Title: A Memory
Author: Seb Daryus & Stostina
Spoilers: End of Enies Lobby (Thousand Sunny!)
Summary: If one person suddenly disappeared from the world, would it make much difference? LuZo
Chapter One: Something's Amiss
"GOOD MORNING !!!"
From the moment Luffy had opened his eyes that morning, he had been a little bundle of joy and energy - even more than usual. And why shouldn't he, after all? It was his second - or third - most favourite day of the year, and he was going to definitely enjoy it to it's fullest !! He had been going on about it for the past few weeks, as soon as he realized how close it was getting to that particular day.
'And we'll have lots of cake! And meat! And sake, because Zoro likes it, right Zoro? And - OH! WHAT ABOUT A MEAT-CAKE!!'
Birthdays always were a spectacular thing on the Thousand Sunny, with the combined efforts of their Cook and Captain, it usually made for an event that was difficult to forget. Sanji would come up with the most delectable delights, Luffy would be overflowing with utter glee, acting almost as if it were his birthday and the rest of the crew would join in on the festivities in Honor of whoever's birthday it happened to be.
But today was different. Today was special. Up until a few months ago they had all known the day of and had celebrated just about everyone's Birthday--save for one person.
'I don't like birthdays.'
Unfortunately, Luffy was hardly one to give up so easily...
Especially when there was promise of cake and meat.
"Luffy, keep it down." Nami called out tiredly from her seat at the kitchen table, staring irritatedly over at the loud-mouthed boy who had burst in through the Galley door.
Luffy instantly deflated, seeing his Swordsman no where in sight. But he quickly recovered and his grin swept back across his face as he ran across the kitchen to stand excitedly next to Sanji, peeking over his shoulder with glee. The cook glanced annoyed over his shoulder and tried to swat the drooling Captain away from his workspace.
"Oi, Luffy, do you mind? I'm trying to cook breakfast! If you get any drool in Nami's food, I swear I'll kill you!" He yelled out, suddenly whirling around to shove the rubber boy away with his foot.
The drooling boy frowned, tilting his head to get a better look around Sanji's foot at the food that was being plated. It seemed like the normal breakfast that they were used to getting everyday since Sanji had joined them, but it obviously wasn't pleasing Luffy very much.
"Where's the sprinkles? And Chocolate? And Meat Cupcakes?" He whined pathetically, his cheek squishing slightly against the bottom of Sanji's foot - which was still trying to push him from the kitchen.
Sanji gave him a strange, almost disgusted look, before giving one last forceful shove, finally sending the other stumbling backwards by a few feet.
"Why the hell would I serve shit like that for breakfast, dumbass!" He huffed in rage, sweeping the plates of food from the counter onto his arms and heading towards the table. Most of everyone was already gathered there, save for Zoro, and they seemed eager to get their meal underway.
Luffy puffed out his cheeks in a pout, following after Sanji, hands on hips.
"Well you could have at least cooked something speciaaaal!" Luffy whined again, eyes glancing towards the delicious looking food that was being set out before everyone. Sanji only rolled his eyes at Luffy and took his seat, not wanting to argue about the breakfast menu any longer.
"Eeww.. Meat cupcakes, Luffy? That sounds disgusting!" Usopp said with a laugh, sticking his tongue out at the thought. Chopper laughed along with his friend, mimicking him in sticking out his tongue before beginning to eat his breakfast.
Luffy crossed his arms over his chest, cheeks puffing out slightly as he watched his Nakama beginning their very-un-birthday-y breakfast without Zoro! Really! How rude!
Robin raised a brow at her Captain, pausing in the middle of a bite as she eyed him cautiously. She couldn't help but feel as though something wasn't quite right with this situation - perhaps the fact that Luffy hadn't sat down to eat his and a bit of everyone else's meal yet.
"Hey, Luffyman! If you're not gonna eat that..." Franky said with a grin as he began to reach across the table, knowing very well the rubbery boy very well wouldn't allow anyone to touch his food.
Luffy's eyes widened as he watched that large hand get nearer and nearer to his plate of un-special -- though delicious looking nonetheless -- breakfast. His nostrils flared suddenly as he leapt at the table, snatching his plate to begin devouring it without a second though as to the location of his First Mate.
'He's probably mad 'cause we know it's his birthday!' He thought with a bit of a grin. It shouldn't be too unusual for Sanji not to cook the Swordsman a special breakfast for his Birthday, right? They liked to pretend they hated each other and all that, after all.
Luffy glanced up from his place at Franky, just to be sure he had given up on trying to steal his food. Franky, fortunately, seemed to have forgotten all about it and was currently talking excitedly about upgrading some things on the ship that didn't particularly sound very interesting to the young Captain. There weren't too many SUPER!'s in the conversation, so he could guess it wouldn't matter either way to him.
"Zooooorooooooooo!" Luffy called out from one of the upper decks across the ship, his hands cupped around his mouth. He had been looking for his Swordsman for nearly two hours now, and he hadn't seen hide nor hair of him anywhere on the ship. He had even checked in Nami's closet! Wherever Zoro was hiding, it sure was a good place... Maybe he was playing hide and seek?
Usopp looked up from his sprawled position on the lawn at Luffy, a mixed look of confusion and amusement over his face.
"You know, Luffy, if you're trying to play Marco, Polo, you're supposed to say MAAAARRRCOOOOOOOOO!! Not POOOOOOLLLOOOOOOOO!" He called out, unable to keep himself from grinning at his Captain.
Luffy pouted down at his Sniper, ignoring his obvious teasing. "Usopp, have you seen Zoro? I can't find him anywhere! I don't think he's playing hide and seek..."
"What's a Zoro?"
Luffy frowned in annoyance at his sharpshooter, leaning heavily on the railing while he looked down at the other boy. "Usopp!!" He yelled out, hoping to get the other to stop messing with him. They should all be dancing and partying and singing by now! Luffy wanted to have a Birthday Party, and no one was helping, damnit!
Usopp stared blankly at Luffy, only raising a brow. "What? No, seriously, Luffy. Just tell me what you're looking for and I'll help!"
Luffy let out a loud, nearly screaming, groan, hands grabbing at his hair in frustration as he spun away from the long-nosed liar on his deck. Usopp was being no fun at all right now! Maybe everyone was just mad that Zoro wouldn't let them know what his birthday was... Well, whatever it was, it was really starting to get to him!
Franky popped his head out from the Galley to inspect what sort of fit his Captain was pulling. Judging by his experience, the poor guy was bored to death. It had been a while since their last adventure, after all..
"What's goin' on?" He asked curiously, edging out from the doorway. He still had some things to finish up in the Kitchen, but he figured it could wait until he found out what Luffy's hissy fit was about.
Luffy stopped, hands still in his hair, looking at Franky. A relieved look spread over his face, suddenly realizing there were far more helpful people on his ship than stinky Usopp.
"Franky!" He wailed out joyfully, bounding over to the older man, grinning from ear to ear. "Wanna help me find Zoro? I think he's hiding somewhere."
Franky lift a hand to rub his chins, tilting his head slightly in thought. Luffy was rocking on the heels of his feet in anticipation - knowing that as soon as they found Zoro, the fun could start.
"Hmmm... sure!" Franky struck a pose, slamming the Galley door shut with his hip, "FRANKY'S SUUPER PET FINDING AGENCY IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS!!" He called out, rocking his hips from side to side as he mostly held his pose.
Luffy let out a laugh at his Nakama, not entirely sure what his Cyborg was going on about, but it seemed pretty funny to him. His crew was so weird!
"Alright !! Let's go, Franky! ZOOROOOOO! WE'RE COMING FOR YOU!" He bellowed out across the ship proudly, getting ready to take off for another sweep of the ship.
Franky quickly reached out to grab onto Luffy's shoulder with a loud laugh, "Woa, woa, woah there! Not so fast! I need to know what he looks like first, Luffy!"
Luffy turned his head to give Franky what possibly could have been the most confused stare he's had in his life. Franky didn't look like he was joking. Maybe he was in on Usopp's joke...?
"Zoro." Was all he answered. Why did he need to explain what Zoro looked like, anyway?
Franky pushed up his sunglasses to rest on his forehead, arching a brow at Luffy. "Alright, at least we know it's name... what does it look like? Cat? Dog? Rabbit? Rat? What are we lookin' for?"
Luffy frowned lightly and scratched the side of his head, not quite sure what to make out of Franky's question. 'Maybe he's playing some new game...' He thought with a visible nod to himself.
"Alright." He began, "Zoro looks more like a... Shark! Let's go!"
"Well, if he's a Shark, then he'll probably be in the fish tank, Luffy! Unless he managed to jump over the side of the ship... if that's the case, then I'm sorry..." Franky turned his head away dramatically, taking in a deep breath, "He's GONE!"
"I don't think Zoro's in the tank... I already checked there!" Luffy nodded again, confident that he had looked good enough in there. He wasn't exactly what sort of game they were playing right now, but he almost felt as though he was starting to understand it. Or... at least, he thought he was.
"Well! I guess he's gone then, Luffy. I gotta get back to work - Sanji needs me to fix the oven for him --" Franky was cut off by a deep frown from Luffy. 'I hope he wasn't too attached to that Shark!!' He found himself thinking sympathetically, steeling his emotions against the tragedy of a boy loosing his beloved pet fish.
"I really need to find Zoro, Franky!! It's his BIRTHDAY! And Usopp's being stupid and won't help." Luffy wailed out, tromping a foot indignantly.
"Who's birthday is it?" Came Nami's voice as she emerged from the Galley door behind Franky, a map held in her hands.
Luffy turned his frown on Nami now, only to receive an raised brow in return.
"It's Zoro's birthday! Don't pretend that you forgot!" Luffy said, perhaps a bit more irritated than he meant to sound, but could he really be blamed?
"His lost pet." Franky offered in what seemed to be a 'helpful' voice, but Luffy didn't get it at all. Sure, Sanji sometimes joked and called him 'Captain's Pet', but that didn't mean he was actually Luffy's PET!
"Luffy, did you sneak an animal on board?!" Nami roared, whirling from Franky to face the rather unhappy boy in front of her.
Usopp quickly scrambled to his feet, suddenly getting rather interested in what was going on above him.
"What'd Luffy sneak on board! How come you didn't share it, Luffy?! That's not fair!" He cried out, making his way towards the stairs that led to where the others were.
"I didn't sneak anything on board! I'm trying to find Zoro!" Luffy said, trying to put as much emphasis on his First mate's name as he could, making sure it was perfectly understandable. Was everyone in on this stupid joke but him? Maybe that's why he couldn't find Zoro..
"And what, exactly, is a... 'Zoro'?" Nami asked skeptically, narrowing her eyes at her Captain and crossing her arms over her chest, "I swear Luffy, if you brought some stupid pet on board, I am not going to be happy."
Luffy stared at Nami for a long moment, trying to see if there was any sign of joke in her face, before walking straight past her to make his way to the lounge. His brows were furrowed, and he did not look amused in the least. He didn't like whatever Game they were playing if he couldn't play along too!
Nami looked curiously at Franky, who just shrugged, before following after Luffy - Franky and Usopp trailing along behind her.
"Robin. Where's Zoro?" Luffy asked pointedly, any hint of play gone from his voice as he stared straight at his Archeologist. Nami may be able to play long with this stupid Game, but Robin would tell him! He was the Captain, after all!
Robin raised her eyes from her book, giving Luffy a questioning look. "I don't know, Captain-san. If you tell me what 'Zoro' looks like, I'll be more than happy to help you look." Her voice was just as calm and serious as it ever would be, sensing Luffy was in no mood for any sort of joking.
Unfortunately, much to her confusion, Luffy's response didn't seem to be very pleased. The small frown that had already been on his face deepened even more as he stared, waiting expectantly at Robin. As if... waiting for her to give him whatever information it was he wanted.
"See Luffy? No one knows what this Zoro is. Just tell us what it looks like and they'll LOOK for it!" Nami said irritatedly from behind her Captain, hands on his hips - careful not to commit herself to actually looking for anything.
Luffy whirled around to stare at Nami, still frowning.
"You know who Zoro is! He's our Nakama!" He all but cried out, liking this situation less and less by the moment. "Stop pretending like you don't know, it's not funny!"
Usopp stepped past Nami, giving Luffy a weird look, "What are you talking about Luffy? Why would we pretend we don't know someone who's our Nakama?"
Franky slid in between Usopp and Nami, arm held out in front of himself as he squeeze past the two, "Waaait!" He wailed before Luffy's temper could raise any further, "I know what's going on!"
Everyone turned to look at Franky, who was now standing in front of Nami and Usopp, striking a rather dashing pose for everyone.
Robin closed her book, setting it on the couch next to her. Something seemed... amiss.
"What I think happened was that Luffy picked up a crew member on the last island we were at... and forgot to tell us!"
Nami looked between Luffy and Franky, a disbelieving look on her face. "What? Luffy, please tell me you didn't do that!!" She cried out pathetically, an unpleasant look washing over her face as she spoke.
"No!! What are you guys talking about! You know who Zoro is! He's been here all the time!" Luffy urged, looking between his Nakama, hoping for one of them to finally stop this joke.
"Luffy, I've never heard that name before in my life." Nami said flatly, crossing her arms over her chest.
"I don't care what Game you're playing, it's not funny!" Luffy said, not sounding nearly as stern as he was trying to be, "I want to know where Zoro is! Even if he told you not to tell me where he is, I don't care!"
Nami slowly uncrossed her arms, a worried look spreading over her face as she watched Luffy rage on. She turned to look at Usopp, frowning slightly, before looking back at her Captain. "Luffy, we're not playing any Game. Are you feeling alright?"
A slender arm suddenly sprouted out of Luffy's shoulder, reaching up to press it's hand against his forehead. Luffy turned to look at Robin, still frowning unhappily.
"His temperature seems normal." Robin observed, allowing the arm to vanish into a small puff of petals. She had stood up at some point during Nami and Luffy's conversation, and was making her way towards the group. Her brows were furrowed slightly, wearing a worried look that it seemed all of them but Luffy were sharing. "Captain-san, if I knew who this Zoro was, I would tell you." She reassured him, though it only managed to make poor Luffy even more confused.
"Yeah, Luffy!" Usopp added in, peeking over Franky's large shoulder.
"I still say it jumped over board." Franky said solemnly with a nod, trying to give Luffy a most sympathetic look.
"Zoro wouldn't jump over board! He's our Nakama!" Luffy quickly replied, whirling to face Franky.
Franky raised his hands in front of him in defense, "Hey! Just my honest opinion, bro. If your shark wasn't in the tank, that's probably where he is... Unless Sanji's cooked him !!" He gasped at this sudden realization, clamping a hand down over his mouth as soon as he had let out those words. "I mean -- Sanji would never cook your pet shark, Luffy. He's probably free and swimming and ALIVE and SUPER in the sea!!" He hastily added in, laughing all too loudly and nervously.
Nami blinked, "So, wait. Zoro's a Shark?"
"No!! I only said he looked like a Shark because Franky asked what animal he looked like! I thought we were playing a game, so I said Shark."
"I'm confused, Luffy." Usopp said dully, obviously not understanding what was going on at all.
Luffy took a step back from everyone, suddenly realizing they weren't playing a game. Why didn't anyone know who he was talking about? How could they forget someone like Zoro? It was his birthday! If he could only find Zoro, then this whole mess would be over with... Everything would be alright once he found him.
"Is this where everyone is? What're you all doing down here?" Came Sanji's voice as he and Chopper entered the lounge.
Luffy turned quickly to look at him with a pleading look in his eyes, catching the cook slightly off guard, "Sanji! Chopper! You guys know who Zoro is, right? Tell them who Zoro is!"
Sanji looked down a Chopper, to find an equally confused face before shrugging and turning back to look at Luffy, "Nope, sorry, Luffy. Never heard of 'em."
"Sorry, me either. Who is he?" Chopper asked a bit cheerfully, smiling up at his Captain.
"But - but! Sanji, you fight with Zoro all the time! And you always take naps with him, Chopper! And he always comes to play tag with us, Usopp! And - and he's our NAKAMA!"
Luffy had never really felt panicked in his life. Sure, maybe when his Grandfather did some pretty scary things when he was younger, he might have panicked then -- but once he had set sail he hadn't been in a situation where he had panicked. He always had confidence in everything that he did, knew it would turn out right no matter what, as long as he has his Nakama... but what was he supposed to do now? Everyone was looking at him as though he were crazy. Not the usual 'Luffy is INSANE!' looks he would get when he would do something stupid, but the worried, confused, and almost scared looks people would give someone who was literally ill with insanity.
Of course he would panic.
"Luffy, I think you should lay down for a little while," Chopper began, padding towards the Captain, "Have you been drinking enough water? Maybe you're dehydrated. Or! Have you been drinking any sea water? You're not supposed to do that, you know! It's bad for you!"
"Why don't any of you remember Zoro?! I'm not deehai- dehydro... I'm not that!" This seemed too unreal for Luffy to believe it was really happening. Any moment now he'd wake up and laugh over it with Zoro and everyone else... Right?
"Luffy, I think you should listen to Chopper." Nami said softly, staring with a concerned expression at her Captain.
"But..." Luffy tried, backing slowly towards the couch as the small Doctor neared him, his fuzzy little face serious and concerned all at the same time.
'Zoro...' Luffy thought worriedly as he was ushered to sit down, his limbs starting to feel numb. 'Where are you..?'