Silence of the Waiting Hearts

In the kitchen, where Sanji is cooking breakfast, the door suddenly creaks open. Sanji turns his head to its direction and sees Luffy coming in.

"Oh, good morning Luffy! Where are the others?" Sanji asks.

Luffy forces a smile. "They're outside. I think Robin and Nami are still sleeping." Luffy pauses. "Ano, Sanji, could I be of any help to you?"

"Eh? What are you talking about?"

"Anything! I wanna help you in any way."

Sanji gives Luffy an inquiring gaze. "Alright! Please wash the dishes for me. Although you don't really need to do this."

"No, no! I really want to be of service to you." Luffy approaches the sink. "Let's start!"

He washes the dishes with a somewhat confusing but contented expression. Sanji eyes him suspiciously. Usually, Luffy shuns chores.

"Sanji?"

"What is it?"

"Are you contented with my captainship?"

"Huh? Why is that all of a sudden?"

"I just want to know."

"Well, somewhat."

"Somewhat?"

"To tell you the truth, you're idiotic with your decisions sometimes, but you have proven many times already how trustworthy you are."

"Really."

"What are you up to bringing up a topic like that?"

Luffy turns on him and grins. "Nothing. But thank you for answering. I'm relieved."

"Eh?" What's up with him?

After finishing the dishes, Luffy takes his leave. He goes to the beak of the Thousand Sunny and arrives on Zoro training with his arm weights.

"Don't think of bothering me again, Luffy. I'm busy right, now. I'm trying to break my record. Two thousand sixty eight…two thousand sixty nine…"

"Keh! Could you defeat me in arm wrestling by doing that?"

"Two thousand seventy one…two thousand seventy two…"

"Your muscles wouldn't even compare to mine."

"What? You saying that you're stronger than I am, huh?"

Luffy turns around and shrugs his shoulders. "I don't know."

"If you're asking for it, then fine." Zoro puts down the weights, lies on his stomach, and props up his right arm. "Come on, captain, let's try the muscles you're very proud of."

"That's better."

Luffy arm-wrestles with Zoro. At first, Luffy is winning the match, but in the end, the inhuman strength of Zoro prevails.

"Hehe, where could your strength have gone?" Zoro says.

"Heh! You've just become a little stronger and your head is so big, already. But I'm happy 'cause I know now that you can protect this crew even without me."

"Hey, hey! Don't make it sound as if you'll not be fighting anymore. What, you'll just gonna leave all the battles to me and become a lazy bum?"

"Possibly…"

"Are you serious?"

Luffy laughs. "Forget about it. However, as my first mate, I want you to protect this crew with your life. Promise me."

Zoro doesn't immediately get what Luffy meant. He stares back at Luffy's sincere eyes. He wants to find some hints of what he is thinking. Unfortunately, he hasn't found any.

"You…you don't need to say it," Zoro says.

Luffy grins. "That's comforting to hear. Well, did you see Usopp?"

"I think he's inside his shop at this time."

"Yosh! See you later then. I need to tell him something."

"Alright." Zoro watches him leave.

Luffy arrives on Usopp busy in his preparation of ammunitions. He is on the floor with his equipment scattered in front of him.

"Hey, Usopp!"

"I'm busy."

"Stingy. Give me just a moment." Luffy sits down before Usopp.

"What is it, Luffy?"

"Ano, if you don't mind, could you please not forget all the adventures we went through together?"

"Man, how could I ever forget those?"

"Ummm, then you can tell them to your children and grandchildren?"

"Of course, I can. What do you think of me? Those adventures are my precious memories. I will never ever forget about them. And I tell you this Luffy, I will definitely tell the whole world about them!"

"Hehe! That's great!"

"Oh, Mugiwara-kun, how's your day?" Franky says behind them.

Luffy turns to him and grins. "I'm feeling great today! Oi, Franky, you're the oldest in my crew. I presume you to have the greatest sense of responsibility. Can I count on you?"

"Eh? Well…I can't really understand what you mean, but I bet my life on that."

"Then it's settled. Please take care of Thousand Sunny as we took care of Merry before."

"What's this? Acting cool all of a sudden? You sick?"

"Hehe!" Luffy stands up. "Of course, not. See you later!"

Luffy leaves the room.

Franky and Usopp look at each other.

"He was weird," Franky says.

Usopp nods. "He was weird all right."

"Yo!" Luffy yelled, startling Robin and Chopper, who are both reading a book.

"Don't…hah…hah…surprise us like that, Luffy!" Chopper says.

"Hahaha! Sorry!" Luffy approaches them. "Is that the new book you bought yesterday?"

"Yes," Robin answered.

Luffy looks closely at the book in Robin's hand. "Oh, it's fairy tale."

Robin giggles. "I need this sometimes to lighten up my mood."

He smiles. "What about you, Chopper?"

"This is…it's none of your—"

Luffy snatches the book from the reindeer and looks at it. "Eh! This is adult stuff!"

"Give me that! Give me that!" Chopper nervously pleads, insistently reaching out for the book.

"Who gave this to you? Eh? And he cupped my breast and…Hahaha! This is really funny!"

"Luffy!"

Robin and Luffy laugh out loud at the blushing reindeer.

"Here," Luffy says, handing over the book to Chopper. "I'm happy that you're becoming curious about many things now. When I first met you, all you care about was to study medicine. That made me a little worried for you. I'm happy you're slowly opening up to the world."

Chopper's eyes glisten. "Luffy, that's a cool speech! That's a damn cool speech! Where did you learn that?"

Luffy just laughs at him. "Sometimes words just come out my mouth."

Luffy leans close to Robin. "Robin," he whispers, "cover Chopper's eyes."

"Hmm? Okay."

Two hands suddenly appear to cover Chopper's eyes.

"Hey, Robin, get off my eyes," Chopper complains.

"Sorry, Isha-san. Captain's order," Robin says.

"What? Luffy, what's the meaning of this?"

Luffy just laughs.

"Well?" Robin asks.

Luffy suddenly takes hold of her chin and kisses her lips. She is deeply surprised.

"Luffy-kun…"

"Be the mother of my crew, Robin."

"Luffy…"

"See yah!" Luffy walks out the library.

Inside her room, Nami is busy working with her map. The room is so quiet that when Luffy knocks, she jumps. Stomping, she approaches the door. She opens it, begrudgingly.

"What is it, Luffy?"

Luffy grins. "Could you give me a minute?"

"No! I have to finish my map. We are about to arrive at the map capital of the world. I want to submit it for evaluation there."

"Just a minute, please."

"What is this all about?"

"I want to confess."

That suddenly alarms Nami. Even the issue about the map goes out her mind. She thrusts her head out and looks left and right. Blushing, she invites Luffy in.

"W-why so…so…s-suddenly?"

Luffy sits on her bed. "Sorry, I lied. You wouldn't let me in if I didn't."

"What?" Nami says, flustered.

"Nami, I want to go on a vacation."

"Vacation?"

"I'm telling only you about this. Please don't tell anyone."

"Eh? You are going on a vacation and you want no one to know except me?"

"Yes."

"Hmm? I don't know what you're planning, but okay. I won't say anything."

"Thanks."

Suddenly, Nami hits Luffy.

"Ouch! What is that for?"

"For lying, you idiot! Now you've broken my schedule. I promised to not waste even a single second on this."

"Haha, I'm sorry."

Nami lets herself fall on her bed, making it bob twice. "You bother me so much, you know that?"

"Really?"

"Where are you going anyway and you are letting only me to know?"

"To someplace. I need to go there alone."

"Alone. This seems to be exciting. Can I tag along?"

"No, you can't."

"Eh? Are you going to date someone?" Nami catches herself. Shit! Why did I suddenly say that? This idiot might think I'm jealous.

"No." Luffy looks at her. "Nami, I think I'll be gone for a long time. Don't you want to say anything before I leave?"

Nami blushes and turns her head away. "Why are you suddenly asking that?" She waits for some time to pass. "Umm…the truth is…I have something…to…to say."

"Let me hear it."

Nami pulls up to sit. She faces the floor and only looks at Luffy from the corner of her eyes. "Ano…about this…" Damn it! Say it, you fool! Say it to him! This is a golden opportunity for you! Don't waste it! "Ano…"

"I like you, Nami."

Nami's eyes widen. She swiftly stands up, furiously blushing. "What? What did you say? Could you say it again, Luffy?"

Luffy stands up and starts to walk out.

Nami blocks his way. "You ain't going nowhere until you say it again."

Luffy takes his straw hat off his neck and puts it on Nami's head. "Would you take care of this for me, Nami? I don't know what would happen to it if I take it with me."

"Please let me hear it again." Her eyes start to well up.

Luffy reaches for the knob. She holds his arm.

"Luffy, I like—"

"Shush."

"Luffy…"

"I'm going, now. You're in charge of the Straw Hats while I'm gone. When I'm gone. Queen of Pirates." It's just sad, but I should not kiss you. It's for the better.

"But…"

She can't stop him anymore when he opens the door and goes out Nami's room.

Two days later, Luffy stands before the council of the World Government.

"So, you came," says the elder with the white beard. "I didn't expect you to come, really. You remind me of Roger."

"I fulfilled my promise. Now, release Alabasta and Water Seven!" Luffy says, indignantly.

"Are you that afraid to lose those two pathetic islands?"

"Don't make me repeat myself, you dumb Santa Clause! I'm warning you!"

The elder sees the rage on Luffy's eyes and flinches. He waves at an agent standing behind him. "Cancel the Buster Call order on Water Seven and Alabasta."

"Yes sir!" the agent says. He immediately calls the marines with a silver den den.

"Now, for your promise," the elder says to Luffy. "The execution will take place in thirty minutes. Pray for your soul, pirate."

Luffy grins at him. "It is not necessary. I'm now relieved that you fulfilled your promise. To think about it, you're not bad, after all."

The elder looks at Luffy, closely. This young man…what is he thinking? Is he not afraid to die? They really are the same. That Roger and this boy. They are exactly the same.

People are seriously staring at him. No one is mocking. No one is laughing. They know the pirate being dragged now to the execution platform. He is not an evil pirate. He has helped many people. The legendary Straw Hat Luffy whose treasure is not a bunch of glittering gold and gems but the admiration of many countries. Alone, like Gold Roger, without his crew, he walks proudly to accept his death.

"Right now, folks, we are witnessing the legendary Straw Hat Luffy going to the platform of death," says the radio announcer. "Look! He is very calm and…and smiling! Yes, folks, he is smiling like this is all a joke. Straw Hat Luffy is smiling!"

Chopper hears about it on the small transistor of his room, and he freezes in shock. He is crying suddenly without him noticing it. "L-L-Luffy…Luffy! LUFFY! LUFFY!"

"Now, he is only a few feet away from the platform folks. He is…"

"What is happening there, Chopper?" Zoro asks. The whole crew is behind him.

Chopper turns around to them with teary eyes. "Luffy…Luffy…WUAAAAH! WUAAAAH!"

"What is happening to you?"

"Now, folks, they started to climb up. Mugiwara Luffy is still smiling. What is this guy? He seems ready to die!"

Hearing this, everyone's heart stops. There faces turn white like paper. Nami and Robin's tears fall like rain.

"Luffy!" Usopp runs out the room, swiftly.

"Hey, Usopp!" Franky follows him. "Hey, where are you going?"

Usopp runs to the beak. He gets into a cannon, right away. "Franky, please light it up!" Usopp said, crying profusely. "Please, Franky, I'm begging you. You can do anything to me afterwards. Bait me to sharks, make me a cyborg, I don't care! Just light it up. There's still time. I will save Luffy!"

Franky holds Usopp's shoulders. He starts pulling him out the cannon. However, Usopp struggles.

"No, no! Light it up, Franky! I'm begging you with my life! Franky, please!"

"It's…it's too late. Luffy left two days ago. That alone proves how far he is now."

"No! I don't believe that! This Ultimate Usopp Cannon can bring me there in seconds! Just please light it up, Franky! Please!"

"I'm sorry!"

"A…a…a…LUFFY!"

"You useless cyborg!" Zoro jumps from nowhere and points his sword at Franky's throat. "Bring us there with Thousand Sunny or you'll die! Now!"

Franky turns away from him. "I can't. It's impossible."

Zoro looks like a demon, now. "Then die, idiot!" He raises and starts plunging his sword down. However, a warm hug suddenly stops him.

"That's enough, Zoro-kun," Robin said. "It's no use."

"No! No! We can still catch up!" He can feel the tears falling on his shoulders. "No!"

Then Zoro gives up. His arms just suddenly become weak. He loses grip on his swords and cries himself. "Luffy…why didn't you say anything. I'm prepared to die for you. Didn't you promise to share your battles with me? Didn't you!"

I'm sorry, Zoro…

Inside Chopper's room, the reindeer, Sanji, and Nami are huddled close to each other, crying their tears out.

Sanji, Chopper…

Franky is crying quietly, lying on the floor. Usopp is crying inside the cannon. Robin is still comforting Zoro in her arms.

Franky, Usopp, Robin, Sunny…

Nami is hurt. The most hurt among them. She is sure her tears will not stop flowing until she is dehydrated. Idiot…idiot…idiot…

and Nami.

"Now, folks, this is it. Luffy is now on the platform of death. The people are still without any reactions on their faces."

"You!" says the guard next to Luffy. "You say your final words, now."

"The countdown is finally started. The legendary Straw Hat is now going to say his final speech."

Silence. For thirty seconds or so, there is an unheard of silence. Even the sea that constantly splashes its waves becomes one with the world. It is as if sound never existed. Then Luffy speaks.

"I'm happy. I'm very grateful that I had this kind of life…"

In Alabasta, Vivi is crying in his father's chest. The people of the country are sadly listening as well.

"…I met friends, went to places of my dreams, battled strong enemies…this seems so childish but…"

The people of Cocoyashi village are in front of Nojiko's house, gathered to listen from a small transistor. All of them are crying. Water Seven is mourning.

"…I really enjoyed my life. In my adventures, I learned that true treasures were not material things that feed the eye. My true treasures are the people that became part of my life and made it exciting…"

In Sky Island, Conis and the sky islanders are using their mantra to listen to what Luffy is saying.

"…whether they are my friends or my enemies, I treasure them all in my memory…"

"That kid has grown," Whitebeard says.

"Yes," Shanks says. "My arm is worth my bet. He became a very admiring man. Someone who finally shaped the world to what it should be."

"…People of the world, you should try this life. You won't regret it…"

"Mugiwara Luffy," Mihawk says. He takes off his hat and makes a curtsey. "You surpassed all my expectations. I acknowledge you, King of Pirates."

In a land no one knows about, Enel listens with his mantra. "Damn it! You pest! Letting yourself killed before I defeat you! But," he too sheds a tear, "thank you for changing me, you li'l moron."

"…It's cool to be a pirate!" Luffy yells.

And that has finished it all. The two executioners thrust him with their spears. Blood starts to flow out of him, slowly spreading on the platform of death. However, before he dies, he breathes in air.

"STRAW HAT PIRATES! LET'S SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN! I HAD SO MUCH FUN!"

With that, he grins.

And finally, he dies.

"It's finished, folks. Mugiwara is not moving anymore," the announcer says. "And now, the place has succumbed in silence."

And it is long. So long it seems the people are not breathing anymore. Until…a child shouts out, "Luffy!"

Another shouts as well. And another…and another…and another.

"What is this? The people are shouting Mugiwara's name. And…and…they're crying. Are you listening still, folks? This is the first in history. The people who witnessed Mugiwara Luffy's execution is crying and shouting his name! This is incredible!"

Back in the Thousand Sunny…

Nami stands up from the huddle and wipes her tears away. Her eyes become determined. She reaches out for the straw hat on her back and puts it on her head.

She walks out Chopper's room and goes to the beak. "Hear me, Straw Hats! Now I ask you, who loves Luffy? Stand up and gather before me!"

Zoro reaches out for his swords, sheaths them back, and stands up. He removes his bandana from his arm and wears it on his head. He goes in front of Nami.

Franky and Usopp follow. Sanji and Chopper go as well. Lastly, Robin arrives.

Nami stares at everyone. "Luffy cared for us, made us stronger, and pushed us to reach for our dreams. We will not waste all of that and submit to despair just because he is physically gone. Now I ask you, who are the people who love Mugiwara no Luffy?"

"We are!"

"Who?"

"We are!"

"Then let's chase our dreams and become the strongest pirate crew in the history of mankind!"

"Yeah!"

"We are his…"

Together they yell, "ONEPIECE!"

There was a massive revolution after two months. Countries started attacking marine headquarters in their territories. The third division of the marine battalion led by Admiral Aokiji started its own coup as well. The biggest pirate crew of history was formed headed by Shanks and Whitebeard. Monkey D. Garp, Monkey D. Dragon, and Queen Vivi of Alabasta joined forces to create the Freedom Organization.

There was war for two years until the World Government was destroyed and the Marine was renewed. And in the heat of the war, making a loosing battle winning, a legendary pirate crew appeared. The rumors said that no one would ever defeat the crew for its power. Not even the crew of Shanks and Whitebeard, or any pirate crew the world has had. The crew's name, Straw Hat Pirates.

The world was totally reborn after ten years. Aokiji became the head of the New World Government. Pirate Crews teemed the seas. However, even that was true, there was no abuse ever reported.

The world takes a new axis of rotation.

"…the end."

"Hey, grandpa long nose, did you meet the legendary Straw Hat Luffy?" asks a child.

"I knew him. I knew him very well," the old Usopp, now sixty-seven years old already, says. "That guy loves meat. Hehehe."

"And the treasure of the Straw Hats? Where is it?" asks another child.

"If you want to find it, sail the sea. Challenge your self and reach for it!"

The children's eyes sparkle.

"Honey, it's time for them to sleep, now," Kaya, in her oldies as well, says from the door's opening.

"Right, right. You heard your grandma, kids. Time to sleep."

"Aw, we want more stories."

"No, no. Tomorrow, I'll tell you more."

"Grandpa," says a child who strikingly looks like Luffy. His eyes are burning. "I will be the King of Pirates. I will bring that straw hat back!"

For a second, Usopp sees Luffy in him. Luffy…is that…Then Luffy is gone. "Yes, I know you can. I want to see you wearing that straw hat."

"For sure!" says the boy.

"But you should grow first. And the first thing to do is to have enough rest."

"Aye, aye, captain!" the children say in unison. They race out the room, leaving the couple alone.

Kaya approaches him and smooches his forehead. "Are you tired, honey?"

"Yes."

Kaya started to cry. "Thank you for everything."

"Hahaha. What are you saying? I'll not die today. No! I'll be alive forever."

"You are still thinking about them?"

"Yes. Those guys…" Tears flow out Usopp's eyes. "I still remember how they requested me to not die so that I could tell their story. Just wanting to be popular. Hehehe."

"You missed 'em?"

"Yeah. So much."

Kaya leans and kisses Usopp. "Then close your eyes. You've endured two hours past your deadline. I know you're in so much pain right, now."

Usopp turns on her and smiles. "I'm happy to be your husband, Kaya."

"I'm happy, too."

"Please, take care of Luck. I saw another legend in his eyes."

Kaya is crying profusely, now. "Yes, darling. I will."

Usopp tries to reach out for her hand. Kaya holds it for him.

"Thank you…Ka…ya."

And there is the last of the legendary Straw Hat, making his final bow. Usopp, the Sniping God, dies in the serenity of Kaya's presence.

Kaya embraces him tightly and cries in his chest. Her muffled voice fills the room.

The thirty-second silence before Luffy spoke his final words is now celebrated by many as the Silence of the Waiting Hearts. Every year, for thirty-second, sound ceases to exist.

The End