Not Pirates, Treasure Hunters

Part 4 of 4 in a saga

A One Piece Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah

Chapter 35 – Epilogue - Back Together Again

In a small, stucco house on the coastal town of Guraba, the woman formerly known as Miss Golden Week spun a pencil between her fingers and stared out the open window. She had a blank sketchbook in her lap. The breeze played with some stray brunette hairs that had come free of her braid. Her husband, a former conscripted pirate – now Marine captain handed her a cup of tea. "I know he's with Madame, but still…" she said as if answering a question he hadn't actually vocalized.

"Alice," he said, sitting down on the widow seat next to her. "I'm just as worried as you are."

Alice turned and faced him, her usually stoic look cracked and she bawled into his chest. "Oh, Coby I miss Diego so much!!"

Both of them jumped several feet in the air as the front door to their left slammed open. Diego stood in the doorframe panting. "Mom, Dad, you must come check this out!" he cried gleefully, pushing his glasses back into place.

.x.

In the Escargot d'Or restaurant on Largo Atoll business was bustling. All tables were full at six o'clock, reservations were booked and the wait-list was at least two hours long. In the kitchen knives flew as the staff prepared the dishes ordered. "If I see one burnt scallop I'll burn your ass!" Sanji growled at a nearby sous-chef as he flipped a sauté pan full of calamari and butter and garlic and artfully plated it and with his free hand tossed a perfect amount of parsley for garnish and color. He pirouetted around the staff and ducked out of the kitchen, leaving his gruff chef-de-cuisine personality behind him. His eyes were full of stars as he glided into the dining room. The tables he passed whispered as the celebrity chef went by. He came to a stop at the furthest table from the door around which were seated the King and Queen of Arabasta Kohza and Vivi, their daughter the Princess Luffy-Kleo and Sanji's wife, the renowned singer Harmony Sairen. "Calamar" Sanji said with a low bow and rested the large platter full of squid before them.

"Chanson!" Harmony cried, dropping her fork.

"Ah, I know," Sanji wailed. "I only wish my precious Chan-chan could be here…"

"Can't eat just now, pops." Chanson smirked at him as he spun around and fell to pieces over her. "Alright, alright!" she cried, laughing at his display. "Let me go tell the others I'll be a little late, ok?"

Getting a hold of himself, Sanji asked "the others?"

.x.

A student in a white gi and bare feet swept the long wooden deck of his dojo. He was perhaps ten years old and didn't seem very happy to have been assigned to sweeping. His other fellow students put away practice equipment and tidied the yard to his right. He was too busy grumbling to himself to notice his dojo had a visitor until the gentleman cleared his throat.

"Excuse me," a deep, almost god-like voice made the student jump. "Is this the Tashiro Dojo?"

"Y-yeah…" he began then noted the markings on his jacket. "Yes sir!" he cried.

Smoker sighed almost imperceptibly and smoke fumed out of his mouth. "Can you tell me where your sensei is?" he asked, trying to sound patient but failing. He hated waiting and this particular wait was killing him.

"Sure! I mean, yes sir!" the boy cried, dropped his broom and ran off into the dojo. Smoker was obliged to wait. His cigars were almost down to their last and he debated lighting another set. He sat down on the deck and looked out at the yard. The other young students had stopped to stare at the Vice Admiral of the Marine but when he shot them a look they scrambled to resume their task.

The sound of footsteps scrambling toward him and something , perhaps a clutch of wooden swords clattering to the ground, told him she was coming. Slowly, he rose and turned to greet her.

Tashigi did not look at all as he remembered her. Her hair was long, tied back at her shoulders. She wore a yukata with a sky-blue and white morning glory pattern, hastily thrown on without and underdress and trailing behind her, clutched closed with her hands. Her feet were bare. "Smoker Junshou!" she cried as their eyes met.

Taking her in he casually corrected her. "Vice Admiral these days… did I interrupt something?"

She boggled at him and it took a moment for her to process that she had been asked a question. "What? Oh, my… Oh!" she shouted and clutched the yukata closer. "I was just getting ready… big festival in town… summer, thing. With the… and the students are getting ready… for the… hehhhh!" Tashigi's face turned bright red as she panicked and struggled to explain herself. "But… you're here! And… I'm not in trouble, am I?"

"Calm yourself Tashigi." Smoker drawled. "Get dressed and we'll talk."

When she emerged her students, some fifty young people of various ages had gathered and were giving the Vice Admiral the evil eye, trying to figure out what such a high-ranking Marine was here for. She sent them ahead to the festival without her and sat down on the deck next to her former superior. "I'm not in trouble," she repeated much more calmly. "Am I?" She stared at the ground in front of her.

"Of course not."

"Just making a social call, then?" she asked nervously.

"Taka sent me."

Tashigi gripped the edge of the deck and turned to face him. "Is she alright?"

"Fine. She'll be home soon. Just taking a trip with her father."

She blinked at him in shock. "They're together?"

Smoker nodded and lit a pair of cigars. Tashigi breathed a sigh of relief. "I haven't seen him in years. Is he well?"

"I guess. He's bald."

She couldn't help but laugh. "That's nice for him. He deserves at least that much."

"You miss him?"

She looked up at the sky. "Sometimes. I miss Taka much more. I can't wait till she comes home. But I'm glad she didn't get herself killed trying to fight him," Tashigi laughed again. "What a relief!" The perpetually falling leaves of Palast floated from the trees around the dojo gently to the ground. "Would you like to join us at the festival?" she asked, getting up and smoothing her hands over her yukata. "I know it must seem rude not to stay here and entertain you, but the dojo is marching in the parade."

Smoker shrugged and got up. Tashigi smiled as the light breeze brought his smoke toward her. "Sometimes when I'm in town and someone's got a cigar I turn around looking for you," she said.

He breathed a sigh. "I'm married," he said.

Her eyes dipped down to the ring on his finger and the placid expression remained on her face. "I saw." She started walking down the lane toward town on wooden shoes, clutching a small bag and looking very much unlike the child he watched disappear into the night, chasing her own destiny almost twenty years before. "I'm just glad you didn't forget me, Smoker-san."

The corner of his mouth turned up around the cigars and he followed her to festival.

.x.

"I changed my mind. I can't do this."

Taka scowled down at Edward D. Vane and folded her arms. "Look. It's not that hard. If I could confront my father after not seeing him for over a dozen years you can certainly go say 'hi' to yours after four. Zoro pretended to be asleep but listened in from his spot a few feet away with his head propped against the mast.

"This is hardly the same..."

Jones munched on an apple and Iisopp cleaned his guns on the deck to his left. "I dunno what you're so afraid of," he said as he ran a rod with a cloth on the end of it down the inside of the barrel. "I remember Ace and Vivace being pretty cool."

"I ran away," Vane explained using his arms for emphasis. "They won't want to see me."

Jones tossed his apple core over the side and clapped his cousin on the arm. "Did you learn anything from this adventure? They're your parents. They want to see you. They may yell at you, but look at you!" he cried stepping back. "You're a totally impressive pirate! They'll be mad proud of you!"

"He's right, brotha." Iisopp agreed. He nodded toward the stern. "So that's Fortuna?" On the horizon the small island was taking shape. It was getting dark and already street lights twinkled along the shoreline.

"Yep," Vane said. "Sure is." He took a deep breath. "Alright. Wish me luck."

.x.

Chopper pushed the door to his apartments open, hung his white coat on a hook in the entryway and called 'tadaima' as he entered. Olga's voice called from the kitchen that she was just putting the tea on but could he come in quickly? A bit alarmed at this strange request, Chopper changed into his large, human form and hurried in. "What is it, Olga? Are you ok?!"

She held her hand over her mouth to surpress laughter and pointed at the young man sitting at the table.

"Sakura!!" Chopper cried and the two men hugged tightly. "So! Did you go to Arabasta? Did you see Sea Kings and pirates? Did you get in any trouble?!"

The young doctor clapped his hands on his adopted father's shoulders and looked him in the eye very seriously. Chopper thought his heart was going to leap out of his chest any moment with worry about what Sakura would tell him. "Dad," he said gravely.

"Y-yes, Son?"

"I finally met Chanson."

Olga sipped her tea and rolled her eyes as Chopper shouted at Sakura for scaring him and Sakura laughed as he defended himself.

.x.

The sun was setting and pouring golden light through the third-story windows in the mansion Usopp shared with his wife. He entered the drawing room wearing a shirt and coveralls covered with paint. He put a box full of paints and brushes down against the wall next to other art supplies that were kept neatly in a bookshelf there and propped an easel up next to that. One of their servants entered shortly after him. "Did you have a successful day, Usopp-san?" Merry asked, placing a well-timed tray of tea and snacks on a table.

"Oh, it was ok," he said with a heavy sigh. "The light was great. The clouds were perfect." He held a thumb up as if judging the distance before painting. "But my heart is just not in it." He flopped down into an abused wingback chair which was also covered in paint-stains for just such an occasion.

Both men looked to the door as Ferris opened it for Kaya. She thanked him and went to her husband who craned his neck to accept her kiss. "Did you have a good day?" she asked him and he repeated the speech he gave Merry, only with more melancholy. Merry's husband and fellow manservant Ferris fussed with the tea while Merry went to the spyglass they had trained on the harbor. He bent to peer into the eyepiece and gasped. "Ferris!" he shouted.

"What is it, Merry?!" Ferris called back, alarmed.

"No! Thee Ferris!" he shouted again, pointing to the window. "The boys have returned!"

.x.

The sun smiled down on the Fuchsia Mikan Orchard one late-summer afternoon. Its proprietors were hard at work managing their little farm. Luffy clipped dead limbs with an expert hand and moved quickly and rhythmically from tree to tree. He wore shorts, sandals and a red tee-shirt with the sleeves cut off that bore the letters FMO in large athletic-style font on the front. A black eye-patch covered his right eye and a ragged three-day growth of beard covered his chin. As he worked he sang a little song.

Tetsu no kabe, namida no ame

Manatsu no sutoreito

Buttobase! Waraitobase!

Manatsu no sutoreito

Wahaha! Warikoso wa

Wahaha! Kono karada no...

Wahaha! Souridaijin

Yuku mo tomaru mo

Natsu ga owate mo, manatsu wa sono mama!

Iron walls and tears of rain

The midsummer fastball

Kick it away, just laugh it away

The midsummer fastball

Wahaha i'm just a…

Wahaha and my body, too…

Wahaha the prime minister

Should I stay or should I go?

Even if the summer's gone, the midsummer is here to stay!

- Koumoto Hiroto, 2006

His wife's voice from somewhere nearby interrupted his singing. "Ah! Is it lunchtime already?!" he called back and dropped down gracefully from the tree's branches.

"No, dipstick, it's only ten."

He grinned and gave a giggling laugh. "Yeah, I know. Doesn't hurt to ask, though!"

Usually Nami would lovingly throw something at his head or make some sort of snide comment then give him kiss, but she stood where she was, holding a basket of clippings. She wore work gloves on her hands and a worn, camouflage skirt with a patch on the bottom left side. Like Luffy, she also wore an FMO shirt; hers was a tank-top in pale blue with dark orange silk-screened letters that were a little rough around the edges.

Luffy stood in front of her and blinked a few times before taking the basket from her and putting it on the ground. She seemed to be roused from a daydream by this action and was surprised when he put his arms around her and hugged her tightly. "I miss them, too," he said simply and she returned the hug.

"This sucks," she said sadly. "I mean, it wasn't the same when we went out. We didn't have our parents left at home to worry about us!"

"I don't think my parents would have worried," Luffy mumbled with his chin resting in her shoulder.

"You're worried."

"I'm not my parents."

Nami rolled her eyes, giving up on an argument she knew she couldn't win with silly answers like his. She let out a loud sigh. "This sucks! It's like I can hear Jojo calling me!"

"Ah, that's because you can," Luffy said, pointing past her, with his head still planted between her neck and shoulder.

"What?!" She cried and nearly flipped him over her as she turned to see. Sure enough, Jones was barreling up the dirt road toward the house calling out 'oi!' to his parents as he ran.

Luffy stepped in front of Nami and caught his son like a pro catching a fastball as he ran up to them. "Dad! Mom! Come quick!" he shouted breathlessly with a huge grin on his face.

"Blue D. Jones where is your sister?!" Nami shouted back.

"Party's," he said between gasping breaths. "With the treasure!"

"Treasure?!" Nami's eyes turned to Berrie signs and she clasped her hands together, forgetting her anger and worry instantly.

"What is it what is it?!" Luffy asked dancing from one foot to the other.

"Secret. Too big to carry back here. Come on!"

"Too… big…" Nami nearly fainted. "There's my good boy!"

Jones grabbed their hands and started to drag them down the road toward town.

.x.

As they approached Party's Bar, Jones turned and backpedaled so he could face his parents. "Ok," he said very seriously. "I want you to close your eyes and wait till I say so before you open them. Dad, that means you, too."

"Drat," Luffy spat.

"Oh, the anticipation is killing me!" Nami cried. They both did as they were told, twitching with excitement as Jones lead them up the front steps and opened the door.

"Ok," he said, his voice wavering with excitement. "Now!"

Nami and Luffy opened their eyes and a crowd of people who had been hiding, totally silent inside the bar all cried 'surprise!'. The pair stood stock still for a moment, taking in the scene before them. Usopp, Kaya, Iisopp, Chisa, Chopper, Sakura, Ace, Vivace, Vane, Zoro, Taka, Diego, Vivi, Kleo, Sanji, Harmony and Chanson all smiled back at them. Nami was the first to scream. She put her hand over her mouth and burst into tears. "Everyone!!!" she shouted and ran toward them. Vivi and Chopper were the first to tackle her.

Luffy remained standing very still, staring at the faces. "Everyone…" he whispered. He looked to his son who was shocked to see tears in his eyes. "Jojo. This is the greatest treasure, ever."

"I know, dad. I know."

Jones watched his father morph into the over-excited lunatic he knew him to be and try to hug everyone in the bar at the same time with his Akuma no Mi ability.

"Oh, dad, check this out!" he called, wiping a tear from his eye and running right through the group with is own ability. Nami screamed at him that that wasn't something to be excited about and Luffy praised him yet again.

The party didn't show any signs of letting up even five hours later after darkness had fallen. Finally, they had all caught each other up on what they were doing with their lives and Luffy started begging the children to tell him the story of their adventure.

'It's time to put the last piece in place,' Jones thought. 'Then they'll all be happy. Then dad will have nothing to regret anymore.' He jumped up and jogged over to Zoro. "I think we can't put this off any longer, Roronoa-san," he advised. Zoro nodded and slipped into the back room. When he returned the room quieted and all eyes fell on him and a woman standing behind him with her head bowed and a large hat hiding her face. She wore a light-weight, white cotton dress and reached her hand out toward Diego who leapt up and grasped it for support.

"Luffy, Nami. We have another surprise for you. She didn't want to come but we made her," Zoro said with a nod toward Sanji and Harmony who must have been helpful toward that end. "She has this fool idea that you'll be mad at her…"

Zoro stepped aside and whispered to her something like 'it's ok, gimme the hat,' and pulled it away from her. Nami gasped. "Robin…" she said breathlessly.

"Robin?" Luffy repeated, standing up and staring intently at her.

Nico Robin, with her ghostly white hair blushed crimson and tried not to meet their eyes. "I'm so sorry," she said. "I…"

"Idiot!" Luffy cried, scaring the crowd. His face had that serious look that was hard to read even for his closest of friends. "Don't be sorry for being alive!"

"Robin!!" Nami shouted and ran to her, her tears flowing afresh. "Oh, we always hoped you had found a way to escape!"

"You-you're not angry with me?" Robin asked, startled.

Luffy laughed. "I thought you were smart, Robin! That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard!" He too had tears running down his face.

Nami felt Chisa tug her tank-top and pulled her into the embrace too. "This is the greatest treasure in the world, having everyone back together like this!"

Chisa smiled at her brother and gave him a thumbs up which he returned as he received copious noogies from his father. Then he released Jones and practically hugged the life out of Robin. "Ok! Can we hear the story now?!" he shouted.

Robin wiped her tears. "I think we should tell it in stages and everyone should take a turn."

"Ooh! Me first!" Jones crowed and when everyone was seated and had a fresh drink in hand the storytelling began. "It all started when Iisopp turned 17 finally and we headed out on the Ferris for Roguetown with a bunch a copies of the True History of the Mugiwara Kaizokudan…"

END

---

Author's Notes:

Man, I hate ending things. Hello, everyone! Thanks for reading! Here's some notes about what I was thinking when I was writing this monster...

The first thing I realized too late when I got into writing this saga was that I skewed the timeline funny. During "We Need A Musician!!" (WNAM), which was written before Water 7 was released in the manga, I shifted the time between Skypeia and Water 7 to about 4 years longer in order to age Harmony so she wouldn't be total Jail Bait in "The Pirate King Is Dead" (PKID) which was really really dumb and I should go back and skew instead the Sanji gaiden "Night and Day" to take place years later… Or something.

BUT that also made Sakura's age much older which I'd need to fix, too. If he was born AFTER the Strawhats liberated Drum Island he'd only be like 1 or 2 tops when PKID took place which doesn't work well for dialog on his part. I could either shift Chopper's story later which doesn't really work for the flow of PKID of I could have it that Sakura was renamed from his original name at age 4 or 5 or something… which would be weird, but might work better. Feh. What's a few plotholes, right:/

I also started writing the first part of the story LONG before Oda-sensei revealed anything about Luffy's family, about Shanks and Newgate and Roger etc. so the past in my saga is waaaay off. Which is fine. If it had been close that would have been scary, right?

The first idea I had for this fic was a total MS about Shanks that I never (thank god) wrote. BUT I took the kernel of the idea – a song by Richard Thompson – and kept rolling it between my fingers for a while and breaking little pieces off into the story that would become this last part of the saga – Treasure Hunters (TH). The song is called "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" The motorcycle in the song became the whiskey still that Jones stole from McRae at the beginning of TH. While I was forming that idea, I was also writing WNAM and Harmony's music box became 'Vincento' after the "Vincent Machine" in the song. Her father became Richard in homage to Mr. Thompson.

An excerpt from the song which can be found on Mr. Thompson's website:

"Come down, come down, Red Molly" called Sergeant McRae
"For they've taken young James Adie for armed robbery."…

So you can see that the names are all over the place. James Aide, Angus McRae, Red Molly, Vaughn Williams and Al Bolly were all named for people in Richard Thompson songs.

I'm constantly surprised that Taka is so popular! I guess I did spend a long time developing her, she was one of the first of the children characters I worked on (Diego was last) so I guess I put a lot into her that had appeal –and the fact that her dad is also quite popular doesn't hurt I suppose.

My personal favorite of the characters I made is Chanson which might surprise some. I guess she's nothing like me, being a pop idol and all, but she smokes and has a bad attitude so there's that part of me, I guess, hehehe.

The character I wish I spent more time on is Iisopp. He has a lot of potential but he got sort of washed underneath when all the others started joining. Maybe if he hadn't been the 'buddy' of the main character he'd have shined brighter. I tried hard to pump him up toward the end and showcase his incredible hidden firepower. Like his grandfather, Iisopp uses real guns and I advanced them to early 20th century standards because I figured their firearm tech would advance a little from 17th century-style blunder and harquebus you see in One Piece in the 20 years between PKID and TH.

Originally, there was no Chisa and Kleo instead was going to sail with them. Then I decided that I wanted one child each for each of the (then 7) Strawhats and having Kleo too would have been a lot of characters. Vane sort of didn't count because he didn't go on the adventure with them. Vane is named for a real pirate of the same name, BTW.

Originally, I did plan to kill off Nico Robin. But then I fell in love with her and just couldn't bear it. Also, with the things I had planned for TH, I thought it would be useful to have her around to give a little much-needed exposition about the weird subject of the Vincent Machines. The idea to have Diego and Robin paired with Smoker came MUCH later in the development of the story.

Yes, the 'shikon' at the end there comes from Inuyasha, but more importantly, it's a Shinto belief that the soul is made of four parts. Fairly early on when I was deciding how many of the Vincent Machines there would be I thought that if his soul were inside them, the Shikon would be a great way to explain why or how it was so. Then I realized I needed four boxes and I barely had three that made sense! Bolly's was the last one I came up with and only after thinking about the island he would live on and how maybe the box could do something essential for him did the idea for a water purifier come to mind.

In case you missed something, the stories in this saga are:

1) A Pirate is A Pirate

2) A Pirate's Life For Me! We Need A Musician!!

3) The Pirate King Is Dead – Long Live The Pirate King

- Night and Day – the Sanji gaiden

- Like A Rolling Stone – the Robin gaiden

4) Not Pirates – Treasure Hunters

That's almost 120,000 words. If you read all that, well done and THANK YOU ALL. I enjoy writing very much but your enjoyment of what I have written makes that feeling even better!

For more tidbits, fanart and character profiles please see my website at aksarah dot com slash onepiece.