And I thought F had a lot of letters. H, by some miracle (or to stick with a H related word, by some happenstance) has a whole lot more, even if some of them are kind of short.
As I mentioned in the last chapter, I had no idea what to do for this letter, which is why this chapter is dedicated to Foxchika19 who messaged me a list of words beginning with H in order to give me some inspiration, three of which managed to find their way into this chapter.
As for what these one-shots are about, I think the title of this collection sums that up really nicely. I kept getting ideas here and there about what to do for H and though I had a lot of ideas, none of them really seemed like I could write a whole chapter based around the single word.
Soon, I just started writing out a different one-shot focused on each member of the Monkey family. That soon fell apart when Haru tried to steal Nami's one-shot away and then Nami crept into Daichi's and...
And now I'm rambling, so I'll just finish by saying these one-shots are just a series of random ideas and leave you all to read this latest chapter. I hope you all enjoy.
H is for Highlights
H is for Home
There he was again, Nami noticed. He was just standing there on the cliff beside Bellemere's grave, a hand affectionately rubbing the stone. She gave a soft sigh. He was looking east again. It had started often enough that she had started noticing the habit. Slowly, she walked up behind him until they were standing together, staring out at the blank ocean.
'Don't you ever miss it?'
'Miss where?' Luffy asked, not even turning to look at her.
'I never said you missed a place,' Nami replied. Luffy finally turned to her and offered a sheepish grin.
'Can't hide anything from you, can I?'
'You miss your home though don't you? You miss Makino and Woop Slap and Dadan and all of the old faces you used to know.' Luffy paused at the sentence. He said nothing for a moment, before turning to his wife with a smile.
'Home is where the heart is, right?' he questioned in reply, crouching down to press a hand against Nami's swelled stomach. 'And my heart is right here with both of you.'
Ignoring the pull of the east, Luffy looked up at his wife and smiled, thinking of their new home together.
H is for Height
'Check again mum! Check it again please!' Nami let out a sigh, turning away from the scripts of paper littering her desk. She should have known writing a novel about her time at sea wasn't going to be easy but it proved to be near impossible in a house that buzzed with such activity as hers.
'Haru, it's only been ten minutes. You won't have grown in that time.'
'But I have to mum!' Haru insisted, clenching his fists and sticking his hands into the air, defiant against the natural laws of the universe. 'Dad and Daichi are really big and if I don't get growing soon, I'll never be as tall as them.' Nami gave her youngest son an odd look, something which Haru could only guess was a state in-between misery and amusement.
'You don't want to be growing up too fast now Haru,' she warned, patting him gently on the head. Haru pushed her hand away and shot her a glare.
'But I want to be bigger! I don't like being a little boy, I want to be an ass kicker like Dad.' Realising his slip of the tongue, Haru suddenly cowered away from his mother, expecting her to hit him for his language. Surprisingly, he didn't feel the weight of his mother's fist pressing down on his head.
Instead, when he opened his eyes again, his mother was crouching in front of him with a smile and sad eyes. Haru was thrown off by the strangeness of the situation.
'You know, there's a problem with that sweetheart,' Nami muttered. The voice was so strained and quiet that Haru had to step closer to properly hear it.
'What?' he asked aloud. Instead of replying, however, his mother merely wrapped her arms around him and pulled him into her lap, tickling her with her demonic fingers. Haru squealed and chuckled as his mother assaulted him, holding him close as she laughed as well.
'No matter how much you'll grow up, you know you'll always be my little baby boy.'
H is for Hand-me-downs
'Well, what do you think?'
Daichi found himself unable to voice his thoughts as he stared at the odd item in his hand. The staff stared up at him with non-existent eyes. It was a long red pole of shaped wood. Daichi's brow furrowed.
'What the heck is this?' he asked.
'Well, you said you wanted to be a pirate when you grew up, right? I'm not going to let my son go out into the world unprotected,' Nami replied with a smile. 'That's why I had Usopp make this for you.'
'Oh, cool…' Daichi mumbled. So that must have been why his mum had taken him outside for his birthday present. Daichi grasped the long staff in both hands, running his palm along the surface. It was smooth, so smooth that his hands easily slid along it without any effort.
A pair of golden rings poked out several inches each side from the centre, which Daichi guessed was an indication on where he should hold the staff.
'It used to be my old staff,' Nami explained, watching her son analysing his present. 'Back when I was a thief and before I met your dad. I asked Usopp to have a look at it and develop something more…suiting to your style.'
'That's why you added the sharp pointy things on the end?' Daichi quipped, inspecting the tips of the wooden shaft where four spiked prongs jutted out, flanking a sharp blade on each side.
'Yes and made it curved so you could hold it better…but also why I had Usopp make a few modifications as well,' Nami continued stepping alongside her son and gesturing to the various buttons hidden on the centre of the staff. 'That button there separates the left half of the staff and there are special dials here and here that give the staff more reach. If you want, you can even withdraw the spikes with that button there.'
Daichi stared at the staff, baffled by his mother's explanation of all of the staff's options.
'This is amazing,' he mumbled, twirling the staff around in his hands. 'What else can it do?'
'Usopp usually puts some surprises in with his work. You'll have to test it out yourself though and train hard.' Daichi nodded, before casting his mother an odd look.
'This is weird,' he acknowledged. Nami frowned.
'Usually you're the one telling me that I shouldn't try getting into fights and that I should stop causing trouble and try and find another way to solve problems,' Daichi explained. Nami gave her son a long hard look before smiling at him.
'You're not a boy anymore Daichi,' she said, her voice brimming with pride. 'You'll always be MY boy, but you're getting older and that means that I need to give you added responsibility. I might not like the idea of you living the life that your father and I lived when we were younger…but a love of the sea is in your blood…so in that case, I want you to be properly able to protect yourself. Your dad's going to teach you the basics of haki…though I'm not sure if you've got the king's disposition, the other stuff should be useful.'
'The kings disposition?' Daichi repeated in a confused tone. Nami shook her head.
'You'll learn but it doesn't matter right now. The point is you need to be ready for anything out there and I would hate myself if you didn't have the skills to survive out there,' she finished, looking up at her son and nodding in a matter of fact manner.
Daichi could only blink mindlessly, taking in his mother's confusing words.
'So…you're saying I CAN cause trouble…but only if I know how to cause trouble effectively?' he asked. Nami sighed.
Of course, she should have known her son would ignore the basic point and twist her words into his own version.
Never the less, she conceded to the boy's definition.
'Sure, let's go with that.' Daichi gawped at her for a moment, before planting one end of his staff on the floor.
'Er…thanks I guess mum,' he muttered, looking to the floor. He kicked a stone, staring straight at the ground. Nami observed him pensively.
'What's wrong?' she finally asked, spotting the.
'I'm supposed the big brother of the family,' Daichi started nervously. 'And I want to learn to fight to protect my little brother and sister and I think I've come really far and I've really grown up. I mean, you just said yourself that I'm old enough to learn how to fight properly in your eyes…and I'm kind of disappointed for wanting to be a bit childish right now…'
'Being a bit childish?' Nami asked in confusion. Daichi nodded with a red face.
'I…I wanted to give you a "thank you hug".' Daichi tensed after speaking, shutting his eyes in embarrassment. He hadn't expected his mother to start laughing.
'Seriously? That's all that's wrong?' Nami asked with a sweet smile.
'HEY! IT'S NOT FUNNY!' Daichi replied, folding his arms and glaring at his mother. 'I'm a man and I won't be laughed at like…'
'Come here idiot,' Nami interrupted. Daichi stopped speaking as she opened his arms wide, smiling straight at him. Under his mother's gaze, Daichi suddenly no longer felt like the fourteen year old pirate prince, heir to a legacy of power and dreams…and instead, he was a little boy again, looking to his mummy for guidance.
On instinct, Daichi dropped the staff on the floor and dashed straight into his mother's waiting arms. As her warmth enveloped him, the young boy felt a smile come to his lips.
'Definitely your father's son, always getting an odd perspective on everything,' she muttered into his hair. 'You're never too old for a hug you know? I'll be expecting hugs like this from you when you've got children of your own. I'm your mother after all and I always will be.'
Daichi listened carefully to Nami's words, smiling at the soothing tone in her voice. A part of him bubbled in anger at being immature…but another part felt content.
Doomed to always have hugs from his mother even when he was a man? Somehow, Daichi concluded he could endure that.
H is for Hero
In a matter of moments, her day had gone from bad to worse.
Her daddy and mummy had met an old friend they hadn't seen in a long while and they told here to go play in the park. She hadn't really wanted to. They were new in Orange Town, after all and she had never really associated with children her own age before.
Never the less, with an encouraging squeeze of the shoulder by her father, she had wandered off and had actually found something to do which she liked. At the corner of the park, there was a rocking sea-horse which anyone could simply sit on ride.
Retreating to this odd attraction, she discovered that the surface world was more fun than she had originally guessed it was going to be. She actually let out a laugh as she rocked back and forth.
Her happiness soon vanished, however, when someone stuck out their foot and stopped her happy rocking.
'Aw, would you look at that? An intruder!' a voice called mockingly. Looking up from her sea-horse, the girl with the black hair trembled as she regarded the three boys towering above her with her lime-green gaze.
One of the boys had sickly yellow skin and two antenna sticking out of his head, whilst on his back was a large shell. Another boy was big with dark brown spotted skin and bloated lips. He was too fat for his own good. The one in the middle wore a pair of tinted goggles. His hair was a bright blue and his skin was crimson. Black patches decorated his face and body at odd places.
She timidly shrunk away from them. New people always frightened her.
'This park is property of the New New New New New Fishman pirates!' the red skinned boy in the middle announced, sneering at her. 'You're trespassing!'
'Yeah, what are you doing here human?' the hermit crab mer-man inquired, his pincers snapping near her leg as he poked her shoulder with a stick.
'Blub!' the obese puffer fish-boy concluded, joining his friends in their glaring. She gave an uncertain groan under her breath. These boys seemed mean. She didn't understand why. They looked the same way her daddy did and he wasn't mean.
'T-this p-park is f-for e-everyone,' the girl mumbled. The boy with the red skin plucked his ear and faced it towards her.
'What was that human? We can't hear you!' She was shaking now. The sea-horse jolted with her, trembling in place as if it shared her fear. Plucking up what little courage she had, she opened her mouth once more.
'I s-said t-this p-park is f-f-for…'
'What's with your eyes?' the hermit crab interrupted, placing his grimy fingers on her face and pulling her eyes open.
'And it's the middle of summer, what are you wearing that scarf for? Charybdis, take it off her!' As the bloated fish-boy reached for her beloved bright blue scarf, the dark haired girl squealed and moved to escape his grasp.
'G-get o-off!' she demanded in a soft tone but by then, the damage was done. Thanks to the Hermit Crab poking her face and the puffer fish-boy's intervention, she lost her balance and tumbled backwards off the rocking sea-horse.
Luckily, the grass was soft as she landed.
Unluckily, however, as she fell, her scarf became loose and flopped to the floor beside her in a heap, revealing her neck and the gaping holes that came with it.
The three boys fell silent. She didn't need to see their shocked faces to know she was in even more trouble.
'Wh-what the hell are those things?' Her hands rose up to her neck and she whimpered as the hermit crab mer-boy began to poke at her neck with his stick.
'D-don't,' she insisted, scurrying as quickly as she could away from them.
'They look like gills!'
'BLUB!~' the puffer fish-boy bellowed, pointing an accusing finger at her. Quickly, the black haired girl scrambled backwards but by now, the Hermit Crab had circled around her and the puffer fish, Charybdis she thought his name was, was advancing from the other side with the other boy.
'Hey, Scylla's right!' the red-skinned boy yelled, gnashing his large teeth together. His smile had disappeared to be replaced a toothy grimace. 'She's part fish-man!'
'P-p-please I d-don't w-w-want to b-be any t-t-trouble,' she whimpered, trying to get herself up off the floor. As she moved, however, the red skinned boy slammed his foot onto her back, pushing her back down.
'Trouble's what you got freak,' he spat, before kicking the poor girl in her side. She let out a whimper and tried to roll away from the next strike but the fish-boy stayed with her. Worse than that, the other fish-boys started cheering him on.
'Alright Garell! Show that freak a thing or two!'
'You know what I hate more than humans?' the fish-boy Garell asked, resting his dirt covered foot on top of her head. 'Filthy half-breeds like you…' The boy gnashed his teeth together once more and lifted his foot up into the air. 'You all deserved to be squashed!'
The girl squeaked as she pulled her scarf over her head and clamped her eyes tightly shut.
She lay there, waiting for the last attack.
It never came.
Instead, she heard a large groan and the sound of someone hitting the floor. Voices cried out in a panic.
'OH NO GARELL!'
Timidly, she allowed herself to open a single eye. The fish-boys had retreated slightly. Garell was being helped up by his friends, nursing a black eye. Looking upwards, she could just make out the person who had jumped in.
He was a boy too, a human boy. His hair was a bright burnt orange and his eyes gleamed a dark charcoal colour. She couldn't see his face properly from the angle she lay at but she guessed from his voice that he was mad.
'What are you doing picking on her for?' the boy demanded to know.
'Nothing that should matter to you human,' Garell sneered as he pushed himself away from his friends. 'Why don't you get lost?'
'Why don't YOU get FOUND!?'
'That doesn't even make any sense!' Garell shouted, his face growing redder by the second. The boy laughed as the fish-boy's teeth began to crash together. 'Alright,' Garell suddenly began, strolling towards the new boy. 'You asked for it, foolish…'
Before Garell could finish, the orange haired boy's fist lashed out and smashed straight into his face. Garell let out another scream, holding his face.
'Ow! You punched me!'
'Yeah, I thought we were going to fight,' was the reply he received from the human. Garell snarled.
'Well, we are. Give me a…' Once more, the boy punched him in the face.
'Ah! My nose! You broke me nose!' Garell screamed, grabbing his face with both hands.
'Garell!/Blub!' his two fish-boy friends yelled, racing to steady their leader.
'You don't get fighting, do you?' the human boy muttered, scratching his orange hair sheepishly with his hand. Garell glared at him in return.
'That's not fair,' he groaned. 'You didn't play fair.'
'Pirates don't, get used to it,' the boy responded with a laugh.
'Whatever,' the fish-boy growled as he skulked back away from the orange haired boy. 'As soon as I get my nose fixed, you're going to regret this Ginger.' Even as the trio ran away, their words continued to chill the girl to her core. Glancing up at her saviour, she was surprised he was still standing so confident and firm.
'Yeah, you better run!' the boy was yelling, pointing his finger like a gun out at his retreating foes. 'The next time you want to mess with the Prince of Pirates, you better bring some stronger guys.' Her eyes widened at this declaration.
Prince of Pirates? Was he joking? No-one could claim such a title randomly without knowing the connotations of that, could they?
Never the less, the orange haired kid just stood there with the brightest smile in the world on his face. After a while, he turned to look at her.
'Hey, you okay?' She could only stand there gawping at him, blinking like an idiot.
'W-well, y-yeah, I am,' she said in barely a whisper. The boy's nose wrinkled as she spoke.
'You talk weird,' he noted. She hung her head immediately.
'Oh…' Maybe this boy had come to pick on her as well.
'But you don't seem bad,' the boy continued, as if sensing her doubt. A bubble of anxiety popped inside her chest. 'What's your name?'
He held out his hand to help her up off the floor. Curiosity outweighing caution, she took it.
'A-A-Aki,' she stuttered.
'Aki, huh?' the boy tested the name before nodding. 'Well, nice to meet you Aki, I'm Monkey D. Haru but you can simply call me the man who's going to rule the sea!'
As he made this announcement, Haru adopted a bold pose, pointing his finger like a gun at the sky as he grabbed his shoulder. Aki tilted her head to one side and observed his odd ritual with confusion. This boy might not have been as mean as the others, but he certainly was strange. Didn't he know how big the sea was? And he was going to rule all of it?
'R-rule the s-s-sea?' Aki questioned. The boy turned to her and she felt like melting into the floor. She hated it when others paid too much attention to her. It made her deformities seem all the stranger.
As if to humiliate her further, her back twitched as the boy watched her and her small dark blue tad-pole tail poked out from under her dress. Spotting the blue troublemaker, Aki quickly reached for it in an attempt to hide it.
The tail was difficult to catch, swishing this way and that and by the time she finally grabbed a hold of it, there was no doubt in her mind that Haru had managed to see it. She shrivelled up as the boy's face changed and...
'AH! THAT'S SO COOL!~' Aki froze. Cool? Had he just said her tail looked cool? Not weird like everyone else had said, not odd like her cousins had often commented. This random boy had told her that her tail looked cool. Her inhumanly pale skin brightened at the thought.
'T-t-thank y-you,' she spluttered. Before she could say a word, Haru was beside her, poking at her tail with interest. As he prodded it with its finger, the tail reacted by slapping him in the face. Aki jumped.
'S-s-sorry!' she whimpered. 'It has a m-m-mind of its own s-sometimes.'
'That's so awesome,' Haru said, completely ignoring the fact that the tail had hit him in the face. 'Can you move it?'
'O-o-occasionally.' Once more Haru poked her tail, though this time he dodged it as it lashed towards him.
'Cool,' he commented. 'I've never seen anything like that.' Aki shrank away from this. It was not what she wanted to hear. She'd spent her whole life standing out. She was sick of it.
'You wanna join my crew?' Haru inquired. Aki gaped.
'Your what?' As the boy opened his mouth, his face growing pained with the explanation, she quickly wished she hadn't asked.
'Well, I wanna be a pirate! I really want to be a pirate, one of the best pirates ever, I mean, I love the sea and I really want to travel and have adventures and be free and it worked for my parents, I mean they fell in love and married when they were on the same crew, so I was thinking, if I have to make a life for myself, why not go find what this world has to offer like they did?'
'Travel, have adventures before I decide what I want to do with my life, but I also have a dream: something I really wanna do and that's to become a pirate emperor, I know there's a pirate king but that's been done and who wants to follow a path that's been done before right?'
'So I wanna become a pirate that's so awesome that he's better than even the pirate king, but my older brother, Daichi, he's kind of got the same idea, thinks it's his responsibility, his birth right or something like that and he's got a huge head-start, especially considering he's older and he's got a four-man crew right now: him, his cranky girlfriend, his cranky girlfriend's nerdy sister and his smart but cowardly best friend and I've not got a single crew member yet to live up to that!'
'So I need to start working on getting myself a crew that I want, a crew that's better than his in every way because it's my dream and I won't him steal it, me and my awesome crew are going to shoot up like a rocket and high-five the stars but I need to start picking crew-members and since my little sister wants to form her own crew, I thought I should do it like my dad did it!'
'Daichi picked people he already knew and he already was best friends with to form a crew and that's nice and all but I thought I'd make my own friends out on the sea, gather a group I could really call my nakama, ya know? And you seem pretty nice and you look really cool so I was wondering if you wanted to join my crew, sail around the world with me in a few years and then we can all reach our dreams and get a happy ending?'
Aki couldn't speak.
Haru had done enough of that for the both of them.
How on earth had he said that all in one breath?
Did human boys just have some sort of magic speech power?
Had he eaten a devil fruit to give him that power over his mouth?
'Well, do you wanna join my crew?' the boy asked again, his face showcasing an odd smile that danced between insecurity and determination. Clearly, he was scared of rejection but hopeful never the less.
Inside, Aki was leaping for joy. In a single moment, her dull existence had snapped into two right before her eyes. All her life, she hadn't exactly been seen as the most pleasant of people to have around.
Hated by humans and fish-man folk alike, she had never really had too many friends. Usually, when she had been asked to play, it was as a last resort. Now, however, here was someone who desperately wanted her, who actually wanted to be associated with her. She could have ran away with the boy at that very moment if her calm head hadn't taken over.
'Y-you don't e-e-even k-know me,' Aki noted despite the smile on her lips. Haru nodded but his expression remained firm.
'I've got a good feeling about you and my dad taught me that a pirate should listen to his instincts because they're probably right.' Haru smiled at her again and she felt like dancing. This wasn't some joke, it couldn't be. This boy really wanted her on his crew.
It was a random, even an insane gesture in itself but the fact that the gesture existed made her feel happy.
'You really want an ugly half fish-man like me on your crew?' she muttered to herself, the fish-boys comments from earlier still weighing heavily in my mind. Haru looked at her like he had just smelt something horrible.
'What? I don't care about that. I just want you to join my crew. Not now, because I still need to get stronger and you need to get stronger too…but someday, I want you on my crew. What do you say?'
Aki didn't know. Her words caught in her throat. She felt lightheaded. A loud voice called through the air and Haru turned in the direction of it, his face cringing at the sound.
'I've got to go now,' the boy said with a pout. 'But I'll be back and when I am, we're going to go sailing together, okay?'
'O-o-okay?' she replied, out of habit more than agreement. The orange haired boy offered her a large grin…before leaping forwards and clamping to her like a clam to an oyster. She felt numb.
'Thank you so much, you're my first crew-mate! Wait until I tell Daichi and Chika. Boy, will they be jealous of my new awesome nakama!' As he hopped back away from her, Aki was sure her heart was going to blow up. No-one but her family had ever hugged her before.
As the orange haired boy ran off towards his own family (a tall black haired boy and short black haired girl who he could only guess were his siblings), he turned back to her and winked.
'Besides, you're not an ugly fish-person. You're actually really pretty.' And then he was gone. Aki just stood there, watching him leave. She didn't know what to say or what to do but she felt ready to explode. She only snapped out of her daze when her parents rushed over.
'Oh my, sweetheart, what happened?'
'Are you hurt? You've got dirt all over your dress!'
'We look away for one minute…are you okay?'
'What happened Aki?' After a while, her voice returned.
'It was just like in the stories Papa,' she whispered, turning to look at her future crew-mate. He had been looking and he waved. She waved back.
'When I was in trouble, a hero saved me.'
'Haru, come on! Mum and Dad want us back at the ship in ten,' Daichi shouted. Haru puffed a sigh. Daichi laughed as he came marching towards him.
'Look at you, who burst your bubble?'
'You did,' Haru replied. Daichi shrugged, rubbing his hair in that teasing way he loved to do.
'Glad to be of help then my man,' his older brother said, before walking along.
'So what did you do today Haru?' Chika asked as the orange haired boy joined their duo. 'Make any new friends?'
Haru paused at the thought and turned back to the weird girl he had spotted. Her blue skinned daddy was examining her now. He looked pretty scared that something had happened to her. Her mother was taking grass out of her hair. Suddenly Aki met his gaze.
Haru smiled and waved at her. The girl gave a feeble wave back, her face redder than the fish-boy he had smacked in the face earlier.
'I hope so,' he replied.
H is for…Huh?
'Come on, it'll be fun.'
'It sounds dangerous.'
'No,' Kenichi muttered. 'Just dangerous.'
'Come on, don't be a buzz kill Ken,' Haru groaned.
'I agree with Kenichi,' Chika voiced from beside her brother. 'I don't think you should try sneaking into Buster's garden.'
'You would,' Haru complained.
'What's that supposed to mean?' Kenichi demanded.
'It means you're both cowards and I'm going to be a true adventurer and go look!' Haru shot back, turning around and beginning to climb the fence gate. Chika and Kenichi watched him climb, briefly exchanging a concerned look with one another.
Buster was a big dog. Buster was a big and very angry dog. Buster was a big and very angry dog who treated his owner's garden as his own personal kingdom. Those are the three facts you really need to know about Buster for these events to make any sense. For if Haru had never decided to demonstrate his bravery by creeping into the dog's garden in order to retrieve a ball Kenichi had kicked over the fence by accident, then Buster would never have woken up in the middle of his nap and this story you are reading would never have occurred.
A single eye inched open as he heard dusty quick footsteps across his garden.
'Ha! Got it!' he heard a voice cry as the footsteps stopped. Spotting some orange hair bouncing up and down, Buster's eyes flashed open as he took in a victorious Haru doing his "hero pose" with the ball in hand, shooting his finger like a gun in every direction.
'Haru, maybe you should…'
'In a second Ken,' Haru replied, still focusing on his victory pose.
'But Haru, Buster…'
'That stupid dog is napping Chika,' Haru shouted back. He pointed towards his sister with his gun finger and gestured to her in a shooting motion. 'Besides, even if he was awake, I'd be able to outrun that fat mutt any…'
As Haru turned around, gesturing his victory pose at Buster, he quickly realised that the dog was in fact standing up and glaring at him. It growled as the finger gun was aimed in his direction. Haru met the animal's gaze and gave a nervous laugh.
'Did I say fat? What I meant to say was big-boned,' he announced, beginning to pace slowly backwards.
Buster, contrary to Haru's belief, didn't understand anything the boy had just said.
What he understood was that a stranger had come into his territory and was taking something from it. Whatever it was, it was from his territory and that made it his. The boy was stealing from him and that was something Buster could not allow.
After a single growl of warning, Buster was off and running. Haru let out a whelp before sprinting towards the gate. He could see his friends panicking from behind the gate but dared not look back at the advancing dog.
'Haru! Come on, get out of there,' his sister screamed.
'He's dead! He's dead! He's dead!' Kenichi repeated to himself, grabbing his head with both hands as he shook violently. As he neared the gate, Haru leapt the rest of the distance and scrambled desperately up the barred fence.
Chika and Kenichi reached for him as he climbed, ready to pull him to safety.
Haru clawed his way up the fence bit by bit.
The dog's snapping jaw felt so close now.
He could hear it right behind him.
With one last bark, Buster sprung up right at Haru's heels...
Luckily, at that moment, Chika and Kenichi grabbed his thick orange hair and pulled him down over the fence onto the floor. He landed gracelessly on top of the two, still trembling from his near death experience. Chika and Kenichi were panting too. For a moment, the trio looked at each, fear frozen in their eyes. Then, they smiled.
'Ha, made it!' Haru declared, throwing the ball up in the air and catching it before adopting his victory shooting pose once more in the dog's direction. 'What are you going to do now Buster?'
Buster appeared to take offense to the question, barking madly at the boy. Haru simply laughed and soon, Kenichi was caught up in the thrill of victory too.
'Yeah, come on doggy, I'm right here,' the blonde said, shaking his backside in the dog's direction. Chika giggled as Haru joined in teasing the dog who had failed to catch him.
The two boys pulled faces with Haru sticking both pinkies up his nose and sticking his tongue out, whilst Kenichi opened his mouth wide and pulled at his cheeks.
Buster snarled for a moment before pausing. As the children laughed together, he glanced at the gate's hinges. Only Chika managed to spot this and her laughter immediately subsided.
'Guys,' she whispered, her heart caught in her throat. The two boys stopped their chuckles at her words and joined her in looking at the dog. Buster took a step forward and placed his paw against the grating fence. With a gentle push, the gate swung open. The three children gaped.
'It was…' Chika began.
'Unlocked…' Kenichi continued.
'The whole time…' Haru finished. Buster seemed to nod, grinning with his large teeth in victory. He licked his lips. The children stepped backwards as one. As Buster approached them, they let out a single word of terror.
Luffy turned around, dropping the mountain of clothes his wife had given him.
'Did you sense that?'
'Don't change the subject Dad!' Daichi yelled, stamping his feet like a spoilt child. 'You promised to start teaching me haki today!'
'And you better pick up Nami-swan and Vivi-chwan's outfits asshole,' Sanji agreed, glaring with disgust at the fabrics on the floor.
'But I thought I heard someone calling,' Luffy explained, turning to his cook with a serious expression. Sanji fell quiet, listening for what his captain had heard. His face tensed as he too recognised a faint echo of noise.
Daichi glanced between the two, utterly confused as to what was wrong. As Vivi and Nami rounded the corner, the two women joined Daichi in giving the men a confused look.
'What are you two doing?' Vivi asked.
'Luffy, what happened to my clothes?' the straw-hat navigator said , poking her husband's shoulder in irritation when she spotted her purchases littering the floor.
'Listening to something,' Luffy replied, completely ignoring Nami's comment. His wife screwed up her face and let out an exasperated groan.
'Listening to what?'
'HELP!' The four adults shared a look of concern. They had all heard that.
'THE KIDS!' they shouted as one.
'Daichi, why weren't you watching them?' Nami shrieked, grabbing her eldest son by his collar.
'They seemed alright last time I checked. I wanted to come in here and talk to Dad,' Daichi replied, shamefully looking to the floor.
Luffy didn't bother listening to the brewing quarrel. Instead, he stamped on the floor, his leg pulsating as he did so. Nami realised only too late what he was doing.
In the moment's pause, Luffy's leg had sagged like an accordion before snapping back into place. As the Pirate King gave a deep intake of breath, his body veered into action, glowing a faint bright red. In the blink of an eye, he was gone.
As Luffy sprung out of the shop with inhuman speed, he turned in the direction of the yell. Down the street, he could already see what was happening.
Kenichi was on the floor, having tripped over. Haru had stopped to try and help the boy up, whereas Chika was standing in front of both of them, refusing to move as the dog approached. He was almost on them now, his teeth like sharp knives.
Luffy readied himself to move.
Then he stopped.
In a split second, he had sensed it.
It had been nothing more than a tiny ripple in a vast ocean but he had felt it and he found himself frozen in place, trying to work out where this familiar sensation was coming from.
The answer came as the rapid dog leapt towards his daughter, his eyes glaring straight through her towards his downed target.
'Don't you dare…' Chika started, her eyes a glow with new found determination. 'Think of hurting…MY FAMILY!'
The air around her parted as a sudden pressure filled the air.
Kenichi found his breathing had stopped, as if the air was so dense he was choking on it.
Haru fell over as a gust of wind swept past him.
Even Buster froze in place, losing all momentum in an instant. Random passers-by on the street either stopped in their stride or keeled over.
Nami and Daichi suffered from the same bout of dizziness and were forced to lean against a wall for support.
Vivi would have tumbled backwards herself had Sanji not been there to catch her.
Only Luffy seemed truly unaffected.
He simply stood where he was, smoke still pouring from his heated skin. Slowly, Gear Second faded away and his heart stopped wrestling with his lungs long enough to join their master in his confusion.
The dog had stopped in its tracks. The tension in its mouth was gone and the fire in its eyes had died.
It stared at Chika.
Chika stared back. Her face held a firm defiant glare that could would make even Whitebeard himself tremble.
'Get lost,' she commanded in a voice so different from the five year-old who spoke the words. The dog hesitated for a moment. 'I said get lost!' Chika repeated and this time, the dog did as he was told, dashing back to its kennel with a series of yelps.
Chika stayed standing in front of the two boys for a brief moment before all the anger faded from her face and she smiled with relief.
Turning back to the two boys, who looked completely stunned at what they had just witnessed, Chika laughed and scratched the back of her head.
'It's a good thing that dog is a good listener, huh?'
'What just happened?' Daichi asked, nudging his blue haired aunt in the hope that she knew the answer. Vivi shrugged.
'Dear?' she questioned in turn, looking to her husband for an answer. Sanji, for the first time in his life, was ignoring her and joined his former crew-mates in watching the small black haired girl.
'Did she just…' Luffy mumbled aloud, as Chika helped Kenichi and Haru to their feet.
'No, no she couldn't have,' Sanji answered, his own eyes wide in surprise, his cigarette threatening to fall out of his mouth as he gaped.
'But I think she just did…' Nami finished. The three straw-hats looked to one another and then back at Chika. The black haired girl spotted them looking and gave them a sweet smile and a wave. The three returned the wave rigidly, their mouths still gaping.
'Well…' Luffy started, scratching the bristles on his chin. 'This is…new.'
Until next time, I'm Shadowonthewall6 and I hoped you enjoyed these collection of letter H inspired one-shots.
Please review. Positive criticism is welcome.