Me: Merry Christmas minna! And wow. It's been a long time since I have typed up a story— well, anything. I've been so busy with school and work that I don't have time with a lot of other things…
Zoro: tch. Excuses.
Me: Said the one relaxing and drinking booze the whole time. I bet you enjoy the fact that I didn't humiliate you these past years.
Zoro: … well—
Me: *throws stinky fish at his face* Well, I hope you enjoy this! Finally I can get to Nami; though it's not going to be easy at all. I need to really think and portray to how Nami would react around a little cutie like a 7 year old Luffy! *squeals at the prospect*
Zoro: *roll eyes*
Me: *kicks him in a hole full of stinky fish*
Zoro: WHAT IS WITH YOU AND FISH?!
Me: Hey, I didn't have a few years' worth of humiliating you; I deserve it.
8. Orange-haired Sister and the Circus
"AHO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"
"HANG TIGHT LUFFY, WE'RE COMING!" Ace panicked as both he and the grunting swordsman continues to row the boat, watching with fervent eyes as the bird flew farther and farther away from the boat. The Logia-powered D. swears that the bird is mocking them, especially with how it seems to glide so casually as if it didn't have his little brother in its mouth.
"ROW FASTER GREEN-HAIR!"
"DON'T CALL ME GREEN HAIR— AND I'M ROWING AS FAST AS I CAN!"
"YOU KNOW, THIS IS KIND OF FUN!" Luffy told them far up above in the sky, not noticing how the bird is taking him away from his two protective guardians. The kid looks way too comfortable with the situation he is in.
"DON'T GET COMFORTABLE! STRUGGLE WHY DON'T YOU?!"
"NO! DON'T STRUGGLE! JUST HANG ON TIGHT!" Ace quickly protested against the swordsman's suggestion, glancing warily at the vast sea all around them while still being able to keep an eye out for his troublesome little brother. No matter how fast these two can row (and they're pretty much at the speed of light at this point of time), Ace didn't want to take the chance that Luffy might fall into the water and drown… or worse (and Ace knows very well that his otouto has a very unfortunate tendency to lean towards the 'worse' part).
At the horrifying thought, Ace rowed faster even than before—well, if that's possible. It's a wonder why the oars hadn't shattered from the pressure of their strength. Actually, with how fast they're tearing up through the sea, it's a wonder how the hull of the boat hadn't collapse with how they man-handled it. They're going so fast that they're practically skipping on top of the water.
Well, if you couldn't assess the situation, it's very simple to what had happened: Luffy was hungry (usually, that's the start of all their troubles) and in a very unfortunate coincident, a bird just happened to pass by over their heads. Seeing this as a chance to restock their food supplies, which is probably the young D.'s main and only concern in that point of time, Luffy sling-shot his way up to the bird, planning to catch it as his lunch for the day.
But then, after many speculation and looks of disbelief, the idiot has to get himself stuck, inside the bird's beak.
How in the world did Luffy got stuck into the bird's mouth— is a mystery that Zoro has no energy to solve. The two D. brothers are already complex enough as it is.
"FASTER! IT'S GETTING AWAY!"
"I AM GOING AS FAST AS I CAN!" Zoro barked back, obviously as irritable (though not as worried—within good reasons cause there is no one in the world who can be as worried about Luffy like his captain can) as Ace is about the whole situation.
But seemingly, much to the two's frustration, the bird somehow got the upper hand and flew faster with the wind while it took Luffy further along into the distance. One has to wonder how that bird is able to outdo the two's, rather monstrous, strength.
Another thought left as a mystery, like many things that Zoro came to terms with when he first met the two strange brothers.
"Hey! Please stop!"
Both left their gaze on the bird, and the small skinny figure of the child hanging off said bird, to see three strange men floating in the middle of the sea. One has dark skin, chubby on the side; another one has orange hair and thick lips; and the last one has the lightest skin of the three and a hat with a red-nosed skull as the logo. They were waving at them, for what Zoro assumed as an attempt to get them to stop so that they could get out of the water and get onto their boat, with expressions of hope that they would be saved.
"You on the boat, stop!"
Zoro groans while he kept rowing at a pace that seemed to make their little dingy go faster than what it is actually capable of. The poor thing won't probably survive at the end of the trip.
"Tch, castaways at a time like this…" Zoro grumbled as he contemplates whether he had enough decency to actually stop and let them climb on into their boat.
Ace, however, didn't need to think about the subject any further than he has to.
"Run them over…"
"O-Oi…" Zoro stuttered as he glances at his captain with a wary expression. Usually, the teenager would be a lot more humane and tolerant than this, giving one of those irritatingly polite smiles and words of worldly kindness to anyone that could be passing by, but anyone who knows the teen very well can easily tell you that when it comes to Luffy, the logia-user gives no mercy. Apparently, knowing his captain's mindset, Ace didn't want to waste any time with them since they are literally in their way to get to his little brother.
"We're not stopping the boat, just jump on!" Zoro said, deciding to have some pity on the poor guys. It's not their fault that Luffy decided to be an idiot and stuck his head into a bird's beak.
The three castaways could only gape at the fast incoming boat, astonished by what the other had told them— they were expected to jump on the boat at that speed?
"H-Hold up! W-Wait!" One of the castaways hurriedly protested, but it didn't look like the two would be slowing down or stopping at any time soon. It seems as if they have every intention to ram their small boat upon the three poor victims.
In the end, in a bout of bravery that came off from desperation, the three strange castaways actually climb on, clinging onto the side of the boat as if their lives were depending on it (and it actually does). Zoro couldn't help but be a bit amused at the drastic actions that the three performed.
"Heh, you actually got on."
"ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL US?" The three questioned loudly, pointing accusing fingers at the green-haired swordsman.
No, not really, Zoro inwardly admits though he can't really speak for his captain, but they should be thankful that they are not killed yet since Ace didn't seem to care what they hit along the way. Zoro didn't either but he supposed this would make up all things that they would run over in the near future.
Suddenly, as Zoro was contemplating all the things they would hit in the duration of their quest to get their little brat back, a sharp sword came into his line of vision; the three men they had picked up began to present some evil grins on their faces.
"Hey, stop this boat." The leader of the three, which he assumed since the other two stood safely behind the guy, ordered. Zoro couldn't help but feel a twinge of irritation when he heard the condescending tone of supposed superiority coming out from the other, disregarding the fact that he's being threatened with his life on the line. He already have enough of that from that Hippomeppo (Helmeppo?) back at that marine base he was held hostage at and hearing it again isn't going to help with his already strained nerves.
He hates being told what to do— well, unless they came from his captain or Luffy. Then again, now that he thinks about it, he never recalls them ordering him around to do anything in particular (unless it is in a form of a joke that he actually understands and proceeds to get revenge for). They don't boss him around like –he supposed– most captains would do. They treated him like their equals and would always consult with him when the matters included his wellbeing.
Sometimes. –insert grumbling about a certain orange hat-wearing captain –
This crew is different: they treat him as if he's part of the family… well, not that he'll ever admit the mushy feelings of kinsmen-ship out loud. Way too touchy-feely for his taste.
"We're the crew of Buggy the Clown." The man with the hat said as if it would've made a difference. And frankly, Zoro could care less who this Busby the Chowder is.
"We're taking over this shi-"
"SH**! I LOST SIGHT OF LUFFY!"
Zoro, ignoring his three guests, whips his head around to look up into the vast blue sky, only seeing the bright sun and a few clouds lining the sky.
Luffy is nowhere to be found, along with that stupid bird that had kidnapped the brat.
"THAT AHO! WHERE DID HE GO?"
"I DON'T KNOW, JUST KEEP ROWING GREEN HAIR!"
"I TOLD YOU TO STOP CALLING ME GREEN HAIR! I HAVE A NAME: RO-RO-NO-A! RO-RO-NO-A ZO-RO!"
Zoro did not see -nor care- the three pirates paling in the recognition of his name, too busy looking for the stupid scrawny kid who had disappeared on them just in the second that they decided to look away.
Ace on the other hand, in a bout of horror, cussed under his breath. He didn't like to curse often, since he didn't want Luffy to hear such impure words, but since his little brother is not here– well, the fact that his little brother isn't here pretty much gives him free reign to cuss all he wants to high heaven.
Then, he notices the subtle shift of weight on the boat, hoping that it doesn't mean that he's already getting tired of rowing.
"Is it just me or did the boat have just gotten heavier—"
As the proclaimed captain turns around to ask the swordsman whether he's actually pulling his weight into rowing the boat, he saw the three extra luggages, that he doesn't remember picking up, situated at the back of the boat. In fact, he had –guiltlessly– thought that he had already ran over the three just not too long ago…
And as Ace gave out a dark aura of irritation that slowly trickle out from his blackening figure, the crew of Buggy the Clown needs to rethink on who is, in fact, the real demon here…
"Who would've thought that you were the famous pirate hunter Zoro!" The other two laughed nervously at what their implied leader had said, even though the prospect of the statement wasn't really that funny. Actually, their fear isn't really directed towards the swordsman at all— he isn't the one who inflicted them with bruises and burn marks…
"Please forgive us!"
Ace directed their glare at them and one could've sworn that they even rowed faster than Ace and Zoro had combined.
The swordsman sweatdropped at the pitiful interaction, almost feeling sorry for the three who are taking the brunt of his captain's anger—that is, he would if they hadn't already tried to point a sword at him and threaten him to stop the boat. Then again, he still wouldn't feel sorry for them even if they hadn't done all the stuff anyway—it's their fault for getting themselves into something like this.
At the moment, Zoro was able to convince his captain to take a short break on rowing for a while. It wouldn't hurt to save and gather up their strength before rowing once again to find their brainless co-captain (as Luffy then declared once Zoro was initiated into the crew)—well, Zoro thinks it wouldn't hurt to do just that. Ace, on the other hand, has an entirely different opinion.
The fuming captain, who is looking upon the horizon to find any sign of his younger brother, is burning with anger, literally. The teen's shoulders are actually on fire and seemed to burn brighter when he found something that would irritate his nerves and senses. Which is almost everything.
"Calm down, once Luffy gets onto land, he can take care of himself from there." Zoro tried to reassure his teen captain with an air of nonchalance, trying to make the whole situation not as bad as the teen thought it could be before the smoldering older brother decided it was high time to burn the boat and the rest of the occupants while leaving them stranded in the middle of the vast ocean. Not that Ace is actually careless to do something like that but one could never be too certain…
"So, who's this Buggy guy?" Zoro tried to ask casually just so that he could distract Ace from the thoughts of his missing brother for a while. He doubts that it would actually work, seeing how devoted he is to the little ball of energy, but it wouldn't hurt to try. He needs to start diverting the other's attention to something that wouldn't cause the parts of his body to be set on fire. Like his brother, Ace would probably forget about the fact that he's also cursed and would try to dive into the water and swim ahead of them. Though Zoro knew very well that the other would sink like an anchor if he tries to do anything of that sort (the stupid sort, Zoro couldn't help but mentally sigh), he also wouldn't be surprise if Ace had found a way to conquer his weakness against sea water just out of pure will for the safety of his little brother.
The D. brothers are just scary like that.
"Like I fu-in' care," was Ace's direct answer, still looking on the horizon with an ugly expression marring his handsome, freckled face. Once again, Zoro felt like sighing with exasperation at the other's attitude. The swordsman couldn't believe this was the mature and polite teen he was talking with just about an hour ago. Of course, considering his not-so-subtle brother complex, his personality took a complete 180 degrees turn when it comes to Luffy's wellbeing. Zoro always thought that since Luffy is the younger brother out of the two, he would need Ace more than Ace would need him, but it seems that he was also wrong about that speculation of the brother's relationship. Apparently, as he can see, Ace needs Luffy more than Luffy would ever need Ace.
"Y-You don't know anything about B-Buggy the Clown…?" One of them dared to question with a stutter.
Ace didn't move position as he kept his eyes upon the usual scenery of open seas and blue skies, his expression souring at the lack of a certain bird and his kawaii brother in his line of vision. "I know about Buffy, I just don't fu-in' care about him."
That made the three drop their jaw at the vulgar answer… they can't help but be amazed at how the teen just insulted their captain so fearlessly…
Zoro sighs once more—this time, in irritation. Ace's attitude is starting to grate on his nerves and as much as he wants to tell the other off about how he's acting like a sulking ten-year old, he knows better than to give his captain an excuse to burn every bodily hair he possesses on his persona.
"Can't you just answer my question?" Zoro demanded, trying to –once again– divert the other's attention to a different topic.
Finally, Ace took his gaze off the horizon and stare into swordsman's eyes and seeing it as a challenge, Zoro stared back with equal intensity. There was a moment of silence between the two, their expression shifting once in a while as if they're doing some kind of silent communication, before Ace went back to stare at the horizon once again.
"Just some red nose freak. Don't worry about him."
The three eyes' bulged out. How can he insult their captain so easily?
Obviously, Zoro wanted something more than just a vague answer that the other had just gave him but decided it wasn't worth the effort to extend the subject any further. Hey, at least the killer intent that was tightly wrapped around the teen has lessened into something that won't disturb him in his sleep.
"Oh, that's fine then." Zoro disinterestedly replied with a nonchalant gesture of his hand, accepting the retort effortlessly as he lay back in the back of the boat, closing his eyes for a small nap that he was sure that he needed after an hour of breathing in tense-filled air.
The three stowaways, who keep watching the two with wide eyes, couldn't help but wondered who in the world these people are to just casual insult their senchou like that. But they couldn't think about the subject any further when Ace snapped his gaze towards them, prompting them to row the boat faster than their muscles could already take.
Ace automatically switch his gaze onto Zoro's relaxed figure, whose eyes are still closes with a position that indicates his plan to take his soon-to-be nap.
"Trust Luffy. He's strong— isn't that why it's okay for him to go out to sea in the first place?"
Ace stared at the resting figure of the green-haired swordsman for a few minutes, watching as green-haired teen's chest rise and fall slowly into a deep sleep, before turning his gaze back to the seemingly endless sea.
Nami sweatdropped as the boy ate (though she's thinking that he's actually swallowing before chewing his food) his twelfth sandwich, wondering if she should question about the boy's ridiculous eating habits as well as his ability to intake food. She heard plenty of times from others about how boys are with their stomachs being as endless as a bottomless pit but this is ridiculous.
"I'm… glad you like it…?" It sounded like a questionable statement. Watching as how the other practically breathed in his food as if it's air itself, Nami couldn't help but feel a bit relieved at the fact that it wasn't her food that he child is swallowing up…
"So… your name is Luffy, right?"
"Un! And you're Nami, right?"
Nami could only nod in confirmation, making the child grin a bright grin that could possibly light up the whole room.
The orange-haired money-grubber has to admit in the awareness of her female side, watching the chubby cheeks wiggle as those big puppy eyes shine in her direction of approval, that the child is actually pretty cute—despite all the bread crumbs littering the other's face. Silently, Nami tried to clean Luffy's face with a wet towel.
"So, you were saying that you have been separated by your older brother and another crewmate of yours because you were taken by a 'meany old bird' that somehow captured you?"
"And then a cannon ball came out of nowhere and hits the both of you while the two of you were still flying in the air— that's why you came falling down from the sky right in front of me..?"
Nami wanted to say 'yeah right!' in a bout of disbelief but the explanation doesn't sound as farfetched as it supposed to seeing how detailed the explanation was in the first place. She couldn't help but contemplate the possibility of the boy getting captured by the big bird. Surely, the bird didn't just swoop in and decided to grab the boy out of nowhere… then again, there are many weird things that could've happen here in East Blue. Not as weird as what goes on in the Grand Line but weird enough.
Not noticing the inner turmoil that he had caused in his benefactor's mind, the boy went in for his thirteenth sandwich, making mikan-loving woman sweatdrop.
And this boy, she thought with a worried sigh, may as well qualify as one of those weird things. How is it that he's never fat after eating all those sandwiches?
Then again, she supposed she could at least do this much for the kid since he did kinda save her in some way, somehow. When the kid first landed upon them, she didn't know whether it could be an actual human being (though she doubts it) or some kind of large object that had fallen out from the sky. And so, when she notice the cloud of dust covering the street and blinding her line of sight, she took that chance to escape from her three aggressors bent on capturing her. It wasn't until several minutes later that she went back to the scene later, surprised to find a child on top of the three men that were ordered to seize her, all unconscious and somehow thoroughly beaten up.
Did he fought them and won?
But that thought was gone as quickly as it came, since there is no way that this scrawny, innocent little child could defeat all of those strong men. If anything, the only thing that would make sense is that the kid just happened to drop on the three pirates.
Yeah, she mentally concluded, that has to be what had transpired.
Soon after that confusing scene, she led the child to follow her so that he wouldn't get into any more trouble than he already is. There's no doubt in her mind that the pirates would have done something horribly wrong to the poor boy as soon as they found him. That's how sick and cruel they are.
"Ya know, Ace-nii and I are gather nakama for our pirate crew!"
"That's nice sweetie." Nami brushed off the –very genuine– statement as some kind of fun mind-set game that the kid's brother had made up for him. This kid, a pirate? Yes and 100,000,000 belis would just fall right into her hands.
"I'm sure it is." She chuckled as she patted the boy on the head. Luffy looked rather confuse by her reaction to what he had said. Before he could comment any further, his eyes lay on the map in the woman's hand.
"Ohhhh! What's that?"
Nami blinked as her eyes followed the object of where Luffy is pointing at. She wasn't surprised to see that the boy's attention is now on the map. He was bound to get curious about it anyway.
"A map of the Grand Line." She told him truthfully. It wouldn't hurt to tell the kid really. It's not like he could steal it from her. "See?" She unrolled the map and displays it in front of the boy, noticing that his already starry eyes, that actually began to shine when he first heard the words "Grand Line", had only gotten bigger.
"Yeah, it is." Nami admitted, smiling at the energy that Luffy seemed to endlessly contain.
"Can you be our navigator?"
Nami blinked in surprise at the proposition. She hasn't really expected the kid to just try and recruit her.
"You're good with maps, right?" Luffy asked, staring at her with eyes full of admiration.
She didn't have the heart to lie and say no to him. "Yeah, I am."
Nami could only smile awkwardly. Right now, her navigation skills are more of a curse than a blessing. But she couldn't complain about how they're helping her with her mission.
"Be our navigator!"
"I'm sorry, Luffy, but I can't." She said with a soft yet sad smile. Luffy tilted his head as he notices the smile; he didn't say anything about it though.
Nami sighs at the other's insistence. She has a feeling that he's going to keep asking her the same question for a while.
Suddenly, a loud, explosive sound erupted outside the building they are in, causing the room to tremble due to the force of whatever is happening outside. Experiencing a horrific feeling in the pit of her stomach, Nami looks outside of the nearest window in their room, her eyes widening and her mouth hung open as she saw a row of houses that are three blocks down destroyed and demolished. By what— she didn't know. But it was definitely something powerful enough to destroy all of those houses all at once.
It's definitely a sign to say: GET THE HE- OUT OF HERE!
"L-Luffy, I'm sorry sweetie but we must be go-"
As Nami turns around to get the child and everything that she owns, she found that the very same child is missing. Disappeared as if he was never there in the first place.
She cursed. Oh, that is not good.
Luffy blinked as he stares at the black orbs that came from the creature he is currently studying. The creature stared back at the boy, watching his every move to see what his intention is.
Suddenly, the boy grins.
"Wow! A dog!" Luffy couldn't help but happily exclaim as he tries to look at the creature from every angle that he could possibly perform. He had seen a dog before while he and Ace were still living in Fuusha village but he was never allowed to come close to one due to the fact that he was really young and small and the dog could practically overcome him easily. But now he's 7! So he has gotten a lot bigger and such since then (which was about a year ago)!
"What's your name boy?"
The dog didn't respond; it just sat there watching him with careful observation as if he expected the child to attack him at any moment.
Luffy tilted his head confusingly as he look up at the store where the dog is currently perched in front. It seems to be a pet's food store. Maybe the dog is hungry?
As Luffy tried to make a step towards the store to feed the unresponsive dog, passing by the canine in an attempt to make a casual stride, Luffy heard a growl and stop in mid-step. Looking back at where the growling had come from, he saw the dog up on all four of his paws for the first time since he had laid eyes on him. He had a menacing expression towards the little boy, acting as if he has done a terrible crime.
Luffy couldn't help but tilt his head again.
The dog is growling at him…?
Luffy then puts his foot back in place where he had previously stood. Instantly, the dog settles back into his more relaxed form and sits down once again, just staring at Luffy now with that guarded expression on its face.
Luffy picks his foot up towards the shop again.
The dog growls back at him again, putting itself into another defensive stance that makes the canine look as if it would attack again.
Luffy puts down his foot.
The dog settles.
"Ano… what are you doing?"
Snapping out of his little game that he made up with the defensive dog, Luffy looks up to where he heard the voice, seeing an old man with long curly hair dressed up in some kind of armor… Luffy couldn't help but think that he looks like a stove.
"Dog kept growling at me when I took a step towards the store." Luffy said as if that explains everything. The old man couldn't help but sweatdrop at the other's innocent expression, as if the kid wasn't irritating the dog just before.
"Who are you ossan?" Luffy asked as he tilted his head, turning his body towards the adult figure.
Deciding to brush off the little one's rudeness (and the strange image he had gotten when watching the boy play around with the dog), the old man gave the child a kind smile before walking up to the boy, crouching down to his height as soon as he's in front of the kid.
"Well, I'm the mayor." He introduced himself, chuckling at the other's curious eyes. "Now you shouldn't be here. Where are your parents?"
"I don't have any." Luffy stated factually and despite how sad the topic actually is, though the child doesn't sound depressed at that prospect. The mayor couldn't help but let his expression soften. How sad—a child who doesn't have a parent's love or even know what it is.
"Do you have anyone taking care of you?"
Luffy nodded in response. Ace is taking care of him— though he currently doesn't know where he is. But he's sure his brother would come back for him! He always does!
"How about we go find your guardians then?"
"Ossan, why is that dog just sitting there?"
The Major sweatdrops as the child completely change the subject, his attention now on the dog once again. He had a feeling that he should answer- he doubts they could move on if he doesn't judging by the mind-set expression the other has on. Besides, he has to feed the dog anyway so might as well while explaining the boy why the dog is there in the first place.
"His name is Shushu. He's guarding the store." The Major explained as he walks towards the shop, getting onto the porch as he opens the door. Luffy couldn't help but gape as if the man had done something god-like. Luffy couldn't believe it! The man just past the dog as if it was nothing! And the dog didn't even growl at him!
The Major came out after a few minutes and put a bowl of food in front of the dog, which the canine, that Luffy had just recently been told is named Shushu, began to eat as soon as the Major let go of the bowl.
"Are you his owner?" Luffy couldn't help but ask since the older man is feeding the dog. Owners would've feed their own pets, right? But the Major shook his head, which confuses the child slightly.
"I'm just feeding him in place for my friend. He died a few months ago because of an illness."
Luffy blinked as his brain process what that could actually mean. The dog's owner had died, right? So why did the dog bother to stand here on guard when his owner isn't alive anymore? What's the point? But when Luffy begins to finger his hat on his head in a habit of sort whenever he's confuse (or whenever he's thinking though that rarely actually happens), the rubber child then realize something, nodding slowly as if he understood what the dog is going through. "So… this place is his treasure, right?"
The Mayor blinked at first, surprised by what the boy had told him, but couldn't help but grin in astonishment, amazed at how perceptive the boy is.
"That's right. People thought that Shushu is just waiting for his owner. But Shushu is too smart for that— he clearly realized that his owner is dead."
The Major looks up at the store while Luffy did the same. Luffy could imagine the memories this place has—just like his straw-hat. With the memories of Shanks, his crew and the promise they made.
"I think I understand." Luffy told the Mayor, who couldn't help but chuckle.
"If you do boy, you're pretty mature for your age."
Luffy couldn't help but scrunch up his face at the mention of being mature. Mature? Like Dadan or Gramps? No thanks.
The Major couldn't help but laugh at his expression. Maybe he spoke too soon.
It wasn't too long until the dog was finished with his dish, smartly setting the dish aside before going back to his original guarding spot. Luffy, his admiration for the canine shooting up high in the meter, decided that he wanted to guard the place along with the dog and sat next to the white mutt without a word.
The Major couldn't help but sweatdrop. As much as he respects the boy's courage and such, they shouldn't stay here for too long. Those pirates might find them-
Suddenly, the floor shook as they heard steps that sound as if they're coming from a giant's feet. The three of them can tell that whatever it is, it's coming closer. The dish that was left aside was clanking repeatedly against the stone floor and the Major gulped. He knew that time just ran out. At this point, there is no way for them to run now— if it was possible to outrun that beast.
How in the hell did they get into this mess?
First, he was humiliated and then starved by a power-crazy marine who doesn't know when to shut up about his oh-so 'greatness'. Then, he somehow ended up joining a crew of rookie pirates with crewmates who doesn't know the mean of sharing their food (nor saving it). After that, he has to endure hunger once again because his crewmates' stomach does not know the human limitation of how much food they can actually eat—only to lead up to the point where they're at now.
They were just trying to find the stupid kid who decided to make his lives even more difficult than it already is. Really, is that so wrong?
"I was only doing of what my captain had ordered! He's a brute, a tyrant! In truth, I wanted to join your crew— I bet it's better than what these scum have to offer!" Nami cried dramatically as she places the back of her hand against her forehead in a gesture of fatigue— as if she's the one being put out...
That sea-witch… Zoro couldn't help but inwardly growl as the muscle under his left-eye twitch.
When they landed here on this island, their guts and their instincts (not to mention Ace's Luffy-senses) told them that they are in the right place and that Luffy should not be far from where they're at. But it was then, as they enter into the deserted town through one of the many empty streets paved towards the direction of the town square, that both he and Ace met the she-witch just as they were about to turn a corner into the alleyway to next street available… well, in actuality, she ran into them. At first, they didn't think much of what she is running from since she proclaimed that she could help them find whatever or whoever they were looking for, stating that she knows the island like the back of her hand, and decided to promptly follow her seeing that there didn't seem to be any harm in doing so.
And now, after stupidly listening to the woman when she asked them if she could tie their hands as she hold on to the rope as if they were nothing but dogs (just so that they could stick together and not get lost, so the she-witch had proclaimed), they're stuff in a cage surrounded by –literally– circus pirates who are currently throwing whatever insults they could think of on the top of their head, laughing in such merriment that it is started to grate on Zoro's nerves. Though it didn't bother Zoro as much as it could've, considering how his captain and his co-captain are with their irritatingly carefree personality, the clown-crew's bantering is really starting to get on his nerves…
Usually, at this point of time, you would think that they should be able to get out of this cage easily, right? Well unfortunately his katanas were confiscated earlier by the orange-haired demon and his arms are tied—therefore he's useless at the moment. And Ace…
Zoro quietly growls under his breath as he heard a snore from the wide-opened mouth of the freckled-face teen.
Well, his narcolepsy kicked in at the wrong time.
After many hard kicks, violent shakes and other vicious methods that would leave a regular human crying in pain –some that should probably leave bruises later on– Zoro gave up on trying to wake up his sleeping captain who is probably dead to the world.
Besides, he has other things to worry about.
Like that huge cannon pointed at them ready to bombard a prominent hole in his stomach.
Oh you don't have to worry so much considering that Ace will live— seeing that he has the advantage of being a logia-user and the cannonball would just probably past through him as if it's shooting through air. Luffy, if he's stuck in this type of situation, would probably also live having a cannonball fired against him, seeing that he's made out of rubber and the thing would just bounce right off him, but Zoro is human. Human. Meaning he's made out of flesh and blood. Not fire or rubber.
In that case, he's pretty much doomed at the moment.
"Look- we only came to this crappy island to find our missing crewmate— nothing more, nothing less. I don't care what the hell you all are doing and frankly so, my captain doesn't either." Of course Ace doesn't, he's too busy sleeping their problems away… "So, if we're clear on that, let us go and we won't get in your way…"
At what Zoro had said, many of the crewmembers laugh as if they found a secret joke to it. Including their senchou, who had his head thrown back in laughter as he walks up to them. Zoro doesn't have a good feeling about this.
"Hahahahaha! Listen here, we know that you're Roronoa Zoro, the Pirate Hunter." The clown with the big red nose said, which Zoro assumed is the captain considering the fact that this guy have a bigger ego than the rest of the clownish crew. "If I kill you, I'll be famous throughout the East Blue!"
More attempts of a diabolical laughter carry on from there as Zoro twitches in annoyance.
Great, that means he isn't going to get out of here through diplomatic means.
As if he's diplomatic in the first place.
"Senchou –dammit– wake up you aho!" Zoro growled as he kicks his captain once again. Like his other attempts, the black-haired teen remained sleeping the day away. Zoro wanted to groan and possibly slam his head against the bars. "Don't you want to find Luffy? If so, wake up!"
His captain didn't stir at all even if did he pulled the Luffy card. Dammit, wasn't he panicking about finding his brother just a few minutes ago?!
And then, from the corner of his eyes as he tries to think of more methods in waking up his frustrating captain, Zoro saw Nami's expression shift when he said Luffy's name. Her face clearly said 'shock', 'horrified', and 'uh oh' with many other similar descriptions of that subject and Zoro easily put two and two together— she must've met Luffy.
"Oi, you sea-witch!" Zoro called out to her. Nami glared, obviously displeased by the nickname. "Where's Luffy? You saw him, right?"
Hearing the voice of his senchou, Zoro look back to see Ace waking up, blinking the sleep out of his eyes as he yawns widely.
"Hm…? Why are we in such a cramp place?" Ace asked, looking around the cage they were in. If Zoro's hands weren't tied, he would facepalm. "Why are you tied up?...Wait, where's Luffy?!"
At that point, Ace began to panic once again, looking around for his brother while making a ruckus in the cage as it began to move and sway despite the fact it is made out of heavy concrete and iron bars (poor Zoro— he got kneed several times in the stomach because Ace wouldn't calm down). Despite his attempts in searching for his little brother through such limited space, all he saw is –strangely yet not so strangely– clowns, the whole view of the town and the woman that they met back in the streets that said she could help them find Luffy… the woman!
Crawling over to the swordsman's side of the cage closer to where the woman is, much to Zoro's protest and cursing, he looks at her with hopeful eyes.
"You said that you can help me find Luffy, right?"
"Oi, get off! You're heavy!" Zoro complained though he was thoroughly ignored by his captain in favor of finding his brother.
Nami sweated as she squirms slightly, currently in the spotlight of the two men she had tricked and the Buggy Pirates who stares at her in confusion and suspicion.
She did not expect this outcome. Sure, the guy did look somewhatly familiar to Luffy (through black-hair from strange personality and such) but she really didn't have time to think it through while her life is at stake being chased by the Buggy Pirates. It was a decision made at a whim— though she has to admit that the idea she had was ingenious. But this is Luffy's brother! And Roronoa Zoro is his other crewmate?! Though she had an immediate dislike for the swordsman (she's going to pound Zoro into the ground for calling her a sea-witch later), she can't leave Luffy orphaned and be the reason why his brother was killed! (Zoro can be killed off for all she knows Zoro: Oi! Me: I'm just saying!) What in the hell is she going to do?!
Before she can stutter out an answer, a loud pathetic whining noise that sounds like it came from a pitiful animal was heard towards one of the sections of the town. Everyone turn their heads to see where it came from, only to see a lion of some sort flying in the air, looking thoroughly beaten up, before dropping back down to the ground, now hidden behind the buildings.
"Found him." Zoro grunted, amused yet relieved at the same time. He had thought that they would have to find Luffy through a trail of food crumbs he had left (because where there's food, there's Luffy) but finding the kid where trouble is at was his second guess.
Ace seems to slump in relief, glad that his little brother isn't actually drowning somewhere in the middle of the ocean where he can't reach him. Sure, he's in an island full of crazy and dangerous pirates who have a huge cannon that could probably destroy the town at will. But it's better than knowing that his brother is drowning somewhere.
"Now that we found Luffy, can we get the hell out of here?"
It doesn't seem that Ace needed any more persuasion than that as he already began to use his logia powers to get them out from here. Zoro scrunch his nose as he smell the smoke, the ropes that had tied down Ace burning away until it was nothing but ashes. Soon after, Ace heated the bars of the cage and bended it to his will, leaving an opening for them to get out— everyone couldn't help but gape at what is happening right in front of them.
That black-haired kid… he has the powers of the Devil fruit?!
As Ace got out, stretching his muscles and such since he had been in the cage for too long for anyone's liking, he saw one of the underlings with Zoro's katanas. Immediately, the underling quivered as Ace walk towards him. When Ace grabs the katanas, the underling flinched as if he had been burn, not expecting for the teen to be smiling at him politely with a thankful expression on his face.
"Thank you for holding onto my friend's stuff." Ace said gratefully as if he was not in the middle of a circle of blood thirsty pirates, bowing down in politeness before walking back to his green-haired crewmate.
Everyone did a comical fall.
Zoro could only sigh. Of course his captain doesn't understand their situation.
"Well, come on. Untie yourself Mr. Roronoa."
"I can't burn through the ropes unlike you!" Zoro argued though he did manage to step out of the cage and into open space.
"OF COURSE I CAN'T! UNTIE ME ALREADY!"
Ace looks confuse but nonetheless untie the other before he gave the swordsman his katanas back.
Zoro grumbles as he puts his swords back near his waist.
"Well in any case, let's just get Luffy." Ace uttered with a hint of authorization in his tone. Zoro didn't mind— he hates being ordered but with Luffy and Ace, he doesn't mind. He had the same goal in mind as his captain anyway.
With a grunt of agreement, both began to move towards the edge of the building to quickly get into the streets. Just as they were about to jump off the building, Zoro heard the sounds of swords cutting through the air and quickly drew his own katanas to meet them face to face, blocking the two blades that were aiming to slice him apart. Since his strength is greater than the attacker's, he easily pushed the aggressor off, looking up and down at his opponent to observe the level of their skills.
Zoro wasn't sure what to think seeing that his attacker is riding a unicycle, his hair long and straight, but a challenge is a challenge. He loves a good battle that could relive his stress at the moment.
"D-DON'T LET THEM GET AWAY YOU IDIOTS!" Buggy loudly ordered, his senses finally back after going through the shock of seeing another Devil Fruit user. At that instant, hearing the captain's instructions, the rest of the Buggy pirates snap out of their surprised form and began to lunge at them with every intention to capture and kill them.
Nami couldn't help but grumble –the word 'morons' passing her lips– as she grabs both Zoro and Ace, forcing them to jump down from the roof escaping from the pirates.
"Oi— Wait!" Zoro protested, not expecting for the woman to do something like that. "That swordsman— I was just about to fight him!"
"WHY IN THE HELL DOES THAT EVEN MATTER RIGHT NOW?!" Nami couldn't help but exclaim in disbelief.
Somehow, they all made it down without any casualties and Nami proceeds to drag them away before they could get caught by Buggy's hordes of pirates. Much to Zoro's protest.
"Oi— hold it right there woman! He challenged me! It's shameful for a swordsman to run away from a challenge-"
In that instantly, Nami has no qualms in punching the swordsman on the head, his face planted on the ground.
"SHUT UP! DON'T YOU GET THE SITUATION?" She said, shaking the other by the collar before proceeding to drag him again. Ace couldn't help but sweatdrop and decided to not include himself into this little spat.
Sorry Zoro, you're on your own now.
"What's up with those guys?" Ace couldn't help but question as he looks back to where they ran from. "Is it some kind of entertainment squad or something?"
Zoro and Nami look back at Ace as if he had grown another head.
"…What?" Nami questioned, twitching slightly.
"Those circus guys— are we playing some game with them?"
At that question, Ace earned a punch in the head from Nami.
Dragging the two so-called 'pirates', Nami mumbled all the way towards to where Luffy is, calling Ace and Zoro 'idiots', 'morons', and all other names familiar to the word 'stupid'.
"H-How a-are y-y-you a-a-b-ble…"
The Mayor had watched, with wide-eyes, on how the child was able to defeat the creature, and also the trainer of the creature, so easily as if he's counting 1 2 3. If there was such a powerful child like that… what has the world come to?
Luffy only gave a grin to the Major as if he had done nothing wrong. Sure he has a few scratches and maybe a few bruises underneath his clothes but he seems completely content about the situation and what had just occurred. He was only defending himself— that Mohiji guy was bullying them. It was only right that he fights back— right? That is what Ace had taught him! And besides…
Luffy looks back at the now ruined pet food store, seeing that everything has been rummaged and destroyed.
"Sorry Shushu." Luffy said to the dog as he makes sure that his hat is still on his head after the fight.
"You did a great job though."
Shushu barks at Luffy in acknowledgement of his strength and courage, and even though the store had been burnt down and mostly destroyed to the point that it looks like a pile of wood scraps, the dog still sat there in its usually spot— guarding. Luffy couldn't help but grin.
He knows very well what it's like to protect a treasure.
Looking up, Luffy became starry-eyed when he saw his brother running up from behind Nami. He didn't question nor notice the strange huge bump on his head.
"Ace!" Luffy couldn't help but yell out in glee as he practically sling-shot himself towards his older brother, glomping onto his torso soon enough while Ace just laughs in happiness. "Ace! Guess what! This mean ossan wearing this weird costume was bullying Shushu but I beat up him! Did you see?! Did you see?!"
Ace couldn't help but give a proud smile to his little brother, seeing how well he handled the situation. Sure, he usually wouldn't be encouraging his brother to fight seeing that he doesn't want him to get hurt but he did do a good job. "Yes, I saw Luffy. Good job." He congratulated, ruffling his brother's hair from underneath his hat as Luffy giggled at the warm gesture. "But never wonder off like that. I was worried sick."
Luffy pouted as Ace went quick to the point to say that he's in trouble. Well, it's not like Ace had ever punished him before (other than some restrictions of how much meat he could eat whenever he did something particularly really stupid)— Luffy had never done something so horribly wrong that a good reprimanding won't fix, but whenever Ace does scold him, he couldn't help but feel horrible.
"I was starving. And it was the bird fault."
"Still, don't make me worry like that every again."
Luffy continues to pout but hugs his brother. Ace gave the other a tender a smile as he heard a grumbled apology from the smaller D. and hugs his brother back, almost practically squeezing him.
Nami couldn't help but smile tenderly at the brotherly love, her inner-self 'awww'ing at the site, while Zoro looked away from the brotherly love, feeling rather awkward since it felt like as if he is intruding something personal at the moment.
But sooner or later, Luffy detached himself from Ace, running towards Zoro this time before attaching himself onto the swordsman's leg.
Zoro's lips twitch upwards as an attempt of an amused smile.
"Yo squirt, never disappear off like that."
Zoro knows for a fact that this isn't going to be the last time Luffy ends up disappearing. And as the next in line for first mate, it is his duty to make sure Ace isn't going to burn down their ship.
Zoro mentally put "Fire Extinguisher" on one of the things to get in the near future.
"It's not like I mean to!" Luffy protested as he pouted, not liking that Zoro is scolding him too. Zoro couldn't help but snort, ruffling his hair also from underneath Shanks' hat.
Luffy then turn his head towards Nami, making the orange-haired woman slightly surprised. The black-haired boy then grinned at her, now attaching himself to her legs instead.
"Ace, Zoro! This is our navigator!"
As Luffy wraps his arms around the girl's thin legs, Nami blinks in surprise at what the other had said, processing the words through her mind.
The orange-haired female looks at Luffy in disbelief as Zoro seem to sour at the prospect. What in the hell is this kid saying?
"Oh, that's good!" Ace declared as if he didn't notice the expression on their swordsman's and future navigator's face, deciding to go along with whatever his kid brother is saying. He sees no harm in it—the woman did help him find his little brother and Luffy seem to like her enough so why not? "Welcome to the crew Miss…?"
"Her name is Nami!" Luffy happily informed as he also didn't notice their expressions of disbelief on their face either. Of course he wouldn't—he decided this all on his own.
"Well Miss Nami, we will be counting on you." Ace said with his ever so polite smile and tone, the kind where you have no chance of refusing. There is a subtle gesture in the logia-user's actions that made it hard to say no. And coupled with Luffy's puppy-dog eyes makes it a double kill.
Nami have a distorted feeling there is no turning back now. Zoro, who's already stuck on this crew, knows that there is no turning back once the D. brothers agreed on something.
Every one of them turns their head towards where the yell came from, seeing Buggy on one of the roof tops pointing his Buggy Cannon at them. How dare these brats try to escape from him! Buggy the Clown! Do they not realize who he is? He's a merciless pirate who kills all and destroys all! Yet, they have the gull to…
"Hey, it's the entertainment!" Ace exclaimed out as Luffy went starry-eyed to see the circus-like group up on the rooftop. He never saw a circus before but he heard plenty of stories about them before.
"W-WE'RE NOT THE ENTERTAINMENT, YOU BASTARD!" Buggy almost wailed in outrage, almost crying in frustration at how carefree the two brothers are in his presence. They're supposed to pee in their pants in fear! Beg for forgiveness! Grovel like the scum they are!
"Eh? How boring." The child with the straw hat grumbled disappointedly.
"LIKE HELL I CARE!"
His only response from the two brothers is their pinkies being stuffed in their nose in a comical fashion. Zoro just shook his head as if he's used to it and Nami couldn't help but look at the D. brothers in disbelief with a twinge of disgust. This is no time to be picking their nose!
"YOU BASTARD!" Right out of nowhere, holding a long wooden pole of some kind that is supposed to be makeshift weapon, an old man push the group of teenagers apart as he stood in front of the group as if trying to shield them from Buggy. It was, surprisingly, the mayor who looked quite livid at the moment. At one point, he had planned to go back to the townsfolk that situated themselves in the nearby forest, but seeing the child's strength and determination to do what's right, he finally have the courage to go up and challenge those stupid pirate who had stolen their livelihood! He can't let a kid decades younger than him show him up!
"Stay back!" He told the younger people behind him, making them blink in surprise. "Kids like you shouldn't be involved in this! This is my problem and my town! I'll be the one to protect it!"
Gripping the wooden pole in his hand, the mayor look up at the red-nosed pirate from above, glaring at him with all the fury that he possessed. The townspeople had made Orange Town from the bottom up. Everything here is due to their hard work and he'll be damned if he doesn't do anything to protect it.
Unknown to the old man, the two D. brothers look at each other in the eye as if agreeing to something, Luffy giving his older brother a grin while Ace just huffs in amusement.
"So don't interrupt!—" A hand then came upon the mayor's curly hair, stopping the old man from mid-rant. Before the elder could even turn around and look at who is touching his head, the hand pushes him towards the nearest wall, crushing his entire face against the side of the building.
Suffice to say, the old man was instantly knocked out due to the force his head came in contact with the wall.
Nami's jaw drops at the blatant display of violence, Zoro looks upon the other with approval, Luffy just laughs at how well the knock-out was performed, and Ace dusts his hands off in a job well done.
"What on earth are you doing!?" Nami loudly questioned the logia-user, wondering if the other's insanity is intact. You can't just do that to people out of nowhere! Especially an old man who looks as if he could barely handle such a hit in the first place!
Ace gave her a look of perplexity. "He was in the way."
"There are better ways to handle that!"
Luffy just laughs at the interaction between Nami and his brother but understands what has to be done. Zoro is in the same position also.
"If he fights, he'll get killed." The swordsman bluntly explains to the navigator in a concise way, his tone rather stern and his words frank. "It's better this way."
"No it's not!"
"Well, what's done is done." Luffy stated with a large grin on his face, finding all of this more amusing than not. What could they do? It doesn't seem like the old mayor would listen to them through diplomatic means. He seemed really intent in just handling the Buggy Pirates all on his own. "By the way—Ace?"
"Hm? Yeah Luffy?" The older D. questioned as he turns around towards his little brother, who looked at him with big, shining curious eyes before pointing up a finger at the circus-dressed pirates situated on the top of the roof.
"Who are they?"
"WE'RE THE BUGGY PIRATES DAMMIT!" The whole group of pirates on the rooftop exclaims in offense, pissed off at the other's cluelessness. Did the child not understand the situation he was in? He's in front of one of the most terrifying pirate crews in all of the East Blue! They kill pipsqueaks like him for lunch!
Luffy gave the group of angry pirates an expression of cluelessness, obviously still processing the fact the funny looking group (full of clowns, acrobats and the likes) are actually an infamous group of merciless pirates. He means, clowns are supposed and the likes are supposed to be funny and fun to watch. Then again, the clown in front of the group isn't really funny despite his looks…
Luffy then proceeds to point directly towards Buggy instead, giving his brother a confuse glance who looks amused by his brother's lack of knowledge towards this particular brand of pirates.
"Is that big-nosed guy Buffy or something?"
A moment of silence had overtaken the scene as everyone processes what the young child had said. Slowly, looks of disbelief (with a slight mix of horror) came upon the facial features of the Buggy Pirates, their captain's expression gradually darkening into fury while the subordinates seem ready to flee at any given moment. Nami could only pale at the child's uncontrolled bluntness while Zoro and Ace gave each other mutual looks of exasperation as if they expected something like this to happen. Luffy is way too honest at times.
"You're pissing me off, brat." Buggy almost practically growled as he set a dark glare towards the tiny child who only had an innocent expression on his face. Obviously, Luffy didn't realize the consequences of his words, judging by how he tilted his head and the clueless expression on his face.
"So you're not Buffy?"
"THAT'S NOT THE PROBLEM HERE! AND MY NAME IS BUGGY! BUG-GY!"
Quickly, before the child can say another word in the matter that would just piss him off even more, the clown-dressed captain gestures over to his subordinates who were taking care of the Buggy Cannon. "FIRE THE BUGGY BOMB NOW!"
As the ordered pirates began to scramble around to follow the order of their senchou, Nami gave a shriek in distress. She had seen what that thing could do—they're going to die if that bomb hits!
"Why did you say that, you baka!?" She questioned the child loudly as if he was insane (and he probably is), looking at the kid as if he had been dropped on the head too many times to count (which is also a probability), before dashing away in hopes to find cover from the imminent explosion.
Zoro began to move too, remembering his desire to not have prominent hole stuck in his body, but falters when he sees that his captain and Luffy are not moving from where they're at. Even Nami couldn't help but stop seeing that the two D. brothers are not moving from where they stand. What do those bakas think they're doing!?
Zoro is wondering the same thing, seeing that he had verbally repeated what Nami is thinking. "What are you idiots doing?! Run!"
Ace, on the other hand, seems way too calm for it to be normal, sighing as if he's the one being inconvenient by the whole thing. Seriously, how in the world do they get themselves into these kinds of things? He had never planned on taking circus-themed pirates in his whole life, yet here they are, about to get cannon-balled by one. Ace has no doubt that his otouto have no clue how dangerous the situation actually is. Luffy, his mischievous little brother, looks more entertained than anything else. The child can't help but think that these guys a quite funny—do they not know that things like that don't work on him? Especially if he uses that move he has been trying to perfect for a while now!
Ignoring the swordsman's warning, Ace began to lean back, positioning himself into a stance as if he was about to pull a punch. "Stand back Luffy. Mr. Roronoa. I'll handle this—"
"I got this!" Luffy hollers as he dashes forward in front of his brother, leaving Ace and Zoro gaping as the child decided to jump in front of the line of fire.
"L-Luffy!" "You idiot!" The two male pirates lunge forward as they try reaching for the child who decided to get himself killed. Luffy, not noticing the distress he had made with his caretakers, stood his ground as he decided to stare down at the cannon aiming right at him. With a devilish grin that looks more childish and mischievous on his young face, the rubber boy began to suck in the air around him.
"Gomu gomu noooo—"
"FIRE!" Buggy practically shrieks as he pointed over to the boy in the middle of the street, seeing that some of his subordinates are hesitating to light the cannon on fire due to the fact that they might kill the 7 year old boy. Buggy didn't care if the boy was an infant! He already pissed him off as it is!
Listening in fear of their captain, some of the pirates did as they were ordered and lit the fuse, aiming straight towards where the boy is. If their senchou is able to kill a 7 year old boy without thought, what are a few subordinates sworn under him?
It wasn't long until the Buggy Bomb then flew out of the large cannon, firing straight at the small boy with the over-sized straw hat. But much to everyone's surprise, the child instantly inflated like a balloon, bloating to twice his original size.
"—Fuusen!" Luffy mumbled with great difficulty between closed lips, trying to make sure the air in his body doesn't escape out from his mouth. The task only became harder when the Buggy Bomb finally came in contact with his inflated body, sinking into his swollen body but not harming it in any way.
There was a flaw to his plan though. Seeing that he's not strong enough to handle the force of the Buggy Bomb being fired right at him, Luffy began to skid back on the tiled street and it won't be long until the child ends up flying into the sky. But that is where Zoro and Ace comes in.
Seeing that Luffy is having a difficult time with the force of the Buggy Ball against his own strength to push it back, the two older males decided to assist the child by using their own bodies and strengths to keep the kid grounded so the rubber boy wouldn't fly off to who-knows-where. They weren't looking forward to having to find the troublemaking child once again. They were lucky to find him in the first place.
With the support of his brother and their green-haired swordsman, Luffy is able to push and bounce the Buggy Ball off of his very being, casting it towards the—
"W-Wait, don't tell me the Buggy Ball—" Buggy practically clambered as he notice that his own arsenal is coming towards his way.
Many of the Buggy Pirates didn't have time to react before the Buggy Ball bombarded the roof they were on, making the building collapse into nothing but rubble.
Luffy, who finally deflated back into his original form, looks upon his work with a satisfying expression his face, before laughing at the fact that he almost flew despite the great results he had gotten.
"Alright, it hit the enemy!" The statement earned him a hit upside the head from one very irritated swordsman and Ace was quick to follow it up with a lecture.
"You idiot! You can't just jump in front of a cannon like that!" The smile that Luffy has on his face turns into a pout, seeing how angry his brother is. It's not like the thing could kill him in the first place anyway.
"But I got it."
"No you didn't! If Mr. Roronoa and I weren't there to support you, you would've flown off!" Despite the fact that Ace knows that Luffy wouldn't be hurt in the process being that his little brother is made out of rubber, it didn't make his worries any less worrisome.
Luffy's shoulders droop in defeat, knowing that there is no denying what his older had said. He did need help in stabilizing the Gomu Gomu no Fuusen technique. He's just not strong enough to handle the force of the ball.
"Hai. I'm sorry Ace." Luffy mumbled with his head down, giving a picture of child being thoroughly chastised.
Seeing that his little brother is finally seeing his point of view in the matter, the logia-user sighs in relief, bending down to his knees so that he could be near the same height as his little brother. Giving the boy a stern expression, Ace encourages Luffy to look at him straight in the eye.
"Now, we're not going to jump in front of cannons so recklessly like that again, alright?"
"No using new techniques you have not perfected yet, alright?"
"And if we're faced with something like that, let the grownups take care of it, alright?"
Zoro couldn't help but sweatdrop as he watches his captain reprimand the rubber boy, seeing that they have forgotten that they were fighting the Buggy Pirates just a minute ago in favor of making sure the kid doesn't do anything stupid in the near future.
Not that there would be much used in doing so.
The swordsman could see that Luffy is actually very apologetic of his actions but the green-haired man have no doubt in his mind that the kid would just forget about all the new restrictions he was given by tomorrow. He does look to be somewhat of a ditz.
Nami, not used to the D. duo's strangeness, is still trying to reel her mind in with what she saw and what Luffy had performed in a time constraint of a few minutes. First, the older brother can control fire on will whenever he wants and now, the youngest can inflate like a balloon?! What in the hell is going on?! Has the world gone crazy?!
"Fights like these are left for me and Mr. Roronoa to take care of, alright?"
"And you will stay in the back and let us take care of it like a good little brother of mines, alright?"
As Ace continues to admonish his little brother, making sure to thoroughly mention the limitation of his brother's powers and what he could actually do (he's only seven for Pete's sake!), the dust that sprinkled the air around what is left of the destroyed building (and what seems to be a carnage of the Buggy Crew) began to clear, displaying the slumped bodies littered around the rubble with all the crew members unconscious. But as the dust clears even more, one can tell that there is a survivor among the rest of the fallen crew.
Buggy stood in the middle of the ruins of the building without even a scratch to his figure, holding out two of his subordinates in front of him as a makeshift shield against his own Buggy Ball.
"How dare you do that to us…" The clown-dressed pirate snarled as he then promptly drops his two followers on the ground, having no use for them anymore.
Nami, deciding to push her astonishment to the back of her mind, grimace at the merciless display. Pirates—how detestable they are.
"He used his underlings as shields, eh?" Nami speculated as Zoro began to draw out two of his katanas. Now that all the small fries are out of the way, the fight is about to get serious.
Ace and Luffy on the other hand…
"Now stand over there with Miss Nami. Since you've already taken most of them out, Mr. Roronoa and I will take care of the rest, alright?"
"DON'T IGNORE ME!" Buggy screeched, livid at the fact that the D. brothers are not taking him seriously. How long are they going to continue to act as if he's not a threat?! It pisses him off!
At some point, it wasn't long until Mohiji, who was strangely sleeping under the pile of rubble, had woken up and clamber out from his position. Just some time ago, he remembers being beaten by some kid who came out of nowhere. It was humiliating and obviously, his pride was left somewhere in the middle of that battle, but he had no choice but to drag himself back to his captain just to warn him about the fact that there is another Devil Fruit user in the area. But somewhere along the way, he must've fainted or something…
It was then that he finally notices a familiar straw-hatted boy up ahead with a group of people he doesn't entirely recognize.
"B-Buggy-senchou!" The strangely furry man immediately crawls up to his captain, looking almost panicky at the sight of the straw-hatted child. The clown captain immediately looks back at his subordinate, seeing his frantic movements and wide eyes towards 7 year old. "It's that straw-hatted brat! B-Be careful Buggy-senchou! He also has the power of the Devil Fruit! He's a Rubber boy!"
"A Rubber Boy?" Buggy inquired in surprise, connecting all the dots of what had just previously happened to him and his crew. So, if the boy is rubber, that means…"So that's why the brat is able to bounce the Buggy Ball back…" Buggy concluded as he looks at the small child in a new light. He thought the kid was just annoying but now, he's another threat in his plans to take over the town.
From behind the clown-captain, as he rethinks his strategies of killing the group of so-called pirates they had so declared, another man stood alive among the carnage of unconscious circus-themed pirates, seemingly unhurt and without a scratch to his figure. It was the same swordsman that had challenged Zoro previously before they escape down the streets, holding the same lion-creature that Luffy defeated before up in front of him as a makeshift shield before dropping the poor thing on the ground in pain.
Of course, Mohiji, who owns the lion-thing, took great offense to what the swordsman had done to his partner and wasn't afraid to voice it out.
"Cabaji, you bastard!" The beast tamer shouted as he quickly went over to his animal partner to assist the poor creature, seeing all the bruises and burn marks the so-called lion had obtained.
Soon after, Mohiji then began to assault his supposed crewmate, only to get kick by the other in the face, making him fly toward the D. brothers who were still having that talk with each other about limitations and the likes. His pain didn't stop there though, for Ace –who had finally finished confirming whether his little brother understood what fights he can pick on– stood up and gave the airborne beast tamer a round house kick in the face (on the same place where Cabaji had kicked him just a few seconds ago), making him crash through a wall of a nearby building.
Luffy claps in amazement of his brother's strength, Zoro shook his head at how weak the guy actually is (no wonder Luffy had beaten him so easily), and Nami felt another round of shock coming through his system at the older one's power. She can't handle this—these people are not normal! Is she the only one that's not a monster around here?!
The said captain looks back at one of his strongest subordinates with an amused gaze, interested in what the swordsman have to offer. He is one of his prized members in terms of skill and strength so whatever the other had in mind is definitely something that he wanted to hear. "What is it, Cabaji?"
Cabaji regards his captain with a willful gaze. "Please let me handle this."
Buggy seemed rather pleased with what the other said, fully supporting the other's decision in ending this on his own. Just because the brats have a couple of devil fruit users doesn't mean they're experienced or even skillful. Judging by the little one's failure to completely hold that one technique, they seem to be relatively new at this.
"Alright!" Buggy said with his tone dripping with approval. Hopefully, he can get rid of these brats without lifting a finger. They're just a waste of time. "Show them your acrobatics."
With a devilish smirk that is hidden in his checkered scarf, Cabaji complied with his captain's request and jump up high into the air with a unicycle under his feet (earning a starry-eyed Luffy who is impress with the other's acrobatic skills, seeing as this is the closes he can get to a circus performance). Soon after, the swordsman landed on the stone-tiled streets with ease before dashing towards the group of what he thinks are more like thieves than pirates themselves.
Seeing the incoming unicycle-user, Ace steps a couple of feet forward in front of his little brother, ready to meet the swordsman heads on with a flame-filled fist to the side of his face. But to the logia-user's surprise, the acrobat decided to ignore him instead, passing the older D. on his unicycle with another target in mind. Someone weak and easier to get rid of…
You see, Cabaji is fully aware that he cannot compete with a logia-user using his swords. They'll just pass through without a thought and he'll be the one in trouble. So it's better to take out the small fries so that they wouldn't be a problem in the future and handle the bigger threat later, which means—
"L-Luffy!" Ace choked out, his eyes widening in panic as he saw the incoming blade being thrust towards the throat of his little brother. That bastard—he knew that Luffy has a weakness towards blades! But it was too late for either one of them –both Ace and Luffy– to respond to the assault for both did not expect the other to actually attack the child right in that instant.
Then, there was a sharp sound of steel clashing together, silver flashing in the sun as a katana intercepted the attack made by Cabaji, the owner of that katana glinting dangerous eyes hidden in the shadows of his dark-green bandana. Obviously, Zoro was not happy at the blatant attack against his self-proclaimed co-captain as his grip on his katana tightens in anger.
"That's low," was all Zoro has to say on the matter, his eyes narrowing hazardously at the acrobatic swordsman in front of him. The unicycle-user only smirks in response.
"It's low for me to attack a child? Is there some rule pertaining whether I could or could not?" Cabaji pushes harder on his blades as if to tease the santoryu-user about his own strength, his smirk growing wider as he notices the grisly expression the other swordsman is giving him. In response, Zoro pushes back with equal strength in a way that does not give away his true abilities or his true strength, preventing the other from shifting closer or from moving his blade, his eyes gazing at the other with careful consideration of the acrobat's next moves. "It's the survival of the fittest! Whether it's a child, a woman or an elderly person, they'll die when the strongest deems it so!"
"Bull-shit," is Zoro's answer to that statement. It was concise and straight to the point, which somehow pisses Cabaji off for some reason. "Captain."
Ace, who was about to assault the unicycle-rider with a literally steaming fist from above, stops in mid-punch just as he was about to throw his knuckles against the other's temple, glaring at the green-haired swordsman as if questioning why the other had stopped him in the first place.
"This is my fight. He uses swords—therefore, this is a fight between swordsmen."
The logia-user looks as if he wanted to argue at that point—this guy tried to attack his little brother dammit. He has every right to pound the other's face in! But understanding that this seems to be personal in concern towards a swordsman pride, Ace shuts his mouth and gestures Luffy to come towards him, which the child complied without a word.
Seeing that Luffy is cleared out of the way and that he is given free reign to duke it out as he pleases, Zoro began to show his true colors in concerns towards his own battle prowess and strength. His expression became grimmer (in comparison to his already gruesome face) and his muscle began to tighten up in tension. His pupils had shrunk, giving his eyes a sharper appearance, and his scowl went deeper until it was practically a grimace.
The santoryu-user looks prepare to kill the acrobat from right where he stands.
But Cabaji didn't falter. In fact, he looks rather excited at the prospect of a good battle, clearly confident in his abilities to win.
And as the battle between the two swordsmen began, a certain pirate-thief went missing from the audience.
Like hell she's going to stay there while those stupid pirates finish each other off. There's treasure to be found and a very special map while at it and she's not one to miss an opportunity when she sees one. Most of the Buggy Pirates are unconscious and their captain is too busy watching the swords battle to keep an eye on her, so it was the perfect time to sneak in and steal whatever she can from moronic clown.
It wasn't hard finding the basement –where she knew led to all the treasures that Buggy own in his long career as a pirate– and it wasn't long until she opens the hatch which led to the basement. It also wasn't difficult to trip the pirate who was guarding the treasure trove (by the use of her womanly body) before knocking him unconscious, giving her free reign to take whatever she deems necessary.
And in her book, that's all of it.
You can say, as she drags around a bag of treasure worth probably about 5 million beris, that she's very happy with the outcome of her day. Sure the sack full of gold and jewels are heavy and it'll probably take a while until she gets to the docks so that she could make her great escape, she's pretty sure that the Buggy Crew and those other strange so-called pirates—
Nami froze in mid-step, remembering her unanticipated association with that weird group of proclaimed pirates. Don't get her wrong, she still hates pirates. The green-haired swordsman pisses her off, and though the older D. did nothing to her and was nothing but polite to her, the fact that he's a pirate didn't really help his case. But then, there's that little boy…
The orange-haired thief clutch onto her bag at the thought of the little, straw-hatted boy.
Geez, what is his brother thinking?! Bringing Luffy out into sea?! And getting the child to proclaim himself as a pirate?!
"Nami? Where are you going?"
Nami almost jump in fright as she swiftly turn on her heels, looking down at the straw-hatted child with an expression of surprise while the other only gaze up at her with eyes of innocence, tilting his head in almost a cute manner that makes her want to squeeze the child to death.
"Lu-kun, you should be with your brother." Nami told the boy as he blinks in confusion to what the other had said, well aware that the older woman had changed the subject on him but didn't know why.
"But where are you going Nami?" The boy asked once again, shining his big, curious eyes at her, making it hard for the money-grubber to refuse them for some reason or another. Why is he so cute when he's like this?
"I'm going to get some treasure." She resigns in defeat, knowing that it's better to tell the boy now or he wouldn't let her go anytime soon to get said treasure. Luffy, on the other hand, seems to understand the implications of it, his eyes shining with excitement that made Nami wonder whether she should be wary or not.
"Can I come?!" For some reason, Nami knew that question would be coming as soon as she mentioned the word 'treasure'. The kid probably thinks she's referring to an adventurous treasure hunt or something along that line.
"No, you cannot Luffy." The orange-haired female was quick to turn the other down, knowing that this mission requires stealth and secrecy among everything else.
And Luffy is anything but that—no offense to the kid, but she needs to be able to get down there without alerting the whole island to where they're at.
"But whhyyyy?!" The child immediately whined as he practically began to cling onto the woman's leg, his puppy-dog eyes shimmering in the light as his bottom lips jutted out in a pout. Now Nami really wants to squeeze the child to death.
"Because you're the co-captain, right? And as co-captain, you have to watch out for your subordinates when they fight just in case something might happen." Of course, that was a complete lie and what she said mostly consist of buttering up the boy's ego, but it worked seeing that the boy suddenly became determined in doing these so-called co-captain duties.
"You're right!" Luffy whole-heartedly agreed as he finally let go of the orange-haired female's legs, his chest puffed out in a manner of toughness that hopefully makes him look manlier.
Nami favored the child with a smile. "Of course! Now run along back to your brother while I'll go get the treasure."
"Then, you'll come back, right Nami?"
At the statement, all the pirate thief could've done at first is blink. Of course she's not coming back! She's not going to stick around with all these monsters running amuck! They're all a bunch of weirdoes and truthfully, if they decided to kill each other while she was gone—good for her.
But seeing Luffy staring at her with those innocent and hope-filled eyes, giving her one of his impossibly big smile that practically takes up his whole face, she didn't have the heart to say no.
So before she knew it, she ends up blurting out: "Of course."
At the confirmation, Luffy eyes shined brighter as his smile stretched wider.
"It's a promise!"
Nami wanted to stuff her face into her hands and groan—which she actually did. The seven-year old got her hooked, lined and sinker, and if she doesn't come back to the kid like she had promised (though it was supposed to be a lie which somehow turns into a promise the end of the conversation), it going to haunt her conscious for a long has no qualms in betraying pirates and the likes (because they're pirates! Enough said) but she can't just lie to a seven year old and have a clear conscious while doing so! That's almost as bad as those bastards who had tried to kill the seven year old in the first place (though maybe not so)!
So, while questioning her sanity while doing so, Nami proceeds to drag herself, and her recently acquired treasure trove, back to the streets where she knew Luffy and his strange caretakers are positioned at.
It wasn't surprising that Zoro came out as the victor in the battle between him and Cabaji. Well, it wasn't surprising for Luffy and Ace, who seemed rather too pleased by the outcome of the conflict. Both knew that their swordsman is stronger than what Cabaji has to offer so it wasn't hard to stay confident and calm throughout the battle.
Of course, there were some incidents where the unicycle-user had attempted to attack Luffy again, using him as bait to distract Zoro and bring harm to the green-haired swordsman in a very underhanded way. There were also times where the acrobat would use every dirty method possible to capsize the santoryu-user's abilities and disable his strength to fight. Not to mention Buggy's previous effort to aid his subordinate in which Luffy had prevented with a good stomp to the detached hand that was reaching for his friend.
But in all, everything turns out well, according to both Ace and Luffy.
Buggy didn't share the same opinion.
The clown-dressed captain honestly couldn't believe that Cabaji actually lost to a bunch of newbies. Granted that he was fighting against Roronoa Zoro, the famous pirate hunter, but still!
With a mental promise to punish Cabaji for his failure (along with the rest of the crew for they weren't much help either), Buggy started to draw out his knives, glaring heatedly at the two D. brothers who are starting to prepare for the encounter against the captain of the Buggy crew.
Well, Ace is. Luffy was sent back behind the older D. to stay out of harm's way (in which made the young rubber boy pout in disappointment).
It was then somewhere along the way, when Buggy saw the child fingering the straw hat as he looks up at his big brother, that the clown captain realize something. There is something about that brat that reminds him of a certain red-headed bastard…
"Somehow, that straw-hat of yours pisses me off." The circus-themed pirate captain snarls, gripping the knives in between his finger even tighter than before. "It reminds me of that despicable red-headed bastard."
Luffy seems to respond to what the other had said, hearing a particular clue that stands out among the rest of what Buggy had said. "Red-head?! Do you mean Shanks?!" The child's eyes instantly has brighten at the mention of pirate hero (in which Ace then turns away to hide his scowl for the remains of his jealousy –not to mention his anger– towards the Yonko still exist to this day). It had been some time since he had seen Shanks and the memories of the man saving him from the Sea King and giving him his precious hat as a promise to become a great pirate is still fresh on his mind. He really wants to see the older pirate again (though whether Ace would let him is questionable indeed). "Do you know where Shanks is now?"
Buggy answers the question with a sneer. "Why in hell would I care where that red-headed bastard is? He could be stranded on a deserted island for all I care!"
Luffy frowns at what the other had said, though it looks more like a pout than anything else.
"But you said you know him. Are you an idiot?"
'YOU'RE THE IDIOT HERE!" Buggy instantly snapped back. The kid is the last person he wanted to be called by as an idiot. "AND JUST BECAUSE I KNOW HIM DOESN'T MEAN I KNOW WHERE HE IS!"
It's obvious that Luffy is very disappointed by the other's answer, judging by the dissatisfying expression he is giving to the clown captain.
"Eh, that's it?"
Suddenly, Buggy has an urge to wring the brat's neck and let him choke from where he stood.
"YOU BRAT!" Launching one of his detached hands, which are filled with knives held between his fingers, Buggy aimed it towards the D. brothers with the intention of stabbing one of them through their hearts.
Of course, being as skillful as he is, Ace manages to grab onto the wrist of the launched hand before it could reach them and possibly harm them. Buggy somehow anticipated this for he quickly detach his hand from the part of the wrist that Ace is holding, making the knife-filled hand soar –literally– past the logia-user's head before redirecting itself towards someone much smaller.
Ace was sincerely surprise by the redirection of the attack and was furious by the time he realize what that bastard was actually aiming for. Sadly, he wasn't able to react in time to stop the hand from reaching his brother but he didn't have to worry as much as he did seeing that Luffy was somehow able to dodge the unexpected attack. But seeing as the attack was unforeseen, Luffy had to make a last minute, sloppy jump, which only saved him by a centimeter apart from being sliced open. Sadly, the same thing could have not been said for his boshi.
While Luffy was able to avoid getting harmed by the knife-filled hand, his beloved straw-hat had sacrificed itself and took the hit instead. The rubber boy could only watch with teary eyes as his precious hat was devastatingly stabbed through by three of the knives in Buggy's detached hands, and as the child desperately reach for the now-ruined straw-hat that is still stuck in the knives of Buggy's hand, the hat instead floated along back to where Buggy stood.
Reattaching his hand back to his arm, Buggy gave a smug smirk and wave around the ruined hat still stuck on his knives as if it's some kind of trophy to be parading around in.
Luffy, obviously, was livid.
"GIVE IT BACK!" The rubber boy would've recklessly lunge at the pirate captain if not for his brother, who held him back from making a mistake and harming himself. Ace tries to pacify the little boy about his hat and about how they could always fix it later but considering that this is about Luffy and his precious straw-hat, not much could've been done about the child's ire.
"GIVE IT BACK! IT'S MY TREASURE! IT'S SHANKS HAT!"
At the new information given to him, Buggy look at the straw-hat in astonishment before his face scrunches up in repulsion. "No wonder this hat looks familiar. That red-headed bastard always wore it next to me."
Luffy gave out a noise of surprise at what the other had said, hearing what the other had inferred. "You were in the same ship as Shanks?!" Of course, the child did not believe that a meany and a coward like that Buffy guy would be in the same ship as Shanks, who is cool and strong and whole a lot of other things, but he couldn't help but ask since the weird clown guy had implied that they were placed upon the same ship.
"Yeah, back when I was a pirate apprentice." Buggy practically huffed, scrunching his eyebrows at the thought of his younger days. While there are a lot of good memories associated with his pirate apprenticing days, most of it consist of a lot of tom-foolery and some very aggravating times with a certain red-haired mate. "We were comrades—me and that damn annoying red-headed bastard."
Luffy watches with horror as the pirate captain practically rips the straw-hat off of his knives, before throwing it onto the ground as if it's a piece of trash to be carelessly disposed of. Of course, the child lashes out at the abuse his hat is receiving, preparing to rocket over to the so-called 'meany-clown' if Ace wasn't holding his little brother back in doing so. "SHANKS IS A GREAT MAN! DON'T COMPARE HIM TO SOMEONE LIKE YOU—YOU STUPID BIG-NOSED CLOWN!"
The clown captain's patience (not that he had any in the first place) snaps at the remark on his nose.
"YOU BRAT!" Buggy raises his foot and before Luffy could understand what the round-nosed captain had planned, the clown heavily stamps his foot upon the defenseless hat.
Luffy practically chokes on air as Buggy crunches his foot against the hat, tears growing in the corner of the young child's eyes as the little one hears the devastating crackles being made as the straws of the hat snaps apart by the mistreatment being given by it. And as Buggy gave one final stomp to the poor, battered object, Luffy felt his heart-stop at the state his boshi is in.
Looking at the ruined hat on the ground, slowly processing the holes and the disfigurements formed by the maltreatment it had undertaken, Luffy couldn't help but flash back to all the memories he has in concern towards Shanks as he looks as his beloved boshi with teary eyes.
The fact that Shanks had saved him.
And sacrifice his arm for him.
And gave him his hat in a promise to become a great pirate once he sets out to sea.
Instantly, Luffy became limp in Ace's arm, surprising the older brother slightly for he was positively sure that –upon seeing the condition of the straw-hat– his little brother would go into one of his raging fits like he usually do when someone tries to touch and/or damage his hat, which Ace was prepared for the whole time since he was ready to release his brother against the clown captain (and pray for the other's life while at it). But instead of snarl nostrils and flaming eyes (which is pretty funny to look at on a seven-year old, Ace was met with heart-breaking, silent fat tears streaming down his brother's flushed face. And they weren't even one of those overdramatic and funny kinds of tears that his brother would usually display when he wants something from his brother—the tears were soft, silent and completely pitiful.
Buggy, witness the surprising fact that the child actually cried due to his abuse to the other's treasure, suddenly feel bad doing what he did. The brat had taken in his insults, his threats, and his attacks against his life without even batting an eyelash in response, acting all casual and composed that is unlike others his age, but now that he had wrecked that stupid straw-hat in a way that makes it looks beyond repair, the kid finally cries like a normal child his age. It makes him feel like as if he's a bully of some sort (though technically, he is one) and Buggy almost felt sorry for his actions.
Though judging by the stream of fire that had almost hit him as he was contemplating his previous deeds in concern towards the younger D., he has yet to taste what it means to be really sorry.
Holding onto his sniffling little brother –who was mumbling heartbrokenly about 'I promised' and 'my boshi'– Ace glared darkly at the trembling clown-captain who was just an inch closer of being fried to death by a certain overprotective big brother. In truth, Ace wasn't really taking the greedy pirate all that seriously at first. The man is obviously a coward, as Ace could easily tell from first glance, and lack more backbone than the residents of Grey Terminal back at home. And despite how smug the clown-captain is in his own capabilities, he's actually weaker than most people give credit for. Ace didn't think that Buggy would be much of a threat really.
That is, until he made his little brother cry.
And nobody makes his little brother cry, especially a pirate that looks like a damn clown (with all irony included).
"Don't worry Lu, we'll get your boshi fixed and it will be as good as new." Ace softly reassured his sniveling brother as the young one buries himself into his older brother's chest, clinging onto him as if his life depended on him.
As Ace had said that, picking up his brother's petite form into his comforting arm as to keep the crying child close to his very being, the logia-user gave the so-called infamous Buggy a polite smile—
—that is somehow able to drop the temperature around the area a few degrees below freezing, indirectly promising pain and for hell to be paid.
Buggy didn't even have time to plead for his life, for Ace is merciless when it comes to the well-being of his little brother.
It has been a very interesting hour for Nami.
After dragging herself (and her treasure) back to the site of the battle that were held between the Buggy Crew and the crew led by Ace and Luffy (or what few people there actually are), Nami was surprised to find who the victors are and what had happened to the defeated side of the conflict—especially towards Buggy.
The orange-haired thief was not sure to how to react when she found a very burnt up Buggy who looks as if he had been thoroughly beaten until his black and blue.
Nami decided not to question the situation, seeing that Ace had given her one of those innocent polite smiles, before harshly kicking the already knocked-out captain with a strength that had sent the poor pirate flying into the distance.
It was then that they decided to go ahead and wake up Zoro (who had decided to sleep off the wounds he had gotten from defending Luffy so many times during his fight against Cabaji, not that he's blaming the boy for looking like a –well–defenseless seven-year old), who was surprising human for he had complained about not wanting to move so soon after such an annoying battle (it is, in no way, difficult. His opponent was just too irritating to fight against).
Just as they were about to go and wake up the mayor (that they had knocked out not too long ago in courtesy of Ace's fist), the residents of Orange Town finally came back with pitchforks and the likes, planning to bravely defend their homes against the tyranny of Buggy the Clown. But as soon as they found out that they were the ones who had knocked out the mayor (courtesy of Luffy's honest ways and big mouth), they decided to run them out of town despite the fact that they were the ones who had saved it (not that they know, of course).
After darting for the docks (in which Luffy had a very tearful goodbye to Shushu the dog, who prevented the mob from following them even further), they were somehow able to make it to their boats and ushered themselves out to sea (though not without Ace and Zoro having to threaten a few of leftovers of Buggy's subordinates that were waiting to ambush Nami).
It was then at this point of time, while they were out in the middle of the sea far away from Orange Town, that Nami found out that both Ace and Luffy had left her bags full of treasure back at the docks where they had departure, in which she then proceeds to drown the older D. brother into the water between their boats by pushing his head down towards the seawater beneath (with Zoro, that bastard, was laughing.
Luffy regarded her with a confuse look when she did, his eyes brimming with innocence. "But we wrecked their homes, didn't we? So shouldn't we pay for the repairs?"
Nami instantly lost all her anger at the purity of the other's explanation. How in the hell can she condemn a child for trying to be a good civilian?!
It was then that she recognizes the swollen eyes that the child has, indicating that the kid had cried not too long ago. Nami then shifted her eyes closely towards the damaged straw-hat, seeing how the boy held it closely to himself as if he's afraid it would just disappear if he lets it go.
The pirate thief puts two and two together.
"Do you want me to fix it, sweetie?" Nami carefully queried as she gave the seven-year old a kind smile, her eyes softening when Luffy whips his head to look at her with those large, hopeful eyes she knows that she can't deny.
"Y-You'll fix it? You'll fix Shanks' hat?!"
An affirmative wink from the sly navigator was his answer. Soon, Nami found herself in rubbery arms as Luffy immediately jumps over from the other ship to embrace the pirate thief in a bout of joy. This time, as tears glimmer in the corner of his eyes, threatening to fall from his eyes to his cheeks, his cries were out of joy.
"Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou." The orange-haired female could only smile in response to the other's gratefulness, gently taking the straw-hat off the boy's head so she could fix it and Luffy lets her as he gave the money-loving thief another one of his large smiles that practically took up most of the space on his face. "I love you Nami!"
At the words of affection, Nami felt something shoot right through her heart as Luffy looks at her with those adorable eyes of adoration. Forcing a squeal back down her throat, which was threatening to be released from her mouth, the female navigator quickly lunge towards the boy and enveloped him in a warm embrace against her chest, almost squeezing the life out of him if it wasn't for the fact that Luffy is made out of rubber.
Though the young D. wasn't sure why Nami is hugging him like she is, swinging his body around as if he's a teddy-bear of some kind, Luffy was never one to turn down affection and hug the female back, much to the navigator's delight.
In the background, both Ace and Zoro felt rather out-of-place and left out at the lovey-dovey scene being partaken right in front of them—especially Ace, who felt irritated seeing that the orange-haired female had temporary stolen his brother for the moment.
Nami then turns towards them, her personality taking a 180 degrees turn.
"By the way, I dislike you guys."
"THE FEELING IS MUTUAL!" Zoro snapped back, irritated by the other's bluntness.
The Nami, on the other hand, disregards the swordsman's comment as if he hadn't said anything in the first place. "I'm not going to be a pirate, but I'll join this little group since it seems to be more to my benefit."
"LIKE WE CARE!"
"Huh? You don't like me Nami?" Luffy questioned with those big large puppy-dog eyes that had the pirate thief almost squealing once again. The kid could get someone to rule the world for him if he ever shines those pure, innocent eyes at anyone else.
"Of course I do! I like you very much Luffy."
Poor Ace; he could only watch with growing feelings of loneliness as he saw his little brother clinging onto their so-called navigator, his shackles rising as he saw a smug smirk molded directly towards him from the orange-haired woman.
Somehow, he regrets letting her join their journey. And the feeling only seems to increase when both his and the orange-haired female's eyes have met, a spark of rivalry formed between them right at that moment.
And for his brother's love nonetheless.
Ace felt a vein on his forehead twitch in displeasure. Dammit, why did he have to compete for his brother's affections all the sudden?!
Omake 1: First day on the Babysitting Job
It has been three days since their departure from Shells town and everything has been going well between Zoro, Ace and Luffy. Though their personalities tend to clash at times, many are content with how the crew is starting out.
Of course, there were a few problems in concern towards Zoro's nearly non-existent sense of direction (in which they decided to never let the swordsman steer to ship even for only a second) and the D. brother's forever discontent black hole of a stomach (in which the all agreed that Zoro would get his portion of the food first before the brothers would if they did not want to starve the swordsman in the next few days).
It was then along the way, after many incidents of sea monsters eating their little rubbery idiot who could not stay still even if they tried to taped him down to the ship, that Zoro became well aware of his captain's overprotective complex towards his little brother.
So, it came to Zoro as a surprise when –after three days of being out to sea fighting sea monsters and the pains of hunger (which Ace and Luffy could be easily blamed for)– Ace had promptly picked up his brother and dropped the little boy right into his lap, ordering him to babysit the kid before leaving the former pirate-hunter behind shocked without letting the other have a single input on the matter.
So now, the swordsman has no choice but to babysit the seven-year old boy—
—who is currently not here on his lap at the moment.
Seeing that the mischievous young D. had disappeared from the ship and is nowhere to be found on the docks where they had tied their little dingy at, Zoro quickly stood upon on the boat and proceed to run into town to find the little brat before his brother ends up finding him (without a Luffy near his side) and ensue to burn his manly bits off.
After a few minutes of wondering around (being hopelessly lost since Zoro was not able to find his way back to the docks once he enters into town), the former pirate-hunter was relieved to see the kid next to a food cart, bothering the owner about letting him have some free samples to take with him. Once he saunters over to the rubbery boy's side, promptly scolding the kid for dashing off without an adult's to watch over him, Zoro then progresses to –almost literally– glue the other right near his side.
Sadly, this process repeats itself throughout the day due to Luffy's incredibly short attention span, making Zoro's job a lot harder than it's supposed to be.
By the end of the day (filled with chases, unwilling games of hide n' go seek, and threats being made towards those who had dared to touch the kid in any wrong way), the swordsman decided to carry the brat by the torso under his arm so that the straw-hatted child wouldn't try to run off again.
When Luffy realize the fact that he couldn't run around as much as he wanted to, due to the lack of ground right under his feet, the child decided to satisfy himself by ordering the so-called demon pirate hunter to go to the places we wanted to get to, giving the other a look akin to a kicked puppy while doing so. Zoro, seeing this more as a compromise than anything else seeing that he doesn't have to get lost trying to find the child, chose to indulge Luffy with his request.
After visiting a few more shops (all of them revolving around a theme of a certain type food), they were able to meet up with Ace (more like Ace was able to find them, since Zoro still has no clue how to get back to the docks once again), much to Luffy's delight. What his captain was doing, Zoro doesn't know (he felt it was best not to ask) and it wasn't long soon after that the swordsman then drop the boy back into the arms of his big brother.
Ace regards the former pirate hunter with a grateful smile, unconsciously readjusting his grip on his little brother as Luffy clings onto the logia-user like a life line.
"Thank you for taking care of my little brother. He can be a bit of a handful." Ace articulated as he looks down at his younger brother, who was already garbling about what he and Zoro did on their day together.
At the statement, Zoro felt rather proud that he was able to meet the expectation of his so-called captain. Ace didn't seem like the person who would give the well-being of his little brother away to someone so easily and the swordsman was glad that the other had tried to trust him on something like babysitting Luffy (and trust him, it's harder than it looks).
"Though you did lose him a few of times, you manage to handle Luffy pretty well."
And as Ace turns away to travel back to their little dingy with Luffy bouncing happily in his arms, Zoro expression suddenly went blank as he stares at the retreating back of his captain, who looks way too casual despite saying what he had just said.
How in the hell did Ace know that?
Seeing the younger male in a new light, one that Zoro was not entirely sure he was happy to find out, the swordsman somehow felt judged.
Don't tell him this was all a test in the first place!
Omake 2: I Love Ace!
Zoro watches in amusement as Ace decides to gather himself in the corner of the boat and sulk like a perpetual five-year old who didn't get what he wanted, the seventeen-year old teen scowling as he glares upon the horizon line of the sea, trying in vain to ignore their navigator's cooing towards his kid brother.
Nami, on the other hand, is practically raking in her moment of victory in concern towards Luffy's affections, who is still sitting in her lap with that lovable grin of his while looking up at her with those big, sparkling eyes that makes her heart swell up with warmth. What the kid was currently talking to her about—she didn't know but nonetheless, she kept her arms wrapped around the child's small frame, giving Ace one of those smug smiles that had the logia-user turn his head away in a child-like manner.
To Nami, it's rather entertaining to see the normally composed Ace act like a sulking toddler that had its toy being taken away. Of course, she's not at the least bit sorry since Luffy is too irresistibly adorable for her to ignore, which indicates that she has no plans in giving up the rubbery boy for their so-called captain. And why should she? Ace has at least 7 years with him in comparison to her several hours of knowing the boy. Even that dumb green-headed swordsman had more interaction with Luffy than she does, dammit!
"Luffy, who do you like best out of all three of us?" Nami asked with the sweetest smile she could offer, stopping the seven-year old in mid-speak as he was about to describe his hometown back in Fuusha Village.
Much to Ace's displeasure, it didn't take long for Luffy to answer Nami's question.
"I like Nami the best!" The seven-year old immediately exclaims.
At the point, Zoro had to stop Ace from falling into the water, seeing that the logia-user had slump in despair on the railing of their boat, just inches from slipping into the water.
Boy that's some brother complex, Zoro couldn't help but think.
But it didn't seem that Luffy was finished with what he had said and continued on from there.
"I also like Zoro too!" The boy said with admiration, making the swordsman smile with fondness as he tries to prevent his captain from taking a dip into the ocean. "But I love Ace!"
As Luffy grins up at the navigator with those honest eyes that makes a notorious liar want to break down and tell the truth, a silence penetrates the area of the two sailing boats, everyone processing the innocence of Luffy's declaration.
Zoro then snorts after a few minutes of silence, before breaking down into laughter at how honesty pure the kid actually is. How direct can this guy get?
Nami, on the other hand, could only smile at the statement as Luffy looks at Zoro with an expression of confusion seeing that he doesn't understand why the other would be laughing at a time like this. Though it's frustrating to see that she had currently lost the battle to the older D., who seemed to have recovered from his slump with renew vigor, Nami has to admit that she loves this part of Luffy, who is so innocent and unsullied in comparison to the rest of the world.
But speaking of battles…
Just as soon as the seven-year old toddler had turn away, Nami shot a nasty glare to suddenly confident fire-user, who gave her his own customized smug smirk that had the navigator huff away in irritation.
Of course, this means the war is not over yet, but—
"Ace!" The said older brother brace himself as his little brother immediately jumps into his held out arms, grinning one of those impossibly huge grins that seem to take up most of the space on his face and the logia-user would be lying if he said that he didn't milk in the other's affection for all its worth.
—at least he knows who currently holds the largest space in Luffy's heart.
Me: YEESSS! I FINALLY FINISHED IT! In truth, I had this partly written since the last two years but never had the time to finish. I know that most of you are probably angry that I took so long to update this so I decided to make an second omake just for you!
Zoro: *snorts* Do you actually think that a second omake would make up for two-year's worth of updates?
Me: *slaps fish onto Zoro's face* No one asked for you opinion marimo.
Zoro: *ish slapped with fish* WHAT IS WITH YOU AND FISH—
Me: Anyway, I might be concentrating on this story more than the rest because I at least know where I'm going with this.
All Bebeshitte Hitman Reborn Fans and all other fans of the other stories I have—I'm sorry but I might have to put some of those on Hiatus until I know where I'm going in that direction.
In any other case, please enjoy this wonderfully late update!