Author's Notes: Well, there's not much I can say here. I really hate endings. I guess I'll take this time to respond to a few reviews!
DarkDaylight- I like my humor with my drama. Besides, Luffy is very straightforward. I couldn't do any less.
Monika- I'm sorry to disappoint… I only hope that this chapter makes you happy!
Kichi Hisaki- Miracle of Life indeed. ^_^ Everyone loves mini-mossball.
Disclaimer: It's still not mine, nor will it ever be. Except Gilly, she's technically mine. But you can borrow her.
Suggested Track: "Summersong,"The Decemberists
Sanji was listening to the radio as he waited for the rest of the crew, but the only channel he was picking up was a Marine frequency. He was never one to curse a blessing, and didn't mind hearing some news, as he liked having a chance to catch up with the outside world. He and most of his crew had been fortunate enough to send letters home. He had good reason to write to his old friends on the Baratie, just like Nami wrote home to Nojiko, Usopp wrote to Kaya, and Chopper mailed a completed report to Doctor Kureha. They had been so busy before, but they'd had over three months to relax and simply let life catch up with them.
The first order of business was to adjust to the presence of one Roronoa D. Gilea. Everyone knew that caring for a baby was difficult, including Luffy. Fortunately, her appealing qualities- that is, being small and cute- ensured that none of the crew strongly disliked her. In fact, because she was small and cute, the crew quite liked her. It was also just fun to have a baby around because caring for her was a challenge. At times, they literally made it a challenge because it was fun. Pirates made their own fun.
The entire crew found themselves around a two-day old Gilly before the first of these challenges, staring at the squalling infant on the changing table. Most had been attracted by the melodious sounds of Zoro swearing. Usopp was pinching his nose, and Chopper was trying not to gag. Zoro, scowling, slowly shook his head.
"Damn it, you all didn't have to come running. I just can't find the damn wipes." He murmured, rubbing his forehead irritably. "I'm fine now."
"How can something that small produce something that awful?" Nami whimpered. "It's like tar." Luffy, seemingly immune, chuckled.
"Zoro, you always do it! Hey, I got an idea. Let's see who's the best at changing diapers! Here, I'll show you how I do it!" Luffy stretched one arm to grab the powder, wipes, and a fresh diaper, and bounced his head up and down on his shoulders to distract the baby. She seemed to look at him as he cleaned her bum and disposed of the wipes and spent diaper, and he made silly faces as he powdered and popped the new diaper onto her. Triumphant, he held the baby up. "Good as new!" Sanji and Nami looked, and Chopper tilted his head a bit.
"Isn't the big hole for her waist?" Chopper asked. Zoro stormed over to Luffy and batted him atop the head.
"This is why I do it." He smirked at the rest of the crew. "But if you want to try it, I'd be perfectly willing to judge and take over."
The King of the Diaper Change contest was on. Usopp took a turn next. Unfortunately, he didn't make it past opening the dirty diaper, and after five minutes of a baby in a smelly diaper with a cowering Usopp with his finger on the safety pin, Zoro took over. Chopper didn't fare any better; he couldn't even make it in the same room with an opened diaper without gagging uncontrollably. Nami performed fairly well, and Usopp joked, "She's picked so many pockets, no doubt she's encountered a diaper before."
After Nami beat Usopp to a pulp, it was Sanji's turn. He didn't stand a chance with Zoro supervising, and the pair ended up almost starting an all-out-war when Zoro suggested it was the closest Sanji had been to a naked woman since the day he was born. He was disqualified. Robin was unsurprisingly adept. She could use extra hands to grab the supplies she needed and to gently hold Gilea still, and she smiled affectionately the entire time despite the smell. Impressed with her utter cool, Zoro declared Robin the winner.
Robin seemed to be the champion of all things infant-related, and Luffy and Zoro considered her invaluable. Robin did seem sadly distant whenever she held the baby, and without even knowing the problem, he suggested a solution: "You should have a baby too!" Robin, listening to this, could only smile somberly and shake her head.
In addition to catching up with life and getting used to a new baby, the Going Merry needed some touch-ups. They didn't have the money to fix all of her woes, but they could get her in good enough shape to keep sailing on. Hence, the boat was restocked and ready for a good voyage. The most it had done in the past three months were short supply trips, but Nami was ready to turn in their Eternal Pose and continue exploring. Usopp had made as many repairs as he could, patching over its short history of warfare. Usopp had also made some modifications to the outside railing, putting the bars closer together and adding a lower rail for safety purposes. Most rooms in the ship had received a similar treatment, including the trapdoor to the lower decks getting a lock, the kitchen cabinets fitted with safety catches, and any and all weapons/ammunition were to be stored at least six feet from the ground. Zoro had been pushing for eight, but once Luffy proved that the properties of the Rubber Fruit were not hereditary by pulling on Gilly's cheek until Zoro stopped him, he settled for six.
The Captain himself was leading the crew back from their island village to the jetty. The skies were beginning to darken, threatening a massive hurricane, and they knew that it would be dangerous to stay any longer. Still, the crew knew, from the radio reports, that it was now even more dangerous to leave. Sanji turned up the radio as the most recent bounties set by the Marines were replayed.
"At the top of our list this week for being unusual is a young woman identified as Roronoa D. Gilea. She is described as being less than two feet in height, with short green hair and black eyes. There are no details of any crimes attributed to her, but she is known to have associations with the notorious Straw Hat crew, and her name suggests some association with Pirate Hunter Roronoa Zoro. World Government officials will pay her bounty of 10,000,000 bells only if she is brought in alive."
"Alive," Sanji scoffed in response. "Well, that's a damn relief." He stubbed his cigarette and lit a new one. "What the hell would Zoro do if that kid got hurt?"
Zoro himself, though well-loaded with satchels and duffels, was making faces at Luffy's back, or rather, what was on Luffy's back. Gilly was settled in a makeshift papoose, smiling and cooing at her Daddy as he crossed his eyes and stuck his tongue out. Nami and Robin were also making funny faces at the tiny baby, and Luffy didn't seem to notice or mind as he strolled towards the ship, humming to himself and her.
"Where'd Daddy go?" Zoro asked, gasping in mock shock as he covered his eyes. Robin laughed softly, as Gilly looked vastly confused, until Zoro pulled his hands back. "Here I am!" Gilly flailed and squealed in excitement. Zoro chuckled and fixed her hat on her head. Once her hair started to grow out, it was apparent that it was the same mint green shade as his. (Zoro hadn't yet objected to Sanji's nickname of "little mossball.") Luffy had tied it into tiny little pigtails with red ribbons before putting on her floppy hat. She had the button-black eyes she was born with, and those could have come from either parent, but the brightness in them came from Luffy. She also had inherited Luffy's smile, although she had no teeth, and she was smiling often. Zoro considered her easygoing and simple, and just as straightforward as Luffy. It was easy to tell what she wanted, and she was very easy to console when she cried. Zoro turned around, immediately dropping the baby talk. "Nami, are you sure the ship's safe?"
"Of course I'm sure. It's just the way all those books recommend." Nami rolled her eyes. "Of course, with your kid, I wouldn't trust her alone for a second. No doubt she'll be as good at getting in trouble as Luffy."
"I'll teach her everything I know! She's a big girl now." Luffy chirped, bouncing her a bit. Gilly laughed naively, though she didn't understand what was being said; she knew what happiness sounded like. Zoro chuckled a little bit, resisting the urge to drop everyone's bags, scoop Gilly up and carry her in his arms. He did not like changing diapers. He did not like being puked on. He did not like being woken at two in the morning by a hungry, squalling infant. However, he liked Gilly, including the aspects of raising her he didn't like. The gods had sent him a present, wrapped in mossy hair and pink flesh, and he was a very happy daddy.
"Luffy, just cause she's bigger doesn't mean she's any safer. A pirate ship is a very dangerous place to raise a kid," Zoro reminded Luffy protectively.
"I'm never worried about danger," Luffy chuckled, as they reached the Going Merry. Nami, Robin, and Usopp boarded, and Luffy removed Gilly from her little carrier. "If I was scared, I wouldn't be a pirate! I'm not scared of her getting hurt at all."
"Hey, Luffy! Shit-for-brains! Our total bounty's gotten higher by 10 million bells thanks to you two!" Sanji announced from the deck. Luffy laughed, and Zoro grimaced. Luffy looked over his shoulder at the aware but naïve infant.
"Hear that, cutie? You're worth 10 million bells!"
"No, she is not," Zoro hissed. "You know very well she's worth more than that. I won't let anybody take her in to the damned Marines."
"Yeah, especially not for such a small price," Luffy teased. "Come on. We've got dreams to chase. If I'm going to be the Pirate King, I need the second biggest treasure in the world- and it's going to be in just one piece!"
Zoro followed Luffy up to the deck of the ship. They were setting sail for adventure yet unknown, but Zoro knew that the greatest adventure of his life was ever unfolding before his very eyes in the soul and arms of Monkey D. Luffy.
End Notes: And that's the end. I hope everyone enjoyed it, and please leave a review letting me know what you think!
No, really. There totally won't be a sequel.
… Okay, I'm lying. There will.
Coming soon to a page near you! Action and adventure!
"Franky, I have a riddle for you," Zoro said, his voice bitingly cold. "What's three feet tall and not supposed to drink cola?"
"Aw, come on, Zoro-bro!" Franky rolled his eyes. "Will you just live a little-"
"Let me rephrase the question." Zoro drew one sword. "What is three feet tall, three years old, and not supposed to drink cola?"
"Zoro, the kid ain't gonna die over a little caffeine-" Brook had begun to back away from the table, chuckling nervously, as Zoro drew a second sword.
"Let me rephrase the question!" Zoro snapped. "What is three feet tall, three years old, has green hair, and is not supposed to drink cola?"
"Let the girl have fun, she's not in any danger!" The third sword was in Zoro's mouth so fast Franky barely even saw his hand move.
"One last try! What is three feet tall, three years old, has green hair, is not supposed to drink cola, and is hanging off of the goddamn rigging?!"
"Shit, Gilly!" Franky jumped up from the table and rushed onto the main deck, followed by armed-to-the-teeth Zoro and a strolling, whistling Brook. Sanji, Nami, and Robin were staring up at the crow's nest of the Thousand Sunny, where a small child was hanging off the rigging, giggling with glee and swinging around. Luffy was standing directly below her, calling out her name with an identical grin on his face. Roronoa D. Gilea was never one to miss out on an adventure.
"Heh, Gilly's a smart one, huh? Too smart for her own good." Luffy untied her fluffy green hair, combing it out with his fingers. "Our girl's one of a kind, you know."
When Zoro looked up at him, he could see Luffy wasn't wearing his usual smile. "Something wrong?"
Danger and intrigue!
Gilly began to jump to try and see in the box, until the stranger woman caught her under the arms and lifted her up. "Thanks, lady!"
"Ensign Tashigi," she corrected Gilly. Gilly didn't react to Tashigi's title and identity, nor the voice of her father's other old Marine enemy.
"There you are! Come on, we have business- oh?" Smoker was intrigued the same way Tashigi had been. "You make a friend?"
And… whatever this is!
"Let's see… seven-string Kabuto with two extra Flame Dials?" He tested the new rubber bands with one finger, and inserted a marble. He pulled the marble back and sent it flying at a target he'd pinned on the wall. The dials got turned around and scorched Usopp's face, and the marble ricocheted off the ceiling and floor and finally out the window to hit Franky in the sea-panties. Franky screamed in pain, dropped his guitar, began to dance around swatting his burning crotch, and Robin laughed at him. The marble rolled from where it had been embedded, and Franky quickly calculated what had happened.
"Usopp! I'll kill you!"
The Straw Hat Pirates are moving on, but they have a new pirate in tow, and the Marines are hot on her trail! Look out for Treasure Hunters, coming this December!
Leave a review, let me know what you thought!
Thanks for reading, everybody!
~ Ezra the Blue