Title: Mugiwara Santa's Grotto!
Author: roseveare
Rating: PG
Summary: PG rated FantasyAUcrack!FLUFF of DOOOOOOOM. Gen.
Notes: Christmas fic originally from the op_fanforall (now op_fanforall2) on livejoural last year.

Mugiwara Santa's Grotto! Quest for the North Pole!

"Oi! Don't pull on Robin's hair!" Luffy rolls over, tackling the small, grubby child with as much gentleness as a boy in a reindeer suit with basketball-sized paws might. "You know what the punishment is for that? Death by tickling!" They descend into a pile of fur, lopsided horns and giggles.

Robin smiles and only winces a little as she tucks the spit-dampened lock of hair behind her ear. It's not easy to find work when you're on the run, so sometimes you have to take what you can get. Which would be why she is here in a department store Santa's Grotto where Christmas cheer is reduced to squealing children demanding expensive presents. Her, and her fellow unfortunates.

Mr Brooks' "Yohohoho!" doesn't quite hit the right notes and his bony knees have generated complaints, because they sometimes make the children cry, and she's never seen a Father Christmas with an afro before and his hat perches atop it most comedically, but the whole store stops to listen when he bursts into song. Mrs Christmas is rather young for the role, but still willingly extorts money from dads who want to sit on her knee. Fights occasionally break out among two of the elves, and the third constantly has to throw his smaller form between them -- leaving handyman Franky to patch up another broken part of the grotto.

But they actually all get along in their way, and it's not nearly as hellish as her expectations. Sometimes she even thinks she'll regret it when the season is over and she has to move on... again.

Her fellow reindeer are both much younger; Luffy is a boy with a nonexistent attention span, though at least he's good with the children. Chopper, she knows next to nothing about, aside from the fact he's afraid of the children and Luffy keeps covering for him.

"I thought your name should be Rudolph," a child critiques pointedly. "Not Robin."

"It's a nickname," she smiles. "Rudolph will do just as well."

"An' you don't have a red nose."

"No, but Chopper has a blue one." Robin smiles seriously, and secretly whispers to the child in his sticky-faced-angelic-bafflement, "History often gets distorted in the telling." It's one of the great secrets of the world, but he's probably a little young to appreciate the matter. Behind them, Luffy is laughing at her, though she doubts he understood what she just said either.

"...Does your blue nose glow?" The child, now prodding Chopper with a sticky finger, may well have the curiosity and tenacity to go far.

"No!" Chopper dives behind Robin and clings indelicately to the back of her thigh. He squeaks, jumps back, and amends, "Only on Christmas Eve!"

"Cool!" More small voices echo the sentiment and then all the nearby children are trying to peer at Chopper and stroke his fur and pull off his little Santa cap; which is a recipe for disaster if ever there was one and Robin closes one eye, wincing, but can't resist keeping watching with the other.

"No, it's not! Assholes! That doesn't make me happy! I don't care if I'm cool! Assholes!"

Luffy chooses that moment to do crazy tumbles through the fake snow that conclude in knocking out a stand dripping with red and white candy canes. The free-for-all that follows distracts the children and everyone else before any parents can register how one of the reindeer just swore at their over-protected spawn.

Later, Luffy catches her at the end of the day as Robin is peeling back the hood and its slightly battered horns (she's tall enough that they catch on the tops of doorways). He does seem to be the ringleader of most of the crazy things that happen in store, and she's yet to figure out whether that belies his dumb-innocent front or not.

"Shhh," he says, pressing a finger over his lips. "Can you keep a secret? You're the last one we didn't tell, 'cause nobody really knows anything about you..." He watches her face and grins. It's a grin that requires emphasis; his face just disappeared. "But I don't mind that. I trust you, Robin!"

"Thank you... I think." So, what game is this, now?

His expression turns uncommonly serious, and he leans in very close so she feels his breath brush her cheek as he whispers, "Don't tell the Management. Chopper's really a real reindeer! And the rest of us are gonna go help him get back to the North Pole before Christmas Eve. You wanna come help us too, Robin?"

She smiles and chuckles, because he's delightful. "Of course, Luffy," she whispers back, and ruffles his hair.

He catches her in one of his spontaneous hugs, then capers off, still grinning.

Twenty four hours later, she discovers he wasn't joking, and... it changes her decision not in the least.