A fanfiction addition by Velkyn Karma
Note: Getting back into the swing of writing. It feels good!
The Original Note: Been wanting to continue this idea for a while, so here's another one!
Summary: It's Usopp's turn to learn a thing or two about a crew mate. Set pre-Brook, shortly after Franky joins.
Disclaimer: I do not own, or pretend to own, One Piece or any of its subsequent characters, plots or other ideas. That right belongs solely to Eiichiro Oda. The only thing that belongs to me here is the concept for the story.
Usopp ducks hastily through one of the doorways to the lower decks of the Thousand Sunny, and slams the heavy Adam Wood door behind him as fast as he can. He's just in time; with an enraged screech of "Damn shit swordsman!" something crashes into the space where Usopp had been standing seconds before, rattling even the sturdy door alarmingly on its hinges. It creaks as something pushes off of it seconds later, and the retaliatory "Crap cook!" just on the other side is enough to suggest what.
Usopp sighs in irritation, and crossing his arms in a huff, he shouts through the door, "Will you guys just knock it off! This is getting ridiculous!" But rings of steel and flurries of thuds are the only sounds to answer him, ranging all over the deck on the other side of the door and getting faster by the second. Zoro and Sanji are really going at it today; perhaps, Usopp thinks, it's for the better that neither of them heard him.
Still muttering under his breath, Usopp finally decides to head to his workshop, since the deck will probably be inaccessible for some time; Nami is on the other side of the ship, and she's the only one that can stop those two fighting when they go all-out like this. Stupid Zoro and stupid Sanji, ruining a perfectly good game of tag with their stupid fights...
Franky is in the workshop on his side when Usopp enters, busily hammering a large sheet of metal into shape it for some project or other of his. He looks up and greets Usopp with an enthusiastic "Ow! Longnose, what's up? Got a new super idea for the workshop?"
"Hey, Franky," Usopp returns absently. In truth he doesn't have any particularly amazing ideas for things to build, and he's too irritated with the umpteenth interruption of his fun by Zoro and Sanji's crazy fights to come up with anything. So he pokes at the tools and supplies in his workshop with a frown on his face, being entirely unproductive.
Franky notices his aimless wandering about the workshop, because the ring of steel on steel halts as he stops hammering, and the cyborg asks, "Alright, what's wrong, Usopp?"
Usopp blinks in surprise at this—he's so used to being called longnose now that hearing Franky say his actual name is a bit odd—and it prompts him to turn and say, "Zoro and Sanji are fighting again up on deck. They nearly dragged me into it this time—only the legendary speed of the great Captain Usopp allowed me to escape without my face getting pounded in!"
Franky frowns immediately and growls, "They're not breaking my ship, are they?" His enormous hands tighten on the hammer and sheet of metal, like he's seriously considering going up and joining the fray.
"No, at least, I don't think so," Usopp hastily reassures (Franky can be just as scary as Luffy and Zoro and Sanji when he gets mad). "The door held and they're mostly fighting in the middle of the deck."
Then he adds in frustration, "But it's annoying that they're fighting again at all! I mean, how many times do they have to fight to figure out they're never actually gonna beat each other? It's like they're seriously trying to off each other every time they go at it, and they ruin things for everybody else every time they start pulling that crap!"
He crosses his hands in a huff again, on a roll now. "I get that they don't like each other, and I mean, they haven't really liked each other since we first met Sanji on the Baratie, so okay, when they fought back then all the time it made sense. But it's been months now, and we've all been through so much together and saved each other tons of times and everything. You'd think they'd learn to get along by now, but no! At this rate I don't think they'll ever get along unless we've got some other enemy trying to kill us. And half the time they still fight over who gets to beat which enemy and why! I swear, half the time I think the only reason they haven't killed each other by now is because it'd make Luffy mad if they did!" He finishes his rant by throwing his hands theatrically up in the air in frustration and panting hard, although admittedly it does feel nice to get that stuff off his chest.
Usopp expects sympathetic nodding or an enthusiastic ow of agreement, or maybe just bored indifference as Franky dutifully listens and little else. What he doesn't expect is for his rant to be met by laughter as the cyborg throws his head back and slaps the metal sheet in front of him in amusement.
"Hey, this is serious here, I really did almost get pounded, and it really is getting to be a problem!" Usopp protests, with more than a little anger in his tone. Franky's been a good friend ever since he joined the crew a few weeks back, after all. The two are frequently of like mind, and Usopp sort of expected to get at least a little sympathy from him, especially since Franky's been more than a little irritated with the raging fights damaging his ship as well.
"Sorry, Longnose," Franky says (he does appear to mean it, at least), as his laughter finally slows. "You don't gotta worry about Sword-bro and Curly-cook, though. They're not secretly out to kill each other or anything, regardless of what Luffy thinks."
He sounds so confident in this statement that Usopp can't help but pause and think about it for a moment, before he finally asks, "Are you sure? 'Cause they're going at it pretty crazy right now up on deck..."
"I'm sure," Franky says, still smirking. "They're just young, that's all. Ten years from now they'll be best friends."
Usopp gives him an incredulous look, because the words just don't make sense. For starters, both Zoro and Sanji are hardly young; they're both older than Usopp is, and until Robin and Franky joined the crew Zoro had even been the oldest member. And for another thing, the very thought of Zoro and Sanji being best friends is almost more terrifying than the thought of being caught in the middle of their battle up on deck. He tries to envision them getting along so well (his mind conjures images of their faces superimposed over Johnny and Yosaku), and shudders at the results.
"You can't be serious," the sniper finally says, giving Franky a skeptical look.
"Sure I am!" Franky says enthusiastically. "Those two bros sorta remind me of me'n Iceberg when we were younger." His grin shifts from amusement to fondness, and he says in a reminiscing tone, "Man, me'n Bakaberg, we'd really go at it when we pissed each other off. Which was pretty much always. Always trying to kick me off Tom's Workers 'cause he didn't like me, and I always figured he was an idiot without any imagination. This one time I accidentally blew up the mast he'd been working on all day for an order with one of my canon prototypes—oh man, he chased me all over Water Seven for hours threatening to throw me to the Sea Kings. Ow! I don't even know how I got out of that one, he had longer legs than me at the time since I was still kinda small. Or, oh man, this other time he threw out all my speedos and replaced them all with pants. Not super, I was ready to kill him over that one. We nearly wrecked the house with that fight—of course, that was before my cyborg implants, otherwise we might've actually wrecked the place. Oh yeah, and once when we were building the sea train—"
Usopp listens with growing incredulity as Franky lists a number of tales from twenty years or more ago, long before he was even born. The bickering, fighting, and destruction from the stories do sound incredibly familiar, not unlike his own current crew mates. But it's hard to equate it to Franky, who can be excitable and very dangerous in a fight, but tends not to get too violently rowdy on the Sunny, mindful of the potential extreme destruction he could cause to both crew and ship alike. He does briefly consider all of the havoc Franky caused on Water Seven, and the grief he caused Iceberg with his Franky Family's exploits. But just as quickly he remembers that most of that had been intentional, setting up a deliberate rift between the two so that no onlookers would suspect where the ancient weapon's blueprints were really at. Franky can be a troublemaker, and has proven it in the past, but he's never done it to this extent as far as Usopp has seen.
Even more difficult to accept is Iceberg. After all, when they'd met the mayor of Water Seven, he'd been laid back and relaxed to the point of laziness, frequently canceling his appointments and meetings simply because he 'didn't want to.' Iceberg hadn't been fazed by the fights that frequently broke out amongst his own shipwrights, and even the whole fiasco with Robin hadn't riled him up so much as focused him further on figuring out just what was going on. Calm, rational Iceberg, acting as wild and uncontrollable as Zoro or Sanji? It just doesn't make sense.
"—but now we get along super well, see?" Franky finishes his reminiscing. "So, sword-bro and curly-cook just need a little more time to get older, that's all."
Usopp carefully considers this. Bewilderingly enough, Franky has a point. He hadn't seen Franky and Iceberg together too much while they were on Water Seven, since the both of them had been working on their super-secret project that turned out to be the Sunny, and none of the Straw Hats had been allowed near it. And Usopp had seen even less of them than the others, since he'd still been masquerading as Sogeking at the time due to being off the crew. But in the moments he had seen Franky and Iceberg together, they had gotten along surprisingly well. They'd still sniped back and forth with occasional sarcastic quips and snarky responses, but it had seemed good natured and relaxed, like brothers—not even remotely close to the violent back-and-forth spats and insults Zoro and Sanji share.
But if Franky and Iceberg had bickered so violently just ten years previous...then maybe Franky has a point? Slowly, Usopp closes his eyes, and tries to envision a younger, much less metal-stuffed Franky and a much more violent Iceberg going at it like Zoro and Sanji, but it's difficult to manage. He tries to envision his own two crew mates next, older and much less high-strung, like Iceberg, but that's even more impossible to imagine.
Usopp finally gives up, shakes his head, and says, "I don't know, Franky, I just can't see it. I don't think those two will ever stop fighting, they've been at each others' throats since the moment we found Sanji on the Baratie months ago. If it hasn't changed in all the months we've been adventuring together, why should a few more years make a difference?"
Franky just grins knowingly, and says, "Ow! It'll happen, Longnose. You can trust me on that!"
Usopp isn't quite sure he believes it, still, but Franky sounds so confident and knowing in the matter it's hard to argue. Despite the ows and the supers and the enthusiasm, Franky's reminiscing and confidence sounds an awful lot like what Usopp imagines a father might sound like, if he was telling his kids stories or giving them advice.
With a start, Usopp realizes—really realizes—that Franky is twice the age of half the crew, and has already been through more happiness and heartache than Usopp can possibly imagine, before Usopp was even a thought in the world. It's hard to remember, sometimes, with Franky's exuberance and bizarre habits and his absolute aversion to anything resembling pants, but he is an experienced adult, and does have those moments of wisdom and understanding, even if most of the time he doesn't show it. He's seen more of people and the world than Usopp has, so while Usopp has a hard time believing the cyborg, maybe Franky does have a point, and does understand the situation better than Usopp does or ever will.
He might, in fact, actually know what he's talking about for a lot more than just building ships and artillery and cola and turning people into mechanical machines of pure destruction.
Franky doesn't seem to realize Usopp has come to any sort of revelation about him, and has already cheerfully gone back to hammering out his sheet of metal, apparently considering the issue resolved. To Usopp's surprise, he actually does feel a little more reassured on the matter, and less inclined to feel frustrated and angry at his volatile crew mates. He's not sure how Franky picked up on that so fast, but maybe he can chock that up to yet another case of Franky actually being far older than he usually acts, and understanding more about his 'little bros' than he tends to let on.
Feeling a little more like creating something now, Usopp starts collecting a few tools around his workshop and sits down to invent something. Above he can hear the thud-bangs and muffled curses of Zoro and Sanji as they—miraculously—are still in a heated fight, followed a short while later by Nami's high-pitched shriek as she finally has enough and decides to end it for them. "Good," Franky mutters, " 'cause normal or not, if they ruined my ship, I'd have to kick their asses and teach'em a lesson. Ow!"
Usopp can't help but laugh a little at this. Now that he's made the comparison, it's sort of hard to tell if it sounds like an angry shipwright irritated by his hard work being destroyed, or an angry dad fed up with his irascible kids after they've misbehaved for the hundredth time.
He sets to work feeling much more relaxed, to the comfortable rhythmic tune of Franky's continual hammering, and considers the cyborg's words. Franky does sound like he knows what he's talking about, after all, so maybe all he really needs is patience to deal with Zoro and Sanji and their eternal bickering. Maybe one day they really will grow out of their constant hot-headed aggression, some day in the future. And by then maybe Usopp will have grown out of his irritation with it, and be used to the changes too.
And if ten years felt like too long a wait, well...he didn't really have to worry about that. After all, he had a friend that had been through it all already to rely on, and in that light things didn't really seem all that bad.
I've always been intrigued by Oda listing Franky as the 'father' of the family, but he never really acts like an adult. I wanted to explore this sort of thing a little more, especially since Franky is a lot older than the rest of the crew and has already seen a lot of stuff in his life. Plus, y'know, what kid ever believes their parents when they're told nothing they're going through is new, and one day you'll get past it?