a/n: This is a humble dedication to those involved in the Sewol-ho disaster, wishing may there be peace to those who are lost and hope to those who are still with us.
"Do you realize how insignificant you are to stand against this?" The man in the mask gestures towards the five dotted flag. "Do you understand how great of an organization was after her?"
The man's words are met with a roar of approval, a blur of stomping and cheering from the crowd of marines. To Usopp, the noise grows distant as his focus shifts and settles, narrowing on the sudden stillness from his right. The sniper doesn't turn to look; he doesn't need to when the rush of battle has heightened his sense to a hyperawareness and he can see in his mind's eye how Luffy must be standing, completely steady and entirely unshakable.
He knows what Luffy is doing, he's seen it countless times before despite what some might say about the rubber pirate. Usopp, who used to be a Straw Hat too, knows that gods have fallen and countries have risen before this: a Luffy at his most deadly and dangerous; a Luffy who is thinking.
It is in the deceptively relaxed lines in Luffy's shoulders, the utter concentration in Luffy's gaze that is fixed on the flag; he is taking in what his nakama has told him, what the world is telling him and considering his next move. When Luffy finally comes to his decision, the pirate's call of "Sogeking," will cut through the roaring crowd as he gives a single order that will change the world forever.
Before that though, between a span of a heartbeat and a declaration of war, Luffy says, "I understand exactly who Robin's enemy is."
And Usopp cannot stop the sharp intake of breath because that single admission is Usopp's moment of confirmation, a point of bright clarity that no wooden mask can obscure: this is Luffy's devotion, an unflinching faith that makes the devil child a friend and the greatest defender of justice an enemy; this is what Usopp gave up on, what he refused to believe in and what Robin must see.
"Shoot that flag down."
His ex-captain orders and Usopp raises Kabuto, thinking if Robin insists on being so blind, he will gladly burn her blindfold free.
He releases his aim and the world watches a bird of fire fly.