AN: Monster Chopper… meet my MONSTER CHAPTER. ;D
"D… don't you think we should wait until we get to the next island? You know, so they can chill out a little bit before we drop the bomb on them—"
"Franky," the archaeologist glanced up from the flawless little needlepoint blanket she was knitting, and he felt her extra pair of hands tighten around his own, "they need to know now."
"I'm just saying, they're less likely to freak out if we get them hammered first."
This made Robin smile, and for a split second he thought he might win for once. But then she returned to her work, one disembodied hand pointing to Franky's jumbled needlepoint, and there was a devilish glint in her eye as she offhandedly noted that "socks generally have a hole in the top."
Her husband turned cherry-red, slamming his hands down to cover the nest of blue knots he had hoped was starting to look something like a baby-booty.
"D-don't change the subject, you," he spluttered, blushing far too furiously to be intimidating. "You know as well as I do that those guys aren't going to like a lot of the changes around here. Like Sanji—he's gonna have to quit smoking now that you're pregnant, 'cause I'll be damned if I have to freakin' wave the fumes away every time he lights up, like I did with that stupid, toxic-ass nail polish…"
"Don't be dramatic, dear."
"I AM AS COOL AS A SUPER CUCUMBER, DAMN IT."
Franky continued to rant loudly about how un-dramatic he was for about two minutes, then proceeded to sing a song about a very super cucumber and its uncool wife.
Robin tried to hide her laughter behind her fingertips. Naturally, this attempt ended catastrophically—she was quickly in a fit of giggles, clapping right along with the theatrical strums of his guitar.
In the crow's nest, Nami paced back and forth, muttering violent things and fantasizing about killing everyone, as usual.
That asshole Zoro was taking forever—and to make matters worse, Franky appeared to be singing, with that stupid guitar she thought she had destroyed ages ago.
So when not one, but four of her crewmates climbed up the ladder and into her midst, she decided to crack skulls first and ask questions immediately afterward.
"I tell you to go under the radar to steal Usopp's baby Transponder Snails and get them set up, and you come back fuck-late with these morons?" She gestured to Usopp and Brook, who were still recovering from the thrashing they had just received, and Sanji, whose visible head injury didn't stop him from gleefully gawking at her ass. "What the hell have you been doing for the past twenty minutes?"
"I got you the goddamn snail, didn't I?" Zoro held out a Transponder Snail about the size of Nami's Log Pose in his open palm, frowning.
"And you put the other one exactly where I told you to?"
"This deviant did," Zoro said plainly, gesturing to Sanji (who snapped out of his lovestruck stupor long enough to shoot him a death glare). "He snuck it under their table while he was kissing Robin's ass."
"SHUT THE FUCK UP, MARIMO," the chef bellowed, then proceeded to huddle in the corner and hug his knees, distinctly sobbing, "oh Robin-chan, please forgive me for intruding on your privacy, but I must find out if that shitty cyborg is treating you like anything less than the empress of the goddesses…"
Nami ignored him. "Well, as long as we have a way to listen in on them, then I don't really care. Just as long as you idiots," she rounded on Usopp, Brook, and Sanji, "don't breathe a word of this to anyone. Especially not Luffy."
"Yes ma'am!" Brook saluted her chipperly, which only served to piss her off more. "Besides, Luffy-san and Chopper-san are currently occupied with a fascinating game called 'Truth or Dare,' in which one player recommends various insects for the other player to consume. It truly made my skin crawl! Though I have no skin. YOHOHOHOHOHO-"
"Wait, wait, shut the hell up, they're talking again. Usopp, turn it on!"
Usopp raised an eyebrow at her. "I'll take this as a reminder to never make you suspicious, ever," he muttered, then pressed a tiny button on the snail's shell, a static sound and the low rumble of Franky's voice confirming that the connection was successful.
"… all I'm saying is that there's gonna be a helluva lot of crying around here, and Zoro's gonna slaughter somebody if it interrupts his beauty sleep."
Usopp and Sanji fell over cackling, and Zoro stared at the snail with murder in his eyes. Nami shushed them, one eye glued to her telescope lens as she listened, brows furrowed in confusion. Crying?
Robin glanced up from her handiwork with a coy smile. "That's what you're concerned about?"
"Oh come on, don't act like you're not a little bit freaked out about how they'll react to this little shift in the ranks. Sanji's gonna maim me when he hears this shi-" Franky stopped, glancing down at something between them, a twinge of what looked like guilt crossing his features. "-stuff. News."
His wife smiled fondly, then refocused her attention on her knitting needles. "You're forgetting that Sanji walked me down the aisle. I think he can handle this."
"And he wants what's best for both of us."
"But only one of us has boobs."
"All of them," she said sternly, her expression full of conviction and sincerity, "want what's best for both of us. They understand that our future takes priority. If that means we have to make sacrifices to build that future, then they'll be supportive of that."
"I WILL ALWAYS BE SUPPORTIVE OF YOU ROBIN-CHWAN~!"
Nami was far too distracted to kill Sanji as he pranced around the room with spritely grace. What bothered her was the way Robin had thrown out the word "sacrifices." And what did they think was going to upset Sanji (even more than giving away his precious Robin-chan on her wedding day)?
"Darling," Robin said with a light smile, softly grasping the unsteady metal hands holding the needles, "relax. Deep down, they must have known this would happen when we got married."
"But what if-"
The cyborg's eyes darted around the deck, looking for potential eavesdroppers. Finally, he leaned in closer, practically nose-to-metal-nose with his patiently listening wife, unaware that a Transponder Snail was mouthing his every word.
"… what if it's… you know… too much? I mean, should we be worried about what'll happen when…"
She stared him straight in the eye, her expression illegible. "When we're not fighting alongside the crew?"
Robin gingerly folded the knitted cloth in her lap, and a smile crossed her features. "Now dear," she said pleasantly, "our friends are not children, as much as they may act like it sometimes. When the time comes, they'll understand that we're not leaving them to their own devices by choice."
"But this is the New World, and we're talking about splitting up!" he blurted a little louder than he had intended to, turning a faint shade of pink when Robin gently placed a finger to her lips. He cleared his throat, voice hushed as he continued. "Okay, yeah, so I know where you're coming from on this. I know we're all super strong, and we've taken on everything the New World has thrown at us so far. But that was when we were all together. You and me would be like a giant neon target if we broke away from the pack, especially now that you're… you know…"
Suddenly the little snail blew a raspberry, crossed its eyes, and was silent. Everyone stared, mouths agape, before flying into a panic and clamoring to get their hands on it to make it speak again.
"What the hell happened?"
"I don't know, it's never done this before!"
"USOPP, IF THIS GODDAMN THING ISN'T WORKING AGAIN IN THREE SECONDS—"
"I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT, OKAY? GET OFF MY CASE!"
"So that's it, then…"
It was then that Nami, who was holding Usopp by the throat, Zoro, who was raising his sword as if to bash the snail back to its senses, and Brook, who was laughing hysterically at god-knows-what, all turned to look for the source of the low, oddly composed voice that had come from the opposite side of the room.
Sanji was staring out the window at the open sea, his back turned to his crewmates.
"… Robin-chan and Franky… have decided to leave us."
A heavy silence settled over the room, partially due to the somber realization behind the chef's words, and partially due to everyone's surprise that he wasn't weeping on the floor in the fetal position.
It was Nami who spoke first, albeit tentatively, as if anything she said could break the strong face he seemed to be putting on. "… Sanji-kun-"
"Please try not to be too upset, Nami-san," he interrupted her quietly, still as a stone. "I'm sure there was nothing we could have done to prevent this. After all, wanting to have a home to themselves is… well, it's perfectly normal for newlyweds in lo… lo…"
His shoulders crumpled slightly. Then his legs began to buckle. Then, before anyone knew what was happening, he was on all fours, beating the floorboards with his fist in between screams of, "ROBIN-CHWAAAAAAN! WHY DO YOU SCORN MY FRAGILE HEART?"
Everyone heaved a collective sigh of relief as Sanji returned to his usual man-bitch ways. But as they listened to him sob and drifted aimlessly about the room, Nami, Zoro, Usopp, and Brook decided that if the sting they felt in their chests was any indication, the wailing chef's reaction wasn't as inappropriate as it may have seemed.
Unaware of the chaos unfolding in the crow's nest above him, Franky obliviously assumed that his was the only heart on the ship that had been put through the emotional juicer that morning.
"Alright, fine, fine." he sighed, fist full of blue hair and eyes cast downward, "Okay, look— maybe you're right, maybe the gang really is ready for a change this big. Maybe it's all me, and I'm just super paranoid. But can you blame a guy for getting a little spooked about the idea of starting a family on a pirate ship, in the middle of the most dangerous ocean in the world?"
She said nothing, and stared blankly into his eyes. Then a strange concoction of frustration and guilt bubbled over in his gut.
"Look, Robin, it's not gonna be as easy as you think it is, all right?" he ran a hand through his hair, feeling like the words were tumbling out of his mouth of their own accord. "Every pirate crew on the planet is punching each other out to get their hands on us, and it's only gonna get worse when they find out we've got a mini-Mugiwara on the way. It's not safe on this ship, even below deck, even if… even if I'm there with you." He bit his lip and paused, letting the meaning of his own words sink in, and all the nightmares of fighting Hody Jones, Rob Lucci, and Gecko Moria at the same time, with all of them gunning after his wife and child, came flooding back to him. "… I mean, what am I gonna do when I'm the only one who can take care of you, huh? What if I can't handle it, what if I'm not super enough, what if something happened to you or the baby? I'd put garbage juice in my cola bottles, I'd coup-de-burst myself into the sun, God, I'd hate myself until I di-"
He let out a yelp as two arms sprung out of the surface of the table in front of him, seized him by the collar of his Hawaiian shirt, and pulled him over the table into a direct collision with his wife's waiting lips, holding him there, still and quiet and full of all the love in the world.
As if in a trance, he let his hands rest on her hips, and her real arms wrapped around his neck, the phantom limbs vanishing in a burst of pastel petals.
When he felt her lips brush away from his own, and the feeling of her hands gently cupping his cheeks brought him back to reality, he opened his eyes to see her smiling at him—a little devious, but with just the right amount of sweetness to balance it out.
"I'm not worried," she said simply, and her expression of complete contentment and trust told him she wasn't lying. "If it were anyone else, I would be. But not with us. Not as long as we're together."
He stared at her over the rim of his sunglasses, like it was the first time he'd ever seen her—captivated. Tentative. Speechless.
She was the only one who could leave him at a loss for what to say (or scream, or sing, as was his larger-than-life nature). And she seemed to be doing it more and more frequently every day— a fact which terrified him, and simultaneously left his metal body feeling lighter than air.
His gaze settled thoughtfully on the table, and he let out a sound that was somewhere between a laugh and a sigh. Blocky hands were placed on her thin shoulders, and he quietly rested his forehead on hers, closing his eyes with a breath and a smile that said, "what the hell am I going to do with you?"
Nami watched them cavort, unable to hear a word, and felt her heart sink as it all started to come together.
They had been so affectionate over the past two days because they were excited about their new life together, alone, and far away from the crew.
"Deep down, they must have known this would happen when we got married."
Truthfully, the navigator had always felt a little sorry for Robin, living with her new husband in what was quite possibly the least romantic setting in the world, never even getting a moment's privacy to enjoy his company. But she had assumed that the newlyweds had stayed on board the Sunny because they were happy there—that they loved their friends, and didn't want to leave them.
"…there's gonna be a helluva lot of crying around here, and Zoro's gonna slaughter somebody if it interrupts his beauty sleep."
She felt something well up in her throat. They knew how much it would hurt them—all of them—and yet they could still joke about it so easily?
Did what they felt even matter?
"Oi, I think it's waking up!" Usopp exclaimed suddenly, tapping the little snail's shell with a finger as he placed it gently on the table. Sure enough, its eyes were fluttering sleepily, and a few indistinct noises passed its lips as the crew gathered around to anxiously listen.
"Thank God," Nami breathed, and her sentiment seemed to be mutual among her crewmates. "Maybe they'll give us some answers this time."
Sanji bit his lip, suddenly standing perfectly upright, shoulders held tightly back. "That's right! I have faith in Robin-chan, and I refuse to believe that she would betray us until I hear it from her lips!"
"Shut the hell up, Cook, it's working!"
"You shut the hell up, you shitty Marimo son of a-"
"I was thinking that after we tell them this evening, a little reward might be waiting for you in our cabin..."
"Ooh, what did you have in mind~?"
"Well, it's been a while since I've brushed up on my Clone Fleur technique…"
"TURN IT OFF! TURN IT THE FUCK OFF!" Nami shrieked, holding her ears and running around the room like she was on fire. In her hysteria, she tripped over Sanji's unconscious, twitching body, landing squarely on top of Brook, who tried to catch a glimpse up her skirt as she toppled over.
Before Usopp could protest, Zoro had smacked the snail with the flat of his blade, and the little creature had spluttered something incomprehensible in Franky's voice before falling into an unconscious slump on the table.
"What the hell did you do that for?" Usopp screeched, scooping up his precious invention into the safety of his palms and staring at it in horror as it blew little spit bubbles in its sleep. "You can't just sword-whip other people's property, you sonuva—aww, hang in there little buddy, daddy's gotcha…"
Zoro simply ignored him, and lowered Wado Ichimonji with a look in his eyes like his soul had just backflipped out of his body. Truthfully, he hadn't been so traumatized since Luffy had come to the brilliant conclusion that because they were together all the time, like Robin and Franky, the swordsman should marry Sanji. "… I can't be around when Robin uses her ability anymore."
"It seems that Franky-san and Robin-san will be having a ménage à TROCHLEA this evening. SKULL JOOOOOKE~!"
"ALL OF YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP," Nami barked, attempting to untangle herself from Brook's limbs and haul herself to her feet, but she slipped and fell in a fresh puddle of Sanji's tears in the attempt. After a fit of colorful swearing, she continued, punching Brook squarely in the jaw to make him let go of her. "Clearly we have a serious problem here, so if you would all stop talking until I figure out what the hell we should do, then maybe I can actually fucking think for one god-given-"
Nami could have sworn she felt her heart jump and run for cover at the threat of the impending shitstorm signified by that voice. Not now. Oh God, not now-
"NAAAAAAMIIIIIIII! WHO ARE YOU GUYS SPYING ON?"
Slowly, she turned to the window, praying to God that she wouldn't see what she knew she was about to.
For there was Luffy, standing by the kitchen door, screaming into the receiver of the emergency-only loudspeaker that boomed throughout the entire ship, waving cheerfully with a beaming Chopper at his side.
And when Nami glanced down to look at Robin, who seemed to be staring straight into her soul despite the height distance between them, she wanted nothing more than to curl up into a little ball and cry.
Thank you so much for reading, and for all of your wonderful reviews! =D