23rd of December, the day before Christmas Eve
The wide daylight sky was littered with dark clouds. White snow drifted down to the untouched pureness that lay below. The entire landscape was peaceful and calm. The trees stood unshaken and the cold sea winds blew from the expansive ocean. Sailing in on those same winds was a large Brig Sloop made of an impenetrable Adam Wood. Aboard that ship was a crew of just nine members, each different in their own way.
Bouncing excitedly in his thin clothes, Monkey D. Luffy bounded over to his sleeping first mate. Roronoa Zoro woke with a start and glared at the hyper raven-haired boy. Just ten feet away and playing in the fallen snow was Usopp and Tony Tony Chopper. The two young teenagers were happily making snow sculptures, Usopp boasting proudly about his creation that shown the crew fawning over him as he posed.
Chopper's eyes were wide and sparkles of awe glinted around. Walking in the opposite direction of both duos, an overly tall skeleton known as Brook played absently on his violin. The slow tune turned to Bink's Sake and Brook began to obviously play louder as he walked downstairs and in the direction of the workshops that laid below the deck. Glancing upward, Franky smirked at the sweet noise that reached his ears and began to hum along before continuing on with his current project.
Just two floors above, Nami and Nico Robin were huddled together in a thick blanket from the chilled air outside. Robin sipped slowly on a cup of richly brewed coffee as an extra hand flipped a dusty page on the historic book before herself. Nami clung tightly to the blanket and relished in its warmth as she gazed at the detailed map in front of her eyes. A flash of blonde and a bundled mess of clothes whirled by, hearts fluttering around.
Sanji swooned over the women at the kitchen table and bowed to one knee as he expertly took their hands from across the table. Robin merely took her own hand out of his loose grip without question as Nami grew a popping vein from the corner of her forehead. Without warning, she struck the overbearing chef in the head and Sanji wallowed on the ground in his own lovesick insanity. The orange-haired girl let out a sigh and returned to her map as the kitchen door opened and a strong, wintry gale blew in with force. Nami shook terribly and Robin gave a slight shiver from the sudden temperature change, the older teen glaring at both the intruder and his accomplices.
"Luffy! Close the door! It's cold out there." The stretchy captain pouted and ran inside with Usopp and Chopper in tow, all three ignoring the open door.
"But, Nami!" Luffy whined and in the process, dragged out the girl's name. "I wanna show you the snowball I made." The Devil Fruit teen ran up to Nami, snowball in outstretched hand, but tripped on the still lovesick Sanji. The woman-loving cook had yet to return from the ground and was now a tripping device for Luffy.
The sloppily-crafted ball of white flew from the raven-haired boy's hand and already directed at Nami, obviously made contact with the already irate navigator. Sanji sat up instantly and brought Luffy with him, using his hands for once as he had his captain by the collar.
"Nami-swan~!" His voice was filled with worry at the silent woman. But it changed instantly as he turned to the instigator in his hands. "You crap kid! Look what you did to lovely Nami!" Sanji pointed at Nami with a free hand and scowled deeply at Luffy, his right foot tempting to set aflame.
"You have to admit Sanji," Usopp began, his fear gone. "It is kinda fun-" The long-nosed boy stopped instantly when he received a glinted eye glare from the irate blonde. Groaning quietly, the door was closed as Zoro walked in. He shook a small amount of snow off his winter jacket to the ground as he strode inside, giving a glance to the commotion before himself.
"What happened now, Luffy?" Zoro's voice was that of its usual stoic tone and didn't appear surprised in the least.
"This crap kid threw a snowball at Nami-san!" Sanji answered in Luffy's stead with a growl added in for measure. Throwing the younger child onto the ground, he pressed his heel into Luffy's rubbery back. Turning his head up from the hard wood floor, the brown-eyed boy pouted upwards at Sanji.
"It's not my fault. I tripped over you!" Luffy stated, wriggling on the ground in an attempt to get up. "It really was cool-looking. It had a smiley face in it and everything." Sanji grit his teeth together and chewed down the slightest on his cigarette, smoke trailing from the glowing end.
"Just leave him be, ero-cook." A sword was already at the chef's neck. Sanji didn't gulp in fear or have his eye widened from the possibility of death from a single twitch of the hand of flick of the wrist. Merely he glared at the sword-wielding first mate before lifting his foot off Luffy, only for it to fly towards Zoro.
"Oh shut it, you damn marimo!" Ducking for a quick moment under Sanji's wild left foot, Zoro groaned and jumped out of the door.
"I would if you would stop whining all the time, prissy love cook!" Zoro's yells were heard clearly outside and quickly proceeding was Sanji's angered growl and the blonde chef going after the green-haired swordsman. In the process of his speedy exit, the door slammed shut and the snowball finally fell from Nami's face. Her face was tinged with red, either from intense anger or a bit of coldness, but she stayed silent for once and seemed to let Sanji take care of the problem as any other strategically-gifted woman would. Glancing at the navigator for any response or otherwise and finding none, Robin was the first to speak.
"Hmm…interesting…" Though obviously talking to herself, it wasn't hard to for curiosity to abound to the others.
"What is it, Robin?" Chopper climbed onto the seat that was accompanied next to the dark-haired woman. Gazing at the blue-nosed doctor, she merely tilted her book toward his curious eyes.
"This island we're supposed to be docking at soon," The archeologist began in an interested voice. "It's known widely for its winter festivities and bountiful lands of numerous trees. It seems for hundreds of years everyone in the Grand Line would try to voyage to this wondrous island to bask in the events around Christmas." Chopper tilted his head in confusion.
"Huh? Christmas? What's that?" Everyone in the galley seemed to raise an eyebrow at the reindeer, Luffy being the first to react as he jumped up from the floor in excitement.
"It's this one day where you get presents and candy and sing songs and eat cookies and all sorts of yummy things. But the night before on Christmas Eve, Santa comes and delivers his presents to all the good kids all around the world in one night." The hyper teen flopped onto the table and sat up near instantly to give a face-splitting grin to the bewildered three. Lowering his voice a few octaves, he leaned forward and his gaze switched from one person to another. "But…if you're naughty and haven't been good at all, then Santa gives you rocks instead. And he wakes you up by throwing a few light ones on your head before laughing and running out saying in Ace's voice, "God! Luffy! You're such an idiot!"" Usopp lifted his hand to say something but stopped as Chopper began to show signs of awe as his sparkles appeared instantly.
"Really? Does Santa come to pirates on the Grand Line?" Luffy looked up in thought for a moment before shrugging.
"I don't know. We haven't celebrated Christmas yet this year." But then once again that childish and enormous grin appeared. "But I hope so!"
"Captain-san." Luffy raised his head and looked at Robin. "If you are preparing for Santa's arrival, shouldn't you get to work soon? Today's date is the 23rd of December; Christmas is only two days away." The two boys jumped up to their feet and nodded at each other in less than a second, confirming a mental thought before hurrying outside into a thick flurry of snow. Remembering the emotions Nami had displayed earlier to the open door, Usopp quickly shut the door on his way out to follow the wild two on their winter holiday mission.
"What do you think, Navigator-san?" The orange-haired girl jumped the slightest at the vocals directed at her but in the end merely shrugged.
"So long as they don't burn down anything or spend too much money, I'm fine." Nami sighed and leaned forward into the blanket surrounding her. "It'll be nice to spend this weekend doing something…festive." Robin smiled before returning to her aged and dusty book.
"Yes, I believe so as well."
In the Men's Sleeping Quarters,
the following afternoon…
Luffy sat in his thin hammock, looking over the wrinkled paper in his hands. Chopper was doing the same, his paper unwrinkled, as he sat upon the couch and started to write on it with a common pencil. Usopp watched the two, shaking his head at the naivety and innocence before him.
"Usopp!" The bandana-wearer teen turned to his wide-eyed captain. An unusual seriousness filled the air as their gazes met and high tension began to make a thick air in the room.
"Yeah, Luffy?" Usopp asked with a hesitance.
"Do you think I should ask Santa for more meat?" Usopp sweat dropped as did the within-ear-shot Chopper.
"No, I think you have enough. That and we're probably going shopping for Christmas dinner tomorrow." Luffy made a small noise of affirmation before crossing out multiple objects on his wish list and sticking out his tongue in thought, a large smile appeared on his face.
"Okay. I finished my letter to Santa and my list." He turned to the crew's doctor. "How 'bout you, Chopper?" The small reindeer gave a quick glance at his own list and letter, giving the smile he received back at Luffy.
"Yeah," His smile fell a bit as question lit up on his furry face. "…but Luffy, how do we get this to Santa? I mean where does he live?" Luffy tilted his head to the side, closing his eyes in thought. A red ting made its way to his cheeks and forehead as his mind worked harder and harder. Finally, after a few moments of a feverish thinking, Luffy let out a breath and the crimson flush slowly faded away.
"Um…North Blue, I think." The straw hat boy replied within seconds of returning to his normal facial coloration. Realization flooded his brown eyes though. "Or Drum Island. I mean, it's snowy there and everything like where Santa lives." Chopper's eyes widened and he ran across the room before clambering up to Luffy's hammock, settling in his lap.
"Could we send it to Doctorine? She might know Santa and could bring it to him." Chopper's questions elicited a closed smile from Luffy, who placed a hand upon the young teen's pink hat.
"Sure. I bet with as old as she is, she must've been friends with Santa since she was little." Chopper's eyes widened once more with Luffy's statement but joined into the laughter that Usopp had started. The sniper rolled as best he could on the floor, his nose bending slightly to the side as it worked as a sort of natural kick-stand.
"I'd love to see the look on Doctorine's face if she heard you say that!" Chopper managed to say in between laughs. The three youngest members of the crew continued to laugh without reason to stop until Usopp came to a quick ending. Nose collided with boot lightly and yet without any pain reaction, Usopp's gaze seemed to tell a different story.
"What the hell are you guys doing down here?" Chopper coughed a couple of times to clear his throat and Luffy merely grinned at his green-haired first mate.
"We're making letters to Santa." He chimed happily. "Oh and lists on what we want for Christmas." Zoro raised an eyebrow at both reindeer and captain.
"Why? Don't you know? Santa isn't-" Usopp jumped up to cover Zoro's mouth with his own hand, sending a disregarding look toward the swordsman.
"They don't know that." He told him through clenched teeth. Groaning and shaking his head a few times, Zoro sighed and pushed Usopp off him before heading toward the couch.
"Huh? What were you gonna say, Zoro?" Already on the couch and set for a nap, the man grunted before cracking one eye open at the straw-hat boy.
"Uh, nothing Luffy. Just forget it. I'll probably tell you next year." Luffy pouted but didn't press any farther and let Zoro start his much-needed nap.
"Okay, let's get these letters to Santa!" Luffy proclaimed loudly, earning an unnoticed glare from the supposedly napping teen.
"..At least he's having fun…"
In the Galley, later that night…
Head on the empty table, Luffy groaned aloud. The rest of the crew was also seated with the exception of Sanji, who was making the finishing preparations on the night's dinner. All the others seemed to be preoccupied with something as well.
Zoro was napping as per usual.
Nami was looking over a map of the area of which they were currently docked at.
Usopp was tinkering around with one of his older inventions, modifying it greatly.
Chopper was looking over a list of medical supplies they had, checking to see if he had to purchase any more on the following day.
Robin was still immersed in the book she was reading since this morning, eyes nearly glued to the pages full of history.
Franky was much like Usopp, messing around with blueprints for one of his newest inventions.
Lastly, there was Brook, who in reality wasn't doing much more than playing a simple tune.
"Dinner is served, my angels." He placed the two steaming plates before Nami and Robin with a loving smile. But then his personality changed in a mere second as he scowled toward the others. "Oh, here you go. Oi! Moss for brains! Wake the hell up!" Zoro cracked one dark eye open and glared at Sanji, almost mirroring the blonde man.
"What's that? Question?" Sanji raised a swirled eyebrow in anger.
"Question? What the hell is that supposed to mean?" The two were now glaring madly at each other, faces inches away.
"It's your eyebrow, dammit! Are you trying to ask me something, Question?" Zoro asked cynically. Sanji growled, and raising one foot, was ready to fight the green-haired man. But his attack was stopped as Nami hit both chef and first mate in the head, a popping vein formed on her forehead.
"Now if you two would both shut up, we could actually eat." Sanji complied with Nami's words instantly while Zoro merely grumbled a reply and leaned back in his chair. Within moments, the food was passed out to every crew member and the always noisy meal began.
Luffy had started by trying to steal some of Usopp's food, the sniper seated at the other side of the table. Using his fork, he battled off the stretchy fingers with ease and won after just a few seconds. Defeated for the moment, Luffy turned back to his overflowing plate and started to eat as he usually did, without a hint of manners.
"Guys," Chopper's soft voice was heard and his nakama quieted down. "What are we gonna do tomorrow? I mean, to get prepared for Christmas?"
"Well, I have to go shopping for dinner." Sanji murmured quietly.
"We haf dah decahrate dah shif!" Luffy stated excitedly, his mouth full of food. The blonde growled and knocked his foot onto his captain's head, the boy making the move to swallow.
"Disgusting! Swallow before you speak dammit!" Nami merely rolled her eyes and Robin laughed quietly to herself.
"Me and Long-nose could get Sunny lookin' SUPA festive!" Franky proclaimed, putting an arm around his fellow craftsman who nodded in agreement.
"We're gonna need a tree also." Brook pointed out. Luffy glanced over to Zoro, the swordsman sitting next to him.
"I'll get the damn tree! I'm not gonna sit around and be it!" The boy grinned happily.
"I wasn't gonna ask you that." Blushing from embarrassment, the dark-eyed man stood up and strode over to the pantry whilst muttering that 'he needed a drink'.
"We need to send our letters to Santa too." Chopper piped up, his eyes directed at Luffy. Sanji opened his mouth to protest but stopped as he was hit in the back of the head, Zoro walking past with a large bottle of sake.
"Don't ruin it." He muttered on the way. Narrowing his sapphire eye, the chef sighed and leaned against the counter before puffing on his cigarette.
"I can take care of that, Captain-san." Robin replied, her eyes still on her book. "I know where Santa lives." Luffy's, along with Chopper's eyes widened in amazement.
"Really?" They asked excitedly in sync. The woman raised her head and smiled softly at the elated duo.
"Of course. I'll be sure he gets them especially since it's so close to Christmas." Their eyes were full of happiness and joy, both nodding quickly in confirmation.
"Can we get finish dinner?" Nami asked aloud with a sigh. Sanji, of course, answered quickly.
"Of course, Nami dear~!" His tone and smile faded as he turned to the male members of the crew. "Shut the hell up."
24th of December, Christmas Eve
In the Aquarium Bar, right before noon…
All was mostly quiet; the sound of shuffling was heard alongside that of papers moving. The exotic fish watched their owners curiously, the idea of being fed appealing to them. But as no one came nearer to the glass then they already were, many if not all became disinterested and went back to their current activities of lazily swimming about their all-too familiar surroundings. The members of the Straw Hat crew sat around in the aquarium bar, glancing over their day's task. Clearing her throat, Nami, ever the unofficial leader, called to attention to the convey before her.
"Okay, everyone should know what to do…if you don't…" Her eyes diverted to Luffy for a quick second. "Zoro and Brook will be getting our tree, Sanji and Chopper will go shopping for tomorrow's dinner, Luffy will decorate the tree, finally Usopp and Franky will be decorating the outside of the ship." Those of who were called, Usopp, Franky, Zoro, and Luffy, gave Nami and Robin a similar look.
"And what the hell are you two doing?" Zoro asked in a slate tone voice. Nami smirked and wagged a finger in the grass-haired teen's face.
"That," She responded slyly. "Is a secret. Now get to everyone! Be back by dinner and no later, especially you Sanji-kun!" Everyone but a pouting Luffy left the room.
"Nah~!" He whined loudly. "I have to wait until Zoro and Brook come back. And then I don't even have anything to decorate the tree with!" Luffy sat up, pondering for a moment before grinning and snapping his fingers in realization. Without wasting yet another second, the rubbery teen left the aquarium bar and all became quiet, the colorful array of fish none the wiser to the holidays of their captors.
In a forest just outside town…
A bountiful forest of fir and evergreen trees sprung high into the sky, small saplings hidden among the roots. Delicate snow drifted to the ground slowly and gradually fell in silence. The leaves and branches of the trees shifted slightly as a winter gale blew lightly. Raising his head to the wind, Zoro stopped for a moment along the snowy ground adjacent to the tall Brook.
"Can't we just pick a damn tree?" The Santoryuu user questioned to his partner. Brook shrugged before rubbing his coat sleeves rapidly.
"It's cold out here. My toes feel as if will fall off. But I don't have toes. Skull joke!" Zoro rolled his eyes at the laughing skeleton and continued on through the thickening forest, the trees beginning to block out what little sunlight was given off during the snow white day. As his booted feet dove deeper and deeper into more untouched whiteness and the sound of laughter became weaker and weaker, Zoro finally chose to glance over his shoulder to see if Brook had caught up. But as his mouth came into a tight scowl and his eyes grew shadowed over from either annoyance, anger, or an irking, one thing was clear.
Brook was lost and Zoro wasn't.
In the closest town…
Emerald and ruby lights hung from nearly every possible place, jubilant wreaths hung from every door, and mistletoe led into every home and tavern. The snow here, unlike from other places, was muddied and dirtier than the untouched pureness that was earlier seen.
Children played along the sidewalks, snowballs sent and received to others, whether willing or not. Sanji and Chopper walked along the same sidewalks. The reindeer basked in the weather, his mind set back in his homeland.
Sanji was in a similar way, the North Blue swirling around his already cluttered mind. Sighing for a quick moment and pulling out a pack of cigarettes from his thick winter coat pocket, he pulled a singular white stick out, placed it in his mouth, and lit it after a few seconds of fumbling around for his lighter.
"Stupid cancer sticks…" Chopper mumbled, arms crossed as he glanced in the opposite direction. Sanji raised an eyebrow in question, blowing a thin streak of smoke from his mouth.
"Huh?" The young doctor jumped as he heard Sanji's voice directed at him.
"Oh! Nothing!" He answered a bit too quickly. "I didn't say anything!" Sanji didn't respond but merely acknowledged it with a quick nod to the reindeer and turned toward the small grocery district of the town. Cracking his fingers, the esteemed cook smirked and glanced over at Chopper.
"Time to get to it."
Back at the Thousand Sunny…
The deck was silent and without any festivity, the two in charge of decorating the large area gone from view. Soft snow had settled onto the deck, the sun's light glinting off of it and making the sight worthy of its moment's beauty. But as the moment passed, the beauty faded away and subsided to a footprint-dotted canvas. Usopp breathed heavily as he carried a large box onto the deck, Franky behind him with four others.
"SUPA! Long-nose, that should be all of them." Bundled up in nearly five layers of clothes, the sharpshooter gasped while on the deck.
"R-really? T'-that's…good…" Picking him his hood, the blue-haired cyborg grinned.
"Now we get to decorating!" Usopp groaned quietly as Franky tugged him to the first oversized box and opened it.
In the mind of Luffy…
So it's like a cliffhanger…
Hmm…would this work? I could ball it up…but then…how could I hang it up? Ooo! With this! That's good! And there are two! I wonder if Nami or Robin have anymore. I think Zoro has some…but that's his only ones…I'll take them when he isn't looking…What about a star? Ahh…that could work…but Sanji might get mad…but he likes Christmas too…so…maybe he won't hit me this year. Does Nami have any long socks? Maybe Robin? What are these? It's like string…huh? Maybe this could be a good decoration…! There's a ton of them! Hehehehe! This'll be the best Christmas tree ever!
Back in the forest…
Brook wiped off the nonexistent tears from his eyes before standing up right, his afro blowing in the wind. Scratching the same object, he glanced around curiously.
"Hmm…Zoro?" Brook turned around, looking for his crewmate. "Where are you?" Frowning in a way only a dead man could, Brook walked around the forest. The skeleton began poking at every green entity with his faded violet cane, calling to every emerald object as if it were his nakama. This process continued on until he came across a small group of children, each wrapped up to look like large clothed marshmallows.
They giggled and laughed as they built upon a giant and unshapely snowman, which look more like a pile of snowy mush. A small brunette girl, no older than five, reached up to what was believed to be the snowman's fat neck, trying to wrap an old wool scarf around it but as her gloved fingers were just about to reach one of the abnormalities of this particulate snowman, a strong wind blew and the plaid scarf flew from her fingertips.
Brook caught it with ease and leaned down to the group with a smile.
Which wasn't given back.
The children looked on in horror as this towering and shadowy skeleton seemed to give a happy expression to them. Scrabbling over each other and running away in terror, they fled Brook as humanly possible.
Scratching his head once more, Brook sighed and wrapped the scarf around the snowman. He then began to walk around the pile of snow and continued on to find his obviously lost green-haired friend.
Back at the town…
Sanji bit down angrily on his cigarette as he glared at the store owner who stood less than a foot from him, the counter the only thing separating them.
"That's too damn much for this shitty piece of meat!" He yelled in anger, the glow of the cigarette becoming brighter as the blonde spoke louder and louder. Chopper hid fearfully behind a far shelf with the other customers who had been in the shop at the same time, all of them too scared to move.
"It's Christmas Eve!" The shop keeper argued, trying to be louder than Sanji. "Of course the prices are gonna go up! So pay for it or leave my store!" Sanji growled angrily, almost biting through his nearly burnt out cigarette.
"I refuse to pay 1500 berries! And for a three ounce cut as shitty as that!" A mother and child shook frightfully, clinging to each other as steam rose from Sanji's right foot.
"Then get the hell out!" Sanji raised his foot, blindly about to hit the shop owner but stopped as a small boy tugged on his leg which wasn't flaming.
"No!" He yelled loudly, pulling hard on Sanji. "Don't do it, mister! Please don't! I-it's Christmas Eve." The raven-haired boy stared up at Sanji with watery eyes. They spoke of sadness and forgiveness. Of things this season told. Where peace abounded and joy rang out. Sighing, Sanji let his leg fall and his bright blue eye went to the boy's emerald ones.
"Chopper!" The cook called to the reindeer, his eyes not leaving the boy. "We're leaving." Chopper nodded and moved past the frightened customers to get to the store's only exit and entrance. Not saying another word, Sanji walked past the near crying boy and out along with Chopper. Once both were outside and the store had turned back to normal, the doctor grinned at the much older teen.
"That was nice of you, Sanji." He replied with a smile. Placing his hands inside his coat pockets, the cook didn't reply but for a quick second.
On the decorated deck of Thousand Sunny…
Usopp looked over his half of the deck carefully, seeing if anything was out of place or needed to be stapled in again. The long-nosed teen grinned as he found nothing out of place and chose to turn around to see how Franky was doing. His face fell as his eyes came upon the overdone site that was supposed to be the other half of the deck.
Shiny red and green tinsel was strung everywhere possible, towering down from the crow's nest to the railings. The mikan trees were decorated evenly with golden and silver bulbs, glittering stars on top of each.
Silver icicles lay across everything, glittering amongst the snow in a beautiful pairing. More bulbs, a rainbow of colors, hung along the tinsel and glowed brightly in the afternoon sun. A low banner hung from one side of the ship to another, proclaiming in black letters 'MERRY CHRISTMAS!' with green and red stripes in the background.
Usopp, instead of being in awe, clenched his teeth in anger. Approaching the crouched cyborg, Usopp shoved him strongly in the back. Franky fell over immediately but stood up and faced the sniper.
"What's up, Sniper-bro?" Franky asked, laughing off the incident as if were merely a playful shrug. "You done? Let me just finish up tying th-"
"Does everything have to be so big?" Usopp asked, acid seething into his words. "Couldn't you have gone simple?" He questioned in anger. Franky stared at the boy, wondering where this unannounced feeling was coming from.
"What'd you mean, Usopp? I just decorated." Franky replied with a calm simplicity.
"Well, this," He pointed to what amounted to everything on Franky's side of the deck. "Isn't simple. That is!" The young teen pointed to his own side of the deck. Tinsel was wrapped loosely around the railings with a few bulbs hanging from any overhanging and just a couple on each side of the railings. Sunny was decorated simply with a long piece of tinsel around and three red and green bulbs attached to the six closest points. The rest of the place had just icicles strung on the railings. Franky shrugged at Usopp's work.
"Looks SUPA to me so I don't see any problems." Usopp, his bottled anger over being outdone every single time  let loose.
"Everything's just so damn super to you, isn't?" Huffing in anger, Usopp punched Franky in the stomach. Yet it ended in futility, the sound of bones cracking as flesh and bone hit metal and machine. Shaking his head, Franky sighed and pushed Usopp off of himself.
"You feel better now?" Franky asked Usopp, the teen refusing to move as his cracked hand was still in the air, still pushing against the cyborg's plated stomach. "You punched me. And for what? To get some anger out? To prove a point? I just hope…that now…you, in whatever way possible, feel much better than before." Picking up his discarded boxes, Franky walked away from Usopp. Refusing to cry, Usopp finally let his broken hand fall to his side.
Somewhere in the forest…
Stepping over both roots and crouching under the thickly woven branches, Brook continued on his harrowing search for the directionless swordsman. The snow thickened to where only one set of foot prints were seen easily. Brook concluded momentarily they must've had been of the missing swordsman, the boot-like shape unmistakable to his eye socket. The skeleton walked forward no more than twenty feet when he heard a familiar voice.
"Shit...it's too damn cold..." Glancing under a broad and leafy tree, Brook grinned at the swordsman.
"Yohohoho! You really do blend in!" Zoro glared at the skeleton before standing up, cracking his neck and back before glancing upward at the darkened sky.
"Looks later than lunch…" He began, slowly turning toward his fellow swordsman. "Do you know what time it is?" Brook stood in silence.
"Hmm…" There was a small pause. "No." A vein popped out on Zoro's forehead.
"Why didn't you just say that?" Brook shrugged with a smile, the snow falling into his hair looking like horrible dandruff.
"But we should be leaving, Mr. Roronoa." Brook replied, glancing towards the sky. "We have the most important task after all. For what is Christmas, without a Christmas tree?" Zoro sighed before glancing down at an area near his ankles.
"There's that one. It's a lot smaller than the others but it should fit in the galley." Following the overgrown roots that circled his feet, Zoro's eyes led to a sapling among giants. It stood no taller than the swordsman looking straight at it and was protected from the strong winds that its towering friends dealt with.
"That should do nicely." Brook commented before rapidly pulling out his cane's sword and placing it back in a mere second. Yet in that mere second, a strong but narrow wind blew as a cause of Brook's swipe. Creaking slightly, the tree gave way to gravity and fell to the forest floor, defeated and dead. Grabbing the cut end of the tree, Zoro hoisted it to his shoulder and wrapped his hand around the middle of the evergreen.
"Luffy's probably bouncing off the walls waiting for us." Turning to his left, Zoro walked on. "Let's get going." Clearing his throat, Brook called to Zoro's attention.
"The ship is that way." Stopping short, a low cursing was heard and the green-haired man started in the direction that the skeleton was pointing in.
"I knew that."
In the galley…
Luffy sat in the galley, waiting for the swordsmen of the crew to return with a bountiful tree. Huffing every few seconds and switching his gaze from the refrigerator to the door, Luffy pouted all the while.
The items he had so carefully chosen to be put upon this holiday tree lay inside a closed box, waiting to be revealed and placed upon this particular tree. Finally this switching of gazes stopped as Luffy heard arguing outside. He knew that both Usopp and Franky were given the task of decorating the exterior of the ship so hearing their voices argue was an abnormality as the two were great friends.
Curious beyond anyone's belief, Luffy stuck his head out the door as quietly as he could and watched the feuding two.
"Everything's just so damn super to you, isn't?" Usopp's voice rang out across the ship and Luffy raised an eyebrow to what was wrong. Complete surprise and an even greater confusion came moments later as Usopp forcefully punched Franky. Luffy winced as he heard a clear and concise cracking which obvious came from Usopp's fist.
"You feel better now?" Franky asked Usopp, Luffy looking on in speechlessness. "You punched me. And for what? To get some anger out? To prove a point? I just hope…that now…you, in whatever way possible, feel much better than before." Luffy continued to watch as Franky picked up a couple of boxes and walked down the stairs into the lower levels of the ship. The rubbery boy saw the refusal, the hesitation, and defiance Usopp had against crying, against showing any sadness or fear. Luffy strode out into the cold, the young teen's playful spirit gone from view.
"Dammit…" Usopp's fist fell and the sniper held back a sniffle.
"Why'd you do it?" The curly-haired teen raised his head to see Luffy leaning against the railing, a blank yet powerful look on his face.
"I'm tired." Usopp began, rubbing nonexistent tears away. "I'm tired of being outdone! Anything I do can be done 1,000 times better by Franky! My work is crap compared to his! He even built his own body while on the brink of death!" Luffy frowned, and pulled his straw hat over his eyes.
"Can he lie better than you?" This caught Usopp's attention. "Is he a better shot than you? A better artist? Could he make Kabuto a thousand time better than you and shoot it a thousand times faster, better, and stronger?" Usopp shook his head, his eyes beginning to water greatly.
"No! He can't!" Luffy grinned, his cheery self returning.
"Then stop acting like that. Sure, people are better than others at things," He took a quick pause before laughing. "But I bet they could beat their asses at others." Usopp nodded in agreement.
"Yeah…" He nodded once more, this time with more vigor. "Yeah!" Luffy laughed happily as his sniper began to encourage himself. Turning away from the broken hand Usopp, Luffy walked back into the warm galley with a shiver.
"It's cold out there."
At the far end of town…
Sanji puffed on his cigarette happily, his arms full of groceries for the crew as many more were strapped for the back of Chopper. The two were smiling brightly as the day neared lunchtime. Both had been able to find a shop with cheap but quality food.
"So, what are you making for tomorrow's dinner, Sanji?" The chef smirked at the middle distance, his eyes nowhere near Chopper.
"Probably braised filets of that sea king meat we picked up. I'll make a thick sauce using some of the fruits we bought to marinade it in." His eyes closed as his imagination as a cook began to widen. "Then I'll steam a few of the vegetables, season them all up. And have everything on a bed of rice." The blonde chef nodded to himself as a loud and female screech was heard. Almost immediately, Sanji had turned his head toward the source and Chopper a few second later. A violet-haired woman lay with wide eyes toward a nearby store. Getting up, she yelled loudly.
"Please! It's Christmas Eve!" A burly man pushed her away with a broom and closed the store's door, locking it in definitely. "All the other stores are closed! You're the last one open!" She broke down in front of the door, tears trailing down her pale cheeks. Sanji didn't say anything to Chopper as he placed down the groceries and ran to the young woman's side, snow falling onto this sad scene.
"Are you alright, mellorine?" Sanji asked her precociously, taking her hands from her tear-streaked face. Shaking her head quickly, she tried to hurriedly wipe away tears with her coat sleeve.
"No…I-I was trying to buy tonight's dinner and little bit for Christmas breakfast when that man pushed me out. I was just about done and ready to pay when he took the food pushed me out and told me his store was closing soon." She sobbed into her sleeve, more tears tempting to fall. "My children and I will probably go hungry again tonight…but…but at least we're welcome at the soup kitchen tomorrow." Chopper watched the woman, his teeth clenched as he tried his hardest not to cry.
"Your family is starving…?" Sanji asked quietly, moving a deep purple lock from her face. She nodded slowly, crying still. "Chopper, hand me a few of the bags." The reindeer, obviously knowing his plan.
"Here you go." The doctor held them out to the young woman with a soft smile. Despite seeing a reindeer talking to her, the young woman didn't seem to care. Taking the bags into arms, she placed them down for time to hug the two.
"Thank you…" She whispered quietly. "Thank you so much…" Finally standing up, she picked up and walked away down the near empty street. Sanji lit a new cigarette before starting for the shop.
"Now to kick his-" Chopper changed into Heavy Point and grabbed Sanji by the arm.
"No, dinner. Remember, Nami wanted us back by then." Sanji's only visible eye changed into a heart and the smoke from his cigarette puffed out in heart shapes.
"Nami-swann~!" Sanji picked up the remaining paper bags and tore down the street. Chopper quickly picked up the ones the blonde teen had left and ran after him.
"Sanji! Wait up!"
Still in the forest…
Zoro and Brook strode through the forest, walking over smaller and smaller roots until they completed disappeared. The ground was covered in a thick layer of snow and the trees thinned out to where a clear path was seen. Both swordsmen began to follow this path, foot prints seeming to lead them out of the forest. Soft voices were heard and became louder as the path became more and more definite.
"What the hell is that?" Zoro's gaze fell upon a familiar pile of white mush, a scarf neatly wrapped around the top part of it. Three children glanced from behind the 'snowman' and their eyes widened, the terrors of the skeleton returning to their fragile mind. Yet a fourth child, a very, very familiar brown-haired girl, stared at Brook. Her gaze was scared but it faded away to confusion.
"Did you put the scarf around my snowman?" Brook nodded slowly and the girl smiled. "Thank you, sir!" She smiled brightly and the other children raised an eyebrow at the happy girl.
"You're very welcome, miss." Stepping around the children and the unshapely snowman, Zoro didn't ask any questions and followed Brook through the wintery forest. When the children were out of earshot and gone from sight, Zoro turned back to Brook.
"Seriously…what the hell was that thing?"
Back in the galley…
Luffy jumped as the door opened, a strong and shiver-worthy wind blowing in. Stomping his feet on the ground, Zoro let the snow from his shoes pile on the ground. Luffy bounded toward his first mate, his eyes full of excitement with the tree.
"Zoro! Brook! You got the tree! Now gimmie!" The rubbery captain looped his arms around the near dead tree, snatching it from Zoro's arms.
"So what decorations are you using?" Brook asked, stepping toward the box crudely labeled 'Luffy'z Stuf Foh X-MAS!' and about to open it. The straw hat boy frowned indefinitely and pushed Brook away.
"Nope. No one gets to see anything until I'm done. Captain's orders." He pointed to the door with a stern look on his face. Zoro merely shrugged, always loyal to any orders and walked out, Brook trailing behind a couple steps. Once both crewmembers were outside, Luffy turned to the box and opened it with eyes brimming with happiness. "This tree's gonna look so awesome."
Near the forest, 100 yards from Sunny…
Chopper shifted the bags in his hands as the snow fell more thickly, the sky becoming darker as evening fell.
"Sanji…" The young reindeer began. "I thought Christmas was just about getting presents from Santa by being nice." The cook shrugged, the bags moving slightly in his arms.
"I don't know. I mean, that shitty old geezer used to say it was like cooking, 'You do it for others, you brat!' and that kind of stuff." He sighed, his smoke intertwining with the snow. "So it's like you give so others can receive and others give so you can receive also. Like that lovely maiden back there…we gave her food so I guess soon enough we'll receive something." Chopper tilted his head in confusion.
"So you give just to receive things?" He asked, now frowning. "Isn't that a bit selfish?" Sanji shook his head.
"I don't give just to receive. I'll do it for free if need be." He smirked, the snow piling greatly on top of Chopper's pink hat. "Now, let's hurry…I need to cook for lovely Nami-san and Robin-chwannn~!" Once again, in a fit of love, the blonde teen found a way to noodle dance his way to Thousand Sunny, leaving Chopper behind, once again, in a flurry of pearly white snow.
Just 20 minutes later…
Robin exited from the woman's quarters, a steaming cup of coffee in her hands. A thick blanket was draped over her shoulders. A thin smile came over her lips as she caught a glimpse of Sunny. The lights shone brightly in the darkness, everything covered in a thin layer of glittering snow and icicles. The decorations that hung were glowing, golden and silver lights abounding in the pure white canvas.
"Robin-chwan~!" The woman laughed quietly to herself as Sanji ran across the deck, dropping several bags at the galley's door before stopping before Robin, a cool and calm demeanor over himself as he grasped her empty hand and flipped his golden hair. "I have returned." Robin nodded and removed her warm hand from his freezing glove.
"I see," Pursing her lips for a moment, she began to speak again. "Cook-san, where is Chopper?" Loud breaths were heard as said doctor collapsed on the deck, tired from trying to catch up to the fast chef twice. Sanji smiled brightly before standing up.
"I'll shall start dinner, my sweet angel. Please tell the lovely Nami." Robin nodded as Sanji walked toward the kitchen, opening the door and greeted with noisy bustling.
"Sanji! Captain's orders! Get out!" Luffy's voice was heard loudly and clearly as he yelled at the blonde, pushing him out before closing the door. Stunned for a moment before anger replaced it, Sanji raised his foot to kick down the door. Yet he was stopped as a flurry of hands appeared, grasping it before a singular one wagged a finger in disagreement.
"I believe you should follow his orders, Cook-san." Robin stated, her arms crossed. "It could surprise you…" Her voice trailed off as her extra arms turned into a small storm of soft, pink flower petals.
"Of course, Robin-chwann~!" The obsessed love cook proclaimed. Chopper merely shook his head and walked the rest of the way to the door, setting the bags down at the galley entrance before heading to the sick bay in the floor below.
"Ahh! Usopp! What happened?" The door shut, muffling any other noise that would've been made. Luffy peeked out, an eyebrow raised in question before he closed the door and returned to his task. The straw hat boy looked over his festive creation, nodding as he stuck out his tongue in thought. Turning toward the table, he grabbed the silver object that lay on the smooth wood and flipped the topside open.
A small flame was seen before it was stopped by the closing of the top, Luffy now walking up to the tree before lighting the top. The flame atop the evergreen burnt brightly, lighting the tip. Luffy grinned before running out the galley, leaving the glow of the fire to take its own possessive control.
Five Minutes Later, on the deck…
Luffy conjoined the crew together in front of the galley, a large and face-splitting grin on his face. The entire group stood before him with different expressions.
Zoro was scowling as usual, not an ounce of happiness on his face.
Nami was obviously annoyed, impatient and cold beyond belief.
Usopp had a distracted look on his face as he poked around at the cast on his hand, still trying to adjust to it.
Sanji was irritated nearly as much as Nami, angered over how she was also.
Chopper was merely occupied over keeping Usopp from messing up the still wet cast, finally changing into Heavy Point to yell at the sniper and instill his point.
Robin seemed to be the only one smiling, happy over something mysterious.
Franky was frowning greatly, his arms crossed as he stared in the direction opposite from everyone else.
Brook, as he was a skeleton, wore a blank expression for a moment. Luffy cleared his throat and smiled, in longer in his usual attire but a thicker version of the original.
"Well, tomorrow's Christmas everyone!" Luffy announced with his grin still there. "And the most important part, our first Christmas tree, is finally finished. Now to show you all…" He opened the door and almost continued but stopped as thick and shadowy smoke poured out. A blazing fire was seen inside and the eyes of everyone widened.
"Luffy, you baka!" Nami screeched loudly at her captain. Sanji and Zoro moved inside, almost racing each other to take care of the fire. Franky followed behind after a few seconds, a sort of hose-like object trailing from his palm. Usopp merely stared alongside Chopper, watching the glow of the fire while frozen in place. Nami glared at Luffy, who had finally chosen to help but was put out after just a couple moments of his 'help'. Seated on the ground outside the galley, Luffy stared on as his nakama fought the fire.
"Move it, Question!"
"Are you starting that shit up again?"
"You're in my way!"
"This is not SUPA!"
"Water, dammit! We need water!"
"Hmm? Maybe the sink, you asshole!"
"Shut the hell up! You're the idiot here!"
"How the hell am I the idiot?"
"Both of you just shut up!" Silence reigned as the crackling of the fire was heard, the three crewmembers now quietly working to put out the fire. Soon enough the smoke stopped and darkness clouded over the interior of the room. Walking out, a slightly soot covered Franky, Zoro, and Sanji emerged from the galley. Glaring at Luffy with his one azure eye, Sanji grabbed Luffy by his collar.
"What'd you do, crap kid?" He asked through clenched teeth, a cigarette gone from his mouth.
"I used some of your cigarettes to make a star," Fury filled his one eye. "And then I lit it before telling you all about the tree." Pushing the straw hat boy to the ground, Sanji yelled aloud in frustration.
"I'll be up in the crow's nest for a smoke." No one protested to the statement, not even the always arguing Zoro spoke a word. Franky merely shook his head, not saying a word, and walked downstairs, obviously going to his workshop. Usopp followed in example, his mind toward the dry docks and the beloved mini Merry. Nami, giving one more glare to Luffy, retired to the women's quarters, a comforting Robin consoling her silently.
Chopper nodded to the remaining three and walked down the stairs to the sick bay, most likely to spend a busying and distracting night in medicine. Brook gave a look of pity to both captain and first mate before walking around to the ship's back, violin at the ready and Bink's Sake already in his bony mind. Zoro merely turned to Luffy with a shrug.
"I'm getting a drink, you should get some sleep. We got a lot of cleaning to do tomorrow." Placing a hand on his head, Zoro directed Luffy toward the men's quarters before walking to the galley and walking inside. With a low sigh, Luffy stared at the shadowed windows and headed toward the sleeping quarters. All the while, many were unbeknownst to the stream of flower petals that fluttered away in the night wind.
25th of December, Christmas Day
Nami arose as a hand shook her shoulder strongly, opening her eyes groggily. Raising her head, she stared sleepily at the unfinished maps below her before sitting upright and watching a lasting petal float away in the corner of her eye. Similar events happened around the ship.
Luffy found himself somehow on the hardwood floor, glassy eyes staring about the room.
Usopp hit his head and his long nose bent on the glass covering of the Mini Merry, rubbing both nose and forehead from the impact.
Franky was pushed off his workbench by a mysterious force, tools sprung about the room.
Sanji shook a large amount of snow off of him, an unimaginable amount that made him look like a snowman.
Chopper woke up in a similar fashion as Franky, having been pushed off his stool.
Brook merely nodded after being wakened, a knowing look on his skull. As it seemed, all the crewmembers walked out into the light of Christmas morning at the same time. Walking to the deck, all the crew members with the exception of Zoro converged on the deck.
"It's Christmas." Franky commented, pushing at the snow with a bare toe.
"Yeah." Sanji responded slowly, scratching at his head. Everyone seemed to be avoiding eye contact of any sort despite the joyful holiday.
"Shouldn't we be getting inside?" Robin asked insightfully. The others turned to the eldest woman and seemed to nod in confirmation before turning to the dark room. Placing a hand on the door handle, Luffy opened it with a sigh. But all sadness and troubles of any crew mate turned to joy and happiness as the festive holiday showed itself. Many decorations were strung about the galley, everything brightly lit with a festive feeling.
Everyone but Robin and Sanji, who burst out laughing in an uproarious way, tilted their head to the side in confusion. The swordsman yawned loudly, rubbing his eyes but failing greatly as it seemed he was tied in some odd way.
"Sanji! What the hell?" The cook stopped his laughter for a moment to glare.
"I didn't do this, shitty swordsman but I wished I did." Zoro sat in the corner of the galley, surrounded and covered in tinsel, decorations, colorful bulbs, along with a bright and beautiful star strapped to his head. But the surprising aspect of anything after the subject of Zoro and his likeliness to a Christmas tree was the immense amount of presents that surrounded him, all from a particular round and jolly old man.
"Santa!" Luffy and Chopper yelled in happiness.
"He came last night!" Chopper squealed happily, looking over all the presents.
"And he turned Zoro into a Christmas tree!" Luffy added cheerfully. Zoro scowled at the straw hat boy.
"Oi! I'm not some damn Christmas tree so get me out!" No one helped the swordsman as they took to the presents that surrounded him.
"I got some new pots and pans!" Sanji said in surprise, holding a steel sauce pan in one hand and a deep light steel pot in the other.
"And I got Dials!" Usopp said, his eyes wide at the prospect of seeing them out of Skypeia.
"Look at this!" Nami proclaimed happily. She held up thick white paper in her hands, the thoughts of beautiful charts swirling through her mind.
"Santa's so cool!" Chopper cried, snuggling to the medical tools he had received.
"Yeah, he's really SUPA." Franky agreed as he looked through a pair of welding goggles, the welding torch in his other hand.
"A lovely book…" Robin stated silently as she sat upon a chair next to the kitchen table, a secretive smile on her face.
"And music scores to last years. Yohohoho!" Brook stated, already looking them over.
"Zoro got coal!" Luffy laughed loudly. The swordsman frowned at his captain.
"That's a sharpening stone." Then realization flooded. "What are you opening my presents for?"
"Oh well, I got…" His eyes widened as Luffy held his prize over his head. "Sea king meat! And it's already cooked, steaming too!" Sanji raised an eyebrow in question but said nothing.
The entire crew reveled in their presents, the snow fluttering outside in a flurry of pure white. The entire landscape was as peaceful and calm as days before. The trees were once again unshaken and the cold winds blew across just like any other day. Turning around, Robin smiled with a hint of knowing.
"Merry Christmas to you all. And a wonderful-"
"Robin," Chopper tilted his head at the archeologist. "Who are you talking to?" The historian smiled at the doctor.
"Nothing." She replied, the reindeer turning away from her as she glanced back. "And I wish you a wonderful new year." Luffy grinned and spread his arms out.
"Merry Christmas everyone!" He yelled happily.
"Now get me the hell out of this thing!"
 – I know what you're thinking my dear yaoi fans…and stop it.
 – Once again, any yaoi fans…wait…would that pairing even work?
 – How I feel every year…
 – In my opinion, it seems that Franky's inventions are a lot cooler than Usopp. That and it seems like the Merry was Usopp's ship (I know that Merry originally gave it to them so whatever) and Sunny was Franky's.
 – For those of you who yelled "SKULL JOKE!" then I applaud you and shall give you a cookie.
 – Real ones, not the fake silvery ones.
A Christmas present to all of you reviewers, alerters, and favoriters(if that's even a word). Merry Christmas to all of you and I hope your holidays are wonderfully amazing.
~Darkness hides only in the light~