.

“How you feel?” Franky asked.

“Bit confused, honestly. This is not really what I was expecting. But...it’s good, I’m good, this is fine. I guess humans and fishmen are compatible after all!”

“You got a name, Mr. Human-Fish Hybrid?”

“Uhhhh…”

“How about Jiffy!” Usopp suggested enthusiastically.

“Well, now, that sounds a little bit silly.”

“A lot of fusion names sound silly. You think you’re above having a silly name?”

“Jinlu?” Robin asked. “Lujin?”

“I like Lujin better, I think.”

“Ooh, me too!”

“Alright, I guess we’ll go with that for now? Trial basis, if you will.”

“Lujin,” the fusion said, testing the sound of the name for himself. “Lujin.” He smiled then, and though his mouth was full of too-sharp teeth it was a sweet, infectious kind of smile. “I like it.”

“Good.”

“I think I’m beginning to see the appeal of recreational fusions. I mean, Jinbei is. I’m already learning so much about...well, me. It’s so cool.”

“Alright everyone, I think it’s time to start heading in for the night,” Nami said, clapping her hands together sharply.

“What? But it’s still early.”

“We should give Lujin an opportunity to explore without us around,” Robin said, standing up and dusting off her long skirt.

“Awwww...alright,fine.”

“Goodnight, Lujin. Don’t stay up too late, ok?”

“Ok, I won’t. Thanks, guys.”

The rest of the crew got up and started making their way inside, leaving the new fusion alone out on the darkening deck.

Lujin walked to the prow of the ship and took a deep breath. They were right- he did have a lot of exploring to do. But surely that could wait just a little bit longer.

First, he wanted to watch the sun set.

Chapter Text

Hey there, everyone! My name is M, and I'm here to spend a little extra time blathering about One Piece fusions. Let's just jump right into it, shall we?

First things first- let's talk about NAMES.

Naming the fusions in this fic was easily one of my biggest challenges. Sometimes characters' names just don't mesh well together, and you end up stuck trying to pick between two equally bad options. Simple, two syllable names like Luffy, Zoro, and Nami are pretty easy to work with, it's not those ones that gave me trouble. The worst ones were Brook, Law, Chopper, and Franky, hands down. And the worst of the worst of the worst was trying to put those together. I'm looking at you, Broocho.

I also spent a lot of time worrying about the Japanese aspect of all the names in this fic. Not even just the fusion names and whether or not they'd even be pronounceable in Japanese (spoiler- some of them Really Aren't), but also all the gosh darn suffixes and nicknames floating around. Especially with Law. Being completely honest, I can't remember who, if anyone, actually refers to him by name in canon and not as just 'Torao', which itself is a nickname which doesn't really work in English the way it does in Japanese. It gave me such a headache, let me tell you...by the end of the fic you'll notice that pretty much everyone just calls him 'Law', because I just sorta gave up. Also note the fact that hardly ever does anyone refer to a fusion with an honorific suffix.

To those of you who commented saying you enjoyed the stupid names like Chonky and Fluffy...you guys are a real boost to my self esteem, and you have my undying gratitude.

As for the chapter names, those were no trouble at all! I pulled all of those from a different, abandoned project, so I actually had all of them ready to go before I even started this fic. I originally wrote them down not for any sort of plot reasons, but just to kind of describe the vibe that I got from the friendship between each pair, if that makes any sense. They're just aesthetics, that's all. Some of them I'm really quite proud of. Only five of them were altered or changed outright for the purposes of this fic (I just counted).

*Note: Chovi's chapter, Sandcastles and Snowmen, was originally mislabeled when I published it. But I caught it eventually, and it's now fixed.

As part of that discarded project, I also wrote little aesthetic chapter names for a bunch of other pairs, most notably Jinbei & the rest of the crew. Here's a list of some of em, in case anybody's interested:

Jinbei & Zoro: Kelp Forest
Jinbei & Nami: Stormbringers
Jinbei & Usopp: Sunken Treasure
Jinbei & Sanji: Fishsticks (I would probably change this one if I were really writing it alszjsaslks)
Jinbei & Chopper: Sunbathing
Jinbei & Robin: Walking on the Beach
Jinbei & Franky: Tidetamers
Jinbei & Brook: Seeing is Believing

There isn't one for Jinbei & Law, but if I had to make one up real quick I'd name it, uhhh... let's see, they're both former Shichibukai...they're both very goal-oriented...uh...I don't know, I'll come up with something eventually.

There is actually one for Law & Vivi though, for some reason. It's called Think Big. There's a couple of extra Vivi ones too:

Vivi & Robin: Violets and Morning Glories (this was the one that was very nearly included in the final draft by accident)
Vivi & Franky: In the Wind
Vivi & Brook: Singing in the Rain

The reason that none of those Vivi ones were included is because she hasn't actually met Robin, Franky, or Brook in canon yet, and I didn't want to make any assumptions about how they'd interact. Although, if I have to wait much longer for Robin and Vivi to meet again, this time as the people they actually are instead of members of Baroque Works, I'm going to go CRAZY, I swear. There's almost nothing I want more.

 

Speaking of fusions that didn't quite make the final draft...

The focus of this fic was specifically Strawhat fusions, but that doesn't mean that platonic fusion outside of the Strawhats doesn't exist! And it definitely doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about it, haha. I've gotten a fair amount of questions from readers about different fusions, too (I love all of you so much), and I'll try to address all of those here...

Let's talk about sibling fusions, shall we? A topic near and dear to my heart. Found families are something I care about very, very much, and Oda-sensei has blessed us with a whole mess of them in One Piece. I am 112% sure that Luffy has fused with both Ace and Sabo in the past. When they were kids I'm sure they fused a lot. As to how stable those fusions were, that's anybody's guess. I'd also bet good money that they've fused more recently, too, whenever they cross paths. As adults, they're rock solid. I imagine fusing is good for both Luffy and Sabo, as a sort of coping mechanism after losing Ace (SOB). Other good sibling fusions on this list include:

Nami and Nojiko. Oooohhh, I bet she's a beautiful fusion too. A lady in overalls and high heels, haha!

Franky and Iceberg. Not maybe the most stable, but a dedicated and loyal fusion, through and through.

Aaaand Zoro and Perona (Don't fight me on this one, ok, they're brother and sister). The ultimate goth/jock fusion!

Then there are fusion pairs in which neither member is a Strawhat! Both romantic and platonic in nature. Basically any two people who have a strong connection and a good enough reason can fuse, so the possibilities are endless.

Kid & Killer. Sabo & Koala. Rayleigh & Shakky. Rayleigh & Roger! Vivi & Koza. Koby & Helmeppo. Any combo of the marine admirals, which is a horrifying thought, but there's no rule that enemies can't fuse too. Big Mom's kids probably fuse with each other all the time as an offensive tactic. Members of CP9 , too. I don't really think the Vinsmokes would be much good at it, though, since they spend all their time being emotionless and awful to literally everyone.

A couple of people have raised the question of triple fusions, and here's what I think about those: theoretically? Possible, but your chances of achieving and maintaining stability drop dramatically as soon as you add in that third person. Trying to eat lunch and two of your components like mustard, but one doesn't? Boom, all three separate instantly. So while I could be convinced to entertain the possibility of triples fusing under situations of intense pressure, it's hard for me to picture them lasting long in a mundane setting.

It's also in my notes that, way back in chapter 13, someone asked me about Klabautermann fusions, which is a super interesting concept! I've had plenty of time to think about it, and this is the conclusion I've arrived at: since Klabautermann don't really have physical forms most of the time, a fusion with one of them would be less of a fusion and more of a ghost possession type of situation. If your human friend starts acting a little funny, but they don't look any different? There might be a Klabautermann in their head, talking to them. That's what I came up with, and that's what I'm sticking with.

 

Final Thoughts

This fic took me just over 9 months to complete. The document I wrote it on is 155 pages long. It's definitely the most ambitious thing I've ever attempted, and I am really proud to have finished it. There were some frustrating moments, but overall I had a lot of fun with it!

I absolutely ADORE talking with the readers, and so many of you have left me so many wonderful comments throughout this thing. You guys are the ones who kept me going! Thank you! A special thanks to those who sent me fanart- I would literally die for you, I hope you know that.

Reminder that you can find me on both tumblr (https://highly-opinionated-nerd.tumblr.com/) and twitter (https://twitter.com/WillowRose26015). I post updates for any new fanfictions I write on both those sites!

Please don't hesitate to ask me questions or tell me about your own fusion headcanons- in fact, please do, I would love to hear them!

And now, once and for all, let me just say...thank you for reading my work!!!

-M <3