My way of how things could have gone. Not one of my fluffy stories, you have been warned. Italics are from the poem Sea Fever written by John Masefield. Absolutely no infringement is intended and no profit is being made.
Set right after the fight with Enel, and the crew has gathered around Luffy though that doesn't happen in the series.
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
"Where's Going Merry?" Luffy gasps in panic because he suddenly can't remember the last time he felt the soothing waves beneath him and heard the low humming of his eighth crew member. He tries to pick his head up but fails yet the ground is soft, almost like a cushion so it doesn't hurt. Instead, he carefully opens his eyes and finds bright, cold white clouds everywhere instead of the usual warm brown and blue. New things are good, fun and Luffy likes nothing more than a good adventure. Yet right now, in the thick haze of pain and fatigue, he yearns for something familiar, something soothing, something his.
"Going Merry's fine Luffy. She's waiting for us somewhere safe."
Ah. Something that is his. Luffy turns his head to the general direction his nakama's words come from and smiles. Usopp loves the ship almost more than anybody else so if he says so then surely it must be true. Something sounds off though, something about the way the cheerfulness in Usopp's words are strong and forced like the way Usopp sounds when he's sad but tries to pretend he's not. So to distract him, Luffy asks what happened and laughs at what seems like the right moments though the pain in his head is so intense that he can't really understand a single word that's being said.
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.
A blinding light finds its way into Luffy's eyes and he grunts as he instinctively flinches away. He wonders where Robin is because it seems like the sun decided to set in his eyes instead of the sky and he'd rather have stars(seven for each of them) and he's sure Robin would know the answers. The light refuses to give up so Luffy just shuts his eyes tightly closed and somewhere to his right he hears a sigh of distress he recognizes. With his eyes still shut, he tries to turn his head to grin at his reindeer because he's really okay and he knows all of it is nothing Chopper's healing and Sanji's cooking can't fix. A hand touches his forehead however, gently restraining his movements and Luffy instantly stills. There is the slightest hesitance in the slender fingers and Luffy knows that if he as much moves, Robin will pull away. He has seen Robin cry once, and despite the building crumbling and the rocks falling, her sobs had reached him loud and clear. She has been pushed away often enough, he'd be damned to let that happen again. So he stays where he is struggling to stay awake and still and finally smiles when the hand settles down after brushing his bangs away.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
"Wake up you idiot! Luffy! Luffy! I swear if you don't open your eyes now, you're starving for a week! "
Luffy forces his eyes open. The threat from his cook is scary enough but the sheer intensity of the rage melted in every single word alarms him. Nami has told him a long time ago that Sanji sounds like something when he's actually something else and Luffy thinks she's right because whenever Luffy has just woken up from nights of high fevers after battles Sanji will snap at him and smack him more than usual but the food he serves always seems to have more meat than usual. Luffy doesn't know what it means for Sanji to be so enraged, or what Sanji actually is when he's pretending to be angry but Sanji's his nakama and if anything is angering his nakama it's the capatin's job to fix it.
He tries to focus but the pain that was in his head has moved to every point in his body and honestly it takes his everything not to close his eyes again. Sanji and Chopper are beside him in a conversation but Luffy can only catch bits like concussion and no and a bit more venomous no along with a never ever giving up. Luffy is still trying to understand what he's heard when Chopper hurries off and Sanji settles beside him.
"You up captain?"
The coarse smell of smoke tickles Luffy's nose but the smell reminds him of Sanji and the kitchen and warmth and fantastic dishes so Luffy decides he doesn't mind. He notices that the hands holding and lighting the cigarrette are shaking. Luffy decides to keep his cook company and asks for meat. Sanji actually says yes.
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
"Nami? Don't cry." Luffy blinks up at Nami when he wakes to find her kneeling beside him. Some part of him notices the stale air and the discarded ashes beside his head but that's not really important because right now Nami is crying. She tries her best to swallow her tears but the quivering lip is familiar and Luffy doesn't like it.
"Don't worry Nami," Luffy promises seriously. "I'll beat Arong and tell him you're my nakama forever."
The trembling gets worse but Nami's eyes soften impossibly as she strokes his cheek.
"You already beat Arong Luffy. I know I'm your nakama forever."
It confusing for Luffy because he doesn't understand why she could possibly be so sad is she knows this. He grins anyways since he knows Nami secretly loves her nakamas' laughs and smiles and then frowns when he sees her tears. He pauses for a moment before telling her very seriously.
"You don't have to worry Nami. I'll beat Arong and tell him you're my nakama forever."
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
Something in the air changes and Luffy knows why.
"Zoro," Luffy breathes and he's thinking finally. He takes in his first mate and is glad to see that Zoro is still Zoro, still strong and sure and alive though he suddenly can't remember why in the world Zoro wouldn't be. He scrunches his brow in thought but Zoro reaches over and lays a hand over his eyes. The rough palm doesn't hurt him but something about the rugged affection does and the next word comes out as a whimper.
I'm so tired.
Luffy implores Zoro to understand, and of course Zoro does.
"I know," Zoro murmurs but he never moves his hand away and Luffy doesn't mind. "It's okay Luffy."
Luffy tries but he can't finish the sentence. There is something more and it's not that simple and Zoro should know this but Luffy can't remember why. When he tries to, the harder he thinks the thicker the fog becomes and Luffy is left wondering what he'd been trying to remember in the first place.
Luffy is unsure of what it is he is trying to ask and what it is he wants to hear.
Zoro knows both.
"It's still okay," Zoro answers but it's a hint of something sad and hurting and something not-Zoro. But Zoro is saying that it's okay and Zoro would never lie to him so Luffy slowly relaxes as his trust outweighs his worries. "It's okay to rest now."
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.
The last thing he remembers is what sounds like choked sobs, but nothing could possibly make Zoro cry. So Luffy's sure it's just a laugh.