Like any other day at the Baratie, Zeff was giving Sanji one of his lectures again. As always, Sanji grew mad furious at an unappreciative customer and unleashed all his rage into making sure that customer ate everything on his plate. This scared off some of the customers, of course, but entertained those remained.
"Jeez, Sanji, everyone's different. Get that through that thick head of yours," said Zeff. "If this happens again this week, you'll be put into working the bathrooms."
Sanji rolled his eyes. "Whatever. I've worked every job in this restaurant except for yours. I can handle any job you give me."
Zeff sighed. He sat on the chair of his desk and raised his feet onto the table.
"How are things with you and Vivi-chan? Well? How is she?" asked Zeff. Sanji pulled out a cigarette and lit it.
"She's.. had a lot on her mind lately," said Sanji, referring to her situation with the casino. "She's been planning to come here and visit."
"You better be treating her right in that house. I don't want you getting that girl pregnant, understand?"
Sanji blushed a deep red. "Who ever said we were doing that kind of stuff! And besides, we're adults now!"
"Your words don't match your actions," said Zeff. Sanji was starting to grow irritated again at the mention of his little incident with his recent customer. Suddenly, his phone rang with Zoro's name on the caller i.d. Sanji sighed, as if dealing with Zeff wasn't enough for him already. He stepped out into the hallway to answer the call.
"What do you want, Marimo?"
"You better get down here. Something happened at the casino and they're keeping Robin, Vivi, and her father locked in a room."
"WHAT? Then, what the hell are you doing?! Do something!"
"They kicked me out! This guy brought friends. I already called the others. They're on their way here right now."
Sanji grimaced. He looked at the time. His shift doesn't end for another hour.
"Oi, Jii-jii! I'm leaving an hour early!" Sanji yelled through the closed door.
"Do that and you'll be punished again the next time you come back in!"
"I'll take anything!" Sanji sprinted into a run. Honestly, he could care less what kind punishment he got from the old man. Vivi was his first priority. To add to that, the fact that each one of the crew members are heading over there right now means this is some serious business.
Upon his arrival in front of the busy casino, Sanji saw the rest of the Straw Hats waiting at the front where Zoro had called them. He gritted his teeth when it registered into his mind that he was the last to arrive.
"Now can you please explain to us what exactly is going on?" asked Nami. "Where are Vivi and Robin?"
Zoro sighed. Suddenly, Robin appeared to them through the main entrance. The Straw Hats crowded around her, asking questions. Luckily, the noise of the crowds of people, mostly guests and tourists, overpowered that of the Straw Hats, so the security couldn't hear them.
"Robin, what's going on?"
"Who are these guys?"
The curious Straw Hats paused to a stop when Sanji stepped forward. He looked calm for someone who should be frantic about his missing girlfriend.
"Robin, where's Vivi?" Sanji asked calmly.
"I'll explain everything when we get home. Its best if we leave," said Robin.
"We're going without Vivi?" asked Chopper.
"She's with her father. She'll be fine. If we barge in there, it'll only make the situation worse for them." Robin could still see the hesitation and concern in her friends' faces. She couldn't blame them. She'd be feeling the same thing if she was in their shoes. For now, she needed to tell them their situation, but she couldn't do it here.
Luffy sighed. "Let's go home."
Now alone with her new "rival," Vivi eyed him. They looked like they were in the same grade. Even Robin gave her a brief description of him before she left. His name is Crocodile and he's one of Marineford University's Top Seven. Truth be told, she could care less about his title or his name. She only wished for this man to be sent far away from her business.
"Of all the casinos in the city, no, in the country," Vivi started, "why choose this one?"
"Then you clearly don't have your eyes open. This casino has been ranked the highest out of many."
"Then why are you trying to buy it?! Why couldn't you start your own company and build yourself to the top like we did?!"
"For the exact same reason why we're here. Just seeing the pain and frustration on your face brightens me. Once I take over this place, I'm going to have to set a few new changes. Something the casino will have that will make it even better."
Vivi scowled. She sat back in her seat and crossed her arms. She sucked in her lips and stared hard at the man in front of her. She was afraid that if she said more, she'd burst into tears and possibly beg for him to leave. She couldn't leave this place when this man is here interrogating her father. The crew is also on her mind. By now, Robin must've explained everything to them. The possibility of Luffy wanting to be involved is set high now that he knows.
One thing lingers in the back of her mind, though. Is Marineford University really allowing one of their students buy out a famous company and naming it their own all for self satisfaction? She knew that Marineford's schools are very strict, but she didn't think something like this was actually being overlooked.
"EHH?" the crew said in unison. The news from Robin knocked the wind out of almost all of them, leaving them speechless. Robin sat in her seat, waiting patiently for their opinions. She had nothing more to say. Everything she just explained to them was the truth.
"So, some kid from Marineford University is trying to get a hold of Alabasta Inn. and making it their own business?" said Usopp who pretty much summed up everything Robin had explained to them. "That's absurd! What gives this kid the right to even buy the casino out of the blue!"
"He's right!" Chopper agreed. "Maybe we should just go up to the guy and teach him a lesson."
"Tch, good luck. This guy had the whole place swarming with guards. Just the look on his face creeps me out," Zoro muttered the last part.
"Who is he anyway?" asked Franky.
"He's one of the top seven I told you about before," said Robin.
"Like Hancock?" asked Luffy.
"Ee, his name is Crocodile."
"What's with all these animal names in that school. First there was a Kuma, a Hawk, now a Crocodile?" questioned Usopp.
"That school's filled with animals," mentioned Zoro.
"So, let me guess, is he the richest out of all of them, 'cause he clearly has a lot of money in his pockets to buy out a whole casino," said Sanji.
Robin shrugged. "Rich or not, he has his ways of luring you into a corner with anything he has. Vivi and Cobra are trying their best to get out of this situation without the involvement of money."
"You don't know anything about him?" asked Luffy.
"Not anything that has happened to them over the past two years."
"Then, may I ask, why isn't Vivi-san here with us right now?" asked Brook.
"Crocodile wanted Cobra inside the casino until he agree to releasing the casino to him. Vivi stayed behind because she didn't want Cobra alone with him."
"That guy's out of his mind!" asked Franky.
"Isn't that against the law? He's holding a family hostage!" said Nami.
While everyone was throwing out their opinions on the situation. Zoro sat back. He knew he couldn't do anything about it now. To his surprise, the captain was staying out of this as well. The cook too.
Suddenly, the room grew quiet. Zoro looked up to see the rest of the members starring at the three of them.
"What?" asked Zoro.
"You three haven't said much all night," said Nami. "Luffy?"
Luffy thought hard about it, then sighed. He stared back into the eyes of his crew. "Honestly, I just want to beat the crap out of that guy..."
"Annd?" Usopp urged on.
"Don't worry about it so much." Luffy leaned forward and reassured them with a grin. "I'm not going to let anything happen to them or the casino, especially if one of Marineford's lackeys are involved."
Nami felt groggy when she woke up in the middle of the night due to a dry throat. She tossed and turned when she couldn't get herself to sleep, but after an hour or two of just lying there, she eventually fell asleep. She's had a lot on her mind all night. Granted, she could've gone to Luffy for some comfort, but she knew even he had a lot on his mind too, as a captain and a friend.
As Nami climbed down the stairs, she could hear a voice coming from the kitchen. She slowed down her pace and hid herself just beside the entrance of the kitchen. She was surprised to hear that it was Sanji's voice she was hearing. When Nami peeked over the side, she saw him sitting on the table, hit feet resting on a chair. He was hunched over and his phone was to his ear. It was so quiet, she could hear the other person's voice through the phone. It was Vivi's, and she was sobbing.
"Don't cry, Vivi-chan," Sanji said softly. "Its hard enough that I can't hold you. This will all be over soon. That bastard's just picking for a fight."
"But I don't know how long I can last down here." Vivi sniffled. "His bodyguards are everywhere watching our movements. Its hard enough telling the guests that they have nothing to worry about even though I should be telling that to myself."
"Do you want me to come over there?"
"You'll miss school tomorrow."
"School's not important to me now that I know you're not okay."
"I'm not going to be the reason why you miss school."
"Then I'll head straight over there once the bell rings. I'll sneak through security and meet you in your room. Those guys aren't invading your privacy too, right?"
Vivi sighed. "No...please hurry though."
Nami stared down at her slippers. Without Vivi here, it was almost like they were incomplete, and its hurting them a lot more than she expected.
"You didn't have to follow me, you know," said Luffy. He turned around to Zoro, Usopp, and Nami who were avoiding his stares. "I'm just doing an errand for Kaa-chan, then I'm heading home."
After the last bell for the day, the Straw Hats went their separate ways, except for them. Right now, they're heading to the bar after Makino texted Luffy, asking him to run an errand for her after school.
"If Sabo's at home, why doesn't Makino let him do it?" asked Usopp.
"Maybe she needs someone macho like me to handle it," Luffy gloated.
"Now you're giving yourself too much credit," said Zoro.
When they entered the bar, they found the answer to Usopp's question. The place was jammed packed, resulting to Makino and Sabo running all over the place. When the working mother spotted her son at the front, she let out a sigh of relief.
"Thank goodness you're here," said Makino.
"Would you like any help?" Nami offered.
"Oh no, that's okay. Sabo and I have everything under control. You guys can accompany Luffy to run his errand," said Makino while handing Luffy a bag.
Luffy peeked inside. "Rice crackers?...Wait, you're not-"
"He's been asking for them, but Sabo and I have been so busy."
Luffy started to panic. "What about Ace?! Or Tou-chan?!"
"They both have jobs, honey, and you know how he feels about Shanks."
"No, please, Kaa-chan-"
"I'm sorry, but you're lucky you have your friends with you."
"That doesn't change anything!"
"Good luck, Luffy!" Sabo yelled over the crowd of people.
Luffy sighed when he stepped out of the bar. "I'm going to die. I'm going to die."
"Not to mention, that's really far. Its on the other side of the city," said Zoro.
"Let's go now before we're late for dinner," Nami added.
"I don't get it. Where are we going?" asked Usopp.
Luffy grimaced. "I have to deliver these to Jii-chan at Marineford University."
Have you guys noticed the huge fandom surrounding Attack on Titan? Its bigger than Sword Art Online. It's crazy!
..And I'm one of them ^^