My second fanfiction! This time I'm updating one chapter at a time, just because that seems to work with my schedule better. Thankyou to ALL the people who commented on my previous story, it's really very much appreciated, and even if you don't review (which you should, darn you! -shakes fist-) thankyou for reading. Now review this or I'll hunt you down and kill you in a highly imaginative and gruesome fashion.
One Piece does not belong to me no matter how much I wish it did. Rated T for some violence later on. Some SanjixNami and possibly some ZoLu depending on how you read it XD. This story actually precedes 'Reflections', taking place before the Water Seven arc.
It is a common aspect of daydreaming to find yourself wandering the realms of your imagination in a body that is not your own.
How often have you gazed out of a window at the untouchable blue of the skies to find yourself soaring amongst the clouds as a bird? Or, on looking into the deep azure of a river or lake, wondering what it must be like to breathe water, to hide amid the murky viridian caresses of the weeds? As humans we can but guess as to the nature of the advantages and dangers that other organisms are blessed and cursed with, but, on occasion, we must all admit to envy and curiosity as to the lives they lead. You may even have partaken in the pastime of debating with friends as to what kind of animal you would like to be, or what animal you would be most likely to turn into; the two often being quite different in their outcomes. In terms of choosing, there is a lot to consider. Some, for example, would covet the benefits of speed over the advantages of strength, others would prize wings more than claws, or the attractions of camouflage might outweigh those of beauty. These speculations are fun and harmless, encased as they are in that sadly closed off space of thought known as the impossible; a world of unachievable desires, beyond the reach of man, but then, what else is man made for, but to dream?
Know then, that only fools categorise any dream as 'impossible'.
As idiotic as he might have seemed to be, the captain of the Going Merry might have known this truth better than any. Why else would he have gathered about him some of the most unusual and unique individuals, and set out to that most wonderful and terrible sea known as the Grand Line, with a mere sixteen years beneath the Straw Hat that had earned him his infamous title? As it was the crew was a small one, considering the enormity of the tasks it had been faced with, and was surely yet to encounter; eight. A captain, a swordsman, a navigator, a marksman, a cook, a doctor, an archaeologist and, of course, their ship; the Going Merry.
The gently smiling sheep's head seemed to nod in contentment, as the bow rose and fell smoothly with the crests and troughs of the waves that met it, a brisk Westerly wind chasing the craft along the waters. Having embarked out from the shores of Arabasta only a few weeks ago, the smell of sand and spice still lingered faintly in the canvas billowing overhead, but gradually it waned, taken up by the salt of the ocean. Since then they had flown through the sky to defeat a man who called himself 'God', escaped an invincible Navy fortress, and overcome the treacherous, deadly game of Davy Back, besides several other seemingly impossible tasks.
Well it is to base the fact that nothing is beyond achievement on the very existence of this crew.
The peak of the island they had just left was gradually sinking below the horizon behind them; the home (or, at any rate, previous home), of the memory-stealing seahorse that had dreamt of becoming a dragon.
Zoro snorted contemptuously, watching the landmass disappear from view.
"Idiot creature, trying to turn into something it's not…"
Sanji lounged against the mast and exhaled a thin trail of smoke around the cigarette held lightly between his teeth, the white air curling around the rigging before dispersing into the wind.
"Oh, I don't know, people can always change… though I might feel more sympathetic if it hadn't tried to steal all our memories, it's true."
A door slammed violently.
"Not to mention we got chased away by the very people we saved, bunch of ingrates!" Nami growled, appearing from her cabin, scowling so ferociously that even Sanji backed away nervously.
"Hmph, why such a bad mood? It's not like we've never been chased off before… GYA!"
The green-haired swordsman grimiced, clutching a swelling lump as Nami sent him a look that would have killed small mammals, her fist still above his head. For a moment she looked as if she was going to breathe down fire upon the unfortunate pirate, shaking as she was with ill-suppressed rage, but instead she turned sharply about on her heel, venting an expression of exasperation and contempt. Watching her stalk off to her precious tangerine grove Zoro rubbed his head, muttering grouchily.
"Feh. What's got that cat so worked up this time?"
A heavy foot was barely stopped in time by the back of his katana, as the cook gave him a cold glare through a slitted eye.
"That lady just got all of her memories back, and, in case your thick skull is too dense to remember, some of them aren't all that pleasant. So you might at least try to understand that she's bound to be a little sensitive at the moment, baka-marimo." He leant hard against the white-hilted sword, "and if I ever hear you called Miss Nami a 'cat' again, I'll fillet you with that over-sized fruit knife of yours."
The sounds of the two men fighting ricocheted about the ship in time-honoured fashion, as the rubber-bodied captain balanced Chopper on his head, the tiny reindeer's antlers supporting him as Luffy wobbled him back and forth like a plate spinning act.
"H-hey, Luffy, I'm getting kind of dizzy… the blood's going to my head…"
"No no! Keep going! Keep going! Just a bit longer!"
It was with unfortunate timing that the long-nosed sniper emerged from their sleeping quarters, as the creation he had been triumphantly waving above his head became entangled in Luffy's feet, and the trio fell to the ground in a knot of limbs. Extricating himself from the mess Usopp inspected the damage to his latest invention.
"Oi oi oi… can't you guys look where you're going? I just spent the last week perfecting this! Honestly…"
"Sorry. Hey, what is it? It looks cool! Let me see, let me see!"
The object was held away from Luffy's eager hands as Usopp looked at him admonishingly.
"Ah-ah-ah! This is a delicate piece of equipment; I can't just let someone like you… HEY!" His objections fell on deaf ears, as Luffy's stretchy arms plucked the item from his grasp. "Be careful with that!"
Alas, too late, as Luffy accidentally pressed a piece of the mechanism triggering a small, but not insubstantial explosion that consumed the unlucky pair in a cloud of thick, purple smoke, Chopper having dived down to the men's quarters in anticipation of such an event. Coughing out plumes of violet fog the two Nakama fell about in gusts of laughter, Usopp berating his captain through his fits of hilarity.
Robin observed the proceedings on the ship with an affectionate smile; she was so accustomed to the rituals now, so established were they in her heart, that she had found that she deeply loved simple moments such as this. Her smile widened as she watched the doctor trying to leaver the contraption off Luffy's hand, which he had managed to get stuck in the gears somehow. Sanji and Zoro were continuing their scrap onto the main-deck and along the rails, Nami emerging from the foliage of her trees to watch with a face of disapproving amusement as Usopp joined in helping Chopper, the pair struggling with the elastic quality of Luffy's fingers. Robin turned her head to face the sparkling surface of the water, hiding her chuckling face from her friends as she found her eyes glistening with tears of happiness. Her friends… to think she had found herself using that word… how strange to find herself in company she had never imagined to be possible in all of her lonely existence…
Then again, today would prove to be just yet another day of performing impossible deeds, as the crew were abruptly removed from their traditional habits by a sudden change in direction by the Going Merry. The hull jolted sharply to starboard as the ship turned as if snared by some invisible fishing line, causing all hands to fall to the deck, caught off guard by the impetus. Nami was quick to recover, taking command as only an expert navigator could.
"Chopper! Zoro! The helm! Stand by; don't try to change our course before we know what's wrong, we don't want to damage the ship!"
The swordsman and the doctor hastily got to their feet and ran to their positions, Usopp already halfway up the rigging to the crow's nest to try and observe the cause of the Going Merry's behaviour. Luffy bounded up next to Nami, who was leaning over the side of the craft near the figure head. Sanji called out inquiringly as he helped Robin to her feet.
"Nami-san? Can you tell what's happening?"
Nami furrowed her brow, looking at the pattern of the waves.
"I think… No, that can't be right… I'm too close to tell… Luffy?" She turned to the excitable boy in the red jacket hopping about next to her, "can you get me up to the crow's nest?"
No second bidding was needed; the sensation of air whistling past her ears filled the orange-haired girl's senses momentarily, as the two shot up to meet Usopp beneath the black pirate flag atop of the mast, Luffy's outstretched arm carrying them skywards like a catapult. Using the unfortunate marksman as a crash-pad, Nami shaded her eyes from the sun as she got up, gazing out at the arrangement of the surf. Luffy laughed as he raised Usopp from the floor.
"Thanks for the soft landing!"
"Don't mention it…" came a dazed reply, as the long-nosed man shook his head to remove the stars from his vision, "anyway, I was just going to tell you, it looks like we're…"
"Stuck in a current."
Nami looked down at the flow of rapidly moving water that was wisking the ship along as easily as a stream moving a leaf. "One hell of a strong one too, I don't think we'll be able to pull out of it, not without harming the ship; she's so beaten up, she could break up…"
At the sound of this news Usopp clutched his hair with panic-ridden eyes starting out of his face.
"WHAT?! H-hey, Luffy! Maybe we should just let it carry us, w-we can't risk doing that to the ship, can we?! Don't be hasty!"
A cry came from below them.
"Oi, Nami! What should we do? Should we try and resume our course?" Zoro's voice resounded over the whining of the ropes; the canvas had been completely inverted, the craft moving so quickly that the air played the rigging as easily as a violin, the taught lines singing in the wind.
Nami turned to Luffy.
"You're the captain; the decision stands with you. Try to return to the route the log-pose is set to, or see where this leads us. Either way it's dangerous."
Usopp and Nami looked at their impulsive captain with trepidation. A moment's thought crossed the face of the boy underneath the straw hat before a resolute grin appeared.
"Well, we're looking for adventure aren't we? We've taken things in our stride as we've gone along, this should be just as fun! Go with the flow!" He laughed heartily.
Nami nodded and related the orders down to the crew, Usopp leaning against the mast with a sigh of relief. The navigator, however, looked on as the sails were taken up and the rudder loosed with anxiety. The safety of the ship was paramount, no doubt, but they were breaking the one golden rule of sailing on the Grand Line; they were abandoning the guidance of the log-pose. Glancing at the small sphere of glass on her wrist she could plainly see the prow of their ship heading some fifty degrees right of where it was pointing, the small metal needle twitching against the direction of their headlong rush. Her conscience twitched uneasily as well, as she tried to swallow the feeling of foreboding that was settling heavily within her throat.
They continued to fly along the surface of the sea in this fashion for some time, dashing forwards with the mysterious current recklessly, heedless of the wind as they ploughed further and further away from their previous course. As the ship sped along it was a breath-taking experience to the seven pirates to move as rapidly as if they were plummeting down the side of a cliff-face across the expanse of water, sending foam and surf flying from the prow as they raced along.
There is a point of speed after which the clouds seem to pass you as easily as one might pass a house whilst riding in a train. It was a disorienting feeling to see the great white masses of condensation fly past above them, and the waves either side of the rushing strain that carried them seemed to stand as still as rock, as the Going Merry hurtled on and on, showing no signs of deceleration or alteration in it's mad progression. Holding his beloved hat to his head with one hand, the other gripping onto the figure-head he was seated upon, Luffy leaned full on into the headwind, laughing exuberantly at the prospect of a new escapade. Nami had returned to the outskirts of the orchard, the fluttering leaves desperately clinging to the branches against the wind that threatened to tear them from their purchase. Approaching from behind with a tray bearing a freshly made glass of fruit punch, Sanji cautiously ventured a question at the beautiful girl, still leaning over the rail looking quizzically at the water.
"Something troubling you, Nami-san?"
Knitting her eyebrows further she lifted the drink from the tray with a nod of thanks, not moving her eyes from the flow.
"Mm. I've never seen a current like this before, and I don't just mean the speed. Any current acts separately from the surrounding water, but just look;" she gestured at the path ahead of them with her hand, "it's as if a road has been placed in the sea. A moving road, almost like a river. You can actually see where the edges of the tide meet the sea."
Sure enough, a distinct line could be determined, the path they were set on cutting a swath out of the gently rolling waves of the ocean surrounding them. Nami sighed, trying to put out the apprehension in her chest with a sip of the refreshing liquid, closing her eyes momentarily away from the velocity as she tried to understand the circumstances. Sanji viewed her fondly with gentle concern, but remained silent; he was completely baffled by the situation himself. He resumed scanning their path with a frown. Looking further ahead the blonde-haired chef viewed the oncoming layout of the route, pausing for a moment with an expression of slight confusion, which swiftly changed to shocked realisation as he dropped the polished tray.
Nami jumped considerably as he shouted. His voice rang out across the deck, rousing the crew from the slight stupor into which they had drifted back into alertness.
"Luffy! Get off the figurehead! Everyone, grab onto something, quick!"
Nami clapped a hand to her ear, looking at him disapprovingly for his vociferous outburst.
"Hey, Sanji-kun! What are you…?" but her complaint was cut short as the cook ducked and pulled her firmly but gently down into a sitting position, grabbing onto the rail either side of her and bracing her back against the wood as he covered her. He took several extremely indignant fists to the face.
"SANJI! Let go of me you…"
"Forgive me Nami-san, just trust me!"
Her protests ceased suddenly, as the ship violently swung about hard to the left, then the right, then back again. The ship veered crazily from side to side as the current flung them about eccentrically in a mad zigzagging pattern, the Strawhats clinging to the vessel tenaciously as it bucked and rolled in a wild dance across the ocean. Sanji held on stalwartly as Nami screamed, plastering herself against the timber and clinging onto him about his waist as the ground pitched up and down uncontrollably beneath them. A sickening creak rose up from beneath the deck, as the ship groaned with the strain of being swung about like a rag-doll in the mouth of some irate monster. Still crouching protectively over the cowering navigator, leaning down on his left knee and holding himself stable with his right foot, Sanji managed to crane his head upwards to look at the oncoming horizon, the blur of aquamarine either side of him sending his senses reeling with dizziness as the wind roared in his ears.
It seemed to erupt out of the skyline ahead of them, exploding into view as they hurtled forwards like bullet fired from a musket. He felt a bead of sweat trickle down from his temple as he reported the situation dryly.
Everyone looked up.
The island loomed before them like some vast wall, terrifying in its immobility, completely consuming their vision for one hair-raising moment.
Collisions are rarely enjoyable events.
The world was one made of wood, air and sea. Chaos filled every aspect of their being. Gravity seemed to play no part in their existence, as all sense of place and purpose was ripped from about them. Nami was briefly aware of a whirl of black and yellow about her, something soft, something hard, and then all was darkness as she fell into the void of unconsciousness, falling through stars and shadows into the blissful silence of oblivion…