The Storm

Usopp clung to the mast until he could feel splinters stabbing into the pads of his fingers. The rain drove across the deck, hard and lashing; like thin needles. The sea bucked and rocked underneath them, carrying the Going Merry high into the air before sending them careening into the next wave. The storm had come out of nowhere. One moment he was watching Zoro curse and struggle to pull a pink octopus from his face, stifling his laugh for fear of getting subsequently killed if he was heard and suddenly Nami was yelling at them to furl the sails. Usopp remembered clambering up the rigging and tying the sails back with the coarse rope as his heart hammered against his ribs. There had been a moment of silence and calm seas, a half sigh of relief from him and suddenly, bam, they were locked in the midst of a huge billowing storm.

All that was terrifying, but normal, storm wise—he supposed. The coiling bright purple clouds, not so much. The red lightning? Definitely not. The fact that it had come literally out of a clear blue sky? Bone chilling. But it was the whispers on the wind that really scared the crap out of him. They existed almost below his hearing range, loud enough to hear but too low to understand. He was pretty sure he heard "help" and "beware" in there somewhere. He couldn't really be sure though as he was doing his best to just hang on for his life.

"Wow!" said Luffy, his voice carrying over the roar of the wind. "This storm is awesome!" He laughed. Laughed! Usopp squeezed his eyes open and saw Luffy in silhouette as he clung to the bowspirit with his legs, both hands clapped on his head to hold his hat in place. "I want to see more lightning!"

"Don't wish for stupid things like that!" Usopp screamed, but he didn't think Luffy even heard him. The bowspirit lifted, like an arrow, pointing almost straight up to the sky. He could see the faint etchings of the lighthouse that marked the entrance to the Grand Line, highlighted ominously by a spark of red lightning. Usopp was filled with the iron hard certainty that they'd likely die before even getting there. The wave continued rising, taking the Merry with it, going up and up and up and in flashes of lightning he could see the froth of the wave curve a long way down. Usopp slammed his eyes shut again as they seemed to level out and hugged the mast for all he was worth. They were cresting. Soon there would be the stomach dropping plummet. From somewhere on the quarter deck, Nami screamed.

"This is a big one!" Luffy said, sounding so thrilled that Usopp wanted to kill him. This was dangerous! He was always like that, though. Danger was something to be explored and poked at. The thought didn't comfort Usopp at all.

"Hang on, Nami-san!" Sanji's voice was distant, muted, as if he was being carried away by the wind. There was a stillness, a moment where the seconds rolled by like hours and he could feel a line in the air, cutting straight through his stomach; the place where the present and the future divided and possibility swarmed through the air, thick as flies.

"This isn't scary at all!" Usopp howled and then the ship tumbled, knifing straight down. Usopp's guts came into his throat and he screamed. He was going to die. He was going to die. They were all going to die. He told his mother he was sorry. He told Kaya. He told his crew back home in Syrup.

"Close your mouth," said a voice right next to his ear. It was familiar and unfamiliar at the same time and Usopp opened one eye, seeing the water rise all around them like a big blue bowl, cresting white, and a dark shape standing right beside him seeming immune to the wind and rain; a person, narrow shouldered, long armed. Lightning flickered illuminating the person's features and Usopp's eyes widened. What—

A wall of water smashed into him, stealing his breath, flooding his mouth. It was cold and the current tugged at him like insistent hands. He could feel his fingers starting to give from their hold. He scrabbled to keep hold but the water was too strong and he was torn away. Up, down, tumbling, swirling; he was too dazed to be terrified. Somehow he knew when his head broke through the water and managed to cough and take a deep rasping breath before being sucked under again. He was pulled down and down, into the blue black- He flailed, trying to get upward but already he was desperate for air. He opened his eyes and saw the surface, glittering with the after effects of lightning; and a dark shape heading for him. He reached for it in the gathering dark, seeing the shape of his hand reaching out before he choked and everything went black.

Ahahahaha. Starting another series? Bad me. Bad! I just can't help it. T.T One Piece is so addicting! I don't own it, though. Sad as it is. T.T

Anyhow, I'm dedicating this to Liashi, FNA Sora. Without whom One Piece would still be a weird little show with a strange reindeer (rather than the obsession it is now). With hate and love and balloons, me.

Enjoy! :)