Disclaimer: Oda owns everything and that's how it's supposed to be!
A/N: My second One-Piece oneshot and it's Nakamaship! Yay! It's set between Drum Island and Arabasta but pretty much ignores Vivi. Don't get me wrong, I adore Vivi, but I couldn't introduce her without interrupting the flow of the story. So let's just pretend that she's seasick in her cabin, okay?! :)
This story was beta'd by TheDoublemintTwins11 who did an awesome job! Thanks you two!
Hope you enjoy reading this story. I know I enjoyed writing it!^^
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. "
The high-pitched scream reverberated through the galley, piercing through the silence that had settled over the Going Merry and stopping everyone in their tracks.
Usopp stopped telling his story--one of ten foot dogs and female assassins. He almost fell off of the seat on which he was standing, but managed to keep his balance. For a brief moment he thought that the female assassins were back to get him, until he remembered that he'd just made them up. Thank God...
Chopper stopped gawking at the longnose in admiration and dashed forward to hide behind Nami's chair, his rear end sticking out noticeably. He was still a little bit jumpy around his Nakama, although they had shown him nothing but kindness and acceptance.
'Maybe someone's hurt' he thought, panicking. 'Someone should call a doctor.'
Nami stopped scrutinizing the map that was spread over one half of the table before her, much to the boys' annoyance. Not that they would say anything about it. Their debts were high enough as they were.
Zoro stopped sleeping and opened one lazy eye to see what was going on. He quickly closed it, however, already losing interest. If he couldn't slice someone up, it wasn't worth his attention.
And Luffy... well, Luffy didn't stop eating, but he slowed down.
A little bit.
His hands searched blindly for the food, not caring if he took it from his own plate or stole it from the others, while his eyes were fixed on the back of his cook.
The best cook in the world if you asked Luffy, and the one who had uttered that girlish scream just a few seconds ago.
Sanji didn't seem to notice the eyes on him as he stared at something near the sink, his feet rooted to a spot behind the counter. No one could see what exactly he was staring at, but the silence began to wear them out.
Nami smiled at the little reindeer in a way that she hoped was reassuring before she turned towards the petrified blonde.
"What is it Sanji?"
As if her voice had brought him out of his daze, Sanji quickly leaped back, effectively bringing the counter between himself and whatever it was that had him so alarmed.
Intrigued, Usopp rose from his seat and craned his neck until he could see what Sanji was staring at. When he finally got a good look at it he couldn't help but burst out laughing at the sight. The cook glared at him but the sharpshooter didn't care. This was just too funny.
"What? What? What?" Luffy asked, bouncing in his seat but never leaving the table and the food. "What is it Usopp?"
"A spider." Usopp snickered and took a step towards the little eight-legged arachnid. The thing couldn't have been bigger than a button but here was Sanji - pale and staring at the thing as if it would eat him alive. "It's just a spider."
"Just?" Sanji shrieked, finally getting his voice back. "Just a spider? How did that... that... thing even get into my kitchen? We're in the middle of the ocean, for God's sake!"
Nami didn't even try to hide her smirk as she turned towards their doctor. "Does Drum Island have spiders?"
Chopper risked a look at the offending animal and was surprised how small it actually was. Why was Sanji afraid of such a small spider?
"Yes, but our spiders have white fur and are a lot bigger."
Sanji blanched, becoming paler than he already was. "B-Bigger?"
Luffy who had listened in rapt attention stopped eating long enough to slap his own forehead. "Ah! I forgot. I found it on Little Garden and thought that Sanji could make something yummy with it, so I brought it here." He grinned stupidly. "After the thing with Nami I kinda forgot to tell you. Hehehehe, sorry San-"
A boot in his face cut him off and sent him crashing into the nearest wall. The fuming cook grabbed a skillet and looked nothing but murderous. Zoro, who had watched through heavy-lidded eyes, prepared himself to intervene, but instead of advancing on their dazed captain, Sanji began to approach the little spider. It looked rather funny, the way the cook held the skillet in both hands like a sword and approached the arachnid on shaking legs. No one dared to laugh, though. After all, Luffy was still buried under a pile of wood...
"That thing's been here since Little Garden?" he shuddered at the thought, and even Nami had to admit that it was rather icky. She hoped that Luffy had learned his lesson...
She sighed despondently. 'Yeah, right.'
Sanji took two wary steps forwards and one back when the spider made a lazy movement with four of its eight legs. The scene (two forwards, one back) repeated itself a few times and while the others found the display rather amusing, Zoro began to get irritated.
"Don't be such a princess, stupid love cook. Just kill it."
Sanji growled over his shoulder. "Maybe you can help me Marimo. Come over here and show it your face. I'm sure it'll drop dead."
Zoro laid a hand on the hilt of his sword. "Too bad it doesn't work on you, curly brow."
"K-Kill it?" Chopper piped up, interrupting what could have become a rather violent fight. "Do we really have to kill it?"
Chopper knew that he was probably acting stupid. It was just a spider, right? But it didn't feel right to kill it. Just because it was smaller and weaker and different than the others, didn't mean that it had no right to live...
Nami turned back to her map. She didn't really understand what the ruckus was all about. It was just a little spider. "What do you want us to do Chopper? Sanji is right. We're in the middle of the ocean, it's not like we can just carry it outside and let it free. And the next island is still miles away."
Chopper looked crestfallen and Luffy took the chance to gather him into his arms. He loved cuddling with Chopper. He was the best fluffy doctor in the whole world.
Probably the only fluffy doctor too... God, his crew was great!
It wasn't that he felt bad for the spider - he'd wanted to eat it after all - but he wanted his newest Nakama to feel comfortable around them, and if that meant saving a tiny spider from Sanji's wrath, then that's what he would do.
"Usopp!" he whined. "Can't you built a house for Mr. Spider?"
The sharpshooter initially frowned at the idea but but was soon grinning ear to ear.
"Do not fret my fellow pirates. The great Captain Usopp-sama will work something out." He crossed his arms and shook his head in mock regret. "Ahh, what would you do without me?! I don't even want to think about it..."
Luffy and Chopper chorused "Sooo cool!" with little stars in their eyes, while the others just snorted or ignored them altogether.
Sanji's lips were pressed into a thin line and he looked like he was in pain. "Let that thing live? I don't know..."
"Sanji," Nami pouted, staring at him with wide eyes. "You really want to kill that little, defenseless creature? In front of a lady?"
"Ah Nami-swan, I would never do such a horrible thing in front of a beauty such as yours. You are so beautiful when you care about despicable arachnids. My heart is bursting with my respect and love for you. The spider shall live, if that makes you happy."
"Why thank you Sanji." Nami deadpanned and winked at Chopper, something that the love cook missed entirely due to his excited pirouettes and the hearts in his eyes.
Luffy's laughter blessfully drowned out Zoro's muttered insults.
Usopp, meanwhile, carefully coaxed the little spider into his hand and covered it when he passed Sanji. That didn't keep the cook from taking a few steps back and fixing him with a dark look.
"If I see that thing ever again it won't be the only thing that I'll squish under my boot, are we clear?"
The longnose nodded and left the galley before anyone could see the sweat forming on his forehead. He'd better hide Mr. Spider very, very well...
Sanji relaxed considerably when Usopp and Mr. Spider left, and Chopper couldn't help but tilt his head in confusion.
"Why is Sanji so afraid of a little spider?" he asked rather loudly.
Sanji ducked his head and pretended to be busy with the dishes while Nami snickered into her hand.
"It's called a phobia." She explained. "'An anxiety disorder characterized by extreme and irrational fear of simple things or social situations.' According to the dictionary."
"So there are more?" Luffy asked. He didn't really get all of what his navigator was saying (if anything at all), but when it had something to do with his Nakama, he, as their captain, should at least try to understand it. Even if it sounded pretty boring...
"Yes, there are a lot actually. Sanji's is called arachnophobia."
Luffy giggled at the funny name, which made Chopper, who was still sitting in his lap, giggle in turn. It had been more than awkward the first few times Luffy had held him like that, but Chopper found that he was getting rather accustomed to it. It was quite nice, actually.
Although he could very well do without the odd looks the swordsman shot him from across the room...
"What about you?" Luffy asked. "Do you have a poo-bia?"
"Phobia." the girl corrected. "Well, I guess I have a mild form of claustrophobia. The fear of confined spaces."
Just a few months ago she would have never shared such personal information with a bunch of pirates. But that bunch of pirates were her Nakama. Her family. If she couldn't tell them, who could she tell? "When I was little I accidentally locked myself into the cupboard under the stairs. Since then I've had a little problem with small rooms."
"Well good thing you're on the sea then." Luffy added thoughtfully. "Nothing's small about the sea."
Nami gave him one of her more genuine smiles. "I guess."
"You sure it's not peniaphobia?" (1)
Everyone turned towards the swordsman, who looked like he was asleep, although he'd obviously been listening in. Nami looked mildly surprised that Zoro knew what that word meant, but wasn't going to dwell on it and ignored Luffy's, Chopper's and even Sanji's curious expressions.
"So you're eavesdropping on a private conversation of mine, huh? For that I'm raising your debt by 10,000 beli, swordsman."
Zoro's head jerked up. "What the hell you-"
"Aww, Nami-swan is beautiful when she is merciless with the stupid Marimo."
"Shut up love cook."
"What was that?"
"What are you afraid of Luffy?" Chopper all but screamed. He didn't like it when the two were fighting. It was quite intimidating.
The rubber boy looked shocked for a second before he stared at the ceiling in deep thought.
Sanji snorted, forgetting his fight with the Marimo for a second. "You need to have a brain to be afraid of something."
Zoro scowled but Luffy didn't seem to get the insult. "I am afraid of something!"
Nami leaned forward and licked her lips in anticipation. She had never seen their captain afraid of anything. "What is it?"
Luffy's expression became dead serious and he took a deep breath.
"A world," here he paused, whether it was for dramatic effect or because he'd forgotten his answer midway through, nobody knew. "without meat!"
Zoro and Sanji groaned and Nami banged her head on the table. And here she'd thought they were having a serious heart-to-heart.
Luffy didn't understand their reactions. A world without meat was frightening, wasn't it? He washungry just thinking about it. Admittedly it was nowhere near as frightening as losing his precious Nakama, but Luffy wasn't worried about that. He could and would fight for his Nakama and make sure that they were safe, no matter what. But how do you fight for meat? He couldn't even get to it himself, since Sanji had bought all those locks for the refrigerator...
Chopper looked up to see Usopp enter the galley - without Mr. Spider, much to Sanji's relief - and felt his spirits rise again. On the one hand, he was relieved that he wasn't the only one who was afraid of things, but on the other hand, he'd always thought that pirates were fearless. But even their captain was afraid of something, even if it was a pretty ridiculous fear.
Usopp however, Usopp was a great warrior of the sea, right? All those adventures he always told them about... you needed to be fearless to do those things, right?
"You're not afraid of anything, right Usopp?"
The longnose, who had no idea what they had been talking about during his absence, so he only hesitated for a second before he puffed his chest and threw himself into a pose.
"Of course not, my silly friend. The great Captain Usopp-sama is afraid of n-"
"Everything!" the others, minus Chopper, cut in.
The great Captain Usopp-sama fell to the floor as if he'd been slapped.
"I'm bored." Luffy yelled into the awkward silence that followed. He set the little reindeer down and sauntered over to Zoro. "Come out and play with me."
The first mate sighed heavily. "I'm sleeping."
"You can do that outside too."
A smirk. "But how would I be able to play with you when I'm sleeping?"
Luffy seemed to think really hard about this, before he grabbed Zoro's arm and pouted at him with those big brown eyes. "Zorooo! Pleeease!"
The swordsman groaned one last time before he finally allowed the boy to pull him to his feet and drag him out of the galley, onto the deck.
Chopper noticed that the others were watching them with smug smirks on their lips and jumped to conclusions. "Ahh. So it's Zoro who has no phobias?"
Sanji sneered but Nami hushed him with a stern look. "I wouldn't say that..." She stared at the door that led to the deck with an odd look on her face. "I guess you could say that he's suffering from aquaphobia. At least kind of..."
Chopper was getting more and more confused. "Kind of?"
"Well... he's not really afraid of it per se...but...well... It's hard to explain, you know."
It obviously was, although Chopper really didn't understand how someone could be 'kind of' afraid of something but not really.
"What is aquaphobia?"
The navigator opened her mouth as if to reply but snapped it shut almost immediately. She looked at the others who were just shrugging in that 'don't ask me' way. In the end she just winked at their little doctor, the ghost of a smirk touching her lips.
And Chopper did see.
The very next day in fact.
He'd been sitting over his books, looking for a reference to aqua phobia --though he'd found nothing-- when he'd heard the familiar sound of something, 'Or someone' he thought with dread, falling into the water.
The last time he'd looked up, Luffy and Usopp had been sitting on the railing, fishing for their dinner, but now he only saw Usopp, who was shouting something into the water below him.
Chopper watched in amazement when Zoro, who'd been hovering near the two boys all day, didn't waste any time and jumped in after their drowning captain while Nami ordered Sanji and Usopp to anchor the ship.
Everyone knew what to do and where to be. It looked like they had done something like this plenty of times already, and when Chopper thought about their not-so-buoyant captain he admitted that they probably had.
It didn't take long before their captain and first mate were back on the deck again. Both were drenched from head to toe. Luffy was coughing pitifully and, while Chopper knew that he should be over there, being the doctor and all that, he couldn't help but stay rooted to the deck.
The rubber boy was on all fours while the swordsman was kneeling beside him. Zoro was rubbing Luffy's back, and his lips moved as if he was talking quietly. Chopper was too far away to hear the words, but he guessed that it was something along the lines of 'you bloody idiot'. Zoro always got irritated when Luffy was careless and fell into the water.
And while his face showed every last bit of that irritation, Chopper could see that there were other emotions beneath that as well. An odd mix of relief and anxiety.
Zoro seemed almost afraid... but not really...
Zoro slapped the back of Luffy's head and scowled at him. Luffy laughed and sheepishly rubbed his head.
Kind of afraid but not really...
The swordsman rolled his eyes but his face softened when Luffy broke into another coughing fit.
Kind of afraid but not really...
He glared at the puddle of salt water that his captain was sitting in and unceremoniously lifted the smaller boy and carried him to a dry spot a few feet away.
Nami brought them a few towels and instead of drying off himself, Zoro began to meticulously rub Luffy's skin dry, who was squirming and laughing in his grip.
...but not really.
A smile spread over Chopper's face as he watched the display of obvious affection and trust between the two pirates, and his heart fluttered with joy when Zoro's stiff shoulders relaxed as soon as Luffy was dry and the salt water wasn't affecting him anymore.
Nami had told him that he would understand on his own. And he did.
He closed the book in his lap, because he didn't need to search for a reference to aquaphobia anymore.
So everyone on this ship had some kind of phobia. Some were reasonable and some not. But Chopper finally realized that that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Those fears didn't hamper his new friends. They didn't control them.
Although Sanji was deathly afraid of spiders, he'd allowed Mr. Spider to live because it had been the right thing.
Although Nami was afraid of confined places, she was willingly sharing her small cabin with Vivi, a friend in need.
Although Usopp was afraid of...well, almost everything, he was here, on the Grand Line, fighting side by side with his friends.
And although Chopper was afraid of what was to come, of the pirate life that was still new to him, he was sitting here, following his captain into new adventures.
The others had surrounded Luffy by now, scolding him for his carelessness with relieved almost unnoticable smiles on their faces. Zoro was standing back a bit but never letting the boy out of his sights. Chopper smiled while he watched the crew interact. Maybe you couldn't really count Zoro's fear as a phobia. He was, after all, not afraid of water per se, but of what it did to his precious captain.
And that, Chopper thought, was something that the whole crew had in common.
"Oi Chopper! We could need our doctor here."
The little reindeer and newest Nakama giggled happily and got to his feet.
(1) Fear of poverty
A/N: Well? Liked it? Hated it? Let me know! :)