The editoron this site drives me nuts! It sticks every few words together, taking out the spaces.If you find them and they bother you, i'm sorry, but they're not my fault. For everyone who will decide that I am confused about events in Skypiea, the setting is made up. I know there is no cave like the one described here. This is just a short work of fiction, and so I can create all the extra details and locations I want.
This really has no title. I just stuck something on it to individualize it, but really I wrote it with no title in mind. I'm not super proud of it either, and I know they're a little OOC, but the throwing romance anywhere in One Piece twists the characters a little because there isn't even any cannon among Oda's characters according to him... Sorry if i'm cranky. I'm in an angry mood as I write this note, and I have no clue why.
-- written by Teresa Starr Ruark --
"Na, Shanks! It's no big deal! Really!"
Luffy walked along at a quick step just to keep up with the longer strides of the man walking with him.
The two had just come back in from the apothecary where Shanks had gotten a small bandage and an alcohol swab to treat Luffy's self-inflicted cut with before any of the locals saw it. Because they had been deplorably short of medical supplies on the ship, Shanks had also bought a bag of medical supplies that had been wrapped with paper into the shape of a watermelon. He had set the melon-shaped package into a small net which he was now carrying in his right hand.
His left hand held the much smaller hand of the child whom never left his side when they made berth in this port.
As he was, by now, so accustomed to doing, Luffy had made a limpet of himself and stayed right by his idol's side from dawn to dusk begging the same questions he always did.
"Shanks, really! It's okay, because I'm not afraid of getting hurt! See? The ocean isn't too dangerous for me, because I'm not scared of it or anything it can do. I don't mind that it's dangerous!"
"Luffy, no!" Shanks squeezed the smaller hand in his and looked down at him, "No matter what you say or do, the answer will still be no."
The pirate sighed and stopped walking, "I make these rules for a reason, Luffy. You don't understand them because you're too young, and you don't want to understand. You can't fight, and you're unobservant."
Luffy barred his teeth, "I can too fight! And I'm not unvi-vanserbant!"
Shanks absolutely cracked up, "HAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah right!" He kept moving, never letting up on Luffy's hand.
The boy was incensed, "Don't laugh at me!" He stomped along next to the captain.
"Luffy, if some huge guy came racing up behind you through the town square right now, screaming his head off the whole way,you would walkright in his path, gettrampled,and never see it coming." He began to laugh again, this time at the mental picture.
"Would too! Just cuz you think it's too dangerous… Give me a chance! It's not as dangerous as you say it is!"
"Hmm. That's what you think."
"I'm sure of it!"
"So sure that you're willing to sacrifice everything to go right now?" he met the boy's eyes again, "Because I'm sure, too, Luffy."
The child was unconvinced. "I'm ready! And I'm not scared. You're the one who's afraid! You wouldn't sacrifice anything."
"I wouldn't sacrifice you for anything, no." The man's grip on the boy tightened.
Luffy bit his lip. In truth, Shanks' words meant a lot to Luffy, but he was stubborn. If believing Shanks meant that he couldn't be a pirate, then he refused to believe Shanks. "You won't even let me decide for myself. I think you're lying. You just don't like to share! You're so greedy!"
The man smirked and rolled his eyes, "Am I, now?"
"Yes! You're mean and stingy! You just don't want me to be a pirate because you don't want to share the treasure with me, or the glory! You don't want me to have any adventures!"
Shanks continued to walk, his smiling face set in decision. "That's fine. I can be greedy. You're still not coming."
"Not fair…" seeing that he wasn't going to win this today, Luffy went into sulking mode.
The hand holding his own smaller one went gentle for a moment… before it was suddenly not there. Luffy's eyes darted next to him, but Shanks wasn't there anymore. He tried to turn to look for him, but found that he couldn't move normally. The frigid ocean water was suddenly trying to suck him down into her depths, but would never have a chance to because of the huge sea-monster quickly bearing down on him in the middle of the ocean.
Just before it could tear the boy to pieces, that constant grip had him again. Luffy tasted blood in the water as he was pulled to safety by the captain who "wouldn't sacrifice anything". Red waves lapped over him as a huge force churned and thrust up violent waters around him as Luffy struggled not to taste the coppery water that was forcing it's way into his mouth.
Luffy sat up with a shout, hands gripping the sheets surrounding him. He was soaking wet, covered with a now-chilling sweat as his chest heaved and his eyes darted around the room. He felt the mattress next to him, panicking when he found it empty. Not even trying to calm down, he didn't notice leftover tears streaming down his cheeks.
This was Zoro's room, he was sure of it. He had slept in here on purpose, so he would have someone right there in case this happened. So why was he alone! He couldn't be alone tonight. Not tonight. Any other night he could handle, but not this one.
Luffy ran a hand across his face and forced himself to think. Okay, obviously Zoro had decided to let Luffy have his bed, because Luffy fell asleep there before Zoro snuck back in …So if that was the case, then there one only one other bed open that night that Zoro would sleep in.
Without another thought, Luffy climbed out of bed to stand on his shaky legs and stumble toward the door. He gained a faint semblance of balance by leaning against the doorframe as he opened it before making his unsteady way down the hall toward his own assigned room.
Maybe he should have said something; told Zoro. There were very few events in Luffy's life that had been traumatic enough for the boy to associate a date with, but this was one anniversary that Luffy would NEVER be able to forget.
For some reason, he felt like Zoro was the only one who would understand. Luffy idly wondered why that was on several previous occasions, but he hadn't figured it out yet. The only things Luffy was sure about were that Zoro was the only one who could hold him in that way and tell him it was okay, and that even if that was babyish, it's what he wanted right now.
It was vaguely possible that Zoro had managed to get back outside to rejoin the festivities with almost everyone else left on Skypiea… but the big showdown had only been yester-eve and if Luffy was still sore and exhausted, he knew his swordsman had to be. Besides, escaping was harder said than done. Especially since they'd both snuck out once today already and everyone knew they would try to be repeat offenders. Plus it had been Nami -of all people- who'd brought Luffy back (she was the least injured and therefore the only one free to come and go from the "ward", as Sanji called it), and it would be hard for Zoro to avoid being noticed by her down there.
Each member of his crew (whether they wanted one or not) had been given their own VIP recovery rooms inside of a short, but deep cave after their defeat of Ener. Aisa had discovered the cave on one of her many ventures to the Upper Yard, and the Sky-Knight had recognized it as a leftover hidden encampment for his former army. It was hidden deep down a tunnel mid-way up the cliff-side, and they'd had to make a small Milky Road to the entrance and set up a guard in front. About sixty rooms had been dug into the sides of tunnel systems, and the Mugiwara crew had their own private branch-tunnel.
The whole setup was much more effective than a series of medical tents would have been. It really provided an assurance that no loud partiers would come accidentally stumbling through the make-shift ICU and disturb the doctors and patients. It also made sure that no severely injured patients could escape to go drinking and celebrating (or training, or eating too much).
Luffy hoped his assumption was right and that his swordsman would be where he thought he was. This dream was still vivid in his mind, the images flashing in front of him through the darkness. Miraculously Luffy met no one in the tunnel and was able to stumble his shaky way down the hall, using the wall for support.
Upon reaching his door, Luffy opened it with a creek and stepped in, closing it behind him. His shoulders heaved as the taste of blood washed through his mouth again. Almost inaudible sobs fought their way to the surface as Luffy struggled to keep them away. He felt his way across the room to the bed and felt across the blankets.
When Luffy's questing hands came into contact with an arm and felt the bandana wrapped around it, relief washed over him and he tore the blanket off the bed without another thought, launching himself at his first mate to wrap his arms tightly around Zoro's middle.
For his part, Zoro was yanked abruptly out of a sound sleep when his warm blankets disappeared to be replaced by something heavy landing on top of him and then snaking around his middle like some kind of killer vine, and it took him a moment to realize it was actually a person. A long string of explicitives raced through his mind as he tried to actually complete a threat. "Shit! What the- son of a! Who the hell do you think you- I'm gonna kill- You're about to die more times than you ev-"
The swordsman froze for half-a-second and he recognized the shape and size of the shaking form that was huggled against him. Oh, no. I didn't just scream all that at… "Luffy?"
When there was no answer, Zoro lowered his arms around the boy, holding him tightly and running his fingers over the boy's hair. "Luffy, what's the matter? Did something happen? Are you okay?"
Luffy began to sniffle, but didn't answer him. This was the point where Zoro began to panic a little. Something was very wrong and Luffy wasn't talking. He pushed himself up a bit, forcing his body to work as his mind raced through a billion scenarios of problems.
His hands felt down all along Luffy's bandaged torso, searching for a bare spot where the wrappings had left his wounds exposed, or for a wet spot where one had reopened. Where the fuck were those useless doctors? They were supposed to be watching after him!
As Zoro continued to run his fingers along his captain's body, Luffy began to cry openly. Zoro felt the boy's tears soak through his own blue tank-top as sobs heaved through the latter's tiny body.
Zoro stopped moving across him and just held him close. "Luffy? Luffy, you need to tell me what happened, okay?" Seriously now, if this kid had been re-injured somehow because of neglect, SOMEONE was going to die. Unless… could it be that…
"Luffy? Is it- are Chopper and Usopp okay? Did something happen to one them?"
Luffy choked and shook his head against Zoro's middle.
"Is it Sanji? Robin?"
"What is it, then? Nami? Did something happen to Nami- is she hurt more than they thought?" Even though he'd only seen her an hour ago.
"They're okay." Luffy finally sobbed, and Zoro wished he could feel more relieved. Unfortunately…
"Then what's the matter? Did you get hurt again? TALK to me, Luffy!"
Luffy raised his head and shouted at him, "You scared me!"
Zoro… didn't even know how to respond to that. Almost painful relief mixed with disbelief and overtook him suddenly enough to make him shake, "I scared you? I SCARED you? You just damn near killed me, and I scared YOU?"
He felt Luffy cringe in fear before a tearful quiet response drifted up to him, "…zoro scared luffy first."
Luffy felt the tears well up in his eyes again and didn't care if they fell anymore. Zoro had always understood him before. He was the only one who could make it okay. And even though Zoro was mad at him now… all Luffy could think about was how he wished Zoro would just hold him again. "gomen nasai," he whispered.
Zoro felt the boy's grip tighten around him, and knew that Luffy trying to make himself as small as possible. As his captain's tears continued to soak into his shirt, Zoro began to understand things a little better.
If Luffy had come to him in fear in the middle of the night, something must have woken him. Now, as he rested his arms around the shivering boy, Zoro noted that Luffy's temperature was a little high. Even for someone who'd been crying, he was warm. He'd probably had a nightmare, or the fever had made him uncomfortable enough to wake up dizzy and scared.
That was smooth, asshole. Zoro internally scolded himself. Luffy was sick, and so his first mate had decided to yell at him. …but even if Luffy hadn't been sick, he had still been crying, which should have been enough of a hint! Well, Zoro sure had done one hell of a job improving things…
He wrapped his arms around Luffy and held the boy tightly to himself and began unconsciously whispering a stream of reassurances. While he did that he was mentally counting - in order to give them both a chance to calm down. Once he'd reached ten, Luffy was quietly hiccupping through his tears. He hadn't removed his arms from around Zoro's middle.
Zoro kept his eyes closed (it was too dark to see anyway) and started slowly, "Luffy, are you hurt?"
Luffy shook his head, "mm-mm."
"And everyone else is okay?"
"Okay. That's good. Now what's the matter?"
"...zoro was gone."
"Gone from where?"
"he wasn't in his bed, and i woke up and he wasn't there."
Zoro could almost smile at this innocence. "That's because there was a Luffy in my bed. Nami brought me back from the party a while ago, but you had fallen asleep in there so I came to your room."
Luffy sniffled, "I know, but…"
Zoro ran his fingers through the littlest pirate's hair again. "Were you waiting for me?"
Here Luffy hesitated. And then, "..bad dreams.."
Zoro didn't catch it all. "What?"
"I have bad dreams… now… and I didn't wanna be by myself…"
That's what Zoro had figured. "Bad dreams now… since you got hurt?"
"I see." Zoro decided to make an attempt to learn more. "Did you know? …You have a fever because you got hurt. Sometimes fevers give people nightmares. They're called fever-dreams, and they can be really bad."
Luffy turned his face into Zoro's shoulder for a moment, "It's not just that…"
Zoro rubbed his hand over Luffy's back. "Do you want to talk about it?"
The young captain was quiet for a while this time. When he started explaining, he tried to sound casual, as if it was no huge thing, and didn't have that big an effect on him… He failed miserably. "Just… when I was seven, something bad happened. In the ocean. Shanks was with me, and there was a sea monster… and there was blood…"
When Luffy's voice tapered off, Zoro didn't place any pressure on him to continue. He just assured the quick connection, "That's what you dreamed about?" and then gave a quiet, "okay" after Luffy's silent nod.
Zoro's captain wasn't a person who liked to talk about himself, always finding his nakama to be a much more interesting topic. He'd always skimped on details about his past and talked about his future instead. If Luffy didn't want to say anything more yet, that was fine. If he decided that he wanted to someday… then he would when he was ready.
Zoro's right hand kept making circles on Luffy's back while the other massaged the back of his neck. "How come you didn't go into someone else's room and stay with them? You wouldn't have had to wait for them."
Luffy bit his lip in the darkness for a moment, but he didn't really know how to say something without just saying it. "They aren't you."
Ahhh, okay. Luffy was feeling picky tonight. Well, that was fine. Sometimes he did that. Zoro was used to it. Luffy's pickiness often regarded him, after all. The captain occasionally joined him on watch for no specific reason of other than: "just felt like it". He even curled up beside him during his naps now and then "just to be close" or even "because Zoro is snuggly".
Zoro sat up a little bit, reaching way around for the blanket that was barely on the bed anymore. It was cold, and he didn't need Luffy's injury-fever turning into something more. "If you're gonna stay here, scoot up higher," he said.
He knew that his concern had made him sound much harsher than he'd meant to when Luffy didn't move. Mindful of Luffy's wounds, Zoro wrapped his hands around the boy's arms and pulled him up under his chin. Then he held him there with one arm while he wrapped the blanket around them both with the other.
"There you go. Better?"
Luffy had been afraid that Zoro would throw him out. He didn't want to be kept only to shut him up while Zoro was annoyed with him. But when Zoro held him warmly and wrapped him up close to himself, Luffy felt his tension ease away. "Yeah. Better."
Zoro smiled as Luffy melted into him, knowing it wouldn't be seen. "Good. Now sleep. We'll have a doctor take a look at you in the morning." --But there was no way in hell he was leaving Luffy alone with those neglectful bastards again.
He probably wouldn't HAVE a fever if they'd been taking care of him in the first place! He saves their lives and they ditch him. Of all the CARELESS, incompetent…
"Itei!" Luffy tensed again, and Zoro forced himself to relax. He'd accidentally squeezed the little captain without realizing it.
"What are you thinking, Zoro?" Luffy whispered.
Zoro closed his eyes, "Nothing for you to worry about."
Luffy was quiet, and then, "But I wanna know."
Zoro snorted. His captain was usually so good about letting things go. "I was thinking about how useless the doctors on this island are. You would think heaven would have better medicine."
"If I have to see a doctor again tomorrow, does that mean that you're gonna go back to your room?"
Zoro sighed, "I'll need to make sure the others know where I am at some point, since I'm not in my room anymore. We can't have you sleeping with nightmares by yourself, na? I'm hoping Chopper will feel up to looking at you tomorrow." He frowned, "If he is, that means he'll probably want to do my bandages again."
Luffy raised his head and said quietly, "Luffy stays with Zoro, okay?"
It sounded too hopeful to be an order, and Zoro rubbed the boy's back through the blanket, "Yeah." He planted a kiss on Luffy's forehead before tucking back under his chin, "You're gonna stay with me until you're better, I think."
Luffy smiled and relaxed against his swordsman, where sleep finally began to reclaim him. "…good."
Zoro stayed awake and just held him until he was sure the captain was totally out. Once he was sure that Luffy wasn't having any nightmares he allowed himself to follow suit. If anything at all changed regarding his captain's condition, he'd know about it instantly.
He suspected that his captain's condition would be short-term, anyway. Now that he was under Zoro's watch, Luffy was going to get the attention he needed in order to heal in two days or whatever, like he normally did.
So, if he could figure out how to sneak a jug or two of osake from that party tomorrow without getting busted, he'd be set.
AN: A little OOC, I know. But it was fun. That's the great thing about oneshots. They're like writing little experiments with the characters. So you get a little leeway to play around in.