"They certainly do it with a DON!" laughed Tom.
"Do what, exactly?" asked Bellemere, nibbling on her lower lip in irritation.
"Knowing what we do about them, everything," said Olvia calmly, a sparkle of humor in her blue eyes.
"They certainly know how to throw a party," Banchina said between giggles.
Zeff, for the sake of his dignity, stopped himself from tapping his stump in time to the music. "No real way of getting rid of them," he pointed out.
Hiruluk was enthusiastically dancing along, despite having no partner. He was actually quite good for his age.
Kuina, intent on not seeming focused on trivial matters like music, determinedly practiced sword kata as far away from the impromptu revelry as she could get.
One thing was for sure: the Rumbar pirates were overjoyed to have an audience outside themselves again.
The guardians had heard the ship long before their charges could see it through the soupy mist of the Florian Triangle: fiddles and cellos, tubas and trumpets, all kinds of instruments weaving together in a long, directionless tune that was simultaneously a funeral dirge and celebratory melody. That particular piece (they were later to learn) was named 'Symphonic Ode Dedicated to Brook, Last Man Standing, Number Ten,' and was from then on considered a lucky song.
Over the course of the Strawhats' introduction to the skeletal subject of that particular ode, the charismatic captain of the Rumbars, Yorki, introduced his crew one by one to their fellow ghosts, smile filling his face. They had been together dead for fifty years, and together alive many years beside that; their bonds were unimaginably tight and their shared pain for their slowly maddening crewmate unimaginably acute.
The Strawhat Guardians each privately found it gauche of Brook to keep an entire pirate crew out of their rightful afterlives for fifty years.
And now, in the wake of the events of Thriller Bark, it seemed the Brook—and the Rumbars—were here to stay. Thousand Sunny, though it had never been the most quiet ship to sail the sea, now teemed with dead pirates who took advantage of their lack of need for sleep by making music constantly. They sang, they danced, they made merry; no one would have objected, but they did it all the time.
Almost all of the original guardians were finding excuses to leave Sunny for long periods of time. Kuina felt the urge to check in on her parents and old friends from the dojo for the first time since her funeral; Banchina was stricken with a bad case of I-miss-my-husband-terribly disease; Zeff found himself impelled to return to the Baratie and make sure Patty and Carne hadn't destroyed the place yet. Even Hiruluk, who had been so welcoming initially, now took a great deal of interest in the current events of the Drum Republic and his old nemesis-slash-rival-slash-friend, Kureha. Tom went so far as to admit that maybe there was such a thing as too much DON.
The Rumbar pirates, despite their apparent geniality, were oblivious to their effect on the other guardians of the ship. Their way of unlife may as well have been carved in stone for all a change of pace could alter it. So the music continued on, and on, and on...
Olvia, the de facto leader of the Strawhat Guardians, called an emergency meeting in the galley during a relative lull in the music.
"Something needs to be done," she said shortly.
"Agreed," fumed Bellemere.
"But how?" Banchina asked hopelessly.
"Kick them off?" offered Zeff helpfully.
"After all they've been through?" Hiruluk's compassion was undiminished in face of musical piracy.
"That's hardly an excuse," said Kuina sharply.
"They'd just come back anyway," Tom said pragmatically.
There was a long pause.
Olvia stared hard at each of her fellow guardians in turn. "Let's make a deal."
The response was a jumble of confused questions: "What kind-" "How do you-" "What makes-" "If a tree-"
Olvia held up a hand for silence, and after a few moments received it. "All I mean is that Brook is over-represented in terms of guardianship. In a crew where the captain has no guardian, is it really reasonable for the musician to have a few score? We'll say it's fine if most move on, as long as someone stays behind to watch. Every spirit wants to move on."
It was true, too; as much as they loved their charges, the ghosts could feel deep in their bellies that this existence was temporary and unimportant, and that true peace was only a dream away...
Olvia's suggestion was met with unanimous approval, and right then and there they went to go see to it.
Sweeping onto the grassy deck, Olvia called for attention from the assembled pirates. It took a few tries and a mighty bellow from Tom to calm them.
Olvia outlined her case briefly, her speech supplemented with biting annotations from a helpful Bellemere.
"What do you mean?" asked the music theoretician (they only had one) in a quavering voice.
Kuina answered, to everyone's surprise. "Brook isn't alone anymore. He's a Strawhat now. You don't have to do... this all the time. You guys got him through the Florian Triangle sane and safe."
Tom joined in. "At this point, honestly, I don't think a Marine Admiral could stop Brook from going back to Laboon. All this music... it saved him before, but now it's just holding him back from really joining them. Let him make his own music with his own DON!"
"We... don't have to stay?" Madaisuki said in wonderment. Olvia nodded, and he turned to his twin in delight. "Oi, Mawaritosuki. Now's a good time you say I hate your fucking guts."
"I know, man," the younger twin replied joyfully. Their bodies were dissolving into motes of light and spiraling upward, along with those of a growing number of Rumbar pirates. "Yeah, fuck you, bro. Have a great death."
The goodbyes of the Mizuuta twins—and some more conventional parting words—sounded around the last standing Rumbar pirate: the captain, Yorki.
His gaze was steady. "I won't abandon him again."
Olvia smiled. "We'd never ask you to."
And that is how the Rumbar Pirates, much reduced, became Strawhats.