~ Hide-and-Go-Seek ~
Somewhere out in the ocean, the Thousand Sunny bobbed languidly under a perfectly clear sky. There wasn't a cloud in sight, so the ship was bathed in bright sunlight that prompted many of the Sunny's crew to spend the day out on the lawn enjoying the beautiful weather. Such occurrences were uncommon on the Grand Line, after all. And perfect weather showing up in the middle of a stretch of peace was another thing entirely. Divine intervention, or something.
Nami and Robin were in lawn chairs near the rail, the navigator soaking up her share of the sun while Robin read in silence next to her, enjoying the unaccustomed calm of the day. Sanji was occupied waiting on them hand and foot, running back and forth between his goddesses and the galley to bring them whatever drinks or snacks he thought they might need.
Across the lawn, sprawled out carelessly where he was most likely to get stomped on or trip someone face-first into the deck, was Zoro, catching up on sleep lost due to his having to stay up all night on watch. Chopper was parked on the deck next to the swordsman, debating a nap himself and giggling each time Zoro let out a particularly loud snore.
Usopp and Franky were occupied toying with some new invention one or the other of them had made, and Brooke was entertaining himself, just enjoying the view off the side of the ship and playing a light-hearted song on his violin.
Yes, it was an absolutely lovely day. Calm, peaceful, relaxing... and boooooring.Perched atop the lion figurehead, Luffy groaned loudly and kicked his feet. There was nothing to do! He'd never been so bored in his life! He was sure of it, because he'd spent the last five (boring) minutes recounting what he was pretty sure was every boring moment in his entire life, and none of those moments compared to this one. With another loud disgruntled sound, Luffy took to debating whether or not one could actually die of boredom, and was just about to run and ask Chopper when an idea struck him. Well, what actually struck him was Chopper's baseball, which Sanji winged at his head along with a threat against his life if he didn't stop making god-awful noises and ruining Nami-san and Robin-chan's peace and quiet, but the idea came in a very close second.
Luffy pitched off the figurehead and landed in a heap on the deck before flailing his way to his feet to wave his arms frantically. "Emergency! Everybody! Quick!"
He might have gone about that a bit differently, but that seemed the right thing to do at the time. As it was, a violin string snapped in the distance with a distinct twang!, Zoro sat bolt upright and scared the hell out of Chopper, Usopp yelped and nearly dropped something that looked particularly delicate which resulted in a mad quick-grab-it-before-it-hits-the-deck dash between the sniper and Franky, and the rest of the crew started whipping their heads around as if they expected an enemy ship to fall from the sky.
Finally everyone – save for Zoro, since he didn't actually know why the hell he was awake - stilled and turned baffled expression to Luffy, who kept waving his arms around as he ran over into their midst.
"Luffy, what's wrong?" Nami demanded, at a complete loss as she watched her captain spazz.
"I have a great idea," Luffy said excitedly, looking like he was about to start jumping up and down on the spot.
"... You gonna tell us?" Sanji prompted when it seemed no explanation was forthcoming.
Finally Luffy planted his feet and flung his arms up with a serious expression. "We're all going to play hide-and-go-seek!"
"That was the emergency?!" Nami shrieked at the same time a she cracked a fist over Luffy's head. The captain staggered but was undeterred.
"It'll be fun!" Luffy insisted. "No one's doing anything anyway, and I'm bored."
Nami seemed about to bite his head off, and Sanji didn't look to be in a much better mood, so Robin took it upon herself to step in. She shut her book as she got to her feet to impart her opinion, "Actually, that sounds like a wonderful idea."
Nami turned a disbelieving expression on her, and now Sanji looked torn.
"You... want to play?" the navigator asked incredulously. "Really?"
Robin just smiled and shrugged one shoulder, and Luffy latched onto the support like a mollusk to a rock. "See? Robin thinks it's a good idea! Come on, Nami."
He started making puppy eyes, which didn't really effect the navigator, but luckily for him the great weather had her in a rather good mood and after another moment of begging from her captain she finally let out a martyred sigh and waved a hand, "All right, all right."
Luffy cheered and ran off to gather up the rest of the crew for his game, looking jazzed out of his mind. Once he was off hauling a rattled Usopp toward Chopper, Nami turned a look on Robin, lips twitching into a smile. The archaeologist just shrugged again, said an amused, "He was bored," and Nami laughed. Sanji looked confused for another moment, then just shook it off and gathered up the girl's glasses.
Not three minutes later, Luffy had the entire crew gathered in the middle of the lawn around a spare empty barrel which was to serve as Base. Nami and Robin had been afforded enough time to grab their sheer wrap skirts to wear over their bathing suits, but everyone had pretty much congregated without much warning. So the girls were in bikinis, Usopp was in tan shorts and an open shirt without shoes, Zoro was dressed but also lacking shoes and looking sort of dazed, Luffy only sported his denim shorts, having ditched the vest earlier that day, and Franky and Chopper didn't count because they hardly ever wore full outfits anyway. Sanji and Brooke were the only fully-clothed people on the ship, and they were currently appreciating the fact that Nami and Robin were in bikinis.
They all looked very professional.
"All right!" Nami shouted for attention. Despite her initial misgivings, she had taken over the whole operation once Luffy proved to be too excited to explain what was going on. "I assume you're all wondering why you're gathered here."
Usopp raised his hand. Nami cocked a brow at him. "Can I go...?" the sniper asked nervously.
Nami scowled. "No! We're playing hide-and-go-seek."
Everyone who hadn't been filled in on this gave her identical blank looks and Nami sighed. "Luffy was bored, so now we're playing hide-and-go-seek. Now shut up while I explain the rules."
Brooke looked between everyone and then laughed, apparently finding the whole situation amusing.
"We all know the rules!" Luffy grouched impatiently. "Everyone hides and then someone finds them. Let's start!"
Nami's scowl deepened. "Hold on! Agh, we need to change the rules so the game is fair!"
Luffy looked confused. "Why?"
"Because you Devil Fruit users have an advantage," Nami explained. "So the first rule is, no Devil Fruit abilities. Sorry, Robin."
"Perfectly understandable," the archaeologist reasoned.
Luffy folded his arms and started tapping his foot. "Fine. Can we play now?"
Nami chose to ignore him as she looked to everyone else. "We all know how to play?" When she received nods all around, she continued with, "You have to make it to this barrel to be safe, but if you get tagged before you touch it, you have to go sit in the corner by the stairs and not move until the game is over. Now who's going to be 'It'?"
In half a second, every member of the crew save for Luffy and Zoro threw an arm in the air and cried, "NOT IT!" Chopper then assisted the slightly-dazed swordsman by jumping up and shoving his arm in the air for him. Luffy looked confused again.
"Luffy's 'It'!" Nami declared.
Luffy immediately looked outraged. "Not fair! I wasn't ready! Do-over!"
"No do-overs," Nami said with finality, hands on her hips. "Now go put your face on the barrel, shut your eyes and count to fifty."
"Can he count that high...?" Usopp snickered to Franky, and Luffy glared as best he could before stomping over to the barrel and thunking his face down onto the wooden lid. The rest of the crew fell silent as they waited for his yell of, "One!" and then everyone scattered. Er, mostly everyone.
"Zoro, come on!" Chopper started shoving the swordsman's legs when he failed to react, and Zoro blinked once before looking down. "Eh?"
"Just leave him," Sanji snickered before taking off in the direction of the observation tower.
Zoro glared after him, even though he wasn't sure what had just happened, and then looked down at Chopper again. "Stop shoving me."
"You have to go hide!" Chopper insisted, and when he heard Luffy had already reached ten, he shoved harder. "Hurry! Hurry!"
"What? Why?" Zoro frowned and looked around. Were they under attack? "Why's Luffy talking to the barrel...?"
"Were you sleeping on your feet the whole time? We're playing hide-and-go-seek!" Chopper informed in a rush. Luffy was at fifteen now!
A pause, then Zoro said simply, "Oh," and turned to walk away. Chopper looked at him, then at Luffy, then quickly ran off in a random direction. Hiding place!
By the time Luffy reached his count of fifty seconds and raised his head from the barrel with a loud cry of, "Ready or not, here I come!" he was alone on the lawn. Silence met his voice, and after a moment he hopped up onto the barrel to survey the deck. Ah, now the hunt was on...
Luffy slid off the barrel and slunk across the lawn toward the stairs leading to Usopp's workroom. If there was any good place to start, that would be it. Where else would Usopp hide?
Unfortunately, Luffy left the factory empty-handed and stepped back outside to scan the lawn again, scratching the back of his head. No one had made it to the Base while he was inside... But where were they?
Luffy skidded down the slide, ran across the lawn, did a fast check of both bathrooms and around any structure blocking his clear line of sight before he deemed the deck clear of targets. Fifty seconds was a long time to hide in such a big ship. He'd have to get creative.
~ ;3 ~
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the Thousand Sunny, Chopper shimmied his way under the dining table in the darkened dining room and giggled behind his hoof. He was the only one in here, and if Luffy came looking for him he could run away before he was caught! This was the perfect hiding spot.
Chopper's musings were brought to an abrupt end by the sound of someone else scrambling into the room, and the little doctor clapped a hand over his mouth as he leaned over to peer toward the entrance. He straightened up when he saw it wasn't Luffy trying to sneak into the room, but Sanji.
"Sanji?" Chopper hissed, poking his head out from under the table. "What're you doing in here?"
"Hiding," the cook said quietly, ducking past the table and heading for the kitchen counter.
"Shouldn't you already be hidden?" Chopper asked, confused, and Sanji started shuffling around in search of a place to tuck himself away.
"I was. I had a wonderful spot in sight of Base," Sanji said in a whisper without looking toward the table.
"Then why are you here?" Chopper asked as he glanced to the door and then back to the kitchen counter where Sanji's voice was coming from. This wasn't exactly the best spot for the cook, of all people, to hide!
"Nami-san is in the other spot," Sanji said from somewhere out of sight.
Chopper made a disbelieving sound. "You gave up your spot for her?"
"Of course! I would give anyth--"
"Sshh!" Chopper interrupted, ducking under the table quickly. "I hear someone coming!"
Silence fell in the galley.
~ ;3 ~
Luffy crept toward the galley door with his eyes narrowed, listening hard. If someone wasn't hiding in there he'd be stunned! There was nowhere else on the ship where you could hide and have a snack at the same time.
Luffy eased into the room with every bit of stealth he could muster, leaving the door slightly cracked so he could peek outside and make sure no one was sneaking past him while he was distracted. Inside, it was dark and utterly still... but not utterly silent. Luffy could hear a suspicious noise coming from somewhere near the dining table. It sounded like nervous breathing.
An evil grin stole over Luffy's face as he crept further into the room and followed his ears toward the sound until he had rounded the dining table. It was louder now. Someone was definitely under there.
"Hmmmm," Luffy noised thoughtfully as he stood at the head of the table. "It seems like this room is empty!"
A giggle sounded under the table, but was quickly muffled. Luffy snickered.
"But what could this be?" Now whoever was under the table fell silent as Luffy nudged the table leg with a sandaled foot. "I hear..." He knelt down, keeping his head above the table cloth as he spoke to the room at large. "... What sounds like..." Now he caught the edge of the tablecloth with one hand. "... Someone not very sneaky!"
Luffy jerked the cloth up and made a wild dive under the table where Chopper shrieked and made a mad dash for the door, evading Luffy's grabbing hands by inches. But the rubber man was not to be outrun and both of them scrambled loudly across the space toward the other side, knocking chairs over and shaking the table before Chopper emerged and made a run for it. But Luffy lunged forward with a bark of laughter and took the little reindeer down bodily, rolling across the floor and ending up halfway out of the galley before they stopped.
"Ha! I got you, Chopper!" Luffy cried triumphantly as the little doctor wiggled his way loose. "Now you have to go to the Corner and wait for-- Nami!"
Luffy looked over just in time to see the navigator sprinting for the Base. Nami looked back at the sound of her name, then turned and ran faster. Sadly Luffy was completely insane and he vaulted over the railing and just managed to graze the navigator's arm with his fingertips. He was working very hard to follow the rules and not stretch!
Nami tripped her way to a stop and flapped her arms in frustration. "Dammit!" She scowled and stomped over to the Corner of the Tagged, where Chopper greeted her with a disappointed wave.
Luffy busted up laughing, pointing at her. "You almost made it! You totally just--"
Luffy was silenced when Sanji came flying out of nowhere and hit him with enough force that they both went skidding across the lawn. When they came to a stop, Sanji was sitting on Luffy, and he kicked the rubber man in the head before getting to his feet.
"That," the cook said tersely, straightening his suit jacket, "was for Nami-san."
Still face-down in the grass, Luffy lifted a hand and said a muffled, "Yer out, Sanji!"
Sanji blinked, replayed the scene in his head, then turned to twirl his way over to the Corner of the Tagged. "Nami-swaaaaan," he crooned like a moron, "we can spend our time in captivity together!"
Nami looked less than pleased, but scooted over to make room for the blonde anyway. Three of them taken out in a matter of seconds. Uhg.
Once Luffy managed to pry himself off the lawn, he straightened his displaced hat and eyed his catches. All right, three down. Now where was everyone else?
"You guys wait here!" Luffy instructed needlessly before running off to continue his search. The little clutch of tagged people watched him go with expressions ranging from annoyance to depression.
"I can't believe I got tagged," Chopper moaned piteously, and then flopped onto the ground. Nami patted his back in an absently comforting manner and wished she had a book. Or some personal space. Whichever.
~ ;3 ~
Luffy's search had widened from the upper floors after more fruitless scouring of nooks and crannies, and now he found himself hunting around the lower decks as well. Franky's work room, the energy room, even the Soldier Dock System were free of hiding crew mates, and eventually Luffy's stealthy wanderings carried him to the men's quarters, because he was running out of ideas for places to look.
Luffy snuck into the darkened room with the light steps of a drunken cat and crept across the space to the beds, which hung suspended off the floor by ropes. He checked each one, looking under blankets and beneath the beds themselves, then he started investigating the rest of the room. He had absolutely no luck... until he neared the closet.
It wasn't any sort of sound that tipped the captain off to the closet's inhabitant – no, actually, it was the bit of poofy black hair caught in the door that alerted him. Luffy nearly overlooked it at first, but once it caught his attention he sidled over to examine it. And poke it a few times. Experimentally.
Whose hair could that be? Thoughtfully, Luffy pictured each of his crew in turn. His eyes glittered when he pegged one in particular.
It had to be Usopp!
Without further hesitation, Luffy grasped the door handle and flung it open with a cry of "Ah HA-! Huh?"
Peering back at Luffy from the depths of the closet was Brooke, and the irony of the situation sailed over Luffy's head at light speed. With a shrug, the captain reached out and tapped Brooke's shoulder with a finger and flashed a grin. "Gotcha!"
"Yohohoho." Brooke unfolded himself from the floor and stepped out of the closet, replacing his tophat on his head. "I never thought I would be found in there!"
"That was a great spot," Luffy laughed. "Now you gotta go sit in the Corner! Don't worry though," he said proudly, "there're already a lot of people there."
Brooke laughed again, made a slight bow, and then exited the room to join everyone else out on the lawn. Now Luffy was left in the men's quarters wondering where Franky, Usopp, Robin and Zoro could possibly be hiding...
~ ;3 ~
Out on the deck, Brooke emerged and marched dutifully over to the Corner of the Tagged, where he settled himself down next to Chopper and greeted everyone brightly.
Nami sighed and folded her arms on her knees. "You too, huh?"
"Our captain is exceptionally good at this game!" Brooke declared, and Chopper huffed out a breath and picked at the grass.
"Well, where did you hide?" Sanji inquired, for distraction's sake.
"In the closet in the men's quarters," Brooke supplied without hesitation.
"The... You were in the closet?" Nami asked carefully, since she couldn't have heard the musician right. When Brooke just nodded, Nami exchanged a look with Sanji, and then they both looked at Brooke, who had somehow managed to miss the most obvious Skull Joke ever presented to mankind.
Finally Nami just shrugged. "Good spot."
"Why thank you," Brooke said, pleased.
Sanji decided that was a great moment for a cigarette.
~ ;3 ~
With measured steps and complete silence, Usopp tip-toed his way down the hallway toward the men's quarters. Up until now, he had been tucked away in a hidden corner of the hold. But he had finally decided - in a show of his great tactical prowess – to make a break for it. Strangely though, he could have sworn he heard Brooke's voice not a moment before he reached the hallway...
Shrugging the thought off, Usopp hugged the wall and continued his journey, minding every fall of his foot to ensure not a sound was made. Not one board would be allowed to creak, not one shoe allowed to slip, lest he make a sound to alert someone to his presence--
The sniper shrieked and nearly jumped out of his sneaky-shoes, whirling around to face Luffy, who stood just outside the door to the men's quarters, which the sniper had just passed by. Recovering his composure quickly, Usopp pointed at him and griped, "Don't sneak up on people!"
Luffy cocked his head. "You were the one creeping around like a ghoul," he said, and snickered at the sniper's irritated face.
"Yeah, well, I was trying not to be found!" Usopp countered. "Because if you found me, you might tag me, and then I'd lose! So I couldn't be found!"
"Oh," Luffy noised with a nod, "good point."
The pair regarded each other evenly over the few feet between them, the air thick. Finally Luffy broke the silence by saying, "So, you gonna run away?"
"Yeah, I think I will," Usopp voiced. Then he abruptly spun around and ran screaming down the hallway as Luffy lunged for him, and when the captain missed his grab, he fell into step behind the sniper. Both of them went tearing through the ship at a sprint and making enough noise to raise the dead.
Somewhere in the ship, Zoro lifted his head and peered around, then yawned widely and went back to sleep.
Usopp broke out onto the lawn at a full run and nearly fell on his face when he hit the stairs, but managed to catch himself and keep going. He was in sight of Base! He could do this!
Sadly Luffy realized this fact as well, and in a last-ditch attempt to halt the sniper, the captain planted a foot on the top step of the stairs and shouted a battle cry as he catapulted himself forward to sail through the air like a human bullet.
Usopp never stood a chance. Luffy collided with the center of his back and took him down roughly, the both of them earning grass stains and a few new bruises. Luffy's arms ended up pinned under Usopp's stomach where he had them flung around the face-down sniper, and the captain lifted his head with a bark of laughter. "Tagged!"
Usopp twitched expressively. Every occupant of the Corner of the Tagged clapped their hands for the show.
Luffy was just trying to figure out a way to free his arms when movement caught his attention, and he turned his head to see Franky standing on the railing of the upper deck. Their gazes locked and Luffy stiffened, trying to pull his arms free. He couldn't catch Franky if he was stuck by Usopp!
Sensing the perfect chance to reach Base, Franky cracked an evil grin and set a foot on the railing. He had seconds to spare; he'd have to jump for it.
Sure that he could make the distance, Franky stepped up onto the rail, struck a pose, and then leapt out into the air with a cry of, "Supaaaaaa!"Still accidentally pinned by Usopp, Luffy looked up at Franky's flying form, cast in dramatic silhouette by the sun overhead, with a horrified expression. No! He couldn't lose! He had almost everyone tagged already!
Franky cast a triumphant look down at his captain as he sailed through the air, his arms stretched out before him. Ha, what a perfect plan. Luffy was totally helpless to stop him!
Sadly another element wasn't so powerless. Gravity chose that moment to remember how to function properly, and Franky realized with dread that the lawn was coming up rather quickly. He flapped his arms and cursed, but in the next second he hit the deck face-down with a resounding - if rather unceremonious – thud.
Luffy wandered over a moment later and patted the shipwright on the head with a satisfied, "Got you."
Franky twitched in the same manner as Usopp, and tried to figure out if that strange taste he was experiencing was that of defeat... or grass.
~ ;3 ~
The scene down on the lawn played out in entertaining detail for one of the missing members of the crew, one of few skilled – or was it lucky? - enough to still remain in-play. Robin's dark eyes tracked the show with a glint of amusement from her place tucked away in the observation tower. Actually she had watched each of her nakama get tagged so far, lying in wait for the best moment to make a run for Base. She was running out of chances now, though...
With a final look down to the lawn, where Luffy was now skulking away to return to his hunt, Robin turned from the window and headed for the hatch. Playing this game completely without the aid of her powers had turned out to be quite a change, and the archaeologist slipped out of the observation tower with a lingering little smile. Maybe she would be the first one to reach Base?
The trip downstairs was made in careful silence, and Robin found herself alone the entire way. Luffy had gone in the opposite direction, so if she timed her move carefully she had a very good chance of making it.
Robin paused by the door that led out to the deck, leaning close to it to listen for any sounds of nearing footsteps. Other than the distant, muffled voices of those already in the Corner of the Tagged, she heard nothing, and carefully eased the door open a crack to peer outside.
The deck was clear. Robin opened the door just wide enough to slip outside and eased it shut behind her, listening carefully as she made her way to the stairs. Her foot was on the last step when Nami finally noticed her presence, and when the navigator looked her way, Sanji followed her gaze. He had to physically cover his mouth to keep himself quiet when he spotted the bikini-clad Robin, and every other member of the Tagged started making wild gestures toward the barrel, urging her to run for it.
Robin decided to take their hint, and she stepped off the last stair at a quick pace. She didn't lower her guard though, and her attentiveness to her surroundings was the only reason she noticed Luffy appear from the doorway leading from the galley. All the Tagged started shouting frantically and Robin broke into a run as Luffy jumped the railing and charged for her.
"Go! Go, Robin!" Nami cried supportively over Sanji's cheering, jabbing a fist in the air.
Luffy let out a frustrated shout and Robin set her sights on the barrel. It was now or never, and she took one last fast stride, a hand outstretched to touch the wood that would signify her Safe.
A split second before her fingertips grazed the edge of Base, Robin felt a tug at the edge of her wrap skirt and knew she had lost. The sheer cloth fell loose and fluttered the ground like a flag ending a race, and the archaeologist looked back to see a thrilled Luffy wearing a winner's grin.
Then Sanji came flying out of nowhere and took Luffy out for the second time that day by landing a foot in the side of the captain's head.
"How dare you tag Robin-chan!" the cook cried in outrage.
Floored, Luffy rolled himself over and offered Sanji a wounded look. "I already got you! You can't leave the Corner! You double lose!"
Sanji ignored him, stooping to retrieve Robin's dropped skirt from the grass. He then turned and presented the cloth to Robin with a deep bow. "Your skirt, Robin-chan."
"Thank you, cook-san," the archaeologist laughed as she accepted the cloth, then patted Sanji's hand lightly, which had the cook melting in an instant.
Luffy pushed himself to his feet as the pair headed to the Corner, and he pouted at Sanji before turning to hurry off again. Just one left now!
~ ;3 ~
The next ten minutes in the Corner of the Tagged were spent in boredom only relieved by watching Luffy careen back and forth across the lawn. Other than that, being stuck in a corner with nothing to do was painfully monotonous and everyone was getting a bit fidgety by the time Luffy finally ran over to the group, panting for breath.
"I can't find him!" the captain wheezed with a shake of his head, hands against his bent knees.
"What?" Nami stood up to give him a bewildered look. "What do you mean you can't find him? We're on a ship! He has to be somewhere!"
"I've looked everywhere," Luffy said with a wave of his arms. "Maybe he fell off the ship!"
"Like we'd be so lucky," Sanji muttered as he, too, stood up from the grass. "Marimo-head's probably asleep somewhere."
Chopper hopped to his feet and looked around the lawn like he expected Zoro to come running out at any moment. "What do we do? The game wont end unless you find him. And if you can't find him, you lose!"
Luffy looked immediately horrified, and then his expression switched to one of renewed determination and he pointed at the group of Tagged. "You'll all help me."
"I believe that's cheating," Brooke chimed helpfully, and Nami shot him a look.
"Do you really want to be stuck in this corner all day?" the navigator asked, and Brooke looked a little torn.
"All day?" he repeated unsurely.
"All day, because unless we find Zoro, this game wont end," Nami said flatly.
"And you can't leave the Corner until the game is over!" Luffy supplied.
Brooke switched sides in half a second when faced with this new fate. "Let's go, team!"
Luffy grinned broadly and turned toward the lawn again. "All right, let's go!"
~ ;3 ~
When Zoro finally emerged from the bowels of the ship, he found the lawn abandoned, not a single person in sight and the only sound that of the waves and wind. This gave him a moment's pause, as he was pretty sure everyone had been out here when he'd headed off, and as he stepped onto the lawn he swept a searching look over his surroundings. Where the hell was everyone?
Zoro made a dismissive sound and stalked out onto the lawn, because someone had to watch the ship, but he paused when he saw an upturned barrel sitting in the middle of the grassy expanse like a stationed soldier. The out-of-place object earned a frown from the swordsman, but after a lengthy moment of regarding each other in silence, something rung a bell. Hadn't someone said something about that barrel earlier...? Zoro scratched the side of his head and tried to think back, but couldn't recall what it was. Finally he just dropped his hand and shrugged, then trudged across the deck toward the barrel. If it was important, he'd remember it later, he decided.
He made his trek across the lawn in silence, pausing when he stood before he barrel. On a whim, he lifted a hand to tag the wood, and just as his fingers grazed the rough surface, he heard the noise that made his hair stand on end; a sort of cacophony of running feet and urgently-yelling voices. He only managed to glance over his shoulder and pick out one phrase - "Luffy tag him fast!" - before the weight of the entire crew knocked him, and the barrel, flat.
The Straw Hat crew was reduced to a groaning heap, rather regretting the decision to all dive for the swordsman at once. The only one who survived the graceless tumble was Robin. Not that she had chickened out of the game – oh no, she had leapt for Zoro the same as the rest of them. It was just that she had somehow managed to land neatly on top of the pile rather than being squashed, and now peered down at the tower of people she was perched on.
Well that was interesting.
Smoothly, Robin inched forward and slid off her nakama to land on her feet, and she circled the pile until she spotted a familiar straw-hatted head sticking out from under what had to be Franky's forearm.
Luffy peered up at her with dazed hopefulness. "Did we get him?" he asked, since obviously that was the most important thing right at that moment.
Robin stifled a laugh and looked over the pile. "One moment," she said, then excused herself to circle again. She spotted a twitching hand on her second pass, and gave a tug that had Zoro's head and one shoulder free from the crush. He gasped for air and then sputtered in outrage, and Robin waited for a break before she asked calmly, "Swordsman-san, did you manage to touch the barrel before you were caught?"
"Caught?!" Zoro parroted as he glared up awkwardly at the archaeologist looming over him. "Are you all trying to kill me?!" Robin made no comment, and Zoro growled a short, "Yeah I touched the damn thing, now can everyone get the hell off!"
Robin nodded, turned on her heel, and walked back to where Luffy was waiting for a status report. In fact, just about everyone who could physically manage to turn their heads her way was watching her intently.
With her hands clasped behind her back, Robin gave them all a serious look and said, "He touched Base. He was safe."
The entire pile groaned in defeat. Zoro groaned because he was being effectively squished.
Five minutes later, everyone was freed of the heap and recovering from the ordeal. Sanji had wandered off in a dark mood after the defeat, and Zoro was on his feet trying to work a kink out of his shoulder when Chopper finally scuttled over to him, expression full of awe.
"We couldn't find you anywhere!" the doctor breathed, "Where were you?"
Zoro offered him a bland look and lifted a brow. "Napping."
Usopp staggered to his feet and made his way over to the pair, looking skeptical. He waggled a finger at Zoro. "How could you be better at hide-and-go-seek than me?" he asked suspiciously.
Zoro sniffed and shrugged his non-achey shoulder. "I was tired," he said dismissively.
Chopper seemed to reach a conclusion the other two were missing then, because he clapped one little hoof into the palm of the other. "He stopped paying attention to where he was!"
Usopp looked confused. "What?"
"That's how he did it!" Chopper went on, and Zoro eyed him blankly. "He must've just been too tired to pay attention to where he was, so he wandered off so aimlessly that even all of us couldn't find him!"
Usopp looked stunned, and Luffy, who had stumbled over during the explanation, replayed the speech in his head as best he could and frowned.
"Is that even possible?" Usopp asked in disbelief, and Chopper nodded rapidly, like a bobblehead. Just then, Sanji's voice rang out from somewhere inside as he bellowed, "Where the fuck is all the booze?!"
Luffy, Usopp and Chopper all whipped around to eye Zoro, but the swordsman was nowhere to be seen. After a long moment of bewildered searching looks, Luffy set his hands on his hips and nodded grimly. The other two turned rapt attention to their captain as Luffy imparted his wise opinion on the matter; "Mad hide-and-seek skills."
"Oh!" Brooke said abruptly, as if he had just had an epiphany, and everyone on the lawn turned to look at him.
"Skeleton in the closet!" the musician cried enthusiastically, "Skull Joke!"
! ~ ;3 ~ !
That just happened.
XD Random silly idea. This is marked as "complete" for now, but if I ever get inspired to do another game, I'll add to it. :3 In fact, if you have a favorite outdoors-y game you think would make for funny one-shot material, and you think I have the skills to do it justice, then feel free to suggest it in a review! :'D I'll see what I can do!
As for this, this is how my friends and I always play Hide-and-Go-Seek. Except when we play, if you get Tagged, you automatically join the It team. XD I've seen a lot of variations on the rules, but I'll stick with how I used to play, I think. :3
As always, thanks to my wonderful beta Lolo Popoki! :'D I has the best beta everrrrr.