AN: Okay, okay. Lighter-themed chapter, I promise. Franky, then Luffy, then...I start all over again, eh? After this chapter, I think it'll be quite random as to the nakama-of-the-week, as opposed to going in a one-by-one order. Why? Because the updates will come faster if I'm given liberty to write the stories as I'm inspired by them, as opposed to waiting to get inspired by the 'right' character at the 'right' moment.
Honestly, the reason these updates are so far apart right now is because of the complete, utter removal of Brook's involvement from the One Piece anime and manga. It's a bit of a downer, and it's gone on for for...geez, how long has it been now? Don't get me wrong—I'm still in love with the series, but if the perverted angst-skeleton soul machine gets almost utterly and completely left out of just one more story arc...oh, my patience wears thin, Oda.
Chapter Nineteen: Legacy
Characters: Brook, Franky
Warnings: HENTAI—nah, just kidding, but seriously folks, it's Franky. SUPER~
It was an island too small to be noticed by the World Government, except for one time, five years ago during mass pirate hunt which claimed the lives of many innoents. It was nonetheless a very good location for the Straw Hat Pirates to stop and take a break whilst Luffy 'explored', and their cook resupplied the ship.
Brook had gone exploring, too, only to find himself at the mercy of a plot to capture him alive (though he was dead!). And so he was, at this very time, a prisoner belonging to a group of children.
"Excuse me," said Brook, leaning over slightly to address one of the younger boys who held him captive. "But perhaps you might consider letting me go? It is almost dinner time, and my stomach is growling...ah, though I have no stomach at all. Yohoho!"
"One more skull joke, you stupid pirate, and I'll cut you!" snapped the darker-skinned child of six or seven years, brandishing a wooden stick like sword. The skeleton feigned a gasp and jerked his head back.
"No, anything but that! I don't wish to be cut—though how you would do that, I wonder, as I just bon—gaaagh!"
That last sound was a result of the impatient orphan cracking the back of Brook's skull with his stick.
"Hey, Brandon, don't damage the goods!" an older boy said, the one they referred to as Oliver, or 'Ollie' from the younger ones. He leapt down from the roof of one of the house's sun rooms, sending a dust cloud scattering about his worn sandals. "This pirate is worth over thirty zillion beli! With that money, we can buy this island for Mary."
"I believe that it is just 'millions', if I recall," chirped the captive skeleton in a sing-song voice. "Though I am rather proud of it myself, yohoho."
"Million, zillion, who cares?" huffed Ollie, backed by the solemn, eager nods of his dozen or so nakama. The smallest of them all, a tiny girl with brilliant red hair, stuck her tongue out at Brook. He would have done the same in return, but alas.
"Ollie! Another pirate is heading straight for our hideout!" cried a young girl from atop of the abandoned houses' rooftops. She folded up her toy spyglass and clutched the shingles as she leaned over the edge. "He's really big, and really tall, and covered in armour!"
Startled whispers and moans circulated amongst the small crew of children, to which their nearly-teenaged leader responded with a defiant laugh. "We're the Bungie House Orphans! We don't fear Marines, pirates or bad weather! We can do anything!"
And just like that, the sniffles and fearful mutterings turned into cheers and raised sticks, glasses and crudely-drawn flags. In a flurry of colours, giggling and mischievous babbling, the two-score bundle of children vanished from sight, leaving Brook alone in the middle of a deserted-looking neighbourhood.
"I hope Luffy-san has not eaten my dinner," he lamented to no one.
There was nothing more inconspicuous than a seven foot tall, speedo-wearing cyborg with bright blue, horn-shaped hair. Especially on a small, nearly lawless tropical island such as this. Not more inconspicuous than, say, an eight foot tall, very loud skeleton with an afro.
Therefore, Franky's one-man search party for the latter (proverbial) black sheep, was not a covert operation.
Nor was it supposed to be. Franky dealt with this situation with a great deal of manly pride—he'd been self-elected to go an recover their—eh, 'captured' nakama because he was super effective at talking to kids.
"Oi, Bones-bro!" he hollered, waving off the hot sun by cupping a large, metal fist over his eyes. "Where did our skeleton-super star run off to, I wonder? Oi, Soul King, did you get captured by pirates?"
The small grouping of brightly coloured houses ahead on the road seemed to be completely deserted. If Franky believed that, he would have kept quiet. And sure enough, when he passed the first house, he spotted someone familiar sitting up against a pole in the center of the dusty street.
"Ah, hello, Franky-san!" Brook greeted him cheerfully. "Are you here to rescue me?"
"When are you going to learn to stop playing with the locals, skele-bro?" admonished the cyborg, daintily lifting his shades up with a small, metal finger. "These kids take this super seriously, ya know?"
Sure enough, that elicited a the bellowing war cries of many fierce warriors. The children came charging out of thin air with sticks and bamboo rods at full swing. Franky stood with one raised brow as they dived, jumped and climbed on top of him, repeatedly bashing his impervious body with a small chorus of 'tings' and 'tongs'.
And Franky loved it; naturally, he played along.
"Hostile forces detected," he said monotonously, doing his best robot impression. With precise, mechanical movements, he began to move his arms around. "Deploying countermeasures against cute, small, organic creatures. Weeee-kcha! Weeeee-kcha!"
Piles of children clung to his arms and legs, trailing through the dirt and trying to drag him down as Franky moved jerkily across the street. By the time he reached Brook's location, more than two thirds of the orphans were sprawled out on the ground or collapsed on each other, panting for breath.
"Mission accomplished," the cyborg announced, and dropped the last defender—Ollie himself, onto the ground, where the boy groaned and covered his face. "It's okay, little bro," Franky assured him, giving his metallic nose a quick press. "I'm just here to get my nakama, Brook, back. He's important to my crew, so you can't turn him in for the beli. Sorry 'bout that."
"But...we wanted to give the money...t-to Mary," the boy on the ground lamented, pushing himself into a cross-legged position with a definite sulk. "Without it, how are we going to pay her back for being so kind to us all these years?"
"Mary is the lady who takes care of them, Franky-san," Brook explained with great empathy. "After this island lost half its population, she moved into the orphanage. It is a great story," he went on, voice breaking with adoration.
"What, you were going to let them turn you in because you felt sorry?" Franky couldn't help but sound incredulous—he knew his soft-hearted (though no-hearted) nakama was capable of an embarrassing amount of self-sacrifice, but this was nuts even for him.
Brook lowed his eye sockets a little. As he did, his 'bound' arms came forward, and the rope that had not been imprisoning him at all slid to the ground sheepishly. "Ah, no," he admitted with a chuckle. "But I wanted to let them pretend for as long as possible. I could not imagine crushing their dream!"
Ollie looked at Brook, then Franky; his eyes were wavering a little, though he was definitely too proud to cry in front of all of his friends and followers. "Are you two even pirates?" he demanded. "If so, you're weird! You shouldn't feel sorry for us—you should be mean, and scowl at us, and take our stuff!"
"That's a terrible thing to say," Franky admonished, and was very shortly dwarfed by his skeleton-bro when the musician stood up; Brook brushed off his clothing politely as Franky went on, "Even so, you kids shouldn't be messin' around with pirates! If you want to make your mother happy, then grow up following your dreams! That's what all parents want for their kids, right, bones-bro?"
"She's not our mother," muttered Ollie, whose arms were folded defiantly; he didn't sound convinced of his own words.
"Speaking of dreams, Oliver-san," Brook chimed in, ignoring the pre-teen's arrogant pout. The skeleton's bony fingers procured something small and square-shaped from somewhere inside his overcoat's inner pocket. "Since I cannot oblige you by becoming your bounty today, I will grant you a single rematch sometime in the future. Perhaps, when you have grown up and set out to fulfill your dreams?"
Ollie sniffed and stared dumbfounded at the scrap of paper that was offered to him. The other children seemed to recognize it, too—they were, after all, proteges of the New World. Franky was taken aback too. A Vivre Card? He had to scratch his head in wonder. Could a skeleton have one? And where did their bonehead musician get one of those? It must have been during the two year period they weren't together. There must have been a reason.
Then the orphan snatched the torn bit of paper, and stood up. "You'd better not throw yours away, like a coward! I'll collect your bounty, and give Mary a palace someday"
Once again, the children set up a weary sort of cheer, which made Franky grin wryly—surely they weren't blowing on the coals of a bonfire, which would just burn them later? Their captain was rubbing off on Brook; he was making friends by turning them into enemies first. Atta-boy!
"Yohoho, by then, I will be the musician of the Pirate King himself," responded his nakama wisely, and he tipped the brim of his golden crown to the gaggle of orphans. "What a fortunate lady your Mary-san will be, when that day comes!"
Then they left the children behind to return to the ship, with Ollie gripping the piece of Vivre Card in sight of his jealous and awe-inspired friends. Franky openly admonished his friend as they traveled the road back to the Thousand Sunny—her sails aglow in the sunset, signalling that their fun-filled day was ending.
"I can't believe you just invited that kid to fight you some day," the cyborg nagged, though his heart wasn't in it. Luffy's influence or not, this was a daring move for their skeleton.
"Yohoho," Brook laughed wistfully, and the mirth was plain as day even on a bony face like his. "That boy had the soul of a pirate, Franky-san. And every pirate's dream begins when there is a legacy to be fulfilled, or a man that must be surpassed. It is a great world that we live in!"
"It's super, that's for sure!"
"Ah...I don't suppose Luffy-san left me any dinner?"
He didn't. But Brook didn't complain, and Franky knew where his skeleton-bro's heart was set.
Though he didn't really have one.