"What's it like to have a brother, Luffy?"

Everyone froze. The clanking of plates and silverware came to a complete halt. The happy laughter and mindless dinner chatter died off and faded into silence. Even time itself seemed to stop and take a double take at the sudden question. Chopper shifted uneasily in his seat as his words were greeted with utter silence. What had started as Usopp's tale of two brothers defeating a giant dinosaur had quickly escalated into a question that none of them had ever dared to ask.

The crew watched their captain carefully. Luffy was unpredictable and no one had a clue of how he would react. Would he be angry? Would he leave the room? Would he act like he didn't hear the reindeer? Would he cry? As the Straw Hats tensely waited for some sort of response, it turned out that he didn't do any of those things. Instead, the raven-haired man lifted his head. A smile danced on his lips, though, unlike all of his other goofy grins, this smile possessed a certain sadness. Though none of them could have blamed them. Time heals all wounds, but it can't take away the scars.

Luffy's lips parted and the reindeer fidgeted slightly. He was unsure of whether or not he wanted to hear what his captain would say. The tiny doctor began to silently wish that he had never asked at all. Though, the words that spilled from his captain's mouth were surprising. Or, to be more specific, the tone of his words was surprising. His voice sounded the same as it had always been: loud, confident and strangely reassuring.

"Having a brother is great," he began. His smile was still present as he spoke. "They're always there when you need them! And you'd do some pretty stupid things for them."

The tension in the dining room began to fizzle out. Shoulders slacked and slight smiles slipped onto the lips of the Straw Hats. Chopper relaxed as well.

"Like… you would invade the highest security prison in the world," he continued. His nakama allowed a small chuckle to escape their mouths.

"You would team up with some old enemies and give away a valuable treasure map!"

"…You would fight a guy made of gross poison with your bare hands," he chuckled softly. Though his smile was slowly fading from his face. "Then you would give up 10 years of your life so that you could heal from the fight with the poison guy."

"You would charge onto a battle field and fight even though you don't have the energy anymore."

His smile had completely left his face by now, and the Straw Hats noticed that his gaze had become slightly distant. He wasn't looking at Chopper anymore. It was as if he was gazing right through him.

"And when your brother tells you to go away, you'd just keep going. They'll forgive you later anyways."

"You'd even throw yourself in front of a deadly attack, just so you don't have to see them get hurt."

His eyes started to grow misty. Luffy had gotten past Ace's death but talking about it reopened the old wounds. Images of blood and tears and screaming pirates flooded into his mind all at once. He bit down on his trembling lips as he forced himself to calm down. His nakama quietly watched him, the tension building once more. But when the tears never came and Luffy gave his toothiest grin yet, the tension turned into a slight bewilderment.

"And when you miss them, you smile! Because they didn't give themselves up to so you could frown!"

A/N: Wooohh... That was short compared to what I've been churning out lately...

Psstt... for those of you who followed Guiding Light, what kind of fic would you like to see next? I have an AU ZoLu fic in the works and a fic based on nakamashipp! Which one should I submit first? c:

Also, I kinda feel like doing giftfics! So feel free to make requests. I'm feeling generous. u3u