-The Best Gift-
A One Piece Christmas Fanfic by Digitaldreamer
Chapter Four: The Best Christmas Ever?
Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you enjoy this last chapter! Don't forget to leave a review!
Consider this a gift to all of you, especially to all of you who have me on author alert and watch me and review all my fics. This is for you guys, you all rock!
Once again, this isn't betaed, so I aplogize in advance for any spelling or grammar mistakes!
"...You mean to tell me you got an artificial tree?"
"I apologize, Nami-san! Please, allow me to kiss your glorious feet and try and find a way to repent for this horrible sin!"
The return to the Going Merry had proved to be rather depressing as Sanji and Usopp revealed the spoils of their quest to find a tree. Both the cook and sharpshooter stood in front of the large white box, Usopp looking annoyed while Sanji seemed stuck in a permenant bow of a apology.
Nami stared at the white box for a minute before sighing and shaking her head. "It's alright, you did try your best. We'll just have to make the best of it. We can put it up in the galley."
Both Luffy and Chopper looked completely heartbroken.
"B-but…a fake tree?" Luffy cried. "It won't be the same!"
"Does Santa allow fake trees? What if he doesn't come because we have a fake tree?" Chopper sobbed.
"Relax." Zoro growled. "It looks the same as a fake tree, as long as we leave cookies for the fat boy to get even fatter with, I doubt it'll matter."
"Okay everyone, let's get started!" Nami declared.
And so, the horror that was known as the assembly of an artificial Christmas tree began.
"Okay…let's sort out these branches first, put the K's there, the H's there…"
"But they're color-coded too! What color are K's?"
"K's are red…I think…"
"Is this an M or an N? There's some weird cross here…"
"I can't tell the difference between the red-orange, blood red, and crimson!"
Eventually, after much turmoil, the branches were sorted and it was time for the actual assembly to begin.
"Okay, we need a row of R branches here…"
'There are no R's!"
"Try the ones with the periwinkle stripes…"
"Why are all these branches marked as B branches? There aren't even any B branches in the diagram!"
"What the hell is a X ½? You can't have a half of a letter!"
While everyone else was busy being horribly confused with the regular branches, Chopper got stuck trying to fix up the large, pointed part that would make up the top of the tree. This involved spreading out all of it's branches and making it look all nice, but seeing how it was larger than he was it was proving rather hard.
"Help! I'm trapped under the top of the tree! HELP! Fake…needles…crushing…ribs…" Chopper squeaked.
Zoro quickly reached over and picked up the tree top, effectively saving their doctor's life.
"Don't worry about it."
"ZORO! ZORO! LOOK!"
Zoro sighed, glancing in the direction of his captain's voice. "What is it now, Luffy?"
"Look! It's Santouryuu: Three-Branch Style!" Luffy crowed in a dramatic voice. He was standing with one long branch in each hand, while one was in his mouth, and as apparently attempting some sort of sword move. It really looked more like he was just randomly flailing his limbs.
The first mate just stood there, staring blankly at Luffy for a few moments before groaning and walking up to the boy, pulling the branch from his mouth. Luffy coughed, spitting out a few fake needles.
"No, Luffy. Just no." He said, shaking his head.
After several hours of turmoil, the tree was finally complete, and everyone began decorating other things. Unfortunately, everyone seemed to have different ideas for decorating. Whenever someone would put something up, someone else would take it back down when they weren't looking. This went on for quite some time before Nami finally started assigning roles.
Robin, Usopp, and Zoro were given the task of setting up the lights and the things outside the ship. Things went just fine, they managed to wrap garland around all the rails and the mast and everything.
It was when the electronics came into play that things got hectic.
Now see, Usopp got a bit crazy with the lights. He worked until twilight, rigging it so just about everything would light up, flash, and do all sorts of things. Or at least, that was how it was supposed to go.
"Okay Zoro, plug it in."
"This is stupid. It isn't going to work."
"He's right Sniper-san, there's a bit too much going on here…"
"Just plug it in already!"
There was a blinding blue flash that lit up the entire sky for a moment, causing many people back in town to stop and stare. Years from now, people would tell amazing tales of what they thought had happened to cause such a flash, but they would never guess that it was really nothing more than a certain swordsman being deep-fried.
After Usopp was beaten within an inch of his life, it was decided to make the lights quite a bit simpler.
Meanwhile, Luffy and Chopper had finished placing wreaths and various non-breakable objects around the inside of the ship, so Nami had told them to string popcorn to put on the tree in an attempt to keep them quiet. They made a valiant attempt at doing so, when they weren't busy getting their fingers poked.
"One for the tree…." Luffy strung one piece of popcorn onto the string, then popped one into his mouth. "One for me. One for the tree…two for me…"
Chopper giggled, doing the same.
"One for the tree…seventeen for me…"
Nami happened to hear this as she made her way up to the galley from her room. Her eyes narrowed and she quietly snuck up behind Luffy and Chopper.
"Mmm…this popcorn is good…"
"That's for the tree, not for you!" Nami snarled as she knocked both of their heads together.
"NAMI-SWAAAN! You're standing underneath some of my mistletoe of love!" Sanji cooed, his visible eye becoming a heart as he rushed across the room…
And then he found himself with his head smashed into the floor. "Not on your life." Nami growled.
"Nami-san is so beautiful when she's angry!"
Nami stared down at the fallen Sanji for a moment before her gaze softened a bit. Well…it was Christmas, and he had caught her. The orange-haired navigator sighed, quickly squatting down to where the cook lay.
"This doesn't mean anything." She said calmly before grabbing Sanji by the front of his suit and pulling him up so she could kiss him on the lips.
She pulled away after a few moments to see Sanji's stunned face.
"Like I said, this doesn't mean anything. I just hate owing people anything." The navigator smiled, standing and going back to decorating, leaving Sanji behind with a dazed smile on his face.
After the lights were finally done properly and all other things were hung up, the Straw Hats finally worked on the tree. They had a fine time placing ornaments onto it, though there was a small argument over whom should place the star on top. Finally, after drawing straws, Luffy won the right.
He grinned, reaching out and taking the star before walking up to the tree.
"Be careful Luffy, that was expensive…" Nami hissed.
Luffy stood up on his tip toes and stretched his arm, reaching up high to finally place the star a top the tree.
"And we're DONE!" he crowed, his arm snapping back to its normal length. "YOSH!"
Nami stood back, gazing at their work. "I have to admit, it doesn't look too bad…"
"It's so pretty!" Chopper gasped.
"Of course it is, I helped work on it!" Usopp said proudly.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Zoro said, rolling his eyes.
"It's not nearly as lovely as Nami-san or Robin-chan!" Sanji huffed.
Robin just laughed.
The crew marveled over their decorating job for awhile, then Sanji brought out some cookies and the usual chaos began. Luffy, Usopp, and Chopper burst into song, Sanji fawned over Nami and Robin with all sorts of goodies, while Zoro occasionally put in a word here and there and a fight ensued at some point.
Just your usual night of craziness on the Going Merry, but there was a feeling there was different from all other nights. There was this special feeling of togetherness there, a joy that had always been present but on this night of all nights made itself known.
At some point during his rendition of "Deck The Halls" while stealing yet another of Usopp's cookies, Luffy suddenly remembered that he needed to wrap his presents. After all, while this Christmas was turning out to be awesome, it wouldn't be the best Christmas ever until he gave everyone their gifts!
And so, with this in mind, Luffy suddenly dropped his pilfered baked good and rushed out the door.
"GOTTA GO WRAP PRESENTS!" He declared loudly as the door slammed behind him.
The crew stared after him, blinking.
The door opened again and Luffy's head poked through it. "NO PEEKING!" With that, he closed the door once again and rushed down the stairs to the trap door that lead to the men's cabin. He somehow managed to unearth the door from the blanket of snow that it was trapped under and hopped inside, landing on the floor with a loud thump.
Luffy glanced around the empty room before grinning and rubbing his hands together. He rushed over to one of the couches and jumped onto it, then peeked behind it. There were all of his gifts, which had been thrown back there in an attempt to hide them as soon as he got back to the ship. Along with these was some wrapping paper, tape, and ribbon, all of which Luffy snatched up and carried to the center of the room.
He proceeded to wrap every gift carefully. Of course, this is Luffy we're talking about, so by 'carefully' we mean 'like a five-year old'. Wrapping paper ended up everywhere, folded haphazardly over gifts and taped down with enough tape to properly wrap ten other gifts. Ribbons and bows were tied to the gifts in an all-together ugly fashion, unless they were the kind that already came made and were made to stick on. These ended up all over various gifts, making several look like ribbon-porcupines, and several got stuck to Luffy as well.
At last Luffy placed one last bit of tape on Usopp's present, then sat back to survey his work. Every gift was wrapped, save for one. Beaming, Luffy reached into the bag for Zoro's gift…
Only to find that it wasn't there.
Blinking in confusion, Luffy lifted up the bag and turned it upside down. Nothing fell out, and there was a hole in the bag.
Luffy's eyes widened. Where was that necklace? He immediately began to search, practically turning the entire cabin upside down. However, no matter what he overturned, he couldn't seem to find the necklace.
It was gone! Zoro's gift was gone! What was he going to do? He had tried so hard to get something extra special too…
Well, if it wasn't here, maybe it had fallen out somewhere in town! With this in mind, Luffy immediately rushed towards the ladder and climbed out, leaving a pile of gifts behind him.
"Hey, has anyone seen Luffy?"
Things were winding down as the hour grew late. Chopper and Usopp lay sprawled out on the floor wishing they hadn't eaten all those holiday sweets, while Sanji still appeared to be making more for tomorrow. Nami was sipping a cup of hot chocolate and Robin was quietly reading a book, while Zoro appeared to be asleep. I say 'appeared' because the moment Nami spoke up, he cracked open one eye.
"I haven't seen him since he went to wrap gifts." Sanji said as he pulled a tray of cookies from the oven.
Zoro sighed, standing and stretching. "I'll go make sure he hasn't ended up wrapping himself up or something." He said with a yawn before making his way out the door.
Chopper's blue nose twitched and he suddenly hopped to his feet. "Are some of those for Santa!" He asked, looking at the cookies with wide eyes.
Sanji shrugged, taking a drag of his cigarette. "Sure, why not?"
"Yay!" Chopper cheered, rushing over to the cabinets and whipping out a plate. He then stood on his tiptoes to grab a few cookies, yelping and nearly dropping them when he realized how hot they were. He managed to get them on the plate, however, and then placed the plate on the table before hurrying to make a glass of milk as well.
Once he was finished he looked down at his work at beamed. "It's perfect!"
Usopp glanced up at it from the floor and sat up, grinning. "You bet it is! I'm sure Santa will love it…if he comes. You know, since we don't have a chimney…"
Chopper's eyes widened. "AHHH! WE DON'T HAVE A CHIMNEY! WHAT IF SANTA DOESN'T STOP HERE? AHHH! AHHH!" He cried, beginning to run around in circles.
Nami reached out and stopped him, rolling her eyes. "Of course Santa will stop here. It doesn't matter if we have a chimney or not."
"Really?" Chopper gasped.
"Yeah. But uh…he won't come if you're not asleep, so you'd better get to bed!" The navigator declared, nodding her head.
Chopper's eyes widened even further. "Ahhh, you're right!" With that he began rushing towards the door, but was cut off when Zoro suddenly came through it, covered in snow.
"Luffy's not here. He's gone." The swordsman growled, fist clenching the wood of the door.
"He's what?" Nami shrieked.
"You heard me. He's gone. Left a pile of presents, a bunch of wrapping paper, and footprints in the snow leading off of the ship and into town." The swordsman stated, shaking his head. He looked a bit frantic and quite concerned, though he was trying to mask it rather poorly.
"Luffy left? On Christmas Eve?" Chopper cried.
"It's turning into a blizzard out there! He didn't bring his coat or anything!" Nami exclaimed, running a hand through her hair. "Of all the nights for him to pull a disappearing act…what the hell was he thinking?"
"Does he ever even think?" Sanji asked as he picked up his coat from the chair where he'd placed it and pulled it on. "Nami-san, you and Robin-chan stay here. I'll go look for him with Algae-head." He stated, glancing over at the swordsman.
Zoro didn't even offer a retort, he was already wordlessly hunting for his own coat. He had never even said he would be looking for his captain…but it was already clear that he would. He had no idea why Luffy had wandered off, but he wasn't going to let his captain freeze to death!
He hated to admit it, but he was really, really worried.
Nami sighed. "Fine. We'll stay here and see if he comes back. You two be careful." Robin nodded in silent agreement.
"B-but what about me? I can help!" Chopper cried, hopping up and down.
"No, Doctor-san. You stay here, Captain-san might need you when they get back. Besides, wouldn't you rather stay here and wait for Santa?" Robin asked.
"I'm going to bring him back." Zoro said calmly, finally finding the coat he'd stolen in Drum and pulling it on, grabbing Luffy's as well "I promise."
With that, he and Sanji were out the door.
The town really was different at night. While the cobbletone streets were filled with people during the day, they were now completely empty in the night. Bells rang in the distance, filling the air as soft, pure white snow drifted from the sky. The streets seemed alive with lights and decorations adorning every roof, but there was no one to be seen outside. Warm lights came from windows of various homes, laughter coming from inside as people spent time with their families on this glorious night.
But while it was warm inside, the streets were deserted and cold as the December chill came in gusts of frigid wind. While it was warm inside, the streets gave an air of lonliness.
Luffy trudgedalong slowly through a now empty street, sandled feet trudging through snow and leaving a lonely, single path behind him. The dim streetlights lit his way, icicles glowing with the light from Christmas lights. However, the lights did nothing to lift the boys spirits.
He trudged through the snow and would occasionally drop down here and there on his bare knees and dig through the snow, searching. It just had to be here somewhere! But no matter where he looked, Luffy couldn't seem to find it.
The boy finally came to a stop just in front of the shop where the gift had been bought, his entire body completely numb and his fingers so cold that he could barely move them. He collapsed in the snow below a streetlight, shivering and wrapping his bare arms around himself.
"I couldn't find it….I lost Zoro's present." He mumbled through chattering teeth. "I wanted to get something to show how important he was to me…and I lost it." His vision blurred as warm tears trickled from the corners of his eyes, leaving hot trails upon his frost-bitten face.
"S-so much for the best Christmas ever…I'm so sorry, Zoro…" Luffy sobbed, putting his face in his hands.
His only response was silence.
And then from down the street there came a voice, muttering to itself, along with the sound of heavy boots trudging through the snow.
"Stupid love cook…first I lose Luffy and now him…God, this sucks...where is he?" Then suddenly the sound of walking stopped. "…LUFFY?"
Luffy looked up through tear-filled eyes to see Zoro rushing through the snow towards him, the ends of his open coat flying behind him. The swordsman rushed over and fell to his knees before the boy, pulling him into a hug.
"There you are! I've been looking all over for you! God I was so…" He then realized how close he was to the boy and pulled away, blushing.
"I mean…don't run off like that again! I don't know how many times I've told you not to!" He said as he stood, avoiding the boys eyes. However, as soon as he was finished brushing the snow off Luffy, his eagle-like eyes meeting his captain's wide, innocent ones. His face then fell and he frowned, noting the tears in Luffy's eyes.
"Hey…what's wrong? Why are you crying?" He inquired, reaching up to brush away a few of the boy's tears with rough, callused fingers.
Luffy shook his head, pulling his face away. How could he tell him? How could he tell Zoro that he'd lost his present, after all he'd done to get it.
Zoro frowned, eyes filled with concern. "Luffy…" The swordsman gazed at the boy for a moment before shaking his head. He couldn't bear to see his captain like this, not on the night that he'd been so excited about. "Luffy…look at me. What's wrong?"
Luffy shook his head, turning away with a muffled sob.
"Luffy…come on, look at me." Zoro coaxed softly, cupping the boy's face in his hands and gently tipping his face towards him. Luffy looked up at him with wide eyes for several moments before he finally broke down, latching his arms around the swordsman and burying his face in his chest.
"I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!" Luffy's voice came out, muffled by Zoro's coat. "I lost your Christmas present! It was supposed to be the best gift ever and it was supposed to show you that you're the best first mate in the world! So I came out here to find it but it's cold and I can't find it and I just wanted this to be the best Christmas ever for everyone but I lost your present and ruined it!" He sobbed.
Zoro stood there for a few moments, at loss for words. "My Christmas present? That's what this is all about? You came out here and nearly froze to death just for that?" He cried.
Luffy just nodded.
The swordsman sighed, taking Luffy by the shoulders and pulling him away just enough so he could look him in the eyes. "Luffy, you didn't need to do all this for me! You could have froze to death! You being alive is more important than some present!"
"B-but…I wanted to give you the best present ever…" Luffy sniffled.
Zoro gazed at Luffy for a moment before shaking his head and reaching up to wipe the rest of Luffy's tears away, though his still lingered upon the boys cheek. "You already gave me the best gift ever. I have you, remember? That's far better than anything else you could give me. I don't need anything else."
Luffy sniffled, his face becoming a small smile. "Really?"
"Really." Zoro said softly, pulling Luffy into a hug.
They remained that way for several minutes, locked in a warm embrace, the snow falling softly around them. All was peaceful.
Zoro didn't want to pull away, but it was cold and Luffy felt freezing. "Come on, let's get back to the ship." He said as he pulled away, taking Luffy's coat from under his arm and draping it over the boy's shoulders. Zoro then smiled, ruffling the boys hair. "Wouldn't want anyone thinking we both froze to death out here, huh?"
Luffy laughed out loud, a wide smile on his face. "Yeah!"
"Oi, Marimo! You found him!"
Luffy blinked, glancing over Zoro's shoulder to see Sanji running over. His face broke into a grin and he waved. "Hey, Sanji!"
Sanji smiled as he came to a stop in front of them, grinning. "Hey." His visible eye then narrowed and he suddenly swung a kick up towards Luffy's face, which the rubber pirate and Zoro barely ducked.
"WHAT WAS THAT FOR, LOVE COOK?" Zoro snarled.
"It was meant for HIM!" Sanji growled, pointing at Luffy. "Don't you dare make Nami-san worry like that again! Such a beautiful lady shouldn't have to worry, especially tonight! If you ever do that again, I'll kick your ass!"
Luffy laughed. "Yeah..alright. Sorry, Sanji." He then frowned as he noticed something shining in the cook's hand. "Hey, what's that?" He asked, pointing to it.
"This?" Sanji inquired, holding it up. "I found it in the snow."
"That's Zoro's present!" Luffy cried, grabbing it and staring at it. It was covered in snow, but it seemed fine otherwise. He quickly wiped it off before turning to Zoro, smiling and holding it out.
"Merry Christmas, Zoro. I'm sorry I couldn't wrap it…" He said sheepishly, scratching his head and looking away.
Zoro blinked, taking the necklace and gaping at it. He traced his finger along the miniature blades that made up the pendent. "Wow…this is really amazing, Luffy. I…." He trailed off into silence, shaking his head and grinning. He put the necklace on and then held up the pedent to look at it. "Thank you. It's perfect."
Luffy just grinned.
"Alright then…let's get back to the ship." The swordsman declared, beginning to walk away.
"Ah ah ah! Not yet!" Sanji said.
Zoro stopped, blinking. "What?"
The cook just grinned, pointing up to the streetlamp above them. Both Luffy and Zoro simultaneously looked up to see a cluster of mistletoe hanging above their heads.
Zoro's eyes widened and he sputtered, face going red. Luffy just looked confused.
Sanji's grin became a bit demonic. "Go on marimo, it's tradition! Besides, you know you want to!" He said, waggling his visible eyebrow.
"I…I…." Zoro sputtered, face growing even redder. He hated to admit it, but Sanji was right…he did want to kiss the boy standing in front of him. Luffy gazed up at him with those wide, innocent orbs, head cocked to the side in confusion, his face tinted pink from the cold.
The swordsman sighed before smiling. "Fine." He murmured, pulling Luffy close. "But I won't say it."
With that, he pressed his lips against the younger pirate's.
Luffy's eyes widened in shock before closing as he quickly returned the kiss. The two remained entwined like that, locked in an embrace, two hearts beating to the same rhythm as bells chimed in the distance.
Finally, Zoro pulled away and the two gazed at each other, blushing. It may have been cold outside, but Zoro's heart had never warmer.
Sanji let out a cough. "Okay love birds, come on, that's enough." He muttered.
"Love birds?" Zoro repeated, eyes widening. "I am not-"
"Sure you are. You're just in denial."
"I am not!"
"Awww, would you look at that! The shit swordsman's afraid to admit that he actually had a heart after all!"
"I..I…SHUT UP! DARTBOARD EYEBROW!"
Luffy just laughed, pulling Zoro close. "This is the best Christmas ever."
Meanwhile, several yards away in an alleyway stood a certain "Playboy Sugarplum Spirit of Christmas." Shanks chuckled, pressing the stop button on his Video Den Den Mushi.
"Perfect." He said with a grin. "That should keep this stupid holiday around for awhile, at least."
With that, Shanks pocketed the Den Den Mushi and stepped out of the alleyway, stretching. "I guess I oughta head back to the main office now so I can get the hell out of this stupid thing."
"Phew…maybe now I can get out of this stupid thing."
Shanks eyes widened and he spun around to see across the street. There stood Ben Beckman, clad in a pair of tight red leather pants. He was also shirtless and wore a sparkling silver head-band with a heart on it. Strapped to his back were two quite fake, feathery wings, and he was holding a red bow and quiver of heart-shaped arrows.
"Ben?" He cried, his jaw dropping.
Ben spun around, nearly dropping his bow. "Shanks? What are you doing here?"
"I could ask the same of you!" The red-haired pirate said, looking his first mate up and down. "You look like some kind of Playboy Valentines Day display."
"That's Cupid to you. And you look like some kind of Playboy Sugarplum Fairy." Ben growled.
"It's more like the Spirit of Christmas." Shanks said, folding his arms and huffing. "I got blackmailed into finding proof that Christmas Spirit…excuse me, Christmas Spirit™, still exists so Christmas wouldn't get canceled."
"What's with the ™?" Ben inquired, raising an eyebrow.
"Long story. Anyway, why are you here?" Shanks asked.
"Eh, Cupid's been trying to get those two together for months, but he keeps missing. Apparently I have better aim, so he conned me into taking his job." Ben explained, rolling his eyes.
"You're telling me."
"What do you say we hurry up and turn everything in so we can get out of this crap and have a cup of eggnog?" Shanks asked, grinning.
Ben shrugged. "Fine."
Shanks waved his wand, and a small area of glowing energy appeared before them to teleport them back. The two pirates stepped towards it, both thankful their ordeals were almost over.
"Let's never speak of this again."
"Sure…" Shanks said with a grin, beginning to lift up the Video Den Den Mushi.
"Take a picture and you aren't getting any until St.Patrick's Day."