Title: All The
Things We Love
Universe: One Piece
Theme/Topic: The Strawhats decorating a Christmas tree.
Character/Pairing/s: Luffy, Chopper, Nami, Robin, Zoro, Usopp, Nami
Warnings/Spoilers: None I can imagine.
Word Count: 2,356
Summary: Chopper describes a tradition he'd witnessed during his birthdays growing up on a winter island. The crew reacts.
Dedication: for sugurbunsah's OPX5 request! Enough Schmoop to clog your arteries, I would imagine, but hopefully in an enjoyable way.
A/N: So this ended up being more of a Chopper b-day fic than I'd intended it to be, but I hope that doesn't make it lose any of it's identity as an exchange piece. And yes, I was in a super schmoopy happy mood when I wrote this, because I'd just come home from the first full family dinner I'd had in a while and my brothers once again reminded me that no matter how stupid they can be, as long as we're family we can laugh at it. XD
Disclaimer: Not mine, though I wish constantly.
Distribution: Just lemme know.
It was upon their passing through a small chain of winter islands that Chopper suddenly became very excited (to the point of bouncing), and when Robin inquired as to what, exactly, was cause for such euphoria, the little reindeer had smiled bright and thrown his arms up over his head cheerfully before declaring, "The trees!"
"Oh?" Robin murmured, and followed his gaze to the little village nestled in the distance, snow-covered rooftops and cozy looking homes with black-grey smoke curling from the chimneys. When she paid special attention she could see blinking lights too, wound around tall evergreens decorated in brightly colored decorations they were too far away from to properly make out.
"What is it?" Nami asked, walking over and craning her neck to see what the other two were so obviously enraptured by. "That's pretty!"
"Isn't it?" Chopper sighed, and touched his cheeks happily.
"Do you know what it means?" Robin asked, and smiled beatifically at him.
He blushed and his tail flipped side to side, almost imperceptibly. "Well," he began, shyly, but with considerable excitement, "Where I'm from, whenever it got to this time of year, all the people in the village would decorate their trees like that and have biiiig parties with lots of food! And sing songs!"
Chopper thus explained to the two women, some of the traditions associated with the winter solstice as he'd observed them on his home island, back when he was much younger. Mostly he remembered how everyone decorated pine trees with unbelievably beautiful round, shiny ornaments and bows and ribbons and candles— whatever pretty things they'd loved really— because it was some sort of signifier that the end of the year was coming. It just so happened to coincide with his birthday, and he recalled how he would sneak out to look at the festive lights every year around that time, marveling at the beauty humans were capable of from a distance while the people down below had celebrated together, oblivious to their audience. From far away, Chopper remembered how all of them had looked kind and warm and familial—very happy and completely unlike the frightening beings who often chased him away with fire and rocks and angry words. Then the little reindeer laughed sheepishly and explained that even though he knew all those nice things hadn't been for him exactly, he'd liked to pretend that they were, because it had always been near his birthday and the doctor had told him that on his birthday, everything in the world was for him, whether anyone else knew it or not.
"The trees were my favorite!" he sighed, and looked off in the distance happily as they passed the snowy islands by, one by one.
That conversation was what prompted Nami and Robin to plan a sort of surprise for the little reindeer on the morning of his birthday, and after gathering the rest of the crew under the protective canopy of the navigator's orange trees, they hatched a plan.
On their next stop they'd take a winter vacation so to speak, and prepare some of those nice things for Chopper that he remembered so fondly—because pretending that they'd been for him was second only to actually having them really be for him and no one else.
Zoro was to get the tree while Sanji was instructed to prepare the dinner (and of course, the cake). Usopp and Nami were in charge of decorations, while Luffy would be the menial labor department and thus be too preoccupied to give away the secret (hopefully). In the meantime Robin was to distract the young doctor away from their activities until everything was prepared and ready to receive him.
It was as simple and straightforward a plan as could be, and Nami was certain that despite a lot of the crew being stupid, they'd be able to pull off the surprise without a hitch, considering the fact that she and Robin were in charge of everything.
Thus the Strawhats went to work.
And true to the Strawhats' nature, despite the seeming simplicity and straightforwardness of the plan as hatched by Nami and Robin, they did manage to get some things wrong anyway.
Zoro came back from his mission dragging a twelve-foot long palm tree, complete with coconuts and a couple of bewildered and angry (but suitably subdued) monkeys resting in the fronds. When Nami shouted at him about one, "BRINGING BACK THE WRONG KIND OF TREE" and two, "WHY DID YOU BRING THE MONKEYS WITH YOU?" the swordsman merely responded (in a rather surly manner at that), that they had flung poo at him. He was not happy.
Somewhere in the depths of his own mind, that explanation made perfect sense in justifying why he'd subdued them and brought them along.
Nami picked both of the poor primates up and promptly pitched them at the swordsman. He screamed at her to watch where she was throwing those things, they'd pooed and touched it with their hands and while he'd stooped to cutting boogers once, he was not going to use any of his swords to defend himself from flying feces if he could help it. She'd ignored him and demanded what kind of idiot got evergreens mixed up with tropical palms before pointing to the top of a deadly-looking snow-covered mountain on the other side of the island and declaring that everyone could plainly see that the type of tree they would need was at the very top of that deadly-looking snow-covered mountain.
From there, he'd been instructed to return the palm, the coconuts, and the monkeys, and told not to come back until he had a proper pine tree.
When he'd protested and snarled something nasty at Nami about a tree being a goddamned tree, all it took was a well-timed "Even Sanji-san would have gotten it right!" on the navigator's part to send the green-haired swordsman—indignant and grumbling— on a nice long uphill climb.
Sanji in the meantime, might have gotten the whole tree thing right, but the fact that— upon finishing his research on seasonal feasts— he decided that the perfect winter dinner consisted of various forms of roasted venison and mutton accompanied with red wine only proved to Nami that a cook could be as equally dumb as a swordsman and maybe they should have traded both for the two poo-flinging monkeys for all the sense they had between them.
However, Sanji— upon being lectured about how eating things that might be Chopper's close relatives would definitely put a dampener on the birthday cheer— was much more accommodating in fixing his errors than the swordsman had been, and fluttered at how smart and sensitive his Nami-swan was before he'd agreed to honey ham and a big cranberry and walnut salad for the main courses.
In the workshop, Usopp made little figurines of himself-except-much-more-muscular-and-cool-looking while Luffy took bits of cardboard, covered them in glue, and then rolled chunks of his lunch that he'd somehow managed to save onto them.
Nami stared. "Luffy," she began, patiently, "what are you doing?"
"Making pretty things for the tree!" he responded, cheerfully, and showed her a cardboard star with glitter and what looked to be a chicken-leg with a good couple of bites on it, some bread chunks, rice, and a fish head stuck to it. And she supposed that yes, to him, that would be absolutely lovely.
He looked at it too, and after a minute, stuck it in his mouth, chewed, and swallowed
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" she demanded again, except more disgusted-and-distressed this time.
"It smelled good!" he said, and smiled. His teeth had glitter on them.
"We are not decorating the tree in meat," she insisted, and smacked him upside the head for emphasis.
"Okay!" he agreed-heartily, and rolled the next cardboard star in glue and glitter and… cookie bits.
She sighed and decided to leave him be on the whole issue—chances were he'd eat everything he made before it could go up on the tree anyway.
She sat down across from Usopp and began folding little origami animals to hang on the branches. As it was, Luffy only ate a couple of those—the rabbit, the ball, and the crane. He apologized afterwards, and cited that he hadn't been able to help himself because they'd looked so delicious. Nami suspected that the glitter on his teeth might be glued on at this point.
Meanwhile, Robin kept Chopper busy with a legend she'd read in one of her books regarding flying reindeer and a man who could—allegedly—travel around the world in the span of 24 hours. Chopper naturally found the whole concept fascinating, and Robin spent the entire afternoon going through her books with him to find different versions and testimonials regarding the story.
At least someone was having an easy time of it.
But as all things eventually did when it came to the Strawhat crew, everything eventually came together on its own despite going very slightly off-course.
Zoro returned from his hike with the correct form of tree—along with several bites that seemed to have come from a wolf attack—and exhilarated, the swordsman declared that that fight had been much better (and much more dignified) than having to dodge projectile poo.
Sanji made a red-nosed reindeer out of walnuts and cranberries when he topped the salad and some red-wine vinaigrette made it close enough to his original menu plans that he was satisfied the meal would prove itself festive and at the same time, not require the death-and-consumption-of-any-creature-that-may-or-may-not-have-been-related-to-Chopper.
When Luffy eventually gave up on decorating his ornaments with bits of scrap-lunch and then eating them (he ran out of meat scraps), he was suitably distracted by the shiny tinsel for the rest of the afternoon instead, such that Usopp and Nami could make their ornaments without the threat of their captain consuming them. Or any more glitter.
And as evening neared, Robin calmly escorted Chopper to dinner, and he nearly died of surprise when they walked into the galley and everyone shouted "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHOPPER!" at the top of their lungs.
He cursed at them vehemently and assured them he was the least happy reindeer on the face of the planet, though that didn't stop him from covering his mouth with his hooves and giggling when he saw the cranberry-and walnut-reindeer Sanji had made especially for him.
They ate and afterwards Chopper wrapped the wounds Zoro got from the wolves and right before he could declare that all of them were big idiots and he wasn't happy at all no matter what they thought, Sanji brought out the cake and they sang to him and made him blow out the candles and make a wish.
They clapped for him after he did, and he shouted at them and told them it didn't make him glad one bit.
Then Nami smiled at him and told him to come down to the hold with them, because there was more stuff to do down there.
He may have raced ahead of them—not because he was happy or anything—and made it down the stairs first.
The tree that was there was huge and very pine-y and lacked any monkeys at all. There was a small box of ornaments and bows and ribbons and shiny things to the side, and when Chopper's eyes got as big as saucers, Nami declared that they were all going to decorate it together.
And they did—managing to keep Luffy from eating ornaments by having Sanji throw him biscuits every five or so minutes, while Chopper hopped around the great big tree they'd gotten for him and shouted that there was absolutely nothing great and wonderful and amazing and shiny about it at all.
When they were all done hanging the ornaments, Chopper said that there needed to be something very special and important put at the top, as it was tradition.
At which point Luffy reached into his pocket and—miraculously—pulled out a big chunk of ham he'd somehow managed not to eat during dinner. "This is important!" he declared, and moved to sit it at the top of the tree.
Everyone looked at him and he smiled a big, glittery smile back at them.
And the rest of the crew couldn't believe it, but all in all, their captain's suggestion kind of made a strange sort of sense.
So Usopp dashed off to cut out perfect—and very large—cardboard star this time, before handing it over and letting Luffy glue his big piece of ham into one corner.
Next, Nami stuck on a beli and winked at Chopper, saying that he could pay it back to her later. Robin wrote a message that only she could read on it in glue and then sprinkled glitter on top of it, and Zoro just scratched a big "X" in with the tip of Wadou on another corner. Sanji drew a big fish eating that X of Zoro's, which prompted the two to get into a dodge-swipe-at-dodge fight off the side of the room, while Usopp quickly made a small origami likeness of the Merry and perched it atop one of the star's arms.
Chopper squealed and called it "the worst idea ever" and dipped his hoof in pink paint before imprinting it right in the center.
Robin used her arms linked in her arms linked in her arms to pick him up, and he set it right on top.
They all admired it for a while, and afterwards, Sanji made mint tea and peppermint cocoa and they all sat around looking at the stars until they fell asleep.
No one was surprised when, the next morning, Luffy ate the star for breakfast.
"It looked so good!!" he whined by way of apology, and promptly burped. His teeth sparkled.
Chopper laughed at the captain and only said, "Yeah, it did!" and wasn't sad at all that their big special-and-important star had been eaten.
Because he knew that next year, they could always just make another one.
Except next time, maybe without the ham.