Dear God, what have I done? I need to stop writing angst. Need to stop, right now. Because if I don't, I have a feeling that various people are going to severely injure me.
It was a miserable crew that sat on the deck of The Going Merry that evening. A crew that numbered only four.
"Usopp?" Chopper asked quietly. "Tell us a story."
The sniper raised his head from where he'd been staring at the deck, but no protest came from Sanji or Nami. Nami wasn't even trying to push Sanji's comforting arm off her shoulder.
She looked like she needed it.
Taking a deep breath to help force down the agony, Usopp began to speak of a motley crew that had numbered six, who'd gone off in search of great adventures and the realization of their dreams. He told his remaining shipmates of how they'd fought together, and argued, and how each one had been important despite their faults.
He told them about the matchless sniper, the resourceful doctor, the kicking cook, the brilliant navigator.
He told them about the first mate who was a swordsman, and the captain who had devil powers.
He told them of their capture at a seemingly weak port that wasn't even on the navigator's map, he told them of the way that they had brought the captain to the guillotine and first mate to the gallows. He told them of how the captain was to be killed first, how the villagers would have laughed cruelly at the first mate's anguished cry and futile struggles.
His voice cracked as he spoke of their miraculous escape instead of that tragic fate, thanks to the sniper's genius, and how they'd all sailed off into the sunset.
At the end, there was a thick silence.
"Why does their story have a happy ending?" Nami whispered finally. Usopp turned to look at her, and noticed that her hands were trembling in Sanji's gentle grasp. When he answered her at last, his voice was soft and laced with deep regret.
"Because it's just a fairy tale."