The Thousand Sunny Day Care and Rest Home
By Mr Khan
I arrived at the idea for this after thinking of possibilities for what will happen once the (finally happening, yay!) reunion is completed and the Straw Hats proceed to the New World. I pondered a run-in with Jewelry Bonney, though this was before we learned of Bonney's defeat and arrest. Either way, this story is still a good idea. Plus its a chance for me to explore writing Usopp, something i've always wanted to do, but could never come up with a good plot for.
Chapter 1: Sneak Attack
"I've come down with I-can't-go-in-the-crow's-nest disease!" Usopp declared. "Somebody else will have to go!"
"Damnit, just go," Sanji replied. "We all drew straws, and it's your night to be lookout."
"But how can a lookout be any good in this mist anyway?"
"We'll need it even more," said Franky. "If another ship is in the area, it might hit us. Though it won't do much damage to our supah hull."
"B-b-but how will I be able to tell if there's an intruder?"
"Relax," Sanji chided, "there's nobody in the mist."
"Unless there's someone in the mist," added Zoro with a wolfish grin.
"You could probably tell if it's us or not by our silhouettes," Chopper put in helpfully. That was true enough, as many of the straw-hats had unique shapes.
"I guess…" Usopp finally relented. "But…"
"Just get up there!" Nami shouted. "I'll be up to relieve you at 2:00!" She was crabby as she too had drawn a short straw and had to share lookout duty. She shoved him in the direction of the ladder. "Good night!"
"Yeah, yeah," Usopp grumbled as he ascended the ladder. The night watch had become much more formal since the reunion. Before that, it had usually been "let Zoro do it while he trains," but they were all a little shaken after the disaster at Sabaody Archipelago. Though no-one admitted, it was evidenced by the new two-shift night watches that were well-organized. Currently the Thousand Sunny was traveling through a tricky bit of sea, constantly covered by mist and scattered with treacherous reefs. Passable for the Sunny's invincible Adam-Wood hull, but impassable for most other ships. This passage was a shortcut through this part of the Grand Line and allowed them to avoid a marine base in the bargain. They had dropped anchor for the night about halfway through this misty belt, hidden from the rest of the world.
Well, mostly. One ship had been brave or foolhardy enough to follow them in: a ship captained by the notorious Jewelry Bonney. Bonney had sworn she would face the straw-hats in the New World. Their idiocy had almost doomed her back at Sabaody. When she heard that they had gone through Sabaody again, she ordered her crew to go back towards the Red Line to head them off. Her crew protested, but she convinced them by saying that the straw-hats' idealistic stupidity would only bring further calamity to them and every self-respecting pirate in the area. They wouldn't be safe if nuts like Luffy and that idiot swordsman of theirs were going around provoking the powers that be. They had proceeded into the misty belt carefully, determined to stop the straw-hats once and for all.
Their ship got as close to the Sunny as they dared in the mist, then deployed their jolly-boat. Her landing party, only four counting herself, tossed up grappling hooks that her ship's engineer had repurposed for stealth, giving them retractable claws that he then nestled in a ball of yarn so that they could be tossed silently, but still work. She nodded to her crewmates, who dispersed silently about the ship while she took a bite out of a whole ham that she had brought with her. Her crewmates returned quickly.
"They're all asleep," one whispered.
"You're absolutely sure?" she replied. The crewmate in question looked uncertain. "Eh," Bonney sighed quietly, "As long as they're anywhere on the ship, they should be in range." She took another loud chomp out of her ham, causing her crewmates to cringe. "Let's get started." She closed her eyes and clasped her hands, wearing a contemplative expression that was extraordinarily rare for her. It was also extraordinarily rare for her to use this ability, an ability more potent but less precise than her powers usually were. It was an ability that defied even the most learned devil-fruit researchers. When he had heard of it, Dr. Vegapunk himself had sent her a letter saying that she would not only be given amnesty, but have her own bounty paid to her, if she would go to his lab so he could study this particular ability of hers. It was rarely used because it required stealth, something that the loud-mouthed Bonney never really adapted to. The stealth requirement in turn was because she needed about four and a half minutes to successfully pull it off. But with the straw-hats asleep, she would easily be able to do it.
Four and a half minutes later, it was done. Bonney resumed eating her ham. "Captain, come on!" one crewmate whispered, pulling on her arm. "You said we had to get out of there quickly once you were done!"
Bonney frowned. She had had to hold off on eating that ham for a whole four and a half minutes. Four minutes and thirty seconds of having a ham so close to her, but not being able to eat it. But she saw the wisdom in her crewmate's words. The straw-hats should be helpless by now, but it would be troublesome if they saw her anyway, as at least half of them might be able to identify her, despite their new condition. She and the others fled to the jolly-boat, and then she resumed eating the ham quite messily. Mission complete: now she could resume her journey through the New World without worrying about the straw-hats bringing the wrath of Marine HQ down on her.
Usopp's fear had lessened as the night proceeded. Initially he found himself constantly darting back to the window in fear, but he eventually calmed, busying himself with making more firebird stars. About halfway through the shift he thought he heard footsteps and peered down. In the mist he saw a vague outline of a figure with a hat, holding what looked like a large chunk of meat. Sanji wouldn't be pleased about it, but it wasn't an intruder. About five minutes later, Usopp heard a loud chomp, and looked again to see the mist-walker walking away. Usopp returned to his work. This lookout stuff isn't too hard, he thought.
2:00 rolled around and Nami failed to appear. Usopp waited a further five minutes, then left. "Geez," he grumbled. "How does she think she'll get away with this? If I were holding her up, she'd never let me hear the end of it." He descended the ladder and went to the second floor of the Sunny, determined to rouse Nami so he could go to bed.
He reached the girls' bedroom door and hesitated. This was sacred ground, viciously defended (more by Nami) against the likes of Sanji and Brook. Even though he was quite angry at Nami for shirking her duty, he was a little scared of both of them. Okay, more than a little. He was especially scared of potentially waking up Robin, given that he wasn't sure he had ever seen her sleeping, and wondered what kind of wrath he might awaken if he disturbed the morbid archaeologist. Robin had actually slept more lately, he realized, another thing that was out of place since the reunion.
Anger and fear fought within him for a while when another element prompted him to act: concern. As his hand hesitated before banging on the door, he heard a quiet snuffling. Was that… crying? "Oi, Nami," he whispered, knocking softly. "Nami? Robin?"
He heard a frightened yelp within, then more sniffling. Care for his nakama drove him to do what anger could not, and he slowly opened the door, poking his long nose through. He wasn't sure he had ever been in here. In the dark he saw two beds, one unoccupied, though he couldn't see who was in the one bed.
"Nami, Nami?" he whispered. "Robin?"
"Jiisan!" came a shout, then Usopp found himself under attack by something small that clamped onto his midriff forcibly.
"Ahh!" Usopp screamed. "Attack! Get off get off get off!" He seized the thing that had seized him and flung it off, then scrambled to the bureau. He fumbled around and found a lamp, then lit it. Revealed was a little, huddling mass, clothed in a one-piece maroon sundress.
"I'm sorry, Jiisan!" it, well, she (Usopp guessed) said, turning towards him. "Don't hit me, I didn't do it!" Usopp saw it was a little girl. For a moment he looked back at her frightened face, then saw it: a thin nose and almond-shaped blue eyes, slightly bigger and rounder than he was used to, a face he had seen only once, in a now-outdated Wanted poster.
"Robin?" he asked.
Robin, for the girl was indeed Nico Robin, stopped crying and looked at him. "You're not Jiisan!" she declared, an edge to her voice that was all Robin. "Who are you? Did you do this to Roji-baasan? Dos fleur!"
Two little hands sprouted up out of Usopp's shoulders, still too small to grip all of his neck, though they tried. "Oi oi, stop stop stop!" Usopp panicked, deflecting the little arms which dissolved. "Slow down! It's me, Usopp!"
"U-sopp?" Robin said slowly. She looked at him a bit, her face creasing into a suspicious frown. "Stranger!" she declared. "Get out of here, long-nose!"
"Hold on!" Usopp said, growing indignant. An idea popped into his head. "I'm the great Police Chief Usopp, Nico Robin!" he lied in a husky voice. "I'm here to investigate."
Robin frowned. Even at her age she had a mistrust for authority, but she also knew she'd get in more trouble than she'd ever been in if she defied the police. "Okay," she said. "My Aunt Roji won't wake up! I tried calling her, but she isn't moving…" she said, indicating the bed next to her.
Usopp raised an eyebrow. This was getting a little too far out for him, but his reflexive lying pushed him ahead. "Don't worry, Robin-chan," he said in his husky voice again, "your auntie is probably fine." He now took a good look at Nami's bed, occupied by a woman whose only discernable figure was her silver hair, given that the rest was entirely covered. He reached for her shoulder, "Ma'am, are you…" and touched it.
"What!" came a screech loud enough to wake Brook (reverse skeleton joke, yohoho). "Damnit honey, I keep telling you we're too old for that!" The woman rolled over and glared at him. "You're not him! Who the hell are you?"
The woman was old and wrinkled, with a head of silver hair, but Usopp easily identified her. "Nami?"
"Oh, look, it's a contender for the genius of the year award!" Nami responded viciously. "Of course I'm Nami!" she glared alternately at Robin. "And who are you, squirt?"
Robin ignored the rude question. "Usopp-san, this isn't my aunt."
"Usopp?" Nami gasped, then her eyes narrowed. "Nah. Usopp was taller than you. And you're damn right I'm not your aunt," she said, rounding on Robin again. "Nojiko's kids looked nothing like you. You look more like… oh, whatserface. It'll come to me!"
"Right…" Usopp said slowly. "Hey, I'm sorry I disturbed your sleep, and I'll leave you ladies alone now." With that, he stepped out of the room and shut the door behind him.
He stood outside for a time, shaking like a leaf. He had absolutely no clue what was going on, and it was hard to think as Nami and Robin began a rather loud argument after he left. Whatever it was, he and the other guys would figure it out. He grabbed a lantern and dashed down to the boys' room. "Everyone, it's horrible!" he roared as he dashed to the door and kicked it open. "Robin and Nami have…"
He saw six heads looking back at him from their bunks: a long white beard with a frayed straw-hat, a pudgy little face with moss-green hair, a wispy bald head with an eye patch, a staring reindeer with tiny fuzzy antlers, a metal nose and shock of wild purple hair, and an afro with a face obscured by an eye mask.
"What's going on here!" he roared, then collapsed in shock. "I'm dead," he said, then lost consciousness.
Author's Note: The age-change i suppose is obvious, but there's something more at work here. What's wrong with our heroes? We'll find out. Though i may have started this prematurely, as my ability to write more quickly might become compromised for reasons both within (thanks DeviantArt) and outside of my control (thanks Washington Center Internships)