Author's Notes: I don't think I'll ever be satisfied with this chapter. At some point, all I can say is that I tried my best. Sorry again for the delay!
Disclaimer: I still own nothing but the things I made up.
Chapter 20: An Infant's Resistance
Suggested Track: "I Won't Tell You," Lacuna Coil, "Oildale," Korn
My name is Roronoa D. Gilea. I am almost four years old. I have grown a full inch since my Daddy last measured me, but my weight has remained the same. (Maybe even a little less, but don't tell Daddy that, or he'll think I have not eaten my vegetables.) I'm stronger than I was six months ago. I'm faster. I'm smarter. I'm definitely cuter. But I'm also a little less of a child than I was.
Maybe that's the problem.
Someday, Daddy says, I'll sprout like a weed, with long arms and legs and lots more places to put muscles. I'll get to be big and strong. I won't be a little girl anymore. I can do anything I want then to chase my dreams. The problem is, I want to do it now, and sometimes, I'm afraid that I won't have another chance.
I think that's the problem. I'm smart. Maybe smarter than I should be, because I have to live in the world of adults. I know that pirates are criminals, and that my daddies are pirates, everyone I know is a pirate, my baby brother is a pirate. And I know that a criminal is a bad person. Thereby, I am a bad person. So are my daddies. So is everyone I know. So is my baby brother. We are bad people. However, my instinct, everything everyone has ever told me, is to be a good girl. I can't be a good girl and a bad person. It just doesn't work. It doesn't! Don't tell me it doesn't!
But it doesn't make sense. I have to be a bad girl to be a good person. I think I have to decide for myself. I have to be a bad girl. Daddy said I knew what I had to do, and I do. I really do. I'm sorry I'm not following directions.
If, or when, or if, I grow up, maybe it'll make more sense to me. But for now, all I have is my own mind and heart. One of them isn't working, but I can't tell which. They're both racing, but all that's happening is that I'm moving my feet and my arms and please don't let me die, Daddy.
Gilly caught the rigging in her hands, bouncing as the ropes shook, and began to try and scramble down. Zoro's eyes shot skyward.
"Gilly!" He loosened his grip on Helmeppo, and before Helmeppo had a chance to react, she swung her body towards them and let go. She landed squarely on Helmeppo's head, knocking him to the ground and knocking him out. She then whirled around and pointed at Zoro.
"You!" She screamed. He stared at her, bewildered, arms at his sides. She reached for a barrel and grabbed a sword. "I'm sick of this!"
"What?" Zoro growled. "You better drop that tone-"
"You listen to me!" She smacked the sword against the ground to get his attention. "Let me go! I'm sick of being here! I want to go home!"
"This is your home!" He snapped. She growled in frustration.
"Stop it! I'm not going to let you get me killed!" She took stance and swung at him. He dodged back with a jump, and she screeched in frustration, stomping her feet. "You're cruel to me and put me in danger and you let her hit me!" She pointed furiously at Robin, but she didn't stop throwing Marines aside to respond. "I could die any second and you don't care!" She rushed at him again, and Zoro unsure of what to think, couldn't move in time. She landed a blow at his hips, and though what appeared to be blood and what reeked of blood slid down his skin, there was no pain. He realized what Gilly was doing- her sword was fake! It was the fake sword, loaded with fake blood, that Usopp had created months ago. He immediately picked up the cue, and closed
"I trained you, and this is how you treat me?" Zoro picked up another of the swords in the barrel. "You've broken the student-master bond." He glanced at Smoker. "Give me a moment to settle this, would ya?"
Smoker said nothing. He had frozen when Gilly had pulled a sword on Zoro. Brook was still holding Tashigi off, but she was desperately trying to intervene from a distance.
"Commodore!" She shouted, as Brook parried her flush to the railing. "Stop him! He'll kill that girl!"
"Luffy," Coby choked, still restrained. Luffy said nothing, wide eyes focused on the oncoming fight.
"I trained you with one sword," Zoro muttered, squeezing the hilt in his hand. "Therefore, I'll fight you with one sword." Gilly nodded, and put one foot forward.
"Do your worst! Show the Marines what kind of monster you really are!" Zoro winced as she said this, and she took the opportunity to rush him. She swung at him overhead, exerting all the strength she could in one fierce blow, but Zoro whipped around and caught her in the gut. She choked as the wind was knocked out of her, and she flew back and hit the railing. She groaned and pushed herself back up, and moved towards Zoro again. She held still, shivering in pain, and Zoro made the move next. He came from the side, she rushed for his knees, but he blocked her sword with his foot and slapped her across the side of her chest.
"Luffy… that's your daughter!" Coby hissed. Luffy, unbelievably, cracked a small smile.
"Yeah, I know. I told you she was. She's pretty cool, huh?" Luffy seemed to still be grinning, even as blood began to drip down Gilly's side.
"You're just going to let him kill her?" Coby snarled. "She's just a baby!"
"He would never hurt her. I'm sure he'll use the back of his sword."
"How can you be so goddamn uncaring?" Coby roared, finally starting to kick and struggle. Luffy gripped him tighter, but Tashigi took his struggle as a sign to fight back harder. She finally managed to parry Brook backwards and, with a few swift swings, pushed her blade through his chest. He looked at it, confused, then back at her.
"You missed everything!"
"How could I miss all of your vital organs?" She protested furiously.
"I have none!" Brook opened his jacket, revealing that Tashigi's blade was trapped between his ribs. "And of course, I don't think you'll be needing this any further, so…" Before finishing his sentence, Brook turned tail and ran. Tashigi only had a moment to be confused.
"What the hell are you- Hey! Give my sword back!" Tashigi screamed, giving chase as he climbed the stairs up and down, all over the ship. Smoker, however, made no move to intervene, stuck staring at the duel between father and child.
Gilly was holding her own, but Zoro was holding back, and everyone could tell. There was no moving forward for Gilly- she was stepping back and back and back, turning in circles to keep from going into walls. Her wrist was getting sore, her hits less controlled and less accurate. The tip of Zoro's sword kept nicking her face, and he could see blood dripping down her cheeks. He could still smirk as he kept overtaking her, knowing the blood was fake and proud that she was so daring. It didn't look that way to Smoker.
"That son of a bitch… he's not even human… attacking his own child!" Smoker was frozen in place, simply staring. Zoro could only guess what he was thinking- he couldn't decide whether to stop him from taking out Gilly at the risk of harming her. He kept chasing her in circles, step after step, each slice making the air stand still.
Brook scaled to the top of the crow's nest, with Tashigi close behind him. He clung onto the flagpole, howling with laughter.
"I forgot I was afraid of heights!" He crowed. Tashigi crawled closer and closer, but realized that she could see inside the upper room to where Usopp hid. He was looking down to the other side, and couldn't see her over his shoulder. She, however, could see everything. She could see Mika with his oxygen mask and tank, Cora on her belly swatting at a plush lion, Torao fast asleep on his back with his pacifier sitting on his chest. She gasped as she looked at all of them, and Brook realized what she was doing.
"Ah! How terrible! You're not supposed to look in there!" He grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her up to the top of the crow's nest. "Naughty girl…" His grimace sent a chill down her spine. "I'll simply have to punish you…" He took out his sword, and she, unarmed, swallowed as he made his move.
Helmeppo woke up just as Gilly jumped backwards over him again, trying to keep her father's sword back, and coughed as Zoro stepped on the small of his back. Robin pulled him out from under their back-and-forth, and used her limbs to hold him down. Nami stepped on his neck.
"Commodore Smoker, you can end all this!" Nami declared. "Are you willing to hear our terms?" Sanji broke off from the front defense line and joined her, allowing her to step forward. Helmeppo gagged on his tongue- somehow, Sanji's foot was much heavier on his cheek. "We're willing to end this quietly, and we both go our own ways-"
"Never," Smoker growled, finally stepping forward. "You bastards are standing by and letting that girl get beaten like that?"
"That's between them. You have the power to stop it," Sanji muttered cryptically. "You're a smart guy, so think. What's driving her to do this? You think she really wants to take down her old man and run off with you?"
"What the hell are you talking about?" Smoker growled.
Gilly was slipping, her hands slick, her legs shaking. Zoro's eyes were focused on her as he swung like he was hacking at the trunk of a tree.
"Come on, Gil," he muttered. "Keep it up."
She couldn't reply; she was out of breath.
"She loves her dad, man. She wants to be just like him," Sanji said, getting ever closer to Smoker as Nami held Helmeppo down. The smoke between his cigarette and Smoker's cigars mingled, acrid and foul in the muggy air. "Do you think he would have agreed to train her if he didn't care about her? Just watch the man. He's pulling his punches." Smoker glanced at Zoro and Gilly again.
Zoro might as well have been holding a bamboo stick. He was swinging as lightly as he possibly could, but every swing felt like a tornado to Gilly. She was stumbling, feeling lightheaded and dizzy.
"I want to live," she cried softly, but her voice was distinct even in the clatter from atop the crow's nest. Nami looked up when she heard Brook shriek, and gasped.
"Oh no!" Sanji looked as well, and flinched. He quickly glared back at Smoker.
"Why the hell do you think a three-year-old is afraid for her life? Couldn't have a damn thing to do with the fact that she's wanted, dead or alive, could it?" With that, Sanji clambered up the ropes towards Brook and Tashigi. "Get her the hell down!"
Brook had tried to grab Tashigi, but she kicked him in the face and managed to get her sword out from between his ribs. Now she had wedged it into the space between two vertebrae, and he was panicking and trying to get it out. She had taken the opportunity to get onto a rope and start swinging her lower body back and forth, facing one of the windows. At full swing, her toes almost touched the glass. Sanji took a leap at her from his section of rigging but missed and caught himself a few rungs below her.
"I'm not gonna hurt you," Sanji growled, "But get the hell away from this room!"
"Just stop me!" She snapped back. He gritted his teeth.
"Hey, Usopp! Open the window!" Usopp turned when Sanji yelled his name, and screamed like a little girl when he saw what was happening outside his window. He saw Tashigi swing back far, and dove to open the window. She swung forward and let go, flying in the window and crash-landing on the padded floor. Usopp stood over her, shaking at the knees.
"What the hell… am I going to do…?"
Gilly had stopped moving back, her sword at a block, frozen in place as Zoro continued to slap at her sword.
"A little longer… you want me to end this?" He muttered.
No. I don't. I can't take this. I don't want this anymore. I don't want this for you or me or Daddy or Toto or anybody. I think… I think I'd rather stop living than go on like this!
Gilly dropped her sword as Zoro took one final slash at her chest. Her shirt was cut open, her chest bled, and she dropped to the ground. Zoro's jaw fell.
"Gil…?" He got down on his knees. "Gilly?" He shook her chest. "Get up. You lost. You have to go back inside now. I have business to finish." Gilly didn't say a word. Her button-black eyes were reflecting the sky. He moved his hand, and realized that she was spilling real blood from a real wound. "… This isn't one of the props," he realized aloud, getting to his feet. "Chopper!"
"Chopper!" Luffy let go of Coby and went to Gilly's side. Coby dove for Helmeppo and began trying to revive him. "Gilly, talk to me, tell me you're okay!" Gilly said nothing, eyes wide, her chest sunken in.
"God. Oh god. Oh god," Zoro muttered, digging his hands into his scalp. "What the hell have I done…?" Chopper got down on the ground by Gilly with his medicine bag.
"Most of the wounds are shallow… she's in shock. Move back, I'll start patching her up!" Chopper whipped out a big roll of bandages, and Luffy edged back, still looking down into Gilly's face.
"It's okay, little lamb… Just calm down and breathe."
"What the hell… What the hell…" Zoro kept moving back. He took the sword in his hand and stared at the blood on it. "My little girl…"
The blood on that sword was his. He'd made it- at least some of it- and nurtured the body it flowed in. Everything he'd done for her flashed before his eyes. He remembered the day he learned she was coming, the day he accepted it. He looked at the gold ring on his finger- it wasn't only a promise to Luffy, but a promise to take care of her. What the hell was he doing? Where had he lost the plot? What the hell was wrong with him? It was his blood. He was going to pay for it.
Zoro pulled his arm back and jammed the sword into his own gut.
"Hey! Why did you do that, you psycho?" Luffy shouted, catching him as he collapsed. "Chopper, get him next!"
"Bushido bastard," Smoker muttered as he approached. The Straw Hats moved back in surprise- he'd finally reacted. "Move, let me take the girl." He got on the ground and began to patch Gilly's wounds, and Robin and Nami moved to his side to supervise him. Chopper began to examine Zoro's wound. Coby left Helmeppo where he lay, helping Luffy hold Zoro steady. Tashigi scrambled down the rigging from the crow's nest, quickly followed by Usopp and Sanji. Franky was gritting his teeth, still trying to break the cannonballs being fired by the Marine ship.
"Hey, Cancer-man! Can you call your men off so we can deal with this shit?"
"Ceasefire," Smoker muttered into a baby Den-Den Mushi as he wrapped Gilly's arm in bandages. "Kid, you're going to need to talk to me."
"Gil… ea…" She whispered. "That's my name…"
"Okay," Smoker agreed quietly. "What's going on?"
"I don't want to die…" She breathed. Her eyes were still unfocused. "If I'm going to die… I'll die here with Daddy… I want to be with my Daddies…"
"God…" Smoker shook his head. "Gilea, I would never hurt you…"
"Commodore, look at this." He glanced over his shoulder for a moment, and realized what Tashigi had done. She, Usopp, and Sanji each had an infant cradled to their chest, and she was crying. Brook was behind them; it seemed had managed to get the sword out of his spine and return it to Tashigi, and was now in a panic, checking to be sure his afro was completely intact. "The kids did live… Look, they're all so cute…"
"Sorry, Nami," Sanji muttered, as he lay Mika against his shoulder. Usopp clutched Cora against his chest with both arms, like he was afraid she would vanish. "I couldn't do anything to stop her."
"Put Mika inside! This air's no good for him!" She snapped urgently.
"Two of them are theirs, Commodore, they're small and sick," Tashigi whimpered, rubbing Torao's back. "And this one's Zoro's. They're just so sweet and innocent. Why in the world do we want to hunt down babies like this?"
"Quit acting like such a woman!" Smoker hissed. Zoro's breath rattled in his throat- if looks could kill, Smoker would have keeled over at that exact second. Gilly, however, didn't look amused either.
"What's wrong with acting like a woman? Daddy does that sometimes… but he's still a man… it's not wrong to care about someone or something… it isn't… I'm glad they care for me…" She managed to sit up and look directly into his eyes. Her face was still wet with blood. "Mr. Smoker… I don't want to die at all… and I think I'd die without my Daddy." With that, she fell flat again, still breathing slowly, her eyes dull again.
"Zoro, Gilly's okay, you're going to be okay too," Chopper assured him quickly. "Put him down, I'm going to move him to the infirmary-"
"Wait," Smoker muttered, getting to his feet. His fists were clenched, his eyes weary, his voice resigned. "Wanted, dead or alive? Her status as a wanted criminal? Is that what this poor kid is so worked up about?"
"Yes," Robin replied, completely unhesitant with her words. "She's terrified of being taken from her family and killed."
"Problem is, that's not the way your people see it. She's a pirate's kid, so she's a threat?" Sanji seemed to be squeezing Mika as tight as he could, looking down at his thin skin and fluffy hair. "My own boy'll probably be the same to you. He can barely breathe on his own, and he's a bad guy because his dad's your enemy."
"It doesn't even make sense," Franky added darkly. "Making existence a crime-"
"I get the point," Smoker hissed. "Look, if you just take care of these goddamn kids like they deserve to be taken care of, I'll deal with the goddamn bounties!" He unclenched his fist, staring down at Gilly with almost-soft eyes. "Kid's right. She's never committed a crime. But I'll tell you this, Straw Hat!" He glared at Luffy, who glared right back. "When I arrest you, I'll make sure those kids go to good homes that'll make them forget everything about being a pirate!"
"Okay." Luffy nodded, and finally grinned. "Thank you."
"What?" Smoker cocked an eyebrow.
"I said thank you. Thaaaaaank yooooooou." Luffy chuckled. "I thought you were smart. But yeah, it's awful nice of you to look out for the kids."
"Right," Smoker grumbled, giving Luffy another icy look. "Now, don't think of this as us letting you off. We still owed you from Alabasta. Right, Tashigi?"
"Right," Tashigi agreed softly, and she wiped her tears away with the corner of Torao's blanket.
"I can't say I believe in criminalizing these children either," Smoker muttered. "After all, they were born pure, they haven't had time to be corrupted by the rest of this filthy world. That little girl is on the verge, and I'll take it upon myself to keep her as clean as she is. You've got real treasure here, pirates, so you better take damn good care of it. I'm not going to get in your way anymore." He glanced away. "Besides, we really don't have time to play around with you kids right now. We're due for business in Marineford." He folded his arms, closing his heart. "Let's get out of here." He turned away and picked Helmeppo up, then waved at his ship, beckoning them to come closer. Tashigi rushed towards Luffy and held out Torao.
"Please tell him I'm sorry for everything that ever happened to him." She glanced at Zoro, who had been intravenously anesthetized by Chopper. "I'll even the score with that bastard someday, so until then, take care of him." She rushed after Smoker as he boarded their clipper. Coby folded his arms nervously as Luffy faced him again.
"Coby." Luffy moved towards him and extended a hand. Coby flinched, until he saw that Luffy's palm was open. The two shook hands. "It was good to see you. Good luck, and keep getting better!" He smiled. "Maybe next time, you'll have a chance against me. I gotta take care of Zoro, Gilly, and Toto now." He released Coby's hand. "Bye!" He got down on the ground by Gilly, picking her up in his other arm, and followed Chopper and Zoro inside. Coby glanced at the rest of the crew, who closed in on one another and began to examine one another for wounds and injuries. He looked at his ship, where Smoker, Tashigi, and Helmeppo waited. He couldn't help but smile at the Straw Hat family.
"They're just nuts," he chuckled to himself as he got onto his own ship, and the Marine crew sailed back into the fog.
"Just scratches and scrapes," Robin said softly. "Nothing major."
"I'm completely fine, but my eyes are sore. Man, I have no idea how you do that, Usopp!" Franky crowed with a laugh.
"Rope burn. Sore hands. I'll be able to work around it, but Nami-swan, will you give me some lotion?" Sanji batted his eyelashes, and she scoffed playfully.
"Yeah, sure, I'll take care of that. I'm fine too."
"I could use some adhesive tape… another centimeter and that Marine lady would have taken my head clean off! And what good am I without my afro? Yohohoho!" Brook chortled as he showed off the gouge in his spine.
"I'm sorry I couldn't keep control of Gilly," Usopp mumbled in shame. "She just lost it…"
"No, it's not your fault," Robin insisted. "She did what she needed to do. She's got a lot of guts for a girl her age."
"Can't believe it one bit," Sanji murmured.
"I imagine she's not unlike her fathers," Brook remarked sagely. The group all turned towards the cabin house. The life of part of their family hung in the balance, and they couldn't help but, each in their own way, wonder- what was the sum of Gilea's true sacrifice?
End Notes: Since you were all so patient waiting for this chapter, it's time for…
Small Straw Hat SBS!
This week, we're profiling…
Representative Color: Brown
Animal Resemblance: Vole (No, not a mole.)
What Chopper Thinks He Smells Like: Sterile medical equipment (under 2,) crayons and paper (2 and up.)
Favorite Island and Season: Fall on a Fall island
Favorite Food: Polenta with leeks; lentil soup
Family Member: Older nephew
Okay, so, I gotta know- what did you guys think? Please leave a review, because if I change this chapter later, I need to know what to correct!
And before you go, know this- the story is not yet over!
So, don't forget: questions, comments, searing hatred, insincere marriage proposals, or ideas? Leave me a review!