Disclaimer: One Piece doesn't belong to me.
A/N: Unbetaed since it's such a short fic. Written after reading one too many zombie fics.
The island of Jambalya was a swampy, summer isle infested with giant, blood-sucking birds and two-headed crocodiles. All but the desperate avoided it because in addition to its inhospitable atmosphere, the inhabitants of the island were practitioners of a particularly bloody religion linked with snakes, blood and the raising of the dead. This latter was the reason why the desperate would visit the island. Few left satisfied. In fact, few left at all.
Had the crew of the Going Merry known this information, the more cynical among them would have concluded that it was inevitable that Luffy become a zombie.
They first knew of it when they regrouped at the ship – with the exception of Zoro, who everyone assumed was lost and/or in trouble. Luffy had been found face down in the swamp that flowed under the boardwalks that made up the town of Hoodu. No amount of shaking woke him up, so he was dragged back to the ship by an ecstatic Sanji – ecstatic because he had found a ton of new spices and recipes to experiment with, not because he was dragging his stupid captain.
Luffy was dropped unceremoniously on deck, and Sanji went to make lunch, while Nami stomped off grumbling a bit about Zoro not being back yet. She wanted to leave now that she knew there was no decent treasure or shopping on the isle, and the log pose was set. Chopper hovered about Luffy anxiously. Usopp was assembling a new fishing pole he had bought, and Robin was reading a strange, raggedy looking book that looked like it had been dropped in some mud. After a moment's hesitation, Chopper approached Usopp. He knew Usopp would know what to do.
"Uhm, shouldn't we let a doctor look at Luffy?" Usopp looked up, confused, but then his expression cleared into a confident smile. He jumped up.
"Of course! I, the great Doctor Usopp, will examine him! I once cured an entire tribe of Zebra men by just looking at them!"
"Really? Cool!" said Chopper, as he followed Usopp back to their captain. Robin considered reminding Chopper that he was their doctor, but figured even the attentions of 'doctor' Usopp wouldn't kill their captain, and went back to reading.
Usopp bent over Luffy where he was lying on the main deck. He used his slingshot to prod Luffy in various places, then switched to pulling at various pieces of skin so they stretched and poinged back into place. Luffy's rubber ability never got old.
"Er, Usopp…" began Chopper, but suddenly, Luffy sat up, his eyes strangely blank.
"BRAINS!" he roared out, then latched onto the startled Chopper and began gnawing on his antlers. "Bwwaaayyynns," he said around his mouthful.
Usopp's eyes were wide and his mouth was hanging open. "Zombie!" he screamed. "Luffy's a zombie!"
Robin was the only member of the crew who heard. She considered the veracity of the statement, the likely hood of Luffy being stupid enough to get turned into a zombie, and the fact that they were moored on the infamous Jambalya island – and decided Usopp was probably telling the truth. Then she went back to reading her book.
"Bwwains!" yelled Luffy.
Usopp thought very quickly. There was only one expert on the ship when it came to food. "I'll go get Sanji!" He ran, leaving a frozen Chopper at the mercy of his captain. Sanji came quickly, though not after making Usopp take over sauce stirring duties in the kitchen. He didn't believe Luffy was a zombie, but he did know an urgent request for food when he heard one.
"Braaaaiiinnnssssssss!" yelled Luffy again. He had given up on Chopper's antlers and moved on to his pink hat. When he saw Sanji, he made a quick lunge, and ended up gnawing on Sanji's leg. Sanji used his other leg to smash Luffy's head into the deck.
"That's my leg, you idiot."
Sanji sighed. "Come on. I'll get you brains."
"Chopper," said Sanji, "Can you find a way to fix this idiot while I feed him?"
"Yes-s," said Chopper, still shaky from his near death by gnawing.
Sanji headed back to the galley, pausing occasionally to kick Luffy when it looked like he was going to go after Sanji's leg again.
Usopp was stirring like mad, making the sauce in the pan slope over the sides. Sanji had to move quickly to save their dinner's flavour, pushing Usopp out of the way and telling him to keep Luffy occupied for a second. Once the sauce was finished, he moved to the refrigerator and pulled out what he needed. Another pan on the fire, and a heady mixture of spices, both old and new, and Sanji was placing a plate in front of the now-tied-to-the-bench Luffy.
"There you go. Brains," said Sanji flatly. Luffy began to happily munch, and Sanji watched for a moment. He was always appreciative when people liked his food, even when it was an apparent zombie. He went back to the rest of their lunch.
Usopp came to hover near him. "Sanji," he said in a low voice. "Did you really give him brains? Why do you have brains?" He sounded like he was accusing Sanji of murder.
"Brains are a delicacy in many places," said Sanji. "I know a great recipe for calf brains…" He trailed off as he realized Usopp was beginning to turn green. "But I don't have any brains on the ship. They're too hard to keep. I just gave that idiot some chopped up meat."
Usopp chuckled weakly. "Of course."
"Sanji! Sanji!" Chopper burst into the room. "Robin showed me her book about the island. It says the local people use drugs to turn people into zombie slaves. Luffy would have had to eat something while he was on shore." He stared at Luffy. "What is he eating?"
"Brains," said Sanji and Usopp together.
"Well, yes. It does seem the drugs make you crave the proteins that can only be found in the brain- What!" He was hyperventilating.
Sanji gave Luffy a second serving of 'brains'. "Don't worry about it, Chopper. Go on."
"Robin said we need to find a certain plant that counteracts the drug, and we have to find it before the effects of the drug become permanent!"
"Never fear! I, Captain Usopp, am an expert at finding magical plants! There was this one time-"
"Go tell the others, Chopper," suggested Sanji over Usopp's prattling. They'd have to delay lunch, but maybe he had time to make sandwiches. "You may as well look for that idiot swordsman while you're out there too."
Chopper ran frantically about the ship. He rushed to the upper deck where he thought Nami was, but his legs hit something and we went flying. Pulling himself up from the deck, he realized he'd tripped over Zoro, who was dead asleep against the side. Usually, Chopper would have noticed him, but the swordsman was covered in sticky brown mud, twigs, plants, and a hint of blood that all acted as remarkably good camouflage.
There was only a fifty percent chance that Zoro would actually respond, but luck was with Chopper.
Zoro cracked open one eye. "What?"
"There's blood!" Chopper screamed. "Where are you hurt?"
"S'not mine," Zoro mumbled, closing his eyes again. "Was the crocodile's."
That calmed Chopper down a little, though he still went to examine Zoro more closely. The swordsman had been known to downplay his injuries before. His examination revealed nothing, except for a familiar looking herb embedded in Zoro's green hair. It looked exactly like the sketch Robin had shown him.
Grinning happily, Chopper snatched the herb out of Zoro's hair, ignoring the grunt of surprise from Zoro when Chopper managed to pull out some of the man's hair as well. Chopper ran back to the galley where Luffy was on his fourth serving of 'brains'.
"Look," he said, showing off the herb's twelve, tiny mud covered leaves.
"That was quick," said Usopp, from where he was eating a sandwich.
"It was on Zoro's head," said Chopper dismissively. He didn't know why Usopp and Sanji started laughing. "We need to make him eat it," he said when they calmed down.
"Just shove it down his throat?" asked Sanji, pulling out a cigarette.
Chopper considered. "Robin said he had to eat it. She didn't say how."
Sanji shrugged, blowing out smoke from his now lit cigarette. "Good enough." He took the herb from Chopper, washed it in the sink, then placed it on a small plate.
"Brains, Luffy," he said, putting it down in front of their captain, who had already finished his other plate of 'brains'.
Luffy stared at the plate. "Brains?"
"Brains," said Usopp, getting into the ruse. "Strange, green brains from the miniature elephant bird!"
That satisfied Luffy, and they all breathed a sigh of relief at how stupid their captain was. He munched happily on the herb, and a few seconds later, his whole body stiffened, and he face fell forward onto his empty plate. Chopper was moving to his side, when Luffy sat up again, and blinked. This wasn't where he had been when he last was awake, but still, his nakama were here and all was well. He caught sight of his favourite (and only) cook.
"Meat! Sanji, I'm hungry. Give me meat! Meeeeat!"