Here's the last chapter of the story, it's been so much fun to write, that I've already started (and am a fair chunk of the way through) another Luffy-centric story. I won't put any of it up until I've completed the story though, because there's nothing worse than when the Author loses interest in a story and it's never completed (kind of like my Rurouni Kenshin Fic…).
So yeah, hope you enjoy and flick me a review if you like. Thanks for all your support for this story guys!!
Lost Chapter 5
It was almost four hours later when the crew woke from their unscheduled cat nap, and they were now sitting around a campfire on the beach while Sanji cooked them a very late dinner.
Everyone kept throwing glances at their captain who was leaning heavily against a rock, grinning happily. He was obviously very happy to have been reunited with his family, even though it was visible to everyone present that the young pirate was still more than a little dazed with fever. His mind was jumping between reality and images his mind was showing only to him.
Sanji walked over to him with a large joint of meat and handed it to the happy pirate with a slight grin. The cook looked briefly into his Captain's eyes and detected that he was still not quite as lucid as he seemed to be.
'Thanks Sanji!' Luffy exclaimed as he took a big bite, before pausing a little sheepishly. 'I don't have any money to pay for it now…' the boy added. 'But, put it on my treasure tab and I'll pay you back when I become a pirate.' Sanji sighed and nodded, wishing the fever would go away faster.
'How much longer will he be like that, Chopper?' Usopp asked, his own mouth full of meat, watching the interaction with concerned interest.
Chopper grimaced and shrugged. 'He was in the water for a really long time…' the doctor began hesitantly. 'But still, his fever is decreasing every time I give him the medicine, so I'm hoping he'll be more like his old self by tomorrow.'
The others nodded as their Captain suddenly broke into loud laughter and pointed at a completely normal rock, apparently finding it very amusing.
Nami moaned and put her head into her hand. 'He's even weirder than normal!'
'Well, it's only natural.' Zoro said a little doubtfully.
'I know…' She stated. 'But still…' the crew all looked over to their still cackling captain and sweat dropped.
Sanji grinned before sighing lightly and reaching over to pick up a joint of meat, placing it in a banana leaf.
He was glad when although Zoro looked at him and raised an eyebrow, the swordsman said nothing, allowing the chef to continue towards the marine who was still sitting at the edge of the beach, his back against a tree.
'Oi.' Sanji called rather harshly. Placing the meat on the ground and pushing it forwards with one foot, his hands shoved deep into his pockets. 'Dinner.' He added rather pointlessly.
The marine looked at the chef with one eyebrow raised. Causing the young blonde to get a little angry.
'Don't read anything into it.' He muttered defensively. 'I'm a chef, I can't stand letting people go hungry.'
To his credit, Smoker simply reached forwards and accepted the offering, which surprised the other man. He wondered what his captain had done to mellow the man quite so much. If not to all pirates, then at least to their crew.
'Thanks' the marine mumbled, taking a bite. Sanji couldn't help but grin when the older man's eyes widened slightly.
'Good, eh?' Sanji queried, pulling a cigarette from his pocket and lighting it with one smooth motion.
Smoker gulped and took another large bite, completely ignoring the question. Sanji smirked and turned his back on the marine, preparing to walk back to his nakama. He paused briefly.
'Thanks…' he muttered harshly, his blonde hair blowing in the gentle breeze. The marine paused long enough to look up at the young chef in confusion. Sanji looked backwards over his shoulder and chuckled lightly when he realized the man hadn't understood.
'For bringing him back.' The pirate clarified. He briefly pulled one hand from his pocket to gesture at the rest of the crew who were still sitting around the fire. The marine noticed that their spirits had risen noticeably since their captain's return. His eyes shifted to the captain himself who was still grinning blankly at his crew.
'We know what it must have cost you to bring him back to us…' the blonde allowed his voice to trail off as he looked up at the stars above. There was something in his tone that told the marine more than the simple words had, and for the first time he fully appreciated just how much the young pirate crew needed it's captain.
Smoker nodded wordlessly, accepting the thanks before adding his own. 'Your captain is a strong man.'
Sanji nodded again, and shoved his hands back into his pockets, still staring at the stars. Making it look as though he were slouching. He gave a funny little half sigh and shrugged. 'Yeah, he is.' Then he walked back to the rest of his crew without another word. Leaving the marine to finish his meal.
Smoker looked at the meat in his hand before taking another bite, looking up at the stars himself as he chewed. He couldn't make peace with the fact that he detected no maliciousness from this group. The marine looked at the pirate crew, happily feasting around the fire and found that he couldn't reconcile them with his universal image of how a pirate should behave. The image that had been ingrained in him by his father since he was a boy.
He sighed again amd leaved his back against the tree, allowing his eyes to close gently as the breeze ruffled his white hair. As his mind began to mull over the issue… They snapped open again when he heard an overly loud, cheerful voice suddenly calling from across the beach.
'Smoooooooooker!!!!' Luffy's voice rang through the silent night. He waved the soldier over, still giggling slightly to himself.
The rest of the crew had fallen silent and were watching the marine discreetly, trying to guess what he would do.
'Join, uuuuus!!' Luffy called again, rather obnoxiously. He held up a handful of sand and pointed at it. 'We have cake!!' he tempted happily. Sanji slapped his own forehead as the others snickered quietly.
The older man rolled his eyes discreetly, but to the rest of the crew's surprise stood up and walked over to the still delusional pirate.
'What?' he grunted when he was close enough.
'What, what?' the dark haired boy asked pleasantly.
'What!' the marine began harshly, before taking a deep calming breath, 'Do you want?' he finished more calmly.
Luffy tilted his head to one side as he studied the older man, his foggy eyes growing even more pronounced and his eyelids drooping halfway. It was painfully obvious that his exhaustion was once again catching up with him and that he would soon be fast asleep. 'I don't hate you!' he stated suddenly, another huge grin in place. Without waiting for a response from the startled marine, Luffy turned to his startled crew. 'Goodnight!' he said in the same breath.
'Hang on!' Chopper said suddenly, stepping forwards. 'You need to take this before you go to sleep. It'll stop your fever from rising again during the night, and it will also prevent any nightmares from being in the water so long.'
Luffy's grin slipped a few notches and he reached for the medicine. 'Thanks Doc!' the pirate said sincerely, swallowing the medicine in one gulp and falling asleep immediately before he'd even had a chance to lay down completely, his head plonking gently onto the sand.
'Night captain.' Nami said with a small smile as she lay her spare coat over her sleeping friend.
'That's some STRONG medicine.' Sanji observed with a slight grin.
Chopper grinned at the Chef. 'Well Luffy has always had a strong reaction to medicines in general. Usually I give him half of what I give to the rest of you and it's just as effective. I gave him a full dose today – I thought he could use a proper rest.'
'Why is it so effective on him?' Nami asked curiously. 'Is it because of the devil fruit?'
'Well…' Chopper began. 'That could be part of it – but I also think it's just part of his genetic make-up. He's not used to needing medicine, so his body hasn't built up any kind of tolerance for it.' The young reindeer chuckled as he bent slightly to feel in Luffy's wrist for a pulse. 'I remember the only time he ever came to me for a headache cure, I wasn't sure of his tolerance so I gave him a regular adult dose. Thirty seconds later he'd passed out on the floor – I thought I'd killed him.'
Smoker made an odd half strangled noise which he quickly covered up with a cough, then he turned quickly and walked back to sit under the same tree as before – but not before the rest of the crew got a look at the rather amused expression on his face at finding his formidable opponent had such a strange weakness.
The crew looked at each other and then Usopp and Nami grinned. 'It's probably best our other enemies don't find out about that particular weakness.' Usopp muttered staring at Smoker out of the corner of his eye.
'What do you mean?' Chopper asked as he stood up, apparently satisfied with their Captain's progress.
'Well, he can beat all the tough guys we come up against, they don't stand a chance. But give him an adult dose of headache cure and 'BAM' out like a light!'
Sanji sniggered. 'Ah, I see what you mean.' There was a brief silence as everyone stared at their friend and then Nami sighed lightly.
'We should all get some sleep.' She advised the crew. 'We'll need to get out of here first thing tomorrow morning in case any marines,' she paused and shot a look at Smoker, who pointedly ignored her. 'Decide to patrol the beach.'
'Looks like Zoro beat us to it.' Usopp snickered as they settled again next to the pirate. Signalling over his shoulder at the swordsman who was deeply asleep next to the fire.
Sanji grinned rather evilly and was about to go and wake up the moss haired young man when he was stopped by Nami. 'Let him sleep, Sanji kun.' She whispered. 'You have no idea how worried he's been.'
Sanji's eyes filled with hearts and he grinned. 'Nami swan is so considerate!' he yelled, shutting up quickly when his captain groaned quietly and twitched in his sleep.
'Still…' Usopp said conversationally, still very much awake. 'I've never seen Luffy so willing to take medicine. What was that about?'
Chopper rolled away from the marksman grumpily. 'Being in the water for so long would give any devil fruit user nightmares worse than you can possibly imagine.' He slurred, obviously half asleep. 'The medicine will prevent them. Usually Luffy refuses it, but I guess tonight after everything he's been through and with the fever, he thought he could use a little extra help. Remember, he's still not quite himself… now goodnight!' he said with finality, conversation very much over.
Usopp chucked. 'Goodnight.' He returned, thinking about the doctor's answer. He looked quickly around and saw that everyone else was fast asleep. The marksman nodded decisively and scooted closer to the fire, deciding to keep watch again while his nakama slept.
After a few minutes of staring into the fire, Usopp realized that if any marines were to come up the dark beach he wouldn't see them if he was blinded by staring into the bright fire, and pointedly shifted his glance. His eyes moved of their own accord and immediately sought out his sleeping captain.
Usopp tilted his head to one side as he observed the black-haired man. Luffy was sleeping on his side, his face gently illuminated by the fire. His cheeks were flushed lightly from his fever and his mouth was partly open. There was for once no trace of a smile on his face and he was completely still. It was obvious that whatever the doctor had given the sick pirate, had knocked him out cold.
The marksman grinned slightly at the novelty of watching his captain sleep and felt an unexpected wave of affection when Luffy very briefly twitched. The smile faded from the curly haired man's face as he realized how close they had come to losing him and he felt a physical pain in his heart. He wasn't in love with Luffy, he knew that he was in love with Kaya from his home village. But on many levels the bond his captain had with the whole crew went beyond simple love.
A breeze blew gently, ruffling Luffy's black bangs and, together with the strange dappled light of their campfire, for a moment, giving Usopp the impression that their captain was under the water. His face pale and the underwater current moving his hair as he sank slowly into the silent water.
Suddenly, Usopp's imagination took over, he pictured his captain sinking alone into the oily depths and he felt his heart constrict in his chest with worry for his friend as he lay, uncharacteristically pale and still,. He stood and almost tripped himself as he rushed over to his friend's side, breathing out in relief when he saw Luffy's chest gently rise and fall as he slept.
Usopp reached over and gently felt Luffy's forehead and grinned again when he realized that although it was still higher than normal. It was no longer the unnatural searing heat it had been when Smoker had brought the boy back.
He looked over his shoulder to where the marine was sitting, and noticed that the older man was still awake, staring at the stars. Usopp decided from the look on his face. The white-haired man was contemplating a very large problem, and gulped as he decided not to approach.
The long nosed man looked back at his sleeping captain and gently brushed the black bangs from his forehead, starting slightly when Luffy's chocolate eyes opened halfway.
'Hi.' Usopp whispered, noticing from the weariness that his captain was still virtually asleep. 'It's ok here, everything is fine.'
The captain gave a sleepy smile as his eyes drifted shut again and Usopp couldn't help but stare. He hadn't noticed it before, but apparently the childish captain of the Going Merry was growing into quite an attractive person. Usopp smiled gently. How fitting for a king…. The marksman thought randomly as he noticed the pink tinge on the horizon as the sun began to rise. He sighed happily and left his captain to sleep as he went to wake up the rest of the crew.
20 minutes later the others were up and packed. Luffy was awake and standing, but still looked exhausted and rather dazed. He had eaten his breakfast quickly but had not joined in the conversation, showing the others that he was still not himself. When the crew had questioned the doctor he had been unconcerned and had reminded them that Luffy was still human, even if he didn't always act like it.
While Sanji kicked sand over their fire, Smoker came forwards to stand before Luffy. He took a deep breath. 'Look.' He muttered, obviously steeling himself to say something difficult.
Luffy shook his head. 'You didn't know. It's fine.' The marine nodded once at the grinning pirate. Apology accepted. He thought wryly.
The pirates turned and began to walk up the beach towards their ship, the crew automatically adjusting their speed to keep up with Luffy's slower pace.
'Hey.' The marine said suddenly, catching their attention. 'Have you thought of giving up piracy and becoming a marine?'
The crew looked at the white haired man as though he was insane. But Luffy simply laughed and touched his hat. 'You sound like my grandpa.' He muttered, the crew hearing him and looking at each other in confusion.
He looked up at the marine and grinned again. 'The sea is so much more free to pirates.' He declared. 'We can go where we like, and live our own adventures.' He grinned wickedly. 'Besides, you don't get to have a bounty if you're a marine…' He chuckled rather mysteriously at the marine's blank look and continued on down the beach, his nakama mulling over what their captain had said, each grinning to themselves. As they boarded the ship and gentle breeze blew and they could tell from the sunrise that it was going to be a beautiful day for sailing.
They all smiled when Luffy jumped up on the figurehead and began laughing wildly with his arms in the air. 'LET'S GOO!!!' he yelled happily, obviously happy to be back where he belonged.
Aye!' They shouted together. Grinning wildly now that their captain was beginning to act more like himself.
As the Going Merry began to move towards the distant sunrise Luffy smiled and leant back until he was lying on the figurehead apparently preparing for another nap, he sighed happily and his eyes slid closed.
The sea really was very free.
AN – well there you go everyone. This particular story is over and done with (sorry it took so long!!) I didn't even have a chance to run this by anyone for reviewing, it's so incredibly late. Hope you enjoyed it, and keep your eye out for my new Luffy-centric story that will be coming out in the next few months. (If I get a chance to type it out…)