A/N: Hey Guys! Yea, it's been...forever since this has been updated I know. I finished this chapter over a long period of time, I started March 2010 I think and then I finished it around a year after haha, yea sorry about that. Just college and a lot of stuff keeps happening. Other than that it took forever to find a beta, I asked around 30 people. Half didn't respond and the other half did but stopped responding after a while which pissed me off :( Seriously people, if you aren't betaing anymore then turn your beta mod off on FF, please. Ahaha, but one beta did come through and I must thank her greatly for dealing with me and finishing it in such a short amount of time. Thank you very much BrokenFlavors :D And thank you to all the people who kept prodding me on to put this chapter up (one even came to me on Youtube x3). Anyways, here is the next chapter! Enjoy :)
I do not Own One Piece or any characters, just my own :)
"Where the hell is Sanji? He's taking his damn ti-"
"Right here," he said, coming up behind Nami and everyone seated around her.
She grabbed the drink out of Sanji's hand. "Geez Sanji, what took you so long?" asked Nami, glaring, as she held the drink elegantly.
"Sorry, I just had to take a quick bathroom break Nami-swan," he said, his foolish smile ever-present.
Zoro, Robin, and Luffy had been ignoring the duo before them in favor of the sights of the dance. Completely out of sync with reality, they were slowly drawn back into the conversation around them.
"Hey Sanji, where's Kaida?" asked Luffy.
"Ah, she went out with Raid," Sanji answered.
"Out? You can go outside here?" asked Robin.
"Yea, over there. You see those doors?" Sanji pointed to a set of ornate doors and everyone turned to look in that direction with a mild feeling of surprise.
"Oh, I didn't know that," said Robin.
"Ahh, this place it so crowded!" muttered Zoro, trying to fix his hair. Watching his attempts, and failures, Robin laughed and reached over to fix it for him.
"Here, let's go to the side and get some air," said Robin. When Zoro nodded, Robin turned to the others at the table. "We'll see you guys later," she waved and the two disappeared into the crowd.
An awkward tension between the three left behind began to grow. That is until Sanji, always the charmer, brought his arm around Nami and slipped his hand over her own that held the drink.
"Sanji?" Nami asked him, somewhat confused. Sanji took the drink from her hand and placed it on a passing waiter's tray.
"Would you like to dance?" He asked. Nami's cheeks heated up, not because he was asking her so gentleman-like, but because Luffy was there. Just gawking at them.
"Ahh, no, I...ahh-I'm gonna take a quick bathroom break!" Nami stuttered.
"Aww Nami-swan!" said Sanji, depression instantly rising at the thought of moments without his dear ginger goddess.
"Don't worry! I'll be back soon," she called as she was swallowed by the crowd of dancers.
Sanji watched her leave. "Ahh, hmmm..." He didn't know what to do now! He glanced down at Luffy, who was looking around the room with a confused expression.
Everyone is dancing, with a partner. What did I feel with Kaida? I...Do I like her? But...Raid! Wait-no... Luffy grabbed the front of his hair tightly before exhaling and running his hand through the dark locks.
"Sanji?" Maybe he can help me, he's always wanting women. Sanji looked at Luffy with an eyebrow raised, curious with the tone of his Captain's voice.
"How do you know if you like a girl?" Luffy asked.
The question hit Sanji like a bullet."Hahahahaha!" he started to laugh and had to hold his stomach in his hilarity.
"Is...is it funny?" huffed Luffy, annoyed.
"No, no," Sanji waved it off, "Do you like Kaida?" he asked. Luffy's immediate red face was answer enough and Sanji began to laugh some more.
"Saannjjii!" Luffy whined. "I don't know! That's why I'm asking you!"
"Okay, okay," Sanji put on of his hands on Luffy's shoulder and stood straight. "You can only figure that out by yourself, Luffy. I can't answer it for you." Luffy's eyebrow went up.
"Wait, no! Sanji! You're not helping!"
Sanji suddenly brought Luffy towards him and spoke, his mouth next to his Captain's ear. "Don't Luffy. She is not a good person." Luffy's eyes widened. "You DON'T like her." repeated Sanji before he let go of Luffy's shoulder and walked past him.
Luffy was stunned. What was that? Was that...right? Is Sanji telling the truth? Luffy didn't know what to think, when Sanji had said "You DON'T like her." The Cook had said it in such a voice that Luffy felt almost obligated not to like her. Luffy turned around to find Sanji but he was gone, and there was no one he recognized that was around him.
"Ahh...what do I do?" wondered Luffy. He was confused and really just wanted to get out of the crowd now. Luffy tried to move forward but a lot of people kept bumping into him. It wasn't until five minutes of mindless searching that he found himself on a staircase where the promising smell of meat from the upper floor lured him.
Zoro was leaning against a wall, next to a table already littered with drinks. Robin approached, handing him a drink.
"Ah. Thanks," said Zoro, taking the drink and downing it.
"Don't like tight spaces?" Robin teased with a smirk. Damn that was hott.
"No," scowled Zoro, blushing slightly. He put the glass onto the emptiest part of the table closest to him. He watched Robin's face as he brought one arm around her and pulled her close, their noses almost touching.
"In fact, I love tight spaces," he growled as his eyes wandered her face. "Especially with you."
"Just how tight?" she asked jokingly as she allowed herself to brush her lips over his. Zoro's other arm circled her waist as he pulled her even closer. Their entire bodies touching, eye's and mouth lingering; the moment was so perfect until-
"Someone help!" came a yell from nearby. Zoro and Robin immediately looked towards where the voice originated from. It was a woman, who looked like she had just come from outside. Her voice had only been loud enough to reach their ears, the people at the table and door that lead to the outside. The man serving at the table went up to her.
"What's wrong Miss?" he asked, worried, as Zoro, Robin, and the people closed in around her.
"I was outside with Tsuna," she began as a man entered through the door; it happened to be the one she was speaking of.
"I couldn't find it," he said breathlessly, his voice shaking from the cold.
"What couldn't you find?" asked another woman.
"There was a shriek, a loud scream that came out of no where while my husband and I were outside."
Robin's eyes widened.
"Kaida." Zoro looked at her in puzzlement before realizing what her statement meant. "Did you see anyone else out there?" asked Robin.
"No. I think we were the only one's that went out because it's starting to get a bit windy out," the woman answered.
Zoro went to crack the door open, causing the light wind to push his hair back. "Where did the voice come from?" he asked. The man named Tsuna came up next to him, opening the door a bit wider and pointed.
"Over there. I went to go look, but I couldn't find anything."
"Robin!" Zoro called.
"Wait," Robin closed her eyes and crossed her arms. She bloomed eyes on the ceiling of the room and looked for everyone. Once she found them, she bloomed her hands out and tapped them on the shoulder, scaring Usopp, before he and the rest of the crew, including Nami walking in the crowd and Luffy from the second floor, came down to meet her and Zoro. The only person she didn't get was Sanji, but she would have to deal with it later.
"Robin, what's going on?" asked Nami as came up to her with Luffy, but Robin just waved them outside to join herself and Zoro.
"Sir," Robin turned to table's server. "We'll find out what it is, so do not worry. After all, we wouldn't like to disturb the party." said Robin. The man was stood dazzled by Robin's reassuring smile before nodding.
"O-okay" he said, his own face turning upwards into a smile. Robin walked past the small, worried crowd and out the door, closing them behind her.
As she made her way to where her crew mates has gathered, Nami made her unhappiness with the situation well-known. "Robin, it's freezing!" whined Nami as she shivered from a light breeze. Robin felt a jacket drop onto her shoulders and looked at Zoro, who was now loosening his tie.
"'Here Nami," offered Luffy as he handed her his coat, not really feeling that cold.
"Ahh!" Nami grabbed the coat and pulled it tight around her; it wasn't as warm as she wanted but it was better than nothing. "What happened?"
"Someone heard a scream out here and both Zoro and I saw Raid and Kaida leave in this direction ten minutes ago, said Robin. "And I didn't see either of them come back inside while I was looking for you guys."
Usopp's eyes widened. "So you're saying that the scream came from them?" he asked, somewhat horrified.
"Yea, but they said it was only a 'scream' so it could have might have been one. They also didn't hear if it was a girl or a guy either," said Robin.
"We have to find them, now," said Luffy, seriousness that he usually lacked now lacing his voice.
"Okay! The best strategy is to separate; this looks like a maze so let's each go with two people just to be safe. I'll go with Chopper, Robin with Zoro, Franky with Usopp and Luffy with Sanji...wait! Where's Sanji?" asked Nami.
"I couldn't find him and stopped searching in the interest of time," replied Robin, the cold air forming in front of her mouth.
"Okay, so the group of three will be Franky, Usopp and Luffy. Got it? And when we find something, yell, and just keep on yelling until we find you." Everyone nodded.
"Let's go!" said Luffy as he bounded onto to the trail in front of him and everyone proceeded with theirs, jogging as to not slip on the slushy snow and ice.
"Damn it! I really hope it wasn't Raid or Kaida. Maybe it was just some overly excited couple," said Usopp.
"That would be weird, annoying, and funny, all at the same time," said Franky turning into a dead end. "Who the hell came up with this maze? It's a frekin' party! No one wants to get lost!" The three went back-tracked their course and took a sudden right that lead to a small, open area with two other open paths on opposing sides.
"Again?" Usopp whined. "We just barely split up a moment ago!" He looked between the opposing trails, wondering what to do.
"I'll take this path," said Luffy heading to the one on the left. "You guys take the other one. Don't forget what Nami said, if you end up finding them." Usopp and Franky watched as Luffy disappeared from their view. They could feel the anguish coming from Luffy, reflecting their own feelings of anger and apprehension about the entire situation.
"Come on Usopp; we have to find them no matter what!" said Franky as he entered their path, the Long Nose close behind.
"Fuck, where are we?" asked Zoro, once again hitting a dead end with no other choice than returning the way they came in.
"Zoro, perhaps it's better for me to lead," said Robin as she turned around.
"Shit," said Zoro, pissed. He didn't like the fact that it was screaming that was leading them to Kaida and/or Raid. "Why did this have to happen?" he mumbled, following Robin down the narrow path.
"There is no explanation yet, but if it's Kaida or Raid, we'll see what happened. Hopefully the scene won't explain it for us," said Robin, her nerves growing with every step.
"This path seems to go on forever," said Nami, slightly annoyed and scared.
"I hope not!" said Chopper, next to her in his walk point.
"Have you caught onto anything yet?"
"No, it's getting mixed up with the other people's scents who were here...but..." Chopper jogged further ahead before catching onto something and startled into a run. "Blood!"
Nami's eyes widened as Chopper ran ahead of her. Needing to know what was wrong, she followed as quick as she could, though careful not slip on the ice. Chopper turned a sharp right. She heard him skid on the ice and yell.
"Chopper!" Nami yelled as she heard a thud and jogged faster, holding up her dress. Finally, she turned the corner and her sight fell onto a gruesome visage.
"RAID!" she yelled as she jogged over to the body and slid down onto the ground next to him, not caring whether the blood got onto her dress. But the very sight of his current state was enough to make her sick, almost to the point of throwing up at a single glance. Her hand was over her mouth as tears poured from her eyes. Chopper was on the other side of him in his Brain Point, his body level with Raid.
"Ohmygodohmygodohmygod...Raid!" he said, tears coming to his eyes. Chopper started tearing open his backpack to find something to stop the bleeding. "Stay with us stay with us!" he yelled as he pulled out some gauze and tried to pad it over the large hole. Nami was in shock, not knowing what to do as his glazed-over eyes met with Choppers and then hers. She took his hand in hers and tightened her grasp, hoping for him to return the gesture but she only got a subtle squeeze back. A gleam came in the corner of her eyes and then she saw the knife covered in blood next to Raid's leg and Chopper's side.
"Raid..." she whimpered.
"Nami!" Chopper got her attention and she just looked at him. "I need you to yell! To bring everyone here, remember?" They stared at each other for a moment, eyes welling up, but a light grunt from Raid brought them back to the present and Nami let go his hand.
"Stay with us alright? I'm going to go get the others!" she said as she got up and went out to the other side of an ornated fountain, that she hadn't noticed earlier. It would have been wonderful if it weren't for all the blood. She took in a deep breath, hoping to get everyone's attention without cracking her voice, "LUFFY, ROBIN, FRANKY, ZORO, USOPP!"
Luffy heard Nami's yells and immediately started to run in the direction of her voice. Whenever coming to a dead end, he just jumping over the obtruding bushes with his power.
"Franky, this way!" yelled Usopp as they heard the urgency in Nami's voice. The two ran towards her, careful not to fall.
Robin started to jog towards Nami's voice, running faster and using her powers to make sure Zoro didn't turn the wrong direction.
Nami yelled four more times before Luffy showed up, followed by Robin, Zoro, Usopp, and Franky. Robin and Zoro gasped seeing Raid on the ground in front of them. Attention caught, Luffy looked towards them and then saw him. Usopp and Franky couldn't even believe their eyes and seemed to freeze in place.
"Wh-what happened?" asked Usopp shakily. Robin rushed over to Chopper's side to help him, her eyes widening as she realized how big the wound in his stomach was. Slowly, Luffy walked to Raid, falling to his knees on the other side of him. Everyone else gathered around him and Nami ttook his hand once again.
"Raid...Raid..." said Luffy, freaking out. "Who...did this to you!" he almost yelled, feeling like he was about to go hysterical.
"Oh god, so much...so much blood," said Usopp, shaking. Raid's slow breathing and drooping eyes met with everyone's in the crew before landing on Luffy's.
"I'm...sorry..." he whispered.
"What? What did he say?" demanded Zoro, caught off guard by the confession.
"Sorry...Sorry" repeated Raid, breathing in rasps.
"Take it easy Raid! I'm going to try to patch you together!" cried Chopper, tears running down his cheeks. Raid slightly shook his head, wanting to stop Chopper. After seeing Raid's wound, everyone knew there was nothing they could do. Usopp wanted to vomit from it's gruesomeness but held it back. Robin put her hand on Chopper's arm. He looked up at her, sniffling before reading in her eyes the uselessness of the act and put his arms down. Silence came over everyone before Nami broke it.
"What...what are you sorry for?" she asked. The crew watched as Raid gathered the last of his energy, with blood coming to his mouth.
"Kaida...I'm sorry. I tried...kill her." Luffy's eyes flashed right onto the borderline of hysteria; he gripped the ice under him to keep sane.
"For...father. Couldn't do it..." Raid inhaled shakily and tried to exhale more words but coughed out blood instead. Robin grew some arms to support under his neck and head so that the blood wouldn't run up into his mouth. He gave a sort of gratifying look at Robin before continuing on. "Loved...I loved...Kaida...couldn't do it.." Zoro's eyes widened, he had known that Raid had liked her, but not that it had come to love. "Sanji...father came, jin...took Kaida," he coughed up more blood, adding it to his suit as he squeezed his eyes in pain. "to everyone...I'm sorry for what I put...you through," he shook a little more violently before looking to Luffy.
"Luffy..." Raid seemed to be hanging to life by a thread. Tears came to Raid's eyes, as well as the rest of the crew, though there were mixed feelings about it. "I'm sorry...for putting you through the pain...of me being with Kaida...Ungh!" Pain shot up through his abdomen and lungs as Raid yelled, slightly squeezing Nami's hand. Chopper had the intense instinct to help him once again, but Robin squeezed his shoulder. Raid's eyes met with Nami's as his hands became loose. Nami understood that he wanted to be let go of and she did. His hand almost fell to the ice, but Raid, using all his strength, brought it as close to Luffy as he could in a gesture for them to grasp hands. Luffy looked at his hand for a moment before grasping it.
"I'm sorry...for everything," tears came to Raid's eyes as Luffy stared into his. "Please take good care of Kaida," he said, tightening his hand around Luffy's. His eyes bore into Luffy's, tears falling onto the snow before letting his hand go and slowly let himself fall into the deep darkness that had been pulling him down. But right before it did, he felt his hand catch, and a strong grasp on it once again. Raid forced his eyes to open and lungs to breath just a little while longer and listen to what Luffy had to say.
"Raid, it's alright. We will get back at her father for this, we will get Kaida back...and I, will take good care of her," tears finally started to fall from Luffy's eyes, realizing that he was about to lose a very brave friend. "We will not go down with a fight; just like you, we aren't easy to defeat either. Die knowing that we will get Kaida back and that it will go back to sailing the seas. Don't die with any shame or regret in your heart."
Raid looked at Luffy, his eyes widening. Franky and Usopp cried quietly along with the rest of the crew, though Zoro barely showed much emotion besides despair. Raid, understanding what Luffy was saying, smiled as Luffy's tears fell onto his cheeks. For one last time, he tightened his hand around Luffy's.
"Thank you," he said, tears trailing down his cheeks as he closed his eyes. Luffy felt as Raid's hand begin to go limp in his and his head lolled slightly downward. Finally, his hand went completely and Luffy held onto it for a bit longer before putting it on the ground beside him. Robin set his head and neck gently back onto the ground.
Chopper let out a wail, clutching at Raid's suit with one paw while crying into Robin.
Robin's cheeks had streams of tears while Nami's, Usopp's, and Franky's came out unwillingly. Zoro looked like he was silently crying, cursing whoever had done this to a good man. Luffy, this being only the third time in his life such an event had happened, cried and let the tears gush out over his now lost friend, Raid.
So What did you think? :3 Was it a surprise? Did it get you mad? Sad? Pissed? Leave a review! I always love them and yes indeed, they do help me write more, and if I don't keep prodding me on wherever you can :) Either way, I will have the next chapter as soon as I can :)