Disclaimer - I don't own One Piece...
A loud crash echoed along the quiet market place, closely followed by a cloud of dust.
Zoro slapped one hand against his forehead and gave a low moan of frustration, Usopp grimaced and they both turned slowly to look behind them. As expected their Captain was nowhere to be seen.
'Please tell me that wasn't him.' Usopp muttered fervently, eyeing the settling dust warily.
Zoro snorted and adjusted the bag of supplies he carried over his shoulder. 'Who else do you know that can make such a mess?'
Usopp grinned and they began to move towards the disturbance. 'You actually sounded curious.' He observed to his green haired friend.
The swordsman rolled his eyes as they rounded the corner. 'I'd like to know if there's anyone else out there who can attract trouble as quickly...as…Luffy?' His voice trailed off as he finally came face to face with the disaster that had been caused by the crashing noise.
'Urgh.' Usopp voiced intelligently, slapping his forehead with both hands.
Luffy was standing on a pile of splinters and rubble of what obviously used to be a small store. There was dust settling on his wild black hair, turning it an interesting shade of light brown. His straw-hat was hanging around his neck and he was holding his hands up in front of him as though creating a shield between himself and the furious looking old lady his crew guessed owned the now flattened store.
A small crowd of villagers had gathered at the disturbance and were now watching the scene in front of them. For some reason the swordsman couldn't see, they all looking both excited and nervous, as though something big was about to happen. There was a strange feeling in the air, the feeling of wary anticipation that usually accompanied seeing a giant electrical storm gathering in the near distance.
The pair finally got close enough to hear what was being said. 'I'm sorry!' their captain was saying with a large grin on his face and not looking very sorry at all. 'I told you, I was chasing that funny lizard and crashed into your shop.' He bent, the grin still in place and picked up a plank.
'A…lizard?' Zoro muttered in resignation. As much as he respected his captain, it was times like this he wished the 17 year old could act a little more his own age. Time after time he was getting the whole crew involved in situations that could have been avoided if he had just used some common sense. The swordsman guessed from the look on the lady's face, that this time the free-spirited young man had gone one step too far. He took a step forward, hoping to diffuse the situation before it got out of hand.
'I can fix your shop!' The boy cried, waving the wood in his hand. The plank suddenly gave a loud cracking noise and broke cleanly in half, the top falling out of the young pirate's grip and somehow crushing the one pot that had miraculously survived the destruction of the shop.
'Ah…' Luffy said bemusedly, watching some sort of strange black liquid soak into the timber scraps he was standing on, hissing menacingly as it disappeared.
'Sorry!' He tried again, his grin slipping a few notches when he finally noticed the ferocious look on the lady's face. She was physically shaking with rage.
Zoro groaned. So much for handling the situation. He thought sourly, he was about to take a step forwards when he heard the muted muttering around him and turned, distracted toloo at the still gathered villagers who were now whispering between themselves.
'Now he's done it.' One rather elderly looking man said to what looked to be his son.
The younger man nodded. 'Look at the glint in her eye.'
A woman bundled up her child who was watching the whole scene with fascination and ran back down the street, away from the shop.
'Uh, oh.' Usopp muttered as he too got a look at the old woman's face. The sniper was quite sure if she had been looking at him like that, he wouldn't have even been attempting to grin at her like Luffy was… he would have been sprinting back to the Going Merry as fast as he could.
The electricity in the air became even more palpable, and the woman took a menacing step towards Luffy. She brought her arms up above her head and gave him a nasty grin, making the captain take half a cautious step backwards. There was an extremely menacing twinkle in her dull green eyes as she stared down the tousle haired pirate.
'I think it is about time you stopped this charade.' She announced in a booming tone with an authority that belied her years. She took another step towards the rather startled looking boy who this time stood his ground. He brought his hands up too - and tried in vain to calm her down.
'Hey, it was an accident.' She took another step, completely ignoring his protests. Luffy took another half step backwards, stumbling slightly on some of the wooden debris that littered the ground. 'What are you doing?'
'This charade will end.' She said again, ignoring his protests completely and advancing one final step towards him, now only meters from the boy.
Luffy's eyes widened when the old woman began to glow a faint green. The electricity in the air increasing until the wind seemed to crackle with it. The light seemed to fade from her body, collecting in her right hand, she gave her hand a little shake and a ball of green energy formed, floating inches above her palm.
Without warning she took a final step forwards and flung the green ball directly at Luffy who appeared too startled to move. The ball of light hit him square in the chest and he crumpled, unconscious before he hit the ground.
'Luffy!' His crew yelled, running forwards.
'What the hell?' Zoro exclaimed in a loud voice, facing off against the witch, acting as cover for Usopp by placing himself between the woman and his friends. The marksman rushed from the side-lines towards their fallen captain.
'What was that?' Zoro growled, obviously shaken. 'What did you DO?' He thumbed his blade partially out of its sheath as the woman faced him fully and grinned at the swordsman, a rather unpleasant sight which showed a lot of brown, pointed teeth. 'You will thank me for this.' She predicted ominously, peering at him from underneath the lank, greasy grey hair that partially covered her eyes.
Zoro raised an eyebrow incredulously. 'For knocking out my Captain with a ball of god knows what?' He snorted and crouched into a defensive stance. 'Somehow I doubt that.'
'Zoro!' Usopp yelled as he stood, a still unconscious Luffy draped over his shoulder. 'We have to get him to Chopper, he's burning up!'
'What?' Zoro demanded wildly, turning his head from the witch to survey the sharp-shooter. Usopp was very pale, as he struggled to lift his captain onto his back – but his face was set and determined.
The old woman cackled, the sound like pebbles in an old can, tinny and hard. 'Your Captain will be fine, the fever is simply a result of him resisting the spell. When it wears off and he awakens his true self will be revealed.' She laughed again.
'True self?' Zoro muttered in confusion.
'Zoro!' Usopp yelled again, turning to start towards the ship. 'We have to go!'
'This isn't over.' Zoro muttered darkly over his shoulder at the still cackling woman as he raced to follow Usopp.
The woman paused in her laughing to watch the pair run away, their Captain still limp on Usopp's back.
'No,' she agreed stroking her pointed chin thoughtfully. 'I think it is just beginning.' She began to laugh again, the sound bouncing around the streets, the echo distorting and warping.
'What the hell happened?' Sanji yelped, dropping the bowl of peas he had been shelling onto the deck as he caught sight of their unconscious Captain.
Chopper stood with a little wailing noise and went rushing down to the men's cabin for his medical bag, his hooves clacking on the wooden deck.
Nami stood up from where she had been sunbathing in the afternoon sun and walked over them, her hands planted firmly on her hips. She was clearly worried, but was hiding it behind a mask of intolerant anger.
'He can't even go to the market without getting in trouble?' She exclaimed. 'What happened?'
Zoro and Usopp exchanged glances. 'Ummm… we think he was … cursed.' Usopp muttered.
'Cursed!?' Nami shrieked horrified.
'How the hell did he get freaking CURSED?' Sanji demanded, his visible eye widening.
The two exchanged looks again, and this time it was Zoro who answered, Chopper arriving with his bag just in time to catch the quickly summed up story. He shook his antlered head in disbelief while he knelt over their Captain.
'Only Luffy.' Sanji muttered, almost in awe as the story was finished.
'His fever is really high.' Chopper stated, grinding up some powder and tipping it into Luffy's slightly open mouth, followed with a little water to wash it down. Luffy swallowed reflexively and Chopper placed a hoof gently on his forehead to calm the boy, gently sweeping back his Captain's black hair as he shuddered unconsciously from the awful taste.
The crew watched in concern as their Captain stilled again. 'The old witch said the fever was caused by him resisting the spell.' Usopp supplied a little doubtfully. 'She said when he wakes up tomorrow morning he'll be his true self.'
'What the hell does that mean?' Sanji demanded, flicking the ash from his cigarette in irritation. The curly haired boy shrugged, his eyes still on his Captain as he lay on the deck.
'In any case.' Nami began rather bossily, still worried. 'It can't be comfortable for him to be lying on the hard deck like that. We should take him to his hammock.'
The others nodded at this logic, and Zoro bent to scoop up the sick boy, trying very hard not to disturb him as he slept.
'We'll wait and see how he wakes up tomorrow.' Chopper recommended, wiping his hooves on a little towel. 'If he's no better we'll need to go and pay a visit to the witch.'
The crew nodded and began to follow the swordsman down to the cabins their Captain's health taking priority over revenge on the witch.
Usopp paused for a moment on the deck watching the others go below, the whole experience summed up for him by one of Luffy's arms swaying unconsciously as he was carried by his swordsman.
The realisation that their Captain was sick and they didn't know what had caused the illness hit him suddenly, that the only information they were going on was the word of the person who had made him sick to start with and the hope that she was telling the truth worried the marksman immensely. Usopp made a decision then that he would watch over his Captain all night if he had to, to make sure nothing happened while he was asleep.
'True self.' He muttered to himself with a sarcastic little snort, before turning with a soft sigh and following his nakama down the stairs.
The next morning the crew, who had all apparently shared Usopp's fears had slept in the cabin to keep an eye on their Captain, awoke when they heard a low groan.
'Eh?' Came a very familiar and welcome voice. The crew could make out a figure sitting up in the semi-darkness that showed it was just before dawn. The pale light filtering through the two small port holes in the cabin was washing over him. Luffy sat up slowly, one hand firmly pressed to his forehead showing he was still quite dizzy. He didn't move for a long moment.
'Luffy? How are you feeling?' Chopper asked professionally.
'Alright?' He said a little doubtfully, looking himself over. 'I think…' he paused for a moment. 'No, I'm ok.' He confirmed, still sounding confused.
The others looked at each other, worried by the uncharacteristic answer. Luffy swung his legs over the edge of the hammock and sat for a minute, simply looking at them with a smile on his face. Not his usual grin, but an actual smile. 'Yep, I'm ok.' He said again.
'So…' Sanji began hesitantly, a little unnerved by the Captain's rather odd behaviour. 'Who's up for some breakfast?'
'Yeah! I'd like some!' Luffy said eagerly with another bright smile.
Sanji shrugged at the others. Although not the usual vibrant, slightly scary response they were used to when food was mentioned. It was very early and it was good enough for now. But still, it seemed there was something different about their captain. The blonde cook could tell from the looks on the other faces that the others had seen it too.
'Well come on you crap-guys and Nami-swan.' He said as he stood. 'It won't take long, you can wait in the kitchen.'
Everyone but Luffy who was still slightly unsteady looked at the cook strangely for a moment. He never allowed them to wait in the kitchen while he cooked. He once said it was because he didn't like people to see the ingredients he was cooking… that it took all the magic out of the finished product.
Sanji shrugged barely perceptively as Luffy stood up and put his hat firmly on his black hair looking around expectantly at the others.
'Ah.' Zoro muttered to himself, realising quickly that this was the cook's way of keeping an eye on the Captain. The swordsman stood, shrugged and led the way upstairs. He'd gone a few steps across the deck when he'd turned slightly surprised to see Luffy walking calmly beside him, not bounding in front of him, like he usually did - especially when he was on his way to a meal.
There was a rather serene look on the young captain's face and Zoro couldn't help but notice he held himself a little bit differently. He looked more self-assured and more…powerful, a little more mature maybe.
What the hell? Zoro thought raising an eyebrow slightly in confusion.
'So how are you feeling, Luffy?' He asked hesitantly allowing the Captain to walk through the kitchen door before him. 'Really I mean.' He finished quietly.
Luffy looked over his shoulder as he sat down at the table and gave a rather mysterious smile as he realised the whole crew were waiting for an answer. He closed his eyes briefly obviously putting some thought into how to answer the question.
Sanji began cracking eggs into a pan, the strong smell of eggs filling the room in seconds and the loud sizzling noise making the small room even more homey. He opened his eyes again with a small sigh and looked down at his hands which were folded on the table, a distinctly uncharacteristic gesture which he didn't seem to notice. His crew did though and they shot confused looks at each other.
'I feel…' he began, unsure how to phrase it. 'Different.' He paused. 'But more normal almost.' He stopped suddenly and glanced up at his crew. He noted the confused looks on their faces and gave a soft laugh, reaching up to pull his hat from his head and placing it in his lap as the other hand ran slowly through his black hair making it stick up more than normal. .
'Sorry,' he stated apologetically. 'That made no sense.' He paused again. 'I'm just not really sure how to explain it.'
He looked up again and realised that this time the crew were looking at him with something closer to shock on their faces. Sanji had turned away from the stove; the eggs were beginning to blacken slightly around the edges.
'What?' The captain asked innocently.
'You sound different.' Nami observed. The others nodded and Sanji gave a soft curse and turned quickly to dive back to the stove, salvaging their breakfast skilfully and serving it onto pre-warmed plates.
'I do?' Luffy asked a little bewildered.
The others nodded. 'You're using bigger words and your sentence structure is different.' Nami provided, taking the plate of food Sanji handed her gratefully.
'I … don't know what to say to that.' Luffy began, as he picked up his fork, playing with it briefly before scooping up a mouthful of eggs. 'I feel like me.' He finished, taking a bite. Maybe even more so. He thought to himself.
There was a long silence, broken only by the chinking of forks and spoons on plates. The rest of the crew all looked up suddenly… silence at meal times was NOT normal on the Going Merry. They saw their Captain eating heartily, but his dark eyes were glazed over in thought. He was only eating from his own plate.
'…Luffy?' Chopper began, there was no response. He reached out a hoof to tap his friend.
'Hey, Luffy?' the black-haired young man blinked and turned his gaze down to look at the doctor, a gentle smile on his face.
'What's wrong Chopper?' he asked
'I want to give you a check up after breakfast' the little reindeer's butter knife flashed when he gestured, catching the morning sun. Luffy froze. Chopper pulled a pot of jam towards himself and began spreading it on an English muffin, oblivious to the look on his captain's face as he continued. 'You seem healthy enough but…' the knife flashed again.
'No…' Luffy whispered, eyes wide, pushing his seat back from the table with a loud screeching noise.
'Luffy?' Chopper moved forwards, scared by the usually unflappable Captain's display of fear over a simple check up.
The rest of the crew exchanged alarmed looks at his unexpected reaction.
'No!' Luffy whispered a little stronger as he backed up against the wall. 'Leave me ALONE!' He growled in a dangerous voice, taking the crew by complete surprise, his eyes now darting between each of the knives in his crew's hands.
Nami's eyes widened slightly. 'Everyone put down your knives.' She said very softly and calmly. They looked at her quickly and then back at their tense captain, his wide eyes still trained on his nakama's hands, relaxing only very slightly when they put down the utensils.
Zoro stood slowly, trying not to startle his friend further. 'Hey Luffy, it's alright. Chopper's not going to give you a check up if you don't want one. Are you?' He asked, directing the question at the little reindeer.
Chopper shook his head wordlessly, mouth slightly open in shock. Zoro took another step and Luffy tensed up even more than before, his back flat against the wood panelling of the kitchen wall.
Luffy glared at the taller man with absolute fury written all over his face. Zoro unconsciously took a step backwards as realisation hit him.
'You… you don't recognise me do you?' Zoro stammered, taking another half step back. The others blanched.
'Get AWAY from me.' Luffy stated flatly in a tone none of them had ever heard him use before. It was an absolute order, one that was tainted with fear - he was panting slightly, and sweating, eyes wild.
Luffy was scared… of his nakama.
'It's ok.' Zoro said gently trying again, stepping forwards until he was close enough to touch Luffy's shoulder – something the older boy had learnt was effective in calming his friend when he was angry. He brought one arm up slowly towards his friend. This proved to be a very bad move.
So suddenly the move was slightly blurred, Luffy tensed, bringing himself up to his full height and pushed himself away from the wall. The sudden move forcing Zoro to stumble back the few feet he had gained.
'GET AWAY!!.' Luffy screamed at the top of his lungs, hands screwed into balls at his side and his face scrunched with the effort of yelling. A sudden wind blew as though coming directly from the distraught young man. His eyes flicked between them all and the intensity of his gaze was making his eyes glitter with a power none had ever seen before, he was panting harshly and he was very pale.
He stepped forwards, his hands bundled into tight fists at his sides. Spider-web like cracks began appearing in the windows as though fuelled by Luffy's rage.
Chopper twitched and Luffy's gaze shot to him, freezing the young doctor in his place. 'Don't move.' Luffy growled again, more softly this time, but with even more intensity.
The windows shattered suddenly, blowing in violently as though pushed by a monster force. Bits of glass flew around the room, and the floor began to shudder violently. The crew were very aware that if the heavy wooden furniture was not bolted to the floor it would be slamming around the room as well.
Nami screamed suddenly, as a small sliver of glass cut her hand. A tiny trickle of blood leaked from the cut and dropped to the floor.
As suddenly as it had started, the noise and wind stopped. Luffy's hands dropped their fist and his eyes darted to Nami who was being sheltered by Sanji under the table. She looked terrified, but his eyes were fixed on her bleeding hand.
'Nami… guys…' Luffy muttered. He blinked once, surveying the disaster that was now their kitchen. Broken glass littered every flat surface making the room glitter in the morning sunlight. Food was all over the floor from both the wind and his nakama knocking the plates off the table as they dived underneath, the crew themselves began poking their heads out from under the table to look at their friend, all looking rather windswept.
'Huh?' he muttered when his vision began to fade. He looked down and saw he was shaking uncontrollably, sweat dripping off his face. He knew he must be very pale, but what he didn't know was that his black eyes were still burning with power.
Zoro stood again as their captain began swaying dangerously and took a cautious step forwards.
'Luffy?' His voice wavered slightly, but the swordsman didn't notice.
'Zoro?' Luffy muttered weakly his own voice echoing strangely in his ears and the world spinning slowly making him feel sick. He gave his head a little shake but that only increased the spinning, he stumbled catching himself awkwardly on the doorframe. His hearing began to tunnel in. '...I think I'm going to pass out...' His voice faded away on the last word and the last of the colour drained from his face, he fell.
Zoro gave a yell and jumped forwards quickly to catch his Captain before he made contact with the glass strewn floor.
Silence filled the kitchen for a long moment, as the crew looked at each other, the mess and their unconscious captain.
'Whoa…' Usopp breathed finally, eyes open wide. Tiny pieces of glass still fell to the floor from the shattered panes; the tinkling could easily be heard in the new silence.
'What the hellwas THAT?' The others stared at him speechless, their eyes enormous.
A/N - Soooo, I finally began typing this one up, only a year after I finished Lost and promised this one would be out soon... sorry. Anyways, I hadn't seen anything like this anywhere and felt like reading a story about magic powers, so let me know what you all think!! Poor Luffy, I'm so hard on him... but he's just so INTERESTING!! I realise everyone especially Luffy is out of character here, but it's AU so that's really to be expected.