I do not own One Piece.

So I just finished the Water 7 arc, and it's my favourite arc so far. Chimney and Gonbe are my favourite characters, so I thought I'd give writing a One Piece fanfic a shot.

Realizations

In the weeks following the departure of the Straw Hats (now including Franky), life at Water 7 went back to normal. But there were a few changes, particularly one that Chimney realized the week right after Luffy and his crew departed for the next island.

It was late, with the dark sky looming over her. She raced across the stone pathways in her flip-flops, her best friend and pet cat Gonbe right on her tail. She held her arms out to the sides as she zigzagged her way through the maze of canals.

"One, two, three, four, a million stars in the sky," she sang cheerfully, turning on her heel and looking up at the inky expanse above. The silver sparkles shone down at her, winking. She winked back and waved. "Hello, stars!"

"Nha nha!" called Gonbe in warning.

But it was too late. The greenish-blonde child crashed into a solid form and fell to her bottom with a grunt. Blinking, she peered up and the smile returned at the familiar figure that stood over her. "Rope guy," she greeted. "What are you doing?"

Paulie removed his cigar from his mouth and let out a brief puff of smoke. "The real question is what are you doing?"

"Playing," she replied.

"Do you know what time it is?"

Chimney shook her head. "Uh-uh."

"Nha-nha," repeated Gonbe, shaking his head as well.

Paulie let out an impatient sigh. "Damn Old Hag," he grunted. "What's she doing?"

"She's at the Shift Station, of course." Chimney thought for a quick moment. "I think there's one more train left. Or two. No, just one."

The Galley-La worker stuck the cigar back into his mouth. "Come on, kid," he muttered, extending a hand and bringing the child to her feet.

"Where are we going?" she asked curiously, falling into step beside him.

"I had to get something for Iceburg-san. I'm going back to headquarters to give it to him."

"What is it?"

"None of your business."

Chimney pouted, but didn't press further. She skipped beside the man, hand-in-hand with Gonbe. They soon reached the massive building that functioned as the headquarters for the Galley-La Company. They entered Iceburg's office, where Chimney zeroed in on the new-looking black couch.

"Bouncy!" she cheered, racing over and jumping onto the cushions. She giggled when Gonbe launched onto her back.

Iceburg stood up from his desk with a smile. His injuries had finally healed, and the bandages were finally gone. "Chimney, Gonbe. It's nice to see you again."

"Hi, Ice-Pops," she greeted, using the name Luffy so often used with the purple-haired man. "Your couch is super comfy!"

"I thought so." Iceburg allowed the two to bounce merrily as he accepted the papers Paulie offered to him. He quickly checked to make sure everything was in order before slipping them into a file. "Thank you, Paulie."

"No problem."

Chimney wrinkled her nose. "You had to give him papers?" she asked as she bounced. "That's boring."

"Nha, nha," agreed Gonbe.

"They're important papers, kid." Paulie adjusted the collar of his jacket. "You wouldn't understand."

"I don't understand a lot of things," she replied honestly, and Paulie could not help but crack a smile.

"You and me both, kid."

Boom!

The group turned to look at the wide glass window situated behind Iceburg's desk, watching as a torrential downpour started, lightning lighting up the sky. Chimney threw her arms in the air. "Raaaaaaaaaaaaainnnnnnnn!"

"Nhhhhhhhhaaaa!"

"Tch. This is going to put some delays on the Puffing Tom," muttered Paulie. "Can hardly see in this mess."

"Grandma is going to take forever," said Chimney, dropping to the floor. "C'mon, Gonbe. We better head back."

"Now, wait a moment," called Iceburg, halting the spirited child before she could fly from the room. "You can't walk all the way back to Shift Station in this. You can wait here, see if it dies down. We'll call your grandmother to let her know you're okay."

"Okie-dokie." Chimney bounced on her feet.

"Why don't you have a snack?" invited Iceburg. "Paulie can show you the way to the kitchen."

"That's okay. Gonbe can sniff it out!" She picked up her pet and Gonbe sniffed the air. He pointed out the door and Chimney skipped out with a cheery smile.

Iceburg shook his head. "I don't think I've seen any child with as much energy as her."

Paulie snorted. "Dunno how she's managed to stay in one piece all these years. Banging around Water 7 with no supervision…"

"Kokoro-san spends most of her time at the station. She can't very well leave her post, and Chimney can't stay cooped up there," reasoned Iceburg.

"Maybe we put a leash on her," quipped Paulie. Iceburg laughed.

It was a couple hours later when the storm finally ceased. Paulie escorted Chimney and Gonbe back to Shift Station, and the greenish-blonde child didn't think much of it at the time.

It was a couple of days later when something similar occurred, and the first time she paid notice to it.

The sun beating down on her, Chimney climbed her way across the rocks that hung over the water. The waves lapped gently below her, shining a brilliant blue. Smiling contentedly, Chimney leaned over the edge of the rock she was currently perched on. "Look, Gonbe, I think I see a fishy!"

"Nha nha!" Gonbe peeked over her shoulder. "Nha!"

Humming, Chimney reached for the next rock. She lost her balance and fell into the shimmering water below with a surprised shriek. Gonbe cried out worriedly as his owner landed with a small splash. A split second later a large figure lurched past him and fell into the water as well. The blue rabbit tilted his head to the side and brightened when the figure surfaced just as quickly with Chimney.

Coughing out water, the ten-year-old glanced up at the tall figure who had come to her aid. "Hi, Zambai. Are ya taking a swim too?"

Zambai lifted the girl up by the straps of her white and orange tank top and brought her to the shore, where Gonbe was waiting for them. "Crazy kid, whatcha doing climbing rocks like that?" asked Zambai gruffly, squeezing out the hem of his Hawaiian shirt.

"We were just playing," said Chimney, a bit mystified. "I've done it before. And I'm a great swimmer."

"Well, even great swimmers can run into trouble." Zambai adjusted his goggles, vaguely remembering having seen the small child climb across the rocks before. Back when he cared less about anyone other than the members of his family, before the entire Enies Lobby ordeal happened and a rag-tag group of characters joined together for a common cause.

"What are you doing here?" asked Chimney, pushing her sopping wet pigtails back.

"I live here," said Zambai plainly, pointing to a crooked house a distance away.

"Oh, yeah." Chimney squinted. "It could use a bit of work."

"You don't have to point it out," he grumbled. "We're gonna add another coat of paint to it. Might make it look better."

"Ooh, can we help?" asked Chimney hopefully.

"Nha, nha!"

Zambai, who never before envisioned himself dealing with kids, nodded. "Sure. You'll do a better job than most of these jokers, anyway."

Might keep her from getting into trouble, too.

"Yay!"

As Chimney ran towards the lopsided Franky House, she dimly thought how odd it was that she was interacting with members of the Franky Family, something that very few people were brave enough to do. The Franky Family certainly didn't interact with civilians often, and yet here she was, about to help them paint their house.

But she didn't dwell on the matter long. Not this time, anyway.

It was by the end of the week when Chimney finally realized the difference in her life. In addition to Paulie keeping watch on her that one night, Iceburg offering her a place to stay during the heavy rainstorm and Zambai jumping in the water to make sure she was okay, there were a few other instances that finally seized her attention.

Mozu and Kiwi ran into her in town and bought her ice-cream. Peeply Lulu and Tilestone found her and Gonbe wandering near the canals and offered to let her assist in their work, which they happily accepted. She was spending time with people who she wouldn't have really given a second glance to in the past.

Sitting on the platform of the Shift Station, Chimney stared out at the water in thought. Gonbe sat beside her, and her grandmother was drinking her favourite booze as she sat in her chair. Yokozuna was in the water near them, croaking softly.

"You seem to be thinking really hard," Kokoro finally spoke. "What is it, Chimney?"

"Well…I was just thinkin', I was with the Franky Family a bit this week. That's never happened before."

"They were just thugs before," replied Kokoro. "But after all we've been through, things have changed."

Chimney nodded slowly. "I guess we have lots of new friends now, huh?"

Kokoro laughed. "That's right. Sometimes, people aren't always as they seem. Remember that, Chimney."

"I will." Chimney looked out at the water, a wide smile growing across her face.

She did not know her parents very well, due to living with her grandmother. She rarely saw them, and as such relied on Kokoro for care. In fact, for most of her life, it was Kokoro who looked out for her, and then Gonbe, and no one else. Even when she ran wild around Water 7, the civilians didn't pay much attention to her. She had free reign, with a few rules to follow from her grandmother.

But then the Straw Hat Pirates came, and everything changed. To save Robin and Franky, they all banded together to save them. When they returned and the Straw Hats departed after getting their new ship, Chimney didn't expect much to change.

But it did. She now had lots of people looking out for her. People who felt concerned for her safety, and sure, that meant she couldn't do things that she normally did, but she was okay with that. She liked her newfound friends. She liked having people watching out for her and Gonbe and her grandmother.

And it was all because of the Straw Hat Pirates.

Grinning widely, she cupped her hands around her mouth and hollered,

"Straw Hats! Thanks for everything! Come back soon!"