AN: Here it is! The sequel to Liar. I loved writing that story, and you guys seemed to love reading it, so I figured it's about time I tried my hand at this. Bloody thing took forever to write, so I hope you like it just as much.
I do not own One Piece and that makes me sad.
It had been roughly three days since Luffy had had his breakdown and the Sunny had never been quieter. Luffy himself hadn't said much since then; the poor young man had worn himself out and just didn't seem to have enough spark left in him to get up to his usual antics. Instead, he spent most of his time in the men's quarters curled up on the couch or out on deck sluggishly watching the sea roll by.
The crew felt horrible.
They hadn't been very active since that night either. Seeing the person they saw as the strongest in the world crumble like that had shaken them for sure, but mostly, their silence was due to the great guilt that they had carried. How could they have been so blind to their captain's pain? They felt so stupid thinking that Luffy could move on from something as major as watching his only real family die in his arms.
They knew they had to fix him, but it felt so wrong. Usually they were the ones being saved by Luffy, not the other way around. Remembering that their resident rubber idiot was, in fact, human, scared the Strawhats. It wasn't until early that morning, when they heard Luffy scream in his sleep that it really sunk in.
Never had they seen such a look of pure terror on Luffy's face, nor had they ever heard such feral scream come from anyone or anything. They did everything they could to wake him up, only to realize this was a reoccurring thing for him over the last two years. The moment when it hit them that Luffy had been doing this for a while now and they hadn't noticed had hurt.
Now, just a few hours later, they sat in the kitchen, wishing for their leader to join them. Luffy hadn't eaten since that night at dinner; occasionally he would come in for a glass of water or juice, but that was all. Poor Chopper kept couldn't help but calculate how long it would be until the boy's insane metabolism over worked itself trying to make up for the lack of nutrients.
A sudden groan and a thump broke the crew from their personal thoughts. Looking towards the source of the disturbance, they found that Usopp had slammed his head into the table.
"Oi, what the hell?" Zoro said as he poked the sniper.
"We're horrible people!" the younger boy wailed.
When it was apparent that he wasn't going to continue, Robin politely asked the curly haired youth to elaborate.
Usopp lifted his head just enough to stare sadly at the woman, "He's out there suffering, and we're not doing anything about it!"
Franky sighed, "We've been trying, bro. Nothin' seems to work."
It was true. Over the last few days each member of the crew had done their best to lift Luffy's sprits. Usopp and Chopper tried goading him into extra games, Sanji offered a bounty of snacks and meats (the latter of which was either violently turned down or thrown up. It seemed Luffy would not be his favorite food for a while), Brook played happy, peaceful songs whenever he could, Nami let him steal all the tangerines he wanted and gave a comforting hug now and then, Franky tried to make him laugh with SUPAH poses, and Robin and Zoro both offered to simply sit and listen. However, none of them received more than a small smile and a "thank you".
It had only been three days, but the pain made it feel like a life time.
Now they wanted nothing more than to hold their child captain and tell him it would all be okay, just like they had in the boiler room, but none of them could seem to do it. Something was holding them back. Some unrelenting force of will did not want them to comfort Luffy and the fact that they didn't know what it was was slowly driving the crew insane.
Chopper sniffled, "H-he'll be okay though, right? Eventually?"
The others smiled at the little reindeer, and Zoro placed a heavy hand on his shoulder.
"Sure he will, Luffy can take care of himself."
The swordsman's eyes widened and his hand dropped in shock. There, those words he just spoke, that was why they couldn't help their Captain. They were under the illusion that he didn't need it, and until that notion ended, he would be out of their reach.
The heavy silence in the air told the green-haired youth that his comrades had reached a similar conclusion. Monster or not, Luffy couldn't do everything himself, no matter what they liked to think.
With a sigh and a puff of his cigarette, Sanji walked over to the galley door and slowly cracked it open. The others gathered behind the chef to peek outside. The object of their thoughts stood at the railing with his arms folded softly across his chest, and his dark eyes glazed over as he looked out over the vast waters below. His red cardigan was off, lying haphazardly on the ground behind him with his hat placed gently on top.
Seeing him exposed like this to both themselves and the elements made the crew briefly wonder how long their captain had looked this old. Luffy had always been the epitome of youth, and even after their reunion, the boy's slightly more matured features still contrasted with the fact that he was now nineteen. Now though, in just such a short few days, he seemed to have aged beyond even that.
The scars that littered the tan frame, along with the frigid posture seemed to remind the crew that Luffy wasn't just a goofball pirate, but also a warrior to be reckoned with. He was a young man who had seen too much in his brief life, and they assumed, had lost even more.
And now it was catching up to him-all because of one night in the boiler room.
Sanji closed the door, then. By the sounds of the soft cries behind him everyone had seen enough, and quite frankly, so had he.
Once he heard the door's latch click, the chef turned to face Zoro and asked, "So, Marimo, got any ideas?"
The swordsman groaned; leave it to the crew to want him to clean up this mess.
"All we can do now is be there for him. No matter how much we want to help, we have to know the boundaries. Breakdown or not Luffy isn't going to let us in that easy."
The others collectively seemed to deflate, cursing their captain's stubbornness. Yes, it had saved their asses countless times, but hardly ever allowed for them to save his.
Zoro felt like banging his head on the table, just as Usopp had done moments ago. He knew this didn't have to be complicated but that damn notion of Luffy being self-sufficient would not go away! Their captain had never been one to ask for help and until three days ago, had never shown weakness. It was only natural to try and hold on the illusion that he was unbreakable, right?
But he wasn't. Losing Ace had shattered the boy and now no one could figure out how to put the pieces back together again.
It was then that another thought hit him. Luffy was what held them together, but he obviously couldn't do it if he couldn't hold onto himself.
So how does a something stay together when it's the seams that are broken?
AN: and that's the first chapter. Dunno how long this fic will be as a whole, so yeah... Oh, and if you're wondering why I switch between English and Japanese at times (though less than I used to) it's because I like the way certain things sound at certain points, if that makes sense.
Anyway, see you next chapter, little pirates :) I feel like I'm forgetting something...