Chapter 60: Hit & Dead Ball.

Quotation of the Week: 69% of the population will find something dirty in every sentence.

Disclaimer: This chapter has been brought to you by Pentoxin, who oddly enough, doesn't pay me shit; meaning I don't make any profit out of this story. If I did, you'd be seeing hippos shot out of cannons.


"...so through the power of deduction, you would basically come to the conclusion that... Santa Claus was a pedophile?"

"Focus on these games rather than on your continuous blabbering. It's getting annoying," Zoro growled in his usual seemingly foul mood. I let our a groan, showing my discomfort at not wanting to do anything with this crap. But as usual, our resident navigator threatened to strangle me if I didn't – which sounded a bit kinky to me.

"Spoil-sport."

"Now, we're back for another three-coin game!" The announcer exclaimed through a snail voice-amplifier planted all around the place. It was also then that I noticed the huge ship right behind the goat-headed on; my ADD seems to get worse. "The events will be a crew-on-crew ball game, a eight-on-eight retro game, and one-on-one battle! Just like in the last game, each crew member can only participate in two events and no changes to the entries are permitted!"

"So that means we get to compete in the first and second event while Luffy does the first and the third. Well... I can't complain about that," I grinned as I bought a box full of chocolate from a nearby stall. The stuff was expensive as hell, but wasn't really a problem considering I'm a millionaire through illegal means.

Hell, if I sell the jewels I'll have more money than Zoro's initial bounty. That means my overall worth is two Zoro's! Now I know how rich people feel...

"How so?" Daxter said, muching on a bar of chocolate while sitting a top of my head.

"Luffy is strong, I'm sure he'll do just fine," my smile was still plastered on my face, all the while ignoring people giving me shifty glances for insulting their captain. I found the others discussing something untrivial near the announcer.

After I sat down on a pitch outlined with white chalk, I began to pay closer attention.

"We're now ready for the fist event – Hit & Dead Ball!" the commentator shouted, "And as always, I'll explain the rules! There are two balls in play," I looked at the mentioned round objects and raised and eyebrow; the balls had spikes. Granted, they were dull enough not to kill anyone – only inflict pain or uncomfort. "These balls are used to hit the opposing team's players!"

No shit...

"Anyone who is hit is immeadiately disqualified! The goal is to hit all of the opposing players! Whichever team loses all of its members on the field first loses! Each team can choose how many players to have on or off the field! However, once someone has been selected to be off the field, they are not allowed to come in, even when someone is knocked out!"

"I see," Sanji nodded, "It souds like a variation of dodgeball."

I wiped a tear our of my eye, "Ah, that brings me back to the old times where I used to throw these at people... good times."

While I was reminiscencing the old times, the announcer threw a book to Robin who caught it with four arms, two of them sprouting out of her shoulders.

"A rule book?" Chopper queried.

"It's quite a thick book," Robin mused, whether it was supposed to be inwardly or not I don't know. She was still as apathetic as she can be, not to mention pretty stuborn when she wants to. For example, she tried to pry the info about the supposed crypted cube residing in my head by at first talking about it, but I did notice the subtle telltales that if I keep the secret for myself, she'll eventually use force. Very much how she did to Tashigi in Alabasta.

That was fucked up as hell...

"Yes, Hit & Dead Ball is the oldest and most historic game of the Davy Back Fight!" the announcer continued, "Over the years, various rules have been added and it had evolved into the strict version we'll play today!"

"Who cares if the rules are strict?" Nami gave the announcer a blank look, "If no one follows them, they don't mean a thing. They're probably designed to give you an advantage, right?"

"No, no, no." The announcer whose name I had trouble remembering wagged his fingers at Nami's question, "Please read the first page."

Robin opened up the book and read the very first rule in its exact words saying: "Fair play must be observed. Any person who does not abide by the rules contained within will be decapitated."

"Decapitated!?" Chopper, Daxter and Usopp panicked by the very thought of getting their heads lopped.

"Does it say anything about hanging by a noose?" I asked Robin who shooked her head. "Bummer, I wanted to be hanged. It would seem more noble that way. You know, have a noose wrapped around you neck, sit on a horse, spank the horse and die."

"Are you out of your mind!?"

The annoucer, now named Itomimizu after few minutes of brain stoming, shrugged and continued to do his job. "Oh, and by the way, the official for this fame is a veteran with fifty years of experience!" he motioned to four tall individuals and one short old man, "That man, Chief Official Rokuroshi, and his staff will be the referees for this event."

"It sounds like this'll be a fair fight," Zoro smirked and disarmed himself out of his swords since weapons were not allowed. I did the same with my own and set the ottsel in duty to guard my two weeks supplies of chocolate.

I better buy some more, you never know who or what might eat my babies.

"The Foxy Team is out in full force!" Itomimizu shouted, marvelling at the pitch full of masked pirates. "This is quite a sight!"

"I'm still not impressed..." I said in a deadpan voice, elicting yet another row of disapprovement from the opposing team. The announcer looked at us, or more specifically our team consisting of Luffy, Zoro, Sanji, Chopper, Usopp and me with the two females and ottsel on the sidelines.

"With a team this size, the smaller Straw Hat Team certainly seems to be at a disadvantage! They have a mere nine-person crew," Itomimizu chuckled.

"Don't call us mere!" Usopp defended our pride by shouting back.

I looked behind us and saw that our sideline were full of people, the one that stood out the most was a giant half fishman with yellow speedoes, boots and gloves. Sanji in the meantime was drooling over a pack of scantily clad women.

"Oh," I stretched my arms a few times, "this should be intresting."

"Now let's begin! First come the double-jump start!" two of the staff people walked to the center of the ring, both holding the game ball in their hand.

"Two players from each team, come forward!" the old man acting as the referee beckoned towards us to step into the center circle of the pitch.

"Guys," Chopper grinned, determination and the need to prove himself shining in his eyes, "I wanna go!"

"Then it's all yours," Zoro returned the grin, not the usual I'll-cut-you-into-pieces grin but a genuine one, "Jump like you mean it."

"Go get 'em tiger," I gave the reindeer doctor a thumbs up.

"Yosh!"

We watched as Chopper plopped a Rumble Ball in his mouth and transformed into a lanky human-deer hybrid. I decided to sit this one out and watch the game from afar, but still inside the pitch. I was sure the people here focused more on the games than in my presense.

"Pst, kid." Someone from the sidelines tried to get my attention. I looked around, wondering who it was when the person waved and got the attention he tried to get from me.

"What is it?" I stared at the guy with familiar blue-eyes, chestnut brown hair and long ivory fisherman jacket. He seemed oddly familiar, but I couldn't put my finger on who he was. "Do I know you?"

"Tactless as ever, I see." The man chuckled, "It's me, Matt. The guy who asked you to join his crew in Lisnor Island."

"…"

"...you rejected my invitation..."

"…"

"...you were attacked by my nakama after refusing..."

"…" I kept my blank face, trying to remember him in my adventures so far to no avail, "Sorry, can't remember."

Matt gave a sigh of disappointment, "We met in Loguetown... and in Alabasta, too."

"Oh, right." I snapped my finger in recognition, "There's you and that woman named Gary."

"Mary."

"That's what I just said," I huffed, "So... what are you guys doing here?" Matt motioned to his mask garment strapped on his head. I let out a short 'oooh' and shrugged. "That means were enemies, right? Why are you talking to me then?"

"Because..." Matt drawled out, struggling to form a word, "I need your help."

"My help?"

"Yes..." the voice was barely above whispering but I could still hear him. "We were challenged by the Foxy pirates and... well, you see where it lead. We just wanted more people on our crew, guess that didn't work out as planned."

"I guess not." I deadpanned, "Look, there's nothing I can do, but if you take this matter to my captain, he'll be able to think about something... or I hope he can. Nowadays thinking is becoming harder and harder with him around. I think I'm developing Parkinson's," I thought about this a bit more, "Or... I have a better one: just wait."

"Wait?"

"Yes, wait." I grinned, "Good things will come if you wait."

Matt let out a short laughter, "You want me to take your word for granted?"

"More or less. You can't trust a pirate, even a fellow one. It's like that saying: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." I stood up from my crouching position and dusted myself off of any dirt, "Ja-ne."

By the time I returned back to the crew, I saw from the corner of my eye that the giant man with speedoes was about to throw something. Seeing that the opposing team didn't have one of the game balls, I guessed that he was about to hurl both of them towars us.

"Go, Big Pan!" Foxy cheered, "End this in one blow!"

The giant made a strong throwing motion and swirled the ball towards us once the opposing pirates took cover, including Matt.

Usopp, in one of his mood, tried to use one of us as a meatshield, "If those hit me, I'll die! I'll get this and it's over!"

The first to dodge the fast ball were Zoro and Sanji who both tilted their heads lazily to the side, succesfully avoiding the ball with such little movement. I blinked as the ball got bigger and bigger in my vision. Sure it was going fast, but it was easily dodgeable as I bend in such a manner that I became perpendicular with the ground, watching the ball swirl over my head. Luffy and Chopper avoided it via their respective Devil Fruit-abilities while the poor Usopp froze in fear and got the brunt end of the strike.

"Well," I scrathed my head seeing Usopp vanish into the dust and debris created by the impact, "He had it coming."

"Isn't that a bit cynical?" Sanji glanced over to the marksman where he saw Usopp, along with twenty others, were fine over the sideline, meaning they were out of the game.

"On the contrary. I think that ball had his name written all over it."

"Maybe it was fated," Zoro mused outloud.

"I personally don't believe in fate or destiny," I gently rubbed my left eye, "I believe in various degrees of hatred, paranoia, and abandonment. However much of that gets heaped upon you doesn't really matter – it's only a matter of how much you can take and what it does to you."

While the announcer kept shouting on the snail microphone-looking-thing. The opposing team's captain was grumbling something under his breath with his last and only suborbinate left on the game; something involving Robin, his powers and bringing him out.

Come to think of it. What was Foxy's ability?

Still thinking about my lack of memory so far, Robin somehow managed to sneak the ball on top of the giant dude's head using her own powers, leaving Foxy alone in the game. There was a lot of shouting, more shouting and Sanji once again acting like an ass. One or two sweet talks from the girls on the sidelines and he's out.

"Isn't this lovely," I followed the knocked out cook being dragged out of the field by a angry navigator, "I didn't even lift a finger to help and yet I'm still here."

"You mellorine dumbass." Zoro grumbled.

"Hey, Ezekiel." Luffy called out to me, "You want to take the last shot?"

"As much as I would like to throw something in his ugly mutt, that honor goes to you. You are, after all, the captain. You don't have to ask me for permission, I'm following you remember?" I shrugged, showing that it was actually all the same to me as long as I can get back to my box full of chocolate and that I trusted his actions, whatever they may be in the coming future.

We looked back at Foxy and felt the ground below us shake. Behind him, a giant cannon was being dragged into the field. I rubbed the back of my neck in confusion, since when did they have time to build that?

"There he is!" Itomimizu nearly threw himself out of his seat, "It's the Hit & Dead Ball Multi-item! The cannon, Dead Hit-kun!"

"Isn't that against the rules?" I tilted my head to the side in another fit of confusion. Usopp ran towards the old referee, shouting the same thing I just did only to be told that the cannon is part of the game and confirmed by Robin, stating that it was written in the rulebook. This wouldn't happen if they'd let me read the book with the Sharingan, but then again, I'll use discretion; you're not allowed to do that to rulebooks.

"That's so cool!" Luffy shouted, his eyes sparkling with yellow stars, "It looks like fun!"

"What a stupid stunt." Zoro growled, still in his bad mood of everything not going smoothly as it should be. But, then again, he's near Luffy. Nothing goes smoothly with the captain around, "Oi, bringing that out isn't going to help you!"

"Just like a plastic surgery won't help you get rid of that ugly face of yours!"

As usual, Foxy got depressed, mumbling something incoherrent. Unfortunately for us, he was quickly rejuvinated back to his aloof self by the cheers of the crowd. Foxy's eyes first were set on me, annoyance written on his face.

"The first one to go out is you, Vane!" he shouted, aiming the now loaded ball launcher towards me. "Porche, are you ready?"

"Yes, Oyabin!" Porche, the girl in the red jumpsuit, took a baton and twirled it around her finger, "Here I go! Ohana Saimin! (Flower Hypnosis!)" the girl stopped spinning the baton, revealing that the stick now had a bouquet of flowers sticking out of it amd pointed to us.

"Charming," I said in a deadpan voice.

"She's using hypnosis! Don't look at her!" Nami warned us. But, of course, I ignored her and stared directly at the bouquet of crimson roses, "Ezekiel-kun! What the hell are you doing! Don't look at her!"

I kept looking at the baton, like really looked at it despite the warning being shout around. Porche was getting more and more arrogant thinking her hypnosis had any effect on me. Soon the smile turned into shock that I wasn't asleep much less yawning. As a matter of fact, I was impatiently tapping my foot on the ground waiting for something to happen.

"That's cute and all, but, am I supposed to feel threatened – because I kinda don't."

"W-What? How are you still awake?" Porche backed off in fright, "No one has ever been able to resist my hypnosis!"

I heard Usopp gasp slightly, but instead of shock it was in some sort of recognition, "That's right!" he suddenly exclaimed, "He has a condition that prevents him from sleeping from one interval to another!"

"Must you be so loud? I'm already ashamed about it already, no need to shout it to everyone," I rolled my eyes.

"This is simply astonishing! Ezekiel the bad-mouth Shinobi," que a twitch of my eyebrow, "Is immune to Porche-chan's hypnosis!" Itomimizu suddenly took a deep inhale of breath. "But what is this!? The other Straw Hat players are lying on the ground unconscious!"

"What? But how? They had their eyes closed!" Nami shouted from the sidelines, watching in horror seeing the three knocked out. I myself was also stunned, she said hypnosis, not airborne knock-out gas, shouldn't that like, effect everyone?

Maybe it's the potency and the fact that it's kinda drafty today. I guess the wind did the job of dispercing any chemical to tolerable level... heh heh, I'm a scientist.

Porche laughed, now back to her usual arrogant self, "Hahahaha! Hypnosis is not all about eye contact, it's about connecting with people's senses."

"She does make a point," Robin glanced from her book over to my current state of dilemma, "To utilize hypnosis, one must make a contact with the brain and alter its conscious state. Sight, smell, sound, taste and touch are all linked to the brain, thus meaning it is unavoidable to some extent."

Great, I snarled in thought, watching all three members of my team of dodgeball taking a nap in the middle of the day. Luffy's already insusceptible to illusion, Zoro here sleeps even if the slightest of yawns escapes his throat and Chopper... I looked at the reindeer sleeping on top of Zoro's head. "And Chopper got the full brunt of the gas no thanks to his heightened smell," I thought the last part outloud, elicting a small chuckle from Foxy who readied the ball launcher.

"Brilliant deduction, Vane." Foxy smirked, letting out another fit of haughty laughter, "But even if I miss, I'll still hit my target!"

"Oi! Luffy, Chopper, Marimo! Wake up!" I heard Sanji yell through the cheering of the crowd. While I was busy stomping on Zoro's head, Foxy already shot the ball directly towards me.

Fast! I thought and was about to kick the swordsman away when he suddenly jerked up and karate-chopped the ball in half, "What... the... fuck?" I stared at the snoring swordsman standing immobile, if I didn't know any better, I'd say he's awake... only with his eyes closed and a snot bubble rising and falling from his nostril. The ball deflated and splitted into two halves on the ground as nothing more than a rubbery plastic cups.

"Amazing! Absolutely incredible! The swordsman, Zoro, split the ball barehanded, and did that while asleep!" Itomimizu cried out.

"Muscle memory?" I asked myself, but quickly shook that idea out of my head.

"No." Sanji shook his head, clearly aware of the situation, "It wasn't muscle memory. Muscle memory was purely mental. That action comes from the brain itself, not in the muscles. If the muscle memories were in the muscles themselves then the muscles would have to have some sort of biological data bank. It doesn't have any sort of biological data bank. Instinct perhaps, but not muscle memory."

"I see..." Robin nodded and went back to reading, "Very impressive knowledge, Mr. Cook."

Sanji immediately went from smartass to asslicker in about two thirds of a second, "Ooh, it was nothing~!"

"Straw Hat Team, Zoro, out!"

"What!? Why!?" Usopp and Nami respectively yelled to the referee.

"Rule #645: The ball may not be cut!" he pointed to Foxy and his monster of a cannon, "The Foxy Team will receive a new ball."

"Shit." I cussed out, now I have to delay my date with the box of chocolate.

"Hehe, too bad for you. Fuehfehfehfeh!" Foxy laughed.

"Ah, what a shame!" Itomimizu leaned forward seeing that this game just got a lot more pain in the ass for me, "The swordsman, Zoro is disqualified! He must leave the field!"

"Hmph," I growled and swiftly kicked the disqualified Zoro out of the field next to Nami, "Munō kenshin (Incompetent swordsman)."

"Things are getting intresting! This is now a three-on-one match with the Straw Hat Team having two of their own unconscious! What will Ezekiel do? Can he protect the two on his own? The rules state that once someone had been selected inside the field, they are not allowed to leave, even when someone is knocked out!"

"Well isn't this a fancy teapart..." Daxter said behind the sound of muching.

Foxy let out his distinct laughter, aiming the ball launched at Chopper, "Now on to the next one! Supersonic speed level! Done!" the split-head man pulled down a lever and I could feel dread filling in my stomach.

Supersonic speed? He can't possibly break the speed of sound with that thing can he? If he truly can break the sound barried then I'm fucked.

"Let's see if you can dodge this!" Foxy shouted, pressing the launch button and with it releasing the play ball in high-velocity. I smirked, that ball wasn't nowhere near Mach One. Though I should've know better than to believe in his bluff.

The ball was coming near Chopper, I could tell if that hits him then it'll hurt more than a little bit. I ran towards the reindeer, grabbed him by his antlers and backflipped over the swirling ball with the doctor secured in my arms.

I smirked, "You missed."

"Did I?"

"Oi, dumbass! Behind you!" Sanji yelled from the sidelines.

I looked back and saw the ball bounced off from a large, rectangular man standing on the sidelines. The ball wasn't fast anymore but that didn't worry me much as the fact it was heading straight towards the snoozing Luffy. I quickly let go of Chopper's antlers in mid-running and caught the ball right before it touched the captain's torso.

"Phew," I huffed a sigh of relief, "That was close."

"What an amazing feat of speed from Ezekiel Vane!" Itomimizu this time praised me, "A selfless action from such a cold-hearted man! There might still be hope for him!"

"Urusai!" I shouted from the to keep their mouths shut, "Sanji, here. Hold this for me."

"Why is that?" the blond cook asked, lazily cathing the ball I threw with one hand, "You have a plan?"

"Yup!" I grinned, positioning myself in a horse-stance with the feet parallel to each other. "The next shot... I'm going to catch it!"

"Yeah, good luck with that."

"What?" I angrily turned to Sanji, "You doubt me?"

"Aren't we confident," Foxy smirked as he loaded yet another ball onto the launcher, "If so then I have a surprise for you."

"Really?" I asked genuinly intrigued, "I like surprises! Does it include you wearing a mask to hide that hidious face? Because I would appreciate it."

As usual, Foxy hung his head down, complemented with a gloomy purple cloud over his head, "He called me ugly again."

"Oyabin! Don't listen to him!"

"Yeah! He's just another lost soul!"

"Obviously he and the she-witch are a match made in heaven. Both have a deep hatred to our beloved captain."

"Me and her?" I stared at the pirate who said the last part and laughed, "Ha!" I quickly had to shut my yap by the Killing Intent being emanated from the implied girl. She wasn't happy, that much I could tell, but whatever's building up between us keeps getting tense, alluring even. "Do you know you grind your teeth at night?"

"Huh?" Nami's anger quickly dissipated and was replaced with puzzlement, "I do?"

"Yeah," I nodded, "That's sexy."

At least I know how to push the right buttons. I gave myself a mental pat on the shoulder for having succesfully dimineshed her urge to maim me, so far.

"Keep your eye on the birdie!" I heard Foxy shout, a pull of a lever, him pressing a button and a loud noice. My head turned to see the game ball flying towards me with much higher pace than previously.

He's up to something, I though as the ball was heading closer and closer. Should I catch it? It's going fast, but since force is applied to mass times acceleration... I should be able to catch it. I think I can catch it. I hope I can catch it...

The ball took a sudden spin to it, giving me a final statement of my next action.

Fuck it, I'll just dodge, save my back.

I let myself fall to my right seeing the ball going in a linear direction, probably crashing into one of Foxy's goons. My eyes widened when it suddenly turned to its right, going straight towards the unguarded Chopper.

"Impossible!" Nami shouted, less shocked than I was, "It swerved 90 degrees... to the right?"

I cursed under my breath and blasted towards Chopper with chakra-laced soles. I knew I wouldn't make it but I at least had to do something.

Crash!

Dust and debris flew everywhere, covering me and Chopper in a cloud of dirt made from the impact of the game ball.

"Did he make it?" the announcer questioned himself, "Was Ezekiel's rescue on time or did he fail to save his comrade! Another selfless deed made by the foul-mouthed Ninja!"

About half a minute later the cloud of smoke scattered across the winds, I saw I didn't have any ball. But I did have three dislocated fingers, that must count for something. I stood up and dusted myself while letting out a short grimace at my current predicament.

"Straw Hat Team, Chopper, out!"

"What!?" Usopp, again, shouted at the referee. He and the rest of the people gathered around saw that I indeed touched the ball, but it still made contact with Chopper.

Ignoring their gazes, I picked up the doctor and walked over to Usopp, "I'm sorry." The words were more directed to Chopper than anyone else.

"What did you do?" he took the unconscious reindeer from me, carefully placing him on the ground.

I dumbly scrathed my head, "I knew I wasn't going to make it in time so I improvised." Here I showed Usopp my damaged fingers on the left hand. The marksman winced seeing my fingers bent horribly and much to his horror, I tried to set the joints back but couldn't, it hurts, "I might need a lot of painkillers."

"Can you tell us more?" Itomimizu said in a barely contained excitement, "We couldn't see anything due to the dust blocking our vision."

"Uhm...you see..." I stammered, not sure how I should explain with all the eyes on me, "I went after the ball and basically used my whole arm as some sort of a meat club to bludgeon said ball into the ground as you can see it lying on the small crater. Chopper-kun should be fine, nothing serious happened."

"Yet another save from Vane!" I sweatdropped by the commentators way of rhyming my lastname, it was funny and yet awfully disturbing, "Inside this cold-hearted man lies a human afterall. He was deceiving us all into believing he's this harsh, detached, insensitive, callous, unkind, frigid as-"

"Yeah, I get it! I get it! I'm a bastard." I growled with narrowed eyes, this time turning around to face the referee, "So I'm still in the game or what?"

The old man referee got out of his high stool and walked over to me, observing the damaged fingers and arm. His eyes narrowed deep in thought, "Did the ball hit your wrist?"

I blinked, "No, sir."

He nodded and went back to his chair, "Ezekiel Vane..." Rokuroshi gave off a dramatic pause, enjoying, if somewhat glad, by the silent clearance, "...is safe!"

A round of applause and cheers went through the pitch. I wasn't this confused since the N-sync split up, just about an hour ago I ridiculed, insulted, mocked, humiliated them and their leader yet they're cheering for me? I tried to drone out their shoutings to no avail.

"So what now?" I picked up the ball I clobbered to the ground and motioned for Sanji to throw the other one he was holding without generally looking to where he was stading, "To throw, or not to throw: that is the question..."

"Yes!" Nami cheered from the sidelines, obviously happy about the turn of tables, "Ezekiel-kun now has two balls-!"

"Of course I have two balls," I interrupted to Nami with a blank look on my face, "You should know, you saw them. And you didn't even apologize, that's rude not to mention inappropiate for such a situation."

The navigator gained a blush on her face once she noticed all eyes were on her, "W-what! I didn't do that!"

"Nami, Nami, Nami," I shook my head in dissapointment, "There's nothing to be ashamed of. Most people suffering from narcissism can't detect it in themselves. Denial ain't just a river in Egypt you know. Neither does the lion lie to his lovers."

"Shut up!"

I ignored her and stomped over to Sanji, "What the hell is taking you so long? Just give me the- where is the ball? Forget it, where is Sanji?" I looked around for the cook but couldn't locate him, it was like he vanished.

Few seconds after my confusion, I felt something soft land on top of my head, then a small thud and something rolling on the ground. I turned around and, to my horror – with a tint of annoyance mixed in between – saw Sanji being smothered by the group of skanks in masks.

"Straw Hat Team, Ezekiel, out!" the referee announced.

"The fuck just happened?" I dropped the ball, signing my defeat and walked over to the sidelines next to my chocolates. Truth be told, I was pissed off. "One job... you had one, small, detailed job..."

"Sanji!" Usopp yelled over to the cook who now noticed he was missing a ball. He looked at the women, then at his hands, and back to the women. It was there he noticed that he fucked up, but didn't care after the women purred out his name.

I mean, seriously, so far Sanji was a strong and a decent guy, but when it comes to women he can be total douche. No self-control what-so-ever. I swear, he's like a stubborn goat in heat. I opened the wrapping off from the bar of chocolate and started to eat my anger away.

"What's the matter?" my little orange sidekick asked, setting himself on top of my head.

"Nothing really," I replied, "I'm not even mad, that's amazing."

"Right," he didn't buy it. "Look, I think I know how to wake that idiot you call your captain."

"And that would be?" I couldn't see, but I could tell the furry bastard had a shit-eating grin on his snout. He leaned over to my ear and began to whisper. Once he was done with it, I stood up and shouted a long string of curse words, interrupting Itomimizu from talking about the heated event.

"God-fucking-damn it! Why didn't I think of this sooner! I've really got to stop thinking with my ass all the time!" I stormed over to the sideline, right close where Luffy was taking his peaceful nap.

"What are you up to?" Nami asked after dragging Sanji over to our line and pummeled him into the ground.

"Oi, Luffy! Dinner time!"

The second the word 'Dinner' left my mouth, Luffy's body jerked up and began to frantically look for anything to eat, a line of drool dripping from the corner of his mouth. His eyes set on me and gave off a big ear-to-ear grin, but seemed confused about the lack of food in the vicinity.

"Where the food?" the captain questioned the people around him, "I had a dream about meat and when I wake up I don't see one. Why is that?"

"Luffy," I pinched the bridge of my nose, "Dreams don't work that way. Now, focus on something trivial, like getting this whole clusterfuck of a fest behind so we can sail off."

The rubberman's eyes narrowed when he noticed something out of the question. At first I thought he was going to ask what happened and why Zoro, Chopper and I were outside the field. Alas, he didn't ask us that. What he did ask was this:

"I remember eating a lot when I was dreaming... why am I still hungry?"

A dozen of face faults was heard around us, the absurdity of him asking something this stupid was unheard, so far that is. I took the ball Nami was holding and passed it to Luffy whereas the other ball was handed back to Foxy upon my disqualification.

"Dude, you know what I noticed just now." Daxter said, looking around with suspicious blue-eyes.

"What?"

"You've got a big ass bullseye on your back."

"How's is that?"

"You feel those eyes around you?" I was skeptic at what he said and started to see what he meant. It didn't take me long to see a lot of people giving me a dirty look, most of them competetive and the rest stared at me with contempt. "You know why they look at you like that? It's because you're pretty, you have a big ass bounty, it's because you disrespected their captain."

"So? Since when did other people's opinion – people whom I have never even met – even matter to me? It hasn't in the past and why should it now?" I told him as I opened another bar of chocolate from the box, "Look, I'll be honest with you." Here the human turned ottsel showed some amount of curiousity, "I want to find this guy... the Spirit, or whatever he calls himself nowadays. I already missed my opportunity to talk with Gan Fall about him."

"Why do you want to meet him? Sounds like trouble to me."

"Because Pop's said so."

"Who?"

"The giant lizard from Alabasta. You know, Angel's dad... huge giant reptile... gave me this mark on my hand."

"Oh yeah..." the ottsel nodded in recognition, "So... when will you spill the beans?"

A grim face adorned my face. I knew what he meant by that; when do I tell them the truth that they're not human... well they are, but not normal human, as in; not a character specifically designed to keep us entertained.

"As soon as I get my shit straight," I nodded, that seemed like a good plan so far. "I mean, I'm just as confused as they are, if not more. On one occasion your being dumped on the phone and the next you wander around in another plane of existence for exactly... I don't know, about 500 days. See, I'm already losing count and I doubt it even matters."

"Alright, I trust you." Daxter hopped on my shoulder, "But promise me something – don't do anything stupid."

"Sure."

"No, don't be sure." he leveled me a glare, "Say it."

I gave a small sigh of defeat, the ottsel can be pretty stubborn when he wants to. "I... promise."

"Straw Hat Luffy, out!" the referee pointed to his left, signalling that Luffy, the last man on our side of the pitch was disqualified. I stared at the captain holding what seemed to be dozens of dodgeballs wrapped around his rubbery arms. There was no way of telling which one was the real one.

"Why? The face is safe, right?" Usopp continued his streak of complaints to the referee.

"Uh... guys, what happened?" I asked, briefly noticing the other two were wide awake and pissed off. The taller more than the shorter one who looked very much disappointed in himself. I made a mental note to fix that.

Luckily none of them had to tell me what happened because the old man referee announced the reason Luffy's disqualification.

"Rule #999: the ball may not be swallowed." Rokuroshi gave the marksman a one-eyed glare, "It's in the rule book. Look it up."

Robin, still holding the thick book nodded in agreement, a barest hint of surprise marring her usual apathetic visage. "He's right. It's on the very last page."

"Th-That's a rule too?" Usopp stuttered slack-jawed by the absurdity of this.

"The first even, Hit & Dead Ball, is over! The Foxy Team wins!"

Daxter now climbed on top of my head, not believing that Luffy swallowed a ball the size of our resident doctor, "See, it's shit like this-"

"Ugh, I don't even wanna argue with you," I double face-palmed. When the fail is so strong, one face-palm is just not enough. "Watching Luffy make an ass out of himself is like punching kittens. It's funny at first, but then you just lose intrest."


[To Be Continued]


That's all folks!

I intended this to be much shorter than the previous chapter, but I couldn't help it; I had too much fun writing this one. Well... had fun writing until the last few thousand words due to laggy internet connection and taking a break for few days, thus loosing the drive to write.

Be constructive people. Try not to just say 'great story, bro' or 'hope to see the next chapter soon', they do give me a morale boost but leave some suggestions or something, can't work with no criticism.

If you guys have any questions, feel free to ask, they help me notice mistakes I made and hopefully fix them.