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One Piece: Shattered Faith

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One Piece: Shattered Faith- Prologue


One Piece © Eiichiro Oda

William Henley and Flora © HatOnFire/Me

Read and review, but please be gentle. It's my first fanfic, after all!


Dark Grey. The entire island is covered by the nighttime atmosphere. The moon isn't coming out due to the gloomy clouds blocking part of the sky.

The only light that can cover this island is the one shining around this marine base. It's got everything one would expect of it.

Peculiarly, the entire base has walls that almost look like a castle. The outer defensive walls look to be about forty feet tall, with some cannons sticking out of the walls. The main building is three times the height of the walls, and has G-13 imprinted in the midsection. Next to it is a building half its size, and has multiple barred windows, indicating it as a detention center.

Guards with rifles in arms, patrolling the inside of the base, the outer walls, especially the jungle. Also, the top of the towers have spotlights shining light on the ground moving in a random pattern. No one is getting in or out tonight.

Security is pretty tight, though that's because of the pirate they just recently put in that building.

"He is a real troublemaker, so we must remain vigilant!" The captain of the guard shouted to the group of marines standing in formation.

With collective cries of "SIR, YES SIR!" from the troops, they dutifully returned to their stationed posts and squads.

Inside the third floor the detention block, there are a few guards walking around the place, but there are no prisoners in the cells. That is, except one.

His black hair is in disarray, his face has a few bruise marks, the most noticeable being a black right eye. A bandage placed on his left cheek, directly under his scar. He was wearing a purple vest and blue shorts. He usually has a bright smile, however, he isn't smiling. He currently has a pair of handcuffs clamped to his wrists behind his back.

He is very well-known individual, but without his straw hat, you could never the difference. He has a name, one that spells out trouble to anyone who crosses his path.

His name is... Monkey D. Luffy. And he looks like he just went through the worst days of his life.

How did all this happen? We have to go back a week or so in time to find the answer...


HatOnFire Presents...

One Piece: Shattered Faith

XXX


The last time Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates were heard of, they have recently defeated the notorious pirate, "Golden Lion" Shiki, stopped his plans to destroy the East Blue, and rescued Nami when she joined his crew. Luffy said that he trusted her in the past, but now, he doesn't know what to think of her.

You see, he felt betrayed because of what she said in the tone dial Shiki gave her. She said that the crew would have no chance against him because of how badly they got beaten by him. To Luffy, that means that she doesn't have the same faith he has in her. He decides to fight Shiki again anyway, to get her back, but is still sore over what she did.

The truth was, Nami wanted him and the crew to come back and save her. Luffy wanted to hear the message again, but she didn't want him to out of embarrassment, which led to the tone dial sinking into the sea. He hasn't gotten over that for a few days, but that wasn't enough to completely lose trust in her.

No, how that happens comes a few days after the fight with the Golden Lion Pirates.

XXX

Three Days Earlier...

XXX

It was yet another typical, but boring day out in the Grand Line. The Straw Hat Pirates had escaped a real storm, but that's nothing special. After all, this has been a regular thing since they first entered.

At this moment, the Thousand Sunny was traveling to an island that they spotted. It wasn't the island they were looking for, but this meant more supplies for the crew. Besides, Luffy found its eternal pose on a beach from some random island. He mentioned finding it a few months after he did, which got the poor guy a beating from Nami, saying that he should say stuff like that at the moment, not put it off. It could have been worse, since he only got a black eye, swollen lips, and had to have five bandages cover his cranium. (Wait a second...)

Zoro was weightlifting as usual. He was doing pretty well in despite of the wounds he received from Kuma at Thriller Bark. At the moment, he only had his black pants and shoes on, currently shirtless. His bright red T-shirt was set down next to his three swords. His sweat was flowing down his well-toned, tanned skin and chiseled abs. His notable scar could definitely be seen.

Robin was making occasional glances of him in action while catching up on her books under an umbrella. She was wearing a red lace dress with black spots patterned all over it.

Meanwhile, Franky was at the helm steering their ship to the island. He was wearing a speedo and a unique green tropical shirt, wrenches printed on the shirt in place of the palm tree design.

"Just a few more minutes, everyone, and we'll be there!" Franky shouted.

"Whatever," Zoro mumbled, currently on his 2,483rd lift.

"Yo-Ho-Ho-Ho~!" Brook chortled cheerfully, walking up the stairway to the helm, yearning for a glimpse of the island from the front. He was wearing a navy blue coat with a whitish-gold vest underneath it, and dark blue pants. He also had a blue tricorn hat that fitted perfectly around his afro.

"You thinking about something funny, Skeleton-Bro?" Franky asked.

"Not at all, Mr. Franky," the skeleton man replied. "I was merely thinking about how great it is to be aboard this ship."

"Yeah, these guys sure have been through a lot," Franky said. "Heck, we each have been through something..."

Usopp climbed down from the Crow's Nest, wearing a light blue dress shirt and blue pants.

"The island looks nice," the sniper said. "Hopefully, we won't have to run into some vicious wild animals!"

"What? We'll run into some wild animals on the island?" Chopper questioned as he held a fishing pole over the side, quivering at the idea of a giant bear rising up from a bush with red eyes. The doctor's attire consisted of a white dress shirt with a blue tie, and his maroon shorts.

"No, no, of course not! I said we wouldn't!" Usopp quickly backpedaled as to not frighten the toddler-sized reindeer.

"Oh, phew! That's good!" Chopper felt relieved. He didn't want to have to dodge animal after animal again, not after that incident a few days ago.

Sanji then came out of the kitchen with a drink on a tray. He was wearing a lavender shirt, a blue tie, and formal black pants.

"Here you go, Robin, I hope this is to your liking~!" Sanji exclaimed, with hearts flying around him as he presented it to Robin.

"Thank you, Sanji," Robin said, removing the glass from the tray and taking a drink from it. "Sparkling water mixed with tangerine juice. Very good work."

"I live to serve as a slave of your everlasting love, Robin~!" Sanji, developing hearts in his eyes, started to swirl around in a tornado, hearts flying in motion. "Love is a hurricane and I'm caught in the storm~!"

"Hmph. With luck, you might get blown over the side and we'll have to carry on without you," Zoro quipped, developing a tick mark on his head.

"What did you say, Moss-head?"

"Are you deaf, Dartboard? You heard me!"

"All right! Knock it off!" Nami shouted from the observation deck. She came up to the railing and glared down on the two. She was wearing a teal shirt that had gold colored words and numbers saying 'BEING 18', with the berries' symbol replacing the B. She was also wearing silver shorts that fit rather nicely on her.

"Tch. Whatever..." Zoro grumbled. He went and put his shirt on and equipped his swords back on his personage.

"Nami is beautiful, even when she's angry at Zoro!" Sanji continued to swoon, completely forgetting his verbal scuffle with the swordsman.

"She's angry with you too, dude..." Usopp remarked.

"It seems as though we can't have peace for a few seconds when those two argue," Brook mused. "Is that normal?"

"Mm-hmm, it is," Franky responded. "There isn't a cure for that, unless you count bashing their heads together as one."

Brook sweat-dropped. "Not something I'd be proud of doing, but when you put it that way..."

While Franky was steering the ship, he realized something. The past few days have been quiet, but not because they haven't been attacked by marines or pirates, and not because of the rainstorm they went through. It's because his captain has ceased to cause another incident.

"Hey, Bones," Franky asked. "Is it just me, or is Luffy being less... you know, himself?"

"Hmm?" Brook questioned. "I thought being quiet and sitting on the Lion's head was normal for him," he then responded.

Franky had a question mark rising behind him. 'Straw Hat's been quiet and we didn't even notice,' he thought. 'Wonder what's crawling into his skull, assuming he still has something in there.'

A person then came climbing off the figurehead and down the steps to the front deck. He was wearing the usual, a red vest, blue shorts, and a straw hat on his head. It was Luffy.

"So, we're coming up to an island now, huh?" Luffy said with a thoughtful expression.

"Oh, uh, yeah, Straw Hat Bro!" Franky stammered, until he found his heading. "We're getting closer now. Soon we'll disembark!"

"Okay!" Luffy shouted, his cheshire grin suddenly returning to his face. He then went to the grassy deck, getting ready to jump on land.

"Well, he's back to being chipper," Brook said. "Almost like how I was when I was a lad filled with vigor. Though I'm filled with nothing now that I'm all bones! Yo-Ho-Ho-Ho~! Skeleton joke!"

"Yeah, sure..." the cyborg retorted. He was still in thought, wondering how quickly Luffy changed his character in that moment. He decided that something was up.

XXX

Around that time, something was in the jungle, maneuvering from tree to tree. The figure was able to elude the panthers trying to catch him.

He then came to a cliff, where a bright pink flower was blooming and sparkling. The figure was wearing a brown cloak and hood, masking his appearance, but he then removed the hood, revealing himself.

He had red hair, looking similar to a mullet, but with bangs on his front. There were spikes drooping on the front and sides, looking almost like spider legs. His eyes were brown, and he had a scar on his left cheek, looking like a left parenthesis.

He does have a name, and a title to go with it.

WILLIAM HENLEY. Chemical Scientist on the Run.

He knelt down to the flower and took a sniff.

"This is the one," he said. "At long last, the hard part's over."

Henley then pulled out a picture, then looked to the sky. The picture showed him wearing a grey jacket with a cerulean blue shirt underneath, holding hands with a girl, both smiling. She was as short as he is, wearing a magenta shirt with a white daisy flower with a few petals falling, imprinted on it. She had brown hair and green eyes, pretty rare for a person to have.

"Flora," he said. "Hang in there a little longer, my sweet. I'm coming back soon." He smiled softly.

Little did the young man know, that something was going to happen, and he would plague the captain's mind, setting in motion a series of troublesome events...

TO BE CONTINUED…


So it begins... The first of many challenges for the crew, particularly two members. One thing's for sure, the journey to One Piece will take a different route unlike any other! Stay tuned!

Chapter Text

Chapter 1- Exploration


 

One Piece © Eiichiro Oda

William Henley and Flora © HatOnFire/Me



The Thousand Sunny has docked on the beach-side of the island. The reason for this was to not attract much attention.

"Alright!" Nami shouted, garnering everyone's attention to her. "We have to be cautious here, since we're getting closer to the first half of the Red Line. There could be some marines patrolling the island, after all."

"Understood, Ms. Nami," Brook responded. "I'll keep a tight lip, though I don't have one anymore! Yo-Ho-Ho-Ho~!"

Nami groaned at the pun. 'Well, at least he isn't asking me to show anything this time,' she thought.

"By the way, could you please tell me the color of your--" 

*SMACK!* Brook attempted to ask Nami something, only to get kicked from the back of his head by an angry Sanji, of course.

"What is the matter with you, dammit?!" Sanji roared. "Why do you keep asking that question?!"

"Really, Brook," Usopp chimed in. "Give it up, it's never gonna happen."

"But I must try," Brook said, attempting to pick himself up and rubbing the bruise mark made by the cook. "It's a great mystery that constantly plagues my mind!"

"Mystery?" Luffy questioned. "It doesn't sound like a mystery, though. Is it really important?"

"Well, if you think ab--" 

*SMACK!* *SMACK!* Brook attempted to continue, but got kicked again by Sanji. Unfortunately for Luffy, he too, wasn't safe from the lovesick man.

"Don't encourage him, idiot!" Sanji shouted again. "And you, don't even think about following him either! Rubber-brained jackass!"

Nami could only sweat-drop at the scene that unfolded before her. She then cleared her throat to get back everyone's attention.

*AHEM!* "Anyway, as I was saying," she spoke again. "We have to keep a low profile, so I think it's best if we stay in small groups and alternate going into town at different times."

"But Big Sis," Franky interjected. "We already have more than enough supplies to last us three weeks. We don't need to get any more than we already have."

"That's true, Franky," Robin responded. "However, considering that anything can happen in the Grand Line, maybe it would be best to pick up some extra accessories, in case of emergency."

"Oh yeah," the cyborg sheepishly grinned.

"Well, I could use some more weights," Zoro said.

"Maybe I can buy an extra barrel of gunpowder," Usopp muttered to himself. "Or two. Maybe even three."

"I could buy some more ingredients," Sanji thought.

"Remember Chopper," Zoro says, "When the Dartboard says ingredients, he means rat poison that he can put in our food. Whatever you do, beware of his hazardous cuisine."

"Okay, I'll be careful," Chopper replied.

"What do you think you're doing, Moss-head?!" Sanji yelled, and boy, did something get under his skin.

"Just trying to keep him from become the emergency food supply, Pirate A!" Zoro snapped back.

"Are you still on THAT?! I have a bounty too, jackass!"

"Oh right, I almost forgot about that poster with your 'real' face on it," the swordsman then sneered.

"THAT IS NOT MY REAL FACE! IT IS NOT ME!" It was in this moment where fire started enveloping Sanji and fused with his very being. He was ready to fight Zoro again, but before the two could exchange blows... 

*BAM!* Both of their head got bashed in together by Nami, clearly tired of their quarreling. She took a deep breath until Luffy spoke up, after having a bandage put on his swelling bump.

"Not that I care or anything, but who's going to town first?" He asked. 

"I think me and Robin will go first," Nami responded. "There's no way that you guys can avoid trouble for ten seconds."

"In their defense," Robin spoke up. "Trouble always manages to find them as well as us."

"Thank you, Robin," Usopp said, then grinned. "You can't really blame us for having targets on our backs. I mean, with what happened with Shiki, there's no chance for us to avoid trouble here."

Luffy face then turned blue. He walked over to the railing and saw the jungle in front of him.

'Shiki,' he thought, glaring into emptiness. 

"Yeah!" Chopper smiled. "Looking back, the place was frightening, Luffy knocking Shiki down was so awesome!" 

"Chopper, could you do me a favor and never talk about him again?"

The reindeer looked behind him to see who said that. It was Luffy, with his hat masking his eyes, though anyone could tell he was anything but happy.

"Huh?" Chopper questioned. 

"Just don't. I don't ever want to hear that name again."

"Umm... Okay."

The crew was silent. That adventure must have taken it's toll on the captain. How could it not?

"Well," Nami broke the silence, making that all too familiar smile. "No point thinking about anything trivial."

This made Zoro frown. 'How does telling Luffy that you believed in him despite getting wrecked by Shiki count as trivial?' He thought to himself. 'When she gets back from her trip, I'll give it to her straight, that halfhearted woman.' He knows that she's grateful to Luffy for saving her, even though what she said on that tone dial hurt his feelings. Why won't she admit it?

"Shall we go then, Ms. Navigator?" Robin asked, referring back to her title.

"Sure, but one more thing," the navigator responded back, turning to the guys. "If you want to check out the jungle, that's fine, but get back to the ship if you see anyone with a blue anchor on their shirts, got it?"

"Okay, so we don't fight the marines if we find them here, right?" Franky questioned. "It's a bummer, but you ain't wrong about this. We can't have anybody stumbling onto our ship after what we've been through."

"Don't worry," Usopp said. "We'll be careful. Nothing in that place is gonna bother us. Not as long as 'The Great Captain Usopp' is here to protect you!"

"I feel safe," Brook snidely remarked.

"Well then, Usopp," Sanji smiled. "I can count on you to give Zoro and Luffy their baby bottles in case something scares the crap out of them."

"SCREW YOU, CURLY-BROW!" Luffy and Zoro shouted angrily. 

The crew became surprised afterwards. They expected Zoro to insult Sanji with that name, but Luffy too? When did he develop a temper? Besides that, Zoro looked more perplexed than the others over this. It felt like a minute passed since that double outburst, until Luffy sheepishly spoke.

"This is awkward," he said. It didn't take long, but the captain put on a grin as he climbed on the railing. Then, he jumped off, and landed into the sand. He ran across the beach, until he stopped, looked back to the ship, and shouted back to his crew.

"Usopp! Chopper! Brook!" He yelled. "You guys want to tag along?!"

The three he called out did a double take when they realized Luffy was asking for them. They immediately went up to the railing and prepared to jump. After all, they didn't want to make him angry.

"We're coming!" Usopp and Chopper both cried. They both jumped off the railing as well and landed on the beach. Well, Chopper landed on his feet, while Usopp face-planted into the sand.

"So am I!" Brook yelled. "High time I stretch these bones!" He then jumped high into the air and landed on his feet.

"Hey, Luffy!" Nami shouted. "Make sure you get back before it gets dark! I'm not going in that place to find you if you get lost!"

"Don't sweat it!" He responded. "We might get back before you do!"

Nami made a smirk. 'That'll be the day,' she thought. 'The day that idiot gets here before me is the day all hell breaks loose.' Franky set up the gangplanks for the girls to walk down.

"I guess this means we stay here and guard the ship," Zoro said.

"We won't be gone long," Robin said as she and Nami walked down the planks.

"See you later, my sweet beauties~!" Sanji swooned yet again, hearts flying.

Luffy then lifted up his hat to reveal a pair sparkling eyes. 

"Okay~! I'll see you soon~!" he shouted, sounding like a girl just to piss off Sanji. It worked, and managed to earn some laughs from the others.

"THAT'S NOT FUNNY, RUBBER ASS! I WAS TALKING TO MY LADIES!" That only made everyone laugh harder, especially the women.

"Oh Wow!" Nami laughed. "He actually went there!"

"Nice one, 'Luffyko'!" Usopp laughed, with tears in his eyes.

"Shi-Shi-Shi-Shi!" Luffy just beamed. 'Maybe this day won't be such a drag after all,' he thought.

"See you guys later!" He shouted to everyone, as he, Usopp, Chopper, and Brook went into the jungle, oblivious to what they will find.

XXX

"Look! A golden beetle!"


Usopp pointed in the group's general direction, specifically a tree in front of them. Clinging to the tree, there was a golden hercules beetle. The bug then flew off into another part of the jungle. The Childish Quartet admired the flying beetle, then moved on.

"There are great sights to behold here!" Brook exclaimed. "But I don't have eyes, so I can't behold them! Yo-Ho-Ho-Ho~!"

"Yo-Ho-Ho-Ho!" Chopper chortled, laughing and grinning.

"Shi-Shi-Shi-Shi!" Luffy laughed. Then, he had a thought. "Ooh-Ooh! Maybe we'll get to see some animals here too! I'm hoping to see some lions!"

"ACK!" Usopp cried. "Luffy, please don't say that! I don't wanna be lion food!"

"I thought you would protect us, Mr. Usopp," Brook remarked, quoting what the sniper said before entering the jungle.

"W-W-Well, y-y-ye-yeah!" Usopp stammered. "I did say something like that." He nervously chuckled as he said that. 

"Maybe Sanji mixed up who he thought needed a baby bottle," Luffy joked.

"Come on, Luffy," Usopp said with comical tears. "You're really hurting my ego here."

Something was moving behind them, however. They took to the trees to avoid detection.

"Mr. Luffy," Brook asked. "You have never been more quick-witted until today. Did something happen?"

"No," Luffy simply said. "I'm the same as I was. Why?"

"Just asking. I thought you've changed since the incident with Roger's rival." 

"Huh? Uhh... Who?"

"You know, that man you fought. Shi-"

"Brook!" Chopper yelled. He then switched to Heavy Point to try and whisper into Brook's ear. His bone ear, since he doesn't have an ear. (Skull Joke!)

"What did you want to say, Mr. Chopper?" The skeleton lowered himself so Chopper could whisper to him.

"You shouldn't talk about Shiki around Luffy anymore," he whispered.

"Why?"

"Because I don't want to hear any mention of him," Luffy said, clearly tired of repeating himself.

"I'm sorry," Brook said softly, frowning. 

"It's alright, Brook," the captain spoke again. "I'm just sick of him, especially after what he did. I hate him."

Of course he was sick of this. He even dreamed of his fight against the 'Flying Pirate.' Long story short, Shiki takes Nami, which leads to Luffy defeating him, and then falling into a void. It's been like this for a few days now, and he hated every moment of it.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Usopp asked, concerned for the captain.

"What's there to talk about? He's down. He won't come after us again. It's over."

"Captain," Brook interjected with interest. "There are many memories, such as fights, which can stay with you for a lifetime. I think it would be best--"

"WHO GIVES A DAMN WHAT YOU THINK?!" 

The group was shocked by the captain's outburst. Brook was sweating, fearing for his 'second' life. Usopp was so surprised, he could barely speak. In fact, he couldn't speak. As for the youngest, Chopper, he looked like he was about to cry. He knew Luffy would have a temper around people who annoyed him, but never thought he would be on the other end. It took only a sniffle from him for Luffy to realize his mistake. 

"Chopper, guys," Luffy solemnly began to apologize. "I'm really sorry. I just... I don't want to talk about this anymore. I'm getting torn apart just thinking about it."

"*Sniffle* Luffy," Chopper's eyes were starting to well up. Luffy quickly picked up the toddler-sized reindeer and hugged him close.

"We're sorry too, Luffy," Usopp spoke up. "We only wanted to help you."

"I know," the captain said. "I just want this to end already."

*GROWL* A sound came from around the whole group.

"Luffy, please tell me that was your stomach," Usopp whispered, starting to grow fearful.

"Nope, it wasn't."

"Is it a predator?" Brook spoke, suddenly regretting going into the jungle.

In that moment, several black blurs appeared from the tree tops, hopping down from branch to branch, until reaching ground level. They were black panthers, vicious ones, at that. If one had time, the group could notice that they would look to be as tall as Brook, maybe taller. An odd thing about them is that they all have quills on their backs. These animals were simply called:

PANTHERPINES.
(A/N: Panthers with porcupine quills. Lazy title, but gets the point across, no pun intended.)

They started to display their fangs, saliva dripping from their tongues as they licked their chops.

"I think there is more than one!" Chopper exclaimed, quickly getting over his crying fit, now completely worried.

"What gave it away?!" Usopp screeched, looking like he was ready to soil himself out of fear.

"Wow! So cool!" Luffy shouted. He looked at the beasts with stars in his eyes. Until the panthers turned around and fired their quills at the group. 

"EEP!" The cowardly sniper squeaked. "This is it, we're all dead. We survived up to this point, but we're all dead!"

"No! I don't wanna die!" Chopper cried out.

"I can't die!" Brook exclaimed. "Besides, I'm already dead! What good will dying again do?"

"Usopp! Chopper! Brook! Get behind me!" Luffy commanded. The three did just that, quickly too. Luffy counted the panthers. There looked to be seven of them, or nine, or twenty. He just realized that he isn't so good at numbers, but now wasn't the best time to worry about that!

"Guys," the Straw Hat softly, "As soon as I have their attention, run like hell. I'll hold them off as long as I can."

"Huh?!" the group replied. 

"But, Mr. Luffy...!" Brook attempted to speak against this, but...

"Brook!" Luffy seethed, jerking his head back behind him. "Take Usopp and Chopper with you and run back to the ship! Protect each other in whatever way you can! Captain's orders!"

The gentleman became silent. 'Captain's orders'. It wasn't the first time he heard that phrase, let alone use them. He knew that the moment the captain spoke those commanding words, the decision was final. Luffy then cracked a surefire grin to his group.

"Don't worry, I won't die. Not as long as I have a dream and people to go back to."

In this moment, Brook felt his worries slip off his shoulders. He became certain that his new captain would get through this.

"Alright," he said. I'll do that. I'll come back with Zoro and Sanji, they can help."

"Who knows?" The captain answered back. "Maybe there won't be anything left of these guys to fight when you show up!"

With that, Brook darted off in a direction, with Usopp running behind. Chopper switched to Walk Point, got into a sprinting stance, but looked back to Luffy.

"I hope you know what you're doing, Luffy."

And just like that, the reindeer took off like a shot from a cannon. The pantherpines attempted to give chase, but Luffy made sure some of those spiny hairballs wouldn't go anywhere.

"Gum-Gum Whip!" Luffy twirled on his right leg as his left stretched out, letting his foot strike one of the big cats across the face. This was able to knock him off his feet and send him crashing into some of his group, but more were on the way. A cluster of them attempted to rush the kid and maul him, but...

"Gum-Gum Gatling!" Luffy then launched his fists at a rapid rate, jamming them into their faces snarling faces.

While that worked, a few of the panthers were able to circumvent the captain and ran out into the jungle, possibly after the ones who ran away.

'Crap!' the captain cursed in his head. 'I can't play around with these guys! I have to take them down now!" While thinking, he jumped backwards as one of the felines pounced to slash him, and missed. Then, on his left, two of them have turned around, and launched some of their quills on his direction. He dodged, but one of them hit his right side. As expected, he seethed at the pain as he pulled it out.

"This is why I hate needles," he said. It was like that one time Nami poked him in the eye with one, on the day they first met, no doubt. 'Why am I thinking about something that happened, like, years ago?' He didn't know why, but before he could ponder further...

*HISS!* The pantherpines fired their quills again, and Luffy jumped and rolled, all without a single spine puncturing his skin this time.

"Gum-Gum...!" Luffy stretched his arm forward, looking like he was going to hit a panther, and then... 

"PISTOL SHOTGUN!" He grabbed his extending arm, and twanged it like a guitar string, allowing his fist to strike the big cats multiple times. Three of them came from the heavens and surrounded Luffy. They should have known they were no match for him in that moment.

"Gum-Gum Stamp! Gum-Gum Pistol! Gum-Gum Battle Axe!" First came a foot, then it was a fist, then it was the heel of the other foot, and the three challengers simply fell to the ground. He ran to a random direction, thinking it was the way back to the ship.

"Brook probably led Usopp and Chopper back to the ship already, so I should finish up here and go!" He not only didn't know where he was going, but he had some company too, as he was being stalked by the big spiny cats. "Can't you just leave me alone?!" He shouted. He sent a fist at one of them, knocking him off his feet.

Luffy looked behind him as he was running. There were four left. Not a problem.

XXX

 

A murky green liquid was poured into a test tube.

"Almost done," Henley said. "The perfect cure that will save you, Flora." He looked to a strange device, which looked like a pocket watch. The long hand is pointing to ten, but the shorter one is on the three. There is also a small circle replacing the six, with an arrow pointing to the circle and writing saying; 'daily ailments remaining'. The needle was pointing to the three.

"Thirty left for her to use 'til the worst comes," He said. "Not much time, but I can make the cure the minute before death. No pressure." He slightly chuckled after saying that, like he faced slim odds before. But the truth was, he was unsure of whether he can beat the clock and get back to this person he is risking his life for. And that thought scared him worse than the hell he was subjugated to over the years. And he worked hard to face his fears, or rather, BECOME the fear.

And now, he will do anything to accomplish his mission here. Even if he has to put anyone in the worst scenario he can conjure and bring to fruition.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Chapter Text

Chapter 2- Rumble In the Jungle


One Piece © Eiichiro Oda

William Henley © HatOnFire/Me


At the Sunny, only Zoro, Sanji, and Franky were waiting around, and on guard. There was nothing special going on, not counting the usual fights Zoro and Sanji were having.

But as far as Franky was concerned, it was just another stop at an island in the Grand Line. All they have to do is leave when they get a new Log Pose that points to the next island. Only this time, it depends on the reaction of the pose leading to Fish-Man Island.

"WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY, CRAP COOK?!"

'Assuming we're even going to get there at the rate those two are yelling,' the shipwright thought to himself. 'Maybe I should've went with my other bros.'

XXX

Meanwhile, in the jungle...

"Ahhhhhhh!" Usopp shouted as he, Chopper, and Brook ran for dear life with six pantherpines hunting them. They wanted to dine on a human instead of animals this time.

"They're still on us!" Chopper cried as he continued to scamper at the quickest rate his legs are taking him. When it comes to running, he and Brook excel, though only in Walk Point in the former's case, and in the latter's case, he is very light with no skin or muscle on him. As for Usopp, he is having trouble keeping up, and is growing tired from the chase.

"Mr. Chopper!" Brook shouted to his fellow man, or in this case, reindeer. "Mr. Usopp's failing to keep up!"

"I can see that!" Chopper exclaimed. "What'll we do?!"

"We have to go back for him and fight those huge cats!"

"Are you crazy?! They'll tear us apart!"

Suddenly, Usopp tripped over a loose branch and fell onto the grass beneath him.

"HELP!" Usopp cried out as he struggled to get back up, with the panthers just feet away from lunging at him.

Brook was the first to react, turning around and dashing back from the opposite direction. While running, he drew his sword hidden away inside his cane. In that moment, he decided he was going to stand his ground for his friends.

'The captain gave me the responsibility to protect them,' he thought. 'And I don't intend to go back on my word now! I swore not to leave anyone behind ever again, and I WON'T!'

He leaped high in the air, jumping over a large tree root and landing on his feet, darting forward again until the Usopp and the snarling panther were in his sights, despite having no eyes. The panther pounced, intending to strike, but...

"Gavotte Bond en Avant!" Brook charged forward, his sword extending, managed to knock the panther backward, leaving a hole in its jugular. "I hate to do this to an animal of the hunt, but I can't allow my friend to die on my watch!"

"Brook!" Usopp shouted. "Thanks! Wait, there's more!"

As quickly as he shouted, he pointed some more coming their way. One of them managed to get behind the two and poised their quills to attack the two from behind.

"Don't even try it!" Chopper shouted as he switched into Heavy Point and slammed his fists on the other panther's skull.

"Great work, Chopper!" Brook cheered, before turning his attention to the remaining panthers. "Now let us resume with this fight!"

"Well, good luck to you guys!" Usopp shouted, climbing up a tree during the action. "Let me know how it all goes!"

"WHAT?!" Chopper and Brook exclaimed in shock. "COME BACK HERE, DAMMIT!"

The pantherpines all sweat-dropped at the scene unfolding before them. Most of their group got beaten up, and these people are arguing right now? 'Let's just shoot them all with our quills and hope they die, the noisy bunch,' is what they would say if they could speak, but since they couldn't, they'll just shoot. They all got into shooting position, but Usopp was quick to notice.

"Guys, look out!" Usopp quickly got out his Kabuto and prepped to fire. "You cats love you quills, don't ya?! Well, here's some of my own! Brook! Chopper! Get behind a tree!" The two quickly did as they were told, and hid behind a nearby tree. Next, the sniper loaded a green pellet in the slingshot and launched it out at his targets.

"Blasting Cactus Star!" The pellet exploded on impact with the ground, and the panther were covered in several small quills. They were greatly agitated as a result, and they quickly fled. All but one, that is. "Chopper, hold that one down and keep its mouth open!"

"What?!" Chopper questioned. "There's no way I can hold down a panther twice my size!"

"Come on! It's not that tall!"

"You say that because you're up in the tree! You hold it down!"

"I can't! I promise you I can do much better good here than down there! Do it!"

"Grr! Fine!" Chopper complied in the end. He rushed to the pantherpine and grabbed it by the scruff of his neck, but this cat was not going to bow down to a smaller animal that can turn into a man. The two struggled, but Chopper was able to put him in a headlock. During this time, Usopp climbed down the tree to have a better shot.

"Here we go! Special Tabasco Star!" Usopp shouted, firing a pellet in the big cat's mouth. Chopper let go, and ran off in Walk Point. The panther started to feel incredibly hot, and comedically shot a stream of fire from its mouth. Still burning, the cat was forced to run away to the jungle.

"Yes!" Usopp cheered. "That'll teach you to mess with 'The Great Captain Usopp' and his loyal followers!"

"Good work, Mr. Usopp," Brook said. "Now we just have to get a search party to look for our 'true' captain."

"Yeah!" Chopper chirped. "Let's get back to the Sunny and find Luffy!" The two then went back onto the path they were on, which surely led back to the Sunny.

"Hey!" Usopp shouted. "Guys! Don't leave me! I have this I-Can't-Be-Left-Alone-Or-Else-I'll-Die-Syndrome! Guys! Wait!" Usopp then ran like the wind, hoping to catch up with the rest.

XXX

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the jungle...

*HISS!* The pantherpines continued to chase Luffy through the basin, but were having difficulty trying to catch the rubber-man.

"Gum-Gum Rocket!" Luffy grabbed a branch and propelled himself into the air, soaring and escaping the onslaught hunting him. He kept on going, using his arms to swing from tree to tree.

However, that isn't stopping the panthers from chasing him around. They've locked on to his scent, and aren't willing to give up their prey now.

Luffy continued to swing high until he grabbed a broken branch, causing him to hit the ground. Luckily, he wasn't hurt from the impact, thanks in part to being rubber. However, he found himself surrounded yet again.

'At least the guys are safe from harm now,' he thought. 'Now we can end this!'

A pantherpine snuck up on Luffy, but he knew what was coming. Twisting his arms together, he shot his arms out and grabbed the panther, catching it off guard.

"Gum-Gum Hammer!" Luffy then untwisted his arms and sent his captive to the ground, knocking it unconscious. He attempted to knock down another.

"Gun-Gum Pistol!" The captain then shot his fist a panther's face, but that got him agitated.

"Oops." Luffy sweat-dropped.

The Panther jumped on Luffy, successfully pinning him to the ground. Then, the cat tried to bite his head off, but Luffy kept holding him off, struggling to escape his situation.

"Get off of me!" He commanded. But the panther refused to budge. "Fine, I warned you!" Luffy slid further under the cat, narrowly missing his jaw.

"Gum-Gum Volcano!" He put his foot upward and sent it up the cat's gullet, sending him flying up in the air. He would come back down on another one. Only one remaining.

"And here I thought cats land on their feet!" Luffy taunted. "Guess that doesn't apply to spiny ones!"

That got the last one riled up really good. He charged at Luffy and hit him with a headbutt that knocked him out of the jungle and to a cliff. Luffy was able to pull himself up from the impact and ran back to clash with the panther.

XXX

Henley was almost done here. He had his goggles and gloves, and he had the flask over a fire he made. There was some bubbling, and the green liquid overflowed and put out the fire in an instant. Next, he pulled a test tube from a bag strapped around his body. Carefully now, he poured what was in the flask into the test tube until it was about three quarters full. He dumped the rest of the flask's contents in a cup. Despite his hard work, he felt something was amiss.

"The color looks murky," Henley spoke his thoughts. "I think this need a natural sweetener. Maybe a fruit with an abundance of nutritious juice? Can't use an apple, done that already." He pondered as he slowly put the flask in the bag and got out a small cap for the tube. Then, he looked to the trees and stared blankly, oblivious to the action that was happening next to him.

"I've got it!" Henley shouted with joy on his face. "That's the last thing I need! I'm getting closer now! Just one more!" He held out the test tube to the high heavens. He believed that nothing can stop him now. Until...

Luffy continued to struggle to stay on top of the pantherpine. No such luck. He got knocked off and was smacked by a paw, stumbling backwards. Then, the panther turned around shot his quills at Luffy. He dodged with relative ease, the quills missing again. But one of the stray quills kept going. It then went into Henley's left hand, giving him a real shooting pain. That caused him to drop the tube, but luckily, he caught it with his other hand.

"*Phew!* That was a close one!" Henley quipped. Next, he used his mouth to remove the large needle in his hand. He's lucky that it didn't go completely in his hand, it would have been disastrous. He then put the cap that was in his right hand and put it over the nozzle.

"Gum-Gum Rifle!" Luffy spun his right arm around and charged the panther, quickly untwisting his arm, and landing the decisive blow. The panther was knocked down, but got back up, though not without effort. He growled at Luffy, and retreated into the jungle.

"Yeah! Suck it, Cats! Who's the king of the jungle now! WHOO!"

Luffy's shouting got Henley's attention, though not for the better. The redhead calmly put the tube in the bag and put it around him. Next, he walked toward the Straw Hat boy, and punched him in the jaw, wearing a wrathful look as he made the blow. That hit was enough to send him into a tree, knocking it down behind him.

"DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU ALMOST DID?!" Henley shouted, looking irate.

"What was THAT?!" Luffy got up from that, but he looked really pissed, for lack of a better word. "What was that for?!"

"You should know!" Henley shouted back. "You're the one who let the panther attack me!"

"I didn't do anything! I just dodged!"

"So? You let him strike me! ...Wait. You look familiar..."

"Hm?" Luffy questioned.

"Hey, now I remember!" Henley exclaimed, coming to a realization. "You're 'Straw Hat' Luffy! Man, how did I miss that?"

"You know me?"

"Who wouldn't? You took down Enies Lobby with your crew, a train, and a group of men! You defeated Crocodile of the Seven Warlords! You also defeated Arlong in the East Blue, and defeated Shiki, the rival of Gold Roger, the first Pirate King!"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold on a second. First off, how do you know this stuff?"

"The papers, of course!" Henley beamed. "News kind of travels fast! I should also thank you for beating up Arlong."

"You knew him?" Luffy questioned. His stomach turned at hearing the names of some of his greatest enemies, though it was justified.

"Unfortunately, yes." The mystery kid answered honestly. "I never did like the guy."

"Me either." Luffy muttered.

"Anyway, now that I know who you are," Henley said, turning stone cold. "I know what to expect from you when we fight."

"Wait, what?"

"Did you think I would let my guard down around a well-known pirate?" He asked rhetorically. A small, creepy grin was plastered on his face. "What kind of a fool do you take me for?"

"Hold on a second!" Luffy yelled. "I think we got off the wrong foot here!"

"Hardly. Now that you've seen me, you'll try to kill me and take my stuff, as all the other pirates and marines have done!"

"Kill you? Why? I don't even know you. We don't have to do this."

"Yeah, yeah, 'Just give me what I want and you'll live,' yak, yak. I've heard it all before! You people are all the same, where ever I go! You don't care that I'm trying to save someone's life here, you're only interested in yourselves! So, 'Who gives a damn if someone's trying to pay for food for their family? I'll be rich!' or 'If some girlfriend is dying from an illness, whatever! More free stuff for me!' Money's all you're here for, isn't it? ISN'T IT?!"

"W-Wait!" Luffy exclaimed, trying to calm down the mystery person here.

"Enough of this crap!" Henley shouted, shutting Luffy up. "People nowadays are just getting a kick from screwing with my life! My reality! My outlook! You're no different, Straw Hat! But I'm not going to be the victim here!" He then put his hood on, surrendering most of his skull to the shadows. "I will fight for my loved ones' survival, no matter who I have to go up against! A marine! A pirate! A sorry, apathetic human being! Even you! LET'S GO!"

"Great, now this day's gonna get worst..." Luffy mused as the redhead charged straight at him.

XXX

Nami and Robin were walking down a populated street, carrying bags filled with many kinds of clothes they bought. Some of them a little more revealing then the last.

"Impressive," Robin said, while putting on some sunglasses. "You've managed to pilfer four shopping sections while saving about four hundred thousand berries."

"That's just how I roll," Nami beamed. She looked inside the bag, one of the articles of clothing included a purple and green striped sleeveless tank top and an orange skirt, among other things. "I'm a little surprised, though."

"About what?" Robin asked. "Does it have to do with the wooden barrier we passed a while ago?"

"Yeah. What's up with that?"

"I've heard from some locals about that barrier. It's meant to keep some of the predators of this island away from here. The specially colored moss acts as the repellent."

"Repellent?" Nami questioned yet again.

"Yes," Robin responded. "They have very sensitive noses used to track their prey, so someone came up with the idea to block them out. That's where the moss comes in. It's been modified with a scent only animals can smell, and they will be forced to retreat if they inhale a certain amount."

"Oh, so that's what the moss is for. And here I thought the people of this island had a poor taste of decor or something."

"Perhaps it's a good thing we didn't bring Chopper along with us."

"Yeah, poor guy wouldn't be able to take it in here," Nami laughed. She then stopped suddenly in shock and gasped, coming to a realization.

"What is it, Nami?" Robin asked.

"Did... you say there were predators on this island?"

"Yes."

"Oh no. And Luffy took some of the guys into the jungle."

"I wonder if they got mauled and eaten by the pantherpines of the jungle..." Robin mused to herself, in a discernible morbid fashion.

"Ugh, Great!" Nami yelled. "They got in trouble! Again!"

"Well, they never intended to get in trouble, so you can't blame them this time."

"I know, but every time he gets in trouble, it always comes back to hurt us! Makes me want to pummel him sometimes!"

"Isn't it every time?" the archaeologist remarked.

"Huh?"

"Nami, he's obviously been through so much. What happened a few days ago, was no different. He hasn't had the chance to recover." Robin brought up a good point.

"What's your point?" Nami asked. "What are you saying I should do?"

"You could be less harsh on him, for one thing," Robin went on. "You two already haven't been on speaking terms ever since a 'certain dial' went into the ocean."

"HUH?!" Nami quickly blushed. "You're still on that?!"

"And holding it against you." Robin stated, visibly annoyed. "He hasn't been acting his usual self, you know." Robin then sighed, and walked on, forcing Nami to catch up with her.

"Robin, wait!" Nami shouted, matching her walking pace. "I thought he would get over it!"

"In three days? It took him longer to get over what happened at Water 7 with Usopp, and he did some degree of damage to his spirit. I honestly don't think he ever forgave Franky for what he did to Usopp."

"Well, he may not be over it now," Nami mused. "But he will someday! Come next week or so, and that'll be a bad memory for him. But that's not important now! Let's get back to the Sunny and conduct a search party for him."

The two approached the gate as it opened up, showing a scenery of green. As they walked to the shoreline, taking the path to the ship, Robin continued to think.

'I fear that it already is a bad memory, and it has taken root inside his mind.'

XXX

"Hah!" Henley grunted, throwing punch after punch, and kick after kick. So far, he hasn't been able to land a hit on Luffy.

Luffy was able to jump back and avoid the flurry of hits, but just then, his opponent was gone. Disappeared into the air.

'Huh,' Luffy thought. 'I feel like I've seen this move before...' Luffy looked around him. No one was in sight. He walked into the bushes, remaining cautious.

This approach didn't last long, however. He turned around to see a brown-clothed blur appear in the air like an apparition, and strike him across his face.

"Tempest Kick Flail!" Henley sent his right, bare foot into Luffy's cheek, catching him off guard. He appeared again, landing another blow.

"Tempest Kick Ranseur!" This time, while in midair, he jabbed his foot in Luffy's chest, knocking him into a tree, and that made the tree fall over.

"Ugh!" Luffy grunted in pain, clutching his chest and attempted to breath. "You really are tough! How'd you know some of those moves of yours?"

"A great marine taught me some of these!" Henley shouted with pride. "I just made them as non-lethal as I could!"

"So you won't kill anybody, huh?"

"Of course I wouldn't! I was raised better than that! Only cowards kill! Like pirates such as YOU!" Henley charged once again, spinning forward like a ball, with a leg sticking out.

"Tempest Kick War Hammer!" Luffy dodged to the side before the raging boy's heel slammed onto him. All it managed to do is make a hole in the ground. Luffy couldn't keep dodging forever. He has to attack sooner or later, and right now would be good.

"I hate to do this, but..." Luffy said as he stretched his arm out to grab Henley, but Henley disappeared before his eyes again.

Luffy looked around, wondering where he went. Something landed right next to him, and it was ticking. When he realized what it was, he attempted to run, but the ticking stopped, and a screeching noise erupted from the device. Luffy was forced to cover his ears from the rupturing sound, but his enemy came right at him again.

"Tempest Kick War Wolf Trebuchet!" Henley leaped forward, performed a quick somersault, and extended both of his legs, letting his feet strike Luffy square in the face, pushing him backwards some more.

"Come on!" Henley yelled. "Is you're bounty really just for show, or are you just scared of losing?"

Luffy took a second to get back up, but he heard what Henley said, and responded back.

"I'm not scared!" Luffy shouted. "I just don't think this battle is worth fighting. Besides, you haven't done anything to me yet!"

"But you have!" Henley continued to yell, "You let that panther loose against me! If he killed me, someone else would have died!"

"Someone else? Who?"

"What do you care? You'll just take advantage of them, like a typical pirate of today!" Henley jumped into the air again, but this time was different. He looked like he was kicking the air with his feet, and started to travel at a great distance away from Luffy.

Luffy would be impressed, if not for what he just said. 'Like a typical pirate,' those words echoed across his mind. His venomous choices when throwing the word 'pirate' around, they sounded similar. It's almost like he heard them somewhere before. He did, but he couldn't ponder now.

"Wait!" Luffy shouted, shooting one of his arms to a branch to swing. He gained momentum each time he went from one tree to the next, and somehow managed to keep up with him.

"Listen!" The straw hat boy shouted again, continuing to swing. "I'm not out to get you! I don't even know you!"

"But you're a pirate!" Henley responded. "Pirates don't need to know someone just to rob or kill them!"

"But I'm not like them!"

"Really? Who's ever heard of a pirate that doesn't kill anyone? That sounds absurd!"

"Ab-what? Whatever, man, just listen! I'm telling the truth!"

"Please! The minute I let my guard down, you'll take the chance to attack me!"

The two continued to go back and forth with their arguing, they didn't notice that they were at the end of the jungle. When Luffy attempted to swing again, he didn't know that there weren't any trees left to swing onto, and fell on the sand.

Henley laughed when that happened, but he failed to notice he was dashing, still in the air, into the side of the Thousand Sunny, slamming against it hard.

"What the hell was that?!" Franky shouted, climbing up from the trapdoor in the grassy deck.

"Hey Franky!" Luffy shouted.

"STRAW HAT, WHAT DID YOU DO THIS TIME?!" Franky shouted, running to the railing with comical shark teeth.

"I didn't do anything!" He shouted, stretching his arm to the guy that ran into the ship and grabbing him. He then pulled him close, grabbing him by his chest. As he did that, Henley's hood collapsed, revealing his face. "He's the one that ran into the Sunny!"

"What's going on out there?" Zoro asked as he and Sanji came up to the railing.

"Look buddy," Luffy said, "I don't know what you have against pirates, but I don't care. I am not, repeat, NOT out to get you!"

"Even if you're being honest," Henley retorted, "That doesn't make me sleep any better. It's always the same with everyone I meet, from here, to the start of the Grand Line, and to the start of the New World. There isn't a place for a freak like me to stay without getting shot at by others."

"I think I get what you're saying," Luffy responded. "I don't think I can get to any place without causing trouble for anyone."

"Hmm?" Henley questioned. "Well, just because you get into something you're not supposed to, that doesn't mean your friends get caught in the middle, right?"

"..." Luffy didn't respond.

"...You too, huh?"

"What?"

"It's like that with you too? You do a wrong thing, and everybody pays the price?"

"...Yeah." It took one word from Luffy, and that made Henley think.

'I thought I was the only that caused trouble for others,' he thought. 'I screwed up one time, and now Flora's at death's door. Maybe it is my fault that she's stuck in that room, forced to lay in bed.'

"I have done some things, too. A lot of things that I'm not proud of. I may not have killed, but I still don't feel alright with what I've done. What I've forced myself to do. I've had to act like a pirate, the scourge of the world."

"But not all pirates are like that," Luffy said. "I'm not that bad, if you get to know me."

"I'm sorry," Henley said. "But regardless of whether or not some people are good or bad, I have a job to do."

Then, quick as a wink, he pulled out a test tube, this one containing an murky green liquid, from his bag on his left side. He opened the cap with his thumb, used his right hand to grab Luffy's neck, and squeezed hard, choking him. This action caused Luffy to let go of his grip on the redhead and grab his wrists, desperate to make him stop.

He then jabbed the test tube down Luffy's throat, letting the liquid sink down inside him. He pulled his arm out, revealing that every last drop was gone.

"LUFFY!" The three aboard the Sunny yelled out. Franky jumped on the railing and had his left arm open up, revealing a gun inside, intending to shoot Henley.

"Let go of him, you bastard!" He shouted, threatening to fire.

"Moon Walk!" Henley jumped and kicked the air beneath him, taking Luffy with him up to the arm of the main sail. That was where he put him down, gently though.

"GUYS!" Usopp shouted, running with Chopper and Brook from the jungle. "Luffy's lost in the jungle! We outran some predators but-" He immediately silenced himself after seeing that Luffy was on the mast's arm. "...ok, never mind."

"What happened?!" Brook questioned. "And who is that young lad up there?"

"No time to explain!" Sanji exclaimed. "We need to get that idiot out of there now before something bad happens!"

"Then let's climb up there then!" Zoro shouted, motioning to the ropes leading to the crow's nest.

"No go, bro!" Franky yelled, bringing the guys' attention to him. "That kid may see us coming if we try anything!"

"In that case," Usopp said, "We'll have to strike him in a way he won't see coming!" With that, Usopp ran down the gangplank and to the jungle, having an idea in mind.

Unbeknownst to the men, an eye was on the side of the rail, until it disappeared, leaving behind traces of petals.

XXX

"Well?" Nami asked Robin, who had both her eyes closed and arms crossed. She uncrossed them and opened her eyes, having an answer.

"I'm afraid we have a situation on our hands," Robin said. "We have to get back to the ship, now!"

"Right!" Nami responded as the two took off running back to the ship.

'Luffy,' She thought. "Why can't you stay out of trouble for once?'

XXX

"Ugh," Luffy moaned. He started to feel dazed from whatever he just swallowed. "What was that? I don't feel so good."

"Don't worry," Henley said, "It's just a side-effect of the man-made antiserum. Though considering what it does, it's more like an anti-antiserum."

"Huh? What's that supposed to mean?"

"Let me put it to you this way. It was created to help a person think more clearly, but also to increase the emotion of what you were feeling prior to taking it."

"What?"

Henley sweat-dropped. "You didn't listen to what I just said, did you?"

"Not really," Luffy answered honestly. "Does it do something good or bad?"

"A little bit of both. But that's up to your interpretation."

"Huh?"

Henley sweat-dropped again, but more than usual. "I mean, what do you think it'll do? It's you opinion."

"Why did you do this? I didn't do anything to you!"

"I know," Henley said, "but I had to do something to get you to let go of me."

"You could've just asked me, jackass!" Luffy shouted with steam blowing from his ears.

"I said that you would attack me if I let my guard down," Henley added, "That's what I did to you. You should've remained cautious."

XXX

Usopp climbed the tree until he got to the top. He had a little bit of difficulty due to the trees' bending shape, but he pulled through. He made sure to be at the far side of the jungle close to the coast so he can have a clear shot at the cloaked guy, whoever he is. He readied his weapon.

XXX

"Look on the bright side," Henley said. "All you have to do is have a strong emotion that is the opposite of whatever it is you were feeling."

"Huh?" Luffy questioned again, making the shorter young man sweat-drop again, this time with a visible tick mark.

"Wow, you're not very bright," Henley bluntly stated. "It's almost a wonder your crew manages to have you as their captain. Assuming you are the captain."

"Hey! I am the captain!" Luffy shouted, obviously offended by Henley's remark.

"Alright, captain," Henley sarcastically responded. "I'll ask you this. What do you think of your crew?"

"My crew?" Luffy questioned. "They're all my friends, of course."

"Do you trust them?"

"...Yes," Luffy said, pausing a moment before answering.

"Do they trust you?"

"Um... yeah," Luffy started to get annoyed with these questions. "Is there a point to this?"

"You hesitated before answering a few of those questions," The redhead stated. "You don't know for sure, do you?"

"No!" Luffy denied. "No, I... I..."

"Did they lie to you about something? Did one of them do something bad?" While asking, Henley looked to the down to the left. He could see the tangerine trees on the observation deck, which made him remember something. "Wait, that thing..."

"Huh?" Luffy asked. He didn't know what was on this guy's mind now, but he was thinking.

"That's it!" Henley shouted suddenly, taking Luffy off guard. He had a grin on his face, looking at the trees once again. "That's what I need!"

"What?" Luffy asked, not knowing that Usopp was ready to fire, or that Nami and Robin were on their way back.

XXX

Nami and Robin had to run some ways, but saw the Sunny in their sights. They also saw two figures standing on the arm of the main sail.

"Is that Luffy up there?" Nami asked.

"It looks that way." Robin responded.

Sanji saw that the women had come back, and went to greet them.

"My lovely ladies~!" He swooned, foregoing the entire scenario that was unfolding. "How are you to-"

"Guys!" Nami shouted, ignoring the cook as she and Robin ran past him, making him fall into a depressive state, again. "What's happening? Is Luffy up there?"

"That's right," Franky answered, "And Straw Hat isn't looking good. He was forced to drink something, and that made him feel woozy. It doesn't look like he can fend for himself."

"That's not good," Robin mused. "Maybe he'll feel his life slowly slip away before he falls into the ocean and sinks."

"ROBIN!" Everyone except Sanji and Usopp yelled, the former still depressed and the later up a tree.

XXX

"Special Attack: Fire Bird Star!" Usopp launched a massive fire ball in the shape of a phoenix that went toward the intruder.

XXX

"Hmm?" Henley looked behind him. He saw that a fiery phoenix was coming up behind him and Luffy. He quickly jumped over Luffy and onto the sail below him.

"AAUUUGH!" Luffy was not as fortunate. He was caught in the blast and was set ablaze, screaming out in pain while falling.

"LUFFY!" Everyone shouts in horror as the captain falls onto the helm. He was able to get up, but ran and jumped into the ocean, clearly not thinking straight.

Zoro was the first to move in. He ran up the gangplank, across the deck, and jumped over the railing, diving.

He went in the body of seawater, and swam deep into the dark abyss below, catching a glimpse of Luffy, sinking below. The fire scorched his clothes, his skin having slight burn marks, but nothing Chopper couldn't fix.

Above the surface, Usopp saw what happened from the tree he stood on. He couldn't believe that he shot Luffy like that.

"No, God, please," he said to himself as he climbed down the tree and ran to the group as fast as he could.

Everyone looked at Usopp, shocked as he came up to them.

"I-I didn't mean to..." Usopp spoke, meekly. "I-I wasn't aiming for him, I thought he would jump..." He collapsed to the ground and sent his fist to the sand in frustration, while shouting, "GODDAMMIT!"

"Don't worry, Usopp," Sanji calmly said, "He'll be fine. It'll take more than that to kill him. Besides, Moss-head is picking him up."

Brook looked back at the ship and noticed something odd. The main sail was tearing up. No, it looked like someone was sliding down it by tearing the sails up. He ran up the gangplank to get a better look, then a brown-clothed person landed on the helm.

Henley stood at the helm, his right hand dropping some kind of knife that turned to water as it hit the wooden floor.

"You there!" Brook shouted. "What did you do to Luffy?!"

"Me?" Henley asked. "Nothing, unless you're talking about the test tube I made him drink. But the fire bird, that was all one of your own."

"Enough!" Brook revealed his sword from his cane, and got into a stance. "You're trespassing on our ship, and you caused Luffy to fall!" As he shouted, the rest of the crew came up to the deck, with Zoro climbing up to the ship with Luffy in tow. Nami, Usopp, and Chopper went to Luffy, waterlogged, but alive.

"I may have got him in that situation, but your crewmate did all that on his own," the redhead stated, gesturing to Usopp. "Besides, I'm not here to hurt anyone."

"Then what do you want?" Robin asked, with curiosity.

"An important item, and I will get it, even if I have to go through all of you."

"Wait!" Nami shouted. "Can't we cut a deal?"

"Sorry, but I don't negotiate with pirates. Besides, I've always wanted to see the infamous 'Straw Hat Pirates' in action."

"So," Zoro spoke as he unsheathed his swords, placing Wado Ichimonji in his mouth, holding Shusui in his left hand, and Kitetsu III in his right. "Is this your final answer?"

Henley jumped on the helm's railing, held two small objects in his hand, both his thumbs inside the circular pins. With a face of conviction, he shouted to the crew.

"LET'S GO, STRAW HAT PIRATES!" *CLICK!*

TO BE CONTINUED...

Chapter Text

Chapter 3- Thousand Blows


One Piece © Eiichiro Oda

William Henley, Scorcher, Fixit, Seventy, Beau-Pére and Gibbs © HatOnFire/Me

(WARNING: CONTAINS LUNA HINTS. DON'T LIKE, THEN TURN BACK NOW. ALSO, INTENSE SCENES AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.)


*CLICK!* The moment he released the pins from the small devices, Henley quickly threw them at the Straw Hats, and they landed on the grass of the deck.

"Everyone, get back!" Sanji yelled, motioning everyone to move away from them. He grabbed the two objects and threw them up to the air, kicking them higher. Then, they exploded in a blinding flash of light, which most of the Straw Hats looked at, unfortunately. The only one who didn't look was Luffy, and he was slowly recovering from falling in the sea. He got up, and was ready to go again.

"Alright, mystery guy," Luffy slurred, before coughing up some more seawater. "You're gonna really- *COUGH!*" He went to the side and to spit some more water out of his system. He had swallowed some of the water when he fell, so getting up quickly without coughing a certain amount made him feel sicker than a dog.

Henley sweat-dropped. 'I should have taken him with me when I dodged that fire bird,' he thought. It would have saved him from some burning, and some water you would gag from.

The hooded boy then jumped to the deck in between the Straw Hats. He proceeded to do a leg sweep with his left leg, knocking them down. They each grunted as they fell to the grass.

"Gun-Gum Pistol!" Luffy sends his fist straight at the figure, striking him in the face. Henley was taken off guard for a moment, but recovered as another fist came stretching at him.

"Shave!" Henley disappeared yet again, then reappeared next to Luffy.

"25 Brick Fist!" He then punched Luffy in the face, making him take about seven steps back in front of the recovering crew.

"What kind of an attack is that?" Luffy taunted, "That wasn't a hard hit at all!"

"It wasn't supposed to be like that!" Henley responded. "It was supposed to push you back so I could have some breathing room!" As he said that, he pulled out another small device, lifted the pin, and threw it at the Straw Hats.

"Chemistro Grenade: Smoke!" The grenade then let out a huge stream of smoke that engulfed the entire deck.

Luffy ran to punch him in the stomach, but he sidestepped, then grabbed him by his vest's collar, and threw him into the smokescreen. Zoro ran out of the smoke, armed with his three swords, and charged at Henley.

"Oni Giri!" Zoro quickly dashed to slash at Henley, but he was faster. He had jumped over the swordsman, doing a somersault until landing on his feet. Sanji then came out of the smoke and made his attempts to attack the hooded boy.

"Collier! Épaule! Côtelette! Selle! Poitrine! Gigot!" Sanji tried to kick at Henley's body parts, but the shorter young man dodged every single time. 'Damn!' Sanji cursed to himself. 'This guy's reading my moves! It's so annoying!'

"My turn!" Henley shouted as he dodged one of Zoro's sword swipes. He jumped over Zoro and grabbed his shoulders, doing a front flip, and threw him overboard. Zoro then fell into the ocean.

"Zoro!" Luffy shouted, running from the cloud of smoke. Everybody else came from the smoke as Henley jumped in, taking Usopp by the nose with him.

"HEY-HEY-HEY!" Usopp shouted. "Let go of my nose! Let g-!" *BONK!*

Usopp was thrown from the smoke, with a comedic bump on his head.

"Usopp!" Chopper cried. He ran to check up on him. He noticed that he didn't have his Kabuto with him.

"Wow," Henley proceeded to comment, sticking his head out of the smoke with a smug grin. "One punch and he's out like a light. What a mook." He sank back into the white blanket.

"Weapons Left!" Franky fire some rounds into the smoke, despite not having any idea if he did some damage.

"That's it!" Luffy shouted. "No more hiding! No more running! You fight us here and now! Gum-Gum Balloon!" Luffy inhaled a supply of air, increasing his body mass until his body looked like a balloon. The captain then shot the air to the smoke, blowing away the smoke.

"Nice one, Straw Hat!" Franky shouted, his left arm ready to fire. But when the smoke dissipated, their opponent was nowhere to be seen.

"Where did he go?!" Nami yelled, electricity coursing at the tip of her weapon.

"There!" Robin shouted, pointing at the railing of the observation deck. Henley was standing at the edge, holding Usopp's weapon, the Kabuto, and ready to fire something from the sling.

"Seis Fleur!" Robin crossed her arms, sprouting them on Henley's body as he fires at Robin, which lands at her feet. What Robin saw was a grenade without a pin.

"Chemistro Grenade: Paste!" It promptly explodes, trapping her in liquidized glue, breaking her concentration. The arms she sprouted disappeared in flower petals.

"Robin!" Sanji shouted. He ran to her, and touched her in the state she was in. His hands were then covered in the paste, and had trouble separating from her. "I'm stuck!"

"Of course you're stuck, idiot!" Nami yelled, smacking the back of Sanji's head. "What did you think was gonna happen?!"

"You looked ready to rush at Ms. Robin's side as well, Ms. Nami," Brook mused.

"I know, but I wouldn't have tried to touch her without getting stuck!" Nami fired back.

"Just pour some water on them!" Luffy shouted. "It'll wash the glue off of them!"

"Sorry," Henley said, jumping on top of Franky's head, "But I can't let you go and do that." He wrapped his legs around the cyborg's neck, and flipped himself over, taking Franky down with him. Franky landed on his back, and felt something land on his metal belly as Henley released his grip on him. It was yet another grenade, and it exploded in paste, covering him up.

"Aw, crap!" Franky shouted, squirming to get the glue off of him. "This won't hold me for long, you know!"

"That's all the time I need," Henley said. "I still need to see what the others can do, after all."

"Thunder Ball!" Nami disconnected the top of her staff and sent a small thunder ball at Henley, who dodged with a back flip.

"Nice weapon," Henley complemented. "Too bad it's in incapable hands."

"I'll show you incapable!" Nami connected the Perfect Clima-Tact again, and went at the hooded figure.

"Nami!" Luffy shouted. "Free the others first!" He then got hit by the Kabuto, which Henley threw at his face, knocking him down.

"Luffy!" Nami shouted. She turned her attention to the sender, giving the same smug grin. She gave a fierce look in return and started swinging her staff at him, until she landed a blow at his stomach. She then charged the end of the baton, and swung it into Henley's chest. Usopp was regaining consciousness when he saw what was going on.

"Thunder Charge: Swing Arm!" Henley was electrocuted, sparks fleeing across his body. Nami smirked, sticking her tongue out, "How about that?"

"Don't get cocky!" The hooded boy shouted. "I'm still a real threat when cornered!" He somehow disconnected the Clima-Tact, and took the top of the staff, and jumped to the side, rolling. He got up and spoke to her. "In hindsight, showing me a split second of what your weapon can do is not the smarted idea ever. Now have a taste of your own medicine!" He somehow shot a thunder ball from the baton, which electrocuted an off guard Nami. She screamed out in pain from the blast.

"NAMI!" Everyone, minus Zoro, shouted in horror as she fell to the ground. Luffy looked pale as he ran to Nami, while Henley retreated to the high ground, namely, the observation deck.

"She should've listened to you," Henley mused to himself, looking solemn.

Luffy put his ear to her chest. There was a heartbeat. He sighed in relief, giving a thumbs up to the crew. Zoro climbed up to the railing of the ship, at least until Henley fired a thunder ball at him, forcing him back into the water. Those who were still in the fight turned to the observation deck, each looking angrier than the last.

"YOU BASTARD!" Sanji yelled, trying to get free. "How could you do that to a lady?!"

"Indeed!" Brook shouted. "It's deplorable!"

"I didn't see a lady when I attacked," Henley spoke. "I saw a person who got ahead of themselves. And for the record, is it deplorable for me to be fighting criminals? Because it doesn't matter who you are if you're a pirate. Whether you're a man, a woman, an animal, or some separate entity, I will fight you. You have to worry less about your code of honor and more about your survival! Instinct! Your judgment call!" He then pointed the baton at Luffy, who sweat-dropped.

"You do know I'm made of rubber, right?" He said, putting special emphasis on the word 'rubber'.

"Speaking of judgment call," Henley continued, ignoring Luffy's remark, "Your girlfriend didn't exactly respond to your orders when you told her to free your friends." If anyone was looking at Luffy more that Henley, they could see a small blush show up around his cheeks. Maybe another side effect of the liquid he drank? Luffy shook his head, purging whatever he was thinking and answered the question.

"That only happened because you hit me, jerk!" He shouted to Henley. "And she's not my girlfriend!"

"Yeah!" Sanji shouted. "He wouldn't have a chance with my sweet Nami, or any woman, let alone anyone! Besides, he's an idiot!"

This made Luffy frown. 'I've been called an idiot before,' He thought. 'Why am I feeling crummy about it now?' He didn't know why, but he was walking towards Sanji, who still has his hands covered in the paste.

"Okay," The brown hooded figure replied, putting his hands up. "I was being hasty when I said that. Bad example. ...But you!" He pointed at Sanji, throwing the baton to the grassy deck. "You think you're captain would never find love with a girl?" As he was asking that, Zoro was climbing back up to the ship, though Henley didn't mind.

"How could he?" The cook retorted. "I don't think he'd know what it means to be in love of it hit him in the back of-" *SMACK!* He was stopped mid-sentence by Luffy, who furiously punched Sanji to the center mast, shocking everyone. On the bright side, it looked like he was free of the paste he trapped himself in.

"WHAT?!" Everyone shouted with dilated pupils and pale faces.

Nami opened her eyes as she saw what was happening in front of her. She also saw her baton on the deck, and Chopper walking to the stairs leading up to the kitchen. It looked like he was going to attack him from behind. She smiled softly as she reached for the baton.

"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT, LUFFY?!" Sanji shouted, looking irate.

"WHAT DO YOU THINK?!" Luffy responded, fuming. "How can you say these things about me?! I'm you captain!"

"A crappy one, from what I'm looking at!" Sanji yelled, kicking Luffy in the face. "And that was for freeing me when I was trapped with Robin in a glue of love!"

"THAT'S WHY YOU HIT HIM?!" Usopp shouted.

"Oh, you! With the long nose!" Henley exclaimed. "Sorry I decked you like that! And for calling you a mook!"

"YOU!" Usopp shouted furiously. "What was that?! You threw my device like it was a stick!"

"Sorry! I wanted your captain to shut up, for some reason." Henley answered. 'Hmm, why did I hit him that way? That was unnecessary.' "Hey Straw Hat!" He spoke again, this time to Luffy. "Sorry for throwing that at you! It was stupid!"

"You know what's worse?!" The captain called back to him. "Hurting my girl-, er, Nami!" He corrected himself. The crew looked in astonishment. Something was definitely up with him.

"You were going to say, girlfriend, weren't you?" Henley questioned, unable to resist the urge to smile warmly.

"SHUT UP, YOU DICK!" Luffy shouted, albeit with blushed cheeks. "I'm still gonna kick your ass!"

"Hey, Luffy!" Sanji grabbed him by the collar, with a dark look in his eyes. "You think Nami is your girlfriend?" He started to have that look which could scare you into abstinence.

"Huh?" Luffy started sweating. "NO! No! No no no no no no no no no!" Now he was denying what he almost said, trying to think up different situations. But then, he looked up to the sky, and saw a small cloud over the deck. Henley also saw what was going on, but made no attempt to stop it.

"Rain Tempo!" The cloud produced some rain, falling on the deck. Some of the rain droplets fell on the paste that immobilized Robin and Franky, freeing them both.

"YEAH!" Franky shouted. "I'm feeling SUPER again!"

"Thank you, Nami," Robin said, smiling at her.

Henley then looked at Nami, up and ready to fight, holding her three batons.

"In hindsight," Nami spoke to where the hooded figure could hear her, "Taking your eyes off of me and my weapon wasn't the smartest move on your part. Cool Ball! Heat Ball!" She swung two of her batons as blue and red air-like bubbles floated above the deck. They combined to form a cloud above them.

Henley smirked beneath his hood. "Well, what do we have here? It looks like you could do some damage after all, assuming I'm stupid enough to get underneath that cloud."

Luffy and Zoro looked around. "Hey, Zoro?" The captain asked.

"Yeah, I know. Where is he?"

Henley dropped his smile when he heard Zoro. 'He who? Did I miss someone?' It was then he realized, someone wasn't with the group.

"Rumble: Horn Point!" Henley's face stopped sweating and became shocked when he heard a voice behind him. He turned around and ran at the figure behind him, Chopper, who charged back at Henley and lifted him up with his strengthened antlers.

"Roseo Colonnade!" The reindeer then launched him out into the air as Nami launched a thunder ball into the cloud. Luffy stretched his arms and swept his crew away from the center of the deck.

"Thunderbolt Tempo!" Lightning fell from the cloud and passed straight into Henley, electrocuting him at full force.

"Nice going, Nam-!" *SMACK!* Before he could finish that sentence, he was smacked into the grass by Sanji.

"My Sweet Love~!" Sanji swooned yet again. "You did amazing!"

"Thank you, Sanji," Nami said while sweat-dropping.

"Can you drop dead now?" Zoro flatly asked, lifting up Luffy.

"I'd love to, Zoro," Luffy said, "Since my friends decided today would be a good day to show how much they hate me."

"I wasn't asking you, Luffy," Zoro said. "Just the Dartboard."

"Whatever," Luffy said, letting go of Zoro's shoulder so he could stand.

Zoro felt troubled. Luffy doesn't normally sound like this, much less act like this. He had to talk with him soon. But first...

Henley got up from the grass and dusted himself off. When he saw that he was surrounded, he smirked. "Guess I can make some time to get better acquainted with you guys," He said.

"Oh, you have no idea," Franky responded.

"You won't get the drop on us again!" Usopp shouted.

"Very well, then," Henley spoke again. "Your move."

XXX

The transponder snail continued to ring out. It was calling nonstop to the group in the private locker room. However, it looked like no one was going to pick it up. After all, two of them were in a boxing ring, exchanging punches with their boxing gloves.

"Scorcher, will you pick that up?" A voice asked from outside the ring.

He was wearing a light green mechanic jumpsuit, one that had multiple pockets on the torso, along with black boots and gloves, and goggles with green shades resting on his forehead. It also had a green anchor imprinted in the torso, darker green lines going from the shoulder to the sleeves, silver arm and knee pads with a thorn in the center of each pad, his belt was holding two silver batons and a black wrench, and he had two dao swords on the back of his jumpsuit.

His skin was light and fair, he had light brown hair in a flattop and an ivy league style, with a goatee, and his eyebrows were in a completely thin straight line, almost like a unibrow. His name was...

FIXIT. Chief Mechanic Of The Delta Marines.

"Aren't you going to quit playing around and get that?" He called to the man that jumped back from the taller one.

This man was taller than Fixit, skin that looked a five shades darker, and considerably had more arm muscles. He was wearing black shorts and boots at the moment, possessing red boxing gloves, and had large chest muscles, though not as large as the man he was sparring with. He had a matchstick in his mouth, along with some black soot spots on his face, with thick yellow eyebrows. He also has a rectangular chin.

His blonde hair had a buzzcut, but also had some liberty spikes going in a straight line on his head. The spikes themselves had a string at the end of them, making them look like candles. His name was...

SCORCHER. Demolition And Artillery Expert Of The Delta Marines.

"No way!" He shouted, while ducking from a punch. "I'm not done yet! You're out of the ring! Why don't you do it?"

"Because, I'm working on something important," The mechanic responded, sitting down on the floor, screwdriver in hand, looking at what appears to be a bazooka.

"You weren't even doing anything while I was fighting!" Scorcher yelled, with comical shark teeth.

Suddenly, a left-handed black boxing glove came flying into the hothead's stomach, then a right-handed one went onto his head, knocking him down. Both hands belonged to the taller man.

He had brown pants on with a black belt, black shoes, and the black gloves he used to end the fight. His skin was just as tan as Scorcher's, but his body looked incredibly different from the others. His muscles were larger than the others put together, and had a red crosshair tattoo on his torso.

He was completely bald, though he was wearing a typical marine cap, and had a rectangular nose, with a small scar next to it on his right. His eyebrows looked to be thin, and has a trapezoid look, but without the bottom line. He has a mechanical neck brace that covers his neck and mouth. His nozzle is a peach color, and the rest of his brace is light grey. His name is...

SEVENTY. Marksman And Combat Expert Of The Delta Marines.

"Really, now," He spoke in a baritone voice, "Flailing around like a puppet and getting distracted doesn't sound like fighting to me."

"SHUT UP, NECK-BRACE!" Scorcher shouted, getting up quickly. "He distracted me!"

"You let yourself get distracted like that," Fixit said, spinning his screw driver in the disassembled bazooka. "That's extremely unbecoming of a marine. You should sign up for a discharge."

"LIKE HELL I DOIN' THAT!"

"You can't even speak right when yelling," Seventy remarked, pressing his finger down on the hothead.

"Boys, Boys!" Another voice, one more commanding, filled the room, forcing the three men to stand at attention.

He was wearing a light blue dress shirt and navy blue pants with black dress shoes. He also has a marine coat with the word 'justice' on the back, standard for high-ranking marines. He looked to be shorter than the other men in the room.

The man himself had a fair skin tone and a light pink, triangle-like nose. His hair was a reddish-brown color, in a jheri curl style with a curl drooping down his head, and a handlebar mustache below his nose. His name?

COMMANDER BEAU-PÉRE. Commander Of The Delta Marines And The G-13 Marines.

"Sheesh," He said, walking to the transponder snail on a small desk, "What does a guy have to do to get his officers to quiet down?" He picked up the receiver on the snail to answer the call. "Commander Beau-Pére."

"Ah, good!" An old voice came from the snail. "I've managed to make contact with you personally!"

"Hm?" The man questioned. "I'm sorry, but may I ask who this is?"

"Ah, right! I almost forgot to tell you my name!"

"And rank!" Another old voice came from the snail. "Honestly, it's a miracle that you even became a Vice-Admiral with your intelligence, Garp!"

"Oh, Fleet Admiral Sengoku, sir!" Beau-Pére exclaimed. "And Vice Admiral Garp, sir! I'm sorry, I didn't recognize your voice until now!"

"It's all right, no harm done!" Garp shouted.

"Use your indoor voice, idiot!" Sengoku yelled in the background of the snail's voice.

'You're just as loud, sir,' Beau-Pére thought, sweat-dropping. "Anyway, if I may ask, do you have orders for me and my squad? I assume this isn't a social call."

"No, it isn't," The fleet admiral responded. "It's orders, straight from me. I want you to apprehend a pirate for me, rather, for the people."

"Alright then," Beau-Pére said, motioning his men to prepare whatever gear they use. "Who do you want us to arrest?"

"It's a well-known pirate," Garp said over the other line. "I think you've heard of him, considering the damage he's done to that place."

"Sir, I'm afraid you're being cryptic, could you amend that statement?"

"You've heard of the Enies Lobby incident, haven't you?"

The commander went silent. His men, in the process of opening their lockers, also stopped.

"Yes, sir," he spoke up, breaking the silence. "I have. You want me to arrest him? Monkey D. Luffy?"

"That's right," Garp continued on. "I'm sending you a fax now. It's a dossier on not just him, but the Straw Hat Pirates too. You have the things needed to get the fax, right?"

"Yes, sir, I do. What will I find on them?"

"A few things I've kept secret from some people. Like his lineage, his crew's recent actions, things like that."

"I see, sir."

"Oh, yes, I almost forgot! I also have a favor to ask you. That's why I'm calling too."

Beau-Pére became somewhat exasperated, letting out a breath of air. 'I thought this wasn't going to be a social call,' He thought, then spoke up. "Name it."

"About what you see on this message and hear from us, we want you to keep it a secret, please."

"Don't say please!" Sengoku shouted again. "And furthermore, it's not a favor, it's an order! The world will shake even further if any of this information is leaked!" During the shouting, the machine attached to the snail started printing out some paper. Beau-Pére, listening attentively, picked up the papers with his free hand.

"So," The commander inquired, "These papers I have now, the ones you've faxed to me, they're confidential?"

"Yes, they are," Sengoku answered. "No one must know about this. Only you and you're top men!"

"Hey, Sengoku," Garp interrupted, "Want a rice cracker?"

"No! I don't want anything from you right now, idiot!" *BONK!* A noise could be heard over the line, along with the cries of a grown man.

"Sengoku!" The snail cried with comical tears and a bump on the head. "Why did you do that?! You're so mean!"

"I wouldn't be if you took this seriously! You're grandson keeps causing trouble and makes us look bad!"

"Wait, grandson?!" Beau-Pére exclaimed. He then looked at the papers, and his jaw dropped to the floor.

"WHAT IS THIS?!" A loud yell erupted from the G-13 building, sending shivers down the spines of every soldier in the area. In fact, the whole island base, the forest, even the battleships were filled with sweating marines.

XXX

"Your move." Henley spoke, his calm expression not wavering.

"TAKE HIM DOWN!" Luffy shouted. In that moment, the Straw Hats each went at him, one by one.

Sanji ran and attempted to kick him, but Henley intercepted the attack. He grabbed the leg and threw the cook into Brook.

"Gum-Gum Stamp!" Luffy sent his foot to hit the shorter adversary, but he simply moved to the side and jumped to attack with his foot.

"Tempest Kick Rapier!" Henley sent his foot to the captain's stomach, making him slam against the wall, hard.

"Franky Boxing!" Franky runs up to the hooded figure and makes several attempts to punch him, but Henley keeps stepping backwards, avoiding as many as possible. The cyborg realized what was going to happen next, and stopped with the flurry of fists. He then stepped to the side.

Henley was surprised by this action, until...

"Cloven Cross!" Chopper, in Arm Point, with expanded muscles, ran behind Henley and struck him in the back, sending him flying off the ship with an X mark imprinted behind him.

Henley was flying through the air for a while, until he started up his feet and used Moonwalk to position himself in mid-air. With his hood blown off, and a determined face, he skipped back to the Sunny, but didn't realize what else lied in store.

"Treinta Fleur: Hang!" A segment of arms sprouted from the foremast and grabbed Henley's neck, making him stop. Robin was at the railing, maintaining her concentration, until she moved on to give him more pain.

She went on, commanding her arms to continuously slam her captive on the mast, above and below where her arms sprouted.

"Hey, Nico Robin!" Franky called out. "Careful where you hit him! I really hate to have to build a new mast for the crow's nest."

"Don't worry," Robin replied with a smile. "I'm being gentle with him."

"Keep him still, Robin!" Usopp shouted, taking aim for him. "Special Attack: Atlas Comet!"

Usopp fired four pellets at one time, sending them to hit the hanging man dead center. The attack connected, making an explosion.

"ARRRRRRRGH!" Henley screamed out, and Robin dropped him, letting him land on his feet. He panted and started sweating. It looks as though he will need only a few more hits, and he's done.

"Aubade Coup Droit!" A blast of air was sent at the redhead from Brook, and took the blow.

"Cyclone Tempo!" Nami threw two-thirds of her Clima-Tact at Henley's face, and his nose started dripping blood from his nostrils. This attack only provoked him, and he made a charge at Nami.

"Extra Gum-Gum Hachis Gatling!" Luffy and Sanji got in between the two, and each sent their fists and feet, respectively, at Henley, knocking him off balance. He then retreated to the helm deck, but...

"Ouchie Finger!" Franky twisted his left index finger and opened it up, firing a bullet that went through Henley's shoulder.

"Two Sword Style: Nigiri!" Zoro, with his trademark bandana, sheathed his swords, Kaitetsu III and Wado Ichimonji, and went at him like a shot.

"Tower Climb! Tower Climb Return!" He sent the swords up and down, both missing Henley, but the next few times, he wouldn't get lucky.

"Flash! Ripple!" The attacks connected. The former move grazed the short man's chest twice, and the latter cut part of the cloak.

'Crap!' Henley cursed in his mind, 'If Roronoa keeps this up, I'm finished! I have to stay alive... for her!' The redhead was almost out of options, but he had a chance still. He reached somewhere in his cloak, and fidgeted around, up to something.

"Two Sword Style: 72 Caliber Phoenix!" Zoro sent out a compressed wave, eerily similar to a phoenix, at Henley. He saw the attack, and disappeared in time. He reappeared, dropping a grenade, releasing smoke. The swordsman slashed at the smoke, but there was no trace of the body.

"Damn!" Zoro yelled. "I thought for sure he was done for!"

"Look around!" Franky shouted to the others. "He vanished in thin air!"

"Maybe he got in the crow's nest!" Luffy thought aloud. He stretched up to the foremast's arm, carrying himself to the crow's nest.

"He could be anywhere!" Nami yelled to everybody. "Let's turn this place upside down!"

"OF COURSE, NAMI~!" Sanji swooned, for the... wait. How many times did he do that again? Eh, whatever the number, Nami facepalmed in irritation, all the same.

"Let's go, Sanji!" Usopp dragged the lovestruck cook by the face. "We'll check the Soldier Dock System. It was open all this time, after all."

"Please be careful, everyone!" Brook chimed in. "I remember that he dropped something and it turned into water."

"Into water?" Robin questioned.

"Yes indeed," Brook responded. "It could be a devil fruit ability. He was holding back some of his strength, after all."

"Then we can't let our guard down for a minute," Zoro said. "Stay alert, and be ready to fight back."

"If only that idiot stayed to listen before jumping off again..." Nami said, sweat-dropping.

"He can handle himself just fine without instructions..." Zoro mumbled, going into the boys' dorm.

XXX

In the crow's nest...

"Alright, pal," Luffy said, "Where are you?"

"Tempest Kick Ransuer!" A naked foot came at Luffy, but he blocked it pretty well. He pushed Henley away from him, and the redhead landed on his butt. "Heh," He spoke, "Nice block. How'd you know I was in here?"

"I didn't," Luffy said honestly, "I guessed on instinct. But seeing blood where it shouldn't be also helps." He pointed to the drops of blood on the floor.

"Well, I guess I wanted you to find me," Henley responded, pulling a cloth up to his nose, and wiping himself. "Besides, now I know what you guys can do. You only attack when someone attacks you first, eh?"

"That's right," The captain confirmed, "We don't go around looking for fights. But we can finish them, if we have to."

"That's interesting, but you'll forgive if I don't take your word for it."

"Answer me this, or I take you outside and mark your grave. What do you want from us?"

"A few minutes ago, nothing," Henley said, "A little later, I thought about teaching you a lesson. But now, I want a fruit. Something that can save a life, though you won't understand why."

"What do you mean? What can't we understand?"

"The meaning to save a life, of course. Pirates, that's you guys, in my opinion, seek and destroy, that's my experience with them. And I hate it, every single time I meet them."

"But we are not like that! How many times do I have to say that?!"

"As many as you want," The redhead answered, "But my opinion won't change in just a few hours. Thinking that it will, that's just plain naive. A pirate put me in a tight spot when I was young, you see. I was practically in a state of hell, until I escaped from it." He didn't know why, but he felt like speaking out to this person.

"That's... I'm sorry." Luffy was disturbed by that statement, but he didn't know why he apologized for something he had no control over.

"No need for that, captain," He said, "The suffering I went through, it made me realize, how messed up we are. How you can be a target, just because you have different abilities." He showed Luffy his hand, and it didn't look like a completely normal hand. It was partially webbed, stopping short of the first phalanges*.

(A/N: *The parts of your fingers that connects to your palm).

"Whoa," Luffy said, "You're a Fish-Man?"

"Partially," Henley responded. "But that doesn't make my life easier. Pirates still chase me, for fighting back against them. They're really annoying." He laughed a little, before continuing. "At least they're good targets for some of my jokes."

"Jokes?" Luffy questioned.

"Yep. Wanna see?" He then put a grenade in Luffy's hands, without a pin, and took a few steps back.

"Uhhh... Where's the joke?"

"It's more like, who's the joke? And the answer... is you. Nothing personal."

The grenade let out a stream of smoke, but this time, it was blue. Luffy, inhaling the stream of smoke, fell to the floor.

"Chemistro Grenade: Sleep!"

"You... dirty cheat!" Luffy said, barely succumbing to the sudden drowsiness.

"I said nothing personal," Henley said, "And also, be careful how you go about explaining this. Your crew is not going to be happy when they find they're captain literally sleeping on the job." He chuckled lightly. "I'll be here all week, everybody!"

Luffy then passed out to the floor, losing consciousness.

XXX

"Ugh," Luffy mutters as he wakes up, groggily. "Hey, why can't I move?"

It doesn't take him long to realize that he has been tied to the arm of the foremast, by his own legs, no less.

"Alrighty, then!" Henley shouts with a smile, "High time we go! Can't keep the audience waiting!"

"What are you gonna do with me?!" Luffy shouted, "Lemme go!"

"Why would I do that?" He questioned, "Besides, I think this is a faster way to go down. By the way, sorry I tricked you like that."

"You're sorry?!" Luffy yelled again, "You make fun of me and tell me 'I'm sorry' like you are?!"

"Listen, I had to keep you from telling the others that I was up here."

"Well, someone in the crew will find out! She always knows some things, after all."

"True, true." Henley then pointed to the blue smoke that was dissipating in the air above deck. "That's why I tossed a few grenades that cause sound vibrations into the deck, so some of the pirates would go down. I think the cyborg, black haired lady, and the raccoon dog all went to check out the noise."

"What?" Luffy asked, with disbelief in his eyes.

"Don't worry, nothing bad happened to them," He assured, "They're just asleep, but the effects won't last that long. Gives me time to tell you something important about that drink."

"What?"

"Remember the drink I gave you? The effects you should be feeling are temporary."

"What are those effe- effe? Efeet? Efoots? Effets? Effects?"

"Yes, effects," Henley patiently answered, "Anyway, you'll feel sad, since you were feeling that way when you drank it. You also should feel smarter, at least, smart enough to remember everything from here to when you were eleven years younger."

"That far back?"

"That's right," Henley answered again, this time with pride. "I made this thing myself! ...Well, I think I made this. Hmm..." Now he started mumbling to himself. "Did I make this?"

"YOU CAN'T EVEN REMEMBER IF YOU MADE THIS THING?!" Luffy shouted, shark teeth and all.

"Okay, maybe I did make this, or maybe I didn't! Sue me! My story is really jumbled up! I can't even remember parts of my life when I was nine to twelve years old!"

"YOU CAN'T REMEMBER SOME OF THOSE PARTS?!"

"Well, I drank some kind of serum that gave me memory loss, WHICH I CAN'T REMEMBER HOW OR WHY I MADE IT, MIND YOU!"

"Why are you shouting?! I'm the one trapped here! I should be shouting!"

"Okay, okay!" Henley calmed down. "But at least I didn't bring you so close to the water in case you got loose somehow. That'd be bad. I can't swim either."

Luffy puffed his cheeks to the redhead. "I'm still mad..." He muttered, then perked up. "Wait, you have a devil fruit, too?"

"Yep," He responded, "But I can't show you. It's my secret."

Luffy puffed his cheeks once more. "Killjoy..." He said to himself.

"Anyway, that's why I made this drink, to remember parts of my life. I did make another drink that will help you remember everything about your life."

"Then, why don't you use that one, since you'll remember everything?" Luffy asked with a sarcastic look on his face. He was so tired of this guy's crap.

"Well, because it's safer for me if I remember parts instead of everything. My brain could get scrambled, and my memories will be distorted, and whatever bad feeling I've had in the past will hurt me, hard. It's a pretty bad thing. That serum makes the one I gave you look like a walk in the park, which is what it's supposed to be."

"If you have something bad," Luffy then asked, "Why do you still have it?"

Henley paused for a second, thinking. 'Wait, he's right. Why do I still have this thing? I just dump it in saltwater, and it's gone. But what's stopping me from doing it?' His mind flashed to a person of his past.

'Sha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!' A laughter echoed through his mind, forcing him to remember that man.

'He ruined my life before leaving to torment other people!' He thought, angrily. He then looked at his bag, contemplating. 'That's why... Revenge is why. But... I can't do that. I'll be a killer for the rest of my life. Gibbs taught me better than that, but why... Why can't I bring myself to throw it away?!' He grunted in frustration.

"Hey!" Luffy asked. "Why do you still have it?"

"That's none of your business, you piece o-!" Henley yelled, before stopping abruptly. He turned away from Luffy, surprised by what he heard. "I'm sorry," he apologized, "I don't know what came over me..."

Luffy then thought to himself, 'This guy... He has issues. ...Just like me.' Luffy looked down, wondering to himself. 'Did somebody make him angry just now, like what happened with me?'

After taking a deep breath, Henley said, "Listen, Straw Hat, you can cure yourself of what I just gave you. Just think happy thoughts, and the sadness will wash away soon."

"Okay," Luffy said with a simple face. "It's worth a shot." He then thought of something, no, someone. The image of this person started to fill his head, as he warmly smiled.

He thought of her orange hair flowing in the wind. He also saw her bright smile, with what he thought was the sun shining from behind her. He also saw that she was holding a plate of cooked meat in her hand. For some reason, Nami was the first thing that came to his mind. He didn't know why, but the thought of her just came to his head. It was a good feeling. At least, when she isn't berating him for something wrong.

Luffy opened his eyes and took a deep breath. He then collapsed on the mast's arm.

"I still feel like I suck~!" Luffy said, comical tears streaming down his face.

"The cure doesn't happen just instantly," Henley spoke with a facepalm. "You'll have to wait for a while before it takes effect. Keep thinking happy thoughts until then." He then looked down beneath him, and saw that Zoro and Usopp were at the deck, while Brook was on the observation deck. All three were looking around, weapons at the ready.

"Welp, I've done what I could for you," Henley said aloud. Then, he started coughing up a little bit of blood. "Man, you crew is strong, Straw Hat."

"Yeah, they are!"

'If only they were as loyal and respectable as that green haired guy...' He mumbled to himself.

"Huh?" Luffy asked.

"Here goes nothing!" Henley shouted, grabbing his canteen from underneath his cloak. He opened it up and poured some of its water on his hands. Then, he was bending the water to move, take form, into some type of blade.

"Water Kunai!" He had created two kunai knives out of water with just his hands. He proceeded to make another rip in the sail by sliding down with the knives tearing it.

"Wow! So cool!" Luffy shouted with stars around him, until he realized he didn't call for help.

"ACK! What am I doing?!" He then made a large yell that would surely get the crew's attention.

"GUYS! HE'S COMING DOWN TO THE DECK!"

That shout got the attention of those who were already on the deck, and they saw a shadow behind the sails, going down to the helm deck.

"Was that Luffy?!" Usopp exclaimed.

"It's our target!" Zoro responded, drawing his swords. "Stay where you are, guys! I get to him!"

Henley landed on the deck with the knives, letting them turn back to water.

"So," Zoro spoke, getting Henley's attention, "You took out our captain, huh?"

"In his defense," The redhead said, "I may have said something that took him off guard. Sorry."

"Don't worry," Zoro replied, "I forgive you. But I don't know if these swords will."

"Want me to find out?"

"Careful. They are thirsty for more blood. They already have a taste of you, so you'll forgive me if I can't hold them back."

"Well, I have a surprise of my own," Henley said back, cheekily. "I can't wait to show you." He held out his hand, revealing some water.

"Heh," The swordsman scoffed. "You think that I'm going to lose to some water?"

"Kinda," Henley answered honestly, "Water is my strong suit, and the hallmark of being at least part fish-man."

Zoro then looked surprised from what he heard. "Part... fish-man?"

"Don't forget the hyphen between fish and man, now! And don't blink or you'll miss it! Shave!" Henley, after making a quip, vanished again. In fact, he was jumping in midair all over the ship, disappearing and reappearing at will!

Usopp was on the grassy deck firing randomly in the area where Henley was jumping, missing every time. He didn't even notice that the redhead appeared behind him, until Brook noticed him sneaking up on him.

"Usopp! Behind you!"

"ACK!" Usopp cried out, but then, as he turned around...

"Sea Buckler!" He was punched in the face by Henley, with a light blue circle covering his whole fist. The sniper was then sent flying, landing and rolling down the gangplank and into the beach. The shape on Henley's right hand turned into water, and he made it into a different shape as Zoro came jumping down, with an aura of a tiger.

"Tiger Trap!" Zoro sent his swords at Henley, which managed to cut him, but he rolled to the side, clutching his chest wound.

"Isn't this overkill, even for guys like you?" He asked.

"We may not be as bad as your thinking now, but we aren't exactly saints either," Zoro replied, ready to strike again.

"Hmm," Henley then inquired, "The way you say that, it's similar to a face from my past. What was his name again? Ah, well, I'll remember that person eventually." As he finishes speaking, he jumps out of the way of the flurry of swords that come down at him.

Zoro swings Kitetsu diagonally, Henley dodging barely, and then brings Shusui behind him, leaving a horizontal wound on his belly. This forces Henley to jump to the railing behind him, grabbing his stomach.

'I knew it!' Henley thinks to himself, 'He knew I was coming from behind, so he expected this!'

"You know," Zoro said, "You can't take me down just by getting behind me. I would have to throw away my honor of a swordsman if I let anyone get behind me!"

"Noted," Henley stated, before jumping over another attempted strike.

"Sea Buckler!"

"Oni Giri!"

The two got into another standstill, Zoro's swords over Henley's water shield. The clattering of the swords and the solidified water was all that could be heard.

"You're pretty strong, man," Henley complimented, "So's your captain."

"If he were any less than me," Zoro responded, "And if I were less than him, we'd both be dead."

"He is smart, you know? He picks up on some things when concentrating."

Zoro, standing his ground, made no response, as he was thinking to himself. 'Smart, huh?' An image of the Straw Hat's Jolly Roger being taken by a fish bird came to his head, along with one of the Seven Warlords, Bartholomew Kuma. Zoro started to shift a little. 'Could he... actually know...?"

Henley was reading Zoro's facial expression and was inquisitive. 'Did I say something that hit a nerve?' He thought. The shorter young man then had a bad image come across him. 'Does this crew... actually think less of their leader, one who does so much for them?'

Both of them were so disturbed they forgot they were fighting, but Henley jumped back, forcing the swordsman to cut the air.

He then changed his weapon to water, letting it return to his arm. He started going on the offensive. Zoro ran at the shorter man, making slashes in front of him. Henley dodged and swept his leg under Zoro, but he back flipped over him, landing behind him.

"TATSU MAKI!" Zoro created a tornado with his blades, and sent Henley into the air with multiple cuts on the front of his body, as well as his arms.

Henley, then ran across the sky, throwing as many Water Kunai knives as possible, pelting Zoro with, if he could describe them, giant raindrops.

"Hey!" Zoro called out, "Take this seriously, will you?!"

"Aqua Shuriken!" The redhead sent another water weapon, self-explanatory, at Zoro's face, who couldn't block in time, and was splashed as a result.

"What was that?! *COUGH!*" Zoro shouted, while coughing from the water.

"Sorry about the water pelting!" Henley said. "It was to take you off guard so I could do this!"

"Shave Destrier!" He got into a running position and disappeared again. Then, he reappeared in the same position, backwards to Zoro, and kicked him in his chest, sending him off the ship. He landed on the beach, struggling to breathe. It looks like Henley struck one of Zoro's wounds from one of his fights, unknowingly.

"There we go," He said. "That was one of my strongest attacks. Even if he could pick himself up from that, it doesn't matter. Playtime's over." He then jumped to the observation deck and saw Brook, sword sheathed.

"I was waiting for you, young man," the skeleton said.

"So, what's your story?" Henley questioned. "You ate a devil fruit and became a skeleton, or were you always like that?"

"Well," Brook replied, "My life was complicated, and I did eat a devil fruit. But I became a skeleton after I died."

"That sounds complicated, alright."

"Yes, now then," Brook unsheathed his sword, ready to strike. "Shall we continue?"

"Sea Quarterstaff!" Henley collected more water from his canteen inside his cloak, and morphed the water to become a staff that looked to be a little above his height. "Sure, let's us continue."

The skeleton charged with his sword, and made several attempts to strike at him. Henley dodged some of the swing, other times was forced to block. The two combatants were each at a point to where one couldn't get the advantage over the other.

"Polka Remise!" Brook delivered multiple thrusts to Henley, while he twirled his sea staff, blocking as many as possible. However, one thrust got his left shoulder, and a few went to his stomach, even with it were just the tips of the blade. Henley jumped away.

"You..." Henley had to take a pause with breaths, "You're fast, I... I'll give you that."

"Likewise," Brook responded, then charged for the blow. But then, Henley sidestepped, and jumped up to land multiple hits to the skeleton's body with the staff. He then knocked the sword out of Brook's hand, grabbed it, and threw it to the deck below. He then let the water staff liquify into his hands as he jumped for the final time to end the fight.

"Tempest Kick Excalibur!" Henley sent his foot up to Brook's bony chin, knocking him out.

"Okay, now playtime's over," Henley said walking up to the tangerine trees. He jumped up and grabbed the freshest tangerine he could see, landing on the floor. "Now, I can make the serum and end this hatred and confusion once and for all!" However, he wasn't safe yet.

"YOU! STOP RIGHT THERE!" The navigator's yells caught his attention, as did the thunder balls that were shot right at him.

The redhead made consecutive backflips to avoid a second pelting of electricity, and jumped to the skies once more. Those who were knocked out in the Soldier Dock System came out to the deck.

"Hey!" Chopper yelled. "He's up there!"

"And Nami's attacking?" Franky questioned. "Why?"

"It looks like all of this was over a tangerine," Robin mused.

"Oh boy", Franky said. "This could get ugly."

"I'm sorry, but was this yours?" He said, holding the tangerine to where Nami can see it as he continued hopping on thin air.

"GIVE IT BACK NOW!" She shouted, shooting more thunder balls that Henley dodged with ease.

"You fight at your best like this," He proceeded to mock, "and you're only doing it for a fruit? That's sad. But, on the other hand, I'm no better myself."

"That comes from my trees, which belonged to be my mother! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO TAKE IT!"

"You're right, I don't! But to save a person you love, you have to make compromises! This is my compromise!"

"You can't have it! You want it, you'll have to pay a fine!"

Henley started to seethe at the navigator. "Pay?" He spoke, slowly letting his rage show. "I don't have to pay you pirates anything! There's more to life than mere money! It's worthless to me!"

"Money is not worthless!" Nami yelled. "It has value, just like that fruit, from these trees!"

"And I assume your price is over ten thousand?! Fifty thousand?! Fifty million?!" Henley's face went from angry to furious, and started letting his fury out. "Do you think a person's life is worth less than the money you pay for this CRAP?! WELL?! DO YOU, BITCH?!"

Everyone got shocked when Henley's character changed in seconds, mostly Nami. She never seen this guy before, but from how he looks right now, he was terrifying. Almost as terrifying as Arlong when he lets his anger out. Maybe even more so then him. It looked like he was possessed by some demon, with swirls around his eyes rotating endlessly. What no one else noticed was that another ball of fury was ready to attack.

"DIABLE JAMBE!" Sanji shouted, jumping off the observation deck and intending to kick Henley to the ground with a fiery leg. "HOW DARE YOU INSULT MY NAMI, YOU BASTARD RUNT!"

"ME?!" Henley yelled back, avoiding the kick and grabbing the back of the cook's collar. Henley then took the man and threw him into the ocean, but not without saying, "I think you need to understand this! NOT EVERY WOMAN IS A PERFECT ANGEL LIKE YOU THINK THEY ARE!" Just like that, the cook fell into the salty drink. Henley, still boiling, looked up to Luffy, trying to untighten himself from the mast's arm. "AND YOU!" He pointed to Luffy whilst jumping up to him.

"Me?" Luffy asked, growling at him for speaking that way to Nami.

"How could you allow a greedy, gold-digging bitch into your crew?!" Henley yelled, not caring who or what heard him. "Trust me, I know those types of people! I've met them all before!"

"Nami is greedy, but she wouldn't trade us for money and wealth! And she's not a bitch!" Luffy snapped back.

"Oh really?!" Henley sarcastically exclaimed, "Has she back-stabbed you before?"

Luffy sweated when he heard the question, but continued to stare.

"She has, hasn't she? What did she get in return, huh? Jewels? More berries?"

Sanji surfaced to the water, and went to climb up to the Sunny, as Zoro and Usopp regained consciousness and saw what happened above them.

"The only reason is because she was forced to do it!" Luffy shouted. "She didn't believe I could beat an enemy!"

"So, she wanted to play for the winning team because she didn't trust you? What kind of a friend does something like that?"

Luffy was still angry, and was close to loosening his feet.

"Listen, Straw Hat," The redhead spoke up, "Here's some advice. Find a crew that trusts you and your judgment, because this one might have some secrets they wouldn't want to share with you."

"SHUT THE HELL UP!" Luffy erupted, struggling with his feet. "MY CREW DOES TRUST ME!"

"You're saying that for certain, now?! Can you really believe your words?! Can you truly say that they trust you with everything?! You're the captain, so you should have all the say in important matters, unless that hussy of a navigator does everything for you!"

"ENOUGH!" Straw Hat yelled for the last time, his legs free from the knot and snapping back to normal. He stood on the arm and got into a pose and activated a move he could use for only so long. "SECOND GEAR!" His skin turned into a bright pink, air releasing everywhere on his body.

"Nami is my navigator! I trust her! You just don't understand her at all!"

"And you are just saying hallow words!" Henley replied. "Hallow... just like her heart and soul! Just like every pirate that ever lived! ESPECIALLY LIKE ARLONG! THAT PIECE OF HUMAN HATING SCUM!"

It felt like a hammer dropped, from the moment he said those words. There were some Straw Hats who didn't know who this Arlong was, but those who did, they were angry. Nami looked horrified herself, she didn't even know that this person knew the man who ruined her life. She never expected that anyone outside the East Blue knew about him or his actions, or cared enough to hate him. But she was compared to her tormentor, and that pissed off some the original members of the crew. But one person, was the maddest of them all.

"RRRRRAAAAAAHHHHH!" Straw Hat leaped for the floating figure and grabbed him anyway he could. He wrapped his arms and legs around him, crushing some of his bones. He stretched his head back, ready to defeat his enemy.

"GUM-GUM JET BELL!" He brought his head straight against Henley's skull. Surprisingly, there wasn't any shatter, but the pain really got to him. Unsurprisingly, Luffy wasn't done yet.

"GUM-GUM JET STAMP GATLING!" He sent his feet into Henley's stomach at an astonishing speed. It was able to knock him right into the deck, making a hole in the middle.

Normally, Franky would be telling Luffy to quit the assault due to him making the ship stay intact. However, this time, he did not want to be on the bad side of Luffy.

Straw Hat landed on the grass deck, and looked at the hole he made in the Sunny. He reached down with his hand, and pulled Henley up for one last strike.

"You know nothing about her!" Luffy said in an angry tone that would make the baddest of men run home to their mothers. He had the ragdoll in his arms, and walked down the gangplank. "You don't know what she went through!" He walked to the boundary of the beach and the jungle, and then stopped.

"You don't know... WHAT KIND OF PERSON SHE IS!"

Luffy let his dazed enemy down, then stretched his arms behind him.

"She is not... NOT LIKE ARLONG! SO DON'T YOU DARE JUDGE ANYBODY FROM WHO THEY ARE OR THEIR ALLEGIANCE!"

"Ugh..." Henley was standing there, extremely tired, and confused. "What... just... happened...?"

Straw Hat built up his punches to Henley, then stopped short from hitting him, building momentum.

Henley held his hand up to his head, trying to breathe and collect his thoughts. 'What happened...?' He thought.

"GUM-GUM!"

'Did I... lose control of myself?'

"JET!"

The redhead looked at Luffy, his angry grin, but then he saw someone else. Someone he had not seen in a while.

He saw a person with a great smile and an orange hat, covering his black hair. He also had reddish brown beads on his neck.

'Portgas D. Ace?' He thought. Then, he realized what was happening before him. Luffy was going to finish him off. "WAIT! LUFFY!" HE shouted. But it was futile.

"CANNON!"

The fists slammed right into Henley's chest, making him cough blood, as he soared once again. He flew across half of the jungle and threw an array of trees. When he hit a large rock in the clearing path, he slowed down, hitting the ground and making a long dirt trail. He stopped in the clearing of the jungle, dead center.

His face looked incredibly bruised, with blood coming from his eyes, mouth, and nose. His breathing was heavy, like the world was crushing him.

'Ace...' He thought, 'I... remember. I'm so... sorry... I... screwed up... your brother.' Tears started streaming from his face as he remembered more about his past. Namely, one of his words before departing.

"Remember!" Ace shouted from his ship, "Not all pirates are like each other! Use your head and think it all out before you decide what kind of person they are!"

'I... I remember... those words...!' He started sobbing to himself, 'And... and this happens...! Right when... I... finally... remember... everything!' He didn't care who would hear him, or what would happen next, but it didn't matter. Henley let out a wail of anguish that swept the whole island. His life had gotten worse with each second, as far as he's concerned. After uselessly flailing, trying so hard to get up from the pain, both physical and mental, he blacked out.

XXX

Luffy, looking extremely tired, went to the ground on his knees. He had put in another grand effort in his attacks, and felt wasted. He looked back, and saw his crew was coming to get him.

'My... crew...' He thought, reaching out to them. 'I... I trust them...'

He heard voices, but they were foggy when he heard them.

'I... care about... them...

I... care... about... her...'

He collapsed to the ground, hearing faint screams and commands to take him aboard to the ship.

As Luffy passed out, thought one final question, one that would stick with him for a while.

'Do... they...

...really...trust...

...me?'

TO BE CONTINUED...

Chapter Text

 Chapter 4- Concern


One Piece © Eiichiro Oda

William Henley, Flora, Beau-Pére, Seventy, Fixit, and Scorcher © HatOnFire/Me



Luffy groaned in the bed, slowly opening his eyes. The finishing moves he used in the fight, along with the devastating rage he packed into them put such a huge strain on his vitality, he felt like passing out. He sat up, blinking a few times and rubbing his eyes.

He sat up, slowly though, as he still felt some pain from his back. He noticed that he was wrapped up in bandages, a good amount taking up his entire chest and midsection area. Since he was struck in the back by a fire bird, they were called for. He should be just lucky that the fire was slightly flimsy, so he wasn't that badly burned.

The boy looked around, and realized he was in the sick bay. That room, he could recognize, since he would sometimes bother Chopper when he was working. Speaking of the doctor, he sitting in his chair, writing in some notes, most likely about Luffy, and his bout of anger.

"Let's see here," Chopper mumbled to himself, "There are a few disorders related to extreme cases of anger, and they are, Borderline Personality Disorder, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Conduct Disorder, to name a few. All cases have to do with the emotional output of anger, which can be caused by constant stress, feelings of injustice, feeling unappreciated, loss of patience, and/or distrust."

"*YAWN!*" Luffy let out a small yawn, garnering the doctor's attention. The little one swiveled his chair around to face Luffy.

"Oh, Luffy!" He exclaimed, "You're awake!"

"Hey, Chopper," Luffy spoke groggily, "What's up?" 

"Well," he began, "You passed out after you sent that quick guy flying, so we brought you in here."

"Hey, Luffy!" A shout came out as the door from the kitchen opened up. The source of the burst of noise was from Usopp, who was really glad to see Luffy awake.

"Hey, Usopp," Luffy responded, putting a pinky in his left ear, and flicking out its contents.

"You alright there?" The sniper asked.

"Yeah. How long was I out?"

"Five days," Usopp flatly said, though it was a lie.

"FIVE DAYS?!" Luffy shouted in shock, followed by a lighthearted laugh from Usopp.

"Nah. Just a few hours."

"Usopp!" Chopper scolded. "I told you not to do something like that to Luffy! He's had enough problems without you turning into one of them!

"I'm sorry!" Usopp apologized, still chuckling, "It was just a small joke!"

"Was it to make Luffy feel better, or you?" Chopper questioned, still giving the evil eye to the sniper. "Because look at him! You know what you did to him?!"

Usopp went agape, mostly over Chopper's change in tone, then looked at his captain. 

"He's lucky that the fire didn't completely sear his flesh," Chopper went on, "And that he jumped overboard to douse it, otherwise, it could have burned his bones and organs! And if that didn't kill him, smoke inhalation would have!"

Usopp then closed his mouth up, and looked back at the doctor. After staring for a while, he looked to floor with a glum expression.

"Why did you have to remind me, Chopper?" Usopp said, not even bothering to lift his head up.

"Guys, it’s okay," Luffy said, softly smiling, making the two look at him. "It doesn't matter." 

"But, Luffy..." Usopp attempted to speak, but the scar-faced boy stopped him from going further.

"It’s fine," he assured, "It was just an accident. Besides, I probably deserved that for something, anyway."

"Don't say that, Luffy!" Chopper yelled, "You didn't do anything bad!"

"I let my guard down around him," Luffy muttered, "I should've smacked him across the ship when I had the chance."

"Hey, he surprised me too!" Chopper exclaimed, "He took me, Franky, and Robin out too!"

"Oh yeah," Usopp chimed in, "Robin said that she and you guys got knocked out by some kind of sleeping drug, right?"

"Franky thought that this guy was after something in the Soldier Dock System, so he took us to check, then something fell in the hatch. It was more of those grenades, but they made us fall asleep."

"Yeah," Luffy concurred, "He got me with one of those. And he tied me to the mast's arm. With my legs."

"He's got skills, I'll give him that," Usopp mumbled.

"And I let him get away with Nami's tangerine," Luffy added. "I actually let him insult her instead of attacked him when I had the chance."

"Don't worry about that, Luffy. It's just a fruit. It's worthless on its own."

"Speaking of Nami," Luffy then questioned, "Where is she?"

"In the dorms. Last I checked, she was a little shaken up over what that guy did. She must've hated it, being insulted by a thoughtless moron. If I were scolded by anyone like that, I'd feel the same way."

"Really?"

"Yep!" Usopp cheerily stated, oblivious to Luffy's growing frown. "Makes me wonder, if he wanted that fruit so bad, he could've talked with us and we'd cut a deal."

"But knowing Nami, she'd charge him with 300% interest. She always was petty and unfair about things she owns." He remembered the time when she charged him a large sum of berries over a coat he damaged back at Drum Island. It doesn't help he overheard her say something about increasing the already high cost a few days after they left Thriller Bark. Obviously, she hasn't forgotten, and probably never will. This started to make him sulk.

'I was actually thinking about telling her the truth when she got sick,' He thought. 'I knew she was important, but I never thought she was so important that I would feel... like that again...'

"Hey, Luffy," Usopp brought Luffy back to reality. "Don't worry about what has happened. What's done is done. You can't really fix the way an idiot acts. It's impossible to do."

"You think?" Luffy pondered, still miserable.

"Yeah. That guy would have caused us some trouble in the long run anyway."

"I guess you're right."

"Of course I'm right!" Usopp beamed with pride as he lifted his thumb to himself. "This is the same guy who stared down a tough marine! This one had a really big mask covering his jaw, and was great at shooting, but not as good as me!"

"Wow, really?!" Chopper exclaimed with stars flying about.

"Yep!" Usopp went on to talk about his totally BS story about how he defeated this hulking marine as Luffy got up and out of bed, grabbing his hat.

"If it's alright with you guys, I'm gonna get another vest and take a walk," Luffy asked while putting it on his shoulders.

"Huh?" Chopper questioned, not paying attention. "Sure, Luffy, whatever. Usopp, you're the coolest! No one is better that you!"

"Thank you, Chopper!" The liar still grinned at his fable. "Of course no one is better than me! I'm the greatest!!"

Luffy then walked to the door that goes outside, frowning.

"I'm the one who fights the tougher guys..." He muttered under his breath with disdain. As he walked out of the sick bay, he realized something. He never felt jealous of Usopp getting recognition before...

XXX

The pain was certainly unbearable, from his perspective. He thought he was tough, skilled. But as skilled as he was, he has so many flaws. And one of them just happened to appear in that moment.

'I... I should have been more careful,' Henley thought, as the doctor finished tying the last amount of stitches on his body. He knew you'd have to be crazy to stitch yourself up, but if his only option was to stitch himself when no one else would, he'd do it. On top of that, he has something that would make people turn him over to the marines. He's just lucky that someone was willing to help him out, despite his differences and problematic situation.

"There," The doctor said, "That should do it. It could take a while for those stitches to heal, so you should avoid putting strain on your body."

"Yes, sir," Henley replied, "Thank you."

"I just want to promise this," The older man asked, "You won't challenge anymore pirates like that. Especially not with that mark on your chest. It's no wonder some people keep chasing after you."

"Yes, sir," Henley said, looking dejected. He never showed this mark of shame to anyone. It was obscured from view, but there is a cut mark on it, courtesy of Roronoa Zoro.

"What were you thinking, doing something like that, and going into the jungle without a plan or a group?" The doctor said, "That barrier exists to keep attackers and beasts like those pantherpines out! Youths today." He muttered that last remark under his breath.

"Then what's the point of the doors, then?"

"If anyone wants to go along the beach because they came that way, then they can. Other than that, it's there because we have a small group of pickers that wear clothes laced with that special moss. We need a place to get fruits and animals to eat from, after all."

"About the animals, doesn't the moss on that wooden wall just drive them away? You wouldn't have needed to build the barrier, either way."

"No chance, kid." The doctor got up to get some bandages to wrap up Henley's wounds. "Besides, that wall is also meant to keep attackers away."

"But if they want to plunder the village in a smart way, then couldn't they take some disguises from those pickers that leave and enter?"

The doctor paused when he heard that.

"Also," Henley went on, "There was a large patch of moss where anyone under say, ten feet, could walk through the patch and blend in with the crowd. There aren't many incidents on this island, from what I've heard, so crime patrols would be lax, wouldn't they?"

The doctor realized that the kid was right. Anybody could get in that way, even a rouge pirate. He then brushed it all off and said, "Eh, whatever, nobody'll notice that, so why bother telling about it to anyone?"

Henley sweat-dropped. 'Do these guys not care about the safety of this island?!' He thought to himself.

It only took a few minutes, but then the bandages were applied and done. "There, that should do it," He said, "Keep yourself from overdoing it and you'll be fine. With your physiology, you should be healed in a matter of weeks. Two, in fact."

Henley nodded, putting on a sky blue shirt with a grey jacket, and some black pants. They looked as if they had seen better days, with the shirt having a thin rhombus-like shaped hole at the chest, and a right triangle shaped hole at the stomach. The jacket had some claw marks at the right shoulder, and the cuffs of the pants, well, there were shreds at the bottom of them. 

The doctor then handed him his brown cloak and hood and said, "This one's on me, alright?" Henley looked at the man in surprise, as if he were wondering why. The doc went on, saying, "Besides, if I turned you in because of that mark, I'd be putting my beliefs into question."

The redhead looked astonished. "I didn't think," he began, "That anyone would help me, because I was part Fish-Man. Or because I have a..."

"I was only doing what I thought was right, young man. I know you're a good person, but some circumstances do cause problems to others." 

"Yeah, I know. Not everyone is good, but not everyone is bad. I know that now, and I won't forget that again!" Henley looked like he was putting on a brave face, but it was a fake smile. Deep down, he was hurting inside. Because of what he did, because a twist of fate forced him to forget about so much. Forget the one of the most important lessons a human could learn. An image of Ace came into his mind. 

'I won't forget again, Ace,' He thought. 'I won't lose control of myself like that ever again!'

On the bright side, he won't have to suffer from the side effects of his memory formula any longer. Just one more gap to fill, and he'll have remembered everything in his life.

"Well," Henley said, opening the door to waiting area, "I'm off! Thank you, sir!"

"You're welcome, young man!" The doctor waved goodbye as the redhead walked to the exit.

He got outside, and went down the street to an alleyway, hiding behind some boxes.

'One more drink of this stupid thing, and it's done!' He thought, 'I'll have my memories back! Though, it isn't as important as the cure, and Flora's well-being! But at least one thing is done with!' In that moment, he took a drink of the light green vial, and swallowed its contents whole. 

The redhead then walked out of the alleyway, and went over to the wooden barrier of the island. During the trip, he felt somewhat uneasy. He had gotten the last element needed for a working cure, but something wasn't right. He'd have to figure it all out when he has the time, but right now, the finishing touches of the cure was far more important.

It didn't take him long to get to the barrier of the island. As tall as it was, he can easily scale it like it was nothing.

He made sure nobody was watching, and activated his devil fruit ability, whatever it was. 

XXX

Luffy came out of the dorm area, and had pretty much the same set of clothes he usually wears. The only difference was that the vest is a violet color.

"Yo-Ho-Ho-Ho~!" A familiar chuckle was sent out of a certain skeleton's nonexistent vocal chords as he danced like a ballerina. As he twirled continuously, he went up to Luffy. "Ah, my captain! Mr. Luffy! Are you feeling well?"

"Hey, Brook," Luffy responded, though the greetings were not as cheerful as usual.

"Feeling down?" Brook questioned, still continuing to dance. "Fear not! I know what will cheer you up!" Brook twirled up to a wall, stopped, and slammed his head against it. 

"There! 45 Degrees!" Looking from a perspective, you can see that Brook has once again used his body to create a right triangle, which all perfectly lines up in place. Also, the action resulted in a lighthearted laugh from the captain.

"Okay, that cheered me up," Luffy spoke, smiling warmly.

"Always happy to assist you, sir!" Brook spoke again, leaving his tilted position. 

"Thanks, Brook," As Luffy gave thanks, he couldn't help but think about Nami.

'Wasn't she in the girl’s dorms?' He thought. He decided to go over there and check up on her, despite how distant they got. And as far as he's concerned, it's all his fault.

Long story short, the Straw Hats met Shiki, a powerful pirate that hid from the world for years, then he came back out of hiding to destroy the East Blue. Then, he kidnaps Nami and tried to force her into his crew, only managing to do so after defeating Luffy the first time. This makes her decide to join, effectively pissing Luffy off. While he saves her and takes down Shiki, he was disappointed in her, as expected. Then, she gets embarrassed over a small message she left for him and the crew, and throws the recording into the water. 

All that did was pour more salt on the wound, because Luffy believed she trusted him, and to have that happen was enough to convince him that she didn't trust him. And there was the chance that he brought this on himself, which makes this already worse. It felt like a sick joke, he trusted her, but she didn't. If a god of mischief had such a crass sense of humor, then this must be it.

But despite this turn, he still thought that she trusted him. It may be naive, but it's still a chance nonetheless. Besides, he always believed in her navigation skills, which got them out some tight spots. On top of that, she would never betray him. Never, ever! Right?

Luffy then put his hand up to his chin, and started to think. 'She's betrayed me before, but she had some reasons. Even what happened with him, it was because...' Luffy went downcast as he still thought, walking to the girls' dorms. 'It was because... I wasn't strong enough. So, can she still... like me? Should she still be here with me?'

As he kept thinking, he didn't realize that Sanji was standing outside the door, taking a drag from his cigarette, until the smell clued him.

"Sanji," Luffy said, making the cook look at him. "Is Nami alright?"

"Is she alright?" Sanji seethed, almost biting the tobacco stick in two. "You let that scumbag get the drop on you, let him say those horrible things about her and you ask if she's alright?" 

Luffy started to look more downtrodden. "Listen," He began, "I know she's hurting, and I want to talk to her."

"Forget it," Sanji coldly responded, shadows masking his eye. "She's not seeing anyone right now. Even if she were, you'd be the last person she'd ever talk to."

"Why?" Luffy asked, "I did screw up when he took me off guard, but I sent him away. He really crossed a line."

"But only because you let him."

"Okay," Luffy said, "I don't know what your deal is, but I wasn't the one who pissed him off!"

"Oh, you're saying that it’s Nami's fault now?!" Sanji yelled, pushing Luffy away from the door he tried to grab. He stumbled a bit, almost falling down the steps.

"What?!" Luffy questioned, "No! But, to be honest, she could've calmed down so that guy wouldn't have said those bad things!"

"Those tangerines matter to her! No one deserves to have them but her!"

"He said he needed it to save someone! I don't know how he can do it, but he really should've asked!"

Sanji scoffed. "Since when do you take the enemy's side?"

"I'm not!" Luffy shouted, raising his hands in a defensive manner. "I'm only saying that if both had cooler heads, they could work something out!"

"Oh, really?!" The cook sarcastically questioned. "Maybe we calmed down," Sanji proceeded to make air quotes, "Then maybe we could've had Shiki borrow Nami for a few weeks and have him destroy only part of the East Blue!"

Luffy snarled, grabbing Sanji by his suit. "Do you want me to give you a black eye or what?!"

The yell got the attention of Franky, who was exiting the Aquarium Bar. He saw what happened with Brook, and the two were watching them bicker.

"Whoa," Franky spoke, "Never saw Straw Hat chew out Bro Cook before."

"Yes," Brook mused, "And I hope we don't ever have to." They continued to watch as they went back and forth.

"Really, captain?" Sanji mocked, "You're gonna hit me now? Like what you did to Usopp back at Water 7?!"

That was enough to make Luffy flip his lid. He growled, then turned his body around, with Sanji in tow, and let go of him. The cook was sent down the stairs, rolling on the grassy deck. Luffy walked down the steps, his scowl growing with each step. He then spoke, threateningly...

"DON'T. EVER. TALK. ABOUT. SHIKI. NAMI. WATER 7. OR. USOPP. EVER. AGAIN!"

Zoro came out of the kitchen with a bottle in his hand, and looked at the scene before him. He was confused, but the walked down the steps to Franky and Brook.

Sanji slowly got up, with a glare of his own.

"You should've shut up about whatever the hell that runt wanted," The cook retorted. "He was a bastard, Luffy. You couldn't reason with him. Besides, who'd listen to an idiot like you?"

"Okay, fine." Luffy spoke again. He still had some anger, but it seems to have toned down. "Maybe he was a lost cause. But I hate knowing that Nami's like this. I just want to--"

"No," Sanji denied, "You're not seeing her. You don't deserve to."

"That's not up to you to decide that."

"Yes, it is. I care more about her than anyone else aboard this ship." 

"I care about everyone, even you. That's why I'm the captain."

"Just because you are the captain, that doesn't mean you can do whatever you want!"

"I just want to see her, Sanji! I don't care if you approve or not!"

"Well, I don't care if you are the captain! To me, you're just a spoiled, selfish twerp that drags this crew down!"

Luffy felt an itch come on. It wasn't the kind you scratch, however, but the kind where you should punch the person in the face. He wanted to, because of how satisfying it would be, but decided it wasn't worth it overall. 

"SHE'S MY NAMI, YOU RUBBER-BRAINED SHIT!"

But that didn't mean he shouldn't strike back with words.

"At least I don't chase after some girl's ass while saying Nami's mine!" Having said that, Luffy turned around, and made his attempt to climb up the stairs. He didn't even care that a black leg came behind him.

He was knocked away from the stairs due to Sanji's strike. This caused him to hit the railing, breaking it apart, and fall into the water.

"LUFFY!" The men out on deck cried out. Zoro ran out to the railing and jumped into the sea, intent on saving the captain. As for Brook, he was about to jump when Franky held him back.

"Don't be stupid, Brook!" Franky shouted, keeping the skeleton back. "Luffy will be fine!"

"But I can't do nothing!" Brook exclaimed, "He's our captain! We should help him, no matter the cost or challenge!"

Robin then came out of the girl's dorm, looking calm and irked at the same time. 

"What is happening out here?" She asked, "I managed to convince Nami to nap for a while until dinner."

"Ask him!" Brook shouted, pointing at Sanji, desperately trying to light another cigarette. "He's the one who kicked Luffy overboard!" At the same time, Usopp and Chopper came out on deck, not knowing what was going on outside.

"What?" Robin asked, sternly looking at Sanji.

"Robin," Sanji pleaded, "I know how bad this looks, but it wasn't my fault. He made me do it!"

Zoro climbed up with Luffy, coughing up water for the second time today. Chopper went to look at Luffy, while the swordsman menacingly walked towards the blond chain smoker.

"WHAT THE FUCK IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!" He shouted, pulling out his swords, stopping short when Robin got in between them.

"Zoro, wait!" Robin implored, "We should think about this here! We don't know what went on between them."

"Yes, we do!" Zoro bellowed, "This eyebrow freak attacked the captain!"

"Wait a sec!" Usopp yelled, "Maybe it was an accident!"

"No!" Franky answered, "Brook and I saw the whole thing! Luffy and Sanji were arguing, then Luffy pushed him down the stairs! That's the part you missed, Zoro! But he did have it coming! He said something about Usopp back at Water 7!"

Zoro, Usopp and Chopper looked at Franky, comprehending what he just said.

"Screw you, Franky!" The cook sneered behind Robin. "You had your family attack Usopp when he lost some money, you dick!"

"THAT'S ENOUGH!" Robin shouted, sprouting arms behind Sanji, restraining him and bending his back, but careful not to break his spine. "All of you are acting like spoiled children, so stop it!"

Everyone went quiet. Robin never made an emotional outburst before. Well, at least not since Enies Lobby. They were each shocked, and almost didn't notice Luffy pick himself up, and walk up to the middle of the deck. His hat covered up his eyes, and everyone knew what that meant.

"Luffy?" Chopper questioned, feeling worried.

"Are you alright?" Franky followed up.

"...up," Luffy silently seethed.

"Mr. Luffy?" Brook walked up to his captain. "Are you still well?"

"Shut up," Straw Hat said again, a little loudly then the first time.

"Luffy," Robin spoke up, releasing her hold on Sanji, and strolled to Luffy. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"SHUT UP!" Luffy roared, jerking his head up and revealing a suppressed glare, one that a madman would give off. Needless to say, everybody was disturbed. "JUST SHUT UP! IF YOU DON'T LIKE ME, THEN SAY IT AND LEAVE ME ALONE!" The raving boy then stretched his arms until he reached the arm of the mast. He launched himself up, and went to the roof of the crow's nest. 

Those that were on deck, unsettled by the captain's rage, looked at each other. It was such an uncomfortable silence, until Brook, slightly vexed, walked up to Sanji.

"Are you happy now, young man?" The skeleton asked, bending to look down on the smaller man. "Was insulting our captain worth it? Was stepping on his authority and insulting him worth it?"

"He's an idiot," The cook replied, "There's nothing wrong with calling a man like him that."

"There is," Brook said back, fuming still. "You don't call anyone an idiot. It's not the gentlemanly way to act to others."

"You don't act like a gentleman, either."

"And yet, I don't shout and claim a girl to be mine, like an upstart bachelor." Brook then stood up straight, then went to the ropes, intent on climbing up to the crow's nest. "I thought you all call him an idiot as a term of endearment, considering he doesn't get mad. I must be short-sighted, thinking that way. Perhaps we all are." 

He looks back to his crewmates, with nothing but contempt. "We must not deserve to be his friends, let alone, deserve to be in the crew of a good man. Maybe, we never did, and he only took us in out of pity."

The skeleton climbed up on the ropes, until he reached the nest. As for the ones on the ground, they felt shabby. However, a green-haired swordsman felt as if he was judged, found guilty, and given the harshest life sentence.

"He's right," Zoro softly spoke, "We really don't, not after all that's happened."

"Zoro?" Chopper questioned, waiting for an answer. 

"We screwed up, big time," The swordsman pointed out, covering his face with his hand. "After all that crap over Usopp and the Merry, we lied to him." He sighed, more downtrodden. 'I... lied to him,' He thought. 'I'm such a hypocrite, damn it all! Even after all that shit over respect...!'

"What do you mean?" Chopper questioned again. He never remembered telling Luffy a lie. At least, he didn't recall it, to his knowledge. 

"Chopper," Robin said, "Remember when the flag was stolen, when we entered the cold waters, and we fought a family of bounty hunters that stole some flags?"

"Yeah, why? Doesn't Luffy know about that?" 

"No," Usopp said, before stopping to swallow a lump in his throat. "Because, we sort of kept it a secret from him." 

"What?!" The doctor exclaimed.

"Shh!" The sniper quieted him down. "We also kept it a secret from you, too. At least, we tried to. Then, I gave you some cotton candy to shut you up."

"Wait, then you lied to him and me?!"

"I didn't want to lie to you, buddy! Just Luffy! I mean, I thought we could get away with it! He's stupid!"

"See?" Sanji gestured to Usopp. "Even he thinks Luffy's that way!"

"What do you mean, even me?!" Usopp angrily questioned. 

"Wait, why did you guys lie?" Chopper questioned again, almost on the verge of tears. He believed that Luffy was told about the flag, and looked past what happened. He thought, on the crew's side, it was an honest mistake. Letting it get stolen and neglecting to tell the captain along the way. 

He was also told by Usopp that since Luffy was the captain, he should take responsibility for the theft. So, they blamed him for not being there and he apologized for letting the flag get stolen. In the end, they forgave him, since it's not his fault he was born stupid.* Was that also a lie?

*(A/N: I felt sorry writing stuff like this in, but sometimes even friends can be jerks. Some can be brutally honest and honestly brutal. So how can we tell which is which? Also, how can we be nice but tell the truth?)

"Hey, Reindeer-Gorilla?" Franky asked, getting down on his knees and raising his sunglasses. "Personally, I kept quiet because I felt pathetic. Weak. I wanted to pretend this never happened, or else he'd hate me again. I'm no man. I'm soulless." 

"I did it because Nami wanted it that way," Sanji said. "She wanted to sweep it under the rug, so I did what she wanted. And because I didn't want that moron to yell at her." His attempts to light a cigarette didn't work the first time, and now, he can't even light his lighter.

"I did it because..." Zoro paused, until speaking up again, "Because I felt like I had to. I wanted to protect my pride, even though I wasn't on the ship when it happened."

"I lied, and so did Nami, too," Usopp admitted, earning a small gasp from Chopper. He never thought Nami would lie to him, too. "We did it because, well, we didn't want to be insulted. At least, not by a friend, who is an idiot. And our captain."

Chopper was stupefied, looking at his friends. The same people who accepted him, despite being a reindeer who could act like a human. He then turned to Robin, emotionless.

"You too, Robin?!" At this point, the doctor was close to tears. 

"I'm sorry, Chopper," The archaeologist spoke again. She closed her eyes, and spoke again, "I lied too. All because I... I... felt amused. I... wanted to lie. Because it felt gratifying. I wanted to fool him. Fool him...!" She somehow hardened her heart and won against the tears, stopping them from leaving her eyes. 

Chopper, however, didn't bother to fight it. He sobbed, letting the fall to the grass, like a rainstorm.

"I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU GUYS! YOU LIED AND CALLED HIM NAMES! YOU'RE JUST LIKE THOSE PEOPLE WHO CALLED ME A MONSTER!" He ran off like a shot, crying and running to the sick bay. 

"Chopper!" Usopp called out, but was held back by Zoro.

"Don't," he said, "When he wants to talk to us, he'll ask."

"Moss-head's right, for once," Sanji added, earning a scowl from the offended. "Besides, he's got every right to be mad at us. We should explain ourselves to him, and tell Nami that he knows."

Usopp then went silent.

"Hey," Franky asked, "Shouldn't we tell the captain, too? He deserves to know." 

"Then what?" Usopp questioned, "We get insulted and called out like this? We can't tell him! We're in too deep as it is!"

"Maybe, maybe not," Robin inquired, "We should tell Nami about this, and decide on what to do next."

"What else is there to do?" Zoro questioned.

"We can decide this. Should we tell the captain about this, or keep this our secret?"

"Duh!" Usopp chimed in, "We keep this a secret! What he doesn't know won't hurt him!"

"Bullshit," Zoro said, "We tell him the truth! We can't do this to him!" 

"Yes, we can! It's the easy way!"

"It's not the right way!"

"We can still do this because he's an idiot!"

"He's still our captain! We've lied to him enough!"

"We've lied enough, or you?!" 

Zoro and Usopp growled at each other, until Franky separated the two from each other. 

"Okay, okay!" He yelled, "Save it for when we have Nami and Chopper with us! Then, we can decide! Fair?"

The two looked at the cyborg, then nodded.

"Good," Robin said, "Sanji and I will wake up Nami, and tell her the news. The rest of you can talk to Chopper. We'll all meet in the aquarium."

The group on deck nodded. The choice they would make soon would not be easy, despite how simple it sounded. In the end, Luffy will still feel as he is, his descent towards the bottom and darkest of emotions only beginning.

XXX

Luffy sat up on the crow's nest's roof for a long time, his hat obscuring his most of his face. It's been a few minutes since he got up there, and he looks like he won't be coming down anytime soon.

"Mr. Luffy!" A refined voice called out to the captain, making him lift his head up from his arms. 

"Brook?" He questioned to himself.

"Mr. Luffy!" Brook called out to him a second time. "Please, can we talk?"

Luffy sighed and shouted, "Go away, Brook! I don't want to talk to anybody!" 

"Please, captain!" The musician implored once more, not giving up. "Whatever you have to say, I'll listen!"

"You don't know what I'm going through!" 

"Try me, then! I'll have you know I was a captain myself!"

Luffy then looked behind him. He couldn't see Brook, but he could tell that he wanted to help. 

'He was a captain, right?' Luffy thought to himself, 'Maybe he would understand...'

The captain then slid down to one of the windows, seeing Brook wave. 

"Well, my captain?" Brook asked, "Shall we talk?"

Luffy then smiled, responding with a simple nod. He jumped to the mast's arm and walked to get inside the crow's nest.

After the two entered, they both sat down on the bench, right next to each other.

"Alright, Brook," Luffy said, "What do you want to hear?"

"First," Brook began, "I want to know what happened with Sanji. Why did you push him down the stairs?"

Luffy huffed and crossed his arms in one go, likely at the mention to the cook. "Because he was being a jerk," He responded, "He said some things I didn't want to hear."

"Could you be specific?" Brook questioned, "What exactly did he say to offend you?"

Luffy went silent. He took a deep breath, and began to speak again. "Well... He said if I was defending that guy who attacked us today, then we could've had Shiki borrow Nami. He also reminded me of an incident at Water 7."

Brook listened attentively, nodding his head. The young captain continued.

"I didn't want to remember what happened there, but I did. I got angry, and I threw Sanji down the stairs. Then he told me I didn't deserve to talk to Nami. He insulted me, and you know the rest."

"It may not be my place to ask," Brook said, "But could you tell me about this incident at Water 7?"

Luffy squirmed a little, reluctant to talk. However, he then said, "This was before we met Franky and you. Did I ever tell you about the Going Merry?"

"Is it that ship with a sheep's head? The one like the Mini-Merry below us?"

"Yeah, like that one, but bigger. Basically, the Merry was our first ship. We traveled a good part of the Grand Line with her, but she was damaged, and we took her to Water 7, so we could get her fixed. But that's when we found out, she was beyond repair. So, I decided that we'll have to get a different ship. It was a hard choice, and Usopp didn't agree with it."

"I see," Brook said, solemnly. "I had to give up our first ship, too. Along with half of our crew, plus Yorki." Brook realized that Luffy looked glummer, possibly due to what he just said. "I'm sorry, Luffy. Please continue."

"Usopp didn't want to abandon the Merry, because someone he knew gave it to us. We argued, then had a fight. He was gonna leave the crew over it."

"But he's still here, right? You forgave him."

"Only because he was sorry," Luffy stated, "Zoro wouldn't accept him back unless he apologized. If he didn't, then Zoro would leave the crew."

"Really?!" Brook exclaimed, "Zoro would've left the crew?!"

"He didn't want to be with a captain who lets his crewmates walk all over him. And he's right."

"True," The musician mused, "I wouldn't let my crew walk over me either. A captain should have his decisions respected, because he always gets the last word, the final say. If no one respects him, then he'll put them in their places, or force them to leave."

"And that's what happened with Usopp."

"I see. This explains why you reacted in the way you did with Sanji."

"He's my friend," Luffy softly said, looking down with guilt. "But I still did that to him."

"You were only angry, Luffy," Brook assured, "He made you angry, and you retaliated. Then the same thing happened to you, moments later. I'm not saying he should have done that, mind you."

"They hate me, don't they?"

Brook was startled. He couldn't believe that Luffy said that.

"What... What do you mean?"

"Because of how I failed Nami," Luffy said, "They all hate me now, I bet."

"No, Luffy!" Brook shouted, "Don't say that! I doubt that they hate you!"

"I didn't do a thing to help when he took me off guard! I was stupid! Maybe now they hate me and want me gone!"

"Stop saying things like that, Luffy!"

"Maybe... Maybe this was a mistake. I shouldn't have tried to talk to you." Luffy then quickly got up and attempted to walk out of the nest, but a boney hand grabbed him.

"Wait a second, captain!" Brook yelled, making Luffy look back at him. "We are not done here!"

"Look, Brook," The captain began, "I know you're trying to help and all, but it's not working for me."

"Luffy, no one wants you gone! They never said that!"

"How do you know that?!" Luffy retorted, "You probably don't know!"

"I know because you are invaluable to us! We would all be dead if not for you!"

Luffy immediately became soundless at what his musician said.

"We are all different, Luffy," Brook continued, letting go of his arm. "All of us. But we have one thing in common: We exist still because of you."

Luffy looked down, knowing Brook was right. He sighed, and looked up to him, low-spirited. 

"Do they still trust me, Brook?" He asked, "Do they really trust me, as the captain?"

"I don't know the answer to that, I'm afraid," Brook responded, "There are some questions that only other friends can answer themselves."

"Oh." Luffy brought his eyes to the floor once again.

"But if it brings you comfort, my captain," Brook said once again, putting his hand on the captain's shoulder. "I trust you. I always will. You've either earned it or you haven't."

Luffy looked back up to his all-bone friend again, but more surprised than sad.

"Don't look so shocked, captain. If you keep looking at me like that, a fly will enter your mouth and you won't get it out. I have no problems with them, mostly because they can come and go when entering me, since I'm a skeleton! Yo-Ho-Ho-Ho~! SKULL JOKE!!"

Luffy let out a cheery chuckle in response to Brook's bit at humor. He's actually glad that someone on this ship has faith in him, even though he's only been in the crew for about a few days.

"Thanks, Brook," Luffy said, "Knowing that you trust me really helps me out a lot."

"Sometimes a person is at their peak in confidence when encouraged," Brook stated, "It's part of why I'm able to fight."

"Yeah." Luffy then sat down on the floor. "Hey, Brook?"

"Yes, Mr. Luffy?" 

"When you were with your crew, what kind of adventures did you have?"

Brook beamed with excitement. He never told anyone about his adventures with anyone before, at least, not in detail.

"Well, Mr. Luffy," He said, dramatically standing in front of his audience. "When I was a young man of flesh, bone, and vigor, I decided to be musician because of one source of inspiration!"

"What is this source?" Luffy asked with a beaming grin, and stars shining around his eyes.

"A grand woman, who I miss dearly. She may seem odd to most people, but to me, she was the sun to my moon! She was the greatest woman that I have ever seen, back when I had eyes, of course! Yo-Ho-Ho-Ho~!"

"Shi-Shi-Shi-Shi!" Luffy laughed at the simple joke. He wanted to hear more, he almost didn't care if he missed dinner. Almost.

XXX



Meanwhile, at a marine base...

"Sir," Fixit asked, preparing his gear. "Shouldn't we start deploying troops for the capture of Monkey D. Luffy?" 

"We don't exactly know where he is, Fix," Beau-Pére replied, sitting at the desk in his office. "I'm issuing an APB on the Straw Hats, with orders to respond back to me. Also, anyone, whether a marine, citizen, or bounty hunter will have instructions to not detain any of them."

"But, sir, won't they disregard your orders?"

"That could happen," The commander stated, "You must have a large set of balls if you disobey orders that came from Fleet Admiral Sengoku himself."

"Yes, sir. Like that one time you rammed one marine battleship into another against his wishes when that rear admiral abused his authority."

Beau-Pére sweat-dropped. "Please, did you have to bring that up? It really doesn't matter."

"But, sir, you saved a lot of lives that day, and it only cost you a chance to make the jump to vice admiral."

"Again, don't remind me of that. I only did what I thought was right back then, and I don't regret it." He then looked to the side. "I wonder if I'll ever have a second chance like that again. It was a pretty big jump."

"Sir!" Fixit scolded, lightly slapping his commander on the head. 

"Okay, okay!" Beau-Pére chuckled, "I was only joking!"

During the chatter, a ring echoed across the room from the transponder snail on the desk. 

"Commander Beau-Pére," He answered.

"Sir," Seventy's voice came from the snail. "The prisoners are attempting to riot again. They're getting louder by the second."

"I really don't have time to deal with this, Seventy," The commander said, pinching his nose. "Can't you handle it? It's obvious he's the one behind it."

"I'll try, sir. But he's a hard man to stop once his chains are removed." With that, he hung up.

"That man," Beau-Pére mused, "Ever since he's been transferred here, he's been nothing but trouble."

"His escape attempts, sir," The mechanic noted, "This will be his 5th time. Not counting his other escape attempts from other bases or battleship brigs."

"Yes, he's rebellious, for having a 20 million berry bounty. If we found out about his true nature, it would have been higher." He stood up, and walked to the door. "I've decided to help quell this riot. Let Seventy know that." 

"Yes, sir!" Fixer shouted, giving a salute and reaching for the snail as Beau-Pére walked out of the room.

He walked through the halls, filled with a few armed marines walking behind them, intending to control the detention center. They made their way to the elevators and went in. Then, the mechanized system took them down to ground floor.

The doors opened, and the commander stormed out with his men, joined by more along the way.

During the march, he had a few images flash before his mind.

'I promise this, sister,' He thought, 'I will make sure he answers for what he did to you and your daughters. I... will answer for failing you.'

The doors to outside opened, and it looked like some of the inmates were putting up a fight. Some stole a few rifles and fired at the guards, others engaged their watchdogs with their fists, swords, wooden planks, and whatever they could grab with their thieving hands.

"Deal with them, men!" Beau-Pére shouted, his men standing in between him, and firing their rifles at the enemy. "I've got a bigger fish to catch!"

"YES, SIR!" The group shouted, and he ran to the detention center, knocking down and disarming some rioters along the way. 

He pushed the doors open, and saw the cafeteria in chaos. Left and right, some inmates were getting caught in large nets fired from Scorcher's cannons on his shoulders. They were silver, big, and looked like tailpipes from a motorcycle. 

He had black shoes and black pants, with flares and holsters on his kneecaps. He had black armor with orange painted spikes on the shoulders that only covered part of his torso. Dead center, there is an insignia that looks like a small ball of fire. Underneath, he had a yellow, orange, and red shirt, arbitrary colors for a blaze. Behind him was a large, silver canister that stuck to the back of his armor.

Then, an inmate lifted a bench from the floor and ran at Beau-Pére, but was slammed to the side by the front of a bazooka. It belonged to Seventy.

He was wearing an unbuttoned, brown camouflaged shirt and had a spare rifle strapped around his back. He had his black belt, brown pants, and black shoes he wore in the training room.

"A little late to the party, boss!" He joked, firing another net at a group of inmates.

"Yeah!" Scorcher cried out, "It's a madhouse in here! Though it probably is one!" He fired some shabby shells that knocked down a larger group. "That's a trip to the infirmary!" 

"It doesn't matter if your good with those crappy weapons, you'll never beat my score over these lowlifes!"

"Stow it, men!" Beau-Pére ordered, "Just get this place under control! Now where is he?!" He went to a downed inmate that picked himself up and grabbed his collar. "Where is he?!"

"Who?" The weaker man sneered. Big mistake. He suddenly felt his neck get squeezed by the commander's hand. 

"YOU KNOW WHO!" He shouted, angrier than the last moment. "WHERE'S ARLONG?!"

"RIGHT THE HELL HERE, INFERIOR HUMAN!"

He was right there, standing on a table with a rifle and a sword, pointing the blade at the marine. He was wearing black and white stripes all over his shirt and pants, his shackles severed. 

He had jet black hair and blue skin, with a shark fin sticking out of his back. His hands and feet were wet and webbed, and his nose was pointed and jagged, like a sawshark. In fact, a sawshark just happened to fit with his namesake, as he was feared greatly as the most notorious pirate in the East Blue. And his name is...

ARLONG. FORMER CAPTAIN OF THE ARLONG PIRATES AND PRISONER OF THE G-13 MARINE BASE.

"Sha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha~!" The brutal fish-man laughed. "I'm getting out of this dump, little human! And there's nothing you can do to stop me!"

"You said that the last time you broke out!" Scorcher mocked, "And there was the time before! And before that!"

"The yappy candlestick has a point, Saw-shank!" The big man yelled, earning a glare from both. "You've screwed yourself just by challenging us! What makes you think this time will be different?"

"Simple!" He boasted, "Because I've got an advantage! Something you miserable species don't have!" 

"Your good looks?" The fiery man joked. This made Arlong angry, as he jumped off of the table and launched right at him.

"Shark Darts!" Arlong went right at Scorcher and tried to pierce him with his nose, and would have if he didn't dodge in time.

"Scorcher! Seventy!" Beau-Pére bellowed, "Never mind him! Get the other prisoners back to their cells! Just because you can take him on doesn't mean you should!" 

"Yes, sir!" The two proceeded to leave the commander to fight the fish-man, who tried the same attack on him. Beau-Pére just sidestepped without any problems.

Arlong then grabbed his rifle and shot at Beau-Pére multiple times, missing. That was due to how fast the marine was avoiding the bullets, and also managing to keep his jacket from being filled with holes. It wasn't long when he appeared in front of Arlong and jumped to his level.

"Tempest Kick!" Beau-Pére raised his leg, and struck Arlong across his face, knocking him to the side. He used one of his arms to knock the rifle away during the blow, and jumped away to avoid a sword strike.

"You'll pay for that!" Arlong yelled, "Shark Tooth Drill!" He jumped again, this time spinning with his mouth open, trying to shred the commander to pieces.

"Shave!" He disappeared to avoid the jaws of his enemy, and reappeared behind him.

Arlong, getting annoyed with the short man, decided to swing his sword wildly at the commander, but kept on dodging and ducking, bending his body like paper. 

"Why can't I kill you?!" The fish-man angrily roared, desperately attempting to kill Beau-Pére with more sword strikes.

"Because you’re a soulless man!" Beau-Pére stated, "You never learn from your mistakes! You keep challenging people who are wiser and stronger than you, thinking about how better you are than everyone else around you!"

The marine then jumped into the air and hopped above the fish-man, only to stop and let himself fall. He brought his left leg up during his descent as Arlong foolishly raised his sword to stab his foot.

"This is for the woman you murdered! Tempest Kick Iron Hinds!" Using two techniques he learned with his training, he broke the sword into a million pieces and struck Arlong in his chest with his right leg, sending him crashing into a group of rioters that surrounded themselves with many tables. The marine safely landed on the ground without trouble.

He looked around him. Most of the inmates were either unconscious or caught in one of Scorcher's nets. Which reminded Beau-Pére...

"Now!" He shouted, Scorcher running to the space where Arlong was knocked out. He grabbed the shoulder cannon on his left, and fired a shell, giving off a light blue color. It engulfed the area, making those still conscious pass out from inhaling the gas.

Arlong made his attempt to stand, despite the blows and the gas, but to no avail. He went back down like a bag of hammers.

"You know," He began to muse, "If I weren't a 5 times demoted ensign, I'd have thought of this, like, 10 minutes ago."

A few stragglers, without weapons, tried to sneak out of the back way, but a group of marines came in, with Fixit.

"Sorry, gentlemen," Fixit spoke, slightly smiling and clearly enjoying himself. "No walks at this hour. You wouldn't believe the trash people leave around these days."

Beau-Pére looked around him. All in all, it could've been worse. At least the riot is over with and he's done his duty. 

"Well, men," He said, "Let's put them back where they belong." He then pointed to Seventy and a fresh group of marines next to him. "Take Arlong to the Box! Put him in chains and give him a muzzle. I don't want anymore trouble out of him!"

"Yes, sir!"

The commander, having given his orders, exited. He couldn't stand to be inside the detention center any further. 

Back then, he thought that this place could rehabilitate those who strayed from humanity. But now, with a man of absolute evil residing in these halls, it makes him wonder how naive he's been. He thinks about how stupid he was, believing each letter sent to him, simply because they said a certain name, someone he knew for a long time.

'Should I have quit the marines?' He thought, 'If I did, maybe she would still be alive, and that despicable monster would've been someone else's responsibility.' As he opened the doors and stepped into the light, he felt somber. 'And now, I have to catch the savior of her daughters. The one who avenged her death.' 

It felt cruel to do so, since he's probably that girl's reason for living, but he has his own responsibility.

'When we meet, Monkey D. Luffy,' He thought, looking to the sun, close to setting. 'Don't hold back anything. I won't, for I have to catch you.'

XXX

 

The doors to the aquarium opened up. Franky, Zoro, Usopp, and Chopper, eating some cotton candy, went in and each took a seat behind the tank. Not long after, Robin, Sanji, and Nami came in as well. They sat opposite to the other guys.

"Hey, Big Sis," Franky spoke to Nami, "Are you alright?"

"Yes," Nami replied, taking a deep breath. "I'm fine. So... We have to think about this, huh?"

"Tch." Zoro clicked his tongue in annoyance, "Of course we have to. Luffy's the captain, we can't keep anything from him."

"Yes, we can," Usopp said, "And Brook too, he can't know, either."

"Wait," Sanji then asked, "Luffy, I get, but why Brook?"

"Possibly because we can't take chances around him," Robin mused aloud, "He may surely tell Luffy if we tell him."

"Oh, yeah," Sanji then understood, but looked to Chopper. "What about you, Chopper?"

Chopper had misty eyes as he ate some cotton candy, and raised his head to Sanji, emotionless.

"I don't forgive any of you for keeping this from me, you know," He stated matter-of-factly.

"Understood, Reindeer Gorilla," Franky assured, "Bro Cook's just asking if you think you can handle it, since you're in the loop now."

"I can try," The doctor said, taking a bite out of the fluffy treat.

"Alright then," Robin began, "Let's not take too much time on this, and decide now, rather than later."

"That sounds like the best choice, Robin," Nami responded.

"By the way," Sanji chimed in, "How'd you get Chopper to come?"

"Cotton candy," The other men simply replied, making the cook and Nami sweat-drop.

"Of course..." They both said.

"Anyway," Robin gained the crew's attention again, "Should we tell Luffy that we let the flag get stolen, or not?"

"I say we don't!" Usopp raised his hand up, attracting the crew to him. "I say we don't, because we don't know how he'll react! He doesn't want to speak to us right now, and this'll upset him even more!"

"I still say we tell the truth." Zoro calmly suggested, "He may resent us for this, but won't kill us."

"Yes, he will!" Usopp yelled, smacking Zoro on the head. "He'll definitely kill us! He's on the edge of killing a person!!"

"He... He is?" Chopper questioned, quivering.

"Wait, wait, Usopp!" Nami yelled, "What do you mean, upset him more?"

Usopp went dead silent, then responded. "Earlier today, when we were going through the jungle, he made it clear he didn't want to hear Shiki's name again. Brook thought he could help, then Luffy snapped back at him. He was really angry."

Everyone looked at Usopp with inquisitive looks. He was right. Luffy was angry, just like when he knocked away the intruder who insulted Nami.

"Don't you see, guys? We can't tell him, or he'll get so mad, he'll... I don't even know what he'll do!"

"Yeah," Sanji agreed, "He pushed me down the stairs when I talked about Shiki in his face." He sweated slightly, intentionally leaving out the part where he talked about the Water 7 affair with Usopp.

"Really?" Nami asked.

"Don't worry, Nami," The cook assured, waving his hand. "It wasn't that bad."

"He could've done worse to you, shit cook," Zoro said, making Sanji jerk his head to him. "Especially when you insulted him while saying that Nami was yours, and kicking him into the sea."

"Shut the fuck up, Moss-head!" Sanji shouted, "At least I'm not a jackass who carries around swords only losers can use!"

Zoro started to have a demon aura shoot from his body, in response to what Sanji just said. Proud warriors, including his deceased childhood friend, carried these swords, and this so-called prince dares to insult their memories? He stood up, filled with rage, ready to draw one of his swords, but a hand stops him.

"ENOUGH! BOTH OF YOU, STOP IT!!"

Robin had as many hands appear to hold down both Zoro and Sanji from moving to attack each other. Every eyeball in the room looks to her, staring down at everyone with a fierce glare a devil would be intrigued by.

"All of you... We have to focus on Luffy. If you have any problems with each other, then settle them at a later time! Unless you have anything important to say about this, keep quiet!"

Robin let go of her grip on the two fighters, and both took their seats, still staring at each other. 

"Sanji." Nami seethed, with her hair covering her eyes. "You kicked Luffy in the sea while saying that I belong to you?"

Sanji then looked at Nami, his face sweating in fear. 

"Nami," Robin interjected, "Not right now."

"Fine," Nami huffed, "Later." The cook sighed in relief, being spared right now.

"Maybe we should tell him," Franky said, bringing everyone back to topic. "I mean, we've hurt him enough already."

"We, or you?" Usopp muttered with his arms crossed.

"Okay!" Franky shouted, "I get it! I screwed you and everyone back at Water 7! If I knew that we'd all be together, I would have fixed things back then! Get off my back!"

"Fine!" Usopp yelled, "But I will never forgive you, Franky!"

Franky then went quiet, after hearing what the sniper said. He looked away, feeling dejected. 

"I still vote to tell the truth to Luffy," He said, "Robin? What about you?"

"I want to tell him the truth as well," Robin said.

"You know where I stand," Zoro replied.

"I still say no," Usopp interrupted.

"I second that."

Zoro, Robin, and Franky looked up, surprised by the second 'no'. As for who said it...

He took a drag with his cigarette, closing his eyes all the while.

"Sanji?" Franky questioned.

"I'm sorry, Robin, my love," The cook said, facing Robin. "But I don't want Luffy to know that we lost the flag."

"Coward," The swordsman mumbled under his breath.

"Look," Sanji began, "I know this may not be right, but we should keep it a secret, because Luffy will hate us, like Usopp said. It won't matter if we do some good thing for the idiot, he'll never look at us the same way again. Maybe it's best we never mention losing the flag at all."

Chopper and Nami, who remained undecided, looked to their cook, and started thinking to themselves. They thought of Luffy, with an angry look on his face. In Chopper's case, he started showing razor sharp teeth and glowing red eyes. In Nami's case, she viewed him angry, then picking his nose with his pinky and flicking it in his general direction. Nami shook her head to get that image to disappear.

Chopper then raised a hoof, with his hat blocking his face.

"I... I..." He tried to speak, but had trouble getting his words out.

"Chopper?" Robin asked, "What's your choice?"

"I... I think we... should..."

Everyone stared at the young doctor, feeling a weight of anxiety on them.

"...We shouldn't tell Luffy."

"WHAT?!" Zoro angrily shouted, making everyone have goosebumps everywhere. "WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU SAY?!"

Chopper screamed, jumping out of his seat and running to Robin in fright. She grabbed him and held the reindeer close.

"I-I'm sorry!" Chopper pleaded, "Luffy will kill us if we tell him what we did!"

"But Chopper," Nami said, "You were with Luffy. You weren't responsible for--"

"It doesn't matter!!" Chopper cried, tears rolling down his face. "He'll hate me anyway! I don't wanna tell him anything!" The little one hugged tightly to Robin, and she responded in kind. Everyone felt really bad for him, even Zoro. He sat back down to his seat in shame as everyone scowled at him for his outburst.

"Hey, guys," Franky then interjected, "I've changed my mind. I don't want to tell Luffy anymore."

"Really?" Usopp questioned.

"If we tell him, maybe Straw Hat won't just blame us, but also Chopper. I can't live with that."

"Then I guess that's that," Usopp let out a sigh of relief. "Glad we don't have to tell him a thing."

"Wait," Sanji intervened for a second, "We didn't hear what Nami thinks we should do."

Sanji threw out a good point. Everyone made it clear on where they stand, except for Nami.

"Who cares what she think?" Usopp stated, standing up. "We have the majority, so what she thinks doesn't matter!"

"Yes, it does!" The cook angrily stated. "Her word should be law! No, her word is law! No one, not even that idiot, Luffy, can say no to her!"

"He's the captain," Zoro responded, "So he has the last say, so he can override Nami's decision if he has to."

"Shut up, Moss-balls!"

"Technically," Robin interrupted, "Nami does have the say in this."

"No, it's fine."

Everyone looked to Nami, who has stayed sitting where she was this whole time.

"It's fine," She said, resigned. "My decision doesn't matter anymore. The minute Franky changed his mind, we've already decided."

"Well, then, that's that!" Usopp exclaimed, "We won't tell Luffy the truth!"

"You sound happy," Zoro mumbled, getting up to walk out of the room. "It doesn't matter what we do. Luffy will find out eventually, and he'll be fucking pissed off. We'll come to regret this, eventually."

Just like that, he walked out of the aquarium. Sanji got up too, and walked to the door.

"We've made the decision, so let's never speak of this again," He said, "I'm gonna make dinner, and he'll come running once he's hungry."

"Alright, see you then," Franky said, walking outside to get to his workshop.

One by one, everyone poured out of the place, except for Nami, still sitting down.

'Damn it...!' She cursed to herself. 'Why did I think that way about him?!' Her mind flashed to him picking his nose with an angry expression. 

She saw that Zoro was standing at the doorway, coldly staring at her.

"He really cares about you, witch," He stated as his expression remained unchanged. "I don't know why you won't tell him that you trusted the captain after you betrayed him for Shiki, but I don't care. If you don't tell him how much you care about him, he'll go on thinking that you hate him."

Nami, looking annoyed, glared back at Zoro.

"That's not your concern, Zoro," She snapped back. "He doesn't need to know that I care about him. As long as he still trusts me, everything's fine. I don't care if he likes me that way."

The swordsman cocked an eyebrow, until he remembered that she heard Luffy stumble on his words when he fought that redheaded person.

"So he's smitten with me, what does it matter?" Nami said, getting up from her seat. "Nothing. I only love my mother, sister, tangerines, and money. There's no way I can love Luffy as anything more than a friend. It's impossible."

"He hears you say those words, he will lose it," Zoro asserted. "He'll hate you for the rest of your miserable life."

"Which is why I won't tell him," Nami smiled, "You better not, either. Unless you want your debt to be 50 times what you owe me!"

The swordsman developed a tick mark on his head. He was so pissed, he shouted... 

"I hope Luffy hates you enough to wish your death, money whore! That way, he won't have to put up with this shit again!"

Zoro steamingly stomped off, not wanting to look at the witch for another second. Then, Nami walked to the door, closing it. Upon the shutting sound, she went to the ground, bringing her hand to her face as she cried.

'He's right...' She thought in between sobs, 'He'll hate me for sure...! He may already hate me because of Shiki!' 

As she choked up to herself, an ear disappeared, leaving petals behind...

XXX

 

"I don't get it! I don't get it!"

Henley walked around his small campsite, pacing back and forth in critical thought. At the moment, he has a small tent for himself using thick blankets and sticks, covered in bright yellow green moss. Specifically, the kind of moss used to drive away animals. Lying next to it, a simple bag, one designed to hold beakers and test tubes, along with other miscellaneous items.

"This doesn't make any sense!" He shouted to himself. "I completed the gathering of the necessary items, sure. Now, Flora can be saved. I remember everything I forgot! At least, some of it." He walked over to his makeshift lab. A tangerine was peeled and robbed of its slices, though only for science. The slices themselves had nothing left but the skin underneath that kept their juices from leaking out. 

A fresh flask, with an orange liquid bubbling over a campfire, was held in place by a web, strangely enough. Sitting next to the fire was a log, and behind it was a small book. Henley then picked up the book, and flipped it to a page he wanted.

"It's almost done, yes," He muttered to him, "Only a few minutes, then I'm off, happy as a lark!" He then thought up of something, and turned to another page, this one detailing a beaker containing a murky green chemical. 

"This thing, I got rid of it, right? I checked the bag, and that test tube's contents were gone. But if I did dispose of it, I would have known. There's no way I'd get rid of something dangerous and forget about it." He closed the book and went back to thinking. 

Something did not sit right with him. 'I put it in a test tube, and labeled it 'DANGEROUS TO USE,' with some skulls and crossbones on it! So why did I still have it?' He remembered exactly why, and shook his head to make the images of a woman and a man dissipate.

"Those two," Henley angrily said to himself, "The woman who slaughtered Gibbs, and the bastard who did that to me...!" He walked back to the bag, still fuming. He reached in there and picked up a test tube with the label. "Where did you go?" He decided to keep looking in his bag, and counted three test tubes, each with a light green color to it.

"Wait, shouldn't there be only two since I gave Straw Hat the..." It all dawned on him before he could complete that sentence.

He administered the wrong chemical to Luffy, Ace's brother.

"No... No please...!" He dropped the empty test tube onto the ground and fell to his knees. "I've done enough damage to him! Now this is what happens when I came this far?!"

Just then, he noticed that the serum he left over the fire was at its boiling point. He went to the fire and carefully took the flask off the fire, and put it in a hole, surrounded by some cold dirt. 

"It's alright," Henley assured himself, "I can fix this. I just have to tell him how to get past this, and he can do it! If he can beat one of the Warlords, he can definitely beat a drink!" He then grabbed his book and pulled out a pencil, turning to a blank page. "Let's see, what this drink does to whoever consumes it will..." 

He continued to mumble as he multitasked to the best of his ability, writing and making sure the serum was completed. He knew he got someone into his own agenda, and he wanted to make sure that someone doesn't die over it.

'Your brother will live through this, Ace!' He thought, 'I'll make sure of that!'

TO BE CONTINUED...

Chapter Text

Chapter 5- First Nightmare


One Piece © Eiichiro Oda

William Henley, Flora and Ashley © HatOnFire/Me


(WARNING: DARK THEMES AHEAD. IF YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH THE SECOND PART OF THIS CHAPTER, TURN BACK NOW. THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING.)

The night hour was coming as the day was departing. The Jolly Roger of the Straw Hats was flapping from the sudden burst of wind, as Luffy and Brook climbed down the crow's nest. When they both got to the bottom, Luffy was looking a little sad.

"Wow, Brook," Luffy said, "That was... Wow."

"Yes, I know," Brook responded, feeling equally depressed, until perking up again. "But I've gotten over that, you know. I'm surrounded by other people who care about me. Like you!"

"I guess so," Luffy replied, smiling slightly. "You think she could still be alive?"

"I wish I knew. Either way, she would have wanted me to carry on. I would want the same thing from her, after all."

"Yeah. I know that feeling too."

Brook looked at Luffy when he said that.

"You had someone special, too?" He questioned.

"Not exactly," Luffy said, "I thought she liked me, but I realized she didn't."

"Oh," Brook mumbled.

"On top of that," Luffy continued, "She blamed me for something I had no control over, and she died later."

"Oh my..." Brook spoke from surprise. He never expected that something that happened with him similarly occurred with Luffy. "I'm sorry, captain, I didn't know..."

"It's alright, Brook," The captain assured, "It doesn't matter anymore. Let's get some food. I'm starving!"

"Yo-Ho-Ho-Ho-Ho!" The musician chortled, knowing that Luffy's appetite always comes up at any moment it chooses.

The two entered the kitchen, with most of the crew already starting to eat. Overtime, the meals where passed around, and everyone each had their fill. Everything seemed relatively normal, except for one thing: Luffy never took food off of anyone's plates.

After a while, dinner ended without disturbance. However, that left a good deal of the crew slightly disturbed, mainly Zoro. As Luffy got up from his seat, Zoro went up as well, intending to talk with the rubber boy.

"Hey, Luffy," He called out, making Luffy look back behind him. "You got a sec?"

Luffy shrugged, not even making a sound. He went outside, and the swordsman briskly followed suit. Usopp noticed this, and walked up to Sanji.

"Zoro's gonna talk with Luffy," The long-nosed boy whispered in the cook's ear, careful not to alarm anyone, specifically Brook. "What if he tells Luffy...?!"

"He won't," Sanji replied, "He's just as guilty as us. He won't say a thing."

XXX

Outside on deck...

"What's up, Zoro?" Luffy questioned.

"Just checking up on you, is all," Zoro responded, "That little bastard must've gotten to you."

"So what?" Luffy crossed his arms and looked serious. "He's not the first guy to piss me off. You know that."

"I know, but that crap cook did too."

The captain slightly seethed at the mention of Sanji.

"Hate him too, eh?" Zoro asked, smirking a little. "Join the club."

"He can't decide whether or not I deserve to talk to a person," Luffy muttered, "Especially if it's Nami."

"Hey, captain," Zoro started to suggest, "Maybe you shouldn't try to talk with her for a while."

"Wait, you too?!" Luffy exclaimed.

"It's your call!" Zoro raised his hands in defense. "I'm just trying to tell you what I think you should do right now!"

Luffy huffed in annoyance as he listened to Zoro.

"I don't think she wants to talk to you right now. And you've been through a lot, yourself."

"Do you think she's mad at me?"

"What?" The swordsman asked, confused.

"I let that guy insult her and steal her tangerine," Luffy said with a dreary expression. "Does she hate me more because of that?"

"Oh, come on, Luffy!" Zoro exclaimed, bringing his hand to his forehead. "She doesn't hate you! Even if she does, it's a fruit! She'll get her ass over it!"

"But she still hates me then, right?" The captain then took off his hat and let it hang around his neck on a string.

"No! You're joking, right?! Why would she hate you?!"

"Back at Drum Island," Luffy began, putting his arms into his pockets. "I got into a fight with this one guy, and I was wearing her jacket at the time. She lent it to me cause it was cold outside."

"But like with all your other fights, you get some wear and tear, right?"

"She was angry with me, at first. Then she charged me, and is gonna make me pay back three times what it's worth."

"WHAT THE HELL?!" Zoro shouted from the top of his lungs, making the Sunny itself jump up in comedic shock, despite being anchored. This caused the rest of the crew to come out of the kitchen with concern.

"Zoro, quiet!" Luffy tried to shush in vain. "She might hear you!"

"I don't care!" Zoro yelled again. "That was a petty thing for her to do! You saved her, and this is how she thanks you?! How fucked up is that bitch?!"

"Hey!" Luffy yelled back. "Don't call her that! I hate it when anyone says that about her!"

"I can't believe this! Let me tell you this, captain! I'll make sure she pays for this! It's one thing for her to do this to me even when I don't use her money she loaned me, but to you after everything...! *UGH!*!"

Zoro noticed that the crew was outside, including Nami. He started to approach her, but Luffy grabbed his shoulder before he can move one step further.

"Wait, Zoro!" Luffy pleaded, "It doesn't matter! Nothing does!"

Zoro stopped, but only because of what Luffy said.

"What?" He questioned, seeing that Luffy's eyes were shadowed.

"Nothing matters anymore," The captain quietly said. "Thanks."

"Huh? What for?" As Zoro asked, Luffy released his grip.

"For helping me understand something. I know now that she hates me, probably a little more than back at Drum Island."

"What? Luffy..."

"Now that I know," Luffy continued, "I don't think I really deserve her anymore."

"Hold on a second." Zoro went up to him, clutching the rubber boy's arms. He then whispered, "Deserve her? Are you saying that you... you used to-? No, that you like her?" He corrected himself. He didn't know why, but he corrected himself.

Luffy took a deep breath, a quiet one, and went up to his ear and whispered in response, "I did. I think I still do."

It may have been a simple response, but the way Luffy said those words, it sounded almost... blissful. No, it was blissful. Anybody could tell, if they heard his voice.

'This guy is a real puzzle,' Zoro thought, 'He may be denser than a ton of bricks, but I guess even he could...'

"Hey, captain?"

"Yeah?" Luffy asked.

"How long did you...?"

"Maybe since back in the East Blue, or at that Sky Island. I don't know for sure."

"Well, we've been travelling together for a long time. You had just about every chance for that."

"Yeah, not that it matters anymore."

"Wait, captain..."

"Are you gonna let me go, or what?"

Zoro let go of Luffy, albeit with reluctance. As Luffy went to sit out on the Sunny's figurehead, he turned back around and walked up to Zoro.

"Don't worry about me," He said with a small smile, "Maybe it's better this way. If she hates me, I'm fine with it. Some people just don't deserve love." The captain then turned a 180 and his legs carried him to the figurehead as the sun starts to set.

Zoro, with heavy resignation, left Luffy to be alone. But before he went to the men's dorms, he glared at the crew, piercing into their souls with his stare, judging them each. He then pointed at Nami, raising questions from them.

"This is all your fault, witch," Zoro said aloud, "I should've made Luffy leave you behind when I had the chance."

All this did was leave some members of the crew horrified, like Franky, Usopp, Brook, and even Robin. Nami, the subject of disdain, looked emotionless, however. Her eyes looked to be dead, almost accepting the insult and the harsh regret from the swordsman. But Chopper and Sanji, mostly the latter, were fuming at his words.

"How... How could you say that?!" Chopper angrily questioned. "She's you friend!"

"I don't remember calling someone as weak or black-hearted like her one! If she weren't the navigator, and if our captain wasn't so forgiving, I'd have thrown this little bitch out of the crew myself!"

"YOU MOSS-HEADED SON OF A BITCH!" Sanji screamed as he ran to Zoro, ready to put him in his place, in his mind, at least. He tried to kick Zoro, but the swordsman expected that, and rolled to the side, brandishing his swords.

"I've tried to be nice!" Zoro shouted, "But now she's done something that I can't forgive!"

"Shut the hell up, you bastard fuck!" Sanji yelled back. "Nami's an angel, you're the one who's done something I can't forgive!"

"You obviously weren't paying attention to Luffy back at Drum Island, dumbass prince!"

All this did was raise some questions from the Straw Hats that did go to that island.

"Drum Island?" Chopper mumbled, temporarily calming down at the mention of his home island. He then spoke up, asking, "What does Drum Island have to do with Nami?"

"Chopper," Nami interjected, still having a void expression on her face. "It doesn't matter. You shouldn't ask for things you don't want the answer to."

"Better keep asking, Chopper," Zoro told the doctor, "If she shuts you up, it's because she knows something she doesn't want you know."

"Listen here, dumbass!" The cook interrupted, "I was busy making sure that other idiot didn't screw Nami up! Besides, why would I pay watch him when I have only eyes for my true love?!"

"Love is blind. That just happens to worthless men who fall for the wrong woman."

"YOU WANNA GO, SHITHEAD?!"

"Ladies first, pissant."

*BONK!* Both of them were caught up in the argument they failed to see an arm grab both of their heads. The person then slammed both heads together, knocking the two down. Standing over the two was Luffy, his hair shadowing both of his eyes.

"EHHHHH?!" The crew, minus Robin and Nami, yelled in great shock that Luffy came out of nowhere to end the fight before it got messy.

"All of you, stop it," Luffy said only five words, and that was enough to get everyone's attention.

"Luffy!" Usopp nervously exclaimed, "I was just about to step in and set those two straight!"

"Don't lie," The captain said, making Usopp shut up. He then picked up Zoro and Sanji by their ears, forcing them to get up to avoid further pain. "You two, shut up, and don't ever talk about this again. Understood?" He waited to hear a 'yes' from the two, and got them both. All he had to do was twist their ears slightly, and get the answer he wanted to hear.

After releasing both, he went back to the figurehead, but Robin approached from behind him.

"Luffy," She proceeded to ask, "Are you okay?"

Luffy turned his head around, and showed his face to her. He was scowling, but that's not what took Robin by surprise. It's his oddly green eyes that did.

"Just leave me alone," Luffy said, eyeing the rest of his crew. "I don't want to see any of you. Captain's orders." After staring them down, he went back to the figurehead, disappearing from their view.

"Did Luffy have...?" Franky questioned.

"...Green eyes?" Brook finished. "I saw them to, even though I don't have eyes anymore."

'Luffy...' Robin thought with a twinge of gloom, unreadable with her poker face.

Nami, on the other hand, quietly left the group, heading back to the girl's dorm. As she walked, she felt her avarice and petty wrath creep up on her spine. When she entered the room and closed the door, tears started to stream down her face.

'What have I done?' She thought, sitting on her bed in grief. 'Do I even deserve to be here, with Luffy?' She didn't care if the crew thought of her the way Zoro did, she only cared about what Luffy thinks of her, for some reason.

'Why am I feeling this way about Luffy anyway?!' Nami screamed in her head, unable to shake the captain out of her head. His short and messy, yet oddly attractive black hair. That scar under his eye, which seems to bring out his eyes more, somehow. The way he smiles, even in the face of danger. It's really assuring, even after going through death, seeing hell on earth, and other things that could drive a person insane.

Nami then tossed the entire image of Luffy out of her mind, though not without great effort.

'What am I doing?! I don't like him that way! ...At least, I don't think... I do, do I?'

Wiping her tears, she started to question everything, starting from when they first met, to when he recently saved her.

"No, not right now," she thought suddenly. She'll make a mental note to ponder on this another day. She already had a tough day, her fruit gets stolen and the thief berates her in front of the crew, she doesn't even get the chance to state her opinion on the telling the captain a secret, and Zoro's called her out in front of everyone.

"This was all nothing but a lousy day."

She decides to turn in for tonight, hoping that things will get better tomorrow. But, as always, wishing for a better day is sometimes met with harsher penalties...

XXX

Time unknown...

"There!" Henley exclaimed, feeling relieved. He carefully poured the orange flask into the test tube he held in his hand. It filled up a considerable amount, and he closed the tube with a small cap.

"Done! Flora will be cured in no time at all!" He put the tube in his bag, and took it with him into the tent, but not before pouring some water over the fire he made.

"I'll talk with Straw Hat tomorrow. He may not like me, but I'm sure I can still help him out." He crawled into his sleeping bag, and went fast asleep.

XXX

Luffy didn't know how long he was up, nor did he bother to care. He's decided that he's been outside long enough. He went to get inside the dorms, but stopped on the grass deck. He felt a dark presence. He didn't know how, but he felt it.

"Who's there?" Luffy called out, but no one came. Nothing showed before him. He looked around the ship some more.

"Zoro? Usopp? Chopper? Franky? Robin? Brook?" He called out to them, but none answered back. It occurred to him he didn't call everyone. He took a deep breath and begrudgingly called out the others.

"Sanji?" The cook didn't answer. There was one other person, but would she come?

"Nami?"

"Wrong, little brother," A voice came out from nowhere.

Footsteps suddenly started clapping on the helm's deck. He turned around, but saw someone else. Someone he had not seen for a lifetime.

It was a boy, wearing a black top hat with goggles on top, a blue jacket with rolled up sleeves, a cravat, and cyan shorts. He had blonde hair and a tooth missing, which he would have shown, if his mouth weren't closed.

"SABO?!" Luffy yelled, startled by the appearance of the boy.

"Luffy," Sabo responded back, with a small smile.

"Sabo! You're alive!"

"No, I'm not," The boy responded, his smile turning upside down. "I'm dead."

"But you're here, so you must be alive!" Luffy ran up to the smaller boy, with tears beginning to stream down, but then...

"DON'T TOUCH ME!" Sabo shouted, pulling a pipe out of thin air and knocking Luffy off the steps down to the grass on the Sunny. The captain got up from the pain, rubbing his cheek in surprise.

"Sabo? Why?" Luffy questioned.

"I don't want you to get near me!" Sabo exclaimed, "I hate you!"

It took only three words to make all color drain from Luffy's face.

"What?" Luffy still didn't comprehend what his brother just said. In fact, it's almost like he's trying hard not to.

"I'm dead, Luffy," Sabo answered, sarcastically calling Luffy by name. "And it's all your fault."

"What? No! It wasn't me! I didn't kill you! I would never!"

"You may not have started the fire, but you're guilty! You know why?! Because the town always hated you!"

"No! I didn't do anything bad!" Luffy shouted, "Sure, I pulled some eat and runs, but I didn't do anything bad!"

"The whole town was probably talking behind your back, brother."

Luffy gasped. He knew that voice anywhere. He looked to the left, and saw his other brother.

"ACE!" He shouted, only for Ace to run and punch him to the railing.

"Don't try to talk to me, Luffy," Ace said, setting his torso aflame. The fire reached to his shoulders, crackling in his ears.

"Why, Ace?" Luffy asked, in the verge of tears. "Why you too?"

"You've killed her, too, idiot. You didn't just kill Sabo, but her as well!"

"What?!" Luffy yelled, recalling a girl older than him, but carrying an axe. "But what happened to Ashley was an accident! I didn't do it! She killed herself!"

"Shut up!" A female voice came from behind him. Luffy looked, and stumbled backwards from shock. He saw yet another face.

She was wearing a torn dark green checkered dress shirt, light brown pants with suspenders, brown shoes, and was carrying a double handed battle axe. Her hair was short and orange, and her face looked similar to Nami's, though the difference was that her eyes were gray instead of brown. Her name was...

ASHLEY. FORMER RESIDENT OF WINDMILL VILLAGE, DAWN ISLAND.

"ASHLEY?!" Luffy shouted, his entire body shivering from great fear. "You... YOU'RE ALIVE!"

"You really are stupid, just as I remember, you annoying brat," The older girl said, sending her axe to the floor, crimson blood seeping out from the deck.

This made Luffy freak out even more. First he sees his deceased friends again, then something like this happens.

"What the hell is happening?!" Luffy was starting to freak out. All of a sudden, the flag above is turned to ashes, along with the sails and the entire mast! Sabo jumps from the helm deck as it catches the falling sparks and somehow becomes a burning wall!

"Exactly that, Brother," Ace said, his body turning into a great blaze. "Hell is happening. And you're on the cruise to it!" He started laughing wildly, allowing the flames to stream on the grass. Pretty soon, it spread across the entire ship, turning it into a sailing inferno.

Luffy started sweating out of fear and from the heat. The fire surrounded him in a circle, forcing him to recall a brimstone-like hell from the past.

"NO!" Luffy yelled, clutching his head, trying desperately to stop the flowing of his memories. "Not that! Anything but that! I hate the fire! I HATE IT, ACE! STOP IT! PLEASE!" He only stopped recalling the smoldering hell when he saw Sabo in the fire, burning up drastically.

"You did this to me," Sabo spoke, the fire burning his clothes and searing his flesh, turning him into a skeleton in seconds.

"NO! SABO!" Luffy reached out to him, only for the fire to burn his hand. He retracted it, eyes leaking tears from the sizzling pain.

Sabo continued burning until he turned to ash, and fell into the fire.

"You did this to me as well, Luffy," Ashley said with a sadistic grin, as sharp, pointed rocks unexpectedly flew to pierce her chest from behind. They managed to tear though her tall figure with ease, like a nail driving into a hardened plaster wall, with the assistance of a hammer. Blood came from her opened wounds, and spilled out of her mouth like a waterfall.

"NO!" Luffy shouted, unable to reach her to help. "I didn't kill you! You dropped off the cliff before I could save you!"

"I wanted Ace to save me!" Ashley angrily responded. "I wanted him, not you, as my boyfriend! But you constantly got in the way! I hated you for that, so I wanted you out of the picture!"

"B-B-B-But...!"

"SHUT UP, YOU IDIOTIC, WORTHLESS, PIECE OF TRASH! YOU SHOULD'VE DIED INSTEAD OF SABO THAT DAY! I WOULDN'T HAVE TRIED TO KILL YOU IF YOU JUST ROLLED OVER AND DIED!"

The mad girl then jumped backward off the railing and into the water, the look of pure hate imprinted into Luffy's memory as she fell.

"The entire village wanted us gone, Brother," Ace spoke up, appearing in front of Luffy like an ignited matchstick. He grabbed Luffy's vest, and lifted him up into the air.

"Ace, please...!" Luffy begged, "We're brothers! I don't want to remember any of this!"

"We are both sons of devils, Luffy. We don't belong with anyone. We don't deserve love from anyone. They'll just die, or turn against us, because we are who we are."

"That's not true!" Luffy shouted, trying to make Ace let go of him. "My friends care about me! They won't leave me!"

"If they care about you, then why are they lying to you?"

"What?" Luffy was taken off guard from the question his brother presented to him.

"Can't you see it in their eyes? They're deceiving you, and it's all because you're an idiot!"

"He's right, Luffy." Luffy turned to see who said that. The voice came from the floor above the aquarium. It belonged to Nami.

"Nami?!" Luffy exclaimed, "You too?! Why?!" As he asked, Nami pulled out a gun, and made a darker version of that signature gleam she has whenever money is mentioned.

"You disgust me as a human being," She said, aiming right at Luffy. "You actually thought I could think of you more than a friend. But we never were even that."

"What?! You're lying! I'm dreaming this up! I don't know how or why, but I am! This isn't real!"

"It will be, captain," The navigator said, her finger on the trigger. "And it will be all your fault for letting this happen."

*BANG!* The bullet exited the pistol, striking Luffy in the head, blood pouring from the back and front. Luffy screamed from the lead marble that went through him, but he's still alive. He looks, and gasps, seeing a different Nami.

She has bruise marks on her face, and has blood on her lip. She was wearing nothing but a top and some undergarments, but she has scratches on her oddly swollen belly, and scrapes on her arms and legs. Luffy was shocked that he didn't notice a dark portal of sorts appeared beneath him, and was swallowing him up. He didn't even care, he just stared at Nami.

"You could never completely save me, Luffy," She says, with eyes blank as silhouettes of large men appear, grabbing her limbs. "You never could, and you never will."

"No... Nami...!" He tried standing up, but the darkness swallowed him up, along with all light. He couldn't do anything but scream one word, one with all the agony he developed.

...

...

...

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

XXX

Luffy woke up, sweat going down his face. He was curled up in a blanket, resting against a pillow in the crow's nest.

"A dream," Luffy breathed, feeling slightly relieved. "That's all it was."

He realized that he had a blanket and pillow, and that he was inside the crow's nest. He never went in the nest, let alone get items to sleep with.

"Who did this?" He questioned, then started looking at his hands. "What's happening to me?"

Little did he know, as he returned to his slumber, he would get his answer soon, in the form of a certain young redhead yearning to make amends...

TO BE CONTINUED...


This chapter's pretty short, mainly because I want to make up for the delays I've made to it on this site. Hopefully, it does. More to come, so stay tuned!

Chapter Text

 Chapter 6- Cause and Effect


One Piece © Eiichiro Oda

William Henley, Flora, and Gibbs © HatOnFire/Me


The sun came out, warm rays of light hitting sand and sea alike, letting the world know a new day has arrived. The Sunny, still anchored in the position, had the planks down yet again.

Zoro climbed into the Crow's Nest, no doubt for some morning training, and sees a drooling Luffy curled up on the round bench. Zoro wouldn't admit it, but he was smiling in the inside at the sight of his captain. However, he wasn't prepared for what would happen next.

"Nghhh...!" Luffy grumbled, slightly tossing around in his sleep. "Ace...! Don't...!"

Zoro started looking concerned. He went up to the captain, trying to wake him up by lightly tapping his shoulder.

"Luffy?" He asked, only for Luffy to roll off the bench, squirming with closed eyes.

"Please...! Nami...!" Luffy mumbled louder, "Don't leave me...! Don't say that you...!"

"Luffy? Luffy!" Zoro raised his voice, grabbing Luffy by the vest underneath his blanket. "Luffy, wake up!"

"Ngh! I'm sorry! Please don't keep saying that...! Raise my debt if you...! Just put that gun down...!"

"Luffy!" Zoro decided that desperate times call for desperate measures. He started to smack Luffy awake. The only problem was...

"Aw, damn! He's made of rubber!" He then saw Luffy's hat tossed around the room, and his weight lifting equipment with some cast irons he had taken out yesterday. It was when Zoro had an idea, though it wasn't a good one, and it involves some level of pain.

"Sorry, captain," He said, walking to a cast iron that weighed about 50 pounds, with Luffy in his hand. "But if this wakes you up..." He grabbed the iron and held it like a frisbee, and brought the flat surface on top of Luffy's head.

*CLANG!*

"OWWWWWWW~!" Luffy woke up, and had a large bump swelling on top of his head. He started leaking out comedic tears as he clutched his head. "GRANDPA, WHY?!"

"Wrong, Luffy," Zoro simply answered, making Luffy look at him.

"Zoro?" He questioned, "That was you?

"Sorry, captain, but it was all I could think of. You were tossing and turning, and I couldn't wake you up."

"You could have just tapped me a bunch of times, you know."

"I didn't think you would wake if I tried that. If I couldn't do it once, what good would it do a second time?"

"Well, it still hurt..." Luffy said with pursed lips, eyeing Zoro in an angry fashion.

"I said I was sorry, didn't I?!" Zoro shouted with an obvious tick mark on the back of his head. Luffy yawned, being let down by Zoro.

"Hey, Zoro?" The captain then asked, "Did you bring me up here?"

"Yeah," Zoro responded, "I figured that you wanted to be left alone when you slept, so I brought you up here, so you wouldn't get cold or get disturbed."

"You could've brought me in the kitchen instead," Luffy pointed out.

"After what that damn cook did? No way. He'd probably beat you up first chance he got."

"Not that I wouldn't have deserved it..." He muttered under his breath, before asking again. "Hey, is it breakfast yet?" Despite thinking about breakfast, he realized that he wasn't hungry.

"Sorry, Luffy," Zoro replied, though mentally kicking himself for not thinking to save some for Luffy. "But you just missed it three hours ago."

"Damn!" He cursed, then sank to the floor, sighing. He had just realized why he wasn't hungry. "It's fine, Zoro. I didn't want anything anyway."

"Huh?" Zoro then questioned, taken aback. 'Luffy wasn't hungry?' He thought to himself, 'Could he still be thinking about yesterday? Or is it about that dream he woke up from a few minutes ago?'

"Besides," Luffy said, grabbing his straw hat, pillow and blanket, and going to the trap door. "Sanji wouldn't give me anything to eat, even if I did show up." He opened the hatch up, and climbed down, leaving Zoro's sight.

"Luffy..." Zoro softly spoke, then walked to his equipment, ready to lift again.

XXX

After returning the blanket and pillow to the bunk, Luffy walked out of the dorms, but with a glum face on him. He was still thinking about that disturbing nightmare from last night.

"Nami," He said to himself, "If I'm doing bad at protecting you, then say so. I can't figure it out myself..." He then sat on the grass against the wall, frowning.

Franky climbed out of the Soldier Dock System door from under the deck, carrying about two barrels in his hand. He then placed them in front of him, and opened up his stomach and pulled out a bottle of cola.

"Man," Franky spoke as he drank and swallowed his drink, "I thought we had enough of this stuff to travel for a few weeks. Guess not."

He looked to the side and saw Luffy sitting there, shrouding himself in moody thoughts.

'Sheesh,' he thought, 'Luffy sure looks bummed.'

The cyborg decided to try and talk to him. He may have voted against telling him that their flag did get stolen, but he didn't want Luffy to feel like this for the entire week. He's already acted different since Shiki, and he knows how rattled you can get him enough to resent you, and he doesn't want to let that happen again.

"Hey, Straw Hat!" Franky called out the captain by his nickname, walking towards him. He bent his knees to look over him. "You alright?"

"Leave me alone, Franky," Luffy said, trying to push him away. "I don't want to talk to anyone right now."

"I just wanna know how you're feeling, that's all," Franky responded.

"Isn't it obvious?" Luffy mumbled, "I just have a lot of things to think about, so I don't want to be disturbed." He got up and walked to the helm deck, heading to the figurehead of the ship.

"Well," Franky began, "If you need anybody, some of us will be going to town for a while!"

Luffy stopped halfway up the steps to hear Franky, talking about the other Straw Hats and what they'll be doing.

"I'll get some more Cola for the Sunny and me, Sanji'll get more food, Robin and Nami are gonna get some clothes that fit us, Brook will... actually, I don't know what he'll be doing, and Usopp's gonna get some stuff for himself, and some medical supplies for Chopper."

"Wait, doesn't Chopper get those things himself?"

"Yeah, but there's some moss that'll keep him from going anywhere near the town. It has a bad smell, at least, to animals."

"Oh."

"So, Chopper and Zoro are gonna stay here if you need anything, okay?"

"Whatever," Luffy replied, raising his hand up in annoyed manner. "It's not like they have to help me or anything." He resumed walking to the figurehead and escaped Franky's sight.

The cyborg frowned at what Luffy did. 'Man,' He thought, 'He just offhandedly threw away what I just said. I only wanted to help.' He went to pick up the barrels, and walked down the gangplank, just as some of the other Straw Hats were coming down to leave too.

"So, are you gonna get everything on that list?" Chopper asked Usopp.

"Yep!" The liar responded, "I get everything you need!"

"And I'll move my bones to help in any way!" Brook exclaimed, playing his violin with enthusiasm.

"Are you sure that I don't have to accompany you, my angels~?" Sanji swooned, a heart on his visible eye.

"I'm sure, Sanji," Nami answered, rolling her eyes as Robin chuckled. Sanji quit his swooning attempt to address Chopper.

"Hey, can you make sure that Luffy doesn't do anything stupid while we're gone?"

"I don't think he's gonna try anything for a while," The doctor replied, "Besides, you and Zoro sort of hurt his feelings."

"It wasn't my fault!" Sanji defended himself, "If that idiot did a better job protecting Nami from the slander that little stain who came here yesterday, this never would have happened!"

"Keep telling yourself that," Chopper coldly said, his hat hiding his expression. "It might give you some comfort to replace your shame. You could've killed Luffy yesterday, you know."

"Yeah, man," Usopp chimed in. "You almost killed him when you kicked him into the water."

"Did you forget that you're the one who set him on fire, jackass?!"

"At least I wasn't trying to harm him!"

*BONK!* Before the two could start brawling, they were lying on the deck with swelling bumps, and Nami was standing over them.

"Alright, knock it off!" She yelled to the two, before walking down the plank. The two got up, and followed suit, not wanting to feel even more pain.

Chopper then went back to the sick bay, to document some more medicine, no doubt. However, he had no idea that the ship would meet the same intruder again, though with a different purpose.

XXX

Henley stalked the jungle, making sure the predators weren't after him. He took great precautions, stopping every fifty paces to drop a small cluster of moss to ward away the animals.

It only took a while, until he found the ship belonging to the straw hat boy.

'I'm in luck,' He thought to himself, 'It looks like most of the crew are leaving for town. Good. I wanted this meeting with the captain to be purely confidential.'

Henley climbed the tree, making sure that no one was on deck, or looking through the windows of the crow's nest. He then jumped on air, and rushed himself to the arm of the foremast.

"Hey, Straw Hat!" He called out to the captain.

When Luffy looked up, he felt like he heard that voice before. He got up from his seat, and ran to the deck. When he saw who called him, his blood started to boil over. He saw Henley up there, wearing his brown cloak, and with some bandages on his face, showing beneath his hood.

"YOU!" Luffy shouted, stretching his arm to grab the cylinder-shaped branch, launching himself upward. He stood up and got into a fighting stance. "Why are you still here?! You want another fight?!"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Henley exclaimed, raising his hands and shaking them to avoid another beatdown. "I don't want to fight, please!"

"Oh, so now you don't want to fight?! What about yesterday?!"

"Okay, okay! I screwed up big time, alright?! I'm sorry!"

"NO!" Luffy shouted, angrier with each passing second. "NO, YOU'RE NOT! You already turned one of my crewmates against me! What more do you want from me?!"

"NOTHING!" Henley raised his voice. "I just want to tell you something important! That's all!"

Luffy huffed in annoyance. 'He stepped all over me and my crew, made them hate me, and now he wants to talk?!' He thought to himself. He then yelled to the shorter man. "This had better be good, or else you'll be wearing more black and blue all over your bitch ass!"

Now Henley started sweating when he heard the Straw Hat's harsh language choices. "Let me give it to you straight," He said, breaking the short and uncomfortable silence. "Something about you... is changing. But it's a bad change."

"You're talking to me like I'm some kind of idiot," Luffy said, growing impatient. "I'm starting to consider throwing you into the water."

"Wait, please!" Henley pleaded. "I don't know exactly the kind of person you are, but I realized something important! You're not like the other pirates that tried to kill me and the people of my island!"

"Of course not," The captain revealed. "Why would we kill you? You haven't done anything to hurt us. At least, until now, you didn't."

"I'm really sorry, sir," Henley apologized, looking solemn as he removed his hood. "I should've given you the chance to speak, rather than attack you. I just... Pirates I've met just shoot first, and ask questions never. That's been my experience from them, though some marines, and even civilians aren't any better. I was always paranoid around them. At least, I thought so at first." He bowed his head to the glaring captain, "Again, I'm really sorry."

"At first?" Luffy asked. 'Sir? He looks like he's around my age.'

"Yes, sir," The redhead replied, "I met a pirate who saved my life. A lot of lives, in fact. His name... was Portgas D. Ace."

"ACE?!" Luffy exclaimed. "YOU KNEW ACE?!"

"I just remembered at that moment, when you sent me flying. I remembered that Ace was there. He helped me, back then."

"Wait," Luffy said, "If you knew Ace..."

"Yes?" Henley questioned, until a fist came down on his head.

"THEN WHAT WAS THAT CRAP ABOUT EVIL PIRATES?!"

"OW!" Henley cried out in pain. "I said, I didn't remember him until now! I didn't even remember him because I forgot about my past when I drank some kind of chemical that made me lose my memory! I'm sorry!" He had to take a breath after shooting his mouth off with that long sentence.

Luffy stared at him for a while, thinking, and trying to comprehend what the hell he just said. 'If he's honest, then what was all that about...?' He took a pause until asking, "Arlong."

"Huh?" The redhead lifted his head up, if only slightly, asking what Luffy just said.

"You said Arlong," He clarified. "You compared Nami to Arlong, when we fought."

Henley sank his head in shame. "That was crossing a line, I know," He said. "I was just angry with how greedy she was, I snapped. I've always hated people who put prices on other people's lives."

"But she did that to a fruit."

"Yeah, I overreacted. And the worst part is, I know exactly why I said those things. It's a toxic side effect from my memory serum."

"That stuff you drink that helps you remember?" Luffy pondered aloud, expecting an answer.

"That's right." Henley replied, "When you drink it, the memories that are forgotten suddenly come back to you. However, whatever you were feeling will carry over, and that feeling will get unstable. I thought it was just a small price to pay, but now..." He trailed off, stopping short of his response. He turned to Luffy and bowed his head.

"I'm so sorry, sir. I jump to conclusions, I attack you, I hurt your friends, and I hurt your crush's feelings, all just because I don't want to lose someone I love. And on top of that, I've made things worse for you just by doing everything I could. Now, I want to make it up to you, by helping with your problems."

The captain slightly blushed from the word 'crush' being used to describe Nami. He shook his head to get the idea out of his mind and asked Henley. "Why did you give me that yucky drink?"

Henley looked down in shame. "Well... You see... Erm..." He had trouble getting his words out, until finally...

"I decided in the heat of the moment, since you were persistent and chasing me, I would give you something. I would discourage you from going after me and killing me, and other people." He raised his hand up before Luffy could speak, "At the time, that's what I thought! I didn't know you were Ace's brother, know about Ace, or know that you were a good guy!"

"Okay," Luffy said, "But why would I kill? I just want to be free! Only bad pirates want to do that!"

"Well, from my point of view, some pirates do want to rule the world. They just have some delusions of grandeur."

Luffy didn't get the 'grandeur' part of the sentence, but he did understand the delusion part, and nodded. He fought against people like that before, after all. People that believed they could take the world for themselves, even if it means using people like toys to do it. He hated people who acted like that.

"Anyway," Henley continued on, "I understand how bad this is and I'm not proud of it either. What you're feeling right now, I mean. That's the bad thing. But here's something you might not like, so please don't beat me up, okay?"

"No promises," Luffy flatly said, causing Henley to gulp, which in turn, made Luffy sweat-drop. 'Where was that confidence from a few minutes ago?!' He thought. 'Better than that, yesterday?!'

"Well, about that yucky drink," Henley said with emphasis, "I meant to give you a different one."

Luffy blinked a few times, until he put his hand up to his chin, thinking. Henley broke into a sweat, awaiting his response.

XXX

A few minutes later...

"Wait, what do you mean, a different one?" Luffy questioned, making Henley groan loudly and sink to the mast's arm in exasperation.

"You're so slow!" Henley whispered to himself, shaking all over. "Ace never said anything about that!" He perked up in realization, "Unless..."

"Uhh, dude, you didn't answer the question."

"Oh, sorry about that," Henley apologized. "You just took a while to respond, I couldn't take it."

"Well, cut me some slack!" Luffy shouted. "I haven't thunk in a long time!"

Henley sweat-dropped yet again. 'Thunk isn't even related to the word think,' he thought, 'But that's not important now!'

"When I said, a different one," Henley returned to the topic, "I meant a different test tube, er, drink. I thought I gave you the one I meant to give. However, it wasn't the right one."

"The right one?" Luffy questioned. "What's it supposed to do again?"

"Well, as I said when I gave it to you, it would help you think clearly, and increase how you were feeling when you were taking it."

"Oh yeah! I remember that part."

"Yes, but since you took a while to respond a few seconds, it's further proof that I gave you the wrong one. You would've thought quicker than that if it was the right one."

"But I still feel crummy," Luffy pointed out.

"True," Henley said, then asked, "Hey, did someone make you laugh?"

"Yeah, yesterday. Brook did a thing and I laughed, but I still felt depressed."

"Did you think that deeply about what I said?"

Luffy went silent. That was the only answer Henley needed.

"Oh, God. I'm sorry about saying that and shoving those awful thoughts into your head. But did someone tell you that they respect you?"

"Yeah," Luffy said, his expression still unchanging. "Brook. He said that he's glad that I'm the captain, because of how I am."

"He's a good man, like that Roronoa guy, though he looks more dead than alive."

"Heh. Skeleton joke."

"Right. And did you feel better about that?"

"For a while, then I felt bad again."

Henley listened well, taking a deep breath and exhaling. He did not want to tell Luffy about the other test tube, but he must. He was raised to be honest, after all. He was even told that not all pirates were bad, though the reverse was also true. But what happened two days ago, was really deplorable. He really let his father down. He let Ace down, too.

"Well, captain," He finally spoke to the Straw Hat boy, "What you're feeling now, is an extreme level of negativity. It comes from a green colored liquid in a test tube. One of the things it's supposed to do is slow the part of your brain that helps you remember things."

"Oh," Luffy said, "Like earlier."

"Yes," Henley confirmed, with guilt in his eyes, "Mostly for things that you consider are important, and also for bad memories. Speaking of bad, it only gets worse."

"How worse?"

"Look at this test tube right here." He pulled a test tube from his bag, and revealed a tag in the middle, with a skull and crossbones and wording. It read, "DANGEROUS TO USE."

"A skull and crossbones?" Luffy asked.

"That skull here, it's different from the Jolly Roger in the sky," Henley spoke, also pointing to the flag fluttering on its post above the crow's nest. "This drink I gave you was not meant for you. Now, about the other effect I mentioned. It's supposed to make the subject feel negative, though only when said subject is at that point."

"And then what?"

Henley paused, then continued. "Then, the subject becomes a different person, in an emotional context. They start seeing every person who's wronged them, friend and foe, in a different light. Next, they start pushing others away, refusing any attempts of apology. If rattled enough, they lose any sight of their values and what they hold as truths. It's only a matter of time until they lose..."

"Lose what?"

Henley made another pause, this one longer than the last, until...

"They lose the will to live."

Luffy looked at Henley in disbelief, combined with dread. But with the redhead being silent, it must be the truth.

"You mean... soon... I'll want to... die?!" Luffy was so shocked, he turned pale.

"I remembered that I meant to give this to a person I hate, when I see them again. But now that I've realized what I've done, I went to get rid of it. But then I found out that I gave it to you! I'm sorry!"

"I'll... want to die?! Luffy repeated again, making Henley bury himself in his cloak.

"I NEVER SHOULD HAVE MADE THIS EVIL FORMULA EVER!" He shouted, "I BECAME EXACTLY WHAT I DESPISED! WHAT I FOUGHT AGAINST!"

What filled his mind next were multiple images. One of a silhouette of a person with men armed with rifles, along with a blue skinned person on the ground, shot by the person in the center. The hand that held a pistol, resembled a woman's hand. Another image came about, this one showing a silhouetted man with a helmet on his head, holding a large machine gun. Henley purged those thoughts, not wanting to remember any further, lest he go insane again and hurt Luffy, who had nothing to do with his agenda.

'I'll avenge you Gibbs!' He thought, 'But I'll never stoop to the level of those godless savages! Not again! Never again! First, I'll help this good man, then Flora, and then...'

"You made me drink this... and I'll ask to DIE SOON?!" Luffy grew more venomous, bringing Henley back to reality. He knocked the tube out of the redhead's hands, and grabbed him by the chest.

"Please, understand!" Henley spoke, attempting to reason with the angry captain. "I wasn't out to hurt you! It was a mistake!"

"Was attacking Nami like that also a mistake?!" He raised his voice, scaring Henley into shutting up. "Was insulting her also a mistake?! WAS MAKING EVERYONE HATE ME ONE OF YOUR MISTAKES TOO?!"

Zoro, who was still in the crow's nest weightlifting, stopped when he heard Luffy's loud voice. He threw down the weights to see what was happening outside.

"Please, Captain Monkey!" Henley pleaded. "I didn't mean for it to go down like this! I thought it was temporary!"

"Our lives are temporary!" Luffy snapped back. "All my life, I went around my village, hearing people call me a freak because I can do things normal people can't! I felt alone because no one wanted me! I heard one of the people saying he was glad I would be leaving soon because he would make sure I was killed if he had to deal with me running through town!"

"Please, captain! Wait! WAIT!"

Zoro climbed down the ladder and saw Luffy, with red and green eyes mixing together in rage, carrying Henley to the other side of the mast's arm.

"NO! I'M TIRED OF PEOPLE TELLING ME OFF LIKE THIS! I'M SICK OF HOW THEY TREATED ME WHEN THEY DIED! WHEN SHE DIED!"

"Wait! What are you doing?!"

"Some of the people of my village acted like they liked me, but they were all just trying to humor me! I could tell! You think I couldn't?!" Straw Hat stopped at the end of the mast, refusing to let Henley go. His grip was so tight on Henley's skin, it could turn blue from the hold. All Henley could do was squirm and panic, seeing the ocean water below.

"PLEASE!" Henley still implored. "YOU KNOW I CAN'T SWIM!"

"LUFFY!" Zoro called out, making Straw Hat jerk his head around. "THAT'S ENOUGH!"

"This little shit's part fish-man," Straw Hat stated, still refusing to let go of his prey. "He'll be fine, regrettably."

"Why? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?!" Henley yelled.

"To get you off my ship. I don't ever, ever, want to see your face again!"

"Wait, I SAID WAIT!"

"I SAID THAT'S ENOUGH!" Zoro went to grab Luffy, but stretched his foot out and hit Zoro in the face, making him stumble. He fell, but quickly caught the folded sail before he hit the deck.

"WAIT!" He pleaded for the last time, "I DIDN'T TELL YOU YET, BUT...!" The captain threw him overboard, but this wasn't the end yet.

"THIRD GEAR!" He jumped into the air, blew into his thumb, and then inflated his leg. He raised his supersized foot to strike down Henley.

"THERE'S STILL A WAY...!"

"GUM-GUM...!"

"TO STOP THIS!"

"GIANT!"

"LET ME HELP YOU!"

"AXE!"

"THERE'S STILL A WAY...!"

"GUM-GUM...!"

"TO STOP THIS!"

"GIANT!"

"LET ME HELP YOU!"

"AXE!"

Straw Hat brought his foot down upon the redhead, intent on forcing him to sink.

"STTTTOOOOOOOOOOOPPPPPPPP!"

It was too late for him. Too late for apologies. He was done, as far as Straw Hat was concerned. He may have known Ace, he may have had some memory loss, but that would never excuse him for what he did. Even if he truly did want to help, it didn't matter anymore.

He sent his foot down on Henley, making hard contact. The redhead felt the harsh impact of the foot slam him into the ocean below. If he could describe it, it was like a ship falling from the sky, headfirst.

Straw Hat's shoved his foot until it hit the ocean, and he didn't have to shove it anymore. He landed on the deck as he deflated, as Zoro climbed down and Chopper came running.

"Luffy!" The doctor called out in confusion, "What was that?!"

"Nothing," Luffy said in his small form, "It doesn't matter."

"WHAT THE HELL'S THE MATTER WITH YOU?!" Zoro shouted, grabbing Luffy by the neck. "You could've gotten me killed!"

"But you're still alive," The captain mused, "I would've caught you if you didn't catch the sail in time."

"But you hit me! I told you to stop!"

"Would it kill you to give me some respect, Zoro? I did you a favor. He won't be back again."

"Yeah, because you killed him!"

"I didn't kill him! He's part fish-man! He'll live!"

"Even so...!"

"There's no 'what if', he's still alive!"

"You know, something's wrong with you, Luffy!"

"I'M FINE! JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!" Luffy immediately ran to the railing and jumped before Zoro and Chopper could do stop him. The moment the captain felt his feet hit the sand, he darted into the jungle, uncaring of where he would end up, or who he would meet, for that matter.

"Aw, crap!" Zoro cursed, running to the gangplank after Luffy. "Chopper, stay here! I'll get Luffy!"

"Wait, Zoro!" Chopper cried out forcing the swordsman to stop. The doctor then pointed his hoof to his diagonal right. "Luffy ran that way!"

"I'm going in that direction!"

"No, you're not!"

"Yes, I am!"

"No you're not!"

"Yes, I am!"

"Look, you'll need me to help get you back to the ship!" Chopper argued.

"But someone has to stay and guard it!"

"No one's gonna be back until lunchtime! We'll get Luffy back by then!" The doctor changed into his animal form and galloped down to Zoro.

Zoro sighed, feeling some doubt over the reindeer's suggestion.

"I hope you're right," He mumbled, motioning Chopper to lead the way.

"I've got his scent! Let's get to him!"

The two took off, abandoning the ship to wait for them.

XXX

The half-breed had sunk into the ocean, stopping when he made contact with the island's wet sand. He tried to get up, but he felt extremely weak from the sea water. The water pressure was strong, weighing his sins and keeping him down. However, he still struggled, intent on making land.

"Ngh!" He grunted, slowly crawling along the floor. He grabbed the rocks to support him and his ascent back to the land. It was going to be a while before he could make it back up.

'It's all my fault,' he thought solemnly, trying in vain to move faster. 'I was an idiot. But I'll be damned if it ends like this!'

Henley pushed on, seeing the weighed anchor. He thought he could try to climb up the chains with it. He was caught up with crawling uselessly that he didn't notice some monstrous sea serpents slithering behind him with red eyes...

TO BE CONTINUED...

Chapter Text

Chapter 7- Rampage


One Piece © Eiichiro Oda

William Henley, Cobalt, Flora and Fixit © HatOnFire/Me


Luffy huffed and puffed, while his feet carried him across the entire jungle. He grew back to his original height, minutes after sending Henley to the water with his Third Gear attack. Right now, he was running, not bothering to catch his breath.

"Dammit, Dammit, DAMMIT!" He shouted, rushing like the wind. "They all expect me to be stupid, all of them! That little stain thinks that he can come on my ship and be nice to me because I'm an idiot?! Screw him!"

"*GROWL!* *HISS!*" A collective sound could be heard from behind Luffy. When he looked, a cluster of blackest-night furred pantherpines jumped from behind the wall of trees onto the trail given off by Luffy. They all had one target: The boy running in the jungle.

"You dumb cats wanna play?!" Luffy yelled, braking to a halt. After burning his sandals stopping, he cracked his knuckles. "Fine! Here, kitty, kitty, kitty!"

The prickly felines snarled, possibly taking great offense from their condescending prey. The one in front made the jump to land on Luffy. It was simple enough for Luffy dodge it.

"Gum-Gum Bazooka!" The boy outstretched his arms, and sent them into the face of the panther, making it drop to the ground from impact.

"The hell am I doing fighting like that?!" Luffy said aloud, still steamed. "I should be doing this!" He jumped into the air, wrapping himself with his arms and legs and spinning like a ball.

"Gum-Gum Fireworks!" He quickly untied himself and sent out punches and kick at every corner of the area. He managed to hit a good number of them, but since he struck their bodies, his hands and feet were punctured with quills. Normally, he would wince from the severe stings, but he didn't. He landed, seething with remaining anger, not pain.

The ones that were still standing all turned the other direction to shoot their quills at Luffy. They let out a swarm of their signature needles, and Luffy took off like a shot, running to the side of one of the big cats. He extended his left arm to a tree on the other side of the area. Next, he launched himself to that point, letting his other arm out to strike.

"Gum-Gum Scythe!" He clotheslined the mandibles of his 'would be' predators, knocking out some of their sharp teeth. After appearing on the other side, he elongated his arms again, this time wrapping them as he reached for one of the panthers.

"Gum-Gum Hammer!" Grabbing his target, he lifted him up into the air, spinning him around while repeatedly bringing him down upon the others, one by one.

Even after taking them all down, he still had more frustration he had to unbottle with his fists. The captain ran off again, going in a random direction.

XXX

Henley still struggled against the pressure mounting on his body. He was forced to keep collapsing to the sea floor while crawling to the anchor.

'Just a... little more!' He thought, barley lifting an arm to grab the anchor. 'If I can move... a little further, then... I can climb back to... the surface...!'

With great effort, he grabs the anchor, and pulls himself to it. He tries to grab it with his other hand, and succeeds. Now, Henley makes a more difficult attempt with his drained strength: climbing the chain back to the top.

*HISS!* A sound came from behind him, startling the half-breed as he looked to see what it was.

The creature itself, has a body akin to a Sea King, despite not being one. It had a cool, cerulean color along the scales, and had red eyes. The head was more dark blue, and the areas around the eyes looks like a black mask. Lastly, the underside was white, including the bottom of the snake's stout. This creature was definitely of snake origin. It's specific name is...

SEA SNAKE: BLUE RACER. UNKNOWN IF BIG FRIENDLY OR BIG SAVAGE.

"Oh, great!" He exclaimed, clutching his chest from the sudden fright. "A sea snake! I thought things couldn't get worse!"

The snake blinked its eyes, obviously in confusion. It wondered what the deal is with this odd fellow. He looked human, but seems to be a fish-man, too. He hissed out with his black tongue, obviously asking who, or what, he is.

"Huh?" Henley questioned, "Me? I'm part fish-man, yeah. I'm just trying to climb up here."

The snake hissed, wondering why the half-breed was climbing the chain of an anchor when he could, you know, swim to the surface.

"Because I ate a devil fruit, and I'll just sink if I let go."

The snake hissed again, in realization this time. Then, an idea came to the marine-colored snake. He hissed out his suggestion, interested in helping the climbing boy.

"You? Carry me to the surface?"

He nodded.

"Okay!" Henley accepted, "Just don't bite down on me, hard."

The large snake hissed in a chuckling manner. He went to Henley and opened his mouth. He closed his mouth, once Henley's cloak was in the snake's jaws.

"Note to self," Henley said aloud, "Certain sea snakes can be classified as Big Friendly. Hey, Cobalt, you aren't a venomous snake, are you?"

Cobalt, the name Henley gave to the large blue racer, hissed a 'no' sound.

"Okay then!" Henley chirped. "You are a Big Friendly! By the way, like the name I gave you?"

The snake answered with a yes, cheerfully hissing.

"Hey, can you carry me away from the ship? I've pissed somebody off up there, and I can't be seen up there. He might kill me, not that I blame him."

*HISS-Sss-Sss!* Cobalt replied, and swam with his new friend in tow to some rocks. Then, he came up to the surface with a splash.

"Thanks, Cobalt!" Henley chirped, as the blue snake lifted him to a piece of the rock and let him off. "Okay, next order of business." Henley grabbed and rolled up a part of his damp cloak and squeezed some water out of it. "I've got to figure out how to help Luffy out. Though, he definitely might try to kill me."

Cobalt looked at the half-breed, puzzled about his predicament.

"Oh, sorry, Cobalt," Henley apologized, "Maybe I should tell you about what's going on. I... think I'll feel a bit better if I open up to you."

*HISS!* The large snake understood, and began to listen to the boy's problem.

XXX

Meanwhile, in the jungle, Chopper was leading Zoro through the basin, on the trail of Luffy's scent.

"Now he went this way!" The reindeer shouted, taking a hard right as Zoro followed suit. They both noticed that most of the predators are down on the ground with bruises and bumps on their heads. From pantherpines, and real panthers, to wolves and huge bears.

"Damn," Zoro said, looking at one wolf whose head was jammed into a tree. "The captain isn't playing around."

"That's why we better find him, quick!" Chopper exclaimed. "I'll give him an anesthetic to make him sleep, so we can take him back to the Sunny!"

"But it that really necessary?"

"You said he could've killed you, and that he knocked that guy into the ocean, right? He's dangerous!"

"I know, but we shouldn't lie to him about the flag!" Zoro then stopped in his tracks, making Chopper halt as well.

"What?!" Chopper questioned, reverting to his normal form. "Since when did it become about the flag?!"

"Look, all I'm saying is that we shouldn't lie to him like this! Lying to the captain, who we should always respect and trust, is wrong! I should've told him about this. Maybe, we can-"

"NO!"

Zoro then looked at Chopper, stepping back with fright on his eyes.

"We can't tell him! He'll kill us! He'll kill me!"

"Chopper," Zoro tried to assure the reindeer. "He's not gonna-"

"Remember what you said?!" Chopper angrily yelled, "About Luffy almost killing you?!"

"Wait, you don't think-"

"Yeah! He might do it to me!"

Then, Zoro, letting out a frustrated groan, picked up Chopper and shook him wildly. "Come on, Chopper!" He yelled, "He's not gonna do something like that!"

"Yes, he will!" The doctor angrily retorted, "He'll hate me forever! He'll hate us! We have to keep quiet about this!"

"Chopper, listen to me," The swordsman quietly spoke, calming Chopper's nerves. "Luffy's not that kind of man. He would never hate us all. But you're right about one thing."

"What?" He questioned.

"We have to stop him. I hate to admit it, but that... whatever it is, might be the only way to calm him down."

Just like that, Zoro calmly put down the reindeer. Chopper took a deep breath, before turning back to his walk point form, and continued to sniff out Luffy and follow him.

"I'm just worried, Zoro," Chopper said, "I'm worried about the moment he loses it."

"Hopefully, you won't have to see it," Zoro responded, "Besides, if he should be mad at anyone, it should be me and everyone else, minus you and Brook. On the bright side, he'll trust you."

"You think so?" Chopper wondered, while getting into a galloping position to resume the chase.

"Yeah. I don't think I deserve to be trusted by him anymore, if I have to lie to him."

When Zoro said those words, he started to ponder to himself, though he made sure to run as Chopper took off. He did keep the stolen flag scenario a secret from Luffy, but he didn't lie to Luffy about anything else. Well, that statement wasn't completely true.

He kept his fight with Kuma a secret from Luffy and the crew, but knowing some of them, they may have figured it out, but didn't say anything. The only reason he didn't say anything was, well, he didn't know exactly why. Maybe he didn't want to be thanked by anyone, since he didn't do it for the gratitude. Maybe he'll lose some of his pride if he says anything.

No, that wasn't it. There is only one reason why the swordsman didn't say anything. Why he couldn'tIt's because he's afraid. He's afraid that Luffy will blame himself, and get weaker from self-deprecation. He doesn't want Luffy to think it's his fault that he had to feel such excruciating pain. It might make Luffy wish he wasn't the captain, and he didn't want that. That's why, at any cost, he'll take that secret with him, to the grave if he has to.

'No point thinking about that,' Zoro thought, 'Right now, we have to get him back to the Sunny before that little bitch and the others yell at us again.'

XXX

"ACHOO!"

"Bless you," Robin said, picking out a tropical shirt.

"Thanks, Robin," Nami replied, "I feel like someone's talking about me."

"Some people always do. Well, shall we head back?"

"Alright!" As Nami walked down the aisle to pay, Robin watched, with a slight frown.

'When is she going to tell him?' She thought, 'He's already acting different. That can't be a good thing.'

She sighed, walking to the register, standing in line.

'It appears I have to do this one myself,' She then speculated, thinking about Luffy's personal ordeal.

She was so caught up in thinking she didn't notice a marine patrolling the store saw her. However, he didn't bother to detain the pirates there. Instead, he walked in the other direction, pretending he didn't see anything.

XXX

"RRRRRRAAAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!"

Luffy was not wavering in his assault on the jungle, filled with wild animals at every turn. Every beast that came his way, he would trounce with little hesitation or effort.

One large warthog was attempting to charge at Luffy, but he sidestepped to the left and punched it across the face, making him fly into the column of trees behind him.

A long python came from behind him, hoping to make a meal out of the raven-haired boy. The snake hissed as he tried to ensnare Luffy with his mouth, but the boy grabbed it by the mouth, and slammed him into the ground.

"Gum-Gum Battle Axe!" He then elongated his leg, and stomped on its head. In fact, he continued to do so multiple times until it fell into unconsciousness.

The angry captain took off again, into a clearing with a watering hole in the center. He also noticed that some large gorillas were right there. It looks like he ran into a herd's home. The gorillas noticed the intrusion, and started to roar and pound their chests.

"Finally!" Luffy shouted, closing his hands into fists, cracking his knuckles in the process. "A real challenge!"

He charged right at the herd, notably the gorilla leader that jumped in front of his group, ready to fight. He leaped again, only forward this time, and sent his arms to strike at Luffy, who backflipped at the right time.

"Gum-Gum Rifle!" The captain distorted his arm as he charged at the heavy primate, driving his arm into his chest. The animal bellowed out from the pain as he was knocked backwards, crashing into his herd.

The four gorillas from above leaped from the tree branches to stomp on Luffy, looking up to see their attack. He twisted his torso, however, and prepared to let himself upward.

"Gum-Gum Storm!" As he launched and spun himself from the green grass, Luffy shot out his arms at a quick pace, lodging them into just about every part of the apes bodies. They fell to the ground, one by one, and Luffy landed on top of a small stream of water.

"COME ON, DAMN YOU!" He yelled, bringing his fist into the flowing water, all the while letting his skin turn a bright pink from the steam he's gathering and blowing out. "SECOND GEAR!"

Once again, Luffy utilized his power up to attack the animals before him, wearing a devilish grin on his face. Any sweat that he was dripping on his head was evaporating from the heat he allowed to overtake his body and soul.

The entire scene of green started to turn to a dark color, as some gorillas started to fall over. The leader saw one of his followers fall to the ground, his pupils blank and frothing at the mouth. If the leader knew words that could describe this, they would be... gravely disconcerting.

Only five apes in the herd, including the leader, were left standing. Two of them, one larger than the other in weight, were idiotic enough to charge at someone who had surpassed him, someone who had grown stronger than any beast in one movement. That someone... just vanished in a blink of an eye. Soon after, the two that charged were hit hard.

"Gum-Gum Twin Jet Pistol!" One felt his head smashed in by two clenched fists, and fell on his back. Some of his molars broke on impact and fell out of his mouth. As for the other heavyweight...

"Gum-Gum Jet Bullet!" He felt his stomach crushed by one accelerated fist, coughing out blood. He was knocked back into some trees and fell face first. The large one started regretting gorging from the fruits and small insects he ate in large quantities, and began to vomit. He passed out, from his own smell.

Luffy appeared and disappeared again as he pleased, forcing the remainder of the group to huddle back to back. It did little good.

"Gum-Gum Jet Axe!" He reappeared in midair and brought his outstretched leg on the shoulder of one, and landed. He then wrapped his arms on the stunned gorilla and lifted him in the air, spinning him around.

"Gum-Gum Jet Hammer!" Next, he slammed him into one of his allies repeatedly, like a hammer to a nail, fittingly. Finally, he threw him to the leader, who dodged in time. Now, it was the silverback against the captain.

"You've had your chance, monkey," Luffy growled, despite not sensing some odd form of irony in his sentence, though he was past caring.

The herd leader roared at the boy, and charged at him, not knowing he was already beaten.

"THIRD GEAR!" Luffy bit and blew into his thumb, even while burning from head to toe. He inflated his arm at first, but then the air went into his right hot leg.

The gorilla still charged, not wavering.

"GUM-GUM!"

He kept bellowing, up until a giant, scalding foot was brought into his face.

"GIANT JET STAMP!"

The gorilla leader was done. He was sent far away from the watering hole, crashing into thin trees until hitting a relatively large one, passing out on impact.

XXX

"Did you hear that?!" Zoro yelled, stopping with Chopper.

"Yeah!" Chopper responded, "I think that was Luffy! It came from that way!" He looked to the left.

"Alright!" Zoro said, "Let's go!"

Chopper proceeded to run left, until he stopped to look behind him. He saw that Zoro was running in the opposite direction.

"Goddammit, Zoro!" Chopper shouted, bringing his hoof to his face. "You're going the wrong way! Again!"

Zoro stopped in his tracks, and grumbled as he followed Chopper. The right way, this time.

The pair kept going straight, until they could see a clearing through the trees. Zoro drew his swords and cut the thin bamboo blocking the path. They came through, and saw Luffy, huffing and puffing from the fight.

He then collapsed, shrinking down again for the second time.

"Luffy!" The two cried, rushing to their captain's side. Chopper went to down to brain point and examined his captain closely, frowning.

"Well?" Zoro questioned, "Is he fine?"

"He... used his other abilities again," Chopper murmured, looking up to the swordsman.

"Huh?"

"He's alright," The doctor assured, "But he could've torn himself apart combining his other abilities. He almost did back when we fought Moria."

"But he's fine. You said so."

"I want to check on him to make sure. Let's get back to the ship."

"Okay," Zoro replied, picking his captain up and throwing him over his shoulders.

"Careful," Chopper ordered, "You can't treat him roughly like that. He might feel that when he wakes up."

"Sorry, Chopper. I'll try to be more careful."

The reindeer turned to walk point, ready to dash again.

"On the bright side," He said aloud, "At least I didn't have to give him an anesthetic."

XXX

"And that's why he hates me for sure." Henley said, obviously not proud of himself.

*HISS!* Cobalt hissed, almost astonished at what his new friend said. He hissed again, albeit with a disapproving tone.

"I know," The redhead said, standing up from the rock he was sitting on. "I'm pathetic. Days like these, I wonder if I deserve to live. I honestly don't, but I have to. Flora's counting on me."

*HISS!* The sea snake then asked Henley what he'll do now, since Luffy will be likely to kill him.

"I wish I had the answer for that, but I'll think of something." Henley then jumped into the air, and was hopping on thin air again. "I have to go. I can't be seen here. I'll call for you if I need something, alright?"

*HISS!* Cobalt responded with a nod.

"Okay. See ya!" Henley took off like a shot, hopping across the ocean back to the coast, landing on the sand. Immediately after, he ran back in the jungle, trying to make another plan for helping Luffy.

XXX

"That's right, sir," The marine from the store said, speaking into the receiver. "If Nico Robin is here, then it's likely the Straw Hats are here as well."

"Well done, soldier," Fixit's voice could be heard from the snail. "Don't detain any of them. We'll be over to take them in."

"Sir, shouldn't we arrest them now, while they're still here?" The marine questioned, not understanding the order.

"The log pose doesn't reset until the day after tomorrow," Fixit replied, "We'll have time. We just have to come over and lay out a trap for Straw Hat. You have your orders. The same goes with the other marines on that island."

"Yes, sir!"

"That's all, petty officer. You may end this call now."

"Yes, sir!" Just like that, he ended the transmission. The Straw Hats have no idea what will happen tomorrow...

TO BE CONTINUED...

Chapter Text

Chapter 8- Negative


One Piece © Eiichiro Oda

William Henley, Commander Beau-Pére, Fixit, and Ashley © HatOnFire/Me


Luffy slowly opened his eyes, slightly tossing and turning in the bed. He got up and rubbed his head, feeling groggy and a little warm. He also proceeded to wipe his forehead, feeling sweat make contact to his fingers and open palm.

"Ugh..." He groaned, "What happened?" The captain looked around him, and saw that he was in the sick bay... again.

"Sheesh. Why do I feel so hot?" He lifted up his blanket, and a cool breeze reached his skin upon removing the covers, revealing a lack of clothes. He saw some sweat on his slim build, and that he wasn't wearing anything down there.

"Oh, I'm naked," He simply said, not understanding what sounded unnatural about that. It only took him about a minute or so for him to realize...

"WHY AM I NAKED?!"

Just like that, he jumped out of bed, trying to find his clothes that were taken off of him. He didn't know who stripped him, and he didn't much care right now. He wanted his clothes, and he wanted them now!

He searched everywhere in that room. He looked under the bed, table, wherever. But he found nothing. Then, the door from the kitchen opened up, showing Usopp, Sanji, Chopper and Franky.

"Remember," Chopper whispered, "Be very quiet."

But when they looked in the room, they saw Luffy facing the other direction, scratching his head, trying to think where his clothes are.

Franky raised his sunglasses with a questionable look on his face, Usopp and Sanji both sweat-dropped, the latter twitching his visible eye, and Chopper facepalmed to himself.

'Maybe I should've left his clothes with him instead of put them in the laundry,' He thought to himself.

Luffy felt a like a draft kicked in. He looked behind him, and saw the guys standing there. He then stretched his arm out to the door, and slammed it shut. Next, he jumped into the bed and threw some covers on him, concealing his nude body.

"What the hell are you guys doing?!" He shouted as the guys came in. "I can't have any privacy for one minute, can I?!"

"We're sorry, Luffy!" Usopp responded, waving his hands in defense. "Chopper said you were still resting!"

"I thought you still were!" The doctor stated, trying to calm Luffy down. "I'm sorry!"

"So," Franky said, "What do you think, Straw Hat Bro?"

"About what?!" Luffy yelled, still steamed about the stripping of his outfit and the intrusion.

"You know, about being your natural self."

"My what?"

"Being naked, duh!" Franky shouted, giving a thumbs up. "You wanted freedom, right? What better way to feel free then be free?!" After saying that, Sanji steps on his foot, making him yell in pain.

"What the hell, Franky?!" The cook clamored with a tick mark on him, "Don't encourage him to be a big pervert like you!"

"Like you're one to talk," Usopp muttered under his breath. Sanji turned to look at him, and Usopp raised his hands again in defense. It did not save him from the heel that would hit his head.

"Really, Franky," Luffy implored, still hugging the sheets close to his body. "I want to be free as much as some people, but not that free!"

"Sorry, captain," The cyborg apologized, though he was raising his foot in pain.

"Okay," The captain asked, "Where are my clothes anyway?"

"I put them in the laundry," Chopper replied, "I honestly thought you would be sleeping for a little longer. Sorry, Luffy."

"It's fine, Chopper. You didn't know I was gonna wake up earlier. Can I get something to wear? Some shorts, at least?"

"Oh, right!" The reindeer exclaimed, then gestured Usopp, rubbing the bruise on his head, to a give a new pair of shorts to Luffy.

"Here," Usopp said, holding out the hand that had the shorts. Luffy grabbed the shorts, and slipped them on with the blanket draped over him.

"Thanks, Usopp," Luffy said, removing the blanket, revealing his trademark shorts were on him. "I feel a lot better."

"Yeah, I figured you would. At least you have standards."

"Huh?" The captain then questioned, "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Oh, nothing, just saying even a guy like you has standards."

"Even a guy like me?" Luffy started, giving off a glare that could break mirrors. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Usopp looked back at Luffy and saw his expression staring back at him. It was then where he realized he messed up somewhere in his sentence, and panicked aloud.

"Oh! No-no-no!" He yelled out, trying to salvage the statement he made. "No! No! I didn't mean it like that!"

"What did you mean, then?" Luffy asked, standing up and glaring still. "What part of me made you think that even I have standards?"

"Oh, come on, Luffy!" Usopp nervously chuckled, which only served to make him a little more ticked off. "I didn't mean it! You're my friend! I wouldn't do anything bad to you!"

"You set me on fire yesterday," Luffy bluntly pointed out, "I wouldn't say you didn't do anything."

"Okay!" Usopp threw his arms in frustration and annoyance. "I don't need to hear this from you, Luffy! I said I was sorry!"

"Alright, alright," Luffy responded, since he was getting tired of this. But, in his head, he thought, 'I wonder if you really are.'

"Really, man! I am sorry about that! I wouldn't hurt you on purpose! None of us would!"

"How about when Sanji beat me up when I wanted seconds that one time?"

"HEY!" The cook shouted, slightly angry but mostly offended. "You were mooching off of everyone's plate, like you always do!"

"It wasn't the first time you beat me, though," The captain stated with pursed lips. "Sometimes, the beating were justified, but not on other times."

"Well, there's this thing called 'discipline,' which I can use whenever I want!"

"Hey, Bro Cook?" Franky asked, raising his hand. "Maybe you should quit while you're ahead."

"So," Luffy interjected, with a frown. "You were disciplining me, when I was doing something wrong?"

"Of course I was!" The cook responded, unaware of how his actions will affect Luffy. "Especially when you ask some inappropriate questions!"

"Fine! That's on me! But what about when I didn't do anything wrong?"

"Oh, please! Since when have you ever done anything right?!"

"Okay, Sanji!" Usopp intervened, trying to avoid a repeat of yesterday. "It's getting close to lunch, so how about you get to work?"

"Wait a minute, Usopp!" Luffy interjected his friend's intervention, quickly blocking the door. However, his stomach grumbled at the mention of lunch. "Damn, fine. But this isn't over!"

"It's never over with morons that shouldn't even be leaders," Sanji snarked, as Luffy left for the kitchen. "Also, no shirt or shoes, then no service for you, captain!" He sarcastically called out to the shirtless boy. He could hear the captain's frustrated yell as the sound of a door being shut with a slam echoed.

"Wait," Chopper then questioned, "Then what about me?!"

"Even if you're not wearing shoes, you don't count, Chopper."

"Oh, okay. And Sanji?"

"Yeah?" The cook looked back, only to see a look of disapproval on his furry face.

"Whatever's going on in his mind, it's hurting him. You're making it worse."

"Tch. Good."

The moment that he said that, Chopper grew to heavy point, and socked Sanji out of the sick bay and into the dining room as Zoro came in.

"Don't screw around with him, asshole!" The doctor cried out with fury, stamping towards the cook as Franky and Usopp held him back. "He's not well, and I can't help him if he keeps feeling like this!"

"Hey!" Zoro bellowed, "What the hell's going on here?!"

"Nothing you should be concerned about, Moss-head!"

"Luffy came outside looking pissed," The swordsman said, walking to Sanji with a hand gripped on Shusui. "The captain's problems don't go unnoticed on my watch."

"The problem is that he's an idiot! It's his own fault he can't do anything right!"

"Do you want me to clip off more than your hair, Dartboard?"

"Okay, that's enough out of you both!" The cyborg yelled, "Get yourselves under control!"

The two stared at each other, then looked at Franky. Then, Zoro went to sit down as Sanji went to the kitchen to cook. Once everyone calmed themselves, Franky let go of Chopper, and he converted back to his first form.

"Now that I think about it," Usopp thought aloud, "Why did you remove his clothes, Chopper?"

"Huh?" The reindeer questioned, not exactly understanding what was wrong with that.

"You were gonna examine him, right? If you wanted to, then why did you move his clothes, too? Is there something that was on there you didn't want him to see?"

Chopper started to sweat. There was something he remembered, from when he and Zoro were taking Luffy back to the Sunny.

On the way back, Chopper was leading, as Zoro was doing the carrying. However, they ran into some slight trouble as a few native animals that were regaining consciousness decided to kill them. The two fought as Luffy slept, and went on without trouble. Except for one thing. While Zoro was fighting, he fell face first into a pit of wet dirt, and got dirt on his body. Chopper panicked when he saw Zoro lift up Luffy while dirty, because the dirt got onto Luffy's clothes.

That was when the two came up with a quick plan to strip Luffy and scrub him clean. As Chopper gave Luffy a sponge bath, Zoro would wash the clothes. If he couldn't do it in time, then he would have them destroyed instead. It was a good plan, for one that came up on the spot. The other difficult challenge would be that they would have to keep this a secret from the others, provided they keep quiet about it. But Zoro also said this to Chopper on the way back.

Luffy would never kill us. He cares about us. Maybe too much. He wants us to be happy too.

Back to reality, Chopper had a look of realization. 'Luffy does care about us,' He thought, 'But why... would I think that?' In fact, Zoro wondered the same question, as the two were walking back. The answer was pretty simple, when Chopper figured it out.

It was because of Usopp.

He planted that idea into Chopper's little, naive brain, and made him paranoid of his safety around Luffy. It was then Chopper pondered to himself...

'Should we keep trying to lie about this?'

"Hey, Chopper?" Usopp broke his thoughts, "You alright there, pal?"

No time to think about it now. Time to answer with an honest truth, and make a simple request as well.

"Well," He began, "He was stressed out since yesterday, so I thought a sponge bath would do him some good."

"But if he wanted a bath," Franky spoke up, "Then he could've used the bathhouse."

"I thought I could take the stress off of him! He was so mad, and I thought he would kill me! I actually though he would, since that's what Usopp said the other day."

The guys started to coldly look at the sniper, who felt a wave of shame come on him.

"Also because Luffy beat up that guy the other day so bad! I... felt responsible... for what happened."

"Responsible?" Sanji repeated, "For what?"

"For... I guess not helping him out with his problems, or maybe for keeping this a secret."

"Keeping what a secret?" Usopp looked the other way, not wanting to face the truth.

Chopper shot a dirty look him for this.

"Don't pretend you don't know!" He exclaimed, "I'm talking about the flag! Maybe we should tell him!"

"What?!" Sanji and Franky yelled.

"You heard him," Zoro chimed in, "We really should tell him."

"It's too late for that," Usopp mumbled with his arms crossed. "We've already decided not to tell him."

"Just because it's a group decision doesn't mean it's right!" Chopper argued.

"We'll just upset Luffy more, in the end!" Franky retorted. "He'll probably leave us if we do!"

"Doesn't matter to me," Sanji remarked, blowing smoke from his mouth.

"I think it does matter, Dumbass Cook!" Zoro seethed, "He's the captain, and if he's gone, who'll lead this brigade?! You?!"

"Heh. That doesn't sound like a bad idea, though Nami would be a good choice. Especially if it means one less idiot."

"I can't believe you would say that, Sanji!" Chopper screeched.

"Me either," Franky concurred, "I think you're saying that because you're mad at yourself. Deep down, you don't really hate Luffy."

"What?" The cook blankly questioned.

"You're mad at Luffy, sure, because you can't always stand him and his simpleminded brain, which doesn't understand anything complex. But the truth is, you don't really blame him for what happened yesterday. You're not angry with him because of how Nami's taking it."

That sentence seemed to have struck a nerve with Sanji, as his eye started trembling.

"No, it's more like..." Franky had pieced it all together. He noticed how the cook was acting around Nami, around Luffy, and now, he had a better understanding. "You're mad at yourself."

"That does seem to be the case, doesn't it, Franky?" Robin's voice came from the other side of the room, as the door opened and closed with impeccable timing. This made the guys look at Robin, who had come in with crossed arms. In an instant, the ears that were on the walls disappeared.

"Nico Robin," Franky called out, "Yeah, I figured it all out."

"Well then," Robin said, walking to sit at the table. "Sanji, I think it would be best for you to talk about it as you cook lunch."

"Robin, I-" Sanji tried to object, but he was hushed by Robin's voice.

"Sanji," The archaeologist repeated, "Please. It's important. You'll feel better about this if you do. You wouldn't shut me out, would you?"

The cook walked to the kitchen and put out his cigarette, and sighed in defeat.

"Fine," He muttered, "You win, Robin. I'll tell you."

Robin softly smiled as Sanji started to make lunch.

"You really want to know... how I feel, huh?" Sanji inhaled and exhaled as he started to talk again. "Well, it's because... I couldn't do anything to stop him."

"Him?" Chopper questioned, "You mean that redheaded guy?"

"He insulted Nami, and he compared her to a bastard we beat months ago."

"This 'Arlong' character, right?" Robin asked, putting her hand against her chin. "What did he do?"

"Um, Robin?" Usopp interrupted, "I don't think we should tell you, since it's connected to Nami's past."

"Besides," Zoro added, "Whatever happened between them both, it's swept under the rug, so there's no point in talking about it."

"Alright, I'll withdraw the question."

"That runt made my blood boil, and I didn't even try to stop him," Sanji seethed as he started chopping some cucumbers he rinsed in the sink. "I was helpless... and had to leave it to Luffy."

"And that's why you wanted to blame him for all the things that happened," Franky said.

"It felt easier that way," The cook's eye twitched, as he continued chopping. "Everything bad happens when he's around. Ever since I joined the crew, I thought having him around was just as much bad luck as Moss-head being here."

Zoro stared at the blonde chef for that offhand remark. The sound of a door opening escaped their minds. They didn't even know someone entered.

"On top of that, he's practically pathetic at being a captain and a human being. He can't even clean himself up the right way, so I thought that..." Sanji stopped, his mouth gaping wide.

"What?" Robin asked, wondering why the cook quit talking, until she looked to the entrance. Luffy was standing there, back to wearing his sandals and purple vest, scowling over the things he heard, or at least, what he thought he heard.

"What?" Luffy spoke in an unsettling deep voice. "What did you think?"

"Oh, God," Sanji vainly muttered His name, "Luffy, I'm sorry, I..."

"I'm sorry, too," Luffy gritted his teeth as he walked out the door. "Sorry that I heard the truth about what you think of me."

"Wait, Luffy!" Zoro ran, trying to stop his captain from leaving. "You don't understand!"

"I understand that you guys really do hate me! And that you think I'm useless!"

The captain vacated the kitchen, but it wasn't enough. He stomped his way off the Thousand Sunny, and started to march toward the jungle.

"Hold on a sec!" Zoro persisted. He didn't want Luffy to get the wrong impression over this affair, but his efforts proved futile, as he never expected his captain to turn around and punch him across his face.

The green haired pirate was taken completely off guard. A dumbfounded look was plastered on him as he felt a hurt friend's clenched fist bruise his cheek. He dropped to his knees on the sand, looking up to see Luffy's furious frown.

"I trusted you..."

Zoro's eyes dilated for a moment. He thought Luffy was at his angriest from this morning, but this... was fury. 'Is this how that guy felt...?' He thought, 'Is this how everybody who faced him felt before they all got beaten?!"

"I trusted you, Zoro," Luffy's growing booming voice broke the swordsman's thoughts, making him see a frightening, and disappointed expression, completed with owl-like eyes. "I thought I could trust you, after everything...!"

"Wait, Luffy!" Zoro didn't give up yet. "What you just heard, it's not what you think!"

"If you want to say how shitty I am, say it to my face," He quietly raved, "Or keep it to yourself. Either way, I don't care anymore."

"Luffy!" Sanji yelled from the Sunny's railing. "Come back! Please! I'm sorry!"

"He says he's sorry, huh? Like he thinks I'll forgive him like I always forgive some people. Well, not this time."

The captain then walked into the jungle, with Zoro, on the ground, reaching out.

"Wait!" He shouted, "Where are you going?"

"To make my own lunch," Luffy replied, "And to be alone for a while. I'll be back when I feel like it."

The minute he said that, he strolled off in the bushes and the trees. Zoro slowly got up from the ground, and sighed, walking back to the ship, filled with regret.

"Zoro!" Sanji yelled, "Why didn't you stop him?!"

"He'll be back," The swordsman responded, "He doesn't want us to go after him. He'll make his own lunch."

"I feel so awful now," The cook hung his head down. "I had all that rage against him, as a coping mechanism, and I managed to screw it up worse than before."

"Well, it wasn't your fault he acted like this."

"What do you mean?"

"Hey, Chopper?" Zoro called out, and the reindeer came over to them, as Nami and Brook walked into the kitchen for lunch.

"Yeah?"

"After lunch, I think we should tell the truth about this morning to the guys."

"Really? Okay."

"This morning?" Sanji questioned, raising his eyebrow.

"We'll fill you in later, cook. Just get back to cooking."

"Right."

The three that were standing outside then left to get their lunch too. This day is just getting worse for the entire crew, whether they know it or not...

XXX

"Sir, we have a location!" Fixit shouted, rushing into his commander's office.

"We do?" Beau-Pére questioned, taking a sip of some coffee in his mug. "Wait, what's this about a location?"

"It's the Straw Hat Pirates! We've found them!"

"Oh, that's what it's about!" The commander snapped his fingers, standing up from his chair at his desk. "Alright, where?"

"It's the island that's only a few hours away from us, sir."

"Really? What about the log pose there?"

"The island's log pose resets the day after tomorrow. They'll have to stay for a little longer."

"Excellent, then let's get our gear ready! Prepare one marine battleship for departure."

"Yes, sir." Fixit saluted his commander, and proceeded to leave to fulfill his orders, but...

"Also," Beau-Pére spoke up, stopping his subordinate from leaving. "When we get there, let's set up some traps in the jungle. Luring the captain out there will prove challenging, but I'll think of something."

"Of course, sir. I'll notify the others."

XXX

Lunch had passed and Sanji and Zoro were doing the dishes as Franky, Robin, Chopper, Usopp, and Brook were sitting at the table. Nami, on the other hand, was in the library, adding the island to her map of the world. Over the course of lunch, things did not look good in the crew. Usopp and Franky had to explain to some of the absent members that Luffy ran off into the jungle, and that Sanji was responsible for it in the first place.

Brook was a little perturbed that it happened, and angry that Sanji did it. Nami was also mad about that, but also at Luffy for running off without anyone looking after him, and that no one bothered to go get him. Zoro snidely suggested she do it herself, since she had nothing better to do, but that earned him a pummeling in the worst kind. Chopper hid underneath the table, worried since he felt Nami wasn't this angry since Water 7, when Luffy wasted all the money they got.

For a moment, it looked like the navigator was going to the jungle to drag her idiot captain out of there and back to the ship. However, what the crew didn't know, was that her heart wasn't up for it. She was called out so many times by Zoro, and she knew that Luffy doesn't want to speak with her. She decided to wait until he got back, since he can still handle himself out there.

When she left the room, the remainder of the crew listened to Zoro and Chopper talk about what happened in the morning. After the lengthy talk...

"Man, that sucks," Franky said, taking a swig from his cola bottle.

"Yeah," Zoro replied, adding a plate to the pile of growing, clean dishes, nodding all the while. "Luffy looked so pissed off, though not as much as earlier. He looked like a beast."

"I already feel bad about it, Moss-head!" Sanji grumbled, using a rag to scrub a wet plate dry, making it sparkle. "Don't rub it in!"

"You should feel bad!" Chopper yelled from across the room, sitting in a chair. "He's already had it rough as it is!"

"Chopper," Brook calmly spoke, "Don't focus your anger at him, even if it's justified. We have to focus of helping him through this time!"

"This redhead that came here yesterday," Robin proceeded to ask, "He gave Luffy some kind of serum, right? I feel as though it is connected to what is happening with his emotions."

"Yeah, that sounds like the case, alright," Usopp agreed, "He was already in a mood before that little piece of crap came along. And he just screwed Luffy up more."

"He knew that," Zoro pointed out, "And came here to try and help Luffy, from what I gather. But then he said something, and that made Luffy angry."

"Angry enough to try and kill someone..." Chopper mumbled, hiding his eyes with his hat.

"Chopper, how many times do I have to say it? Luffy would never-"

"He isn't exactly wrong, Zoro," Usopp interrupted, frowning over his glass of water.

"Shut up!" The swordsman then walked from the counter and over to Usopp, who quickly hid behind Franky. "Luffy's our friend! He'd never do anything like that!"

"But he would surely be upset! He would scold us for even being dishonest with him for a moment!"

"Why do you believe that, Mr. Usopp?" Brook questioned, standing up from his seat.

"Well..." Usopp tried to think about it for a second. Brook was one of the only ones unaware of the pirate flag scenario, so he had to lie without drawing suspicion. "Um... because... I just think so, that's why!"

That statement drew some level of it from the skeleton, who shook his head in dismay.

"That is a terrible reason," He said, walking out the door. "I don't know why you would think Luffy would kill any of you, because he has done so much for each of us, in different ways. He's not like the other scoundrels of the sea, who kill at the sight of disobedience. If he were like that, then why has he not killed us yet?"

The present Straw Hats looked at Brook, who looked at his shipmates with disapproval before leaving. As he left, he said one more thing.

"We should be grateful that we are an honest crew, and that we never have lied to Mr. Luffy. Otherwise, he would be so enraged with us, he would discard us without a second thought of our friendship with him."

Those last words crept across the room as the sound of a closing door swept them along. It practically felt like a slap across the face in their eyes, since Brook was unaware of their great sin.

"Damn," Sanji cussed as he went to light a cigarette.

"Indeed," Robin mused sadly.

"What now?" Chopper questioned, feeling guilty of thinking that Luffy would kill him. "Shouldn't we just end this?"

"No, we still have to keep it a secret!" Usopp shouted, standing out in the open, done hiding behind Franky. "I mean, Luffy isn't that smart! We fooled him once, we can still fool him!"

"You say that like our captain is just an idiot," Zoro glared at Usopp, making him jump behind Franky again.

"Well, he is, isn't he?!"

"He's our friend, Usopp!" Chopper exclaimed, "Real friends don't lie to other friends!"

"Then that means we're not Luffy's friends, huh?" Franky pondered aloud, crossing his arms. "I guess we were kidding ourselves when we thought he were, since he did a lot for us. Maybe we don't deserve him as our captain, simply because we were unfaithful."

Franky then decided to walk off, but turned around to say one final thing.

"Sooner or later, they'll both find out, and when they do, there'll be hell to pay. On all of us."

The cyborg promptly left the room, leaving another thought for the secret keepers.

"He's right," Robin said, getting up from her seat. "I suppose we'll have to face our captain when he finds out."

"You don't know he'll find out, Robin!" Usopp continued to cry out, "He may never find out!"

"You don't know that he won't either!" Robin yelled, with great anger that made the room freeze. She rarely gets angry, but when she does, there's always some pain involved, though not this time. The lone woman took a deep breath, and went to leave.

"Honestly, I'd rather face him and get yelled at then keep this secret. All my life, I've met people who kept secrets and people who unraveled them. I've kept my fair share of secrets, as well. But this one, I would gladly spill if I had the courage to." She went out.

"Me too!" Chopper shouted in agreement. "I want to tell, but I'm afraid! But I know it's not my fault that I can't tell! It's yours, Usopp!"

"What?!" Usopp questioned, raising an eyebrow.

"You said that Luffy would kill us if we told him, right?! Well, I believed it! I was afraid of getting killed by the same person that saved my life! It's all because of you, dammit! I doubted my friend because of someone I thought was my friend! But you're not my friend, are you?!"

"Wait, Chopper...!" The liar already dug a hole for himself, and it appears he was trying to dig it deeper. "I was just panicking, that's all!"

"LIAR!" The doctor then stormed out to the infirmary. "I was an idiot to believe you! Don't ever come in here, even if you have some disease! I HOPE YOU DIE!"

Chopper then went to heavy point, and slammed the door behind him. The sound of a lock could be heard turning, clicking in place. Usopp looked down to the ground, hanging his head.

"I..." He began, muttering, but his voice became meek. "I... I never..." Defeated, he strolled out of the room. Only Zoro and Sanji were left.

"Shit," The cook whispered, surprised. One by one, all of their shipmates got divided. All of their enemies could never do this much damage to them, not the way they all did to each other.

"You said it, Cook," Zoro replied, putting his hand on his sword. "We've gotta do something."

"I know, but I'm not sure it'll matter now. It's like Franky said, he'll find out, and Luffy is gonna be angry."

"Yeah, but I'm more worried about what he might do."

"Huh?" Sanji raised an eyebrow, not comprehending Zoro's statement. "What do you mean?"

"You know how we've had to deal with Nami, Usopp, and Robin leaving the crew, each for different reasons?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Well, what if what Brook just said is true? I know what he said, and how he worded it. What if Luffy tries to leave the crew?"

"WHAT?!" Sanji shockingly exclaimed, "Don't screw around when you say that!"

"I'm not, I'm just saying 'what if!' That's all!"

"No way! Luffy's happy-go-lucky! He wants to be the pirate king! He'd never give up his dream!

"If he were still 'happy-go-lucky,' that is."

Sanji just stood silence, thinking about what Zoro said. He then spoke up.

"I think I get what you're saying. He's always smiling, so he'd never act the way he is now, but with Shiki, that runt fighting us, and what happened this morning..."

"Exactly," Zoro nodded. "The idea is out there, sure, but it can happen. Out here, in the grand line, anything's possible."

"Yeah. This isn't good. I should apologize to him."

"I'm not sure Luffy will even give you the chance, Cook. You've pissed him off too many times, there's no way he'll speak to you unless it's necessary."

"But it is necessary!" Sanji bellowed, "I just want to apologize!"

"That's not what he'll think if you try. In fact, it may not matter what we do, Luffy's gonna try to push us away. He'll keep doing that until he reaches a boiling point."

"Then what the hell are we supposed to do?! Just let it happen?! Let Luffy leave?!"

"We won't let it come to that!"

"How?!"

"I don't know! But we have to convince him that we still care! We'll admit that we lied about the flag, whether we tell him or Luffy finds out on his own!"

"And what'll Luffy do after that?!"

Zoro opened his mouth to reply, but closed it again. He just realized that this scenario was destined to fail.

"You see?!" Sanji yelled, "It won't matter what we do! He'll leave us and then get himself killed! I just know it!"

"Wait a sec, no one said he'll get himself killed!"

"Well, what if he wants to die after when he finds out?! He finds out his crew, who's supposed to be his friends, lied to him, what do you think he'll do?!"

"He'll... he'll be mad, for sure. But... he'll... he couldn't...!"

Zoro looked at Sanji, who took a drag from his cigarette, and avoided eye contact with the swordsman. Then...

"Zoro..." The cook began pointing out, "You said it yourself. Anything's possible, in the Grand Line..."

"Dammit!" Zoro cursed, and walked to the door, banging his hand against the wall.

"I know you don't want to believe, and I'm having a hard time believing it, too. But when it comes down to it..."

"SHUT UP, PRINCE!" Zoro roared, "You're just saying that because you don't know what to do!"

"Well, yeah! I don't know what to do! You think you're the only one who cares about what Luffy's going through!"

"Damn straight! I'm the only one who does, since it's clear some of you guys don't!"

"Zoro, we do care!"

"If you really do, then why hasn't anyone gone after Luffy yet?"

"You tell me, shit swordsman," The cook seethed, "Since you're the only one who cares about that rubber idiot."

"Sometimes I wonder why Luffy wanted bastards and bitches like you and Nami."

As Zoro said that, he walked out of the ship, and to the jungle, to search for Luffy, again. But...

"WHAT DID YOU CALL NAMI, YOU SHITHEAD?!"

Zoro scoffed. As much as he loved to tear the blonde cook a new one, he wanted to get Luffy back to the ship, and help him out somehow. He took off into the wilderness, hoping that Luffy isn't thinking terrible thoughts already.

'Please, Luffy,' He thought, 'Please don't fool yourself any further...'

XXX

Earlier in the day, Luffy had run off in the jungle to let out some steam, due to the news he received about his condition from Henley and to vent after hitting him into the ocean. Now, he ran away a second time to be alone, since overhearing what Sanji had said. Right now, it's been about an hour since he ran off, and he already had lunch, as there was a boar's skeleton next to a doused campfire.

Luffy rested against the tree, and looked to the sky, seeing that the day was still clear. He slowly got up, and walked away from his site. During this, he contemplated returning to the ship, or staying here for the night.

"Why should I even go back?" Luffy said aloud, "None of them can stand me anyway. What's the point?"

Just like magic, a point did dawn on him. These guys were his crew, friends or not. Besides that, they were on a journey, a journey to the One Piece, the treasure of Gold Roger. And Luffy wanted to be the King of the Pirates.

He did make that promise long ago, to the man that gave him his precious straw hat.

"Come to think of it, where did I put it?"

Luffy noticed he wasn't wearing it right now. It was back in the dorms, but he didn't even bother putting it on. The worse part about that was he didn't even know or care why.

"What's happening to me? Why don't I care about it more?"

It did start with Henley, that redheaded half human, half fish-man, who gave him something that made him feel this way, but he was feeling bad before that. Luffy continued to ponder why and how, and the answer came to him naturally.

"Nami," He concluded, "It's because of her... right?"

He was correct, though he wished he was wrong. It all happened from the moment Shiki stepped foot onto the Sunny, and took Nami away to be his new navigator. He tried to stop him, but Roger's greatest enemy was too much for even him. This caused Nami to choose him over Luffy, and he never lived that decision down.

"She never trusted me, back then," He said, letting his clenched fist hit the tree he was resting against. "Because I'm an idiot...!"

He went and did it again, harder this time, hissing. The boy slowly rose his head, showing those green eyes that should not be on him.

"If only I weren't so stupid! If only I were different, she would never have lost faith in me! GODDAMMIT!"

He brought his fist to the tree behind him, knocking it over. It toppled without fail, and Luffy just stood there, taking a deep breath. He took another, and one more afterwards.

"Maybe... that's why. That's why no one will trust me. I'm stupid, so no one will want to."

Luffy made his arms cross, and looked up again, forlorn.

"Who could ever love an idiot like me, huh?" He rendered those similar words from his past. Those were the same words Ashley said, just before she fell to a watery grave.

He never forgot that moment in his life, not those four years ago...

XXX

It was a few days after an incident on Dawn Island, where two former pirates were killed by the marines in a firefight. Some called the act necessary, as the pirates had bounties as high as the Seven Warlords. Others called the deaths excessive and horrendous, since half of the entire marine fleet was called in. There were dozens of marine battleships that day, it was a miracle that the island wasn't destroyed by the fleet.

In fact, most of the fighting took place at sea, so the populace of Windmill Village was grateful that the pirates tried to leave the island, instead of risking everyone's lives.

The two pirates that died from the marines' hands, were Ashley's parents. Since then, she hated the marines, and began to openly hate Luffy, whose grandfather, Monkey D. Garp, was one of the vice admirals that battled with them. As far as she was concerned, she was right, as every situation Luffy gets involved with goes from bad to worse when he's around. A few days later, she decided she's had enough.

Ashley, armed with a double-bladed axe, made the move to kidnap Luffy and kill him. She would then throw the corpse of the boy off of the cliff, and that would be the end of Luffy. What she didn't count on was Ace discovering her intentions and cornering her to that same cliff, just as she was about to kill his brother. It all went down on a stormy night, when the wind was howling and the water was raging against the cliffside.

"ACE!" A young Luffy shouted as Ashley's elbow squeezed his neck. "HELP!"

"LET MY BROTHER GO, NOW!" Ace yelled, standing still as Ashley brought the axe to the poor boy's neck.

"Don't move another inch," Ashley coldly said, "Otherwise, I can't guarantee this runt will live."

"Why, Ashley?!" Ace angrily questioned, "Why are you doing this?!"

"Isn't it obvious?!" The taller girl responded, not releasing her grip on Luffy. "I'm killing two birds with one cleaver! This waste of flesh is why my parents died, and why we could never be together, Ace!"

"Is that what this is about?! He didn't kill your parents, it was the marines! Besides that, I only saw you as a friend!"

"Don't try to defend him because he's your 'brother,' because he's not your brother! He doesn't belong with you, or anyone! Not after what he did!"

"Ashley, please..." Ace desperately pleaded, but Ashley was so erratic, she would never listen to reason. There was no more hope for her now, for she finally went insane.

"Don't worry, Ace. We can still work this out. Just as soon as I kill him!"

"I don't get it!" Luffy yelled with tears in his eyes, "I liked you, Ashley! I don't know why you would do this!"

"I thought I said why, you little idiot...!" Ashley seethed, backing up slightly as Ace moved forward a little. "It's because you exist! You brought me no end of trouble, and I could never get Ace to love me! All because you 'liked' me!"

"But... But...!"

"I HATED YOU, YOU LITTLE PIECE OF SHIT! YOU WOULD NEVER LEAVE ME ALONE OR BOTHER TO TAKE A HINT!"

Suddenly, Ace ran to the two and pulled the axe away from Ashley's hand, making her release her grip on Luffy. The shorter boy then jumped out of the way as the two struggled for the weapon.

"That's enough!" Ace bellowed, trying to pry the weapon away from Ashley. "There's no need to fight anymore!"

"No need?! I beg to differ!" Quick as lightning, Ashley kicked Ace in his stomach, and pulled the weapon back into her hands. Then, she sent the broad side down on Ace's head, effectively knocking him down.

"ACE!" Luffy screamed out in horror.

"He'll only be out for a little while, miserable runt," Ashley stated, lifting it to attack Luffy. "If you understood anything and knew how much of a nuisance you were, you'd go and kill yourself. But I guess you're too stupid to even do that, so I'll have to do it!"

"Wait, Ashley!"

"I'm sick of you already! I don't know how Ace could care about someone like you! Who could ever love an idiot like you?! It's your fault that Sabo's dead in the first place!"

"No, it's not! It's not!"

"It is."  The girl developed dead eyes, and charged at Luffy, who ducked under the first swipe, the moved to the right as she made a vertical chop. The axe then got wedged into the ground, so Luffy took this time to run to Ace, laying on the grass, still.

"Ace!" Luffy tried to shake his brother awake, but nothing happened. He resorted to slapping him awake, but nothing happened either. "Come on, Ace! Please!"

"Have you made your peace with filthy existence, runt?"

"Please, Ashley!" Luffy made one last attempt to reason with his crush. "I don't want to hurt you!"

"Well, that's too bad," Ashley said with a disturbing grin, "I want to hurt you. I want to do so much more than that. I want to kill you, and kill you, and kill you, and kill you, and kill you!"

Luffy took a deep breath, feeling unusually calm. He then opened his eyes, as Ashley came running with murderous intent.

"Then, that's it," He softly mumbled, "I don't have any other choice."

Ashley continued to swing wildly, but Luffy kept on running backwards, careful not to get his body hacked up by the insane girl in front of him. He jumped and backflipped to get some distance between them, and stretched out his hand, balled up into a fist.

"Gum-Gum Pistol!" He sent it towards Ashley, but she managed to dodge it, and had Luffy not pulled his arm back in time, he wouldn't still have a right arm.

"You don't get it, do you?" Ashley gloated, walking to her prey. "You're made of rubber, and you can stretch your limbs, but all it takes is a chop from this axe, and you're dead meat!"

'Damn, she's right!' Luffy cursed in his head, 'She's always used an axe, so she shouldn't have trouble trying to kill me with it! I've gotta do something to beat her! But how?' That was when he remembered, he was on the side of the cliff.

"I'd say it was nice knowing you, piece of trash, but I've always hated you!"

Ashley then made the dash to kill, her axe by her side. She just needed to swipe it across his neck, and it's all over. But Luffy had a plan, or at least, a desperate trick.

Like a madman, Ashley swung her weapon, as Luffy moved backwards again and again, until he got close to the edge. It's now or never. He let her try again, deliberately falling on his back.

Ashley cruelly gleamed. This was her chance. It was her moment to paint her and Ace's future with the blood of that troublesome waste of space. She ran to bring the axe down on Luffy's face, but he caught it in time, then prepared to use his leg.

"Gum-Gum Volcano!" In a speedy succession, Luffy drove his foot up to Ashley's belly, making her fly in the air. She then came down to the edge of the cliff, catching it using her axe.

"Crap!" She cursed, as she couldn't reach the top, and the rocks wouldn't help her much. She could only hang on to the axe that was jammed into the rock. The problem was, she started to lose her grip. If she lets go, the rapids down there would bring her below the ocean floor, and she would drown.

"Ashley!" Luffy called out, running to the edge and bending down on his knees. "Give me your hand!"

"What?!"

"Please! Grab it!"

"Fuck that! I'd rather die than be saved by someone who doesn't deserve to live!"

Luffy just stood there, staring with surprise at her. She's actually refusing his help. Doesn't she know that the rapids could swallow her up?!

"You'll remember this until the day you finally die! You're the devil's spawn, so no one will ever want you as a friend. No woman alive will ever

love you! "

She had said her final words, and let go of the axe, dropping to the waters below. She stared with contempt at Luffy, up until she hit the drink.

Luffy just stood there in shock, hurt by the stinging words of someone he cared about, or at least, he thought he did. He had his arm reached out, but then pulled it back, as there was no need to let it hang anymore.

"Ugh..." Ace got up, slowly rubbing his head. "Luffy?" He looked out, and saw his brother just standing there, pale. "Hey, Luffy! Are you alright?! What the hell happened?!"

Luffy didn't respond. All he did was think about what Ashley said, in those final moments.

He never got over what happened that day. He did his best to put it all out of his mind, and succeeded, only because he met the people that would be his crewmates.

XXX

Back to present day...

"She was right all along, wasn't she?"

Luffy was walking through the jungle, hugging himself. He didn't know where he was going, but he didn't care. He just wanted to be alone.

"Nami hates me, just like Ashley. I really am the son of the devil. No one really loves me."

"LUFFY~!" A voice called out through the tropical forest. No doubt, it was Zoro's voice. "Luffy, where are you?!" From the sound of it, Zoro's voice sounds slightly hoarse. He must have been calling for a while now.

"Zoro?" The captain whispered, trying not to get his attention. He kept walking further down the line he walked, not wanting to talk with anyone.

"Luffy!" Zoro still kept shouting, "Luffy! Where are you?!"

Luffy was starting to get tired of this. 'What does he want?' He pondered, 'To drag me back and make Nami yell at me again? I'm not taking it!' Then, Luffy shouted for Zoro to hear...

"GO AWAY, ZORO! JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!"

In another part of the jungle, Zoro heard what his captain just said, and was unnerved, to say the least.

"Well, this isn't good," He mused as he ran to the sound of Luffy's voice. "At least I know where I'm going now!"

Luffy started dashing across the trail, mentally kicking himself for giving himself away like that.

"Luffy, come back!" Luffy heard Zoro yell from behind, seeing that he managed to get right behind him.

"I said, leave me alone!" Luffy repeated. "What part of that didn't you understand?!"

"The 'leave' part!" Zoro replied, slowly catching up to Luffy. "Come on, Luffy! You don't have to deal with this alone!"

"Deal with what?! The fact that you guys don't really care about me?! I figured that part out already!"

"Luffy, the Cook was just being a thoughtless moron! He said those things because he was mad at himself!"

"Don't lie too, Zoro! I can't take this!"

"I promise I'm not lying to you!"

"Well, too bad! I don't believe you!"

Luffy then jumped to the left and ran through the bushes as Zoro followed Luffy... but turning in the opposite direction.

"What the hell?!" Luffy shouted, making Zoro stop and look behind him. "Wow, you suck, Zoro!"

"I suck?!" The swordsman questioned, "How?! I'm following you!"

"No, you're not! You're gonna go the wrong way!"

"No I wasn't! I knew where I was going!"

"Yeah! The wrong way!"

"Oh, just shut up, captain. Let's go back to the Sunny."

"Why should I? They'll all yell at me for being an idiot."

"You mean Nami, or the other guys?"

"Well-"

"Don't answer that, Luffy," Zoro interjected, "Besides, even if the witch tells you off, who cares? You still have us."

"What are you talking about? Sanji-"

"He said those things, sure. But he's sorry. He said that he was mad at himself, that's why he was rude to you and talked crap about you."

Luffy raised an eyebrow and stared at Zoro. He has some doubts about what his friend said. On one hand, he could be right, since Sanji seemed sincere about his apology. On the other hand, it could be just a desperate act to win back his favor.

"Look, Luffy," Zoro said, "If you're not going to come back for the guys, or me, can't you do it for yourself? I know your feeling screwed up inside your head, but you can't stay out here. Come back to the Sunny."

Luffy took a deep breath, preparing to make his decision. It took only a few minutes.

"Fine," He responded, "I'll come back. But only because you wanted me to."

"Thank you, Luffy," Zoro expressed his gratitude, though maybe too soon.

"Don't thank me yet. Sanji has a lot of explaining to do. Besides, I still think you guys treat me like a moron, and I won't deal with anymore crap from you or them."

"Sure, captain," Zoro replied, putting a hand on his captain's shoulder. "You know they care about you, even if they don't respect you, right?"

"Sometimes, I don't get why they want me around if they hate me."

"The crew doesn't hate you, Luffy. If they did, then why did they join you?"

"Maybe because they have nothing left to lose."

"Well, maybe, but that doesn't mean-"

"It doesn't matter anymore, Zoro. I'm fine with it."

"What?" The swordsman asked to clarify.

"It's like I said yesterday. I won't dwell on it, so don't try to."

"But Luffy-"

"Captain's orders," Luffy simply spoke, and that made Zoro give up. He knows when Luffy sets his mind to something, there's no turning it around. And when he says that, Zoro knows he has to obey.

"Alright, Luffy," Zoro submitted, taking his hand off of Luffy. "If you say you're fine."

"Let's just go back."

The two then proceeded to head back to the Sunny, except Luffy stopped for a moment.

"Hey, Zoro?" Luffy asked, "Where is back?"

Zoro immediately facepalmed and groaned.

XXX

"*HUFF!* Well, we found the ship."

"*HUFF!* Yeah, but no thanks to you, Zoro."

"HEY!"

Luffy and Zoro were resting against the mast and covered by its shade as they both panted.

Here's the gist of what happened. Since the two ran far away from the Sunny, they both ended up lost. Because of that, they both decided to do the most logical thing. Run around the jungle until they find the coast. It was a bad idea. It was even worse because Luffy let Zoro lead him. On top of that, it took both of them about three hours until they got back to the Sunny. Now both are tired, and are in need of some rest.

"This..." Luffy tried to begin, except he was still catching his breath. "Is... the last time... I let you... lead."

"Whatever..." Zoro responded, also out of breath. "At least... we made... it back."

"I... told you... we should've... ah, forget it!" Luffy fell over onto the grass, breathing hard still.

"Yeah... I'll get some sake." "Yeah... I'll get some sake."

Zoro then got up and went to the kitchen to get a drink, even though there was the chance Sanji would kick him out for insulting Nami just hours earlier. Next, Brook came out of the dorms with his violin in hand. The musician almost didn't notice Luffy resting on the ground.

"Oh, Mr. Luffy!" Brook called out, "You're back!"

"Oh, hey Brook!" Luffy replied, waving his hand. He still breathed heavily, almost being well again.

"You never joined us for lunch," The dead man stated, "Nami was a bit annoyed, to say the least."

"I caused trouble just by not being here?"

"She was irked that you ran off without telling us, but was more so with Sanji, since he said that he drove you away. She insisted we bring you back here, but ultimately decided to wait for your return."

"Huh," The captain stood up from his spot, brushing his shorts. "Guess she'll have some things to say to me when she finds out I'm back."

"You're damn right I have some things to say!"

Luffy was taken by surprise in that moment, to say the least. It was Nami who said that, and she was looking irritated now, walking down the stairs from the dorms over to Luffy.

"OH! Uh... Hey, Nami!" Luffy said, slightly sweating and nervous.

*BONK!* Nami had once again brought her fist down on Luffy, hard.

"OW!" Luffy cried out in pain. He knew that this was going to happen again, he just knew it.

"Don't 'hey' me, mister!" Nami yelled, making Brook tiptoe away from the pair. "Where were you?! Do you know how long you were gone?!"

"What? They didn't say why I left?"

Nami huffed, then crossed her arms and closed her eyes. "No, they did, but you ran off again! You did the one thing you weren't supposed to do!"

"Look," Luffy then tried to reason with Nami, even though it might earn him another beating. "Yesterday was a terrible day for me, and things somehow got worse for me today. Can't you cut me a break?"

"Yesterday sucked for me too, you know! I just... I was... thinking..."

"About what?"

"It doesn't matter. You wouldn't understand if I told you."

"What wouldn't I understand?"

"Look, don't worry about it. I know you never wanted to run away like you did today."

"You did?"

"Sanji told me. He was mean to you, huh?"

It was Luffy's turn to take a deep breath. He spoke up, saying...

"Well, that's the thing. Zoro said that he was angry at himself, and said those things about me because he needed somebody to be mad at."

'Dammit, Sanji!' Nami mentally cursed, though her expression didn't show it.

"So," Nami inquired, "He didn't mean those things after all?"

"I'm trying to figure that out, still," Luffy said.

"Well, that's alright. At least I know you didn't mean to run off today."

"Yeah, I'm glad you get it."

Nami slightly chuckled. "Of course I do! You never meant for it to happen!"

"So, does that mean you forgive me for running off twice?"

"Yeah," Nami smiled, but the sweet look on her face turned into a confused one. "Twice?"

"Huh?"

"Luffy, did you say twice?"

"Uhhh..." Luffy started to sweat, "Yeah? Why?"

Nami then grabbed Luffy by his vest, growling at him.

"You ran away twice?!" She yelled out.

"Wait, Nami!" Luffy then raised his hands for a defensive measure. "I thought you understood-"

*BONK!* Too late for Luffy. He felt a smoldering fist hit his head, hard.

"OWWWWW!" He screamed, holding his head. But then, Nami started to shake him.

"YOU RAN AWAY TWICE?! WHAT THE HELL, LUFFY?!"

"Hey, hey! Why do you keep hitting me?!"

"You ran off again! When?!"

"Err..." Luffy started up, sweating still, and bracing himself. "When you and the others left for town."

Nami then shoved him away from her, incandescent beyond belief. She thought her day started alright, pilfering the pockets of some people in town, but then this happens. Even worse, she finds out Luffy ran away twice today.

"Why are you angry? If you're worried somebody saw me, there wasn't a person in sight!"

"Someone else could've been in the jungle, Luffy! They could've seen you, and report to the marines!"

"Come on, Nami!" Luffy responded angrily, "No one saw me! Get over it!"

Nami smacked her face with her hand, irked. She then spoke up, slightly simmering.

"Luffy, do you know why I didn't want you to go off on your own? It's because trouble always finds you. You don't understand this, but we can't just expect to go everywhere when we feel like it."

"Are you trying to say I don't know what I'm doing?"

Nami scoffed at the question. "Since when do you ever know what you're doing?! You never do!"

"Oh, is that why you decided to go off with Shiki?!" He exclaimed, albeit inflamed.

Nami was taken aback by what Luffy said. "What?"

"You think I'm an idiot! That's why you decided to stop Shiki on your own!"

"You really are an idiot, thinking like that! I didn't want him to kill you or the others!"

"But you didn't have faith in me! You thought I couldn't beat that bastard!"

"Are you always this pigheaded?! Don't you care that you're still alive?!"

Some of the members of the crew heard of the arguing that was going on outside, and wisely stood away from the deck as much as possible. Sanji, though, was almost ready to run in there.

"This is not what I wanted," He mused, "And I really don't want to hurt Luffy, but if he does something to Nami, I'll-"

"Wait," Robin said, "Luffy wouldn't do that. He's angry now, but I fear whatever we do, the end result will be the same."

"End result?" Franky inquired, "You know what'll happen, Nico Robin?"

"Unfortunately, no. I can't see into the future. I'm not sure anyone can."

Luffy started growling, and his eyes went from green to red in a heartbeat.

"I risked my life to get you back! I trusted you back there!"

"And I thought you understood what I was doing!" Nami countered, almost ready to punch Luffy. "I knew you'd fight to get me back from him!"

"Did you also know that I'd be pissed over that message you left?!"

"I thought that you understood it! Even you! But what was I thinking, believing that an idiotic, gluttonous, waste of space could ever understand anything!"

"If you had more faith in me, then maybe I could've!"

"Like hell you would! It's a wonder I even put up with you!"

Luffy felt his skin heat up. Things were about to get even more ugly than they already were.

"Right back at you! I've put up with you being greedy for a while, but now I'm sick of it! You put a load of debt on me over a dumbass coat!"

"You ruined it, you jackass! You always ruin everything! Who could ever love an idiot like you?! ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU'RE THE DEVIL'S SON?!"

Just like that, Luffy reflexively grabbed Nami's shoulders and gave her the most wrathful look. He growled right in her frightened face, lifting her up from the ground, but then blinked, and saw what he was doing. Even the crew couldn't believe what was happening before them. Their captain, Luffy, had lifted Nami from the ground, and not in a good way. He was like a snarling beast for a moment, then back to normal.

Luffy, horrified at what he was doing, put Nami down slowly, and took his hands off of her. He took a few steps back, and noticed that his crew was all right there. Zoro and Franky were restraining Sanji, though it looked like some of the others were about to intervene. Luffy then scowled at Nami, dispersing her relief.

"Don't. Ever. Call. Me. The. Devil's. Son. Again."

He said those words as cold as possible, and walked to sit on the figurehead.

"Shit, man," Usopp muttered, still disturbed at what he saw.

Zoro started to slightly sweat, letting Sanji go to run to Nami, as the others did as well. The swordsman looked over to the figurehead, looking stern.

'It's getting worse,' He thought, 'I'm worried he'll snap again tomorrow...'

Unfortunately, Zoro had no idea how right he was. Surely, tomorrow is the day, the day Monkey D. Luffy falls over the edge. The day the boy who yearned to be the Pirate King, will ask for only one thing.

DEATH.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Chapter Text

Chapter 9- A Puppet Captain


One Piece © Eiichiro Oda

William Henley, Cobalt, and Ashley © HatOnFire/Me


(WARNING: MORE DISTURBING THEMES WILL BE APPROACHING, ALONG WITH ANOTHER DISTURBING NIGHTMARE. TURN AWAY IF YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THIS. THIS WILL BE YOUR ONLY WARNING.)

Hours went by, and day became night in but an instant. The island was once again under the night sky, and the animals of the jungle slept peacefully. However, there was one inhabitant that didn't sleep. 

At this moment, Henley is at the cliffside on the edge of the island, and the giant sea snake, dubbed 'Cobalt' by the redhead half-breed, was raising his head up to the cliff. 

"Okay," Henley said, putting a piece of paper inside an extremely small box. The box itself was made from pieces of melted down metals, heated and then meshed together to create this cubed container. Next, he placed it inside a small barrel with a long, black strap. "Just in case I can't save Captain Monkey, I want you to find someone who can reach out to him. Can you do it?"

*HISS-Sss-Sss!* The giant sea snake answered with a nod and his trademark call. 

"Okay, the person that I want you to find is... Portgas D. Ace."

*HISS-SSS?!* Cobalt hissed in shock. He had to find one of the most dangerous pirates in the Grand Line?! He asked why, knowing that there's a chance Fire Fist freaking Ace will roast him just for appearing in front of him.

"Don't worry, big guy!" Henley calmed the sea serpent, raising both his hands and gesturing him to relax. "He won't hurt you if you give this to him. I'll jump down and attach it to your neck."

True to his word, the redhead leaped off of the edge and went to Cobalt's level. Before he could descend further to the ocean again...

"Moonwalk!" Henley hopped on the invisible air and kept himself at a specific point so he could attach the barrel to Cobalt's neck. It only took a few seconds for him to attach the strap together around the neck. 

"There!" He shouted with success in his voice. "You should be ready to go, now!"

*HISS-Sss-Sss-Sss?* Cobalt then hissed with a tone of question that only one who understands animals could discern. He wanted to know why he was going to find Ace.

"Well, he's the captain's older brother, and I want you to find him."

It made sense to the reptile's mind. Find a family member that can help when all else fails. So, he has to find Portgas D. Ace, the brother of this Monkey D. Luffy, and... Wait, what?

*HISS-SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA?!* For a minute, Cobalt's red eyes jumped out of its sockets. Luffy's brother is Ace?! This was too much for him to take, he almost fainted.

"Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey!!" Henley yelled, grabbing Cobalt's tongue on reflex and pulling him up with it. "Don't conk out on me! I need you, dangit!"

*HISS-SSS-SSS-SAA!* The huge snake hissed venomously (pun not intended), saying to never, ever pull on his tongue. He then rose upward and slammed his head into Henley, sending him back up to the cliff.

"Okay, okay! I'm sorry!" Henley replied, rubbing the top of his head. "You'll still deliver that message, won't you?"

*HISS-Sss-Sss!* Cobalt answered back that he will, since the half-breed fed him well. He also made an inquiry, wondering what Henley will do now, if he's going to stay behind.

"Me?" Henley pointed to himself with a questioning look on his face. "Oh, right. I have to stay here, and see how things develop with Straw Hat. It won't be pretty, though."

The thought made Cobalt quiver. He thought to himself, 'I'm sure glad that I'm just going to find Ace, then. Seeing someone break down because of what you've done, that's too much...' 

Subsequently, the sea snake had another thought, and he decided to share it with Henley. He hissed, asking if Ace can even arrive in time to help out.

"Well, I don't know if he can come quickly in time, though. But still, it helps to have a loved one pick you up when you're feeling down."

Henley made a small smile over that remark he made. But then, he frowned, thinking to himself...

'If he saw what I did... If he knew... No, he probably knows, now. I bet he'd be disappointed in me.'

*HISS!* Cobalt hissed, bringing the redhead back to reality. He asked if he should leave now.

"What? Oh! Sure, but make sure you rest, too!"

*HISS-Sss-Sss!* Cobalt made a slight remark, telling his mother not to worry. He also added that he wants to see him again soon.

"We will, buddy!" Henley replied, waving his hand. "See you later!"

*HISS-Sss-Sss!* With a last goodbye for now, Cobalt sinks into the sea, slithering through the current to search for Ace. When he left, Henley thought back to his encounter with Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates.

"I overreacted when we met," He rhetorically spoke, "And now, I screwed him up. I hope I can fix this, somehow. 'Cause if he dies..." He paused before finishing his thought. "If he dies, it's all my fault..."

The redhead looked up at the moon, and glumly went to his knees as he looked down to the ocean to see his reflection.

"Gibbs... What I've done can't be taken back. That's why I'll die for the sins I made, for the pain I caused to those I knew and those I don't. I'll die once I've fulfilled my goals. This, I swear..."

XXX



Dinner was done, but not everyone was in the best of moods. Especially not Luffy. Right now, he was still sitting on the ship's figurehead, not even moving an inch. He was starving from hunger, having skipped out on dinner. He couldn't eat, let alone face his crew or Nami, without anyone being reminded of the incident earlier.

Not too long ago, the crew witnessed an unsightly shouting match between Luffy and Nami, which almost ended with the captain doing something he would regret. The idea of hurting a friend was something the captain did not want to go through again, not after what happened with Usopp back at Water 7.

Some of the Straw Hats offered to talk to Luffy, with the exception of Nami, Sanji, Usopp, and Chopper, but he brushed them off. He didn't want to be disturbed for the rest of the night, and it was an order. That forced them to give up, and hope Luffy would be more cooperative for tomorrow.

"I can't believe I did that..." He said, bringing his hands up to his face in horror, recalling his grasp on Nami's shoulders. He actually thought of shutting her up when she said those words yesterday. The part that alarmed him, however, was that he didn't even care how or what. He just wanted her to stop talking.

"I almost... hurt her...! I... I could've killed her!"

Luffy started to slam his right hand on the figurehead, only making his hand swell, barely even leaving a mark on it. He rose his hand up again, and repeated the action multiple times, the difference being he was screaming out profanities and insults directed towards himself.

"YOU MISERABLE, PIG-HEADED IDIOT!! GODDAMMIT ALL!!" Luffy shouted, though he wailed out much worse words following it. Only moments after it, came silent tears from the lad.

Luffy wiped the tears off his face and stood up from his spot. He proceeded to move from the figurehead and on to the helm deck. There, he rose a question to himself.

"Can I... trust them?" He contemplated, biting his lip as the wind started to pick up in behind of him. The cold breeze blew, making Luffy's hair flap as his eyes sunk into the shadows of his hair. "Do they even trust me? I'm just an idiotic, gluttonous waste of space to them. Who could ever love someone like that?" 

He brought his arms close together, trying to keep himself warm from the sudden change in temperature. It was time to get inside. He went off of the figurehead and went down to the men's dorms. The captain went to open the door, then got inside, closing it. 

Careful not to disturb the other guys sleeping in their bunks, Luffy crept up to his bunk, and thought about getting in it. But, some inkling feeling kept him from doing so.

'I can't,' Luffy thought, 'I just can't be with anyone right now. I should just go sleep in the nest again.'

The captain grabbed his blanket and pillow, then quietly tiptoed to the door. He opened it, and left the dorms and his friends.

Closing the doors behind him, Luffy then strolled to the grassy deck and went to the ropes on the railing. He wrapped the blanket around the pillow and his body, and began his ascent to the crow's nest. It was quick and easy, and he got inside without trouble.

Upon arriving, he placed the pillow on the floor and wrapped himself up with the blanket and lied down on it.

"First that guy tells me I'll die," Luffy muttered to himself, "Then Sanji insults me behind my back, and now Nami hates me for existing and ruining her stuff. I bet it's also 'cause I'm the son of that deadbeat."

Luffy closed his eyes, trying to sleep. As he did, he said one final thing...

"No one loves me after all, huh? I guess I should've known..."

XXX


The sun was bright, shining down on a relaxing soul. That soul was wearing his straw hat over his eyes as his exposed body felt the warmth of the sun's rays. He could also feel the wind blowing against him and the trees behind him. The sounds made his mind calm. Relaxed. At peace. It was such a long time since he felt so eased.

"It feels so good here," Luffy said aloud, "If I didn't wanna be the Pirate King, I'd stay here forever. But, I have to continue."

He motioned to stand up, and the wind instantly picked up. It was almost like a hurricane was rushing through here, though it wasn't exactly the case. He looked around for his crew, concerned that they also might've been caught up in it.

"Guys?!" He called out, trying to hold onto his hat. "Are you here?!"

He couldn't see anyone around, but he could see a cyclone from the side of the island he was on. He was prepared to run, but in rapid succession, a gust of wind blew him into the air! 

"WHOA!!" Luffy shouted, stretching his arms for the trees. "Where did that come from?!" He was able to grab a tree, but the tree was then uprooted by a greater blast of gale. "CRAP!!"

The captain continued to flow with the wind current and was carried around the funnel. He went around it a few times until the wind lifted him up and took him to the eye of the storm. He then went down inside the cyclone screaming. 

"AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!"

It looked like he going to keep falling forever. While it appeared that way, is was that moment when he felt a force hit his back, like a floor, despite no such thing being visible.

"OOF!" Luffy grunted from the impact, and groaned from the pain thereafter. Even though he was a rubber man, he certainly felt that blow. "Ugh, I felt like I landed on some kind of stone chasm. Like the one Gramps threw me in a when I was nine."

Luffy did a double take over what he just said and made a frown.

"I probably shouldn't have remembered that..."

He sat up and saw the wind blowing around him in the funnel, and looked all over the place. What caught his eye was that he was sitting on thin air and not falling. He may not be smart, but he knows enough that he shouldn't be stationary right now. This wasn't making any sense.

"I don't get it," He pondered, "How come I'm not falling anymore?"

"Because we brought you here," A voice, or rather, several voices said in unison. 

Luffy was startled by the mysterious sounds he heard. Surprise turned into confusion as that new expression overtook his face. He got up and took a fighting stance, looking around to see if anyone was there.

"Who's there?!" He yelled, wishing for an answer. "Show yourself!"

"All you had to do was ask, Straw Hat," The overlapping voices stated, "But first, a change in scenery."

Luffy continued to view his surroundings, and finally saw something. His own shadow. However, it wasn't a mere patch of darkness. The grounded silhouette started to shoot out waves of shadows, making up the ground Luffy stood on. They went and swallowed up the entire windy pillar, except for the open gap above them, which showed the sun departing as the moon arrived. Now, the captain was in the spotlight of the moon, while everything around him was just gloom.

"What is this?" Luffy questioned, "What did you do?"

"We changed the scenery," The voices replied, "It should suit how you feel, Luffy."

"How do you know my name?" Luffy inquired, thinking about the legion of voices. They were starting to sound familiar, though good or bad, he hasn't determined.

"We know all about you, you sniveling rat," One particular voice said, as his body rose from the murky liquid behind Luffy. "An inferior human like you is so easy to read."

The boy gasped, instantly recognizing that voice. That condescending tone in his voice. That overwhelming haughty disdain whenever a human is around him. Luffy spun around to see that sawshark, just standing there with that sickening look of cruelty.

"Arlong...!" Luffy hissed, looking ready to charge at him. "So, you're back for more, huh?!"

"Yes, I'm back," Arlong sneered, "But not for you. I already got what I came for."

"What does that mean?"

Arlong, still grinning, pulled something out of the liquid he came from, and lifted with minimum effort. The shape was human, but it looked like a life-sized puppet. The puppet itself was completely black with the ooze it spawned from. Even still, Luffy recognized what it was easily. 

"A puppet?" Luffy questioned, "You came all the way back here for a puppet?"

"It's the person who is the puppet that I want, human. And I always get what I want!"

As if on command, the odd substance on the puppet dripped down into the puddle, revealing the colors of the puppet. Luffy looked at the object and gasped. The puppet looked exactly like Nami!

"That..." The captain struggled to catch his breath, but continued. "That looks like Nami!" He scowled at the tormentor he defeated. "What did you do to her?!"

"What does it matter to you?" Arlong questioned, "As far as she's concerned, you don't matter to her anymore. Someone who's as weak-willed as you would never make a difference to her! You know why? Because... she's my crewmate!"

Luffy growled at Arlong's reasoning, and charged at him like a shot.

"What the hell would you know about her?!" He shouted as he ran and punched him in the stomach. "You used her! You're a monster!!"

"AGH!" Arlong grunted, and was sent flying from the impact, making him drop the Nami puppet. Luffy ran to grab the puppet, but was lifted by its strings because of someone.

Luffy looked up to see who was pulling it up, and was shocked. It was someone giant! But He knew who it was, but never expected them to be a hundred or so feet tall. 

This person used swords for prosthetic legs ever since he severed them back in the past. He was always dressed in oriental clothes, had a piece of a steering wheel lodged in the back of his head, and yellow hair on his sides, covering everywhere but the top of his head. There was only one person this could be...

"SHIKI!!" Luffy intensely roared, heating up with hate and disgust in his eyes. "Why are you here, too?!"

"It's simple, boy," Shiki explained, though he had such a patronizing look that made Luffy revolt on the inside. "I came here for revenge. I'm quite cross about losing to you, and with how this poor baby doll turned on me in the end. So, I'm getting in some good old-fashioned payback."

"If you want to fight someone, then fight me! Just let Nami go!"

"No, no, no," Shiki shook his head, slightly chuckling. "You're missing the point. I intend to get revenge on both of you. She ruined my plans, and you damaged my pride. If I hope to become whole again, then both of you must perish." 

The Golden Lion let out a sigh, placing his free hand on his forehead. Afterwards, still keeping the hand there, he dramatically lifted his head up. "It's a shame, too. I actually thought she would make the perfect addition to the crew. A good-looking baby doll like her is such a rare catch. Maybe I could've showed her a real man." 

When he said that, his frown turned to an offensive, perverted grin. Luffy felt his stomach quease, and his blood was even at the boiling point. 

"You son of a bitch...!" The captain snarled, gritting his teeth, getting ready to pounce on the strangely giant pirate.

"Alas, I must let her go... AND DIE!!!" Shiki severed the Nami puppet's strings and let it drop from his grasp.

"NAMI!!" Luffy wailed and ran to catch it. But then, he abruptly fell over, having been tripped. Some dark claw had come from the floor and grabbed his foot. "Hey, let me go!" He kicked at the claw, and it vanished in a puff of smoke. He got up, and continued to run. "Hang on, Nami! I'm coming!"

"Sorry, but that won't happen!" Another familiar voice proclaimed behind Luffy. Following that, a swarm of dark bats came at him, and greatly pestered him.

"What the--?!" Luffy questioned, smacking one of them away. "Oh, God! Not these little freaks again!" He kept running, despite a few of those bats biting his shoulder, elbow, leg, even the back of his head. "OW-OW-OW-OW-OW-OW! Okay, I know you're doing this, Moria! Quit it, already!"

"Ki-Shi-Shi-Shi-Shi!" Gecko Moria laughed, appearing a good distance in front of Luffy. "Thinking about saving your navigator, Straw Hat?"

"Get out of my way!" Luffy then elongated his arms to grab Moria, and he propelled himself towards the warlord. "Gum-Gum Rocket!" He landed square in the fat man's gut, making Moria almost regurgitate as he stumbled.

The captain grabbed Moria's head, specifically his horns, and stretched his arms as he climbed down on his back. That's when the poor fool realized what Luffy was trying to do.

"No! You won't do it! Get off my back!" Moria tried to shake Luffy off his back, even reach for him with his arms. After getting tugged by his small adversary, Moria jerked his head up and forward. In an instant, Luffy slightly hopped and let the momentum take him above the floor.

"Gum-Gum Balloon!" Luffy inhaled as much air as he possibly could, bloating himself up, and started to blow it all out. His body deflated as he traveled high, reaching a few feet below the Nami puppet. It easily fell into his arms when he opened them up for it. 

He took notice of the gravity pulling him down, and inflated again to keep the puppet safe from damage. The two plopped on the ground safely, and Luffy let out his air.

"Nami?" Luffy asked, "Are you alright?" He looked at the wooden puppet, but the puppet's face started to crack! Luffy became panicked. "NAMI?! Oh no! No!"

"Yaaaa-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!" A familiar, pompous laugh filled the dark void. Subsequently, one blast of lightning came down behind the captain, making him look to see another foe... Eneru

"I don't have time for this!" Luffy tried to stand up when he looked back at the puppet's crumbling face. It was when he realized that there was a person underneath the puppet's wooden shell! Curious, the rubber man peeled through the face's layers piece by piece, revealing Nami underneath!

"Nami!" He exclaimed joyously, before continuing to remove the wood all over Nami's body. He was caught up in the act, but failed to notice a golden hook came up behind him, and snatched him up by his torso. "Hey!"

The hook pulled Luffy away from Nami, and towards a rising pillar of sand. As the hook connected with the wall of sand, it began to take the form of a human. In fact, the sand was human. And only one person could have the ability to do that... Crocodile.

"Miss me, Straw Hat?" Crocodile questioned, condescendingly smirking as usual.

"Crocodile?! What do you want, you bastard?!" 

"Just wondering something. If you have harbored resentment towards your navigator, then why are you even attempting to save her?"

"Because she's my crewmate! She means a lot to me!"

"Oh, please. You know she can't be trusted, and your friends can't be either. I thought you've understood what I meant by now."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Luffy asked, struggling to get out of the sandman's grip.

"Shut up!" Luffy angrily shouted, "What do you know about trust?! Nothing!"

"Trust is the most worthless thing in the world," Crocodile sneered, "That's what I mean."

"Shut up! You don't know a thing about trust!" 

"I know enough to not use that pathetic philosophy, now. And you should do the same!"

Crocodile then used his right arm to throw Luffy away from him, making the shorter boy land on the ground. Then, Crocodile's creepy grin went into a monstrous scowl.

"Your so-called friends are nothing more than cheats! Liars!!" 

"No, they're not!"

The scarred man then sighed, and walked to where Eneru stood.

"Have you ever wondered why you friends refer to you as an idiot?" Eneru questioned, pointing his finger at Luffy. "It's all on you, insect! Because you simply are one!

"You shut up, earlobe jackass!" Luffy yelled, taking a fighting stance. "Just because I'm stupid, that doesn't mean they would ever lie to me!"

"But they would," A calm voice said, "I know because of how simple manipulation is." 

"As do I," Another voice agreed, "And the two of us have spent our time making gaining the trust of others, only to throw it out when the time is right."

Luffy carefully looked around and saw two figures, one taller than the other, standing next to each other. The tall one revealed himself to be Rob Lucci, as the other was shown as Kuro.

"Pigeon Guy and Kuro! You sons of--!"

"Quiet down, Straw Hat," Lucci softly spoke, "You may be a leader who thinks of others, but your crew doesn't seem to express their respect for you."

"W-Well," Luffy stuttered, trying to deny Lucci's logic. "T-That's be-because, I... I don't need any of it! Yeah! I don't need any thanks! I'm just being a friend to them!"

Kuro chuckled, pushing his glasses up with his palm. "You can't make friends with your crew," He argued, "They're your tools to use, and to discard when they're no longer useful. You're a fool for keeping them around after you dueled with Shiki."

"They are NOT my tools!" The captain fumed, rushing at the two in front of him. In spite of his attempts, they were thwarted when Arlong tackled him to the ground.

"You think that your crew is just gonna be nice to you just because they're your friends?" He asked, relishing Luffy's attempts to get loose. "Sha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha! That's a laugh! Even to your own species, you're an embarrassment! Nami really does hate you, and you still think she's yours! SHA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!"

"ENOUGH OF THIS CRAP!" Luffy roared, stretching his legs up from under Arlong and sending him flying. "Gum-Gum Volcano!" Luffy jumped up on his feet, dodging Kuro's Cat Claws and Lucci's finger and leg attacks. Lucci stared at the captain, almost peering into his soul.

"You aren't showing confidence in your crew anymore," He stated, having observed the rubber boy. He continued as he took on his leopard hybrid form. "You're starting to lose faith in them."

"I don't need to hear this from you! I do trust them!"

"Hollow words, boy," Kuro chimed in, "A pirate crew exists as your puppets, but you aren't out to use them. Your pathetic, childish mentality is what made them believe you're beneath them."

"Yaaaa-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!" Eneru laughed, getting on Luffy's nerves easily. "A puppet captain! That's what they see you as! It's all they've ever thought of you! You're a joke!!"

"Cut the crap!" Luffy swung his arm in denial, growing more unnerved. "I'm not a puppet! They... They... They're NOT using me!!!"

"Is that so?" Crocodile questioned while Moria and Shiki came behind him. Do you really believe that?"

"With my life!!"

"In that case," Moria began suggesting, pointing behind Luffy. "Why don't you ask them yourself?!

"You'll see, boy," Shiki added, "That baby doll was just using you as a pawn, just like your crew."

Luffy ignored the words of Roger's rival as he looked at the seven silhouettes in the fog. They looked familiar to him, but noticed Nami was slowly standing up.

"Nami!" Luffy began running towards her to see if she was alright. By the time he got to her, he saw her eyes were shadowed. Her expression looked to be blank. Not a good sign. "Nami? All you alright?"

That's when it happened.

"GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME, YOU USELESS PIECE OF CRAP!!!" Nami shouted as she smacked Luffy across the jaw, forcing him to fall on his knees and catch himself. 

Luffy winced from the pain he felt. It was intensely agonizing, and that blow could've broken his entire jaw, were he not made of rubber. He picked himself up off the ground, rubbing the area where he was punched, and looked at Nami, alarmed by her actions.

"Nami?" He queried, petrified. "What...?"

"I don't want you anywhere near me!" Nami yelled, her eyes just filled with hate. Luffy never saw her with that much vitriol, or purged any thoughts of her in that mood. "You're nothing but a stain on my life! I should've left your godforsaken soul when I had the chance!!" 

"W-What are you... saying?" Once more, he asked, even with his aching heart growing with grief. "You... don't actually mean that! You don't!"

"Wrong, dumbass captain," A deep voice retorted in the fog. That particular voice belonged to Zoro, who was clearly visible now that the fog was dissipating. Yet, it wasn't just him who was where the grey wall of mist was. The rest of the Straw Hats were there as well!

"Zoro?! Everyone?!" Luffy exclaimed, "What's going on?!"

"You don't believe she's the only one who means that, do you?" Robin asked, remorselessly. "We all found it difficult to waste our precious time with someone who possesses a brain the size of an insect."

"I... I don't understand!"

"Understand this, assuming a devil's son could even do that," Chopper blankly spoke. His expression never looked more lifeless, though the entire crew had that same look of disdain imprinted on their faces.

"We're all sick of you, Luffy," Usopp explained with a twinge of venom in his words. "Of you, and your talk."

"No one asked you to interfere with our lives," Sanji added, "We never needed you to begin with."

"You thought that by being honest and whatnot," Brook speculated, "Then we can all just get along and be some kind of fellowship, despite being pirates. But that... was such a childish thought."

"I'd ask how stupid you are," Franky started to insulted, "But you manage to answer that question with every breath you take."

"What are you guys saying?!" Luffy questioned, his torment slowly rising each second. 

"You never understood a single word we've said, have you?" Usopp responded, slightly letting out a chuckle. "You make being a moron look so easy!"

"We'll all say it as many times as we like," Nami answered back to her captain's question, "We don't NEED you anymore. You were just a pitiful waste of space that we used."

"We even went behind your back on something," Zoro continued, "And like the idiot you are, you fell for it. Hook, line, and sinker."

"You don't deserve to be the captain," Sanji took a drag of his cigarette upon saying that, and even grinned. "You don't even deserve to live!"

"Nami... Zoro... Sanji... Usopp... Everyone..." Luffy stood there in shock, taking it all in. He couldn't believe all the things they said. "How could you..." He was on the verge of tears, but felt a rush of anger swell up when he heard Crocodile casually laugh as if it was the funniest thing he's ever heard.

"Now you see, boy," Crocodile coldly said, "This is where your trust in your friends gets you. It was then I realized one simple fact: The world's a cold place, and to survive, you have to be cold."

"You're wrong! This is all just a dream! My friends would never say those things to me! If they... lied to me, then they... would've... told me."

"But they didn't, or aren't planning to anytime soon. And here they are, insulting you. You must've chosen the wrong friends."

"WHAT?!" Luffy screamed, "NO!!"

"Are you really sure, kid? You did chose the wrong friends, all because you are nothing but a desperate child who wanted love. The kind of love your father never bothered to give you."

"And you're extremely selfish," Kuro pointed out, adjusting his glasses, but careful not to cut himself with his katana-tipped gloves.

"And you aren't?" Luffy scoffed, "You wanted to kill Usopp's friend for some kind of fortune! And you even killed some of your men!"

"To keep my identity a secret. While we're talking secrets, don't you think there's one that's worth looking into?"

"What?" Luffy questioned, raising an eyebrow.

"You don't know what they lied to you about," Moria asserted, "Come now, Straw Hat. They evaded you that one time for a reason."

"But then," Crocodile interjected, "They suddenly stopped, having bought enough time for a specific object to be returned."

"Something was stolen," Arlong divulged, "But your crew made sure not to tell you. As long as it's back where it belongs, you wouldn't have known it was gone."

"But someone said they took it," Eneru added, "Naturally, you didn't believe them. It's a typical process."

"An enemy tells you something," Lucci reasoned, "And you don't believe it. That's the way you work. You believe your friends are being truthful, but your foes are the fibbers."

"But what if it were the other way around?" Kuro questioned, smirking like he knew the answer already.

"The... other way around?" Luffy repeated to himself, placing a hand beneath his chin. 

"That's all the hints you're going to get, boy," Shiki interrupted Luffy's thoughts, and levitated slightly above him. "But I suppose you've learned a lot of things here?"

"You guys don't make a lot at all," The captain bluntly said, throwing daggers at his enemies. "Besides, they wouldn't lie to me. They--"

"Your idiocy frustrates me to no end, rookie!" Crocodile angrily scowled at the captain, "You continue to deny the truth when it's right there in front of you!"

"If you still naively believe that your crew is honest," Arlong began to mock, "Then it makes sense why they thought they could pull one over you. You're stupid, even by human standards! Sha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!"

"A miserable child who wants to fit in with others," Moria insulted, "That's all you were! Even though you have a crew, you're just their toy! A puppet! Ki-Shi-Shi-Shi-Shi-Shi-Shi-Shi!!"

"Yaaaa-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!" Eneru kept laughing, "It's as I've said before! You're a puppet captain! And the greatest clincher? NO ONE LOVES YOU!!! YAAAA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!!"

The entire void quickly fell into an uproarious laugh. Luffy blankly stared, seeing all of his enemies laugh in his face. They all just kept on laughing at him, and he couldn't fight them all. It's almost like his will to fight was robbed from him. His ears picked up something else.

"They..." Luffy spoke for a second, but paused in the moment. "They aren't... laughing alone?"

He heard more laughs behind him, and his heart hit the floor. He knew who was laughing behind him. When he turned around, he saw his crew laughing wickedly.

"Look at him!" Usopp laughed and pointed, "He's so clueless! He doesn't know what's going on!"

"He's so pathetic-looking!" Sanji derided, barley breathing from his crude chortling. "He never was cut out to be a captain, just another moron that can't do a thing right!"

"Here's something funny!" Zoro began, "If we tell this dumbass to kill himself, he'd just screw it up, like everything else!!"

That was nothing more than a contemptuous comment directed at a person who was their friend, but all the crew did was laugh. They laughed at the troubles their captain suffered from, at what he perceived to be his weakness. 

Luffy collapsed to the ground on his knees, sobbing. That just made their laughter more raucous than it originally did.

"It's not true, is it?" Luffy questioned with tears leaving his eyes. "You guys... hate me? All of you?" 

The wild cackling continued to go on, but the sounds slowly ceased as Nami walked towards him, intentionally swaying her hips in a superior manner.

"Oh, poor Luffy," Nami said softly with a pretty face, up until her face darkened. Some form of black liquid leaked from her mouth as her pupils faded into white. Her smile became a creepy cheshire cat grin as she answered with a question. "WHAT MADE YOU THINK WE CARED ABOUT YOU AT ALL?" 

"AHHHHHHH!" Luffy shrieked, landing on his bottom and moving backwards with his hands and legs. He couldn't fight back, even if he found the will to. He had to run.

He tried to get up, but for some reason, he couldn't! He couldn't move his legs, or his arms. Just his head. He looked at his wrists, and gasped. There were strings attached to him. And things only got weirder from there. 

Luffy saw his hands look more wooden, along with the rest of his body! That's when he realized...

"I'm a puppet...?!" Luffy's expression may be wooden now, but it was clear what he was feeling. Horror. 

"That's right, captain," Robin answered, holding out her right hand out with some strings attached to her fingers. "But you're more than a puppet. You're the puppet. And it's time to play some more." She smirked like a devil, and threw her hand up.

"WHOA~!!" Luffy exclaimed. In rapid succession, he got hoisted up by the strings embedded into his hands and was swung around. "This isn't funny! Let me down!"

"You don't get a say anymore!" Franky shouted, smiling demonically. "You never held any power over us! Now you'll never use us!"

"I never wanted to use you guys!" Luffy responded, continuing to get flung sideways. "You're my friends! My family!"

"And, let me guess," Brook surmised, his voice adding a layer of chill that settled throughout the dark. "You just happened to develop a sense of love for a young woman."

"You were talking about me, weren't you?" Nami queried as the whites of her eyes turned black and her pupils turned bloody red. "You had feelings for me, didn't you?"

Robin used her hand to make Luffy hang above the gallery of friends and enemies present, just so he can have a chance to speak. The captain looked at Nami when he answered.

"I... did..." He confessed, dropping his head down. "I don't know how, and I can't remember when, honestly. At first, I thought it was nothing. But then, I knew what I was feeling. It... was something I never felt in a long time. But I decided that you wouldn't like me if I told you."

"Well, you thought right," The navigator replied, "Aside from being as bright a sack of rocks, you're guilty of letting some people die. Like, for instance, Sabo and Ashley."

"What...? How do you...?"

"Ashley was right about one thing, Luffy. NO WOMAN ALIVE WILL EVER LOVE YOU."

Robin untied a sting from one of her fingers, and passed it to Franky, who pulled at it without any hesitation. 

"AAAGGGHHH!!!" Luffy cried out in pain, feeling his left arm getting pulled out of its socket. It took only one more tug, and then...

*CRACK!* A repulsive sound was heard throughout the void, and a wooden limb dropped to the ground.

"EYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!" Luffy wailed, pointlessly attempting to thrash about in the air. He couldn't cry, he couldn't move, he couldn't do anything. He could only try to keep himself from looking at his disembodied limb, and the gaping wound where the blood was pouring out of. It was a nauseating sight, but just like the sadist he was, Lucci smirked.

"Excellent, both of you," He complimented, sniffing the smell of blood in his leopard hybrid form. "The sight of a person losing a piece of their body was invigorating."

"It was, wasn't it?" Crocodile pondered, "Well, we have tortured Straw Hat enough. It's time for us to depart."

Zoro nodded to the former Mr. 0, and a simple slice with Shusui was enough to cut Luffy's strings, making him drop to the ground.

"GUH!!!" Luffy grunted from the collision to the floor. He was still seething from the pain his missing arm left him.

"We leave you to question your meaningless existence, boy," Shiki said, and immediately blew up in a red puff of smoke. He wasn't the only one, though.

One by one, each of Luffy's foes disappeared in the same fashion as Shiki, along with the other Straw Hats, minus Nami. The crimson smog began to rise and swirl above them, almost mimicking a sandstorm.

"Well, your time is coming to an end, captain," Nami stated, pulling out a dagger as she straddled her captain's puppet chest.

"Wait!!" Luffy shouted, desperately trying to reason with her. "Nami, don't do this!!"

"I would say it was nice to know you, but it really wasn't."

"PLEASE!!" Luffy screamed, trying to move his only remaining arm to do something. "NAMI!! EVERYONE!! PLEASE!!!"

"Scream all you want. No one will come. No one cares."

"NAMI!! STOP!!"

"Good bye, idiot captain," Nami said, raising her weapon for the killing blow. "Enjoy Hell."

"NAAAAAAAAAMIIIIIIIIIIII~!!!!!"

*FWOOSH!* 

*CRACK!*

*FWOOSH!*

*CRACK!*

*FWOOSH!*

*CRACK!*

*FWOOSH!*

*CRACK!*

The dagger went straight though Luffy's wooden head, not once or twice, but several times, breaking apart with every sharp jab. The last thing Luffy saw was darkness closing around him, seeing only Nami's monstrous red eyes and mouth, akin to a demon. They instantly flickered, as her apathetic, cruel laughter, filled the dying captain's ears.

 

XXX



*GASP!* Luffy woke up, and rose from the floor with a shock. He started breathing heavily as he felt the sweat on his face and chest. The cold air couldn't cool him off. He removed the blanket and stood up, looking out the window of the Sunny. It was still in the moonlight.

"Another nightmare, huh?" Luffy whispered, rubbing his eyes. "I just can't sleep anymore."

He moved outside via the trapdoor, and walked on the branch of the mast until sitting on a part of it. Luffy began to contemplate his thoughts, looking at the ocean.

"Would they even notice me if I'm gone? Would they care if I died? Would... she?" 

He had one more thought on his mind.

"Did they... lie to me somewhere down the line?" 

The poor captain hoped he was wrong when he asked that question aloud, but never knew how right he was. Under the mast's branch, flower petals fell down underneath...

In another part of the Sunny, specifically the kitchen, a book fell and a coffee cup almost fell on the floor. They were caught by arms that sprouted along the table in time. Robin grabbed both of her possessions and put them back on the table. She looked solemn, having heard Luffy's questions from monitoring him.

"Luffy..." She whispered, grabbing her coffee cup and sipping it. Enough was enough. She decided it was best for him to talk. She walked outside to see Luffy trying to get back inside the crow's nest.

Robin crossed her arms, and had one of them sprout on Luffy's arm. The arm simply touched Luffy to make him look. He saw the disembodied limb, which motioned him to look below him. He did, and spotted Robin down on the deck. 

Robin also took the liberty of sprouting an ear on Luffy so she could hear him.

"Robin," Luffy began, "I know you're listening. And for the last time, I don't want to SEE anyone. But you can't accept that, can you?"

Robin just stood there, staring at her captain. She wanted to help him out, in whatever way she could. Luffy sighed, seeing that she won't give up.

"Fine," He stated, "I don't think you can help me, but you can try. Tomorrow. You can find me at the usual spot. "

Robin softly smiled, having finally gotten a chance. Luffy couldn't exactly see, but he knew she was smiling. It made him smile back. 

He moved to get back inside the crow's nest to try and sleep. Robin also decided to call it a night, heading inside the kitchen to fetch her book.

But it won't matter what she does to help, for on that day, Luffy will no longer consider his crew his friends. The worst part? He will give up on his dreams, and everything he loves. 

That fateful day... has begun as of the passing of midnight.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Chapter Text

Chapter 10- What Goes Around


One Piece © Eiichiro Oda

Commander Beau-Pére, Fixit, Scorcher, Seventy, the Sideshow Pirates, Wonderland Island, and the Cherry Triangle © HatOnFire/Me


Another day has come to the Grand Line. The sun was shining as the creatures of the sea were swimming. A marine battleship came to the island of bustling people and made way to dock.

Aboard the ship, many marine soldiers were standing in formation, awaiting their commander's instruction, as the others were working on docking, furling the sails, weighing anchor, and scrubbing the deck until there's no trace of dirt.

Fixit, at the moment, was walking in the hallways of the ship, heading to Commander Beau-Pére's quarters with the purpose of bringing out his, well, commander. He knocks on the door, awaiting permission to enter.

"Come in," Commander Beau-Pére said, his eyes not averting from the paper he held in his hand.

Fixit opens the door, enters, and walks to his superior's desk, standing at attention.

"We're here, sir," Fixit saluted his commander, "We've arrived at our destination."

"Good, Fixit," Beau-Pére responded, returning a salute as he put the paper he held onto on his desk. It was cluttered with other papers, all of which were related to the Straw Hat Pirates. The specific paper he threw on the pile, was a dossier on 'Cat Burglar' Nami, the navigator with a bounty of 16 million berries.

Fixit saw Beau-Pére's expression as he sat up from his chair. It was a look of resignation, which did not deter when he previously entered the commander's quarters. This troubled the chief mechanic greatly.

"Sir?" He began, "If you don't want to go through with this, then say the word."

"What?" The commander questioned, raising his head up. "What makes you think I don't want to go through with this?"

"Sir, you've been looking downtrodden the moment you saw that picture of one of the Straw Hats."

"That doesn't mean anything. Heh. I suppose that sawshark monster Arlong finally got under my skin."

"Sir, you can't fool me. You're not looking presentable."

"I'm probably just tired, Fix. Don't dwell on it."

"I'm just saying, sir. You've never looked this down since the haunted marine warship incid-"

*STOMP!* Beau-Pére sternly got up from his chair and looked up to Fixit with a glare. He also reflexively changed his entire appearance, revealing his Devil Fruit powers. The form Beau-Pére took on was a cat form, similar to Rob Lucci's, only with a distinct tan color difference, which showed the kind of feline form he took.

CAT-CAT FRUIT: MODEL PUMA.

"I thought we all agreed to never, under any circumstance, mention that horrific nightmare again."

Fixit sweated. He knew that if there was one thing that set all of them off, it was the mere mention of a catastrophic incident. And there was only one that stood out among them.

About 6 years ago, the marines were developing a new battleship, one that was the size of two cruise ships and packing ordnance, all of which costing as much as at least six hundred million berries. This new ship was going to be the flagship of the next fleet admiral, whenever Sengoku makes the call to step down. But suddenly, it was gone, and hadn't been seen for months, until it reappeared again. But the strangest thing about it was the missing crew.

Beau-Pére and his squad were sent to investigate, along with two marine battleships. They were to ascertain that this was either an accident, or that another party was involved. They discovered that pirates had taken control of the ship and killed the crew. On top of that, the pirates were all freaks, by every definition of the word. Not surprising, since they are known as the Sideshow Pirates. They were a monstrous crew that cared for only wealth and the death of innocents. At least, that's what they were told.

The marines that were sent to that ship fought the large group of pirates, and did so bravely. But out of the six thousand men who entered the ship, only four came out of the ship alive. The survivors were Beau-Pére and his three top men, Fixit, Seventy, and Scorcher. They retreated in a life boat as the ship disappeared into a fog with the pirates, but not before sinking the ships that were provided to him, including his own.

The group was devastated, and their superiors were livid. One of them, an Admiral, saw to it that they were punished, demoted, and reassigned. While they managed to get their ranks back over the next couple of years, as well as command over the G-13 base, they could never forget their great failure of a mission, and Beau-Pére was left with a harsh reminder of that failure.

"Beau-Pére, sir, please," Fixit spoke, trying not to anger the commander any further than he already has. "I just hate seeing you feel terrible about yourself. I'm sorry I spoke out of term, I just... I wanted to know what was wrong, sir."

Beau-Pére breathed, and reverted to his human self. He brought his hands to the desk and let his head hang down. He felt ashamed.

"I should be apologizing," He responded while slightly looking up to his friend. "I lost my temper."

"You just don't want to capture Monkey D. Luffy, sir," Fixit stated, "I can tell. I just don't understand why."

"Well, it's a long story, Fix. You see, I found out a lot of things. I still remember the day I was told that my sister was murdered by Arlong. What I didn't mention at the time, was that Monkey D. Luffy, the pirate we are sent to capture now, was the one who liberated our home from that scumbag."

"I see, but that's not the only reason you feel crummy, is it?"

"No, that's not just it. Belle-Mére had adopted two daughters. I visited them when they were too young to remember me, let alone know me. It was about sixteen years ago, when I was still a greenhorn in the marines. I kept in contact with my sister until about ten years ago, when she stopped calling me via Transponder Snail. From that point onward, I received fax messages from her. At least, I thought I did."

"You thought?" Fixit asked, raising an end of his unibrow. "Then does that mean...?"

"Someone was impersonating her, using her address to transmit all those messages. On top of that, I was forced to continue my duties without any grant of leave, and I was denied any chance to head to the East Blue! And then, it all came to a head, a few months ago. I was told that my dear sister was already long dead...!"

Beau-Pére clutched his face, attempting to stifle his tears, to no avail.

"My sister... was dead for ten years...! TEN DAMN YEARS AND I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW WHAT WAS WRONG!"

The commander slammed his fist on the table in a fit of rage and sorrow. He began crying as he continued in between sobs...

"And now, I have to catch the savior of my people, the one who saved them from Arlong! I do that, then they'll be devastated, along with Nami, one of Belle-Mére's daughters!"

"Nami? You mean, 'Cat Burglar' Nami, one of Straw Hat's crewmembers?"

"That's right. She joined Luffy after liberating her from Arlong. I heard from a friend that she was forced to work for him if she ever wanted to free Cocoyashi Village, but it was obvious Arlong would never let her go, not when her skill of cartography was so valuable."

"Wow... That man is absolutely horrid. But if you despise him, then why did you ask for him to be transferred to the G-13 Base?"

"To atone," Beau-Pére simply replied, "I failed Belle-Mére and her daughters by not being there when it mattered. I failed my people. If I ever want to face my sister ever again, I should make sure her killer never walks free."

"Sir, you were fooled. You couldn't have known-"

"Does it even make a difference? I let them get subjugated like that, and now I have to apprehend 'Straw Hat' Luffy. And for what? To end the legacy of the most wanted man in the world? To save face for the World Government? To cover up the mistakes made by them?!"

Fixit opened his mouth to retort, but then closed it, having no answer.

"We are the marines. We're supposed to keep the people safe. But when you have the pirates being the heroes in the eyes of the people, it makes you wonder: What's our purpose? Are we the villains? Are we the incompetent military force that stops the heroes? Does the world even need people like us? Especially when you have a government ruling the world like it's theirs to take."

"Sir, you shouldn't talk like that. If people heard you, they would think that you're a Revolutionary."

"Is the world even safe if they're the ones in power? Are we even just if we're trying to capture that pirate?"

"Sir," The mechanic began, "Even if 'Straw Hat' Luffy was a good person, he still broke the law in many ways. He declared war on the World Government. He's a pirate. He called himself as such when he first appeared. Like it or not, we have a duty, and we have to go through with it. I don't like the idea of arresting one who saved so many lives, but we have our orders."

"Orders, huh," The commander huffed sarcastically, then followed up with a sentence, complete with air quotes. "Because a good soldier 'always' follows 'orders' without question. All for the 'sake' of 'Absolute Justice.' I've heard Akainu say that so many times, I got sick of him as a person."

"Again, sir, you shouldn't say that! If anyone hears..."

"It's not like I haven't gotten demoted 'suddenly' because 'someone' happened to overhear me before... I'll just get back my rank like I always do."

"We should probably get to setting the trap for the pirate," Fixit suggested, "Scorcher and Seventy get anxious when they have to wait for you, sir."

"Yes, I suppose we should just get this over with," Beau-Pére moved from his desk to the door as Fixit followed suit. "I have a job to do, whether I like it or not."

"Who knows, sir? Maybe Luffy will actually outsmart us and force us to give up."

Beau-Pére chuckled at the scenario. It wasn't a bad idea in his mind.

"Yeah," He answered, "If Trafalgar Law and Scratchmen Apoo could elude us, then maybe this kid could get one up over us."

XXX

The morning sun had been out for at least a few hours. Breakfast was being served on the Sunny, though not everyone attended. Zoro had decided to skip it since Sanji had made the decision to refuse serving it to Luffy due to yesterday's events. Of course, that meant Luffy wouldn't come in, either.

Strangely, Brook, Franky, and Chopper also denied eating whatever the cook made, at least for now. It would appear that they were trying to avoid him, as well as Nami, though the exact reasons are unknown. Chopper, for sure, didn't want to be anywhere near Usopp, not when he still insisted on lying to Luffy some more. On account of that, he stayed in the sick bay, refusing to come out for anyone.

At the table, an uncomfortable silence swept between the only souls getting through their meals. Usopp ate through his scrambled eggs with a fork, despite them being slightly burned. Robin silently ate her sunny-side up eggs, which were on top of a piece of toast that looked to be burned.

'Hmm,' She thought, 'It seems the cook's ability to... Well, cook, is hindered over what happened yesterday. I can't say I'm surprised, though. We all have been through some rough days.'

What caught her eye, more importantly, was Nami using her fork to move her toast and eggs from one spot of her plate to another, if only slightly. Sanji was eating the eggs he burned and saw what the navigator was doing.

"Nami..." He sighed while taking another bite of his meal, "That's going to get cold just sitting there."

"I know," Nami quietly said, "Sorry."

"No, don't apologize, there's no need to. If you want, I can cook up another one."

"It's alright, Sanji. I'll get to eating it."

Nami twiddled her fork for a little while, but finally took a bite of the eggs and toast on her dish.

"Hey, Nami?" Usopp asked, "How much longer do we have to wait for the log pose to reset?"

"The log pose resets tomorrow," Nami replied, "So we'll just have to stay here for another night."

"Okay, but what about the next island we have to go to?"

"By my estimates, we should arrive to Wonderland Island in one week. We just have to go through the Cherry Triangle to get there in a quick amount of time."

"Sanji?" Robin began her inquiry, "Can I talk to you later when I have the time?"

"Oh, of course!" Sanji responded with vigor, and prepared to swoon again. "Anything for you, my dear Robin~!"

After finishing her plate, Robin, chuckling from the cook's reply, got up from her seat and took her plate over to the kitchen sink. Sanji followed suit and went over to the kitchen to wash the plate as Robin went out to leave.

Upon exiting the dining room, she moved to the helm deck, with the purpose of seeing Luffy and speaking to him. He was sitting on the Sunny's figurehead, without his straw hat.

'Luffy isn't wearing his hat again?' She mentally questioned, 'That's the second time he's not wearing it.'

She was close to getting his attention, but she reminded herself what to do before beginning.

'I should be careful with my questions. He snapped at Nami yesterday, and he's likely to grow hostile when threatened.'

Ending her thoughts, she spoke, "Hello, captain."

"Oh, hey Robin," Luffy replied, looking back to see her. He still had those green eyes, which looked to be turning blue and back.

Robin raised an eyebrow, seeing Luffy's constant changing eye colors. But what caught her attention was the bags under his eyes, if not his messy hair. Sure, Luffy's hair is usually messy, but this is the messiest his hair has ever been. Besides that, he looks tired.

"Luffy, are you alright?" Robin asked, looking concerned at his state.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Luffy tried to wave off, but Robin couldn't accept it.

"No, captain," She stated, "You're not alright. You look tired."

"Well," Luffy yawned and confessed, "I couldn't really get much sleep, so I decided to sit out here. Maybe I can get some naps after you try to talk to me and fail."

"What makes you think I will fail?"

"I don't know. I just know that it won't make a difference."

"That remains to be seen, Luffy."

"Yeah?" Luffy lifted himself up from his spot, and climbed up to the deck. He crossed his arms as he stood directly in front of Robin. "Well, you can try to do what you can. I won't just stop you here."

"In all honesty, captain," The archaeologist suddenly bowed her head to her captain, who was taken aback from her out of the blue action. "You are a wonderful human being. Without you, I wouldn't even be here. For that, I'm grateful."

"R-Robin…" Luffy was at a loss for words. He was reminded of the events from Enies Lobby, where she was dragged to that wretched place for her death, which would have happened, had the crew not intervened.

"I only want to help you, Luffy," Robin continued, raising her head to make eye contact with Luffy. "You're my captain, and my friend. You believed me the moment things began to look grim for me."

"Alright, alright!" Luffy exclaimed, raising his hands up. "I get it! You want to help me!" The captain paused and took a deep breath. He went on, "I get it. I'm just... Well... I'm not sure if you and the guys would understand what I'm going through."

"Then let us explore that," Robin answered, "What makes you believe that I, or the crew, should they also wish to help, not understand what's going on with you?"

"Because... Um... That's hard to say."

Robin noticed Luffy was acting jittery from that response. He sweated slightly, and his fingers were beginning to fidget.

"What do you mean? Why is it so hard to say?"

"I don't want to say it, but... I guess you could say I'm starting to not trust anyone."

"What?" Robin slightly raised her eyes, thrown off by the answer. Knowing Luffy's actions and his willingness to believe in his friends, the last thing she expected to hear him say was anything like that. She spoke up again, but noticeably disturbed. "W-Why?"

"I... I don't know. I guess because of a nightmare I had."

"A nightmare?"

"Yeah, I had a nightmare last night and the bad guys in my dream said stuff about you guys being liars."

"R-Really?"

"Uh-huh. It was weird, creepy, things like that. You guys were there, too."

"And... W-What did we say in the dream?" Robin was almost afraid to ask, but she did, and steeled herself for the awaited answer. She didn't know what to expect Luffy to say now. If these 'bad guys' said that most of the crew lied about something, then does that mean Luffy knew they lied, at least, in the back of his mind?

"Um..." Luffy began to sweat, and had a thought. 'Should I tell her? What would she say? If I tell her, would she tell the others? If they knew how much I didn't trust them, they would hate me. They'd... leave me.'

"Luffy?" The archaeologist broke the captain's musing with just calling his name, gaining his attention.

"Actually... I'm not sure I want to talk about it."

"You're... not sure?"

"There's something that I don't want to tell you."

"Luffy, you can tell me anything. I won't force you to, and you can tell me what's troubling you whenever you want."

"But you won't tell the others what I say, will you?"

Robin shook her head and said, "No, I won't. That's up to you."

"Up to me, huh?"

Luffy looked over the side, thinking. 'As far as I know, she's being honest to me. Maybe...'

He turned to look at her, saying, "I don't want anyone to know this. So whatever I have to say, keep it to yourself."

Robin quietly nodded and listened to Luffy's detailed explanation of his nightmare. Namely, the Straw Hats that were there, degrading the captain and toying with his heart. He also told Robin about every enemy that was there, screwing with him, about his torture by the Robin in the bad dream, about him turning into a life-sized puppet, and finally, telling the part where Nami stabbed him.

It was a mouthful the captain just spilled, and she just looked at him in shock as he sighed.

"...And that's when I woke up," He conveyed, feeling slightly at ease.

"Luffy, I..." Robin tried to speak, but she was at a loss for words. The things he described with clear detail was more than vexing, it was disturbing.

"Yeah, it's not a pretty picture," Luffy stated, "And, I don't want you or the crew to think that I don't trust you guys, because I want to! I just... I'm trying, but-"

"A-Alright, Luffy, just stay calm," Robin directed, getting her bearings back. "It's because of that young man who attacked us."

"Yeah! I'll tell you what, the next time I see him-!"

"Try not to focus on that, now. You said that you want to trust us, right?"

"Yeah, I did."

"Well, here's what I'll do. I'll tell them that you're beginning to lose faith in us, and that we must do what we can to get you to trust us."

"But if you do that, they'll ask why I don't trust you, and I don't want them to know that it was because of a nightmare."

"I simply leave out that part. Besides, it's not your fault for acting this way. It's because that person. Also, with the way some of us have been acting, it makes sense that you wouldn't trust us now."

"Yeah," Luffy agreed, looking to the side. "That's also why." He slightly smiled when he looked at Robin. "But you'd never do anything bad to me, Robin. I know that."

"I... suppose so," Robin retorted with a smile of her own, except unlike Luffy's, hers was... less sincere.

"Really, you're not a bad person! You wouldn't lie to me at all!"

"If you... say so, captain," Robin replied, though her smile dropped in response to that comment. "I'll be sure to tell the others when it gets to lunch, okay?"

"Um, sure."

"I'll see you later, Luffy."

When Robin left Luffy to his thoughts, he became a little uneasy. It became apparent that to him that something was not right.

'Robin didn't look happy when I said that she wouldn't lie to me,' He thought, 'I wonder why...'

"Hey, Luffy!" Franky called out, interrupting his reflection. "Can we talk?"

"What do you want, Franky?" Luffy called out, not even turning around to face the cyborg.

"I uh... I want to talk... About stuff..." Franky stuttered, scratching the back of his head.

"What's there to talk about?"

"Well, I don't know, a bunch of things!"

"Really?"

"Yeah!" Franky then struck his usual pose, clamping his forearms together with gusto. "We have a whole lot to talk about!"

"You mean you have a lot to talk about, while I just listen to you," Luffy asserted with a straight face, then turned to the fourth wall. "Sometimes I do that with stars in my eyes."

In the moment he said that, Franky collapsed to the ground, though not before reacting in an over the top manner.

"Straw Hat Bro," Franky carped with comedic tears pouring from his eyes, underneath his sunglasses. "Why do you have to put it like that?"

"Look, Franky," Luffy then revolved to face his shipwright, "I just finished talking with Robin and I want to be alone. Can't you just do that?"

"Mm-mm," Franky shook his head, "I only want to help you, man. You've been acting crappy for the last few days."

"Yeah, I know," The captain began to pout, and didn't even uncross his arms. "I don't need you to tell me that."

"Well, if you talked with Nico Robin, then I guess you're doing okay."

"Well, thanks anyway, Franky. But no offense, even if I let you talk to me, I don't think you'd understand me."

"Sure, Straw Hat Bro," The cyborg gave a thumbs up in reassurance, until he realized the last part Luffy said. "Wait, what do you mean I wouldn't understand you?!"

"I said 'no offense,' Franky!" Luffy pointed out, defensively holding his hands up. "I didn't mean it in a bad way!"

"Yeah, but you said 'I wouldn't understand you!' What makes you say that?!"

"It's not you-"

"And don't give me 'It's not you, it's me' crap!"

"But that's what I was going to say! It's on me!"

"Really?" Franky raised his glasses up to his forehead, "How is it that way?"

"I just going through some issues right now! You're not the problem!"

"I know that," Franky lowered his voice, but not to where Luffy couldn't hear him. "I just think you need more help from us to cope and get through this."

"Franky, I'm fine," Luffy calmly acknowledged, and looked up to Franky. "This is something that, I think, I should get through on my own. But Robin will tell you guys what going on with me so you can try and help."

"Well, you can tell me now. I'm standing here, so..."

"Alright, but you won't like it."

"I've been through some things that aren't so super. Try me."

Luffy took a breath, and said his peace. "I don't think I trust you or the others anymore..."

"You don't trust us?!"

"I said you weren't going to like it..."

"Okay, I get why you wouldn't trust me, because of what I've done before we met, buy why the others?!"

"It's just, I... That guy did something to me, and I've been thinking..."

"You've been thinking?" Franky shifted a little bit and looked away, "About what? All that's been going on?"

"Yeah... And I don't know if I can trust you now." The captain bowed his head, "I'm sorry."

"Hey, don't worry about it. I get where you're going with this. It ain't your fault."

"And I know I can trust you with some other stuff. I mean, you built the Sunny for us. So, I know you'll tell me if something bad happened on it."

"H-Huh?" Franky sweated a little bit, and composed himself in record time. "Oh, sure!" He hoped Luffy didn't notice that small blunder of his, even though he wanted him to.

"Well, lunch'll be ready in a few hours. I'll take some of Bro Cook's food and sneak it out for you, in case he won't fork some over to you. Okay?"

"Thanks, Franky."

The cyborg turned to walk away, but not before saying one last thing to the young captain. "Oh, and Luffy?"

"Huh?"

"I'm still sorry for what I did to you and Usopp. Just wanted you to know that."

"Uh..." Luffy started to feel an uncontrollable bit of tension.

"I know, you don't forgive me. It's fine, though. I don't think I deserve it anyway."

"Uh, Franky, wait-"

Luffy's small request fell on deaf ears, as Franky had turned his back to the Luffy and walked off, presumably to work on some more weapons ideas in his workshop.

Feeling dejected, Luffy slunk back to the figurehead, and remained there until the call for lunch came.

XXX

Most of the crew did show up when it was time. Of course, Luffy didn't show up, since Sanji would possibly refuse his captain lunch. However, this wasn't the case. At least, this time. The cook had decided to hand some meat he cooked over to Luffy, sitting at the usual spot on the ship. Clearly, he wanted to make up for his behavior for yesterday and the day before, provided he didn't have to say it.

While Luffy ate the food that he was given on the figurehead, he was having another bout of thought.

"Hmm," He mumbled, "What was up with Robin and Franky anyway? Did I do something wrong?"

He then realized the stupidity of that last question, and was forced to remember his previous actions.

"Why did I ask that?" Luffy grumbled as he chewed hard on the bone, breaking it in half. "Of course I did something. I yelled at Sanji, got Zoro on Nami's bad side, practically turned the crew against me and each other, and almost hurt Nami."

The captain crunched on the bones and felt even more uneasy, from thinking about his nightmare.

"What did the Arlong in that dream mean when he said, 'Something was stolen, but my crew didn't tell me? As long as it's where it belongs, I wouldn't know it was gone.' Did something get stolen from the ship?"

Although he tried to think back to anything he could remember, in the end, he was drawing a blank.

"Maybe," Luffy said out loud, "I should just go with my instincts."

As Luffy did that, it led him to go off of the figurehead and onto the grass deck. Next, he felt like he had to check out the Jolly Roger that was tied to the Crow's Nest. As for why, he had no idea, but there was a funny feeling in his gut.

He climbed up to the mast's arm, then stretched from that point to the Nest's roof. Even so, this act didn't go unnoticed, as Zoro saw his captain rocket upward while walking to check on him.

'Oh, hell," The swordsman cursed in his head, 'He's about to find out.'

The thought of telling the others comes to his mind. He felt like he should tell them that Luffy was starting to find out, but then changed his mind.

'Screw it. They should've been expecting this for a long time. I should get ready for this moment.'

Luffy landed on the roof with ease and saw the flag, fluttering in the slightly blowing wind.

'Hmm,' He thought, 'Looks normal to me. Why am I looking at it anyway?'

He decided to ascend up to the mast and look more closely at the flag. There, he saw something unusual. There looked to be tear marks on the part where it connects to the mast, though they look small.

Luffy wanted to look further, so he untied the flag and examined it better. That's when the flag, including some of its separated corners, started flying loose. Luffy gasped, and stretched his arms out to grab them, with success. He fell on his back on the roof, though.

"Whew!" He sighed in relief, sitting up. "It'd be bad if the corners flew out in the wind here."

He face went from a grin to a questionable look. "Why would some corner pieces of the flag be torn?" He questioned, "Aren't they supposed to be... um, not torn?"

He looked at the flag again, and saw the tear markings. A good amount of them were seen on the two corners that were supposed to be tied to the mast. That was when he made another question. 'Who would do this?' He then tried thinking about the people that would hang the flag like this. His friends would, but they never said anything about the flag getting torn.

"I also don't remember the flag getting torn," Luffy said aloud, "Maybe because I never saw the flag get torn. But who...? If my friends didn't, then who would...?"

He realized an important thing. There were some people who had the chance to do so, or send someone to do it for them. It was the guys he fought against that one time.

The Accino Family.

They were a group of bounty hunters that made a living off of catching pirates, but mostly for claiming pirate flags as trophies. He saw a collection of flag fly out of their base camp, as he was fighting the head of the family, Accino himself.

"Wait a minute!" Luffy shouted, suddenly thinking back to fighting one of his sons. "Wait, he had a brother, right? Or was it a clone?" He shook his head. "That's not important now. If that clone guy was telling the truth, then... that means..."

He didn't want to finish that sentence. The idea that his enemy was telling the truth and his friends lying was something that was unthinkable! He didn't want to believe it.

"That... That has to be a lie! It can't be true! The flag was there at the Sunny! Yeah! I saw it when I ran...! AHH!"

Then, it all became crystal clear to him. He remembered. His crew was running away from him after the fight. He also saw Usopp fly into the air, courtesy of Sanji and Zoro, up to the mast of the Sunny. Luffy realized something he never wanted to think, he never expected his friends, his crew, would ever do.

"They lied... to me..."

Luffy grasped the flag tightly, as his face grew pale and tears ran down his unchanging green eyes. He sat on the roof and sobbed silently...

...

...

...

He didn't know how long he was sitting there, but he didn't care. The clouds had turned white, and had blocked out the sun for hours.

Hours. That's how long he sat there. He was contemplating how he was going to question his friends, no, his crew. When they lied to him, he decided they lost the right to be called his friends.

He then stood up, and climbed up to tie the flag back to the mast.

After doing that simple task, he climbed down to the deck below, wearing nothing but a dispassionate demeanor.

Zoro, standing at the helm deck, took a deep breath. He saw his captain looking hurt, and steeled himself for the calling out.

"I know Usopp lies a lot," Luffy muttered to himself, "But about this...! And the others, minus Chopper and Brook, they went along with it too...! Maybe Crocodile didn't trust anybody, because something like this happened to him."

Luffy wouldn't admit it, but he knew that Crocodile wasn't wrong in saying what he did about trust. As he said to Luffy when they met...

"Trust is the most useless thing in the world," The former Warlord's words echoed in his mind.

During this time, Chopper was sitting on the railing with a fishing pole, on the left side of the Sunny, as it was the only area to fish, since the right is next to the sand of the island.

"He should know the truth," Luffy said to himself, "He didn't know what they did." He walked up to Chopper, who looked really down, for some reason.

'Luffy deserves the truth,' Chopper thought, 'I wish I could tell him.'

"Hey, Chopper?"

"HUH?!" Chopper screeched, jumping up from the railing and switching to heavy point, ready to pummel someone.

"WHOA, WHOA, WHOA!" Luffy shouted, waving his arms, in a protective manner. "It's just me, Chopper!"

"Oh, Luffy!" Chopper reverted to brain point, and took a deep breath. "You frightened me!"

"I'm sorry, buddy," The captain apologized.

Zoro sweat-dropped, quietly witnessing the whole thing.

"I just wanted to talk to you about something," Luffy said.

"Talk?" Chopper questioned, "To me?"

"It's about something that happened a while ago."

"A-A while ago? What about it?"

"Um, Chopper?" Luffy felt nervous. He wasn't sure how Chopper was going to react, besides the fact he doesn't know that Chopper was told the truth about the incident. "I think... That's... Um..."

"What, Luffy?"

"You're not really gonna believe this, Chopper," The captain warned in advance, "But I want you to trust me here."

Chopper started to fidget a little. He has no way of knowing, but it just became possible that Luffy figured it all out, on his own.

"Chopper?"

"Huh?!" Chopper exclaimed, "Oh! Sorry, Luffy. I got lost there for a second. What were you saying?"

"Um," Luffy attempted to start, almost backpedaling. "You know that I trust you, right?"

"Yeah?" The doctor affirmed.

"I'd trust you to look after me, right?"

"Yeah?"

"Then, can I trust you to listen, and try not to tell the crew this?"

"Um..." Chopper mumbled, looking around like a wary pigeon.

"Okay, here's the thing..."

"NO!"

That little yell caught Luffy off guard, needless to say. He didn't know what was going on around here, and now this happens. All he could say was...

"What?"

"No, Luffy," Chopper said, starting to shake up. "Y-Y-You c-can't trust me."

"What?" Luffy asked again, not understanding. "Of course I can trust you. I mean, you didn't know what was going on, either."

"Either?"

"Yeah." Luffy bent his knees down to Chopper's level, as best he could. "You obviously had no idea about it."

"What's 'it,' Luffy?" The poor reindeer questioned, looking like he was about to cry.

"Well, remember when we had that adventure in the frozen waters, and we fought this guy that could, maybe clone himself, or something?"

Chopper gasped. He knew what Luffy was talking about, and maybe where he was going with this. The little guy tried to keep calm, swallowing his lump, and took some deep breaths. Luffy took notice of his doctor's unusual state of mind, and put a hand on his small shoulder.

"Are you okay, Chopper?" The captain queried, afraid of what'll happen next. "Do you know something?"

The doctor was so close to crying, but he tried to hold his tears back. He tried his hardest, seeing Zoro on the opposite side of the Sunny. However, Zoro nodded his head, meaning Chopper could tell Luffy what he deserves to know.

"I'M SORRY, LUFFY~!" Chopper bawled, tears flowing down his misty eyes like a waterspout in a rainstorm. All Luffy could do was hug him close, not caring about his vest getting wet. "I'M SO SORRY~! IT'S ALL MY FAULT~! WAAAH~!"

Luffy had his answer. Chopper knew too, but kept it hidden from him, though not without feeling guilty about it. The wail that he let out did get some of the crew's attention, and Zoro went to make sure everyone got out on deck. Not that Luffy cared right now.

"No, Chopper," Luffy whispered, "It's not your fault. It's not your fault at all. You didn't know either."

"B-But," The reindeer sniffled, "But I kept it a secret too! *SNIFF!*"

"It's alright, Chopper. I'm not mad at you. I won't be, because I know you didn't do anything wrong."

"Yes, I did! I kept it a secret! Because I didn't want you to kill me or throw me out of the crew!"

"What?" Luffy questioned, "That's crazy! I would never do that!"

"I know now! I'm so sorry! I shouldn't have listened to Usopp!"

"Usopp?" The captain noticed at the liar, just standing there, sweating. Luffy shot him a betraying glare, and looked back to the doctor, wiping his tears on Luffy's vest.

As Chopper kept sobbing, Luffy had a thought crawl into the back of his head. It was now or never. He needed to know the truth.

"Chopper?" Luffy proceeded to ask, "Can you...? Um..."

"Huh?"

"This is hard to ask, but can you tell me who told you to keep quiet about the flag? If it was one person, or several?"

"It was... It was...! *SNIFF!*"

"Who?" Luffy asked softly.

"IT WAS NAMI AND THE GUYS!" Chopper cried, "NAMI, ZORO, USOPP, SANJI, ROBIN AND FRANKY!" Luffy was silent as he let Chopper continue on. "They told me to be quiet about the flag! They all had reasons!"

Surprisingly, most of the Straw Hats didn't even react, except for Usopp, who looked shock. Brook looked surprised, too, even though he had nothing to do with it. He looked around him, to see everyone hanging their heads in shame, though Usopp sweated profusely.

"What kind of reasons?" Luffy asked, afraid of the multiple answers he'll get.

"Zoro said he wanted to keep quiet because he felt like he had to! Franky said he didn't want to face you or you'd hate him again! Robin said she wanted to fool you because she thought it was funny! Sanji said he wanted to keep you from blaming Nami for this! But Usopp and Nami... They...!"

As each of the crew was called out, they each looked down to the green grass. Zoro was hoping to face a berating, and personally felt relieved when found out. Franky took off his glasses, looking ashamed to be a part of this pack of liars.

Robin gripped her arm, looking away from Luffy. Sanji tried to light another cigarette, but yet again had no success, as he tried to strike harder.

Usopp and Nami both kept their heads down. They felt a tremendous pressure loom above their heads, as the grey clouds began to darken.

Everyone listened as Chopper finished his sentence.

"They didn't want to get insulted by you because they said you were an idiot of a friend! They all came up with this idea to fool you because they thought you were stupid!"

Another wave of contempt hit the squad of liars hard. It was this moment when they knew how much they screwed up.

Chopper continued to cry, and Luffy carried the reindeer into the kitchen, and walked to another door that led to the infirmary.

"Rest here, Chopper," Luffy said. "It's not your fault."

"*SNIFF!* A-Aren't you going to punish me?" Chopper asked, his sniffles subsiding.

"No," the captain responded, "I'm not going to do anything like that to you."

"But-But what about the-"

"Let me worry about that, okay? Just rest, you've had a hard time."

"*SNIFF!* O-Okay!"

Luffy smiled back for him, then walked out of the room, and closed the door behind him. He moved back outside, and closed the kitchen door. When he saw the rest of his crew out there, staring at him, his smile turned into a scowl. His eyes, that were green, began to change color again.

"You all know damn well what that was about!" Luffy yelled, getting his crew's attention. "Chopper told me about our flag getting stolen!"

Everyone, minus Brook, wasn't surprised with this. After all, they each came to the conclusion that Luffy would find out, no matter what.

"I don't believe it!" Brook exclaimed, "I never heard the pirate flag was stolen!"

"That's because they never told you, Brook," Luffy said, seething with great anger that could make a sea king tremble with fear. "They sure never told me, either, and they shut up Chopper when he learned the truth!"

"I-I can't believe this!" Brook turned to the other present crewmembers, "How could you lie about this?!"

"That's what I want to know!" Luffy shouted, "I also want to know why, from your own mouths!"

"Wait, Luffy!" Sanji cried out, attempting to calm the captain. "We didn't want to get you worked up! We didn't know how you were going to react!" Those were reasons some members kept quiet about the incident, except Sanji never expressed concern over what was best for the captain.

"Yeah!" Nami played along, hoping to keep her captain and so-called friend from getting angrier. "We only wanted to keep you focused on the enemy, not the fl-"

"SHUT UP, YOU LYING BITCH!" Luffy bellowed with crimson eyes, scaring everyone on deck. But Nami was the most frightened one, by far. He never called her an insult like that. He wouldn't, even if there was some truth in that. But this time, he is tired, extremely pissed, and looked like he was about to kill someone. Maybe even her.

"I WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH! AND I WILL HAVE IT! HOW COULD YOU ALL LIE TO ME ABOUT THE FLAG?!"

TO BE CONTINUED...

Chapter Text

Chapter 11- The Last Straw


One Piece © Eiichiro Oda

William Henley, Saint Squallace, Beau-Pére, Fixit, Seventy, and Scorcher © HatOnFire/Me


The clouds were very grey for what was going to be a calm afternoon. The wind began to pick up and disturb the still jungle trees.

In this moment, a figure in a brown cloak jumped from tree to tree. He was using one of his many abilities, Moonwalk, to kick up the air for his own travel. Once again on the move, it was William Henley, traversing the luscious green of the island.

'Come on, brain!' Henley thought to himself, 'THINK, THINK, THINK!'

Henley has been pondering on what to do for hours on end. He's fabricated plans, only to reach a dead end every single time. He knows that eventually, 'Straw Hat' Luffy, the one he screwed over, will want to die, and he doesn't want or need that on his conscious.

In a bout of frustration, Henley lands on the dirt, and dashes straight for a tree in front of him, and delivers several kicks to it with his bare feet. He doesn't just knock it down, he split it in half down the middle!

"Dammit!" He cursed, landing on his feet. "I've got nothing! I know the serum inside and out! How can I not have created a counter agent?!"

He walked on the trail, kicking up some dirt beneath his feet. Feeling tired, he dropped himself against a tree.

"What can I do?" He sighed, "I'm a pathetic runt who manages to forget so much about my past, my valuable lessons, and even my father. I could really use a pep talk right about now."

When Henley said that phrase, something clicked in his mind. He didn't know what exactly clicked, but it was something about those words that were the key to all of Luffy's problems.

"Hey..." He breathed, standing up in a heartbeat. "I think I know how I can help him! Even if I can't, I can convince his crew to! They care about... Wait..."

Henley paused, remembering his brief fight with Roronoa Zoro.

"He is smart, you know? He picks up on some things when concentrating."

The half-breed remembered saying that, complementing the captain's observance to the swordsman, who began to part his look to the side. He also remembered yelling at Luffy about not having a trustworthy crew, though he was severely angry at the time. That's when he made a theory.

"I know that his crew cares about him, but could it be they aren't always honest to him? I wasn't all right back there, after all."

Henley had no idea how right he was, as there was a wedge being shifted between Luffy and the crew. That's when he decided: He has to go check on them and help Luffy now!

"Hope I'm not too late!"

Unfortunately for him, he will be too late. He was too late to apologize, and he will be too late to salvage this chain of events he set into motion.

XXX

At the Thousand Sunny, Luffy was giving an earful to his crew, right after he found out they lied to him about the incident involving the flag. Chopper was in the infirmary resting, after telling Luffy the truth.

"Do you guys even know what that flag represents?!" The captain questioned with a shout, "Do you?!"

The others stayed silent. They couldn't say anything to justify their actions without making Luffy more furious than he already was.

"That flag..." Zoro began to answer, mainly because it wasn't a rhetorical question. "It represents you and the straw hat you wear."

"Yeah, but not just that," Luffy responded, "It represents us! All of us and our friendship! How could you lie about our flag?! HUH?!"

"Luffy," Franky said, "We were guarding the ship while you and Chopper were left behind on Puzzle's ship. Remember? The rope that connected the Sunny to their ship broke, and we got separated."

"Yeah, and I thought you could handle yourselves," Luffy pursed his lips together, "I mean, I trusted you guys! Even you, Franky!"

The cyborg turned his back to Luffy, unable to stand the thought of looking at his captain. He angered the rubber boy before, but never felt bad until he got to know him. Now, he's feeling worse about his actions than ever.

"After all that shit you put Usopp and the rest of us through," The captain said, "I thought you were cool, a real man. You liked building things, you weren't afraid to show what you were made of, and you cared about your other friends, your brothers."

Franky dropped his sunglasses back onto his face, and kept avoiding making eye contact with Luffy, even with the glasses covering his eyes.

"I'm sorry, Straw Hat," He apologized, "What I did wasn't super at all. I guess I wasn't man enough to admit it all and face you."

"Mr. Luffy," Brook interjected, "You can't fully blame Mr. Franky for what he did. Besides, he was afraid what you'd say and possibly do to him."

"What?" Luffy questioned, confused. "What do you mean, 'do to him?' What're you talking about?"

"Well, captain," Brook adjusted his cravat, "I've had my crew lie to me on a few occasions, over relatively minor details, and nothing as serious as this. But they all had one thing in common."

"What's that?"

"They were afraid about how I would react."

Luffy looked at Brook when he said that, then shifted his gaze to Franky, with Robin and Zoro standing next to him.

"Y-You mean..." Luffy slightly stammered, trying to follow what Brook said.

"Yes," Brook nodded, "I believe that that's why some of them lied to you." While the skeleton stated his opinion, he also pointed out that the others didn't have a justifiable reason. Luffy then walked up to the swordsman and the archaeologist.

"So," He surmised, "You guys felt guilty over what you did, and you decided to keep it all a secret."

"Actually, Luffy," Robin explained, "We never wanted to hide the truth from you. At least, Zoro and I didn't. Franky also felt like doing so, too."

"But Franky suddenly decided to keep it a secret as well," Zoro detailed, "Mainly because Chopper wanted to keep it secret. They both were afraid something terrible would happen if you found out."

"Yeah," Luffy agreed with a hiss, scowling at Usopp. "I know exactly what you mean."

"Just know you have every right to be angry at us as well," Robin stated, "After all, I came up with the plan to fool you at the last minute, mainly for my amusement."

"And I decided to go through with it," Zoro went along in admittance, "Because I felt like I had to cover for them. It's not much of a reason, let alone a good one. I just, well, didn't want my pride to get hurt."

"I don't know," The captain thought, "You guys may be guilty, like the others, but you guys wanted me to catch you in this lie."

"I know I did," Zoro shamelessly divulged.

"Uh-Huh. You were also just looking out for Chopper, and you were protecting him for his sake."

"Yeah," Franky confessed, "That's sorta why I changed my vote at the last second."

"Look, I get that you guys aren't proud of what you've done to me. I know what it's like to be afraid of being hated by a person you care about. That's why I'm scared too."

"What?" Sanji questioned, as Luffy walked back in the center of the crew.

"I'm afraid that you guys will just decide to replace me because I'm an idiot," Luffy spoke up, "You all made a fool out of me, and I'm always the one who manages to do that on my own. It doesn't help that I can't do anything useful for this crew aside from fighting. I'm just dead weight."

"Look, Luffy," Sanji interrupted, "I know it's about what I said yesterday, and it wasn't like that! I was telling the guys that were there I was mad at you because... well, I was mad at myself."

"Huh?"

"I stopped you from seeing Nami the other day, and I acted hostile towards you because I was angry for being weak."

"Sanji, come on," Luffy replied, shaking his head. "Don't pull an Usopp and lie to-"

"I'm telling the truth here, dammit!" The cook yelled, reducing Luffy to silence and surprise. "I meant it when I said I was angry at myself!" Sanji sighed, and pulled out his lighter with another cigarette. "You want to know why I kept this a secret, too? I didn't want to put Nami in your crosshairs."

Luffy went from being shocked to bewilderment. He has no idea what 'crosshairs' even means. It didn't sound tasty, and that probably didn't mean anything good.

"Wait," Luffy said, gesturing Sanji to stop for a second. "What do you mean by that?"

"I mean," Sanji clarified, "I didn't want Nami to be put through all of this, not after what that bastard said to her two days ago."

"You mean..."

"Yeah, that's right. I was so frustrated for being useless to her, I... decided to take it out on you. Just to make me feel better about myself, I guess. Maybe I punishing myself further doing that, I don't know anymore."

"Sanji..." Luffy face turned sympathetic, putting a hand on Sanji's shoulder. However, Sanji removed his captain's hand from his suit.

"No, Luffy," He said with a denying hand gesture. "I don't want you to feel for me. Not after what I did, or what I've said."

"I'm not so sure about that," Luffy replied, then asked a question. "You wanted to keep the truth from me, right?"

The cook sadly nodded, "I convinced the others to go back for the flag and grab it before you came back. I didn't want for us to tell you that it got taken under our noses."

"Well, you did that. You got the flag back, and I was fooled." Luffy turned his back and scoffed, "Like there was ever any doubt."

"Luffy..."

"No, no," The captain shut Sanji down before he could deny that statement. "I already admitted I'm an idiot, okay? We're past the point of pretending I'm not."

"Luffy," Zoro said, "We know what we did, and we're sorry we've done it."

"No," Luffy proceeded to correct, "Only some of you are sorry you did. The rest of you are sorry that you got caught, and are probably wishing I was even more of an idiot!"

"Mr. Luffy-" Brook tried to reason, but got cut off by Luffy.

"Don't try to coddle me, Brook," He flatly spoke, "I already know you guys took advantage of me. I also understand that you wanted to keep this a secret because you were worried about me." He took a deep breath, and exhaled, glaring at each of his present crewmates.

"I can't pretend that this didn't happen, like I can't pretend that some things aren't my fault when they were. I'm an idiot, and it's my fault for being born that way. For being born the 'son of the devil.' Tch."

Luffy brought his line of sight to the grassy deck, letting his hair move with the wind.

"I can't blame you for the lies, Zoro." The swordsman looked stunned when Luffy said that. Even the others that got called out. "You either, Franky. Robin. Sanji. I'm definitely not blaming Chopper for this. You weren't there, Brook. Even if you were, I'd doubt you'd go through with it, but I could be wrong."

"Captain, I-" Brook made the attempt to speak his mind, but was cut off again by the captain.

"I can't blame you guys for this. You never meant for it to go this far. But..."

Luffy's face darkened, he shot his face up at Usopp and Nami, who were sweating pretty badly until they got scared by him, and he suddenly grabbed them both by they're arms.

"...I CAN BLAME YOU FOR WHAT JUST HAPPENED WITH THE FLAG!"

"Luffy!" Sanji ran to separate the captain from the two, but Zoro held him back. "Moss-head, let me go!"

"Wait a sec, Curly Cook!" Zoro responded, "Just watch. This had to happen eventually."

"Wait, Luffy!" Usopp pleaded with a lie, "It wasn't like that!"

"LIAR!" Luffy bellowed, crushing the rightly called liar's arm with a squeeze. "I heard Chopper, and so did you! He said you and Nami didn't want to be scolded by an idiot, meaning me!"

"Chopper was..." Usopp's face was riddled with sweat and fear, "He was probably just... Lying!"

Luffy's face grew more furious when Usopp dared to call Chopper a liar. Even he knows that while Chopper is scared of many things, he's no liar. Then, Luffy looked like he seemingly calmed down. He breathed, and let go of both Usopp and Nami. What happened next was completely unexpected.

*WHACK!* An extremely disconcerting sound echoed throughout the deck. What each of the crew saw was Luffy giving Usopp a backhanded smack across his left cheek. Usopp stumbled from the blow, and landed on his butt. He looked up to see a pissed off captain grab him by his collar and roar in his face.

"SAY THAT SHIT TO MY FACE AGAIN! I DARE YOU! I DARE YOU TO CALL CHOPPER A LIAR AGAIN!"

"OKAY, OKAY!" Usopp reflexively covered his face with his hands and closed his eyes, "I'M SORRY! I DIDN'T MEAN IT!"

Luffy wasn't satisfied. He lifted the sniper up and shook him like a ragdoll. After a few times, he brought him up to his face.

"I said I was sorry!" Usopp begged, "I didn't mean to!"

"How could you?" Luffy's tone of speech grew unusually deep. "We were friends, Usopp. I forgave you for what happened at Water 7. How could you bring yourself to lie to me again?!"

"I...I..." The liar stuttered, being too frightened to speak.

"ANSWER ME, DAMMIT!"

"Because we thought we could pull it off!

Luffy let go of Usopp almost instantly, letting his rear meet the ground once more. As the coward scurried away, Luffy looked behind him to see who said that, though he already knew.

"Nami?"

"You were always easy to trick, Luffy," Nami said, somewhat stoic. "Sometimes a little more than Sanji."

Sanji's cigarette fell from his mouth when she said that. Sure, she may have mentioned that a few times, but this is the first time she said that without any charm, let alone remorse.

"So," Zoro stated, letting go of the cook. "The witch reveals the kind of person she really is."

Nami shot a glare at Zoro for that remark, who evilly smirked in kind. It sank when Luffy glowered at him, and walked up to Nami.

"Why did you go along with this?" He queried, not changing his expression.

"You know why," Nami muttered, "Because you were always easy, and I didn't want you to yell at me because you were stupid."

"That's it?" Luffy flatly questioned, "You didn't want me to yell at you?"

"What else do you want me to say?"

"I should've known," Luffy muttered, "You've never had faith in me. You've let on that much. Even after everything I've done for you, you never did trust me."

"Luffy-"

"I should've seen this coming, from you, Usopp, everyone aboard this ship!"

"Um, Straw Hat?" Franky called out, but Luffy continued on.

"Maybe I was wrong about you guys being sorry. Maybe you all lied to me because you don't trust me!"

"Hold on a second, Luffy!" Zoro tried to calm his captain, "We really are sorry for this!"

"You all almost fooled me again!" Luffy yelled, staring down his crew. "You really think I'm that stupid, you thought you could trick me twice, after Chopper told me the truth!"

Nami steered her face to the side, avoiding eye contact at Luffy.

"Luffy, wait a moment, please!" Brook pleaded, to no avail.

"You've all tricked Brook into believing you guys, but you all failed!"

"Luffy," Usopp began, "I know I've lied to you a lot, but I swear there's nothing going on this time!"

"You're pathetic, Usopp! You're trying to lie to me, even after knowing what all these lies are going to cost you!"

"No, Luffy! I swear-"

"JUST SHUT UP!" Luffy yelled, startling Usopp. "I can't believe anything you say to me now!"

"Look, Luffy, we-" Sanji tried to reply, but got cut off by Luffy once again.

"As far as you guys are concerned, I'm just a stain on your lives!" Luffy shouted.

"THAT'S NOT TRUE!" Nami yelled, making the captain look back at her.

"Now you tell me I matter?!" Luffy furiously questioned, "Where was that encouragement when I needed to hear it from you, huh?!"

"Oh, so now I'm supposed to hold your hand now?!" The navigator retorted, "Is that what you wanted me to do?!"

"I WANTED YOU TO TRUST ME, YOU BITCH!" Luffy growled in front her face, making her sweat, shut up, and take a few steps back. "I wanted you to trust me after what happened with Shiki, but I guess that was asking too much from you."

"Luffy," Nami started to argue, "I didn't have any doubt you could beat Shiki, but he almost killed you, Zoro, Usopp, Sanji, and Chopper the first time you fought him! He was a powerful madman!"

"Not to mention he was one of Gold Roger's greatest rivals," Brook added, "At least, the last I've heard."

"Yeah, thanks for reminding me, Brook," Luffy sarcastically addressed the musician, then turned around to face Nami. "But he kidnapped you! I wasn't gonna let him get away with that! You were my friend!"

"Were?" Robin questioned, "As in, past tense?"

Luffy scoffed, and walked away from Nami. "I still wanted to trust you, even when you didn't trust me, Nami. I considered you a friend."

The captain sadly frowned, and put his hands in his pockets. "I considered everybody on this ship my friends, and... Nami..."

Luffy paused, wondering privately if he should tell her. He took a breath, and saw the crew was waiting for whatever Luffy was going to say next. The navigator, in particular, wondered what he was waiting for.

"No, that's not important anymore," Luffy decided, and moved to another topic.

"When Ace left my home to become a pirate after he was old enough, I was alone. I had no one to help me, no one to rely on. Grandpa, he wanted me to be a marine, and all he's done is hurt me and put me in trouble. Because of him, I couldn't go to some school and learn. I couldn't make any friends my age because they think I'm a stupid freak."

Robin sighed. She knew what that was like, being a victim of scorn at such a young age.

"Ace and... another kid, they were the only ones who cared about me. That great friend... He moved on to a better place, and Ace would have to leave me eventually. There was a girl I knew, but later on, I learned she hated me, the hard way."

"Luffy..." Brook mumbled, hearing about this someone a second time from the captain, who crossed his arms and went on.

"I wanted to find some friends that would care about me, guys who had dreams, and were okay people. I was desperate enough to keep you guys as my friends, I was willing to forgive and forget some things."

Everyone saw Luffy's expression turn even more miserable, and from the looks of it, He was almost about to cry. "To be honest, I wanted to forgive you and forget what happened with the flag. But there's a problem with that. I've done some thinking, which must be surprising for you guys. I know I'm stupid, and after hearing you guys lie to me, I realized something I'd never thought I'd think."

"And... What's that?" Usopp asked, swallowing a lump in his throat.

"Maybe... The real problem was me," Luffy answered, with a few tears falling from his eyes. "Maybe I chose the wrong friends all along."

"What?!" Most of the crew yelled in disbelief.

"Luffy, you can't be serious!" Sanji protested against the captain's assertion.

"We'd never do anything to hurt you!" Zoro concurred.

"Too late," Luffy coldly responded, still crying. "You just did, from the minute you lied to me. All because of who I am."

"Luffy, that's on me and Usopp," Nami stated, "I thought of you as a fool first instead of a captain and a friend. That's my fault."

"And that was your first mistake!" Luffy fiercely pointed at Nami, who took it as a sign to step back some further. "Your second mistake was hiding it from me! If you told me you lost the flag, instead of lying to me about it, I would've understood you guys!"

"You would've?" Franky pondered aloud, raising an eyebrow.

"But no! You guys thought you could get away with it! Your lies did more than cover it all up! You all betrayed me! YOU BETRAYED MY TRUST!"

"You're right," Zoro agreed, closing his eyes. "We screwed you big time, Luffy."

Luffy ignored the swordsman and wiped his tears.

"And I had to find out," Luffy sniffed, "After having one bad day after another! I've learned it's all my fault that you didn't trust me, Nami."

"Luffy..." Nami quietly murmured, almost prepared to reach out to him. "Why do you think that?" He couldn't answer, because he never heard her ask.

"After what happened with Usopp, Robin, and the Going Merry, I was feeling pathetic! Useless to everyone! I can't protect you, let alone myself! I couldn't win against Shiki the first time, and Nami got taken because I'm weak! Bad things really do happen around me! All because I'm the devil's son!"

"Don't even think that, Luffy!" Franky ordered, approaching the captain. "Being born who you are doesn't decide the kind of person you're gonna be forever!"

"No?!" Luffy looked straight up at the cyborg and glared at him. "Tell that to the marines! I didn't even know I was the son of a wanted man! If the World Government finds out, they'll send everybody in their group to kill me! But I don't care anymore. They can do what they want to me!"

"Oh, no..." Sanji began to sweat, anticipating Luffy's next move. "Luffy, don't say something you'll regret...!"

"It doesn't matter anymore," Luffy seethed, "I can take a hint. None of you want me on this crew now. I've outlived my usefulness, assuming I ever had any."

"No, Luffy," Usopp shook his head, "We don't want you to leave!"

"You could've done a mutiny. It would've saved you from getting caught, but I guess you wanted to use me like the idiot you think I am. Well, I'm done!"

"Luffy!" Zoro pleaded, "Don't say it!"

"I'M DONE WITH YOU GUYS," Luffy said, with uncharacteristic stoicism. The words themselves had cut deep into the crew that heard him. They have driven they're own captain to leave.

Everything looked like it turned white for an instant. While that wasn't the case, the crew was nevertheless shocked.

"All I do is cause you guys pain," The 'former' captain stated, walking towards the gangplank. "I'm doing you a favor by leaving this crew. I'll be doing you a favor by leaving this godforsaken world for good."

"Luffy, wait," Nami meekly called out, somehow managing to make her voice heard. "You can't do that...!"

"I can, and I just decided. I've quit, so that means I don't have to listen to your whining anymore." He stopped short of the railing and looked behind him to see Nami walk up to him. "It's clear now that things can never work between us. Not that they ever had."

"But what about your dream?!" Zoro questioned, "What about being the king of the pirates?!"

Luffy turned his head to Zoro, and replied, "It doesn't matter to me anymore."

Zoro blinked, unable to believe what Luffy said. He didn't care about his dream anymore!

"I don't care about it. And whatever happens to me, I don't care!"

"Luffy, please-" Nami tried to stop Luffy from leaving, but he hopped on the railing, and looked back to his former crew.

"Don't any of you follow me!" He shouted for them to hear as the wind harshly blew. "I don't ever want to see you again!"

He turned around and went down the railing, but Nami persisted. She got on the railing to run after him.

'It's all my fault,' She thought, 'It's my fault this is happening! Please wait, Luffy!'

"Nami!" Sanji cried out in concern, but the wind was blowing at an uncontrollable, deafening all sound. "Wait!"

"Luffy, stop!" Nami exclaimed, running behind him and grabbing his shoulder. But as she did, Luffy turned around and punched her in her right eye!

The world turned cold and had come to a standstill. Each of the Straw Hats were trying to process what was happening. What they saw was Luffy, their captain, brutally hit Nami. She fell to the sand, and Luffy's scowl turned to fright as he saw what he had done. He couldn't hear her call out to him, and had no idea she was actually running to stop him.

"Nami!" Luffy shouted, bending down to and trying to get some kind of reaction from her. However, there was no movement. He struck her in the eye so hard, she possibly passed out from the blow. He grimaced, "I... I didn't mean to..."

"RRAAAAAAAAAGGGHHHHHH!" Sanji roared, running from the plank and striking Luffy in the face as hard as he possibly could. The attack sent Luffy flying to the trees of the jungle, and he collided with one of them, toppling it.

"You hurt Nami, you motherfucker!" He yelled, picking up Nami, bridal style. "Go on, get out of here!"

"CHOPPER!" Brook yelled, running to the infirmary. "CHOPPER, COME OUT HERE, PLEASE!" He slammed his boney hand against the door several times until it opened.

"Brook?" Chopper looked up from behind the door, rubbing his eyes. "What's wrong?"

"It's Nami! Luffy hit her, and she's not moving!"

"What?!" Chopper screamed, running for his bag. "Lead me to her!"

As the musician did that, Zoro was forced to be held back by Franky and Robin, who were trying to keep him from brutalizing Sanji with his swords.

"Let me go, dammit!" Zoro furiously shouted, "He's going to pay for that! I'll cut his lungs out while he's breathing!"

"Zoro, calm down!" Franky ushered, lifting him by his hands. "Don't make me knock you out!"

"Please, Zoro!" Robin begged, using her powers to keep Zoro's legs from kicking Franky. "It's not worth it!"

Sanji carried Nami back to the Sunny, and put her on the grass as Chopper came out.

Outside the ship, Luffy got up from the grass, and saw the ship. He sadly frowned, and he began to walk through the jungle. However, a few feet of walking, he saw that person walk up to him.

"Hey!" Henley called out, running up to him. "Straw Hat! Let me help-!"

"YOU!" Luffy roared with fury, rushing to punch the redhead in the gut. "GUM-GUM BULLET!"

The hit connected, and everything turned black and white for just a moment.

"UWWAAAAAGGGH!" Henley cried out in pain, coughing out blood. That punch, to him, felt like a gunshot the size of a matador charging at him, with an indescribable force of pressure being sent out from his back.

The half-breed fell to his knees, and coughed, gripping his mouth. He also clenched his stomach, feeling a stitch on his belly tear and reopen a wound. He looked up to Luffy, seeing his face coincide with another face from his past.

"Enough," Luffy coldly spoke in a deep voice, though to Henley, he saw someone else. "I'm getting sick of you, you little piece of shit."

That someone else, was another person Henley had hoped to forget about. He was nothing more than a silhouette, but Henley didn't need any light to shine on him to remember.

"S-Saint...!" Henley whispered, his face turning pale from fright. "S-Saint... S-Squallace...! Why are...?!"

He then realized was just hallucinating, and shook his head to see Luffy make the attempt to run off further into the wilderness.

"Straw Hat!"

Luffy, hearing this person call out to him again, turned around, just to deliver another blow to him.

"GUM-GUM PISTOL!" Luffy stretched his arm out to send his fist at the poor fool's face, once again making contact. Henley collapsed once more, and the former captain took off, but not before being certain he couldn't get up again.

He didn't care where he was going or what was going to happen next. He wanted no part of his former crew anymore.

He wanted to be isolated from them. He had no idea he was going to get his wish.

XXX

"Are the traps set up?" Beau-Pére questioned, looking around the area.

There were lots on nets hanging from the tree branches, and some bushes and leaves covering up these pits some of the men had dug. Also, some of the marines were hiding in the bushes, armed with only swords and clubs.

"Yes, sir!" Fixit replied, "As you can see, we have outfitted this area with your typical traps for wild animals."

"Good. Scorcher, Seventy!" He called out to his other high ranking men, "Are you in position?"

"Does a cannon need big balls?" Scorcher answered with a question, sticking his head out from a bush, just a few yards away from the first set of traps. The question made the commander and Fixit sweat-drop.

"You really might want to rephrase that question," Seventy mused, climbing up a tree with ease.

"Please, you two," Beau-Pére pleaded, "Stow the banter until after we have captured Straw Hat Luffy."

"Sir," Fixit questioned, "What makes you think he'll come running here?"

"It's simple," Beau-Pére answered, turning into a puma-human hybrid. "I get him to come to us. Just be ready when he comes." He began to jump up to the trees, and ricochet from one tree to another, off to fulfill his mission...

TO BE CONTINUED...

Chapter Text

Chapter 12- The Hunt


One Piece © Eiichiro Oda

William Henley, Beau-Pére, Fixit, Seventy, and Scorcher © HatOnFire/Me


The wind was howling, disturbing the trees of the jungle. The seawater was splashing against the side of the ships docked in the port, and raising the island's tide, if only slightly.

With a storm slowly coming to the island, every inhabitant has taken refuge in they're houses. The streets were empty, save for the marines patrolling the area. They have taken it upon themselves to guard the island's village, and the moss-layered wall that safeguards the people from the wild animals.

Pirates would also be wise as to take they're troubles inside they're ship, where it would be safer. But even with the Straw Hat Pirates, there is nothing short of conflict, which is what led to the captain, Monkey D. Luffy, to leave his crew behind. Now, they're quarrel has gone to new heights, with the navigator's unconsciousness due to the former captain, though not intentional, and with the incident in Lovely Land playing a role in Luffy's resignation from the crew.

"Luffy's gone, and it's all your fault!" Brook shouted, reprimanding the entire crew, minus Chopper, and rightfully so. They moved into the aquarium room, as the outside was currently no place to hold a conversation. "I just can't believe you would do this!"

"Keep sayin' what you want, Brook," Franky said, arms crossed and looking down to the floor in shame. "We deserve whatever comes our way. We never should've went along with this."

"YOUR DAMN RIGHT YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE!"

"Yeah!" Chopper concurred, water drops seeping from his eyes at a steady pace. He was on the sofa behind the fish tank with Nami laying down next to him. He was placing a cloth filled with ice cubes around Nami's bruise on her eye. "I shouldn't have kept quiet about this, if I knew this was gonna happen!"

"Listen, Chopper..." Usopp spoke up, attempting to reason with the doctor. "We thought, well, I thought it was necessary, and-"

"Necessary?!" Chopper bitterly questioned, "You call lying to a friend necessary?!"

"Everyone, calm down, now!" Sanji ordered, his voice, of all things, silencing everyone. "We need to stay calm, and think here!"

"Think?!" Zoro intensely repeated, "Oh, sure! Let's think about this, like what you did to Luffy as he left us!"

"He hit Nami, you selfish misogynist!" The cook argued, "He shouldn't have done that to her! She didn't deserve that!"

"Tch," Zoro clicked his tongue and crossed his arms, "Of course you'd say that! That little runt was right about one thing! She's nothing but a greedy, gold-digging bit-!"

"ENOUGH!" Robin shouted, bringing silencing every voice in the room. "Will all of you stop acting like self-centered, self-entitled children for once in your lives?! In case you forgot, our captain is lost somewhere on the island and we have to get him back!"

"B-But," Usopp was going to point out something, but Robin interjected, shutting him up.

"I know he told us not to follow him," Robin stated, "But when he threw his authority away, he lost the ability to order us. Nothing he says can stop us from getting him back."

"But he willingly left the crew," Zoro interrupted, "And it doesn't sound like he wants to come back."

"I don't think he was in his right mind when he left us. I can't exactly tell, but something may be making him fall into a state of despair."

"I think I get what you're talking about, Nico Robin," Franky responded, "Luffy doesn't usually have any green eyes. You guys noticed, right?"

"Hey, yeah!" Chopper exclaimed, "Luffy did have green eyes! You think that that has something to do with what happened to him?"

"Hold on a second," Usopp gestured the group to slow down, "Let's say it is making him leave us. Then, suppose we find him before something bad happens to him. How are we gonna get him to return to us if he won't come back?"

"We'll just have to convince him when we find him, I suppose."

"Robin, I don't mean to be disrespectful," Sanji spoke up, "But I don't think we should let him back in the crew."

"What?!" The guys questioned as the archaeologist and Zoro, to a lesser extent, remained stoic.

"I'm not surprised," Zoro mused, "Luffy does one thing to her, and you-"

"Shut up and listen, Moss-head!" Sanji commanded, "I'm just saying, we can't let him back in the crew like this, even if he wasn't in his right mind. The fact is, under the influence or not, he left, and prior to leaving, he assaulted a woman, who is a crewmate. He shouldn't be let back in unless he apologizes for his actions to Nami!"

"That whore is the reason he was driven away in the first place!" The swordsman yelled, "We all are! Luffy never would've done these things if we came out and admitted that we lied to him! He never would've left if she told him about the last part of that damn message she left us after Shiki took her!"

Sanji opened his mouth in an attempt to counter Zoro's statement, but he realized something: Zoro was right. While they all had a part with pushing Luffy away and making him lose his faith in the crew, Nami never admitted the last part of that message to Luffy. He got upset over that, and hasn't exactly talked to her since. That's why he didn't want any more mention of Shiki.

"You're right..." He confessed, "I hate to say it, but you're right. But still, that doesn't mean he should've hit her...!"

"Even I don't think he should've done that, Sanji," Brook agreed.

"Well, think what you want," Zoro huffed, "As far as I'm concerned, she had that coming a long time ago. She deserved it, and I don't care if Luffy wanted to do that or not."

"Hey, Sanji," Usopp chimed in, "If you wanna know, I don't think Luffy meant to hit Nami that hard. I don't know if you saw it, but I saw Luffy's face when he turned around. He looked... horrified."

"Usopp," Chopper sighed, "I want to believe you, especially about that, but..."

"Oh, come on!" The liar groaned, "I'm telling you the truth this time! I've got great eye vision here! I saw Luffy look terrible!"

"I... saw it too..."

Every gaze in that room shifted to Sanji, looking at the lit cigarette he held in his fingertips.

"I saw his look," He amended his statement, "Right when I kicked him..."

"Ngh..." Nami stirred, slowly waking up.

"Nami!" Sanji called with surprise, getting down to her side. "Nami, are you alright?"

"Sanji, don't get close!" Chopper ordered, "I still need to treat her."

"Chopper...?" Nami queried, trying to sit up. "Where am I?"

"In the aquarium room, right now," The doctor replied, "Don't move, and don't open your right eye. I'm going to use this cloth that's filled with ice and place it around your eye."

"What... happened?" Nami felt the wet cloth touch her bruise, and winced a little. The pain stung, but she's been through worse.

"You were out for, I guess a couple of minutes. Now hold still, please."

"Where's Luffy?"

"Ms. Nami, don't you remember what happened a few minutes ago?" Brook asked, then Sanji led him away from Nami.

"Don't ask questions like that to a lady when she just got injured," Sanji lightly berated, "Don't listen to him, Nami. Not right now. Just focus on getting better."

"No..." Nami closed her good eye and shook her head, "I remember... Luffy... and he... hit me."

"Nami, please don't think about that right now," Sanji implored, "You still need to-"

"No, wait!" Nami jolted up from the couch, startling Chopper into almost falling off the couch. "Luffy! He walked away, didn't he?! Is he still on the island?!"

"Last we saw him, he was," Franky answered, "He walked off after Sanji kicked him after you got punched out cold."

"What?!" Nami angrily questioned, setting her sights on Sanji. "You attacked him?!"

"Now, wait, Nami!" Sanji begged, taking some steps back when she got up and started to advance towards him. "He hit you, and I had to protect you before-"

"Okay, you know what?" Zoro interrupted the scene that was about to unfold, "I was gonna sit back and watch you slug the prince of dumbass kingdom, but we don't have time for this. If we're going to actually help Luffy, then we can't try and kill each other here."

Nami looked at the swordsman, then returned her gaze to the sweating cook. She huffed, and went for the door.

"You're right, Zoro," She agreed, "Luffy comes first. We've got to find him. The winds will be a little troublesome, but we'll manage. Besides, he'll do something stupid if we don't stop him."

"Like what?" Usopp pondered aloud.

"He said he'll be doing us a favor by leaving the world. I know what that mean, and I don't like it!"

"And as long as he's in that state," Robin pointed out, "He might actually kill himself."

"W-What?!" Chopper exclaimed, jumping off the sofa. "Then we have to find him!"

"Come on!" Nami motioned, but then, Sanji got between her and the door.

"Sanji!" Usopp yelled, "What the hell are you doing?!"

"Nami," Sanji began, "Don't take this the wrong way, but you can't go out there. Not when he may hurt you again."

"What?!" Nami questioned, "Luffy's not that kind of person!"

"Remember," Usopp butted in again, "I said I saw Luffy look terrible up until you kicked him! Besides, you said you saw him with that look, too!"

"W-Well..." The cook stammered, "I don't want to take that chance! You're hurt!"

"It's just a black eye, Sanji!" Nami argued, not turning around once.

"The wind-!"

"Screw the wind! We'll be fine! Now, quit treating me like a little girl and move!"

"Nami-"

"DID I STUTTER?!" Nami screeched, grabbing him by the collar, and opening her right eye up. It hurt her to do that, but she'd never admit that, not when something else is at stake here.

Sanji had been reduced at a loss for words. He sweated profusely, and he knew she wasn't going to back down now. He sighed a breath of defeat, and once she let him free, he opened the door.

A gust of wind came through the room and forced the door open, taking the Straw Hats off guard, but only for as second.

"Come on!" Nami shouted once more, and the entire group went to follow her lead, fighting the force of the gale.

"I really hope Nami can stand the pain," Robin muttered, "This all must be taking a toll on her."

"You know none of this would've happened," Zoro pointed out, "If she were straight with Luffy, instead of trying to avoid all of her problems, right?"

"I suppose..." Robin then turned her attention to Chopper as the crew walked down the gangplank. "Is her eye...?"

"If she doesn't have any vision problems," The doctor said, "She'll be fine. But she needs some treatment when we get back here!"

'She won't be the only one...' Zoro thought, tying his bandanna around his head. 'Come on, Luffy! Be alive when we find you!'

XXX

Meanwhile, a few minutes before the search for Luffy begins...

"NGGGGAAAAHHH!" Luffy grunted in frustration, running through the forest. He had been running for who knows how long, and he was pissed off, just like yesterday and even before that. He just needs to vent his greater anger on something.

"Screw them! Screw them all! That runt tells me a bunch of crap, Nami gives me crap, and my damn friends lie to me! I wish I never see any of those bastards again!"

He kept running, oblivious to a shadowy figure stalk him through the trees. He was moving fast, able to keep up with the athletic boy. The figure reveals himself to be Beau-Pére, and he was prepared to make himself known.

"Tempest Kick Artemis Arrows!" Pressing his feet together, Beau-Pére sends his feet forward, launching a burst of air at his target in the form of a large arrow, which proceeded to split into about twenty smaller arrows. They collided with the ground, almost sounding like bullets meeting a wall.

Luffy gasped, and jumped and rolled forward, and turned around to see who attacked him. No one was there.

"Who's there?!" Luffy shouted, getting up from the grass floor.

The commander appeared behind Luffy for a minute and pushed him before disappearing again, no doubt using another ability he learned.

Luffy turned again, took on a fighting stance. Whoever was antagonizing him, they were still there!

"Show yourself, dammit!" He demanded, even though it was futile to make such requests.

"Tempest Kick Luna Boomerang!" A well-polished dress shoe made a kick, and sent out a bright blue slash looking like an eclipse, and spinning at astonishing speed straight to Luffy.

The attack went past Luffy's back, but it tore a bit of his vest. The eclipse attack went on to chop a few trees down for another twenty or so yards before ceasing. The boy saw the trees level before his eyes, and he gritted his teeth and looked around, trying not to lose his cool, whatever he has left, at least.

'Well,' Beau-Pére thought, hiding in the trees. 'Enough charades. Time to lure the prey.'

"Tempest Kick Puma Prints!" He jumped down and delivered a barrage of kicks to his target.

Luffy looked up, and was too late to block or dodge in time. He felt like he was getting hit by eight or nine feet every second. The assault stopped, and Luffy skid along the ground with his back.

"AGGGGHHHHHHH!" Luffy writhed, not expecting an aerial technique like that.

'Damn!' He cursed in his head, 'I should've been more careful!' He jumped up to face his attacker.

"A marine?!"

"To answer your question as to who I am," Beau-Pére said, "I am Beau-Pére. Commander Beau-Pére."

"Commander?" Luffy questioned, "So, you're just like Smokey, huh?"

"You mean Commodore Smoker? Well, he has a much higher rank than I do, and his powers are vastly different from mine, but yes. I'm like him."

"Wait, Commodore?!" The former captain exclaimed, "I thought he was a captain!"

"He got promoted, thanks to your appearance in Alabasta. While your fame increased, he was given a rank up, though, from what I've heard, he didn't sound too thrilled by it. Can't blame him."

"Well, if you're here, then are trying to...?"

"Capture you, yes. I was ordered to by the fleet admiral and your grandfather, Vice Admiral Garp."

"Of course," Luffy sighed. "Gramps sent you. Why am I not surprised?"

"Just come with us, quietly, without trouble. I don't want to hurt you."

"Well, too bad. You came at a bad time, and I'm really pissed off. So, I guess I'll have to take it out on you!"

Luffy ran right at Beau-Pére to tackle him, but he vanished in thin air, leaving Luffy to land on the dirt.

(BGM: Luffy vs. Ratchet Round 1, from One Piece Movie 7: The Giant Mechanical Soldier of Karakuri Castle, by Kouhei Tanaka)

"I must warn you in advance," The commander's voice could be heard throughout the entire area, "I was properly trained to fight!"

Beau-Pére appeared behind Luffy, who turned around and growled as he charged at him.

"Gum-Gum Pistol!" Luffy sent his fist out to his the commander square in the nose, but he dodged to the side. The boy still charged at him, intent on landing a hit.

"Gum-Gum Bullet!"

"Iron Body!"

The gut punch that Luffy used collided with Beau-Pére's stomach, but it felt like hitting iron, as the technique's name would suggest.

"What the-?!" Luffy questioned, then was pushed back by his opponent's fingers.

"Finger Pistol Single Action!" Beau-Pére put his index finger and middle finger together, shaping his right hand like a revolver, and jabbed into Luffy's shoulder, sending him back a few feet.

"AAGGHHH!" The boy clutched his shoulder in pain. Even if the attack didn't pierce his skin, it felt like something hard was making his surprise foe feel tougher than he looks.

"What're you made of anyway?!" Luffy questioned, dodging a leg sweep and an array of fist and leg attacks.

"Simply the right stuff, my boy!" Beau-Pére replied, then jumped above him to do a quick somersault and bring his heels down on the young lad.

"Tempest Kick Iron Hinds!" Luffy jumped to the side before the back of Beau-Pére shoes could strike him. The move left a moderate sized crater in the ground.

"Gum-Gum Bazooka!" He elongated his arms behind him, and launched his hands to afflict damage to the commander's chest. It worked, and his opponent grunted as he was pushed back.

"Gum-Gum Stamp!" Luffy followed up that attack by outreaching his foot to hit Beau-Pére's face, and sent him back further.

Beau-Pére slightly hissed from the blow, and proceeded to activate his Devil Fruit, turning into a human-puma hybrid.

"It's clear to me," He said while transforming, making Luffy look astonished. "That I can't afford to take care in avoiding injuries done to you. I am here to capture you, and I will do so."

"You..." Luffy muttered, "You're just like that pigeon guy!"

"Rob Lucci," Beau-Pére mused, "I am not like him, boy. Allow me to prove why."

XXX

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the jungle...

"Ugh..." Henley groaned, slowly getting up. "What... happened to me?"

His question was answered, when multiple arms trapped him, and he was pressed against a tree by Zoro.

"Don't move," Zoro commanded, unsheathing Shusui and holding the sharp part against his neck. "Unless you want a full view of your body from the ground up."

"Oh, Roronoa Zoro," Henley greeted, "Let me guess, you're out to find your captain."

"We all are," Franky chimed in, making Henley look and see the entire crew glaring at him. "And you probably know where he is."

"And you'd be right," The half-breed responded, "Since he's the one that slugged me."

"Where is he?" Nami asked, walking towards him.

"How about you let me go, and I'll show you the way? You can't beat that deal. Plus, it won't cost you a berry."

"How about this?" Nami countered, "You tell us now, and we'll consider it. But don't, and you're dead where you stand."

"Fine," Henley sighed, "I only said it because I want to help."

"Right," Usopp spoke up sarcastically, "Because you're the god of congeniality. I'm not sure we can use your help."

"He's right, little dude," Franky concurred, "You did something to Luffy, and now he's gonna do something bad."

"You think I don't know that?" Henley bitterly questioned, "I know I'm guilty of that, and I'm sorry! I just wanted to help him. That's why I snuck aboard the ship yesterday."

"Wait," Zoro realized, "You came aboard the ship to talk with him?"

"You were there, Roronoa," Henley turned his eyes to Zoro, "You saw what happened when I told him what that substance I gave him would do to him."

"Now that you mention it, you did." Zoro released his grip on the redhead, though Robin still held him with her powers. "You also said there's a way to stop whatever was happening to him."

"Well, there is," Henley began to admit, "But at the time, I was lying to him."

"You were what?!" Zoro almost went and sent the tip of Shusui across Henley's face, until he spoke up again.

"But I figured it out a while ago!" Henley explained, "I know how you can help him out now! Honest!"

"How do we know you're being honest this time?" Sanji asked, blowing a good amount of smoke in the captive's face, making him cough.

"I do drastic things when I'm cornered, okay? I only do stuff like this because I have something to live for. That's why I don't want to die now. Because if I die, so does someone else."

"Someone else?" Usopp pondered aloud, as the captive brought his head down with remorse.

"And now, your captain got caught up in my troubles, and it's all my fault he's become the way he is. His brother would never forgive me if he found out, and I'd never forgive myself for letting this happen."

"Wait a second," Chopper said, walking up to Henley. "You knew Ace?"

"Wait, you knew Ace, too?"

"Stop right there for a minute!" Franky shouted, slightly sweating. "You guys aren't talking about Portgas D. Ace, are you?!"

"Oh, right," Nami facepalmed, "We forgot to tell some of you guys this, but Ace is Luffy's older brother."

"WHAT?!" Franky exclaimed, "You're kidding!"

"Interesting," Robin mused, "The 2nd division commander of the Whitebeard Pirates is Luffy's brother."

"Whitebeard...?" Brook mumbled, "I've heard of that person back in my past. One of the strongest pirates, if I recall."

"Uh-Huh," Henley nodded, "And that guy is one of the Four Emperors of the sea."

"Four Emperors?" Brook questioned, but then Nami interjected.

"Dwell on that later, Brook!" She then grabbed the slightly shorter young man by his cloak, and scowled at him. "You still haven't answered my question. Where did Luffy go?"

"I don't exactly know," Henley confessed, "But I remember him running down this path until he knocked me out. We can catch up to him if we hurry."

"We?" Nami questioned, "What do you mean, 'we?' What makes you think we'll take you along?"

"Well, for starters," Henley explained, "I could've fed you a load of crap and escaped whenever I felt like it. Secondly, you don't have anything I want, save for a cozy ship compared to a raft with a tent on it. But more importantly, we have a common goal here: The safety of Monkey D. Luffy."

That last statement got the crew thinking long and hard on the matter. He was right about that. He cared about making up for his mistakes, and he sounded sincere about it.

"I'm asking as someone hoping to make amends. Will you let me help you?" He even bowed his head to them for good measure, hoping they do.

Nami, still keeping one hand on the half-breed, looked to the others, each of them thinking about it.

Sanji approached her and whispered, "We need him to tell us how to cure Luffy."

Nami let go of Henley, and nodded to Robin, urging her to release him. She cancels her powers, making those extra arms disappear into flower petals.

"Let me make this clear," Nami said, turning around to look at him. "This is only temporary. Once we get Luffy back, you beat it, alright?"

"Understood," Henley replied, "Besides, I have a deadline to keep. The sooner we can help your boyfriend, the sooner I can leave the island. I've taken up too much of my time here as it is."

Most of the Straw Hats looked at Henley in shock. This guy actually went and called Luffy Nami's boyfriend, something he's most certainly not. Nami blushed at that statement, Chopper blinked a few times and looked at the others, not understanding the context of that statement, and Robin had to stifle her laughter. Everybody else's jaws hit the ground, however.

'T-This guy...' Zoro thought, twitching his eye. 'Does he even know...?'

"B-B-Boyfriend?!" Nami stuttered as her cheeks turned profusely red.

"Hmm? Henley questioned, then realized what he said. "Oh, I'm sorry! I-I got carried away with what I said!"

"Got carried away?!" Usopp repeated, "Buddy, you jumped the shark with what you said!"

Someone else, however, was smoldering with fire all over him. To no one's surprise, it was the cook, coming down with anger while keeping a cool composure, and running straight at Henley.

"Uh-oh," Henley whispered, "Shave!"

He disappeared, quick as a wink, before Sanji's leg could strike him. The foot only collided with the tree behind the vanished redhead, and tore it up from its roots.

"WHEN I FIND YOU, SAUCE-HEAD, I'LL BURN WHAT'S LEFT OF YOU INTO THE FOOD!" Sanji furiously roared, until Nami bonked him on the head.

"Okay, enough of that!" She shouted, "We've got to find Luffy!" Henley reappeared, and nodded.

"She sure recovered quickly, didn't she?" Brook evaluated, with Usopp and Chopper nodding in agreement.

"Let's go!" Zoro yelled, and ran off... in the other direction.

"Zoro!" Franky called out, "You're going the wrong way!"

Nami and Henley groaned in exasperation.

"Please tell me that doesn't happen often," The half-breed implored, leading the crew in the real direction.

"I wish it didn't," Nami could only say in response, following him.

XXX

At the same time...

(BGM: Gomu Gomu is Ineffective, One Piece Movie 2: Clockwork Island Adventure, by Kouhei Tanaka)

"HA! YAH!"

The fighting has gone on for a few minutes, and despite what some would be led to believe, if there were witnesses, there is one who has the advantage. At the moment, Beau-Pére is backing up and blocking Luffy's strikes, while retaliating with his own.

"You're good," Beau-Pére praised, "But you're going down hard!"

"Oh yeah?!" Luffy questioned, "I'm just getting started!"

The two kept trading punches and kicks, both blocking each step of the way. Until...

"Finger Pistol Puma Fangs!" The cat commander swiped his hands down, one after the other, and shot out claw mark slashes at Luffy, who dodged both and jumped out of the way.

"Tempest Kick Puma Tail!" Beau-Pére swerved his body and swung his tail at Luffy, releasing another burst which collided with his stomach.

"Ugh!" Luffy grunted, feeling the impact. Strangely enough, the attack didn't seem to cut into him.

"Wait," He said aloud, "That should've hurt a lot more. Does that mean...?" He looked at his feline like opponent, and thought of Lucci in his leopard form.

"Does that mean you're weaker than Pigeon Guy?!"

Beau-Pére sweat-dropped. 'Does he not know I'm holding back so much destructive skills right here?!' He thought, 'Someone like him should have guessed my level of strength, since he's the one who fought people like Arlong and Lucci!'

"Eh, whatever!" Luffy ran at Beau-Pére and jumped above him, stretching out his leg.

"Gum-Gum Battle Axe!" The former captain dropped his foot on top of Beau-Pére, but sidestepped, and grabbed his stretched leg. The next thing Luffy knew, he was slung around like a whip, until he was thrown to the trees.

Upon getting slammed, Luffy dropped to the ground, tasting grass. When he got up, he realized there were strips of green in his mouth, and promptly spit them out. He had to spit a few more times to make sure he got them all.

"Son," Beau-Pére told the young pirate, "Just make it easier on yourself and give up. Or, just run away. I'll give you a head start."

"What kind of guy do you think I am?! I never run from a fight!"

"But you were running from something. Care to share what, or who?"

"What do you care?!" Luffy angrily questioned, "You've never met people who lie to you about stuff!"

"Hmm?" Beau-Pére raised an eyebrow, "What are you talking about?"

"Just shut up!" The former captain seethed, "Life sucks anyway! As far as I'm concerned, I don't care what happens! Try and kill me if you can!" Luffy planted his fist on the ground, and proceeded to use his second tier ability. "Let's see how you like this!" Using his legs like a pump, Luffy's skin turned pink once more, and steam ejected from his body.

"SECOND GEAR!"

Beau-Pére's expression became stoic, but on the inside, he was feeling sorry for the boy.

'This boy...' Beau-Pére thought, 'Something must've happened to him to make him act like this. This wasn't in Garp's description of him.' But you just made it so much easier to lure you right where they are.'

"Okay, Mustache Guy!" Luffy yelled, glaring at Beau-Pére, "Let's go!"

The commander inhaled, and stared at the boy. 'You should've just run away, son,' He brooded, 'It would've been easier on me if you did, but you just made it so much easier to lure you in the trap.' Now, Beau-Pére was prepared to do his job, begrudgingly, of course.

"Shave!" When Beau-Pére disappeared, Luffy followed suit, and it has become a chase throughout the jungle. The two come back into view, but only to either repeat the process, or exchange blows.

In a sped up form, Luffy now leaps from tree to tree, with the puma man keeping up and matching his pace. They continue to trade punches, and land on the floor.

"Gum-Gum Jet Pistol!" Luffy punches Beau-Pére from a far distance, and manages to hit his face, throwing him slightly off balance.

"Jet Whip! Bazooka!" Following up with that, Luffy moves up to the commander and strikes him with an extended leg, and with two quick hands to the chest.

"Gum-Gum Jet Rifle!" Beau-Pére staggered back, but dodged when Luffy came at him with a twirling right arm.

"Tempest Kick Puma Tail!" The cat commander tried to strike Luffy again with his tail, but he hopped above it to strike hard on the man with another attack.

"Gum-Gum Jet Rain!" Sending his fists several feet above land, Luffy spared no expense and hit him as fast as he could.

"Jet Spear!" Luffy placed his feet together to strike Beau-Pére's stomach, making him cough blood.

"Jet Bell!" Finally, Luffy brought his head to his foe's face, and sent him in the ground, making a man shaped imprint.

When Luffy landed on the ground, he ceased his form, reverting back to normal. He breathed heavy, and looked at his downed opponent.

"Phew," He breathed, "I got him."

"Ugh..." The marine sat up from his hole and rubbed his head. Luffy gritted his teeth.

"Crap!" He cursed, "I thought I had him beat!"

"You really think..." The puma man began to question, stopping to whip his bloody mouth for a second. "That those moves were enough to stop me?"

"I thought they were, to be honest..." Luffy admitted, taking in some more breaths.

"Hmph," Beau-Pére grunted, making a smug sneer. "You, of all people should know, there's more to a person than meets the eye."

Luffy raised an eyebrow at the marine. There was something about that grin that looked familiar, but that didn't matter.

"Okay, listen," Luffy said, staring at Beau-Pére. "I'm having a very bad day here. I've had to put up with a lot. So, how about you do me a favor and stay where you are so I can kick your ass into next week?!"

"How about, no?" Beau-Pére answered, before disappearing and appearing again, feet, perhaps yards further away from the rubber boy.

"Moonwalk!" Next, he took to the air, utilizing yet another ability of his fighting style. "Can't catch me like this, No Straw Hat!" Winking at Luffy, he took off, leaving his prey in the dust.

"GRRRRRRR...!" Saying that Luffy was getting pissed off is an understatement at this point, since he's seeing so many similarities to Henley, when they fought in the jungle and on the Sunny. That mocking tone, that contemptuous grin, and the fact that the redhead he fought mentioned something about a marine teaching him those moves. It's all clear now. This marine taught Henley how to fight!

"So you're the one...!" He seethed, running to catch up to him. "You taught that guy how to fight like a dick!"

"Hmm?" Beau-Pére lost his grin to confusion as he kept traversing in midair. "What is he talking about now?"

"That redheaded Fish-Man!" Luffy shouted, making Beau-Pére look down to him in surprise. "He attacked me, and did something to me! And if you taught him, then it's your fault I'm stuck like this too!"

"W-What...?!" The marine pondered, then stopped to land on the ground. "What's this about Henley?!"

"That guy did a bunch of things to me!" Luffy yelled, "If you didn't teach him to fight like that, none of this would have happened!"

"What did you do to him?!" Beau-Pére interrogated, his eyes darkening with Luffy's rising temper.

"He ruined me! He screwed me over, and my crew hate me! But that's not all! If I weren't stupid, they wouldn't have lied to me and betrayed my trust! Now I'm really pissed off! Come on, Mustache Guy! YOU CAN'T BEAT ME!"

"I didn't lure you all the way here to be beaten," The puma man stated, returning to his human form. "I was going to approach your ship, and lure you, and perhaps, your crew out here as well."

"What...?!" Luffy raised his eyebrows, wondering what he was saying.

"Whether you came alone or with your crew," Beau-Pére continued, "It didn't matter. Your arrest was planned before you were even aware of what was happening."

Beau-Pére snapped his fingers, and a couple of marines with clubs jumped out to attack Luffy!

(BGM: Musshul Vs Luffy- Defeat or Musshul Vs Luffy Haiboku, One Piece: Episode Of Chopper Plus, by Shirou Hamaguchi)

Luffy was so shocked to see some marines hop out just like that, he almost forgot to fight them off.

"Gum-Gum Gatling!" He sent a flurry of outstretched fists to push a few of them back, then turned around to see a green blur with something silver hit him in the face!

"Aah!" Luffy grunted, getting knocked back.

"Screw Driver!" Fixit jabbed the ends of his two silver tonfas into Luffy's stomach, before putting them together with his arms.

"Open Hood!" Next, he performed two uppercuts at once, hitting Luffy in the chin, pushing him away further.

"Ugh!" The pirate grunted, feeling the force of the tough weapons.

"Mons Meg: Nets!" Scorcher jumped out from the bush in and fired the cannons mounted on his shoulders, revealing two nets with two silver cords each tied in their center. The nets wrapped around an off guard Luffy's arms, suddenly making him feel weak. Then, as he felt his strength diminish, he was yanked hard by the smiling man with a matchstick in his mouth.

"Match Lock!" Scorcher then restrained Luffy by performing an armlock, lifting him by the shoulders using his arms. Luffy was looking tired, making the attempt to struggle from the taller man's grasp. Being caught up in his fruitless attempts to get free, he fails to notice...

"Reticle Shot: Tranquil Dart," Seventy, sitting on a tree branch, shot a white dart with a pink feather from his brown rifle. The dart traveled a while in the air until it hit Luffy's neck.

Luffy grunted while he felt something hit his neck. He averted his gaze to the dart, and realized what was happening.

"Ugh... No..." He muttered, "I can't... lose..." He started to feel sleepy. That's when Scorcher let him drop to the ground.

He tried to crawl away, but it was no use. His vision was getting blurry, and everything was turning to darkness.

Luffy collapsed, defeated.

"Great work, boss!" Scorcher complimented, getting down on one knee to remove the nets from Luffy. "We got him!"

With two simultaneously pressed buttons, Scorcher's cannons retracted the loose nets back inside.

Seventy jumped down from the trees and landed on the ground, leaving a crater in his wake.

"Well," He said aloud, "That was underwhelming. Hard to believe he's the one the bosses are making a fuss about."

"We didn't try to capture him for the sport, Seventy," Fixit pointed out, putting his tonfas in the holsters behind him. "We did so because we were ordered to."

"That's right, Fix," Beau-Pére replied, looking sadly at the boy.

"You know," Seventy began to state, "That dart I shot has a small dose that'll keep him down for a few minutes. Don't you wanna put the Sea-Prism Stone Cuffs on him now?"

"Hmm?" The commander questioned, "O-Oh, right. Somebody get them on him."

"Boss, you alright?" Scorcher questioned, looking concerned. "You look a little pale..."

"I'm fine, Scorcher," Beau-Pére answered, "I was just thinking about so much..."

A soldier came around to Luffy and put his arms behind his back, cuffing him.

*CLICK!*

"Alright, boys," Beau-Pére proceeded to order, "Let's go. We got who we came for."

"Wait a sec," Seventy interjected, "What about the other Straw Hats? They may come looking for him."

"Come on, you don't think that, do you?" The shoulder cannon marine questioned, "I mean, sure, the idea's there, but when a pirate captain is captured, usually, the crew abandons him. I wouldn't be surprised if this crew does the same."

"She won't!" Beau-Pére exclaimed, taking the entire squad off guard. They never saw the commander react like that before.

Realizing what he did, Beau-Pére cleared his throat, maintaining his composure.

"I mean, they won't," He corrected, sternly looking up to Scorcher. "This is the same crew of pirates who declared war on the World Government to rescue one of their own. They will come, so don't underestimate their measure of camaraderie unless you want our base to become a repeat of Enies Lobby's destruction."

"Um, yessir!" Scorcher sweated, standing at attention.

"Leave the traps as they are," The commander directed, "Because of my skirmish with the lad, the pirates will follow the path to here. These traps should slow them down until we can get back to the ship."

"Sir," A lower ranking marine asked, "Give the order and some of us can stay to fight them!"

"No, I won't do it," Beau-Pére shook his head, "Not again, never again. You're in my unit, and as such, are my responsibility. I can't force you to risk your lives if I know it'll all be for nothing. Besides, there's no need to throw them away when we've accomplished our mission."

"You're very kind, sir," Fixit said, before smirking. "Maybe too kind..."

"What?"

"Yeah, a real softie," Seventy mused, grinning underneath the mouthpiece of his extended neck brace.

"What?"

"Can I borrow ten thousand berries, boss?" Scorcher smiled, holding his gloved hand out.

"What?!"

Some of the marine soldiers stifled their laughter as best they could, but couldn't after Scorcher went and did this.

"Oh, commander, my commander!" He shouted, lifting the unconscious Luffy up and twirling him to Beau-Pére. "Please take me into your arms, and hold me tonight!"

Beau-Pére caught Luffy, and the marines started laughing.

"Scorcher!" The commander yelled with comical shark teeth, "Don't twirl the pirate around like that!"

"Oh, look!" Scorcher exclaimed, "The prince has arrived for his sleeping love!"

The entire squad started laughing uproariously, some with tears running down their eyes.

"I have to deal with this group every day..." Beau-Pére lamented, sighing from exasperation. He wouldn't admit it out loud, but he was smiling inside. "Alright, you've had your fun. Now we really must get going."

The laughter died down, and Fixit took to the lead as Beau-Pére handed Luffy over to Seventy, who lifted the very short boy with ease.

"Fall out, men!" The commander instructed, and the marines did just that with a "Yes, sir!" from each one.

They moved past the traps and went on the trail leading to the wall of moss. On the way, Beau-Pére looked back with a sad expression.

'Nami,' He thought, 'Don't come this way, please. It would be easier if you forget about him...'

TO BE CONTINUED...