Ch 99 - Okay
"Please! Look around! Make yourself at home! This is the Barto Club's pirate ship that's filled with love for the Straw Hat Pirates!" Bartolomeo shouted as he twirled around the main deck of his ship, "Welcome to the Going Luffy-Senpai Go!"
"Ooooh!" Luffy cheered while everyone else tried to find the right words to say to describe where they were.
After they had managed to escape the Navy with the help of the Tontattas, the Colosseum fighters, and even the citizens of Dressrosa, Luffy had somehow found himself the begrudging leader of the Straw Hat Fleet. As much as the rubber boy protested, Ideo, Cavendish, Hajrudin, Orlumbus, Sai, Bartolomeo, and Leo the Tontatta all drank a cup of sake to signify their pledge of loyalty to the Straw Hats. With 5,600 men now at the Straw Hat's beck and call, they helped get them away from Dressrosa and onto the Going Luffy-Senpai Go, which was anchored in the middle of the sea.
Nana didn't know what to comment on first - the Luffy shaped figurehead with swooping arms across the bow to signify Luffy's devil fruit abilities, the domed white room that had the Going Merry's face painted at the front, or the couches that laid out in the middle of the deck that were upholstered in a shaggy fabric that was the same color print as Pygmy's fur.
All the former Galley-La employee knew was that she commended whoever crafted this ship. She could only imagine what the request form looked like when he received the order.
"Is this right, guys?!" Usopp demanded as he pointed at the figurehead, "This ship looks more of the possibility of having Luffy on board than our own ship!"
"Thank you! You really think so?" Bartolomeo asked brightly.
"That wasn't a compliment!" Usopp snapped.
"That...room…" Zoro murmured as he pointed up at the domed room.
"I'm so glad you noticed!" Bartolomeo cheered, "That is a homage to the Straw Hats' first pirate ship and a dear friend, the Going Merry!"
Zoro frowned and his eye shape matched the narrowed painted ones on the room. "It has evil eyes."
Robin laughed and she pointed towards the stern where a structure of a pink tophat and familiar horns was placed. "And that is…?"
"Yes! Robin-senpai. You have great eyes!" Bartolomeo yelled as he raced over the railing to gaze adoringly at the structure, "That is an homage Chopper-senpai!"
"And those orange trees?" Nana asked and waved a hand over the forest of trees that grew out from a top deck.
"Yep! Those are an homage to the orange trees that Nami-senpai took from Bellemere-san's grove in Coco Village!"
Zoro scowled. "Oranges are just oranges! Not everything has to be an homage."
"I-I-I'm so moved," Franky blubbered as tears streamed down his face, "Look how nerdy these details are! Everywhere you look you feel a sense of fun! It's filled with super love."
"Th-Thank you very much, Franky-senpai!" The rest of the Barto Club came flooding to their captain's side and they threw up their arms.
"And more than anything, what we're thrilled about more than anything is…" Bartolomeo shouted as he skipped over to the newest addition to his deck. It was a wooden circular end table with a dome glass top covering it. Trapped inside the dome was a fluttering piece of paper that was fluttering at the edge as if trying to escape, "In the direction that this Vivre Card is pointing to is…."
He swept a long arm towards Luffy and almost bursted into tears just by facing the rubber boy once more. "We have the real Luffy-senpai!"
Luffy blinked at the attention he was getting. "Eh? What about me?"
"Welcome!" the Barto Club cried as they all wiped their tears with the back of their hands, "Thank you again for coming aboard this ship."
"Boss!" one of them cried, "He's so dazzling. I can barely see him."
"So they're all like that…" Usopp whispered as a sweat dropped down his head.
"Maybe we should make some sunglasses for them," Nana chuckled as she plopped herself down on one of the couches. She brought her backpack to her lap and began to finish up on her wings.
"Bartolomeo, just get us to Zou as fast as you can," Law sighed and took a seat next to Nana.
"Oy! Who do you think you're talking to?" Bartolomeo snapped at the Heart Pirate.
Zoro picked up the newspaper resting on the couch opposite of them and thumbed through it as he sat across from Nana. "We're counting on you, Crest Head."
Bartolomeo changed his tune immediately. His grin came back to his face as soon as his eyes left Law and settled on the swordsman, "Okay! Leave it in my hands!" He turned around and faced his crew, "Alright, guys! Let's head for Zou at full speed!"
Usopp, Robin, and Franky also took a seat on the couches while Luffy sat on top of a barrel near them while the Barto Club members scrambled in every direction to get the ship moving even faster than before.
"I wonder if Sanji and the others got to the island safely," Usopp sighed.
"Nami is with them so I'm sure navigation was fine," Franky said, "I'm more worried whether or not they were able to get away from Big Mom's ship."
"Have more faith in the Sunny," Nana grunted as she twisted her screwdriver with much more force than needed, "I'm sure they got away just fine."
"Oy. Luffy," Zoro said as he read the paper, "Seems like our bounties have gone up."
"What? Really?!" Luffy cried excitedly. Even Nana tore her focus off her busywork and looked over at the swordsman.
Bartolomeo grinned and a faint blush rose to his cheeks. "Oh. You guys didn't know? I have the wanted posters in my room so if you want to see it, step this way!"
With another flourishing sweep of his arm as a signal, his men rolled out a red carpet from the couches to an opened door across the deck. The Barto Club lined up along the carpet and created a tunnel using their outstretched arms.
"Please! Right this way!" the Barto Club shouted.
Luffy grinned. "Alright. Let's go!"
Even Nana couldn't help but get caught up in the admiration sent their way. "I could get used to this kind of treatment," she said with a wink and a smile to her fans as she walked by.
"Ah! Nana-Senpai is so dazzling!" they screamed.
"Oy, Trafalgar," Bartolomeo smirked as the Heart Pirate stayed on the couch while the Straw Hats went into the room, "I threw out yours but your bounty has gone up to 500 million."
Law rolled his eyes. "Thanks but I don't care about the price."
Nana's lower jaw went sideways when she stepped foot into Bartolomeo's room. Framed in gold and smack dab in the center of the wall for all to see was their wanted posters. It was the main focal point. Nana didn't even know when he had the time to do this but Bartolomeo had even created a smaller frame to display the autographs that he had asked from them when they first came on board the ship. Nana had not signed her name. Instead, she had given Bartolomeo a loose blueprint of a standard cannon.
"Okay...Let's start. Presenting, 'Straw Hat' Luffy-senpai!" Bartolomeo called as he lifted his palm towards the top of the frame where Luffy's new wanted poster sat, "Bounty of 500 million bellis!"
"Whoa! It's 500 million?! Yeah!" Luffy cheered.
"Next! 'Pirate Hunter' Zoro-senpai! 320 million bellis!"
Zoro smirked but decided to play it cool. "Oy...Where's the booze? I feel like celebrating again."
"Right away, Zoro-senpai!" one of Bartolomeo's men shouted and went scurrying off into the galley.
"And then moving on to 'Cannonball' Mizu Nana-senpai!" Bartolomeo shouted and pointed at the same picture of Nana but with slightly updated text, "Also with a bounty of 320 million bellis."
"Ha! Looks like you're not the only one with the second highest bounty on the crew," Nana taunted towards the swordsman, who looked slightly less pleased than before.
"That's quite a boost, brat!" Franky shouted, "Ow! I bet mine has gone way up too."
"'Demon Child' Nico Robin-Senpai! Bounty of 130 million bellis," Bartolomeo continued.
Robin put a hand to her face. "Oh no. It's gone up."
"Cyborg Franky-senpai!" Bartolomeo shouted.
"AH! HERE IT COMES!" Franky cried and pressed his arms together, "Sup-"
"94 million bellis!" Bartolomeo announced and Franky's arms fell to the side.
"Nooo. It's just a little short," Franky wailed, "On top of that...that picture is of General Franky and not of super me."
"I'll gladly trade with you." Usopp raced towards his poster and cut off Bartolomeo for making the announcement. "'God' Usopp 200 million bellis?! The price is unbelievably high and my photo has changed! My face is unmasked! I'll be targeted."
"But 200 million berries is an incredible bounty," Nana said.
Usopp's face instantly blushed and he cupped his cheeks. "Isn't it though?" he said with a sheepish grin but then it changed again to anger, "But that picture is awful!"
Nana tilted her head to the side. "So is this an issue of safety now or vanity?"
"Screw both of you!" Franky yelled as he locked both his hands around Nana and Usopp's necks, "Talking like that with your bounties so high."
"Ahhh! Even my own nakama is targeting me!" Usopp screeched.
"Why am I the only one who is less than 100 million among us? This is so frustrating!" Franky cried.
Nana didn't even bother fighting Franky's grip and she just let her head rest alongside his metal palm. "Your bounty isn't that bad, Franky, and it's just because you didn't make your presence known to Doflamingo as much as me and Usopp did. Next time, just cause a scene as big as Luffy and you'll be good."
"WHY ARE YOU GIVING HIM TIPS TO CAUSE MORE TROUBLE?!" Usopp snapped.
Robin chuckled at their antics and then glanced back to the wall. "What about the others? Did their bounties go up too?"
"Yes, absolutely. Robin-senpai! 'Black Foot' Sanji, 177 million bellies!"
They all looked with Franky's hands still around the sniper and mechanic's necks. As soon as Nana saw the cook's picture, she banged her forehead hard against the cyborg's hand. "Ugh. He looks ridiculous," she sighed at the photo of Sanji prancing about on the beach with the mermaids. His nostrils were flared and his eyes were in the shape of hearts.
"Tch. The last one was way funnier," Zoro grumbled.
Nana shot him a glare. "What was so funny about my drawing?!"
"Next up, 'Cat Burglar' Nami-senpai! 66 million bellis!"
"See? You're not the only one under 100 million bellis," Usopp offered helpfully to the dejected cyborg.
"She didn't destroy the Factory and save the Tontattas!" Franky wailed.
"'Cotton Candy Lover' Chopper-senpai. 100 bellies," Bartolomeo continued.
The hand around Nana's neck released and she looked at Franky, who was sharing the same look of concern as Usopp. "I...I have no room to complain…" Franky said with a wince at Chopper's poster.
"Yeah...we'll need to come up with something to cheer him up," Usopp agreed.
"And lastly, 'Soul King' Brook-senpai! 83 million bellies!" Bartolomeo finished.
Nana's eyebrows raised to the top of her head at the sight of Brook's wanted poster. It was a dark green paper with colorful lettering all over it while a photo of Brook sang in the background. "This looks more like a promotion for his concert."
"Except for the ones who stood out and showed the Navy how dangerous they could be in the recent incident, everybody went up by 50 million bellis," Bartolomeo said, "However, did you guys notice the text on Sanji-senpai's poster? It's a little strange."
"'Only Alive'?" Robin read out loud and she put a hand on her hips, "So they don't want Sanji dead?"
Usopp grinned and ribbed Nana, "Since it's Sanji, I bet someone holds a grudge against him over a woman and wants to do the honor themselves."
Nana snorted. "Yeah. That sounds about right." She folded her arms across her chest. At least, we won't have to worry about running into another Duvall situation. There's no mistaking someone else from that look."
Up until now, Nana distracted herself easily and not dwell on it since there was no physical reminder of the cook but not anymore. Her worries and fears were captured exactly in that picture. A lump formed in her throat and it grew with every second she spent looking at the cook. That stupid, love fool that had such a soft spot for women and of course, the one Yonko he had to flee happened to be a woman too. All Nana could hope for was that Big Mom at least wasn't on the ship and that she was not an attractive woman. Was he even in any type of fighting shape after how they left things? After he got his memory back of her?
Please be okay...Please, please be okay.
They'll be okay...They'll be okay, Sanji thought as he sat on the plush chaise in his darkened room on Big Mom's Singing Ship. His hands were clasped tightly in front of him and his elbows rested on his knees. He was hunched over his lap with his head pressed against his whitened knuckles.
He could hear Caesar snoring loudly in the large cage Big Mom's crew had put him in. Every now and then his Sea Prism shackles would clang from a sudden jerk in the gas man's slumber. At least one of them was able to get some rest. Too bad it was what the crew considered the prisoner and not their guest.
They'll be okay, Sanji continued to assure himself, They'll be okay.
He could feel the weight of his lighter in his pants pocket. He knew it was all in his mind but the lighter felt heavier than usual ever since he left Zou, ever since he left his nakama.
He knew if Nana found about the given circumstances, she would understand his decision. He had to leave. He had to face his father and end this once and for all. He had already thought he was done with his past but clearly it was not done with him. Even worse, it was threatening what he held most dear.
Nana tore through Enies Lobby without hesitation for the sake of Franky and Iceberg so he knew she would do the same thing he was doing if she were in his shoes. He would do anything for the old geezer and to keep the Baratie afloat. Everything Sanji held valuable in this world could be tied directly to that old man. He fueled the passion for cooking that had only began to burn in Sanji's young and little heart. He drove the integrity and standards of an elite chef into Sanji's impressionable brain. He even taught Sanji the duty of chivalry and the respect and appreciation a man must give to the opposite sex.
If it wasn't for the old man, Sanji wouldn't be where he was today. He wouldn't be able to look after his nakama both in their diet and in battle. He probably wouldn't have even become a pirate, let alone meet Luffy and the others...and Sanji knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that even if he had met Nana somehow, she wouldn't have loved who he was without the teachings and upbringing the old geezer gave him.
Sanji's grip tightened as he thought about all those times back on the Sunny, where he would imagine what it would be like for the old geezer and Nana to meet. He had thought about that moment almost as much as he thought about the All Blue.
They would like each other right off the bat. The old geezer would naturally since he always had a soft spot for women. Nana already had an enormous respect for him as an unsurpassed craftsmen but what would really draw the two together...what would really connect the two would be their personalities. Nana would enjoy the old geezer's blunt way of speaking and he would appreciate her gutsiness.
Of course, this small dream of his would go up in flames if he didn't do something about it.
This will be his last stand against his father and Sanji was fully aware of it. He was already bracing himself for the inevitable battle. He was not going to agree to whatever this bullshit wedding was. That was for damn sure. What was also absolute was that the Vinsmokes will not take no for an answer. Sanji was gearing up to walk into a situation of all or nothing, winner takes all.
There was a chance that he would never see his nakama again and Sanji had to come to terms with it. If he should die, at least his father would no longer have a need to kill the old geezer. If he should die, his nakama could find another cook and still make their way to Raftel. Nana would be devastated but she would move on. She was resilient and it was one of the things that Sanji loved most about her, although there were a lot of things.
It wouldn't be the end of their world if he should die, just his, and he was okay with that. As long as they were okay…and they will be. Sanji would make sure of it.
They'll be okay. They'll be okay.