It’s the first time he’s felt even a glimmer of consciousness since he collapsed (and on that shitty cook too, for godssakes), and even then he can only make out the barest feel of reality beyond the white fuzz of something mind-altering. Maybe it was the touch that brought him out, and it’s familiar in its professionalism.
Tsking follows the precise treatment, and a voice like he feels he should know.
“Hand me those bandages, please. If the bleeding carries at this rate on I don’t think we’re going to have enough linen…”
“Just give him some cola, man! The dude bounces back almost as well as Captain-bro, anyway.”
“Franky! You can’t fix other people like that! I’m doing everything I can but this is the worst I’ve ever seen him…” Sniffling.
“Hey little man, chill. You’ll get him raring like you always do!”
“Asshole! Your compliments don’t make me happy at all! Shut u..Franky! I told you cola won’t work, don’t…!” Scuffling, and someone knocks the bed. Wounds jolted, and suddenly pain surges forward – overwhelming, demanding – and consciousness flees…
A sudden intensification in the coppery tang he’s been tasting in his dreams is what drags him back to the poor excuse for reality his body has constructed for him. He realises this is because the blood is now slowly rising up his throat into his mouth, instead of remaining in his veins like it ought to.
Goddamn internal injuries. He hates internal injuries.
The taste is persistent, and so he remains semi-awake for now. As he does so a continuous hum he had previously mistaken for background noise now seems to be someone talking. Talking to him, he supposes, although he feels the person should realise it’s more like they’re talking to themselves.
“…the ship, because it sustained some damage during the blast and no wonder because we all did, which is why I’m fiddling with Nami’s Climatact now because she says using air pressure like that would probably be useful although it’s proving to be quite a challenge, I can tell you, as the metal’s warped somewhat so it’s not likely to take well to any new attachments before I realign the…”
He tunes out, because it’s not the babbling that’s important, but the comfort being offered in a tone that can’t quite find the words. He appreciates it, even as the taste of his own life is now at a strength that threatens on nausea. It’s filled his mouth by now and because he has no cough reflex, the red liquid simply trickles out one corner and paints a trail down his jawline.
“…probably done by tomorrow, don’t you think Zor-Oh my God, is that blood?! I mean, of course it is, wait, hang on, I’ll go get Chopper!” Through fading senses he hears a clatter as something is dropped, and rapid, receding footsteps. He wants to miss the comfort but finds that it doesn’t matter as the darkness soon dominates.
The next time the dreaming ends it’s sound that wakes him. A sort of muted stomping reaches his brain, although the decrease in decibel might just be because of the cotton-wool he’s sure is stuffing his ears.
The intruder (and again, he’s sure he knows this person) can’t seem to stay still. The sound travels from one side of the room to the other: whatever’s in reach is thumped, stomped, kicked, knocked or displaced. Carefully, though, as if whoever’s venting in such an obvious fashion wants to be subtle about it.
Nothing subtle about the way the thumping abruptly stops and suddenly he feels the silence closer to him, nicotine filling his senses. He wants to lift an arm, stop the blow he knows is going to fall, but the point is moot since he can’t move anyway. He realises the silence was merely anticipation – preparation – anyway, as an unseen boot collides forcefully with the floor right near where his head lies on the bed.
He wants to apologise, for some reason. But the vibrations sent through the floorboards reach his nerves and the pain receptors clamour for attention again, and he’s gone.
A flowery scent, which would be almost cloying if not for the slight citrus undertone, drags him from his tea with the sandman next, and time is skewed now so he has no idea how long it’s been since… since what?
It hurts to think right now, so he doesn’t. He concentrates, instead, on what he can determine without doing something so strenuous as opening his eyes.
Several moments of careful, fuzzy, deduction reveal that he is being sponged at. What the deduction also reveals is that the action is definitely not to keep him clean. More like an excuse to touch, without the actual physical contact. For some reason, he feels that there are two people there, both touching without touching.
A voice further than the scent speaks: “Miss Nami, I can take over for a bit, should you wish to take a break. Lola said she wanted to show you the treasure as soon as possible.” A pause in the sponging. Hesitation, almost-unwillingness, but he can tell she’s not that good at this. The voice detects this as well, and reassures. “It’s alright. He will understand.”
Now that’s certainly not true, because he’s pretty sure he doesn’t get this at all, but its apparently good enough for someone, because the flowery fragrance fades with sharp footsteps. A cooler scent replaces it, revealed now the stronger aroma is gone. And for some reason this lesser intrusion makes him more edgy than when the stronger perfume had forcibly made itself known.
Sponging is resumed, but the subtler scent isn’t any closer, and there are too many cloths being applied at once for his half-awake senses to comprehend. He tells himself it’s the persistent all-over ache and not sheer shock that means he slips away again.
When he wakes this time, he finally feels it’s for real. Partly because the pain has faded to more manageable levels, but mostly because now he can actually open his eyes and see.
So he does, and the first thing he notices is a straw hat with a grin underneath it. And he’s not quite clear on this just yet, but he’s pretty sure that whatever he’s done, it was worth it.