Bokura no Reison Dettera Our Reason for Living
By Aoikami Sarah
"Hwahahahaha!" Luffy laughed. "That's a really small fish!"
Usopp pouted at him. His nose was bigger than the 'fish' on his line. "You try it then!" he barked, unhooking and releasing the poor thing back into the sea.
The sun blazed down. The Going Merry bobbed along toward Arubasta. Tensions were low, despite their urgency to reach the oasis island. Vivi stood next to her trusty avian steed, Caru at the bow to the right of the figurehead, lost in restless thought about her home. Sanji wiped his hands dry on his Doskoi Panda apron and emerged from the galley for a well-deserved smoke. Zoro slept on the deck. Nami toiled away on a map in her room and the newest member of the crew, Dr. Tony Tony Chopper watched Luffy and Usopp with keen interest.
"Have you ever been fishing before, Chopper?" Usopp asked, ignoring Luffy.
He nodded. "Only ice-fishing." He didn't mention he'd caught fish bigger than the minnow Usopp had wrangled.
"I'll catch us dinner!" Luffy chimed and reeled back his right arm. "Gomu Gomu no!" The arm extended well past the tall main mast into the sky. "Fishing Pole!" With enough force to kill a whale, Luffy's fist punched down into the water.
"What is that moron doing?" Sanji groaned lighting his cigarette. "What's he think he'll accomplish with his fist?"
"Luffy, can you even move your hand all the way down there?" Chopper asked, watching with rapt curiosity.
"Oh yeah," Usopp wondered. "Wouldn't your Akuma no Mi ability make it difficult?"
"Yeah, I can move it," he answered. "Hey! I got something!"
Sanji raised a brow. "Well, well. Make it good, Luffy!"
"You got it!" he agreed and strained.
Caru squawked in alarm, rousing Vivi from her reverie. She glanced over and giggled at his antics. Zoro opened one eye and wondered what the fuss was about.
"Whoa, that's heavy! I…" Luffy didn't complete the thought. Faster than anyone could react, the young man was pulled overboard.
Everyone panicked. Sanji was closest so he leapt over the side and pumped his strong legs toward Luffy's rapidly descending form. Zoro rushed to the side and got ready to assist should he be needed. Usopp and Chopper wailed and made a scene. Vivi stared, shocked and frightened. It seemed to her to be a much more urgent crisis than just a man over-board. Disturbed from her concentration, Nami came out to see what the matter was. "You guys, please keep it down!" she shouted. "I'm trying to work!"
"Nami! Luffy fell into the ocean!" Chopper cried.
She scanned the deck. Sanji was missing. She shrugged. "Whatever. Sanji-kun will bring him back. Just keep it down." She turned and went back inside, leaving the door cracked open a little bit.
"You're evil!" Usopp chided.
Zoro clenched the side of the ship. "They've been down there too long," he muttered and put his foot up to jump in.
"Ah! I see them!" Chopper shouted. Zoro and big-Chopper helped Sanji and Luffy on board. Sanji was a little green and hacked and sputtered to catch his breath. Luffy was a blue and didn't move. Chopper fell into action. He pumped Luffy's chest and performed mouth to mouth. Vivi moved in closer, trying to see around the boys' shoulders.
"Can Luffy-san not swim?" she asked quietly.
"He's an Akuma no Mi user," Usopp replied, but didn't take his eyes off his captain. "They all sink like stones in the water. It's the curse of the Devil Fruit."
In her room, leaning over a map of Little Garden she was drawing, Nami rubbed her temples. "What is their problem?" she grumbled as another cry went up. She stormed out again, kicking the door so hard it nearly came off its hinges. Her mouth opened, but the insults she had armed to sling at them evaporated. Vivi had her hands over her mouth. Sanji leaned against the side. Zoro's head was hung so low his eyes couldn't be seen. Usopp was on his knees and shaking. Chopper, who knelt at Luffy's side, sat up straight.
"I…" he stuttered. "I'm sorry. He's gone."
Nami's stomach turned over, twisted itself in a knot and tried to force its way up into her throat. "Whadaya…" she stammered. "Whaddayameangone!" She jumped down onto the deck and raced toward him. Sanji caught her. "Let go! Chopper! Do something! He's blue! Somebody! There's probably water in his lungs! Make him cough it up! Chopper!"
"He tried," Sanji whispered. His face was obscured by his hair. "Chopper worked on him for the last twenty minutes."
Nami started to shake. She looked to the faces of her crewmates. None of them held any consolation. Usopp openly cried as did Vivi. Chopper panted, exhausted and choking on his tears. Zoro faced the sea, his back to the body of his captain who lay blue and unmoving on the deck.
"No…" Nami breathed. "Luffy can't be dead."
"I'm so sorry… I tried…" Chopper shrank back down to his child-like size and bawled. Nami looked to every face, praying it was just someone's horrible idea of a practical joke. Sanji hugged her shoulders tightly and she could feel his chest shake as he suppressed his own tears. Suddenly, she pushed him away and dashed back up to her room. He let her go, squeezed his eyes shut and let out a slow breath.
"What…" Usopp said between sobs. "What are we gonna do!"
Zoro walked up the stairs, not making eye contact with anyone and disappeared into the orange trees on the upper deck. Chopper took Luffy's non-existent pulse again and shook his head in disbelief. Sanji walked slowly into the boys' cabin. He emerged a moment later with a linen sheet which he unfolded. Chopper helped him as if he were a machine and let it come to rest over Luffy's body. The effect was both calming and startling.
Vivi echoed Usopp. "What are we going to do?"
No one had an answer.
Zoro tried to sleep. He sprawled himself out under the orange trees they had brought with them from Kokoyashi because Luffy insisted they were the best things he'd ever tasted. Zoro remembered yelling at his impetuous captain when he announced his intentions.
"I'm bringing Nami and some orange trees!" he cheered.
"Trees?" Zoro asked, raising a brow. "Trees need dirt to grow, moron."
"Then I'll bring dirt too."
Stretched out on the upper deck, Zoro shuddered and frowned. He contemplated getting up and going to see if he didn't just dream the last half hour, but knew that it was all too real. They had tried their best to revive him. The crazy kid who saved him from certain death at the hands of the firing squad, who had dragged him along as first mate, who had enabled him to meet his nemesis and finally gotten him to the Grand Line, was dead.
Chopper sat to the right of the body for almost an hour before coming to his senses. He didn't care what the others thought. He didn't even register Usopp and Vivi's presence around him. How would he ever survive on the Grand Line if he couldn't keep one man from drowning? "I failed," he whispered. "He brought me with him as the doctor for this ship and I couldn't keep him alive for even a week." The first person beside his mentors to ever have called him 'friend' was dead and Chopper hadn't been able to save him.
Usopp sat cross-legged and muttered to himself. "It's a rare fish… super-stiff-making toxin… makes you blue and look like a statue to fool its prey… No. It's just that he's really, really cold because he was so deep in the water… he'll thaw out and… No." He shook his head and folded his arms. "No. This just can't be happening. That's all. It's simply not happening. He can't die. It's impossible. His dream is too strong to be killed…" he muttered. He looked up at the body covered by the off-white sheet and shook his head again. "Nope. Not happening. Not happening." Tears rolled down his face. "This is not happening to us."
Vivi went to the bow and watched the never-ending horizon just as she had just before Luffy fell in the water. She had been pretending that she could see Arubasta already, even though it was still two days away. Before she met Luffy, she was still deep under cover in Baroque Works with no idea how she would mobilize against Crocodile. Earlier in the day, she recalled how amazingly Luffy had defeated King Walpol and freed Drum Island from its oppression and had gotten her hopes up that he would be able to do the same for her kingdom. Now, he was gone and her hopes were dashed. Staring out at the never-ending ocean, Arubasta seemed very far away.
Sanji did what he always did in times of stress. He cooked. He made gyoza, lemon bars, gazpacho, perogis, strawberry tarts, salmon mousse, and tomato canapés – anything that came to mind. He made many things and lots of them. He made quiche, stromboli, crème brulee, and a pile of steaks, medium well. He stopped after he put the last steak on the table and stared at his creations. For the first time in his life since he was a little boy, he felt that he might have wasted food. The one person who could eat the entire spread was gone. Sanji took off his apron and slumped down into a chair. He rubbed his face with his hands. "Luffy, you shithead," he whispered. "What the fuck are we gonna do now?"
A knock on her door brought Nami around. She lifted her head off of her pillow and wondered how long she'd been there. Time seemed to have left her behind. It was dark in her room. Her pillow was cool and damp. She sat up and stared into the grey light. "Nami?" Chopper's voice called gently from the other side of the door. "You should eat something. We're all in the kitchen."
"Ok," she replied weakly and tried to stand. It was an effort, but ignoring the pain in her heart was more difficult. "Don't think about it. Don't think. Just go. They'll wonder what's wrong… Just act natural. You can do this…" she coached herself and forced her body to go to the galley.
The scene inside the galley was brighter and more vibrant than she had expected it to be. Still, no one spoke. The table was covered in food no one was touching. Vivi gave her a sad smile Nami didn't return as she sat down in her usual spot. Zoro sat with his arms folded and stared at the far wall. Usopp tapped his fingers on the table. Chopper fidgeted. Sanji slammed his foot down, shaking the table and startling everyone. "Eat, you scumbags. I didn't make all this food for decoration, you know!"
"We're not hungry, Asshole," Zoro snarled. "Don't blame us for making too much."
"Why you…!" Sanji snarled.
"Guys!" Vivi shouted. "We shouldn't fight! I know we're all tense, but taking it out on each other is just a bad idea. We should support each other!"
"Vivi-chan is right," Chopper agreed quietly. "Yelling at each other just hurts more…"
Nami jumped up out of her seat and bolted for the door. Vivi grabbed her hand. "Let me go!" Nami cried.
"Nami-san, you can't run away from your feelings!"
"Oh, yes I can!" she shouted.
Sanji blocked the door. "She's right, Nami-san," he said quietly. "Zoro, you're right, too. I'm sorry. I made too much food. I just couldn't stop because I was so upset. I made enough food for all of us… Luffy included." Zoro nodded in recognition and grumbled something that sound liked 'it's ok'.
"It's not ok!" Nami shouted, lifting her head and glaring at the swordsman. "He's dead, Zoro! Luffy's dead!" her voice cracked. She tried to pull her arm free from Vivi's grip, but the younger woman held on, pulling her into an embrace and squeezing her tightly. "Oh, god, he's dead!" Nami bawled. "And the last thing I did was yell at him!"
"You think you feel bad?" Sanji remarked. "I pulled and pulled trying to get him free of the giant clam he got himself stuck in, but I didn't do it fast enough."
"I didn't jump in to help," Zoro added.
"I wasn't able to resuscitate him!" Chopper cried.
"He's done so much for us," Usopp added "But when he needed us, we were useless!"
Vivi's face turned red. "Don't talk like that!" she shouted, startling them all. "What would Luffy-san think if he heard you saying things like that! You are all very capable, amazing people. I know you feel terribly about this happening, but it was not your fault." Feeling the navigator relax, Vivi let go of her. Nami dropped down into the nearest chair.
After a few moments of awkward silence, the rest of the crew sat back down and had a solemn dinner, the first of its kind without their boisterous captain.
No one slept. Dawn broke. Sanji made coffee and Usopp helped make breakfast sandwiches out of the leftovers from the night before. Vivi pet Caru who dozed with his head in her lap. Accustomed to a good 12 hours of sleep a day, Zoro looked the worst off. He rubbed his eyes, stood and stretched. "Chopper," he called quietly. "Come give me a hand outside." The doctor nodded and they left the galley together.
This stirred Nami from her daze. She took a deep breath and watched the door close behind them. Having traveled the seas for more than ten years already, Nami knew what they must be up to. A few hours ago, this would have set her off into a fit of crying again, but she had grown numb with exhaustion.
Sanji touched her shoulder. "Nami-san," he said quietly.
"I know," she answered flatly. "We should do it soon."
Vivi, Caru and Usopp looked up and nodded in agreement. Chopper in his large form opened the door a crack. He didn't need to tell them to follow him.
The crew joined Zoro at the stern of the ship where Luffy's body rested on a plank wrapped in a linen sheet and over top of this, the Straw Hat Jolly Roger was draped ceremonially. There was no need to weigh down a body cursed to sink like a stone. Nami reached and grasped Vivi's hand for support. They stood in an arc around the body for a few moments before one of them stepped forward.
"Since I wasn't good for much else," Usopp half-joked. "I'll give the eulogy." He clasped his hands together and took a deep breath. "We the members of the Mugiwara Kaizoku Dan and crew of the Going Merry are gathered to pay our last respects to our captain, Monkey D. Luffy, and commit his body to the sea," he said calmly.
"It was his vision that brought all of us together and here to the Grand Line. His dream became intertwined with each of our own dreams. When he came into our lives, it seemed that the impossible was somehow possible. No foe was too strong, no challenge too great. We could do it, because of him." Usopp's voice cracked a little. "We will never forget him, the man who would become the Pirate King." He stepped back. "I think each of us should say something in turn."
No one said a word. Tears splashed onto the deck. Finally, Nami made an exasperated sound and tried to smile as best she could. "I loved him," she said simply.
Usopp returned the sad smile. "So did I."
"So did I," Sanji echoed.
"So did I," Chopper cried.
"So did I," Vivi sobbed.
Zoro didn't bother to hide his face. "So did I," he managed to choke out. They paused a few moments to pray in silence before Chopper and Zoro lifted the plank and let body slide into the waiting waves.
As his body plunged into the cold water, the linen sheet slipped away. Bubbles swirled around him, caressing his face as they raced to the surface. The currents rocked him gently as he drifted down, down, further away from the light and into the deep, dark blue of Davy Jones' locker.
A hand grasped his left arm and pulled and pulled. The water was more like ice it was so cold. The currents swirled and pushed his hair back. The blue became lighter. The air was warm, but his mouth and nose were full of water and refused to take any of it in. Another set of hands pulled him on board. Another began pushing on his chest. If he wasn't made of rubber, his ribs might have broken with the effort.
"Luffy!" Chopper's voice warbled through the water in his ears. "Come on, Luffy, breathe!"
As if on command, the young man's chest responded to the pressure and heaved. He coughed the water out of his lungs onto the deck. After a moment of sputtering and gagging, he opened his eyes only to find a heel closing in on his head.
"Asshole!" Sanji shouted, kicking his captain in the face. "Next time you use your fist as bait, I'm not coming to save your ass!"
Chopper flailed. "Sanji! Be careful! He almost drowned!"
"I'll drown him!" Sanji taunted, but straightened his soaking wet tie and went off to change into dry clothes.
"Che," Zoro grumbled, flopping back down to his nap. "That was pretty dumb, Luffy."
Vivi and Caru looked very worried. "Can Luffy-san not swim?" she asked Usopp.
"He's an Akuma no Mi user," Usopp replied, shrugging his shoulders. "They all sink like stones in the water. It's the curse of the Devil Fruit."
The door to Nami's room burst open again, this time so hard it made a loud bang that startled everyone aboard. "What's wrong with you morons! I told you to keep it down!"
"Luffy almost drowned!" Chopper cried back, still upset.
Nami looked quickly at the black haired young man who was slowly getting to his feet and let out a private sigh. "Looks fine to me. Just try to be quiet, ok guys?" she begged.
Chopper handed Luffy his straw hat, which had flown off before he was pulled under. The captain put it on and lifted his chin. He grinned from ear to ear.
"I love you guys, too!" he shouted, stopping everyone in their tracks. They stared at him then looked to each other.
"I think maybe you kicked him too hard, Sanji," Chopper mumbled. Zoro smirked and closed his eyes, getting back to his nap. Sanji waved his hand over his head and ducked into the bunks to change. Nami shrugged and went back to her map-making. Usopp cocked his head to the side and wondered about Chopper's theory. Vivi smiled, relieved, and continued to watching the horizon.