disclaimer: one piece © eiichiro oda.

— forty-five grades
by breakable bird

He keeps the skulls because the souls are already gone.

It's a little bit lonely, he guesses, but it's okay because Brook has always been patient, and there's time since death's long done with him. (Some days are maddeningly lonely but he does not think of it.) He watches briefly his new face on the water and thinks, I'm as dead as them. (For Death leaves no one behind.)

Every single Rumbar pirate is dead.

(But Laboon is waiting and isn't he a nakama as well?)

So, when he remembers and believes, Brook prays. He rolls over himself and shouts even if he's alone it isn't boring at all, and inside, in the deepest nook of his mind, he prays and prays and prays because when you are dead, what is left but God? (God, and the sea, and the silence.)

He feels, but Brook doesn't have a heart anymore, so he decides it's his spirit. Just his spirit, his soul, like dying has cleaned him of unnecessary stuff and now he only keeps what's him, truly him. It moves lower every day, like trying to bury itself too, because it's really lonely even when he plays and sings and there is no one left to cheer.

(It's a solo forever—hey, that's funny! He'd laugh his ass off, except, ah... Brook doesn't have one of those anymore.)

Forty-five, he sighs today, forty-five grades at the right. It's a good place for a soul to wait, Brook thinks, and drinks tea and just as the sea laughs silently (fool, it says, it whispers, cackling like only a truly free being could cackle, foolish bones, that you are) an unknown ship crosses with Brook's.

The boy on the deck wearing a straw hat grins madly.