For those of you who read the prologue and decided that it was worth going on to the first chapter, thank you.
As you can see, I decided to post both at the same time, since I think it can be a bit hard to really get the mood of the story/character just with the prologue.
Also, I forgot to put it in the prologue, but obviously, feel free to drop a comment to tell me what you think, even if just to say 'you forgot a 'h' at line 349' or 'this is the best stuff since I read Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest' (I know) or 'fck this shit i'm out, u should just go hang urself' (in which case, I hope you don't really mean it, and I would honestly like to know why you're wasting both of our time with this).
Equally valid if you want to complain about how teachers have clearly forgotten what it's like to be a student (mine are mostly adorable, but I'm always up for complaining), or if you want to rave about the best cheesecake you've ever tasted.
I'll try my best to answer, and I will definitely read everything.
Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece, so anything that you see in this fic and that you can recognise as belonging to One Piece is not mine. If I did own it, I wouldn't have to write fanfiction. Duh.
Part One - Dive|rgence
You're holding out your hand
and to take it I have
but to let go
As a Devil Fruit user and a (wannabe) pirate, what's more, a (wannabe) King of Pirates, Monkey D. Luffy has a rather peculiar although not unique relationship with the sea. It is both the one thing he will never be able to win against, no matter how strong he will get, and the one thing that embodies absolute, boundless freedom, and with it the infinite potential for excitement.
(Endless blue that seems to connect with the sky, so deep some speculate that most of it is actually shrouded in darkness, so wide it should be impossible to learn every inch of it in the span of one's life-
the only treasure chest that can match his sheer, unsatiable hunger for adventure.)
And although he has only been sailing for a few hours after finally leaving his home village, it seems he has already crossed paths with his first mystery of the sea.
Tilting his hat back to glance at the one he dubbed Sea Girl in his mind, he notices with a sigh that she is still out cold, curled up in the middle of the boat between him and his provisions.
He frowns, not really knowing what he should do -or think- with her.
He was trying to catch the huge fish he saw swim by his boat when a sudden wave sent him tumbling out of his boat and right into the water.
And as his muscles suddenly stopped responding to his will, horrifyingly slack and sickeningly heavy, as salty water flowed into his mouth and roared triumphantly in his ears, he wanted to laugh sheepishly at his idiocy (because really, how much more dumb can dying get? Sabo will probably beat him to a pulp, and then do it again for Ace and Gramps).
He wanted to scream, too, because he didn't truly live, didn't truly see, didn't truly do anything yet (and he needs more time, can't just -can't just die, not like this, not now-)
She arrived out of nowhere, and through his half-closed eyes and blurry vision, she made his heart pound in instinctive, startled fear. With her sea-coloured hair, her pale, white face looked like that of a ghost, floating amidst drifting seaweed.
And when he regained his senses enough to notice something else than the burning pressure in his chest, and how raw his throat felt after being scrapped thoroughly by salt -on the way in and on the way out, he noticed that there was no other boat around, nothing that could carry another human being.
A glance was enough to spot the Sea Girl kneeling beside the rail of the boat, her whole body leaning over it as if she wanted to slip into the water again (shoulders sagging inwards and fists clenched white, looking like Ace did when the news of Sabo's death ripped half his world away).
A glance was enough to prove to himself that she wasn't a ghost or a mirage of his weakened mind.
But that meant that she could only come from the sea (from this endless treasure chest of mysteries, from which he can take -steal- all his life, take and takeandtake-).
The realisation was like finally tasting a dish you eyed the whole day knowing it would be good. A wave of satisfaction with an aftertaste of amazement.
She was his first mystery, the one that foreshadowed all those to come.
But then he called out to her. And she turned to him.
(-and the blood drained from her white face, shading it in despair grey,
and her eyes, that he saw for the first time were blue like the fathomless, black, empty, dark abyss of the sea,
they widened and widened and widened, until they looked like a whirlpool about to devour her entire face into the bottomless pits,
and the sound of her breathing stopped like that of so many, unlucky sailors did before her in the embrace of the grand, formless entity they sailed
and she stared at him like the weaker prey he hunted in the forest back home, with the sickening, heartwrenching realisation that something hostile, something final was upon her, and she was unablehelplesspowerless to stop it-)
And she looked terrified.
Monkey D. Luffy is someone who can be amused at how spooked people are upon witnessing his abilities for the first time, someone who can even take satisfaction in knowing that people he doesn't respect or like fear him, because that means that they will think twice before trying to hurt or take what is his (never again).
He is not someone who likes to use terror to gain power over other people, let alone someone who enjoys causing terror to twist his saviour's face.
He doesn't even know what prompted this terror in the first place, but judging from the Sea Girl's sudden change in breathing pattern, he is about to get answers.
Sitting up suddenly, he leans forward until his face is inches from hers.
"Ah! You're awake! Geez, do you know how long I've been waiting?!"
For a few seconds the Sea Girl keeps her eyes closed, as if she's trying to pretend that he isn't talking to her (which is dumb, who else would he be talking to?), so he pokes her plump cheek impatiently with his finger, and then digs harder when she frowns but stays still.
A sigh rushes from her mouth, and she finally, finally opens her eyes, letting him drink greedily in the full features of his saviour as the ocean's abyss stares back from her eyes.
(Her eyes that glide over him, like he is two-dimensional, has no substance whatsoever.)
There's nothing sharp about the Sea Girl, nothing but curves and round and softness, from the waves of her hair to the vague features of her round face (as if she isn't quite finished, isn't quite there).
Except maybe for the straight, neutral line of her mouth and the flatness in her eyes.
His scrutiny is interrupted when she raises her hand through the air, slowly, like the waves that come and go lazily on a windless day. He can stop her, but he doesn't, curious to see what she will do.
Her fingers find his cheek, dig, and tug.
His stare becomes bewildered as he watches her watch his distended skin, eyes fixated with dull resignation (but not surprised, she already knows, how does she-), bitterness clinging to the echo of a scowl on the edges of her lips.
Luffy doesn't know if he wants to laugh or frown.
"Oisch! Wha' ar' yew doin'?!"
Her fingers tug a little harder, like she wants to stop him from talking any more, and slowly (she seems to do everything slowly, like someone only half-awake) her eyes meet his.
"Just checking I'm not dreaming."
Her words are gone with the wind as soon as they leave her mouth, soft like a whisper yet heavy like the rocks that taint the ocean a shade darker (like a half-spoken secret weighing her downdowndown).
Then, not unlike a boat hitting a hidden obstacle, she lets go of his cheek, body growing stiff and mouth closing into a mild, pleasant smile.
"Please excuse me. My surprise got the better of me, but I should have asked for your permission."
Now Luffy is definitely frowning.
This, this is the smile he has seen adults offer each other when they meet someone they don't really know, back home. It's too close to the smile on someone's face in Grey Terminal when they're about to screw you over (too close to the smile on the face of Sabo's father when he came to stealbreakcut, to take him away, never to be seen again).
"Stop smiling like that. It's annoying."
It slips off her face, quiet like an afterthought, and she stares at him silently.
He rolls his eyes.
"If you don't want to say or do something, don't do it. It's stupid."
"Humans are stupid."
The words flow out of her mouth like water down a river, the easy acknowledgement of a universal truth.
Seawater is salty. Monkey D. Luffy will be the King of Pirates. Humans are stupid.
She stares at him some more, as if inspecting a specimen she knows exists but that she never met before.
"So you want me to stop being polite with you?"
"Did you listen to me? What I want you to do doesn't matter. I'm just telling you you're being annoying, I don't care what you decide to do."
"But if I want to insult you, you'd rather I do that than smile and keep my mouth shut."
"Sure." He shrugs, half-bored with the conversation already. He expected better things from his saviour, and at this point he just wants to thank her and be done with it. With her.
(-because if his first mystery is going to be so lame, then he refuses to accept her as such, refuses to let her ruin his adventure-)
"Give me written proof that I can shove in your face if you ever get upset with me for insulting you, and I'll do it."
Luffy blinks, and his entire face scrunches into a childish frown, but laughter floats up his throat like bubbles of light.
"Write? But I don't wanna-"
"Give me written proof, or I won't stop smiling."
The infuriating thing she calls a smile is back on her face, and he wants to punch it off, but her voice has become more forceful (-like the current that drags you away from the coast, away from home and towards the unknown, the excitement, the danger-), and for the first time since she woke up she sounds actually there, and her half-joke half-threat reminds him of how Ace blackmails him into doing things (Sabo always was -not really- the nicer big brother of the two).
So instead he throws his head back and laughs.
"You're so weird!"
And he sticks his hand towards her.
"I'm Luffy, and I'm gonna become the King of Pirates! What's your name?"
When she wakes up, she doesn't open her eyes.
First, because she usually doesn't, preferring to wake up fully before doing so.
Second, because whatever she's lying on is certainly not her bed, or any other bed for that matter.
Third, because soon, the memories, mashed together into a Picasso-worthy picture beforehand, are thrown back into her face. Rafael Nadal style.
So she keeps her eyes closed in a last, futile attempt to delay her confrontation with reality. Because after all, she's so cowardly, so unworthy of being transmigrated into a shōnen manga world-
… Did I just do CPR on Monkey D. Luffy?
Her lips falter into a faint, involuntary smile.
Her hands shake.
The thought is so -so utterly absurd, it doesn't even sound real.
(pleasepleaseplease let it be-)
But Monkey D. Luffy shares some common points with many other main characters of shōnen manga. One of them being that for all of the dumb stuff that comes out of his mouth and dumber ideas that fly around in his brain, he has maturity.
(-the kind of maturity born from the fire his brittle blade of a mind was plunged into, from the blood spilt and shed that made him weaker then but stronger now, from the darkness that tries to smother the light inside of him and fails-)
She does not need to have read or watched One Piece to know this. The glimpses and comments she caught are enough.
But even with this maturity, and that's another common point, he is also so very childish (-perhaps, she thinks sometimes, like only people who haven't had enough time to be children can be-). Bold and brazen like only children can be, and cruelly demanding like only children can be. And so, he refuses to let her escape the conversation, refuses to let her escape the reality.
(-the immense, bottomless weight of a world of questions and fears and unknowns that she just stuffed in the back of her mind, and she keeps pushingpushingpushing on the doors but they keep shaking, rattling, howling, so loud that she can feel the sobs running along the cracks of her shoulders, and the cracks are getting wider-)
Instead, he keeps poking and pushing until she relents, opens her eyes, looks at him.
Him being the first thing that she sees makes him her only certainty in an uknown sea and a sea of unknown.
(She isn't sure she likes it.
She usually prefers to know things, prefers comfortable certainty, but between not knowing anything and knowing that she has somehow found herself into the world of One Piece, a fictional world, a world that isn't supposed to be real-
ignorance is bliss seems like a correct feeling on the issue.)
Monkey D. Luffy, with his long, wiry limbs, with that abnormally wide smile that somehow looks absolutely natural on his face, that smile that shows off all his teeth and screws up all his face, as if he wants to show the whole world the fire that burns inside him (how big it is, how happy he has decided he is and fuck anyone who will try to change his mind), looks like he was born to eat the Gomu Gomu no Mi.
(-she pushes back, clamping the door shut on the thought, because it's too close to thinking about God, and thinking about the God of this world is a big nono, just makes the cracks wider, forcing her to twist her mouth around the things ramming against it-)
His big, brown eyes (-she would say like chocolate if she was a poet, but she really isn't, and she has glimpsed enough of him on the screen to know that he would prefer an analogy with some kind of meat-) are talking and laughing even when no words pass his splitting mouth and shit, he's never going to shut up, even worse than her sister, how is that even possible-
His tan skin glints bronze under the sun, and white fingers (hers but not really hers) latch onto it before her brain even processes the thought, the hope that-
Nope. He is, feels real, rubbery skin rough but pliant under the fingers (because they can't be hers).
… Apparently, he's also part of these characters who do not like or even see the point in basic etiquette.
(The thought of what it might be like alone is enough to make her tired, something heavy sitting under her skull, pulsing behind her eyelids, weighing over her shoulders, dragging her down down down by the blunt edge of its teeth.)
But he looks bored, and because he seems to be that kind of person, the kind who freely, unashamedly, unreservedly let themselves feel, and act on those feelings, she sighs inside.
(-air leaving her lungs, leaving the hole sinking in her chest to be filled with all the tears and tremors that have been running along the cracks, all the why's and how's and I want to go home's, please-)
She sighs and lets out a bit of the acid that always, always churns in the back of her thoat while she gnashes her teeth and flexes her jaw and keeps her mouth shut because wait, that's not polite, that's not nice and fucking hell, they're gonna cry, or get angry, can't recognise a goddamn joke when it bites them in the-
(Just a little bit, though. She just wants to avoid being thrown back into the water because she's not entertaining, after all. He isn't a friend, shouldn't even be alive-)
Fortunately, this bumps up her status from annoying to interesting instead of mean -it was kind of a bet- in the Monkey D. Luffy Scale of People Assessment. There isn't much to see between the 'I like you hey join my crew' and the 'I don't like you Gomu Gomu no [insert more or less nonsensical term here]'... apart from maybe the 'who are you oh wait I don't care' level.
The real-but-not-real boy leans back out of her personal space, face splitting back into its default position, a.k.a. the crazy smile that positively screams I do what I want and I don't care what the world has to say about it.
"I'm Luffy, and I'm gonna become the King of Pirates! What's your name?"
Gingerly, carefully, she sits up, taking the time to think about the question. For the first time the answer doesn't come to her, doesn't come out of her with the certainty of a fact, as if changing world (-she slams back down on the pressure rising in her throat because fuck, not now, not yet, she can't break just yet-) has tilted her world entirely off its axis.
Gazing down in thought, she abruptly realises that one, she's still wearing the jungle green, two-piece swimsuit that she was wearing when she... closed her eyes, and two, that although her main physical features have changed, this body is still like hers, and she has never been more happy to see the thick limbs and ample curves and plump body, to feel the flesh -her flesh- shifting over her bones as she moves because hell, adapting to a completely new body would be a total bitch and she would lose it, lose her self, lose herself-
She blinks the haze away, focusing on the hand offered to her.
The hand that will tear her out of the last, fragile layer of brittle denial that forms her tentative armour when faced with what she cannot, does not want to believe.
(Well, she has never been very good at optimism and self-deception. It's just that she also sucks at acting upon her realisations.)
The hand of the only person to be here, with her, for miles around, on this rippling, rolling mirror of changing shades, and she can't-
She can't do this alone.
Her palm slides against his rough, barely smaller one, long and slightly chubby fingers settling around his hand firmly.
(-their first mutual contact and the last time she allows herself to think that she will slip through him like the illusion he's supposed to be, because she can't keep hoping, has never been any good at it, so now she will just have to suck it up and deal with it, otherwise she will-)
Her second name will take some time to get used to, but since she's had to use it for just about every administrative process in her life so far, she certainly isn't unfamiliar with it.
Besides, using a name that isn't quite hers in a world that isn't quite hers and a body that isn't quite hers feels less viscerally wrong than using her real name, no matter how chillingly real this all is.
Passively, she glides over the ghostly stream of an already fading thought pondering whether dissociating her life (herself) like this will be for the best or the worst -if she ever makes it back home. As it stands, both names come with pros and cons, so she dimisses the concern.
(-throws it back into the churning whirlpool waiting to submerge her from the pit of her sunken heart, because she has long ago resigned herself to the fact that even if she knows that fretting over something will serve no purpose, it will never prevent her from fraying herself thin over it-)
A black leather rucksack appears in front of her eyes, dangling in the bo- Luffy's grip.
Her black leather rucksack.
That she definitely did not take with her to go swimming.
"It was floating not far away. Is it yours?"
"... Yes. Thank you."
She reaches out, half-expecting her hand to pass through what has to be an illusion. It doesn't.
The bag contains little: what is necessary to write, which she always makes sure to have on her without any special reason, some of her sport accessories, her phone and a portable battery in the plastic bag she wrapped them in before leaving for the beach. There's no clothes or a towel she could use, and most of her phone's functions will probably be inaccessible, but at this point, it's the least of her problems.
"How did you end up here anyway? There's no boat around." Her travelling companion asks suddenly, shading his eyes from the sun with one hand as he surveys the ocean, as if checking once again that there's no other boat.
Takes a deep breath.
Clenches her teeth, tenses her whole body.
When she exhales, the tidal wave that has been swelling inside her settles with her breathing.
"Ah… Well- I went swimming alone, and I- got lost?"
His head tilts abruptly on the side as he stares at her, definitely puzzled.
"There's no island around here, though?"
"... I'm a good swimmer." The answer is nonchalant, but the shift of her eyes is uneasy, and when she shrugs it's stilted rather than smooth.
None of this is an outright lie. She tries not to lie when she can help it, after all. Her parents' education makes her feel guilty whenever she does it. Besides, the more lies she will tell, the more tiring it will be to keep up with them. Considering her situation, she will probably have to tell at least a few, so it would be best to limit herself.
Luffy's roaring laughter interrupts her thoughts, and she looks back at him, rolling around in the boat that is now rocking uncomfortably. Her gaze is unimpressed, but the spots of heat on her cheeks and nose betray her mild embarassment. She isn't the best with directions, after all, and her brooding character has led her into a few embarassing situations already.
"I'm glad at least someone finds it funny."
"But- But that's just- so dumb!" He sputters between bouts of laughter.
Bringing her legs to her chest and circling them with her arms, she observes him pensively, chin settled between both knees.
His laugh isn't pretty. Some would probably even comment that it sounded rather dumb. It's loud, strange, and he's clearly laughing at her.
It's… charismatic, though. Maybe because he doesn't care about what she, or anyone else, thinks of him laughing. But what really sets him apart is that it is infectious, powerful in a way few people's are, because he makes her want to stop caring too. Somehow, even in the situation she's in, she feels the corners of her lips twitch and the pressure in her constricted throat subside, until it settles at a more manageable level below her collarbones.
(She doesn't like it -how her emotions are reacting to his. It makes her feel off-balance, clumsy, as her body stirs in concert with them. The urge to let go is there, foreign but hers somehow.
She rationalises it into obedience -fuck ridiculous shōnen main characters and their ridiculous charisma, puts it away with all the other things chained inside her mind, waiting for the day her will breaks or she does not have anything more urgent to do and chooses to stop and drown -whichever comes first.)
"Did you grow up in a forest or something?"
The laughing devolves into hacking and coughing as the rubber boy sits up suddenly, looking absolutely bewildered. She vaguely considers laughing at him as a small revenge, before deciding that finding herself in an entirely different world certainly is not going to make her comfortable enough with strangers for that.
"How did you know?! Wait, are you reading my mind?!"
Upon voicing the idea, he starts crambling backwards, as if it would change anything in the case he's right.
What is there to read I wonder?
"It was just a guess, though?" She tilts her head on the side, gaze turning into an intent stare. "You really did?"
"Yeah!" He straightens his hat and his position with a wide and bright smile, as if the simple mention of his home place is the equivalent of ten shots of liquid happiness (she knows it probably isn't the only thing, but she also knows he's probably the type to always move forward and turn any pain into strength -unlike her). "How did you know?"
"For all intents and purposes, I'm still a child. People would be more likely to worry about me being separated from my parents than to laugh at the fact that I got lost, no matter how stupidly." She shrugs. "I just thought you must have grown up being very independent."
Luffy rubs harshly at the back of his head with a frown that soon turns into a sheepish smile.
A nonchalant, vague roll of her shoulders.
"You didn't know. Besides, weren't you the one who basically told me you didn't care about manners?"
"Yeah, but Makino doesn't agree."
"... Who's Makino?"
That turns out to be the cue for him to tell -and reenact- the story of his life, probably with a handful of dramatic exaggerations. He rambles on and on, hopping from story to adventure and straight into what he calls 'having fun' (and that she calls 'idiotic recklessness bordering on half-intended suicide').
Some of the charac- people he mentions are familiar to her ears, remnants of her little sister's babbling about her favourite anime series, and so she allows this familiarity to lull her into a more relaxed state (even though she can't quite forget the shadows prowling through the cracks, just like she can't quite ignore the shadows in Luffy's words from all the things he doesn't tell). She doesn't let any comment pass her lips, but offers her reactions to his tales clear on her face, rocking gently on her spot in the little boat that is drifting towards nowhere and anywhere.
She doesn't say anything because the longer he talks, the more she realises that what she hears is Japanese, and she shouldn't be able to understand it. In her ears, his voice is double, one a stream of muddled sounds that she is only familiar enough with to recognise it as what it is, the other a clear river of her own language. It's like someone is directly translating his words inside her brain, and it makes her arms tighten their hold and her body tense, as if trying to ward off the perceived invasion. So she keeps her mouth shut.
(-what if when she opens it, her voice is double too, the same as his, and it feels like someone is putting the words inside her mouth?
She should've never read 1984. Her mind really did not need that kind of help.
She needs enough time to lock the idea away, and Luffy's brightness is a perfect distraction as she actively smothers it under more positive considerations -it would be a pain to deal with the language barrier right?).
"So Shanks is your role model in piracy?"
"And you want to find the One Piece, that just about all the other pirates want to find?"
"Shishishishi! It's gonna be fun right?!"
"Depends on the kind of pirate, I guess."
"You know, the basic definition of a pirate is someone who breaks the law by being violent and stealing treasures. There are a lot of pirates that you probably wouldn't consider to be pirates, but as far as just about everyone else is concerned, they are. You probably won't like meeting some of them."
"… You think too much, dummy."
"And you obviously don't think enough."
"Ow! Why did you poke me?!"
"Proving a point. You know your skull actually sounds hollow, right?"
"Well it isn't! It's because I'm rubber!"
"Oh, so now you're an expert on the properties of matter?"
"Propretees of what?"
"Don't pretend to be hurt when I poke you if you're gonna use the rubber skin argument the second after, it makes it sound like a convenient excuse. Anyway, stop moving so much, you're going to go overboard, and I'll be too busy thinking too much to save you a second time."
"Ack! Stop talking! You're confusing me!"
Eventually, the sun sinks in the sea with an explosion of bloody colours. It somehow feels like her last hope of this- this whole thing being a dream is dying with it (except the sun will live again the day after, but her hope will not, because even on the best of days optimism seems like an idiotic waste of energy).
It's her first night in this new world, and she breaks in strangled silence as soon as Luffy's breathing settles, drifting locked inside the stifling darkness uniting ocean and sky, the stars glittering (beautifully, mockingly), as unreachable as her home (because even their reflection in the sea that she can touch is only an illusion, and by now her brain -if not her heart- is quite convinced that this is her new reality).
Quietly, Elynna unlocks her limbs from their position, and slowly moves over to the rail, pausing at each crack of the wooden planks. As silent as she can, she fills her lungs with air, and leans over, until she has immersed the entirety of her head and is pretty sure that she will fall over if she goes any further.
She forces her mind to go blank.
Silences the painstakingly crafted, protesting jolts of her mind.
And allows some of the dams to dissolve.
It takes but a few seconds for the tempest rumbling behind locked bars to whirl violently and rush headfirst along the cracks, tearing into them until they are canyons unable to hold anything back-
(-she screams and it all bursts out of her, a jumbled, incomprehensible mess of words and sensations and memories, years-old and washed out but branded deeply enough into the depths of her, mashed into the painful loudness of wounds more shallow-
-she screams and screams and screams, but only in her mind, because she knows that water isn't enough to drown out the noise, so she just wants to give her brain the illusion that for once she has relaxed the hermetic fingers of the invisible hand sealed against her mouth-
-she screams until her mind finally, finally stops and her body wraps around it, until the pain in her lungs shuts down this brain that thinks too much, worries too much and cares too little to make her do something, until the burning in her eyes silences this heart that shouldn't hurt this much for how little she cares, or maybe should hurt more-)
She screams until she doesn't have any air left, and water starts to come in instead. She closes her mouth to prevent any more from entering, and expels the rest.
The only noise as she straightens up is the creaking of the wood and the drops of water falling from her hair and skin. Lips still closed, she coughs silently, dry hands reaching up to rub salty water away from her eyes.
(-and she freezes, tries to resist, bares her teeth against the desire, but she's so so weak -has always been, and all the doors aren't quite locked or all the walls up yet,
so she presses her fingers over her eyes, hard, and then harderharderharder, until it feels like her eyeballs are embedded into her skull -and maybe it's not so bad if it means that she won't ever have to see reality break in front of her eyes like that ever again,
and she opens her mouth into a silent, disfigured black hole that takes everything in but never lets anything out-
she feels the tears about to fall, and crushes them in her fists before they are even born)
When her hands are back on her knees, all dams are raised and hardened again, and she lies down and closes her eyes, setting out to conscientiously kill any remaining hope that she might open them to see the sky of her home, because she doesn't have the kind of courage it takes to allow herself that and remain sane.
His back turned to her, Luffy listens as the Sea Girl's breathing slows down. He's pretty sure she's sad, but he can't hear her cry at all.
Which is dumb. How will anyone know she needs help if she doesn't show it?
(He can't help her if she doesn't ask for it.)
But it's already established in his mind that she's dumb. And thinks too much. That weirdo.
(She's a sad kind of weird that reminds him of a boy with dark stars flying across his face, like tattoos of the pleas for warmth that were slapped away like insects and then hidden in the blades of his words, of the dreams he used to never talk about
Except his brother, at that time, was wrapped in a cocoon of all the rage and the hate and the pain thrown at him, and he feasted on it everyday, let it burn and crackle loudly just beneath his skin to make himself stronger and stronger and stronger-
The Sea Girl looks like she's hiding behind an armour of fear and sadness and contempt that all came out of her own head, and now it's like her shoulders are stuck under the weight of it, locked and trembling, and... she just looks plain exhausted.)
Luffy wonders if she can become as awesome as Ace, if he keeps running after her until her armour breaks and she turns around and looks back at him (wonders how bright her smile might shine and how her laugh might sound).
Maybe that's why, on the following day, he doesn't mind his mouth opening and the words falling out of it, as he watches her trembling hands, as he listens to the words that show him she's thinking about him just as much as herself despite her apparent lack of care, as he listens to the voice that she's forcing herself to keep level.
(He still thinks his idea would work too, though.)
"The weather is so nice today, right?"
"Yep. Very nice. Don't you think it's funny how the weather can be so good when we're about to die so carelessly?"
"This is a whirlpool… Right?"
"That's a dumb question, of course it is! It's really bad that I can't swim… Ah, but you can! So you can carry me like yesterday and woosh!"
The blank stare she pins him under is a better answer than any words.
"Ah, yeah, you're right. Swimming wouldn't really help right now."
As they are caught into the currents, the boat starts to move faster, getting ever so closer to the wide, hungry, crushing mouth of the sea, howling for the life of the prey drawn into its trap.
Luffy cocks his head, eyes set on the trembling hands that look barely able to hold anything and the muted horror in her transfixed stare, and he knows from his own body's memory that the Sea Girl is absolutely incapable to move.
So he gets up, opens one of the two barrels Makino gave him, and starts emptying its reserve of apples into the ocean, keeping a few (read: most) of them under his stretched arm.
Her gaze snaps to him at the noise, and he can almost see the wild, frenzied beat of her heart reflected into it, voice so tight it doesn't allow any inflection to show through.
"What are you doing."
"Nothing we can do, so let's just take a nap in there. Who knows, we might just survive! We even have food! … Although, meat would've been better."
He laughs loudly, partly because he's proud to have come up with such a good idea, partly to cover the noise of the possible death they're rushing towards and which is monopolising her thoughts.
She keeps staring, until the boat lurches as it starts changing direction at the ocean's will.
And then she's scrambling to her feet on trembling legs, reaching towards the second barrel to throw away the drinkable water it contains.
"What are you doing?"
"If the both of us go in there," she directs a vague nod towards his barrel, "we have more chance of being too heavy and to end up drowning when the waters will calm down -if we even make it to that point alive. Also, there's no way I'm getting stuck with you and apples in a barrel that's going to roll around in a goddamn whirpool for who knows how long. Since you've kept the mooring rope, just tie the two barrels together, it might just give us a chance of not losing each other."
"Why should I be the one to make the knot?"
"Because I have no fucking idea of how to make one."
Luffy laughs, and steps up beside her, hands already working on the rope as he proceeds to loop it several times between both barrels.
Water splashes their legs, and the boat is getting more and more unstable, making Elynna's movements stutter and a weird, trembling noise escape her mouth.
Luffy laughs again, slapping her hard in the back to distract her.
"Stop worrying so much! It's gonna be fine!"
"Stop not worrying. You're gonna get killed, and it will probably be mostly your fault." She snaps back.
But there's no heat behind the words (only studious indifference as she carefully lets the words out from behind clenched teeth designed to retain all the fear inside), because she doesn't need to be a die hard fan to know that he's a lost cause.
"Shishishishishi! Join my crew then!"
For a moment she's convinced that she has just been slapped in the face by one of the increasingly agitated waves around them because-
And that idiot repeats the exact same words, but spending a night with him was probably enough to make her just as much of an idiot as he is, because she cannot comprehend these words, in that order, directed at her.
(The members of the Straw Hat Pirates are supposed to be exceptional. Geniuses in their field. Resourceful. Brave. Who know how to fight in so many ways.
Not… Not someone like her.)
Her brain has never been brought to a stop so easily.
"You can worry for me so that I don't die, and I'll hit you when you start to be annoying and worry too much. We'll be a perfect team!"
Her brain reboots.
Shut your mouth.
Do not answer carelessly.
And god fucking damnit, it's not because you're close enough to the beast ready to eat your whole self to be able to see the entire effing thing, that you cannot waste your life away in hesitation like you always do.
Saying yes is a stupid idea, because even if her little sister didn't regularly chatter on and on in her ear about some episode or another, she's painfully aware of the danger someone like Monkey D. Luffy can bring -and land himself in. She also knows that the general law of shōnen manga is that the main character does reach his dreams, but that he usually loses things in the process. Things… and people.
She doesn't want to be one of those things.
But if her appearance in this world is not a coincidence, then the fact that she appeared near him, just in time to save him, who is basically the reason why this world exists in the first place, must mean something. Somehow, if he's linked to her presence here, then he might just be the key to going home -or at least the best lead she has as of now. Travelling the world with him is anyway a good way to find information.
And saying no, if he (someone with such strength of will) even accepts it (and if someone as weak-willed as her can even stand her ground), means having to learn how to live alone in a world that is not hers, filled with pirates, and Marines that are not necessarily nicer than them. Luffy and his future is the only thing she vaguely knows, her only anchor, and, well-
(She has always been even more of a coward when faced with the unknown.)
Her brain is quick to present her with the arguments, and the conclusion is terrifyingly, horrifyingly clear.
Their boat rocks so hard that she almost tumbles into the sea.
Fuck her life.
"Fine. Now get in that barrel, Captain, instead of standing around waiting to drown."
Even as he obeys, her newly-minted nightm- Captain keeps whooping in joy and babbling on and on about how he's just getting started and just you wait Shanks-
His voice fades away once she closes her own barrel. And as she tries to get as comfortable as she can in a goddamn barrel of all things, as she feels the boat overturning, the only thing she can think is-
Fuck. She's going to be one of the only characters of this world with more than two brain cells. And she's probably going to lose them if she spends too much time with all those who have a negative number of it.
… She just joined the Straw Hat Pirates.
Shit, shit, shit.
Well, at least she'll get to meet good-looking people.
She always did suck at being optimistic.
The words in italic that I put in the very beginning of the chapter and that look like a bad poem don't come from any song or quote (unless I'm subconsciously plagiarising, in which case feel free to tell me). They won't always be from Elynna's POV or directed at one person in particular. Have fun guessing and commenting on it.
#FTSFact1: So I have this thing where I try to imagine Elynna in the OP openings and how she would fit.
Opening One 〜 Faces come and go in short flashes. A boy with a straw hat looks over his shoulder and waves, a confident smile in place -like he can already see his dream being achieved, blue sky like infinite freedom sprawling in front of him. A girl lying at the very edge of the beach in shallow water, hair floating like seaweed around her and sand stuck on her body, looking for all the world like she got washed ashore, eyes hazy and half-lidded -as if daydreaming. A man, hair a soft green and smirk screaming of violence, teeth gleaming like the sword propped against his shoulder as he looks down at you. Another girl, with a pretty face like an angel's and a cheeky smile like an incoming storm that you can't escape. Another boy with sharp eyes that gleam with mischief and black curls as crazy as the ideas that bloom inside his mind. A man again, hair like gold under the sun and cigarette held elegantly, the swirl of his eyebrow the only hint to the fact that he's crazy enough to be in this crew.
Thank you for reading, and I wish you the best until the next update!